Aston Brookes shows off the goaltender award he won at the world under-20 third division ice hockey championships in Bulgaria. Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
New Zealand under-20 representatives arrived back in Otago
this week with mixed feelings over the side's bronze medal at
the division three world championships.
Ending the two-week tournament with a 6-0 loss to host
Bulgaria in the semifinal left the Junior Ice Blacks
wondering what might have been.
After beating Mexico and Turkey, the New Zealanders had
confidence going into the semifinal and had already exceeded
expectations, goaltender Aston Brookes said.
''We're a really, really young team. We didn't know what to
expect. We weren't too sure going into it and you never know
what the other teams are going to bring.
''After the first game we knew we could definitely compete
and that helped with confidence.''
After saving 30 shots on goal against Mexico, and maintaining
his good form through the tournament, Brookes (19) was named
most valuable goaltender.
Brookes was joined in the squad by fellow Stampede players
Mitchell Frear (19), Connor Harrison (19) and Callum Burns
(16), and Dunedin Thunder's Tristan Darling (18) and Ben Roth
Under-20 and Stampede coach Steve Reid was pleased with his
side's effort and delighted with the contribution of the
''Mitchell stepped in as captain. He played his consistent
self, really. He did a really good job. He carried the back
end of this side,'' Reid said.
''Obviously, Aston winning goalie of the tournament was huge.
We needed him to play amazing and he really produced for
pretty much the whole tournament.''
Assistant coach and Stampede player Michael Sommer said the
squad dramatically improved along the way.
''Right from day one, when we got to camp, we had such a
varying array of skill level on the team,'' Sommer said.
''One of the big things we noticed is that the boys worked so
hard. They just didn't stop working for the two weeks they
were there. Whether it was on ice, off ice, they worked their
China, which beat New Zealand 4-1 in the round robin, won the