Andrew Lord will meet up with a former team-mate and a new pal when Cardiff Devils play their Champions Hockey League group fixtures in the 2018-19 season.
Devils will play SC Bern, Vaxjo Lakers and Red Bull Salzburg and Lord, who was in Denmark for the draw, says: “I’ve heard nothing but unbelievable things about Bern’s rink and I played alongside one of their guys, Mark Arcobello a few years ago (for Oklahoma City Barons).
“The element of surprise may have gone for us with Vaxjo Lakers drawn in our group for a second season, but after hanging out with Sam Hallam, their coach, all day in preparation for the draw, it’s good to be up against them again.
“Salzburg is a beautiful spot and that will make the fans happy.”
Lord and Hallam made a friendly wager about the match between Devils and Lakers with the loser paying for dinner.
“It’s a real privilege for our team to be part of this and it’s helping to grow the game in the UK.
“Last year, I learned a lot from this competition and one thing I learned in particular is that these
teams will start their training camps on Monday.
“It’s different for us and it’s not an excuse as our guys will train back home. It’s just a North
American way of doing things and we’ll be ready.
“We have two or three weeks of training camp, we have a chance, but systematically it’s a little
different and understanding the speed.
“If you look back on our tournament last year, we had the belief and it grew as the tournament went
on. We got our feet under us and I hope to get that going from game one.
“If we can do that throughout the six games then I believe we have a chance.”
Elite League champions Devils play opposition from Sweden (Lakers), Austria (Red Bull) and Switzerland (Bern).
Fans of all 32 competing teams now know which three teams they will face and which three countries they have a chance to visit.
Group A: ZSC Lions Zurich (Swiss), Vienna Capitals (Austria), Frölunda Indians (Sweden), Aalborg Pirates (Denmark).
Group B: Red Bull Munich (Germany), TPS Turku (Finland), Malmö Redhawks (Sweden), Yunost Minsk (Belarus).
Group C: HC Bolzano (Italy), Skellefteå AIK (Sweden), IFK Helsinki (Finland), GKS Tychy (Poland).
Group D: Kometa Brno (Czech), EIsbären Berlin (Germany), EV Zug (Swiss), Neman Grodno (Belarus).
Group E: Djurgården Stockholm (Sweden), Tappara Tampere (Finland), Oceláři Třinec (Czech), Storhamar Hamar (Noway).
Group F: Kärpät Oulu (Finland), Mountfield HK (Czech), Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers (Germany), Rouen Dragons (France).
Group G: Växjö Lakers (Sweden), SC Bern (Swiss), Red Bull Salzburg (Austria), Cardiff Devils (Great Britain).
Group H: JYP Jyväskylä (Finland), HC Pilsen (Czech), HC Lugano (Swiss), HC05 Banská Bystrica (Slovakia).
The group stage matches start on August 30 and finish on October 17.
Each team plays a total of six games – one home and one away against the other three teams in its group.
The first and second teams in each group advance to the play-off stage.
Devils will host HK Poprad from Slovakia’s top league in two pre-season games at Ice Arena Wales during August.
Devils are bringing Poprad to Cardiff Bay in preparation for the Champions Hockey League group fixtures.
The challenge fixtures will be on Saturday, August 18 (7pm) and Sunday, August 19 (6pm).
Tickets for the games will go on sale shortly.
HK Poprad play in the top league in Slovakia, the same league that HC Banska Bystrica play in, who the Devils hosted two years ago in pre-season action.
Head coach Andrew Lord and his Devils have already confirmed fixtures against Nottingham Panthers on Saturday, August 11 and Sunday, August 12.
The first of those will be in Nottingham with the return at Ice Arena Wales the following evening.