COVENTRY BLAZE NIHL SELECT 3-6 GREAT BRITAIN UNDER-18S

Great Britain Under-18s faced a tough test from a Coventry Blaze NIHL Select side in a World Championship warm-up game at the Skydome.

With Division 2A in Romania just two months’ away, head coach Martin Grubb was keen that the team got a good workout from a Blaze side that included a wealth of Elite League experience.

GB out-shot Blaze 14-5 in the first period and both sides had good chances to open the scoring.

Blaze netmimder Renny Marr, guesting from the EIHL Blaze, had to be at his best to stop Cole Shudra in front, while Harry Gulliver slid an excellent chance just wide.

Jordan Lawday in the GB goal also had to be alert to chances from Connor Keyes and Matt Maurice, but it was Blaze who opened the scoring at 16:50 as Ross Venus fed Brenden Walker in front, who beat Lawday stick side for what was to be the only goal of the first period.

Into the second period and Blaze very nearly doubled their advantage but Walker was denied by Lawday.

GB came close to equalising soon after as Bradley Betteridge had two chances in front but Marr was equal to both.

The Blaze netminder had to be at his best again later in the period to deny Jordan Kelsall and Mac Howlett in quick succession.

A GB netminder change at 32:25 saw Lawday replaced by Kyle Johnston and just over a minute later GB equalised, with Finlay Ulrick sliding the puck across Marr from an angle.

Ulrick had a great chance to give GB the lead in the 17th minute of the period, but Marr pulled off an excellent point-blank save. No further scoring saw the period end 1-1.

Graham Laverick replaced Marr in goal for the Blaze at the start of the final period and it was the Blaze who took the lead back at 41:38 through Ross Venus.

The home side would have gone further ahead at 44:40 had Johnston not made an excellent save from Phillip Mulcahy right in front.

Coventry were to rue the missed chance as Edward Knaggs equalised with a wrist shot into the corner at 46:14.

Blaze were to re-take the lead with 10 minutes remaining through Daniel Thompson, but from that point GB dominated to take the win.

Tom Stubley equalised at 51:58 before Adam Finlinson gave GB the lead for the first time on the night, scoring the first of his two goals at 54:41 with a superb coast-to-coast effort.

Nineteen seconds later it was 5-3 through Kyle Smith, before Finlinson rounded off the scoring at 58:26 for a 6-3 final scoreline.

Coach Grubb said: “I thought (netminder) Renny Marr was outstanding for them in the first two periods. 

“We wanted a worthwhile game rather than coming and turning a team over.

“We’re delighted with the way it went. We know we’ve got some more work to do but the game was thoroughly entertaining and the boys have done really well.” 

GB scoring: Finlinson 2 goals; Ulrick, Knaggs, Stuble, Kyle Smith 1 goal each.
Period scores (1-0, 0-1, 2-5)
Shots (5-14, 7-20, 15-20)

Photo credit: Scott Wiggins.

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