Great Britain U20s began their Under-20s World Championship Division II Group A campaign with a 6-4 defeat by Lithuania U20s in Tallinn.
GB outshot Lithuania 54-19 but came up against an inspired performance by netminder Laurynas Lubys.
Britain were 4-0 at the end of the first session and despite a second and third-period fightback, they came up a little short.
Lithuania score four in first period
Lithuania scored two powerplay goals in the opening four minutes to take an early control of the game.
Lukas Washco’s one-timer from the left circle (1:55) was followed 83 seconds later by Martynas Grinius reacting first to a puck off the backboards (3:18).
Grinius scored a second from close range at 7:59, while Patrik Misiuk cut inside from the right-hand side and went top shelf at 16:54.
GB’s best chances in the first period came from Liam Kirk, Joe Hazeldine and Josh Waller.
Waller and Buesa get GB on the board
Jordan McLaughlin replaced Will Kerlin in the GB goal at the start of the second period.
GB were on the board at 29:24 as Kirk fed Waller who finished neatly from the slot, before Jordan Buesa stepped out from behind the net and fired low past Lubys on the powerplay (36:56).
Lithuania’s fifth was not without controversy as Washco scored his second of the night into an unguarded net with McLaughlin impeded on the ice (38:25).
Washco completes his hat-trick
Cade Neilson netted on the powerplay as he stepped in from the right and buried the puck top shelf to reduce the deficit to two at 45:42.
Washco completed his hat-trick on a short-handed breakaway at 55:06 and there was still time for GB to reduce the deficit again before the final hooter.
Moments after Slava Koulikov had called his timeout, Harry Gulliver fired through traffic with McLaughlin lifted for the extra skater (58:22).
GB U20s head coach, Slava Koulikov, said: “We gave ourselves a mountain to climb conceding those four goals in the first period.
“But I have to credit the players with the way they fought back for the rest of the game.
“We had nearly three times as many shots as Lithuania and on another day we would have won the game.
“There was a bit of controversy about their fifth goal which is disappointing, but we stuck at it and came close to a remarkable comeback.”
In today’s other games, there was a 2-1 win for Estonia over Spain, while Romania secured a 2-1 overtime victory over Korea.
GB return to action tomorrow when they face Korea U20s, with face-off at 4:30pm (2:30pm UK time). The game is live on FreeSports with Aaron Murphy and Paul Adey.
FreeSports is available free on Sky Channel 422, Virgin Media Channel 553, on Channel 64 on Freeview and BT and on Freesat Channel 252.
Photo credit: Hendrik Soots.