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Great Britain pick up first win of 2024 World Championship

Great Britain’s second game of the IIHF Men’s Under-18 World Championship Division II Group A took place on Thursday as they faced Croatia. A 4-2 win for the Brits saw them collect three points and take third place in the table, now in contention for a medal. #25 Alfie Jefferis led them out and the first period was underway with Great Britain quickly occupying possession of the puck.


30 seconds in, a face-off in the offensive zone won by #17 Owen Bruton set up a chance for #15 Maksymilian Maslak to tap home from in front of goal but #1 Niksa Slade made the block in net for Croatia. The attacking desire of Easton’s side continued as #23 Kyle Carruth picked up the puck in the defensive zone before driving down centre ice and into the offensive zone at 2:19, unleashing a shot that was once again denied entrance to the net.

Looking for an early opener, #10 Jordan O’Brien shot from the blue line, but his effort was deflected wide as the Croatians maintained strong in their defensive efforts. A penalty against #5 Noah Kaariainen at 4:39 sent Croatia on the powerplay, but they couldn’t capitalise upon their player advantage as Jefferis stood tall in net to deny them and #11 Jack Clarke relieved the pressure from his side’s defencemen as he tried to break shorthanded. A challenge on Clarke as he battled into Great Britain’s offensive zone saw #15 Jakov Matijevic receive a penalty, making play four-on-four.

Photo credits: Team GB Ice Hockey

Croatia desperately tried to get the puck out of their zone as the Brits applied the pressure and prevented them from creating any threatening attacks. Great Britain returned to full strength and #16 Connor Lee shot from the right, testing Slade who was forced to make the pad block.

As Croatia returned to full strength with play returning to five-on-five, #16 Connor Lee was creating another dangerous play as he pulled the puck around the net before laying it off to #5 Noah Kaariainen in front of goal, but he couldn’t convert the chance.

The intense Great Britain pressure continued with #10 Jordan O’Brien breaking one-on-one with the goalie, his shot forcing a big block from Slade to keep the score level. #16 Connor Lee and #14 Bailey Yates maintained the offensive pressure and the scoring was opened in due course at 9:18. The puck was played to #18 Josh Crawley posted in front of the net who slipped it past the netminder and made it 1-0 to Great Britain.

Croatia responded within seconds as #2 Brodie Kay was put under pressure on the edge of his own zone with #11 Lovro Kurjakovic retrieving possession of the puck and beating #25 Alfie Jefferis at 9:28.

Assistant captain #22 Seb Mohr looked to reinstate Great Britain’s lead with a shot from distance as the halfway point in the period was surpassed, looking for #23 Kyle Carruth to tip it into the net, but the score remained level.

Pressure behind Jefferis’ net from Croatia led to #6 Bruno Alic working the puck forwards with #12 Nikola Varga producing a powerful shot that went just wide of the net; #25 Alfie Jefferis anticipated the shot well and had his glove stretched to catch the puck, should the shot have been on target.

Manchester Storm’s Connor Lee dealt with the Croatian’s pressure well, collecting the puck and driving into the offensive zone before passing to linemate #14 Bailey Yates whose shot was denied by the glove of Slade. Domination of the puck continued for the Brits who passed with control and precision around Croatia’s zone with the next chance seeing a shot from the blue line almost converted into a goal by #11 Jack Clarke, but the puck was just short of crossing the goal line.

Photo credits: Team GB Ice Hockey

#4 Archie Salisbury received a two-minute penalty at 14:32, but this didn’t falter the offensive vision of Easton’s side as #22 Seb Mohr chased the puck, looking to break shorthanded, but he was forced off the puck under pressure before he could get a shot off.

A crucial save from Jefferis then followed as a big chance fell the way of #15 Jakov Matijevic who was set up by goalscorer #11 Lovro Kurjakovic, but the Great Britain goalie prevented them from taking the lead. With 50 seconds left on the powerplay, #16 Marko Zlatar saw his shot saved before #12 Nikola Varga shot from distance in a last-ditch attempt to utilise the player advantage: his effort was saved, and the rebounded puck not collected.

Having returned to the ice, #4 Archie Salisbury drove forwards with Great Britain back to full strength, forcing a pad block from Slade with nobody to tap home the rebound. Croatia were then taking the lead as #21 Patrik Marojevic pressurised the defence of the Brits, winning possession of the puck in a dangerous area before shooting into the roof of the net on the netminder’s right to make it 2-1 at 17:50.

Looking for a goal to tie the game before the end of the first period, #14 Bailey Yates retrieved the puck before passing to #9 Joshua Saunders with the latter squaring it to #18 Josh Crawley who just couldn’t get it under control in time to shoot. Great Britain trailed by one heading into the first intermission.


Immediately looking for the equalising goal upon the restart, Great Britain were applying the pressure to Croatia who led by two goals to one. #14 Bailey Yates took control of the puck behind the net before turning around his marker and dragging the puck to the right where he fired a shot from the right circle, his effort rebounding off Slade and into the crease where #16 Connor Lee and #18 Josh Crawley were positioned, but neither could tap home.

