This month saw Great Britain’s ice hockey team once again failing to qualify for the Winter Olympics. Their defeat by Hungary marks another barren year for the British team, and it will mean that it will be over 70 years since an ice hockey team from our nation appeared at this epic sporting event.
But what’s behind this lack of success, and who’s looking most likely to succeed at the 2022 Winter Olympics? While the event in Beijing won’t take place for two more years, anticipation is building around the competition, with many bookmakers already lining up odds about which country will win most gold medals. What’s good to know is that most of these bookies have online sportsbooks that also accept PayPal, so if you are looking ahead to backing any country, you can do so, by making instant deposits. But let’s see what went wrong for Team GB first.
Disappointment for Great Britain
Great Britain needed to win their pre-qualification match against Hungary in February to make it through to main qualifying tournament in August that would give them access to the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Sadly the match in Nottingham saw Team GB lose 4-1 to Hungary, and it meant that Great Britain would fail to reach the Olympics. Our nation’s men’s ice hockey teams haven’t actually managed to get to the Winter Olympics since 1948, and it was another big disappointment considering the decisive wins over Estonia and Romania recently.
But when it came down to it, Hungary were simply a class apart. Britain had failed to win in each of their five previous encounters with Hungary. While a third-period goal from Matthew Myers briefly raised hopes of a turnaround, by the time that Istvan Sofron scored the fourth goal, Britain’s Olympic dreams were dead and buried.
As a result, there remain significant questions about where Great Britain go from here. While team coach Pete Russell has had plenty of success in the sport, it seems that getting his side into the Olympics was once again a step too far. But with an upcoming appearance at the IIHF World Championships, there’s hope that Great Britain might learn from their past mistakes.
Can Great Britain succeed at the World Championship?
While few ice hockey fans would expect Great Britain to win the upcoming World Championship, hopes are high that they can overcome recent setbacks. Their first match sees them taking on Germany in Lausanne on 9 May, before they have to take on an equally tricky Slovakia team on 10 May.
From here, Great Britain will have to take on an unpredictable Denmark side, before two potentially bruising Group A encounters against the Czech Republic and Canada. The only match that Britain looks like they could win is a game against Bulgaria on 19 May, but even this could clearly be a challenge for a team in transition.
What can we learn from the upcoming World Championship?
Many bookmakers and ice hockey enthusiasts are looking to the upcoming 2020 Ice Hockey World Championship to get a good idea about who could pick up the Olympic gold.
In particular, it’s the Canadian team who are looking especially strong at the moment. Canada were unlucky not to win the tournament the previous year, and it’s easy to see how they could win the 2020 IIHF competition.
However, the Russian team could easily be this year’s dark horses. This is because Russia appointed a new coach who has already been pivotal in helping the team put in some strong performances. Other key teams to look out for include Sweden, the USA, the Czech Republic, and last year’s World Championship winners, Finland.
Certainly competing World Championship is a very different thing from winning at the Winter Olympics. But when this epic event kicks off in Switzerland on 8 May, you can be sure that all serious ice hockey fans will be watching.