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Kazakhstan advanced to preliminary round three of the Pyeongchang 2018 women’s ice hockey Olympic qualification phase after earning their third straight victory in Astana today.

Victories in their opening round two matches over Poland and Mexico had boosted the host nation’s chances of making the next stage of the qualifying process.

A third triumph of the group would seal their place in round three, the penultimate stage of Olympic qualifying.

Britain hoped to give their rivals a strong test at the Barys Arena, but Kazakhstan took control of the tie in the opening period with Galia Nurgalieva and Daria Moldaba giving them a 2-0 lead.

Katie Henry pulled one back for the British team in the third period of the match, but Tatyana Likhaus restored Kazakhstan’s two goal lead to give them a 3-1 win.

While Kazakhstan won the group to progress to the next phase, Britain ended in third place after Poland recorded a 5-0 victory over Mexico in their final match.

The host nation will now begin preparations for next month’s third round, when they will travel to Stavanger to face hosts Norway, Hungary and Slovakia.

The winners of the group will then advance to the final qualification stage for Pyeongchang 2018.

Italy also kept their Olympic hopes alive after beating the Netherlands in Group H today, with the result seeing them reach the the third round.

Both teams had already earned two victories in San Sebastian ahead of their clash, but the Italians earned the one available spot in the next round by triumphing 5-1 in their meeting.

Hosts Spain and Slovenia will meet in a dead rubber later, with neither side having a chance of qualification.

China, France and Latvia will now face Italy in Group E, when Olympic qualification continues next month.

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