GB U20 start with win against top seeds

Great Britain U20 stunned the top-seeded Slovenia team in the first game of the World Championship tournament, winning 3-2 in overtime at the Palais des Sports in Megeve, France.

Lewis Hook’s top-shelf wrist shot just 37 seconds into the extra period secured the two points for Tom Watkins’ side with Slovenia taking one point for the OT loss.

GB started the game with Jordan Hedley in net and were the better of the two sides in the opening exchanges. Slovenia picked up two early penalties giving the British powerplay unit the chance to go to work inside the first five minutes.

Despite moving the puck very well in the attacking zone, the penalties were killed and the first period was scoreless.

Slovenia upped their tempo in the middle frame and GB had to soak up a lot of pressure. It was just as Great Britain were playing themselves back into the game that Slovenia opened the scoring.

Janez Orehek forced the puck past Hedley at 26.53 for the first goal. Both sides had further chances but the period ended with the top seeds a goal to the good.

Great Britain began the third session on the powerplay, a position improved as Slovenia added a delaying the game penalty to give a shortened five on three advantage.

There were around 20 seconds left on the second penalty when Macaulay Heywood skated from inside his own zone with the puck before firing high on the short side past Vlahovic in the Slovenia net for the tying goal.

It was to get even better just over a minute later as Owen Griffiths was put through on net by Heywood’s pass and, though he was brought down by the defender, managed to sweep the puck into the net for a GB lead.

Ten minutes from time Marko Tarman fired from the blueline through traffic to tie the game at 2-2.

There were late chances at both ends, Jordan Hedley pulling off a stunning glove save six minutes from time and another leg save in the dying seconds. Regulation time ended with scores level so it was off to overtime.

The extra period – played four on four – saw GB create the only scoring chances before Callum Buglass out of defence found Lewis Hook and the forward skated in off the wing and fired into the net for the game-winning goal.

After the match Head Coach Tom Watkins said: “I’m really proud of the team – our work ethic was excellent and we showed great character to keep going, from one-down and then being pegged back to 2-2 late on.

“Slovenia are a really good team coming down from the top group and we were never on the back foot, to beat them in overtime everyone is over the moon.

“Lewis Hook won us the game but Jordan Hedley kept us in it and he was the difference today. Five or six minutes left he pulls out a great glove save and that gave everyone a lift.

“Going into OT we said to the players that we wanted the extra point, we’d worked for it. Overtime can be a bit of a turkey shoot sometimes and go either way but it was another quality goal from Lewis Hook to win it.”

Overtime goal scorer Lewis Hook added: “The room is buzzing, we battled for the full sixty and deserved the win.

At the end of the second period although a goal down we were confident we could get goals. Macaulay (Heywood) scored a great goal which got us going and once we went ahead the players were never thinking about losing.”

Great Britain’s second game is on Sunday afternoon against Poland. In Saturday’s other match hosts France netted in the final minute of overtime to defeat Ukraine 3-2.

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