If you thought Thursday nights match up with Red Bull Salzburg was a tough test for the Cardiff Devils, then you’re in for a treat on Saturday when SC Bern come to Ice Arena Wales.
Cardiff dropped their opening game 5 – 2 against the two-time Austrian league runners up, but it’s a bigger test coming in to their second game as they host the back-to-back Swiss league champions, who are fresh off a 2 – 1 win over one of the tournament favourites, the Växjö Lakers.
Bern struck late in their trip to the Vida Arena in Sweden, and a bad angle shot that trickled past Växjö netminder Viktor Fasth was all that could separate the sides, with Marc Kämpf scoring the game winner with less than five minutes to play.
Cardiff came up against a goalie on form on Thursday in Lukas Herzog, now they face one of the greatest Switzerland has to offer. Leonardo Genoni stopped 28 shots in Berne victory, the 31-year-old netminder has been voted the NLA Netminder of the year three times in his career, and recently helped the Swiss to a Silver medal in last seasons IIHF World Championships.
It’s not just in net that Bern will look to control the game, they have a very impressive group of forwards, led by imports Andrew Ebbett, Marc Arcobello and Mason Raymond, while the Devils will also have to keep an eye on Swiss defenseman Ramón Untersander, who’s established himself as one of the best two-way blueliners in the NLA.
The Devils will have the odds stacked against them, but they know all to well how little that matters. Last year the Devils also were drawn into a very tough group, and despite an abysmal start, losing their opening game 10 – 1 to HC Davos, they turned it around, picking up wins against Davos and also this years group rivals Växjö who they faced in group action last year.
SC Bern however will he well aware of the threat taking an EIHL side lightly might bring. Last season they were part of the Nottingham Panthers group, and in their trip to the Motorpoint Arena, the Panthers scored four straight in a come from behind victory to take the game 4 – 2 on route to their historic CHL campaign, being the first British team to get out of the group stages.
Speaking after the Devils opening game loss, forward Layne Ulmer said about SC Bern “They’re going to be a good team too, they’re going to be fast, they’re going to have really good systems, they’re going to be smart.”
Featured image: CardiffDevils.com