Challenge Cup Holders Cardiff Devils Leap Into Flames

Holders Cardiff Devils will play Guildford Flames in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals.

The quarter-final draw was broadcast live from today’s Elite League board meeting and teams used the ‘pick your opponent’ format for the first time.

The top three seeds – group winners – were given the chance to pick who they’ll face in the last eight and their home leg preference.

Sheffield Steelers, the top seeds, after finishing Group A with the best record chose eighth seeds Dundee Stars to be their quarter-final opponents.

Milton Keynes Lightning, competing in the tournament for the first time, were the second seeds after winning Group C and picked Nottingham Panthers to be their opponents.

Then Belfast Giants, Group B winners, chose Fife Flyers as their opposition with Cardiff Devils and Guildford Flames paired together to complete the line-up.

Sheffield owner Tony Smith gave his reasons for choosing the Stars and said: “We have a good record against Dundee Stars and think it will give us the best route towards the final.

“It’s a potential banana skin of course and by picking Dundee, the other teams will see Steelers fancy their chances. There were five choices and Dundee were ours.”

Milton Keynes’ Graham Moody discussed his team’s decision to opt for a two-leg date with Nottingham Panthers: “All the teams are as hard as each other and there are no easy games.

“We’ve had a couple of good games against Nottingham so far and believe these will give us a couple more, plus it’s only an hour up the M1 and we think it’s the right fixture for us.”

Former Devils forward Steve Thornton, Belfast Giants’ managing director, said: “Graham surprised me by picking Nottingham.

“Every game is a tough one and we felt Fife would give us the best match-up.  We’ve had a couple of good games against them and we’re looking forward to more.”

All ties are to be played by January 10, 2018.

Quarter-final ties (Dates to be confirmed): Sheffield Steelers vs Dundee Stars, Milton Keynes Lightning v Nottingham Panthers, Belfast Giants vs Fife Flyers, Cardiff Devils vs Guildford Flames.

Semi-finals: Sheffield or Dundee v Cardiff Devils or Guildford; Milton Keynes or Nottingham v Belfast or Fife.

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