The Cardiff Devils finish up their 2018/19 Champions Hockey League campaign over the next week as they face the Växjö Lakers at the Vida Arena tonight, before returning home to play host to the reigning SHL champions at Ice Arena Wales next week.
Cardiff are already out of contention for advancing to the next round of the competition after four losses to open their campaign in August and September, but they were never outmatched in their first games against SC Bern and Red Bull Salzburg, keeping the score lines close and even forcing overtime against Bern when they hosted them at IAW.
But with qualification off the table, the Devils could look to go and spoil the party for the Lakers.
Bern are already through to the next round with three wins and one overtime win, and Salzburg currently sit in that second qualification spot ahead of Växjö with a six-point gap that means all the Devils have to do tonight is force overtime and it’ll stop Växjö from advancing.
If the Lakers are able to grab all three points, they’ll need Salzburg to lose in regulation to even have a chance of advancing, or risk dropping out in the group stage just months after appearing in the CHL final.
It’s another trip to Sweden for Cardiff and their traveling fans, and they’ll be looking for a similar performance from last years trip or better as they fell to the Lakers in Sweden in a close 3 – 2 loss, with Josh Batch and Matt Pope getting on the scoresheet and Ben Bowns stopping 38 shots on the night, including three shots from now Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson who assisted on the teams third goal by Brendan Shinnimin.
Now the Devils come in with a lot of momentum, since getting their EIHL season underway, the side have dropped just one game in nine outings, coming into tonight’s game with a four game winning streak, and the teams offense looking to fire on all cylinders and Matt Pope just buried a hat-trick on Saturday night in a 4 – 1 win over the Manchester Storm.
In CHL competition, Pope is also impressing with four assists, tied with new boy Mike Hedden for the most points as the new arrival has three goals and assist to his name during the opening four games.
It’s going to be a huge ask for the Devils tonight but they kept it close in Sweden last time, and managed to blow Växjö away at home with a 5 – 1 win, so they’ll be out to spoil the party and stop the SHL aside from advancing.
Featured image: CardiffDevils.com