GB U18S 6-3 CROATIA U18S

Three goals in 47 seconds in the third period helped Great Britain Under-18s secure World Championship Division 2 Group A survival with a 6-3 victory over Croatia U18s.

The victory moved GB onto seven points and means Croatia have been relegated to Division 2 Group B.

Ethan James had to be sharp to make two early saves as Croatia had the game’s first chances, before GB scored with their first shot on goal.

Moments after a GB powerplay had expired, Jordan Buesa cut inside from the right and fired low past Domagoj Troha for his second goal of the tournament (9:19).

But Croatia hit straight back as Fabijan Kozina fired low on the doorstep to tie the game at one (11:23).

James made an excellent save to keep out Kozina’s tip early in the second period, before Chad Smith’s gentle shot from left point deceived Troha to put GB 2-1 up on the powerplay at 22:52.

Harry Gulliver has thrown out on a slashing major penalty and Croatia scored on the subsequent powerplay as Matija Stubicar scored from close range (27:57).

Chances were at a premium in the early stages of the third period, but Josh Waller stepped out in front to fire in his first goal of the tournament on the powerplay (49:43).

Mac Howlett broke through the zone to score on the powerplay (52:13) and Liam Kirk won the resulting centre ice face-off and skated in to fire home on his backhand only six seconds later (52:19).

Liam Kirk made it a personal double in 41 seconds when he touched in at 53:00.

Croatia grabbed a third when Luka Kramaric scored from the left circle (56:31), but GB had done enough to stave off relegation.

GB U18s head coach, Martin Grubb, said: “We started nervous. We were a little bit tentative which is disappointing. 

“At the end of the first period we had a few stern words and had to sort a few things out. 

“We got better in the second period and started to control the game. 

“That little spell in the third period was important when we needed the big players to step up. 

“I am pleased for the players that we managed to finish in a positive way, but it is tinged with disappointment as we know we could’ve done better.”  

Cameron Pound was named as GB’s Player of the Tournament, while Ben Solder was award Player of the Tournament by Great Britain Supporters’ Club.

Photo credit: Karl Denham.