Nottingham Panthers coach Corey Neilson. Pic: Panthers Images.
Corey Neilson says British ice hockey is at last being taken seriously around Europe.
This has been a momentous week for Elite League clubs with Neilson’s Nottingham and coach Andrew Lord’s Cardiff Devils defeated leading Swiss teams in Champions Hockey League action.
Panthers won 4-2 against SC Bern, while Devils defeated HC Davos 4-3 at Ice Arena Wales.
“Right now, it’s a really good workmanlike atmosphere here at Nottingham,” said Neilson. “Even after the huge high – and the guys celebrated it, as did I – it was back to work on Tuesday.
“Overall, it’s no fluke both ourselves and Cardiff picked up the results we have in this competition. Both of us had Krefeld, a good DEL side, come in and we beat them.
“Moving on, we competed well against Bern in their building and that was a big moment for us. Then it was Czech Republic opposition (Mountfield HC) and we beat a team from a much higher league twice.
“I think they thought it was going to be easy so they rested guys and didn’t learn their lesson when they came here and we beat them again.
“Then came beating Bern, which was an amazing night, followed by Cardiff winning against Davos. What it says is that the British league isn’t a joke any more.
“It’s fast, it’s skilled, there are great players, good hockey and a lot of talent. The Brits can fly and can play key roles in key moments. As a brand, it’s exciting for us.”
Contintental Cup champions Panthers are top of Group F after picking up three wins from four in a superb campaign so far, with two games left to play.
Devils are in their first CHL campaign, while Nottingham are in the second, having made debut in the competition three seasons ago and picking up one win, over Hamburg Freezers, in the groups.
Neilson is struggling to place Nottingham’s CHL performance this season – and particularly the win against Bern – among the all-time results under his stewardship of Nottingham.
“It’s tough to judge where this result ranks in the many we’ve had here in Nottingham,” he says. “It’s exciting because it’s current and recent, but it’s another one.
“It’s memorable because of the team we’ve beaten and the opportunity for the league to continue to prove its worth. It was special for everybody involved.”
Nottingham play home and away matches against Finnish team TPS Turku to complete the group stage of their CHL qualifying bid, while Devils take on Swedish club Vaxjo Lakers.
Panthers are at home against Coventry Blaze in an Elite League match this Saturday before playing Sheffield Steelers in a Challenge Cup clash away on Sunday.
Cardiff have two Challenge Cup games, entertaining MK Lightning at Ice Arena Wales first (7pm) and then travelling to Guildford Flames on Sunday (6pm).
Ticket information for Devils’ home matches is available online via the Cardiff Devils official website or by phoning 0800 0842 666. They can also be purchased in person from the main reception at Ice Arena Wales.
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