GREAT Britain’s mission to qualify for their first Olympics since 1948 received a reality check in Riga, yesterday, as penalty trouble invited a goal spree from the host side.
Tony Hand’s side lost 6-2 to Latvia in the first game of a three-match qualifying event.
GB must regroup to play France today and then the weakest team, Kazakhstan, the group winner progressing to Russia 2014.
But it appears uphill struggle now. They have to win their remaining games and hope results go their way.
The game was just two minutes old when Gints Meija put Latvia ahead, but they had only 61 seconds to celebrate the fact, ex Steeler Rob Dowd equalising, from a pass from another former Sheffield skater, Colin Shields.
Winger Miks Indrasis, who plays for Dynamo Riga, regained the lead 14;43.
Sheffield Steelers defenceman Rod Sarich took an elbowing penalty, which GB killed, but when Shields got a slashing minor centre Armands Berzins made it 3-1.
Latvia, who are ranked number 11 in the world and had some ex NHL players in their ranks, were now in control.
They added another through Ronalds Kenins.
And with seven minutes to go they rubbed in their superiority with a fifth Georgijs Pujacs.
Craig Peacock grabbed a consolation five-on-three Power Play goal at 57:47.
But indisicpline crept in and Lauris Darzins hit number six on a similar Power Play.