Belfast Giants forward Ben Lake believes Great Britain’s growing familiarity with the top tier of international ice hockey will help them in their bid to avoid relegation from the World Championships in Finland.
Since their improbable promotion to the top tier in 2018, GB have defied the odds to remain at the top level, winning an overtime thriller against France in 2019 to stay up and, although there was no relegation last year due to Covid-19, they avoided finishing bottom of their group by beating Belarus.
They head into this year’s tournament in Tampere as the lowest ranked nation, and, therefore, favourites to finish bottom of Group B, but Lake believes their experiences to date will stand them in good stead as they prepare to take on Czechia in their opening fixture today (2.20pm).
“There’s not any mysteries anymore, we know the drill. Now that we’ve managed to stay up for two years, we know what to expect,” says the winger.
“We know we deserve to be here. We’ve worked for it. There’s still that stigma about GB ice hockey, so we still have that chip on our shoulders, but we know it’s always going to be like that.
“Everyone’s proud of how far we’ve come in the last five years and hopefully there’s still more to come from this group.”
Pete Russell’s side struggled in their warm-ups against Italy and Denmark, scoring just one goal in four defeats, and things don’t get any easier as they will take on heavyweights such as hosts Finland, the USA and Sweden in Group B, along with Czechia, Latvia, Norway and Austria.
But Lake isn’t concerned, adding: “We had a tough time scoring in those games but it’s a matter of sticking to it and finding the lines that work. It’s probably a case of keeping things simple and that’s how we’ll score goals.
“It’s a privilege to be up here playing with these guys and we all know that. We can’t get too high or too low if things do or don’t go our way. Take each game as it comes and hopefully by the end things have gone well for us.”