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Great Britain's Winter Olympic dream crushed by Hungarians

 

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Paul Swindlehurst

Paul Swindlehurst

William Cherry/Presseye

Paul Swindlehurst

Great Britain's Winter Olympic dream came to an end as they were beaten 4-1 by Hungary at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham last night.

Needing to beat their opponents to take their place in August's final qualifying tournament for Beijing 2022, two second-period goals helped see the visitors over the line and instead continue their Olympic qualifying dream at the expense of Pete Russell's men.

It was Csanad Erdely who got the game-winner 11:17 into the second period, the Hungary ace firing in from point-blank range on GB netminder Ben Bowns to back up Bence Stipsicz's powerplay opener to secure the win.

Tournament top scorer János Hári and István Sofron added on in the final frame for Hungary - who were boosted by a 47-save display from netminder Miklós Rajna - just to compound GB's misery after Matthew Myers' powerplay response for GB had made it 2-1 early in the third, sparking forlorn hopes that GB could produce another remarkable comeback against the Hungarians, like in 2018.

Russell's side, which included Belfast Giants pair Ben Lake and Paul Swindlehurst, will have to dust themselves off and return to their clubs for the rest of the Elite League season before reconvening in April for the build-up to their second season in the World Championships.

Stipsicz had Hungary ahead just 32 seconds into the second period after a scoreless first, Ben Davies (high sticks) in the box when the d-man hammered one through traffic for 1-0.

Scott Conway rang one off the crossbar on an odd-man rush as GB pressed for the equaliser in the second period, only for Hungary to double their lead when Sofron threw the puck to the crease for Erdely to make it 2-0.

Luke Ferrara hit GB's second post of the period as the hosts threw the kitchen sink at their opponents in the dying stages of the middle frame, but then having not scored in the second, it took GB just 57 seconds of the third to find their breakthrough.

With Hungary defenceman Scott Macaulay in the box for holding, Myers was there to bank a rebound off Rajna and in for the powerplay marker and 2-1.

However, that wasn't to be the start of another thrilling comeback for GB, and after Hári struck on the wraparound at 5:11 of the final period to restore Hungary's two-goal lead, Sofron made the result safe with his mazy solo goal with exactly 8:00 left to round off the scoring.

Belfast Telegraph