GREAT BRITAIN bid Au Revoir to dreams of a place at the 2014 Winter Olympics after going down 4-2 to France in Latvia.
Despite a courageous fightback and a much improved third period, they couldn’t match the French in their second loss of the qualifying game.
Not for the first time, a British team’s physical style of play came second to the more skilled European way.
GB went behind after Sheffield Steelers’ Ashley Tait took an early slashing penalty. While the Brits were short-handed, Laurent Meunuier, a veteran centre playing in the German DEL, scored.
That was ‘la difference’ between the sides in that session, which also saw Sheffield’s Rod Sarich penalised for hooking.
France hit Stevie Lyle’s post in the second session. And they went one better when winger Pierre Edouard Bellemare, who plays in the Swedish league, made it 2-0 at 27:29.
Former Steeler Colin Shields was the next Brit in the box and France’s Power Play was just 48 seconds old when winger Damien Fleury made it 3-0.
GB were rankled at the number of calls against them, Steeler Jason Hewitt getting two minutes for slashing. But the fight back started when Ben O’Connor scored from a Rob Dowd feed at 43:54. A shock started to look likely at 51:36 when Robert Lachowicz made it 3-2. But as GB poured forward Charles Bertrand got the killer goal at 53;46.
A second defeat in Latvia, maybe. But clear evidence that Brit hockey is progressing.