Ice Hockey: Hand sets Scott free: Great Britain earn a point

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The Independent Online
GREAT BRITAIN'S 2-2 draw with Poland in the first match of the Olympic qualifying tournament in Sheffield on Saturday saw the team coach, Alex Dampier, still in good spirits as his side go into their second game against Japan tonight.

'I have a lot of respect for the Poles and I knew the going was always going to be tough,' Dampier said. 'We should have won it in the second period when we had so many chances but our finishing let us down. That will improve, and we have nothing to be ashamed of. It's a point won, not lost.'

But it was won the hard way. Britain survived one five-on-three spell in the first period, but not in the second. With the imports Kevin Conway and Mike O'Connor both in the penalty box, Wojciech Tkacz opened the scoring. Britain's chances were restricted to a slapshot by Rick Fera and a breakaway by Tony Hand seconds from the period. Both were smothered by the Polish second-string goalminder, Tomasz Jaworski.

Fera, Doug McEwen and the squad newcomer Patrick Scott excelled in the second as Britain applied pressure, but the only time the puck entered either net was from a Fera shot that was struck after the referee had blown the play dead.

Britain's break came three minutes into the last period. Todd Bidner passed to Conway who tipped the puck over Jaworski. The tie lasted 10 minutes when Miroslav Tomasik scored to restore Poland's lead.

Britain continued to play their physical, grinding game that they know so well and that their opponents hate, and were rewarded when Scott picked up a Hand pass from the left to net the equaliser with five minutes left on the clock.

OLYMPIC QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT (Sheffield): Great Britain 2 Poland 2.