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GB united in Olympics quest: Lake


Ben Lake

Belfast Giants forward Ben Lake believes Great Britain have to rediscover what makes them successful if they are to come out on top in their Olympics pre-qualifying tournament in Nottingham this weekend.

Lake is one of two Giants on the roster, along with defenceman Paul Swindlehurst, and was among the points in Thursday's opening game against Romania at the Motorpoint Arena, laying on an assist for Brendan Connolly's winner in a 4-3 victory.

Despite it being a one-goal game, the scoreline did not reflect GB's dominance throughout, the hosts out-shooting the Romanians 34-23 across the three periods only to be frustrated by the exploits of netminder Patrik Polc in the visitors' goal.

That left Lake, who was named man of the match, insisting that as long as GB can find what helped them survive relegation at the summer's World Championship, they can look more convincing when they take on Estonia in their second game tonight (6.00pm).

"We're getting used to the international game again. We've been playing with our club teams all season and everybody does something different, so when we come back to GB we need to remember what made us successful. That's being a direct hockey team," said Lake.

Despite Thursday's narrow finish, it's a win on the board for head coach Pete Russell and his side, who have Giants head coach Adam Keefe as one of their assistants, and they know they can ill-afford any slip-ups given the nature of the tournament.

Only the group's top side will reach the final Olympics qualifying tournament, to be held in August, meaning one loss all but ends the Tokyo 2020 dream.

Lake, who is a dual-national Canadian, is only in his second season but the 29-year-old believes that the unity within the GB changing room will see them end up in top spot come tomorrow evening's close of play.

"We all play on different teams and battle all season, but when you come into the locker room it's a close knit group of guys," praised the Giants ace.

"A lot of these guys have been in this team for a long time and we have a few new guys involved this time around. We put all the club animosity aside for one week and come together for one goal with GB."

Hungary, who are expected to be GB's biggest rivals to finishing top of the group, began their tournament with a 4-1 win over Estonia in the opening game on Thursday.

The Hungarians take on Romania in today's first game (2pm) before GB play their second clash against Estonia (6pm).

In tomorrow's final day, the afternoon game sees Estonia clash with Romania (2pm) before what will seemingly be a winner-takes-all meeting between GB and Hungary in the evening (6pm).

Belfast Telegraph