The Croatians were then creating a play that saw Jefferis called into action to prevent them from taking the lead, covering the puck with his body, and losing his stick in the process. #22 Seb Mohr was then forcing Slade in net at the other end of the ice to make a pad block with #23 Kyle Carruth waiting in hopes of capitalising upon the rebound. #19 Brynley Capps increased the intensity from Great Britain as he pressurised Croatia when they were with the puck, the second period reaching the halfway point.

Photo credits: Team GB Ice Hockey

Capps quickly took advantage of Great Britain’s extra skater when Croatia received a penalty at 32:19, firing into the roof of the net from the left; relentlessly pressuring the Croatian defencemen, the Raiders forward won the puck in his side’s offensive zone before directing his shot at Slade and bringing the score level at 33:27. This came after a chance for Capps to tap home in front of goal was denied by the Croatian goalie stretching across his net to make the save.

It would be the only goal in the period as both netminders stood tall in the final five-minutes to block shots from each team’s aggressive forward lines, the score 2-2 at the break.


Wanting to get on the scoresheet early in the third and final period, the young Brits flew around the ice, causing trouble to the defence of the Croatians. Hull Seahawks forward #17 Owen Bruton played the puck to #4 Archie Salisbury on the left wing with the captain firing a shot at #1 Niksa Slade, but the netminder made the block with the puck falling back to the left, much to the dismay of #23 Kyle Carruth and #11 Jack Clarke who were positioned in front of net.

Just when Croatia thought they had possession of the puck, #19 Brynley Capps was there again with the pressure, winning his battles and setting up #11 Jack Clarke at 43:05, but the 16-year-old forward couldn’t get his shot off as Croatia tried to regain the puck and broke forwards at speed through #70 Filip Svjetlicic who drove down the left flank, cutting inside across the goal before releasing the puck at the back door to #4 Bruno Zovko who missed the tap in with the net behind Jefferis moved during the attack also.

The Manchester junior connection between the line of Crawley, Yates and Lee looked dangerous as they dominated possession and created a series of chances to trouble the Croatians who remained solid at the back to deny them.

Photo credits: Team GB Ice Hockey

A risky pass in the top left corner of Great Britain’s defensive zone gifted the puck to #10 Tin Hrvoj who tried to shoot across the body of Jefferis, but #8 Emil Oksanen met the puck at the back door, biding the Welsh-born netminder time to collect and diffuse the danger, five-minutes into the period.

A penalty against #21 Patrik Marojevic at 46:17 gave Great Britain a powerplay opportunity; they applied the pressure with their player advantage but couldn’t create any truly testing chances until 55 seconds remained on the penalty kill for Croatia. On the left, #2 Brodie Kay received the puck before passing to #17 Owen Bruton who waited behind the net - the Seahawks forward tapped the puck to #22 Seb Mohr with the assistant captain firing a shot towards Slade, the roof of the net his intended target, but it took a deflection on its way.

Croatia returned to full strength unscathed and whilst Great Britain’s attack seemed to remain, it didn’t take long for the Croatians to find their groove again with #13 David Ferencina receiving the puck in the neutral zone before bursting into the offensive zone, assisted by #14 Matko Idzan coming down the left who he squared the puck to, but the latter’s shot was fired into the side netting and went behind the net.

#9 Joshua Saunders quickly reclaimed the loose puck and set #10 Jordan O’Brien on his way down the right flank; the 16-year-old expertly worked the puck into his side’s offensive zone, turning past #5 Peta Tuskan Ivanus on his way, but #12 Nikola Varga stretched out his stick, tripping the forward as he tried to shoot at 49:52.

#12 Nikola Varga received a two-minute penalty for doing so with Great Britain awarded another powerplay. When #4 Bruno Zovko won the puck in the neutral zone, firing a shot at #25 Alfie Jefferis, the rebound was collected by #16 Connor Lee and quickly played to #11 Jack Clarke who drove down the right flank before cutting inside and down the left: the young forward played a clever one-two with #19 Brynley Capps who fed the puck back to him as he approached the netminder’s near post, but there wasn’t room for himself or #14 Bailey Yates to slip it into the net.

Photo credits: Team GB Ice Hockey

Great Britain continued to dominate possession and were eventually rewarded when #2 Brodie Kay began a move from behind Jefferis’ net, playing the puck to #17 Owen Bruton who sped down the right-hand side before passing the puck back to Kay who fired home over the netminder’s shoulder from the blueline on a zone entry, cueing incredible celebrations from the young Brits as they reinstated their lead at 51:15.

The defenceman scored his second goal of the game as he doubled his side’s lead at 56:01. With Great Britain having just survived the penalty kill, #2 Brodie Kay started the move that would lead to a goal once again. The Scottish-born forward began with the puck behind Jefferis’ net, skating towards the blue line where he passed to #19 Brynley Capps in the neutral zone. Capps danced into the offensive zone and down the left-hand side before pulling the puck around the Croatian defenceman and across the face of goal with Kay waiting to tap home at the back door.

Great Britain saw out the final four-minutes with the game ending 4-2 in Poland. Three points takes the Brits to third in the table with their next game coming on Saturday when they’ll be tested against Serbia.


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