Great Britain’s men have missed out on winning gold and promotion to the world’s second tier at the World Championships (Division 1B) in Zagreb.
GB needed just one point from their final game but a goal with under four minutes remaining handed favourites Ukraine a 2-1 victory.
Head coach Pete Russell said: “We were fantastic all week but we just couldn’t get over the line.”
Great Britain have not been in the second tier – Division 1A – since 1993.
Russell’s team must now wait for the result of the game on Saturday evening between Lithuania and hosts Croatia to see if they will collect a silver or bronze medal.
If Lithuania win then they could pip Ukraine for promotion and knock GB into bronze.
GB had thrashed Romania 6-1 on Friday to make it four wins in a row and set up the promotion decider.
Captain Jonathan Phillips put them ahead against Ukraine after they had failed to take advantage of a series of chances.
Ukraine cranked up the pressure in the third period and turned it around with goals from Dmytro Chernyshenko and Aleksander Pobyednostsev.
Russell added: “I am devastated for the players, I believe we were the best team in the tournament and it is heartbreaking they didn’t get what they deserved.
“We were behind for just three minutes and 56 seconds in the whole tournament, so it is a cruel blow to miss out on the gold medal.
“It is like last year in Eindhoven all over again.”
Ice hockey commentator Seth Bennett
“It was a case of so close, yet so far for Great Britain’s men, but this team made some huge strides on and off the ice over the last week.
“The development of 21-year old Ross Venus has been one of the highlights of the tournament in Croatia. The Coventry Blaze youngster has played with real maturity and responsibility. The emergence of Venus is an encouraging sign that the next generation of players are now not too far away from helping the senior side.
“This is been the most complete team performance I can remember from a GB team at a World Championships and the coaching staff team deserve credit for that.
“GB are ranked 24th in the world, but on this evidence they are considerably better than that.”