Five Belfast Giants in preliminary GB squad for Sochi qualifiers

Five Belfast Giants players have been named in a preliminary 32-man Great Britain squad for next month's final Olympic qualifying event in Riga.

Mark Garside, Colin Shields, Stephen Murphy, David Phillips and Craig Peacock have been included by British coach Tony Hand.

The squad will be trimmed back to 22 following a two-day training camp in Manchester on 21/22 January.

Britain will be up against the hosts, France and Kazakhstan in Latvia.

"The camp will give us a great start in our preparations for Riga," said Hand.

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"It will not only give us chance to work on tactics, but will also be a great bonding exercise for the squad.

"By naming a 32-man squad, it gives me chance to look at a number of players who weren't in the final squad last time. This is also a great exercise for team morale."

The British team, currently ranked 21st in the world, will travel to Riga as the lowest-ranked side in a group with 11th-placed Latvia, as well as France (14th) and Kazakhstan (17th).

Only the group winners will qualify for the 12-team competition in Sochi.

Great Britain won the gold medal at the 1936 Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, but have not appeared at the Games since 1948.

GB PRELIMINARY SQUAD

Ben Bowns (Hull Stingrays), David Clarke (Nottingham Panthers), Russ Cowley (Coventry Blaze), Ben Davies (Cardiff Devils), Matthew Davies (Hull Stingrays), Robert Dowd (Troja- Ljungby), Robert Farmer (Braehead Clan), Mark Garside (Belfast Giants), Joe Greener (Basingstoke Bison), Jason Hewitt (Sheffield Steelers), Phil Hill (Cardiff Devils), Leigh Jamieson (Milton Keynes Lightning), Robert Lachowicz (Nottingham Panthers), Stevie Lee (Nottingham Panthers), David Longstaff (Guildford Flames), Danny Meyers (Sheffield Steelers), Stephen Murphy (Belfast Giants), Matthew Myers (Nottingham Panthers), Aaron Nell (Swindon Wildcats), Ben O'Connor (Arlan Kokshetau), Greg Owen (Basingstoke Bison), Craig Peacock (Belfast Giants), David Phillips (Belfast Giants), Jonathan Phillips (Sheffield Steelers), Kevin Phillips (Braehead Clan), Mark Richardson (Cardiff Devils), Rod Sarich (Sheffield Steelers), Colin Shields (Belfast Giants), Ashley Tait (Sheffield Steelers), Mark Thomas (Sheffield Steelers), Jonathan Weaver (Nottingham Panthers). Geoff Woolhouse (Sheffield Steelers)