Olympic dreams shattered after shock loss

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The Independent Online

Great Britain's Olympic dreams tonight suffered a shattering blow as they crashed to an embarrassing defeat against Poland.

Great Britain's Olympic dreams tonight suffered a shattering blow as they crashed to an embarrassing defeat against Poland.

Britain needed victory over the Poles in Gdansk to set up a last-match showdown with France on Sunday to decide who would top group C and advance to the next qualifying stage.

But despite five wins and a draw over Poland from the last seven meetings between the sides, coach Peter Woods' side crumbled 4-2 in a penalty-strewn affair - and after outshooting their hosts 40-16.

Britain's hopes now hang by a thread as they need to beat group favourites France, and then pray minnows Romania - who lost 9-1 to the French this afternoon - manage to hold Poland.

But there seems little chance of Britain putting more than 50 years of Olympic misery behind them as they have not reached the Games' final stages since 1948.

With injuries and withdrawals hitting the squad before they set off for Poland, they were also confronted by over-officious referee Stefan Trainer, who dished out 56 penalty minutes - 30 to Britain.

After just 48 seconds London Knights' Rick Brebant was in the penalty box for hooking, with Poland on the scoresheet 86 seconds later through Robert Kwiatowski.

The two teams continued to trade penalties before Darren Hurley of the Manchester Storm hauled Britain level early in the second period.

Again both teams ran foul of Trainer, with Britain coming off the worst as they fell behind again when Jacek Zamojski scored from a four-on-three powerplay at 27.08.

But the critical goal came with both teams at even strength just under 90 seconds from the end of the middle session, with Poland sending their fans wild with delight as Waldemar Klisiak made it 3-1.

Britain were back in it, however, as they finally capitalised on one of their own powerplays when Nottingham Panthers' Paul Adey scored with Artur Slusarczyk penalised for interference.

Another four minutes with the extra man followed for Britain, but they were unable to find a way past netminder Tomasz Jaworski, with the killer blow coming just 25 seconds from time from Michal Garbocz.

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