Great Britain bowed out of qualifying contention for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics tonight after suffering a 4-1 defeat to Hungary at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham.
Hungarian netminder Miklos Rajna spearheaded their advancement to the final Olympic qualification rounds with a sensational 47-save performance.
Upon receiving the Player of the Game award, he said: “We knew the team we were going to face and what to do to beat them.
“We executed the game plan perfectly.”
Following a blisteringly fast-paced, goalless first period, the visitors opened the scoring on a powerplay within a minute of the restart through Bence Stipsicz.
The lead was doubled a short while later when Csanad Erdely, assisted by Stipsicz and Istvan Sofron, rifled beyond a helpless Ben Bowns in the Team GB net.
Britain continued to pester Rajna’s goal in search of a reduction to the two-goal deficit, but could not find a way past the Diósgyőr VTK goaltender until the final third.
The final phase of play began brightly for the hosts, when Cardiff Devils forward Matthew Myers buried a powerplay goal to half the Hungarian advantage. GB’s powerplay had been frustrated and ineffective until the breakthrough.
It was not enough for the 20th ranked side in the world, who were crippled by Hungary’s exquisitely disciplined defence. Britain’s Ben Lake was man-marked out of the match, and found himself unable to pose his usual danger to the visitors.
Hungary’s brilliant travelling contingent were treated to a further two goals, off the sticks of Janos Hari and Sofron respectively, sealing the tie and booking their place in the Olympic qualifying finals in Riga, Latvia.
GB’s dejected captain Jonathan Phillips said: “We dominated that game from start to finish. Their goalie played unbelievably and they took their chances so I guess it just wasn’t to be.”
Britain’s last meeting with Hungary came in April 2018, in which Robert Farmer equalised with 15 seconds remaining to give them the point they needed to return to elite international hockey for the first time since 1994.
Great Britain have failed to qualify for the Winter Olympic Ice Hockey event since the Saint Moritz games in 1948.