England won the U19 international against Scotland by 4-1 to regain the Frank Dempster Trophy and kick start the 21st EIHA Junior Inter Conference tournament weekend.
The game was played in front of a healthy Friday night crowd at Ice Sheffield and featured many Great Britain U20 and U18 medallists from this season’s IIHF tournaments.
A pretty even first period looked like being scoreless until Duncan Speirs skating as the trailing man on an odd man rush rifled a shot past Jordan Hedley from just inside the blue line at 15.31 to give Scotland the lead. Liam Cassidy picked up the lone assist on the goal.
That remained the score at the first interval, though England were leading the shot count by 12-8.
In the middle session two goals just 26 seconds apart turned the score on its head, with England skating to a 2-1 lead. First Ivan Antonov (22.58) converted from Owen Griffiths pass before Michael Stratford netted on a delayed penalty at 23.24 to put the ‘home’ side into the lead.
England swapped goalies just past the midpoint with Jordan Hedley being replaced by Denis Bell. Hedley stopped 9 of 10 shots he faced in just over 32 minutes.
The shots on goal in the period were 16-6 in England’s favour but Renny Marr in the Scotland net was on top form, and it would by just a single goal lead going into the final period.
Each side had an early powerplay chance in the third session, a cagey affair with Scotland looking to get back on level terms while England sought the breathing space a third goal would give them.
It was just five minutes from time when England’s fourth powerplay resulted in the crucial score. Antonov and Griffiths created the opportunity for McGiffin to fire past Marr and make the game all but safe for England.
Scotland pulled Marr with over two minutes remaining on a late powerplay for a six on four, but England penalty kill held firm and there was exactly one minute remaining when captain Lewis Hook scored on the empty net to seal the win with a final score of 4-1.
A three-goal margin was possibly harsh on Scotland but the final shots on goal were 42-22 in England’s favour with Renny Marr making 38 saves to give his side the best possible chance of victory.
The Man of the Match awards were sponsored by Warrior Hockey UK and were won by Duncan Speirs (Scotland) and Ivan Antonov (England). After the players received their medals, Lewis Hook lifted the Frank Dempster Memorial Trophy as it returned to English hands after 12 months north of the border.
Victorious England coach Mitch Stead said: “It was a great honour to be asked to coach England u19 and a huge thank you to the players for pulling on an England shirt and giving me their all.
“After the first period we changed a couple of things and Ivan and Michael took their chances very well.
“I can’t praise the players enough for the way their executed the plays we’d worked on for such a short time, including face offs which are a huge part of the game today. The special teams were also very good – powerplay created chances and the penalty kill was very controlled, especially at the end facing the six on four.
“The players did themselves, their clubs and the EIHA proud, it was an absolute pleasure to work with them.”
Words: march74sports www.march74.com
Photos: Ice Hockey Media www.icehockeymedia.co.uk