|Team NZ in their opening match vs Russia. Photo © WCF / Richard Gray|
24 Feb 2020 – New Zealand's Junior Men will drop back down to the World Junior "B" Championships following the 2020 World Junior Championships in Russia.
With only the top 6 of the 10 competing teams automatically qualifying for the following year's event, NZ's 8th placing in Krasnoyarsk means their two-year tenure at the "A" event is over.
The Kiwi side bolted from the gates in the early pool rounds and sat tied at the top of the leaderboard after four games with a 3W-1L record. After their third win, skip Matt Neilson spoke to WCF media intern Olivia Crook-Simiana.
"We feel pretty good," he said. "We're starting to pick up the shot-making a bit better now. Obviously we have a few more games to play, hoping to win the next one the same as we did in this one. We took advantage of the half shots and misses, there weren’t too many opportunities."
That game proved to be their last success, and they dropped their remaining games. After their loss to Italy, Neilson tried to put his finger on the problem. "We definitely had opportunities, and it’s just happened throughout this tournament, making misses when we shouldn’t be missing."
Speaking after their last game, he and the side were focussed on getting back into the top flight.
"It's been a rough tournament, but it’s nothing to dwell on too much. The boys are going to work hard to come back next year and do the best they can. We've been putting a lot of work into the up-and-coming juniors. They're quite a lot younger than us, but we've done a lot of coaching and a lot of them are very keen. There's a future for it, but we’ve got to put a lot of work in."
Canada won the Men's event, with Switzerland taking the silver and Scotland the bronze. The Women's medallists were Canada, Korea and Russia.
The Kiwi side did not leave Russia empty-handed. The Men's Sportsmanship Award – voted on by all competitors at the event – was won by New Zealand's Anton Hood. Norway's Maia Ramsfjell, who competed at the 2018 Winter Games NZ in Naseby, won the Women's award.