GREAT BRITAIN began their preparations for this year's World Championships in Slovakia with a 3-1 win over Latvian side Dinamo Riga at Coventry's Skydome Arena
Pete Russell's team will face-off against the likes of Canada, USA and Finaldn in Kosice in May after earning promotion to the top tier of the world game with their gold medal triumph in Division 1A Hungary last April.
Further challenge games are scheduled against Italy and Hungary in April, as well as two games against Russian team Torpedo who, like last night's opponents Riga, play in the Kontinental Hockey League.
In front of a 3,000-strong crowd at his home rink, Coventry forward Luke Ferrara got the scoring underway for the hosts in the first period, with the lead being doubled in the middle stanza by debutant Ben Lake at 23.00.
Riga proved a stubborn opponent all evening, however, and halved the deficit through Edijs Branmanis inside the final 10 minutes.
But, as they pushed for an equaliser, Sheffield Steelers' defenceman Ben O'Connor ensured victory with an empty net strike with just 47 seconds remaining.
“It was great night to play at a packed Skydome in front of so many passionate fans," said a delighted Russell. “We played immense tonight and it was fantastic to see us do so well against a quality KHL side.
“It is important to get quality games in ahead of the World Championship and this enabled us to do that.”