Sarich intending to play big role for GB

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ROD Sarich is banking on staying fit in order to be a key part of Great Britain’s pursuit of their Winter Olympics dream.

The Sheffield Steelers Canadian-born defenceman is today named in the Great Britain squad which will head to Riga next month to take part in the final qualification tournament for next year’s Games in Sochi, Russia.

Sarich was set to make his international debut in the previous qualification round in Japan before pulling out through injury. Tony Hand’s team were able to see off three other countries in the Far East to leave themselves one step away from participating in the Olympics for the first time since 1948.

A two-day training camp was held earlier this week in preparation for the event which will see lowest seed Britain face hosts Latvia, as well as Kazakhstan and France.

Sarich is joined in the squad by his Steelers’ team-mates Danny Meyers, Mark Thomas, Jason Hewitt, Jonathan Phillips and Ashley Tait. Hull Stingrays’ netminder Ben Bowns also makes the squad.

“I was immensely disappointed to miss out last time so I’m hoping I stay fit and healthy ahead of this trip,” said Sarich. “We had a good training camp in Manchester, but it was quite intense because we were all basically playing for a place in the squad. We are not going out there to make up the numbers. We’ve got to go out there believing we can make it through – otherwise, there is no point in going.”

Before heading out, Sarich and his Steelers’ team-mates face five tough matches in the UK, starting with today’s visit from Cardiff Devils (7pm) before a trip to Edinburgh Capitals tomorrow.

Great Britain Squad: Netminders – Ben Bowns (Hull Stingrays), Stephen Murphy (Belfast Giants). Defencemen – Danny Meyers (Sheffield Steelers), Ben O’Connor (Kokshetau), Dave Phillips (Giants), Mark Richardson (Cardiff Devils, Rod Sarich (Steelers), Mark Thomas (Steelers), Jonathan Weaver (Nottingham Panthers). Forwards – David Clarke (Panthers), Robert Dowd (Troja-Ljungby), Robert Farmer (Braehead Clan), Mark Garside (Giants), Jason Hewitt (Steelers), Phil Hill (Devils), Robert Lachowicz (Panthers), Matthew Myers (Panthers), Greg Owen (Basingstoke Bison), Craig Peacock (Giants), Jonathan Phillips (Steelers), Colin Shields (Giants), Ashley Tait (Steelers).

HULL Stingrays will be hoping to close the gap on their play-off rivals with a double-header against Fife Flyers this weekend.

The Stingrays host their Scottish rivals tonight (6.30pm) before heading to Kirkcaldy tomorrow.

Leading goalscorer Jereme Tendler said: “The puck and the bounces have not been going for us recently, but that has to change some time.”