Great Britain U18 made it two wins from three games in Brasov as they defeated Netherlands 5-2 this afternoon.
Jordan Lawday made a second straight start in net for Martin Grubb’s side, who were made to fight for the win against a Dutch sided who are now 0&3 and facing a relegation battle with Croatia on Sunday.
After they failed to convert a third minute powerplay, GB opened the scoring at 7.26. Persistence round the net from Adam Finlinson set up the initial chance, which Sam Duggan converted on the rebound. Britain couldn’t turn their possession into clear chances, and Netherlands tied the game while Ollie Stone was sitting a roughing minor. Tobie Tjin-A-Ton’s shot from the left circle crept past Lawday and into the net at 14.12.
Lawday pulled off a huge double save four minutes from the end of the period to keep the scores level at the first break.
The early exchanges in the middle frame were back and forth, though Netherlands were handed a gilt-edged chance to take lead around the half hour. First Cole Shudra was binned for hooking at 29.51, then just 40 seconds later linemate Liam Kirk was harshly called on a charging penalty putting Dutch on a five on three.
Strong penalty killing and a Netherlands penalty of their own negated the five on three and GB returned to full strength. The go-ahead goal came just over two minutes from time and was made by the hard work on the forecheck of Ben Edmonds. He turned the puck over on the boards deep in the Netherlands zone, passed out to Matthew Headland who squared to Bradley Betteridge in the slot. Betteridge’s one-timer flew past Tom Barendregt in the Dutch net.
Into the final session, GB continued to have the better of possession and chances, but were unable to convert until 47.10 when, operating on a delayed penalty, Mac Howlett dropped the pass to Kyle Smith on the point and the d-man let fly a laser into the top corner to open a two-goal margin for the first time.
Netherlands were not to be outdone and they came back, drawing two GB penalties from Betteridge and Kyle Smith to give them another 36 seconds of five on three. GB’s kill once again exceptional, and after Mac Howlett was fouled on a breakaway, Great Britain went on their own powerplay.
Fast transition saw Liam Kirk and Sam Duggan exchange passes before Duggan fired into the roof of the net for a 4-1 lead at 56.26.
Inside the final two minutes, GB’s defenceman Stuart Kerr was binned for interference and Netherlands, playing six on four with an empty net scrambled a second PP goal at 58.34 to cut the gap to two goals.
They gained possession on the restart and pulled the goalie again, before GB turned over possession and Adam Finlinson fired into the empty net to seal the win six seconds from time.
Speaking after the game, coach Martin Grubb said: “We said Netherlands would be fighting for their lives and so it proved.
“In the past, GB teams have found the Dutch a tough opponent and we knew it would be a battle. We didn’t play our best today but credit the players they showed character to dig in and get the three points where in previous years we may have lost that game.”
Grubb also paid tribute to his captain, Sam Duggan, who was named GB player of the game.
“I thought Sam was outstanding tonight, he was a true leader. Blocking shots, back-checking hard and coming up with two big goals for the team.
“Sam cares – we know he’s playing at a higher level in Sweden but he just loves playing for his country.”
GB now face Poland on Friday afternoon (1700 local, 1500 UK time) in their fourth of five games here in Brasov.
“They look pretty slick,” said Grubb of his next opponents. “They have speed, size and skill for sure. We are scouting the Romania-Poland game tonight to see them both in a game situation – our next two opponents.
“I think Poland’s style will suit our game so we have to be ready to go again, with the same mantra of taking one shift, one period, one game at a time and see where it takes us.”
IIHF Game sheet for this game: http://stats.iihf.com/Hydra/549/IHM549907_74_4_0.pdf
Photo credit: Benedikt Kubatzki