ANDY BROWN believes Great Britain Under-18s have enjoyed excellent preparations ahead of their World Championships campaign which gets underway this Sunday in Estonia.
The Bulldogs’ head coach was speaking after a 4-3 loss for the youngsters against Finnish domestic side K-Espoo Blues in the Malmi Arena in Helsinki on Thursday afternoon.
The defeat came 24 hours after the GB teenagers had beaten Grankulla IFK 9-3 at the same venue, the two games forming part of the team’s final preparations at their training camp in Helsinki ahead of their departure for Tallinn on Friday afternoon.
Brown is working with the 18s as one of two assistant coaches, alongside Martin Grubb, the pair coming together under head coach Sean Easton.
Oliver Heinistö put K-Espoo Blues ahead with the only goal of the first period after 64 seconds.
Sheffield-born netminder Alex Oldale, who started the game, was replaced by former Bulldogs junior goalie Ben Norton at 9.13 because of injury and Kasper Pohjala made it 2-0 at 22.03 on the powerplay.
Heinistö netted his second of the game at 29.57 before Jack Hopkins reduced the arrears at 36.29.
Hopkins made it a one-goal game with his second of te game at 45.15) before Cameron Hamill netted the equaliser just over three minutes later. But, on the power play, Elias Karjalainen scored the game-winning goal at 56.11.
“We started much stronger tonight and got some good looks early on but didn’t finish our chances,” said Brown afterwards.
“We conceded against the run of play and then Alex (Oldale) took an injury which saw him leave the game. We also lost Archie (Hazeldine) during the game too.
“This meant our D had to play a lot of minutes, much of which was on the penalty kill. In contrast to last night, we didn’t really get chance to activate our own powerplay but I thought our penalty kill lines rolled well.
“The boys showed great character to get the game back to 3-3 in the third at which point I felt there were a couple of dubious calls against us, which made it difficult to close the game out and ultimately sealed our fate.
“Ben (Norton) had another strong performance between the pipes coming in cold and Hoppo (Jack Hopkins) caused their D problems all night long, but we simply weren’t clinical in-front of net in the first two periods.
“We’ve had two really tough games which – with the training sessions we’ve had – have been excellent preparation ahead of the World Championship.”
We’ll have a full interview with Andy Brown about his expectations for the GB Under-18s in Estonia coming online later today.