Ice hockey: Great Britain's side flops at final hurdle
Great Britain's Olympic dream is over as they were beaten 6-2 by Italy on the final day of the Pre-Qualifiers in Cortina.
It means Italy will now go through to the Final Qualifiers and will travel to Norway in early September and GB will had to settle for second place.
Italy made a dominant start to the game but just as GB began to create some pressure, they took an unfortunate double-minor penalty to Craig Peacock for accidental high sticks.
The hosts took full advantage of the long period of a one-man advantage, with Alexander Egger’s shot deflecting high past Ben Bowns at 8:15.
Bowns then made an outstanding save on the doorstep, but Anton Bernard poked the the puck home (10:05) to put the home side 2-0 ahead, again on the powerplay.
Italy grabbed their third when Simon Kostner found space in the slot to fire past Bowns at 15:26.
The second period continued in a similar vein with flurries of penalties interrupting the play.
GB had just killed off another penalty when Christian Borgatello went upstairs to score Italy’s fourth (35:56).
Great Britain, who last qualified for an Olympics in 1948, gave themselves a lifeline as Ashley Tait tipped in a shot from David Phillips on the powerplay (38:25).
David Clarke then tipped his third goal of the tournament from Sheffield Steeler Ben O’Connor’s shot - again with a man advantage - at 45:01.
But the Italians responded through Alexander Gellert’s blast from right point to regain their three-goal lead (47:23).
Bowns was lifted for the extra skater and Joachim Ramoser scored into an empty net at 59:26.
Head coach, Pete Russell, said: “We gave it our best shot and I am proud of them.
“But we have be better and we have to be more disciplined.
“We can take a lot from the tournament and it has given us plenty to work on ahead of April’s World Championship in Croatia.
“We are a young side and I think we have a bright future.”