Britain beaten by Latvia

Great Britain's quest to reach the 2014 Winter Olympics began with a 6-2 defeat to Latvia in their opening match of final qualifying in Riga.

Britain, Olympic champions in 1936 and bronze medallists in 1924, have not qualified for the Games - to be held in Sochi, Russia next year - since 1948.

Tony Hand's side, ranked 21st in the world, held their own in the first period against their 11th-seed opponents before the hosts took over.

Netminder Stevie Lyle, winning his 67th cap and back in the GB fold after three years, was beaten inside three minutes by Gints Meija but Robert Dowd levelled just 61 seconds later.

Latvia converted their first powerplay of the night when Miks Indrasis took advantage of Ben O'Connor's interference penalty and they scored another powerplay marker at 29.50 through Oskars Bartulis.

Further strikes from Ronalds Kenins (43.24) and Georgijs Pujacs (53.07) made it 5-1 before GB added their second with a five-on-three powerplay goal from Craig Peacock at 57.47. But Lauris Darzins (five-on-three powerplay) rounded off the scoring for the hosts with 18 seconds left.

On Friday, GB face 14th seed France, who began the tournament with a 3-2 defeat to Kazakhstan (17th) earlier in the day.