BATTLING BRITS TAKE A POINT FROM POLAND

Great Britain U20s battled for more than 65 minutes against second seeds Poland in Budapest on Wednesday night, finally going down in a penalty shoot out after regulation and overtime ended 2-2.

It means Martin Grubb’s men take a valuable point in the standings ahead of their crunch fixture with Italy on Thursday night.

The team looked to rebound from Monday night’s disappointing loss to Hungary and once again went with Renny Marr in net.

GB had to absorb a lot of early pressure from Poland, but finally got their chance when Poland took two quick penalties, giving a spell of 5on3 power play.

The two man advantage expired but Britain capitalised on the second penalty when Glenn Billing fired from the point to open the scoring at 11.30. Cameron Pound and Duncan Speirs picked up the assists.

GB had further chances, outshooting the Poles 11-8 in the period, but Studzinski made some big saves for Poland.

Britain had to kill their first penalty early in period two as Connor Henderson was binned for tripping – however the GB special teams were on form and kept Poland to shots from the outside which Renny Marr was able to deal with.

Great Britain extended their lead just after the half hour. Jordan Kelsall’s aggressive forecheck caused a turnover in the Poland zone, and though Tyler Plews saw his shot saved, a second effort set up Liam Kirk for a one-timer and he smashed it into the net for his second goal of the week and GB ahead 2-0.

An unfortunate penalty call on Josh Smith gave Poland a second powerplay and this time they were able to convert. Alan Lyszczarczyk who plays his junior hockey with Sudbury of the OHL struck the decisive shot past Renny Marr to reduce the arrears at the second break.

Poland carried on in period three – the shot count 16-9 in their favour across the session – plus many others where GB players threw themselves in front of pucks to block shots.

The game tying goal came just after the ten minute mark. A partial clearance from GB made its way to Mateusz Goscinski and his low shot from the left circle went five hole on Marr and into the net.

Britain had some chances later on, including a breakaway by Liam Kirk where he appeared to be fouled but there was no call from the referee. Regulation time ran out putting GB into their second overtime contest of the week. This time there was no OT goal, though Poland had the best of the chances it remained 2-2 after 65 minutes.

The shootout saw Poland shoot first- Kamil Wrobel netted with the very first shot and that proved to be the only successful effort. Kirk, Duggan and Billing saw their efforts saved by Studzinski and Poland took the extra point, 3-2 the final scoreline.
After the game coach Martin Grubb said: “That was a massive performance by the players. We knew that there would be times we’d have to be good in the d-zone.

“And we were heroic in the d-zone. Our shot blocking was exceptional and when we had our chances we put them under pressure. We set the tone from the first shift when Sam Duggan made a hit behind the net and they didn’t like that.

“Of course you’re disappointed not to take the maximum points in any game, but we have to take the point we’ve won and build on it tomorrow against Italy.

“If take the same intensity and ‘British bulldog’ spirit into tomorrow and we cut out the mistakes then I’d like to think we have too much for them.

“Now it’s late so the players have to take on water and food and then get their rest before practice tomorrow and we go again.”

Great Britain are fifth in the standings with two points, Italy are below them with a single point from three games. Hosts Hungary currently top the group with a perfect nine from nine. Poland are second, Slovenia third and Ukraine fourth.

Photo credit: Duncan Speirs