Ice hockey : Bison boost for Britain

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The Independent Online
Great Britain kept their campaign to qualify for the 1998 Olympics on course with an 8-2 victory over the Netherlands in Heerenveen last night, thanks to a considerable contribution from Basingstoke Bison players.

Peter Woods, the Canadian-born coach of both Britain and Basingstoke, saw four of his five club players score to set up a crunch match against Switzerland at the Sheffield Arena on Wednesday.

Victory there will take Britain through to the final qualifying stage in February. With five of the eight teams from that decisive mini-tournament going forward to Nagano, Britain would have an excellent opportunity of ending a 50-year Olympic exile.

Britain were never in trouble against the Group A whipping boys from the moment Basingstoke's Paddy Scott gave them an early lead. It was a memorable return to Britain for the former Milton Keynes Kings player, who has made his return after an unsuccessful spell in Germany with Straubing.

Cardiff Devils' Steve Moria and Ian Cooper extended the lead, then the Basingstoke connection really took over, with the defenceman Rick Strachan and the forwards Richard Little and Kevin Conway all on target. Sheffield Steelers' Tim Cranston also netted, before the hard-working Moria sealed the success with a powerplay goal.

The Dutch, pointless in their six previous qualifying games, were outshot 60-17.