Published on February 11, 2013 | by Randy Brenzen

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Valiant effort in vain as GB exit Olympic Ice Hockey

GB ice hockey team following the 4-2 loss to France that eliminated them from Olympic contention
[Eurosport]

A second loss in as many days has officially eliminated Team Great Britain from the 2014 Olympic Games ice hockey qualifier in Riga, Latvia.

The valiant British squad fell 4-2 to France just a day after dropping a 6-2 decision to host nation Latvia.

France opened the scoring 9:13 into the first period. With Great Britain’s Ashley Tait sitting in the penalty box for slashing, talented French forward Laurent Meunier accepted a nice Yorick Treille pass and ripped a shot from just above the right face-off dot.

The shot eluded British goaltender Stevie Lyle and found the back of the net giving the French a 1-0 lead.

Great Britain had the perfect chance to draw even later in the period but French goaltender Fabrice Lhenry shut the door, getting across to deny Jason Hewitt of a goal with the British on the man advantage.

The French increased their lead just over seven minutes into the second period.  Pierre-Edouard Bellemare put his team up by two when he dropped to his knee and one-timed a shot past Lyle on a delayed penalty call.

The finish was nice but the pass by big Sacha Treille was equally as pretty.

The game then began to get a bit chippy as both teams began to realise just how important a win in this game was. British frustration began to show as Colin Shields, who believed he had drawn a penalty, slashed a French player.

The referees saw the Shields infraction, sending the fiery British forward to the penalty box and putting the French powerplay unit back onto the ice. The French made the British pay for their undisciplined play once again.

This time Damien Fleury was the man to beat Lyle as he played pitch and catch with Baptiste Amar before skating in off the half wall and hammering a shot through the Sacha Treille screen and past the British goalie for a 3-0 lead.

Great Britain would get one back early in the third period on a powerplay of their own. Craig Peacock jammed the puck past Lhenry for his 10th career goal in a GB jersey and suddenly Great Britain was on the board, cutting the French lead to 3-1.

You could see the hope begin to come back for the British after the goal. Team Great Britain began to carry the play and were rewarded as Robert Lachowicz, playing on his 23rd birthday, snapped the puck past the glove side of Lhenry for his first career international goal and suddenly it was 3-2.

France capitalised on a bad bit of luck for the British not long after the Lachowicz goal.

Moments after making a big save, Lyle mishandled the puck behind the British net. Brian Henderson, son of French coach Dave Henderson, jumped all over the mistake stealing the puck from Lyle and sending it out front to Charles Bertrand, who made no mistake firing the puck into the yawning cage giving the French a 4-2 lead.

Instead of taking the wind out of the British sails the goal seemed to ignite Team GB. Robert Dowd picked the puck up in his own zone, skated it down the ice and ran over a French player, sending the Frenchman into the boards with force.

Not long after it was Lachowicz looking for his second of the game. The birthday boy came streaking down the middle where David Clarke found him with a pass but Lhenry stood his ground, turning away the British attack.

Britain continued to pressure in the final minute of the game but as the clock ran down so did any chance of Great Britain qualifying for the Olympics.

Try as they might the British could not solve Lhenry again and after the final whistle the score was 4-2 in favour of the French.

As a result Team Great Britain is officially eliminated from 2014 Winter Olympic ice hockey qualification.

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