Manchester Storm coach Ryan Finnerty says Cardiff Devils will be more prepared for the Champions Hockey League trip to Växjö than he was, writes Craig Anderson.
Former Devils captain Finnerty took Braehead Clan there two years ago in the CHL for their first taste of continental action against the Swedish champions.
And despite crashing to a 10-2 loss that night, Finnerty recalled his experience of the VIDA Arena and gave an account of what coach Andrew Lord can expect with his team on Wednesday.
“It’s a beautiful, state of the art arena that looks brand new and was quite an experience for me in what was our first ever Champions League game,” he said.
“We had to go to London to pick up Chris Bruton and then flew over. The next day we were up against the Swedish champions and got beat pretty bad.
“There weren’t a lot of fans there from what I remember, but they were certainly vocal. They also have a really cool standing area behind one of the goals.
“It got pretty loud when they were announcing the players and that caught me off guard a little, but it’s a beautiful arena.
“Cardiff will be far more prepared than we were going there. They’re further into the season than we were two years ago and have seen the team at home.
“Although they have nothing to play in terms of making progress in the competition, Devils are a proud group and will put in a big effort.”
Finnerty believes the Elite League champions can give a good account of themselves in Sweden, following their 5-1 win against the same opposition.
But the one-time Devils captain has also warned after the flak Växjö took from that loss in Wales, they won’t make the same mistake again.
“Cardiff’s win was great for ‘Lordo’ and the Elite League and maybe Växjö took them a little lightly,” says Finnerty.
“My wife translated a few newspaper clippings from the game and I don’t they’ll make that same mistake again.
“After a few things said about the team, they’ll seek some retribution. But it’s showing how good British hockey is compared to the respect we don’t get from mainland Europe.
“We’re no longer just taking part in this competition. Nottingham Panthers and Devils have done a good job against some European powerhouses.
“Devils have grown into this competition and ‘Lordo’ will wish he could have a few of the earlier games back, now with the experience they have, but I think they’ll do well over there.”
Växjö are top of the group and have already qualified for the last 16 along with Czech team Bili Tygri Liberec.
Devils are on a two-game CHL winning streak, having beaten HC Davos and Växjö.
They return to Elite League action this weekend with fixtures against Guildford Flames at Ice Arena Wales on Saturday (7pm) and Coventry Blaze at the Skydome the next evening (5.30pm).
Wednesday night’s CHL group E fixtures: Växjö Lakers v Cardiff Devils (Vida Arena, Sweden 7pm CET, 6pm UK time), HC Davos v Bili Tygri Liberec (Valiant Arena, Switzerland, 7.45pm CET, 6.45pm UK time).