Great Britain’s Women played their second EIHA U20 Cup match at Sheffield, coming out winners by 4-2 over Whitley Renegades.
The competition features seven U20 teams from the EIHA league alongside GB to give the women’s programme a series of competitive games ahead of the U18 and Women’s World Championships at Dumfries in 2019.
GB coaches named a squad with a mix of senior players and U18s who had recently returned from their four-nations tournament in Poland, which may have helped give an indication to ice hockey bookmakers on how they might fare in the worlds.
Holly Steeples got the start in net, sharing time between the pipes with Ella Howard.
Whitley opened the scoring at 2.15 as Thomas Fraser netted a rebound after Steeples had saved Ross Dixon’s original shot.
After the early setback, GB found their way back into the game and began to create chances using their speed against Whitley’s bigger lineup.
The reward came just before the halfway mark as Beth Hill carried the puck up the left wing at pace, and let fly a shot from the faceoff dot which went high glove side past Jack Wakefield in the Whitley net. The goal was unassisted.
Further chances came and went, and as it appeared to be heading to intermission all square a scramble around the Whitley net saw Emily Harris force the puck over the line timed at 19.55 to give GB the lead. Steph Towns and Abbie Culshaw picked up assists on the play.
Great Britain had the better of the early exchanges in period two before Whitley capitalised on a turnover to level. Ross Dixon found Lewis Crisp and his shot found a way past Steeples for the equaliser at 29.58. Ella Howard took over in net at the restart.
The scoreline remained level for less than a minute. With an attacking faceoff, GB moved the puck to Jodie Bloom at the point and her wrist shot through traffic hit the top corner and GB’s lead was restored at 30.33. Assists on the play went to Isabelle Whiteley and Clara Ashton.
Whitley were creating more chances now as they again chased the game, but they were unable to get past a well drilled GB defence and also Ella Howard continued her form from the Poland tournament with 27 saves to see out the game.
The insurance goal came early in the third period, Beth Hill and Kim Lane broke into the attacking zone, Hill’s initial shot was saved by Wakefield but the puck fell to Lane who potted the rebound for 4-2 at 43.33.
Howard saved 13 shots in the final frame, GB held on comfortably and secured the win as the women’s programme continues its road to Dumfries for the respective championships next year.
After the game GB defenceman, and captain for the game, Jodie Bloom said: “I think we have improved since the first game in this competition. We struggled in the first few shifts today, it was a bit scrappy, but we settled down and began to play our game and got the reward.
“Whitley are a big team but we managed to shut them down defensively but also use our speed to get round them and our goals came from that.
“I was impressed with the younger players today – our fourth line was all under-18s and they did well, as did Ella when she came on half way through. Both sides are preparing well for their World Championships and this was another step forward for us.”
STATISTICS: Great Britain: Hill 1+1; Harris, Lane and Bloom 1+0; Whiteley, Towns, Ashton and Culshaw 0+1. Net: Steeples (29.58) 12 shots, 10 saves; Howard (30.02) 27 shots, 27 saves.
GB team: 1 Ella Howard, 2 Beth Scoon, 3 Audrey Wood, 5 Isabelle Whiteley, 6 Monica Petrosino, 7 Sophie Campbell, 9 Megan Gourlay, 10 Sarah Hutchinson, 11 Lucy Beal, 12 Emily Harris, 13 Abbie Sylvester, 14 Saffron Allen, 15 Kim Lane, 16 Ellie Wakeling, 17 Steph Towns, 18 Clara Ashton, 20 Holly Steeples, 21 Abbie Culshaw, 22 Jemma Wallis, 23 Alana Clare, 24 Beth Hill, 25 Jodie Bloom.
By Craig Simpson