Leeds Knights’ Archie Hazeldine shines but Great Britain Under-18s suffer on opening day of IIHF World Championships

ARCHIE HAZELDINE posted a goal and an assist on his Great Britain competitive debut but it couldn’t prevent defeat against hosts Estonia at the Division 2A Under-18 World Championships.

GB netminder Ben Norton thwarts another Estonia attack in Tallinn. Picture: Catherine Kortsmik
GB netminder Ben Norton thwarts another Estonia attack in Tallinn. Picture: Catherine Kortsmik

Sean Easton’s side came from behind twice and former Bradford Bulldogs netminder Ben Norton made 36 saves, but GB’s hopes of gold and the promotion that comes with it took an early hit on day one of the tournament in Tallinn as they went down 3-2 to a late winner from Erik Potsinok. They next face Romania on Tuesday (10.30am UK time).

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Easton said his team’s inability to stay out of the penalty box contributed to their defeat and said improvements were needed if they were to land any kind of medal.

ON TARGET: .Leeds Knights' Archie Hazeldine bagged a goal and an assist for GB Under-18s in their 3-2 defeat to hosts Estonia at the IIHF World Championships Picture: Bruce Rollinson

“We started brightly but then found ourselves in penalty trouble,” he said. “Once we took one, more followed and we lost our stride,” said Easton. “Playing from behind all game and taking penalties is no way to be in these tournaments.

MORE – Leeds Knights youngster Archie Hazeldine targets golden shot with GB Under-18s at World Championships

“With the past two years cancelled and being at a World Championship new to most of the players, we were star-struck and played on the back foot. Playing the home nation as the opening game for tournament and a good fanbase full of locals, it was a tough game to find our feet. We have to and need to be better to come away with a medal.”

The first goal for the hosts came on the power play, with Erik Nevolainen’s bullet of a shot from right point 16.02, towards the end of a penalty on Sam Cooper for an illegal check to the head.

GB took advantage of two successive powerplays of their own in the second session when Leeds Knights’ D-man Hazeldine - who later picked up the man-of-the-match award for GB - cut inside from the left to net the equaliser 32.22.

Estonia were back in-front early in the third period as a perfect pass from Deniss Kontesus found Erik Potsinok, who found room to skate backwards at the backdoor and fire past Norton at 43.53.

GB were kept in the game when Doncaster-born Norton – now studying and playing at Northwood School – made a stunning double save at close range while, at the other end, Oliver Endicott was denied.

They deservedly hauled themselves level when good work by Hazeldine around the back of the net helped set up Cooper to fire through traffic at 53.43.

But the hosts were not finished and scored the game-winner just over three minutes later, Potsinok stealing the puck at the bottom of the left circle before squeezing it between Norton’s right shoulder and the pipes at his near post at 56.50.

GB’s remaining fixtures: Tuesday 5th April – Great Britain U18s v Romania U18s – 12:30 (10:30 UK)

Wednesday 6th April – Great Britain U18s v Korea U18s – 12:30 (10:30 UK)

Friday 8th April – Serbia U18s v Great Britain U18s – 16:00 (14:00 UK)

Saturday 9th April – Great Britain U18s v Lithuania U18s – 12:30 (10:30 UK)