Cardiff Fire and Great Britain Under 20s goaltender Jordan Lawday will return from the Division 2A World Junior Championships in Dumfries, Scotland with a Bronze Medal, following a final day defeat to Japan.
GB came into the tournament as favourites, with home ice expected to play a factor, but it all came undone later in the weeklong tournament after an impressive start from the hosts.
The Under 20s from GB had a tough test to open the tournament as they faced off against Romania. Lawday played all 60 minutes in the opening game stopping 30 of 32 shots as GB took a hard fought 3 – 2 victory, with Lawday and Romania goaltender Ors Adorjan both picking up player of the game honours.
After game one, GB faced easier tests as they took on Estonia and Netherlands.
Against the Estonians in game two of the tournament, GB trailed 1 – 0 after 20 minutes as Estonian defenseman Ed Slessarevski opened the scoring midway through the opening frame.
GB responded in emphatic fashion in the second period, Lawday only had to make 4 stops as Liam Kirk, Edward Knaggs and Jordan Buesa all got on the scoresheet to send the game into the third period with the hosts up 3 – 1.
The Brits kept up the pace in the final period, with captain Sam Duggan finding the net in the 44th minute, before Cole Shudra extended it to a 5 – 1 hockey game just over a minute later.
Cole Shudra of the Sheffield Steelers made it a 6 – 1 game a few minutes later, but the Estonians found a second goal through Nikita Jefremov to finish out a 6 – 2 game in game two, extending GBs unbeaten run.
Lawday was given the night off as the Brits took on the Division 2A whipping boys in the Netherlands.
Despite a shaky opening 40 minutes where GB only led 2 – 1 going into the final period, a dominant third period saw GB skate out with a huge 8 – 1 win with six goals in the final frame.
After three wins in three games, GB faced their toughest test yet as they took on South Korea in a bid to keep their gold medal dreams alive.
After a back and forth opening 20 minutes, the teams were still tied at 0 to start the second period and that’s where the game really came alive.
Korea struck first thanks to Hyun Seok Lee scoring just a minute and 45 seconds into the start of the second period. After a bad turnover behind the net, Lee used his speed to pick up he puck and fire it short side past Jordan Lawday to break the deadlock.
A few minutes later it was GB capitalising on a bad turnover, after the shot caused a mad scramble out in front, eventually Cole Shudra slotted home the rebound to tie things up at 1.
Korea used their speed to their advantage all game long, and it worked wonders at the 27 minute mark. Jung Woo Kim burnt his way up the middle before a nice drop pass to Hun Park who fired his one time effort to Lawdays right hand side to put Korea ahead 2 – 1. A couple of minutes later at almost the midway point of the game, Lawday was pulled in favour of Ethan James of the Essa Stallions in Canada, with James backstopping GB for the rest of the game.
Liam Kirk pulled the game back even late in the second, but it was the final 2 minutes that really made this game interesting.
With a scramble in front of the GB net, referee Andrej Simankov determined a GB player covered the puck with their hand and awarded the Koreans a penalty shot.
Juhyung Lee stepped up for Korea, faking out Ethan James before slotting his effort five-hole to once again give Korea the lead, but it wasn’t long until GB had a penalty shot of their own. Sam Duggan broke in alone before being tripped up, awarding him a penalty shot of his own, which he converted with the puck trickling past Korea goaltender Jong Hun Chun.
Just a goal each in the final frame sent it to overtime, and then a shootout with the score tied at 4.
Only Liam Kirk was able to convert on his penalty shot, with the Koreans scoring three times to give them the win and the crucial extra point, meaning GB needed to win on Saturday to salvage a gold medal.
Queue Saturday and the GBs meeting with Japan, the gold medal was on the line to either of these teams.
Less than five minutes in, the Japanese were ahead thanks to some good pressure down low, before Masato Kume rounded Jordan Lawday and roofing his backhand effort into the net for a 1 – 0 lead.
A few minutes later, with GB short handed the Japanese extended the lead through Daiki Miura, sending the game into the second period with a 2 – 0 Japanese lead.
The Brits did strike first in the second period through Liam Kirk with his tournament leading 7th goal which made it a difference of a goal separating the two teams going into the crucial final period with the gold medal on the line.
It was a dream start to the third for Japan with Hayato Aiki finishing off a quick rush to make it a two goal cushion as well.
Miura extending it to 4 – 1 midway through the third, sending GB into desperation mode. With just under five minutes to play, GB Coach Slava Koulikov pulled Lawday from the net in favour of an extra attacker.
It paid off seconds later as Cole Shudra pulled one back, but with Lawday back on the bench, Junki Shinoda finished things off, sealing the gold medal for Japan and promotion to Division 1B.
With the loss in regulation, GB fell to third as Korea had defeated Romania earlier in the day, sealing the silver medal for themselves. GB find themselves stuck in Division 2A just a year after being relegated to the Division.
After the game, Japanese defensman Daiki Ayoma was named the tournaments best d-man whilst Liam Kirk was named the tournaments best forward, with Tae Kyung Kim of Korea picked up goaltender of the tournament honours.
With the Bronze Medal, it means GB will face Korea, Romania and Estonia again next year, with Lithuania dropping down from Division 1B and the winner of Division 2B coming up to join them.