COVENTRY Blaze have fallen short in their efforts to retain star player Ben Lake, after the forward decided against a new deal and pursued the opportunity to join EIHL regular season champions Belfast Giants.
The Canadian spent the past two seasons with the club and fired 66 goals, claimed 70 assists and 136 points altogether in the 142 games that he appeared in the blue and white of Coventry.
He achieved a career-best season in 2018/19, scoring 34 goals, assisting 43 for his team-mates and contributing to 77 points scored in all during the Elite League regular season – form which has not gone unnoticed by the Giants.
In addition, he also found the net four times and assisted one in the eight Challenge Cup and play-off games that he appeared in.
It was form good enough to rank him as the second-best player in the division behind Belfast’s Darcy Murphy (79), a player he will now link up alongside on the rink.
The 29-year old sweeped the board at the end of season awards, being named the Supporters Player of the Season, Coach’s Player of the Season, and Player’s Player award, also being named in the EIHL all-star team.
He also starred at international level while at the Blaze, firing crucial goals to help Great Britain survive at the World Championship’s top level.
Lake spoke of his appreciation for the club’s supporters and everyone involved with the Blaze.
“I just want to thank you all for making my two years in Coventry such a memorable experience.
“The decision to move on was not an easy one for me, as the organisation gave me a platform to perform at the highest level of my career.
“The Blaze is built around good people and every one of you made me feel welcome from day one.”
Blaze fans will hope that the recent arrival of another Canadian – Johnny Curran – will help go some way towards replacing the hole in attack left behind by Lake.
The 24-year old joins directly from NCAA side Niagara University, where he scored 55 points in all, claiming 26 goals and assisting 29 in 131 games played.
Head coach Danny Stewart lauded the versatility of Curran and believes he can offer a great deal to the way Blaze set up next season.
“Johnny is a skilled right-winger who skates well, shoots the puck well and has a good skill set.
“He can also play centre, so adds versatility and scoring depth to our line-up.
“He is young, hungry and has the work ethic to go with it. He will bring a lot of energy to our line-up and we are excited to see what he can do at the pro level.”