GB U18S: GAMEDAY V NETHERLANDS

The Olympic Rink in Brasov, Romania, will host Great Britain’s third game of the week today against the Netherlands

Martin Grubb’s side are 1-1 from their opening two matches, a 2-5 reverse to Lithuania before Tuesday’s 7-1 win over Croatia.  By contrast the Dutch have lost their two opening games 1-8 to Romania and 1-10 to Poland.

Wednesday’s rest day saw GB skate in the morning before having an afternoon of rest and recovery before preparing for Thursday’s game.

Coach Grubb said: “The Netherlands have lost their two matches but we aren’t taking them lightly – if anything they could be more dangerous as they want to show some pride and are fighting for their lives in the group.

“We will have to come with the same intensity as we showed against Croatia and play for the full sixty minutes.  We take it one game at a time, we do what we have to do against the Netherlands before we look any further.

“In the past these games have been tough as Netherlands play a similar style of hockey to us in the UK.  The players will have to stick to the systems and execute as we did on Tuesday.”

Linemates Liam Kirk and Cole Shudra spoke with IHUK Radio ahead of Thursday’s game.  Kirk has 2 goals, Shudra 1 goal 1 assist through two games.  Liam was also named GB player of the game against Croatia.

The duo signed apprenticeship contracts with EIHL champions Sheffield Steelers before leaving for Romania, and have played at every level from U18, NIHL and EPL this season in the Sheffield system.

Kirk said: “We’ve played together since under 10’s and gone on since then, so we know each other’s game pretty well.  There’s always a little argument over who plays centre as we both can play there. But we sort it out and get on with the games.”

Shudra added: “There’s been a lot of support helping me get to the next level where I want to be.  I want to play at the highest level I can so any ice time I get is good ice time.

“With the Steelers of course it has to fit around our education first but if we want to progress then we have to put the effort in .”

Reflecting on the tournament in Brasov, Kirk said: “The loss first game was disappointing but we bounced back as a team, sorted out things in practice and didn’t go looking for goals.  We just played hockey and the goals came.  That’s how it should be.”

Romania’s win over Lithuania on Tuesday night has thrown the tournament wide open and Shudra commented: “Of course we want to finish in the best place we can in the table.  With Lithuania losing that puts it back in our hands, knowing what we need to do to possibly get a gold.”

Click below to hear the full IHUK Radio interview with Liam and Cole.

Great Britain face off against Netherlands at 1330 local time, 1130 UK time.  Live coverage is available via the IIHF tournament page, with Twitter updates on the @TeamGBicehockey account.

Photo credit: Benedikt Kubatzki