Ice hockey: Agony for Britain after late leveller

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The Independent Online
GREAT BRITAIN'S hopes of joining the world's elite were last night hanging in the balance following an agonising finish against Kazakhstan yesterday.

Britain were denied a 1-0 victory in their World Championship Pool A qualification clash here by an equalising goal just two seconds from time.

It was a third successive draw and meant that Latvia had to beat Ukraine by two clear goals last night if Britain were to clinch second spot and a place alongside the likes of Russia, Canada and the Czech Republic in Pool A next April.

Britain certainly had the chances to have clinched a victory by the two clear goals they needed yesterday. Their only goal came in the first period when Nottingham Panther, Stephen Cooper, fired home on the powerplay only to be continually denied by the Kazakhstan netminder, Sergey Ogureshnikov, thereafter.

But it was the Britain goaltender, Stevie Lyle, who again took the plaudits after his clean sheet in Saturday night's goalless draw with Latvia.

Lyle, though, was within a hair's breadth of a second successive shut- out until the sickening blow at the death.

Kazakhstan had pulled Ogureshnikov with 73 seconds left on the clock, with Britain then searching for the empty- net goal which, if found, would have ended their five-year spell out of the top flight.

As the clock ticked down Ayr Scottish Eagles forward, Tony Hand, hit the pipe, and from the escape Kazakhstan broke down the ice for Andrey Raiskiy to beat Lyle for the first time for just over 70 minutes and leave Britain's hopes resting on a knife-edge.

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