It’s the 29th May 2019. Adam Keefe is sitting on a stage in the SSE Arena, fresh off a remarkable World Championships campaign with Team GB. Amidst the hustle and bustle of off season fan night, one story cuts straight through the noise- the double departure of league MVP goalie Tyler Beskorowany, and league leading points scorer Darcy Murphy.
The fanbase reels. How do you begin rebuilding following the departure of the guy who sat atop the leader board in points scored all season long?
And in his next breath, in the middle of early summer, Keefe had an answer.
How about the guy who was biting at the heels of Murphy throughout the 18/19 campaign? An EIHL forward with 34 goals and 43 assists (77pts) in 60 games, good for second place on the points table. A duel-nat GB international who has just returned from battling some of the best hockey players in the world in Slovakia.
The guy who scored the empty net goal against the Cardiff Devils on the last day of the season which effectively sealed the Belfast Giants their first league title since 2014.
The fans breathe a sigh of relief. Welcome to Belfast, Ben Lake.
The 29 year old Lake, born in Calgary, enjoyed a breakout season in Coventry in 18/19, his second year with the club. It was something that caught they eye of coaches and fans alike throughout the EIHL.
However, the opportunity of a switch to Belfast; the lure of the city, the CHL and a club defending a league/cup/conference treble was one which was too lucrative to pass up.
Chatting to AVFTB’s Joel Neill, Lake speaks frankly about Belfast being the only destination he would have considered outside of Coventry, and of his excitement to get going despite such a short summer.
Indeed, as a uniquely busy season approaches fast, Adam Keefe will need Lake firing on all cylinders from the first drop.
And if you ask him, he’s ready.