Ice hockey: Britain hopeful of hosting play-off

GREAT BRITAIN look likely to be given vital home advantage for their play-off against Norway later this month for a place among the world elite.

Britain failed to secure an automatic spot from the qualification tournament, which they ended Sunday in third place behind Ukraine and Latvia. But having hosted one of the two qualifying groups at the Sheffield Arena - the other was in France - they have an advantage when it comes to a venue for the one-off game. An announcement is expected on Friday.

Bracknell's John Nike Leisuresport Complex and the Spectrum Ice Rink in Guildford are two possibilities, although the London Arena is the favourite following its recent revamp.

The Latvian coach, Haralds Vasiljevs, on Sunday night condemned both the organisation of the tournament and the venue but Ian Taylor, the secretary of the Great Britain Ice Hockey Board, was unmoved, having been praised for both by an International Ice Hockey Federation's Executive Board member, Miroslav Subrt.

Superleague play was suspended to assist Britain's attempt to qualify and they hope they will be given similar assistance next month. Britain's coach, Peter Woods, said: "I would like to think that with Superleague having supported us this far they would continue to support us. I know the players concerned want to be involved in this particular game."

Sheffield Steelers are trying to arrange urgent talks with Mike Blaisdell over their head coaching vacancy, but they are currently being held up by arguments over contracts.

Blaisdell is embroiled in a wrangle with the Steelers' rivals, Nottingham Panthers, following his departure from the Superleague club last week.

Steelers, however, are optimistic of naming their new coach soon, probably tomorrow.