GB ice hockey beaten by France to end Sochi Olympics hopes

By Nick HopeBBC Sport in Latvia
Ben O'Connor

Great Britain have failed to qualify for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics after losing 4-2 to France.

After defeat to hosts Latvia, GB had to win their final two matches to have a chance of topping their group.

France led 3-0 heading into the final period and although GB scored twice late on an error from goaltender Stevie Lyle saw France secure victory.

"Hopefully we'll learn from the experience and come back stronger," coach Tony Hand told BBC Sport.

After a surprise 3-2 defeat to Kazakhstan in their first match the French will now take on Latvia on Sunday with the winner likely to secure their place at next year's Games.

Craig Peacock and Robert Lachowicz were the British scorers and Hand believes they can be proud with their efforts.

"We battled hard, applied lots of pressure and scored some nice goals," he said.

"It obviously would have been nice to go all the way but we knew it would be very tough and we now have to take the next steps as an ice hockey nation."

British Ice Hockey are the first of the GB winter sports to learn of their Sochi Olympic fate, with athlete berths for other sports not due to be decided until closer to the 2014 Games.

The British ice hockey team, who won gold at the 1936 Winter Games, have not qualified for an Olympics since 1948 and their next campaign is likely to begin in earnest in late 2016.

Great Britain's last match in Riga, Latvia will be against the Kazakhs on Sunday at 1100 GMT.