GB Under-20s slip to opening day defeat in World Championships

HEAD COACH Slava Koulikov admitted Great Britain Under-20s gave themselves too much to do after a poor first period saw them lose 6-4 to Lithuania in their opening World Championship game in Estonia.

Harry Gulliver battles to get the puck through on the Lithuanian goal. Picture courtesy of Hendrik Soots.

Four unanswered first period goals were GB's undoing, despite dominating remaining 40 minutes and out-shooting their Division 2, Group A opponents by 54 shots to 19.

"We gave ourselves a mountain to climb conceding those four goals in the first period," admitted Koulikov, whose team included Sheffield Steelers' duo Kieran Brown and Jordan Griffin, as well as former Steelers' forward Liam Kirk, who is captain. "But I have to credit the players with the way they fought back for the rest of the game.

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"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."

NOT TO BE: GB Under-20s captain Liam Kirk initiates another drive into the Lithuanian zone. Picture courtesy Hendrik Soots.

Lithuania scored two powerplay goals in the opening four minutes to take early control of the game, Lukas Washco's one-timer from the left circle at 1.55 being followed just 83 seconds later by Martynas Grinius reacting first to a puck off the backboards.

Grinius scored a second from close range at 7.59, before Patrik Misiuk cut inside from the right-hand side to make it 4-0 at 16.54 and leave Koulikov's team stunned.

After Jordan McLaughlin replaced Will Kerlin in the GB goal at the start of the second period, Koulikov's team began to find their feet and got on the board at at 29.24 as Kirk fed Josh Waller who finished neatly. Just over seven minutes later, Jordan Buesa stepped out from behind the net and fired low past Lubys on the power play.

But the game breaker came two minutes later when Lithuania were awarded a controversial fifth goal, despite McLaughlin seemingly being pinned down to the ice by a Lithuanian player to leave Washco a simple conversion on an unguarded net at 38.25.

Again GB got to within two goals when Cade Neilson netted on the power play at 45.42 but his team were pole-axed again after Washco scored on a short-haned breakaway at 55.06. Harry Gulliver fired through traffic at 58.22 with GB going for the extra skater, but it was as close as they could get.