Ice Hockey: Woods fuming as Britain miss out

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The Independent Online
THE GREAT BRITAIN coach, Peter Woods, last night hinted that there had been collusion between Ukraine and Latvia after their goalless draw ensured Britain failed to automatically qualify for a place among the world's elite teams.

Woods was left bitterly dejected as he watched Britain's two closest rivals produce an unsurprising goalless draw in the final World Championship Pool A qualification match at Sheffield Arena.

Britain had earlier suffered a crushing blow when they conceded an equalising goal just two seconds from time against Kazakhstan in a 1-1 draw. It meant Britain's hopes of a top-two finish, and with it the chance to face the likes of Russia, Canada and the Czech Republic in April, rested on the result between Latvia and Ukraine.

Britain needed Latvia to win by two clear goals or Ukraine by four to take their place in Pool A in St Petersburg, but Woods suspected that was never going to happen. "It would be naive to think it [collusion] hadn't been discussed," he claimed. "It's only natural. It has happened in the past and I'm just assuming that would continue to happen. I hope I'm wrong. But watching the game they seemed to be going through the motions."

The point - with Andrey Raiskiy's late equaliser blow cancelling out Stephen Cooper's powerplay opener in the first period - meant a third successive draw for Britain from the three matches.

It confirmed Britain's third place but they have one last chance to end five years out of the top flight with a one-match play-off against Norway before the end of the month.