2026 Winter Olympics qualifier: GB beat Romania 7-4 to win Cardiff qualifier in bid to reach Italy

Great Britain took a step towards 2026 Winter Olympics qualification with a 7-4 win over battling Romania in Cardiff, their third triumph of the weekend.

The win followed GB's trouncing of China 10-1 on Thursday and an 11-0 victory over Serbia on Saturday to reach the next round of qualification in August.

The GB ice hockey team are hoping to reach their first Games since 1948.

China beat Serbia 7-5 in Sunday's earlier game in Cardiff.

Brett Perlini opened for GB and after Szekely Sandor replied, Ben Lake put them back in front.

Perlini added his second and Yevgeni Skachkov replied, but Sam Jones, Sam Ruopp and Liam Kirk put GB in command.

Hugo Gecse gave Romania hope but Cade Neilson struck before Matias Haaranen gave the visitors a late consolation.

In Saturday's win, Robert Dowd's goal gave GB an early lead against Serbia, before they scored eight second-period goals through Dowd (2), Perlini (2), Cole Shudra, Brandon Whistle, Cam Critchlow and Jones.

Nathanael Halbert added a 10th before Neilson finished the scoring.

Victory over Serbia was the second in three days after a huge 10-1 win against China on Thursday, during which Kirk and Critchlow each scored twice.

Mark Richardson, Johnny Curran, Neilson, Dowd, Ben Davies and Halbert also hit the net while Tianyou Zuo replied for China.

In other matches over the weekend, Japan beat Hungary 2-1 in Budapest to seal their progress in Group G where Lithuania and Spain were also in action.

Group J games were played in the Polish city of Sosnowiec between Estonia, Korea, Poland and Ukraine.

The group winners will then progress to the final qualifying stage, which starts in late August, to compete for the three remaining places to play at the Winter Olympics in Milan-Cortina in 2026.

Great Britain finished fifth on their last Olympic appearance 76 years ago, when the Games were held in St Moritz, Switzerland.

There have been two British ice hockey medals in Olympic history, bronze in 1924 and gold in 1936.

Great Britain squad

Dowd, 35, is the new Great Britain captain, taking over from former Sheffield Steelers team-mate Jonathan Phillips, who retired at the end of last season.

Kirk and Richardson - both of whom also scored against China on Thursday - are the assistant captains.

Two injuries prompted changes to the original 22-player roster announced last month by head coach Pete Russell.

Welshman Davies replaced Nottingham Panthers forward Ollie Betteridge and Sheffield Steelers' Cole Shudra came in for Cardiff Devils' Josh Waller.

Netminders: Ben Bowns (Cardiff Devils), Jackson Whistle (Belfast Giants).

Defence: David Clements (Coventry Blaze), Nathanael Halbert (HC Innsbruck), Sam Jones (Sheffield Steelers), Evan Mosey (Cardiff Devils), Ben O'Connor (Guildford Flames), David Phillips (Belfast Giants), Mark Richardson (Cardiff Devils), Sam Ruopp (Lausitzer Fuchse).

Forwards: Cam Critchlow (Manchester Storm), Johnny Curran (Coventry Blaze), Ben Davies (Cardiff Devils) Robert Dowd (Sheffield Steelers), Liam Kirk (HC Litvinov), Robert Lachowicz (Glasgow Clan), Ben Lake (Belfast Giants), Cade Neilson (University of Alaska-Fairbanks), Sean Norris (Belfast Giants), Brett Perlini (Mec Halle 04), Cole Shudra (Sheffield Steelers), Brandon Whistle (Sheffield Steelers).