GB U20s beaten by Japan in opener

(PHOTO: Courtesy of Ice Hockey UK)

Great Britain Men’s Under-20s coach Martin Grubb says his team showed good character, bunted to learn fast after losing 6-3 to Japan in their U20 World Championship Division II Group A game in Vilnius, Lithuania.

It was a tough test for the team, but couldn’t make any headway as Japan took the opening day points, leaving Grubb to reflect on a tricky start.

But he’s keen to see his team bounce back when they return to action against hosts Lithuania in tomorrow’s (Tuesday) game.

“It’s a big disappointment to lose the game, especially as we were punished for our own mistakes by a very good Japan team,” he said.

“We showed good character to get back into the game at 3-2 and we had the momentum. We then took a silly penalty and it changed the game.

“They scored on the powerplay again and we then showed our frustrations by taking too many penalties. Five-on-five we were fine, but you cannot win a game when you give up so many soft goals.

“We need to learn and learn fast to give ourselves the best chance possible of bouncing back in a positive manner tomorrow.

“We have the ability to do so and we will review the game and make sure we’re ready.”

Japan went ahead when Chikara Hanzawa was given space in front of the net to pick the corner and fire past Will Kerlin after eight minutes.

Then Yusaku Ando finished off a well-worked move in front of the net at the half hour mark to give Japan a two-goal advantage, but GB reduced the deficit 12 seconds later as Mitchell-King danced around two defencemen to score on his backhand.

Hanzawa tucked the puck in at the near post on the powerplay for his second goal of the afternoon five minutes later as Japan led by two at the second intermission.

Jordan Buesa netted short-side in the third to close the gap, but Japan stretched their lead with powerplay goals from Teruto Nakajima, Riku Ishida and Teppei Ueno.

Graham produced an impressive neat top-corner finish in the closing stages as GB netted a consolation goal.

GB are straight back into action tomorrow as they face hosts Lithuania at 7pm (5pm UK time).

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