Great Britain will play in Div 1A next year, after a 2-5 defeat at the hands of Norway meant they are relegated from Pool-A.

After 18 successive campaigns in the top division, the Norwegians were facing demotion if they lost in regulation on Monday. GB, meanwhile, needed a victory to save itself; either outright in regulation, or backed up by a result in Tuesday’s meeting with Austria in the event of an overtime success.

Pressure can affect teams in different ways and the first period illustrated that point. Norway produce arguably its best hockey of a troubled campaign when it mattered most, grabbing a 3-0 lead. The Brits, meanwhile, suffered their worst opening frame in Prague.

Things might have been different if Cade Neilson had connected with a loose puck in front of a wide open Norwegian net after 60 seconds’ play. But Norway made the most of that reprieve with two goals in two minutes. Markus Vikingstad produced a fine redirect to drag a Max Krogdahl point shot inside Jackson Whistle’s post, settling early nerves. Then Rob Lachowicz misjudged his clearance, picking out Patrick Thoresen in the right-hand circle. The veteran evaded Neilson’s desperate lunge and wired a shot in off the post. The 40-year-old veteran became the oldest player to score in this year’s championship.

A third goal soon followed: Michael Brandsegg-Nygard dinged the iron, his fellow forwards worked hard to keep the play alive and as the Brits got in each other’s way at the back door, Eskild Bakke Olsen took advantage to score at the second attempt.

GB had been here before: on this day in 2019 it saved itself against France after trailing 0-3; in 2022 it rallied from 0-3 before falling to Norway in a shoot-out. But today’s task got tougher due to a problem for talismanic forward Liam Kirk, who did not play a second in the middle frame. Norway showed little sympathy. The second period began with Brandsegg-Nygard scoring on the power play, a third of the tournament for the draft-eligible Skelleftea-bound forward.

That maintained a remarkable record from Norway’s next generation: of 15 goals at this championship, 12 came from players aged 25 or under. That suggests that future tournaments may not be quite as tense as this one.

The British contingent had something to cheer at last when Brett Perlini pulled a goal back on the power play. However, there was little chance to build on that momentum as GB found itself on a three-on-five penalty kill.

There was better news for the Brits at last when Kirk returned to the ice early in the third. However, Norway always looked comfortable in the game. Bakke Olsen grabbed his second of the game amid solid forechecking and a bouncing puck in front of Whistle. At the other end, Cole Shudra had a tap into an open net but didn’t see the puck until it was too late. Those two moments, barely a minute apart, summed up the difference between the teams.

Ollie Betteridge grabbed a well-taken goal, backhand to Henrik Haukeland’s short side, to pull it back to 2-5. But with just 12 minutes left it could never be more than a consolation.