Great Britain U18 can still take a silver medal from Brasov despite going down to a 9-1 loss to Poland this afternoon – a result which guarantees Poland the gold medal and promotion to Division 1B next year.
Last year’s silver medalist and this year’s second seed, Poland have been the standout team of the week but for periods GB pushed them and caused problems before falling away in the final period.
Jordan Lawday made a third straight start in net, and Britain were asked to come flying out of the blocks by the coaches. Big early hits by Bradley Betteridge and Richard Krogh set GB’s stall out.
Poland had the first clear chance after just two minutes when they were awarded a penalty shot. GB were on the powerplay but Poland broke up the play and had a breakaway. GB’s Matthew Headland was adjudged to have tripped the Polish forward, giving the penalty shot to Jarosz. He skated in on Lawday but lost possession of the puck around the slot and the chance was gone.
The deadlock was broken at 4.27 as Bizacki scored from close range. A couple of minutes later, Michalowski’s blueline shot was tipped past Lawday by Ernest Bochnak for a 2-0 Poland lead.
Britain were then forced to kill three penalties in quick succession – which they did with determined work on the special teams. Shortly after the third penalty expired, GB conceded a third as Domink Pas took advantage of a poor linechange to fire a shot from the right circle for 3-0 at the first break.
Whatever was said before the second period paid off as GB hassled, harried and pressured Poland like no team so far this week. GB couldn’t convert on a couple of early powerplays before a bizarre series of penalties back and forth made for a rare sight of three-on-three in normal time.
Once order was restored Great Britain got their deserved goal – Cole Shudra finishing from Ollie Stone’s set up. It was Cole’s second of the week. A momentary lapse in the final minute of the period saw Poland restore a three-goal cushion with Bochnak’s second timed at 39.09.
For the final frame it was Poland who stepped up a level – playing high tempo, physical hockey to the final hooter – starting with a short-handed goal just 68 seconds in – Pas with the smart finish. The early goal seemed to take the wind from GB and Poland domianted the final exchanges. Pas completed his hat-trick with a powerplay tally on 45.00.
After GB killed a five on three, Poland stretched their lead while skating four on four. Jeziorski found time and space from the wing to shoot and score Poland’s seventh at 50.53. Great Britain called time out at this point and swapped goalies – Ethan James replacing Jordan Lawday, who had made 27 saves.
Five minutes from time, Poland extended the scoreline with Zygmunt tapping in a rebound after James had saved the initial two efforts. Still the Poles attacked, the final goal just 36 seconds from the end of the game as Dominik Olszweski bagged the ninth.
The win confirms Poland as group winners and they will receive their gold medals on Sunday night along with promotion to Division 1B next season.
Great Britain play the hosts Romania on Sunday at 2030 (1830 UK) where it looks like GB could still win silver or bronze with the right scoreline. The permutations will be clearer after the first game on Sunday, Poland v Lithuania.
Saturday is another rest day, with GB having an hour-long morning practice before video, meeting and recovery before Sunday’s game.
GB U18 head coach Martin Grubb said: “It was very frustrating, obviously not what we wanted from the game. Before we started we knew it would be difficult, Poland had already put 27 goals on in three games so we knew they were heavy on offence.
“This morning at practice we worked on what we could do to limit their offense and play to our systems to generate turnovers and go on the offensive ourselves.
“For most parts in the first period we competed well and the player did as they were asked. We were outshot but we took a few too many penalties but we were still in the game.
“In the second period we were really good – that’s the first time a team has threatened to win a period against Poland this week. I asked the boys to win the period and we should have but gave a sloppy goal at the end.
“The third period started with a shorthanded goal for them which was very slack from us and we were making individual errors which they capitalised on.”
Photo credit: Benedikt Kubatzki