Great Britain lost for the second night in succession after going down 4-2 in Cardiff to Norway who are currently ranked 11th in the World.
It was an inexperienced GB group who took to the ice in Wales with a total of eight players making their debuts for their country. However, there was no mistaking the willingness of Pete Russell’s men who never stopped working throughout the evening.
The game started in a frenetic fashion, continuing in the same feisty vein as the previous evening in Nottingham where Norway were eventual 2-1 victors after GB took an early advantage through Robert Farmer.
However, this evening, it was Norway who took an early lead on the power play, with Jon Weaver and Craig Moore sat in the penalty box for high sticking and hooking respectively, it was defenceman Villiam Strom of Norwegian league side Lorenskog who finished off a patient power play with assists from Espeland and Roest.
For the remainder of the first period, Norway had the upper hand but were unable to extend their lead thanks to some dogged GB defence, and some inspired net minding from Jackson Whistle.
The Norwegians extended their lead in the second period on 25:31 through Tommy Kristiansen, assisted by Espeland again, with Villiam Strom this time providing an assist for his second point of the night.
Any thoughts of Norway running away with this game were quickly and abruptly put to bed when Manchester Storm forward Jack Prince immediately hit back just 28 seconds after Norway’s second marker.
Following a scrum around the Norway net, Prince found a way to power the puck into the back of the net and past Henrik Holm. Sheffield Steelers defenceman David Phillips was credited with an assist.
With GB’s tail now well and truly up, and with confidence visibly pouring through the young line up, Prince scored again on 35:44, a well worked move involving the tireless Liam Stewart on debut and veteran defenceman Jonathan Weaver. Both men picked up an assist on the goal.
By this stage Jackson Whistle had been replaced by local hero Tom Murdy, much to the obvious pleasure of the Cardiff locals. Murdy continuing from where the 21-year-old Belfast stopper left off, making some key saves to keep the game level going into the 3rd and final period.
It was to be Norway however who came out firing in the 3rd period, and with two quick goals in the opening minutes of the final virtually killed off any hope of a potential upset by the home side.
On 40:46 it was the experienced Sondre Olden who fired past Tom Murdy, assisted by line mates Soberg and Stene. This was followed up less than a minute later on 41:36 with a good goal from 30-year-old Niklas Roest assisted by Aleksander Reichenberg.
These two quick fire goals stunned Great Britain for a few minutes, but they were soon back at it. Ross Venus and Prince again going close but both were unable to find another way past Holm.
With ten minutes of the game Tom Murdy made a huge save to keep his team in the game and with the final minute to go Liam Stewart managed to draw a tripping penalty, but with Murdy now pulled and GB on a 6 on 4 power play, they could just not find a way to pull another goal back in this enthralling encounter.
Full credit must go to Pete Russell’s battling youngsters for staying in this game for so long against a side that has qualified for the Winter Olympics.
Speaking after the game Russell said: “I think once again we played a great game, there are some massive positives to take out of this week.
“Norway are a class team and we gave them problems in both matches. The difference between their level and ours is staying with it and we came out in the third maybe a little complacent and it killed us in both games.
“The more we play games like this then the better we can play at this level and play the style of hockey required.
“Overall it’s been a fantastic exercise and nothing but positives to take from the GB point of view.”
WORDS: Rob Plaister. PHOTOS: Helen Brabon