Outgoing Swindlehurst praises GB Under 20s

Swindon Advertiser: Swindon Wildcats' Paul Swindlehurst Swindon Wildcats' Paul Swindlehurst

PAUL Swindlehurst hailed the ‘achievement’ of Great Britain Under 20s to avoid the drop from World Championship Division 1B.

The Wildcats D-man, who was named GB’s player of the tournament and received an engraved Tissot watch for his troubles, was playing for the national youth setup for the last time as he turned 19 in May.

And the Blackrod-born man’s displays at the back at Ice Palace Druzhba in the Ukraine enabled his side to finish one spot above the drop zone, with Croatia instead claiming that unwanted berth.

“We improved all throughout the tournament and I think to stay up in that group was an achievement,” said Swindlehurst.

“A medal would have been really good and maybe if had had a bit more preparation time we could have got that. With a few more camps we might have been a better team, but all in all staying up was really good.

“I’ve got so many good memories of playing for GB in the last few years and it was good to go out on a good note.

“It was probably the most the GB team has been together in the five years I’ve played.”

On Sunday, Great Britain might have been ultimately well-beaten by Kazakhstan but they were in the game for long periods.

Artyom Likhotnikov put the Kazakhs 1-0 up at 9.03 only for Aaron Connolly to level just 26 seconds later.

Yesmukhanbet Tolepbergen restored the Kazakhstan lead at 12.39 and that was how the score stayed until 48.03, when Semyon Koshelev opened up a two-goal advantage.

And with the clock running down, Artyom Likhotnikov secured a 4-1 victory (56.47).

Earlier in the weekend, Great Britain found Italy far too hot to handle after holding their rivals for the first period.

Goals in the second from Michael Sullmann Pilser (21.09), Danny Elliscasis (22.39), Martin Castlunger (23.50), Luca Frigo (27.18) opened up a 4-0 lead.

And in the final five minutes Daniel Maffia (54.34) and Davide Testori (58.17) ensured a 6-0 victory.

Previously, GB recorded their one and only victory of the tournament against Croatia on Thursday.

Netminder Adam Goss kept out 29 shots and at the other end GB were potent in front of the net.

Luke Ferrara opened the scoring at 2.57 and following a goalless second period, Jack Musil's strike made it 2-0 at 41.14.

Ferrara netted his second less than two minutes later (43.07) and Matt Selby rounded off the scoring at 57.14.

GB’s early games saw them lose 6-2 to eventual gold medal winners Poland and 2-1 to Ukraine in overtime.

The silver and bronze medals went to Kazakhstan and Italy respectively.

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