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Blaze Trio Fly Flag For GB Olympics Hope

Three Coventry Blaze players have been called up to the Great Britain team, and others could play a role in fulfilling the new management’s Olympic dream.

Stephen Cooper, Michael Tasker and Shaun Johnson have been named among the initial 25 man squad for the world championships in Slovenia in April.

Twenty-three players will make the journey to try and earn GB a place in the elite group of countries.

Coventry is the most represented BNL team in the squad, and club coach Paul Thompson said many of the younger players are catching the eye for future recognition.

Thompson, who is also the GB coach Chris McSorley’s assistant, said the days of ageing Canadian players with dual-nationality were numbered:

“We obviously need to keep some experienced players in for now, to make sure we don’t get relegated out of Pool B.

”Our aim is to get to the 2006 Olympics. We’ve got to get the average age down and bring British born and bread talent into the squad.

“We are looking to have an under-24 team to develop future players.

“There are 16 British players in the quad and there are others coming on who have got a great future ahead of them, players like Marc Twaite, Michael Knights and Tom Watkins.”

With McSorley based in the Superleague as coach of the London Knights, Thompson’s knowledge of the BNL, where there are more British players, has been a big help to the GB set-up.

The task isn’t easy, he admits, as the GB team is broke.

“We’re running on a shoestring. My position is unpaid but I’m very proud to be involved.

“Chris has got to know a lot more about the BNL since he became coach, but I’m able to out my two-penn’orth in.

“You have to look at it from a neutral position, and not just at Coventry players.

“I think it might make it harder for the team. I’m sure some the players from other sides try harder to try and get recognised!”

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CWN / Sport / Ice Hockey / Coventry Blaze / 23 Feb 01
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