BUDAPEST/NIKKO/KYIV Ė The remaining teams that will play in the Final Olympic Qualification are known. Great Britain, the Netherlands and Ukraine advance on the menís side, China and Denmark won the womenís events (see separate story) of the Olympic Pre-Qualification on Sunday.
Ukraine was the only host who made use of the home-ice advantage. After lopsided wins over Estonia and Spain the blue-and-yellow team defeated second-seeded Poland 5-1 to finish the tournament with a clean record before 6,026 fans in the sold-out Palace of Sports.
The Ukrainians will play the next round in Vojens against host Denmark, Belarus and Slovenia.
With Great Britain another top-seeded team succeeded. The British refused hosting the tournament and travelled to Japan instead. The start in Nikko wasnít very promising with a 5-4 loss to Korea in shootout, but Great Britain got the expected win against Romania, 3-0, and defeated host Japan 2-1 thanks to a pair of goals within a 30-second span midway through the first period.
In the next round the British will travel to Riga where the play against host Latvia, France and Kazakhstan.
The biggest surprise in the three menís events was probably the Netherlandsí victory. The hopes were not high after a couple of players didnít join the team and the coach had left just three weeks before the tournament.
However, the Dutch team got easy wins against Croatia and Lithuania to set up a final against host Hungary. In a crazy game with 12 goals before 6,125 fans in Budapest the lead changed back and forth.
In the end it looked like Hungary would make it after scoring two goals within just 20 seconds to take a 6-5 lead, but Jordy van Oorschot tied it at six with 90 seconds left in regulation time before the Netherlands won the game in a shootout.
The Dutch wonít have to travel too far in the next round. They will play in Bietigheim-Bissingen where they face host Germany, Austria and Italy.
The three tournament winners of the Final Olympic Qualification played 7-10 February will qualify for the menís ice hockey tournament at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
The top-nine teams of the 2012 IIHF World Ranking are already pre-qualified with Russia, Slovakia and the United States seeded in Group A; Finland, Canada and Norway in Group B; and the Czech Republic, Sweden and Switzerland in Group C.
Click below for the recaps of the three groups and quotes:
Group G in Hungary, winner: Netherlands
Group H in Ukraine, winner: Ukraine
Group J in Japan, winner: Great Britain
Final Olympic Qualification, 7-10 February:
Group D in Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany:
Germany (10), Austria (15), Italy (16), Netherlands (24)
Group E in Riga, Latvia:
Latvia (11), France (14), Kazakhstan (17), Great Britain (21)
Group F in Vojens, Denmark:
Denmark (12), Belarus (13), Slovenia (18), Ukraine (20)