Cardiff Devils faced the biggest test in their 33-year history when they take on three-times European champions Frolunda Indians at their Scandinavium arena in Gothenburg.
Head coach Andrew Lord and his Devils take on the reigning Champions Hockey League title winners and a win could clinch a place in the last 16 knockout stages.
“We are facing an extremely fast and aggressive team,” said Lord. “We are excited to be here and looking forward to the test against Frolunda.”
Devils are top of the group after four games and the home team know they face a crunch test against Cardiff, who entertain Indians at the Viola Arena in Cardiff Bay next Tuesday.
“Devils are a good team and it’s going to be tough,” said Frolunda’s Canadian defence man Brandon Gormley, who has played NHL hockey for Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche.
Brandon Gormley inför kvällens CHL-match mot Cardiff. pic.twitter.com/e1eJGFqshq
— Frölunda HC (@frolunda_hc) October 8, 2019
“We have to be ready for a major test. It’s important to get top seed in the group.
“All the guys are excited, playing some good hockey and building towards improving with every game.”
Gormley, aged 27, made 58 NHL appearances and played for Team Canada when they won the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland three years ago.
The Murray River, Prince Edward Island native score this first NHL goal for Coyotes in a 2-1 victory against Edmonton Oilers and said: “It was great to score. A special moment, one I will never forget.
“Playing in the NHL was always my dream. It takes a lot of sacrifice and that pays off.”
Gormley was a round one draft pick for Coyotes and he lines up with two other North Americans in the Indians team.
— Cardiff Devils (@cardiffdevils) October 8, 2019
“Frölunda are a top team I wanted to play for them,” Gormley told the club website. “The fans are fantastic. My girlfriend and I like and enjoy the city.”
Ryan Lasch is an American winger from California, while Karl Stollery is a Canadian D-man who has played for NHL teams Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks and New Jersey Devils.
Lasch was the first Orange County-born player to sign for local team Annaheim Ducks, joining in 2012-13 before being loaned to American League affiliate Norfolk Admirals because of the lockout.
“It was awesome signing for Ducks,” said Lasch. “They are a team I watched growing up. To have a chance to play for them was pretty special.
“They were my local team.”
The forward is rated a offensive player with terrific hands and playmaking ability who has a quick release on his tricky shot. He is described as having ‘great agility and elusiveness’, although he does not possess great speed.
Lasch, who has played World Championship hockey for USA, started playing at the age of three and says: “My dad took me to a rink in Costa Mesa that isn’t even there anymore. I was hooked right away.”
Canadian Stollery is a smart, two-way defenseman with great passing ability and powerplay skills.
The 31-year-old for Finnish KHL team Jokerit last season, while he had previously played NHL and American League hockey.
“I have played in many clubs and in several countries and that is an advantage,” he said. “I enjoyed my seasons in Europe (playing for Jokerit and Dinamo Riga) and that was one of the reasons I chose Frölunda.
“I am a two-way back and skate well. I really like the big rinks in Europe.”
Stollery, who spends summers in Camrose, near Edomonton when he works on the family farm, played for Canada in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. He helped Canada win the bronze medal.
Frolunda Indians are aiming to win the CHL for a fourth time, having beaten Red Bull Munich 3-1 in last season’s final, and know they must beat Devils either home or away if they are to progress from the group.
The top two clubs in the four-team section will make progress. Graz99ers cannot catch Devils, but Czech team Mountfield are only two points behind Cardiff and do pose a threat.
Devils were without Charles Linglet, Mike McNamee, Blair Riley, Evan Mosey and goalie Ben Bowns against Coventry Blaze on Sunday, but Linglet and Bowns at least will play against Indians.
This afternoon’s Frolunda v Cardiff group game is being broadcast live on Freesports from 4.55pm
Champions Hockey League (all four teams play six fixtures. Top two going into the last 16 knockout stages)
|1 Cardiff Devils||8||4||2||1||1||0||14||12||+ 2|
|2 Frölunda Indians||7||4||2||0||1||1||16||13||+ 3|
|3 Mountfield HK||6||4||2||0||2||0||13||11||+ 2|
Cardiff Devils results 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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