Cardiff Devils are preparing for a ‘crazy’ challenge against reigning European ice hockey champions Frolunda Indians in Gothenburg, Sweden on Tuesday.
Captain Joey Martin and his team stand top of their Champions Hockey League group after winning three of their fourth fixtures so far including a 5-2 triumph against Graz99ers in Austria.
Now they are heading to face a massive Swedish test and head coach Andrew Lord says: “That will be crazy. In all three seasons we have been involved in the Champions League we just wanted to have these last group games matter.
“We did well and gave it a good go over the last couple of years, but this time we are in with a fighting chance.
“Are we playing probably the best team in Europe? Yes. It’s a major challenge, a great test.
— EIHL (@officialEIHL) October 6, 2019
“If we are able to progress into the CHL knockout stages it would be insane, absolutely nuts. But you never know.
“The guys are excited and we’ll do everything we can to come out with a win. It’s going to be awesome and we could not be more excited..
“During our win in Graz the Devils fans were awesome, the banners were really cool and the atmosphere was amazing. Having the club owners and staff there as well made it even better.
“It was kinda everybody together and to see the boys respond after what was not a great performance against Mountfield was inspiring. A total team effort in which everybody contributed.
“We competed against Graz really hard and were miserable to play against.”
Frolunda Indians won the Swedish championship last season and defeated Red Bull Munchen 3-1 in the Champions Hockey League final at Scandinavium, Gothenburg.
Devils have two CHL games left with the home fixture against Frolunda on Tuesday, October 15. One win from their two matches against Indians could put Cardiff through to the last 16 and that would be a certainty if Czech team Mountfield HK and Graz each win at home in their back-to-back clashes.
The clash with Frolunda will be Cardiff’s third match in five days – and they will then go straight into an Elite League fixture against Dundee Stars at home on Thursday.
Overall, Devils play 11 fixtures during October in Elite League, CHL and Challenge Cup.
Lord acted to protect his players when they played Coventry Blaze, captained by former Devils player Drew Sheistel, in a Challenge Cup group game at the Skydome on Sunday. They started without Charles Linglet, Mike McNamee, Blair Riley, Evan Mosey and goalie Ben Bowns, while Matias Saintu played far less minutes than he normally would.
Blaze scored three goals in the last 15 minutes, including an empty net strike, to win the cup clash 3-1 and Lord said: “I’m really proud of my group. “We are really short on bodies right now, but I loved the compete.
“During the first period we got into penalty trouble, while we took over in the second. In the third there were too many odd man rushes over the first 10 minutes but we got back into the game.
“It was an exciting game down the stretch and I am really proud of the effort our group put in.”
Coventry coach Danny Stewart was delighted with a second Challenge Cup group home win against Cardiff, saying: “It was an exciting game for sure.
“In the first period we were extremely good and Devils weren’t quite at the races. We could not find a way past them and a lot of credit goes to goaltender Thomas Murdy, who made a number of key saves.
“I told the players during a period break that we were inviting Devils into the game and then Joey Martin scored for them. The third was scrappy, but we came up with some big plays, while our nezminder Jamie Phillips made some good stops when Cardiff were pressing.”
Murdy made 26 saves in the match and kept blaze out for 45 minutes. Martin’s goal went in after 23 minutes after he gloved the puck down in the slot and fired high into the net.
Coventry hit back on 45-04 when Janne Laakkonen skated clear and pulled a great move to finish through the five-hole.
With 41 seconds remaining a rebound broke kindly for Charles Corcoran to fire into a gaping goal to put Blaze ahead, with Justin Hamonic finishing things off into the empty net with 23 seconds left.
— EIHL (@officialEIHL) October 6, 2019
Scorers, Blaze: Janne Laakkonen 1+0, Charles Corcoran 1+0, Justin Hamonic 1+0, Luke Ferrara 0+1, Dillon Lawrence 0+1, Evan Bloodoff 0+1, Jamie Phillips 0+1
Devils: Joey Martin 1+0, Gleason Fournier 0+1, Matt Pope 0+1
Period scores (Blaze first): 0-0; 0-1 (0-1); 3-0 (3-1)
Shots on goal: Blaze (on Thomas Murray) 30; Devils (on Jamie Phillips) 30
Penalties in minutes: Blaze 0+4+2=6; Devils 16+4+2=22
Man of the match: Mark Richardson
Referees: Tom Darnell, Chris Wells
Goalie: Thomas Murdy
Cardiff Devils line-up
First line: Gleason Fournier, Mark Richardson, Joey Haddad, Stephen Dixon, Masi Marjamaki
Second line: Sam Jardine, Bryce Reddick, Sean Bentivoglio, Joey Martin, Matt Pope
Third line: Mark Louis, Sean McMonagle, Josh Batch, Matthew Myers, Sam Duggan
Fourth line: Toms Rutkis, Matias Sointu
Challenge Cup group standings (all teams play eight matches)
|1 Cardiff Devils||5||6||2||1||2||0||16||15||0.60|
|2 Guildford Flame||4||5||2||0||1||1||16||14||0.63|
|3 Coventry Blaze||5||4||2||0||3||0||14||17||0.40|
Devils remaining Challenge Cup group fixtures
Saturday 26 v Guildford Flames (away, 6pm)
Sunday 27 v Guildford Flames (home, 4pm)
Wednesday 30 v Coventry Blaze (home, 7.30pm)
Cardiff Devils results so far plus fixtures coming up:
Friday 30 Cardiff Devils 3, Mountfield HK 2 (Champions Hockey League)
Sunday 1 Cardiff Devils 4, Graz 99ers 3 (Champions Hockey League)
Thursday 5 Mountfield HK 5, Cardiff Devils 2 (Champions Hockey League)
Saturday 7 Graz 99ers 2, Cardiff Devils 5 (Champions Hockey League)
Saturday 14 Cardiff Devils 5, Guildford Flames 3
Sunday 15 Cardiff Devils 5, Glasgow Clan 3
Thursday 19 Guildford Flames 3, Cardiff Devils 4
Saturday 21 Devils 2, Glasgow Clan 6
Sunday 22 Coventry Blaze 5 Devils 1
Saturday 28 Devils 5, Coventry Blaze (Challenge Cup)
Sunday 29 Sheffield Steelers 2 Devils 3 (EIHL)
Saturday 5 Devils 3 Manchester Storm 1 (EIHL)
Sunday 6 Coventry Blaze 3, Devils 1
Tuesday 8 Frolunda Indians v Devils (Champions Hockey League fixture, 5pm)
Thursday 10 Devils v Dundee Stars (EIHL, 7.30pm)
Sunday 13 Coventry Blaze v Devils (EIHL, 5.30pm)
Tuesday 15 Devils v Frolunda Indians (Champions Hockey League fixture, Viola Arena, 7.30pm)
Saturday 19 Devils v Nottingham Panthers (EIHL, Viola Arena, 7pm)
Sunday 20 Nottingham Panthers v Devils (EIHL, 4pm)
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