Will two teams double the British impact in the CHL?

The 2017-18 hockey season inches closer across the globe. For 32 teams across 13 European countries this also means that the hunt for the European Trophy, this oddly shaped piece of silverware, is about to begin.

Heading to its fourth season, Champions Hockey League is becoming an established, top-level European club competition. This is something which has failed on numerous occasions since European Cup ended in 1997. The structure of the competition has slightly changed from last year in the search of the best format and both the number of teams and the group stage structure have seen changes.

The presence of British hockey has also doubled; the lone wolves last season, Sheffield Steelers, were replaced by the new champions, Cardiff Devils. The other British representative is Nottingham Panthers, who sensationally became the first British team ever to conquer a European trophy last season, bringing home the IIHF Continental Cup.

But what are the prospects of either team tasting success in Europe this season?

Cardiff Devils took the EIHL title to Wales for the first time last season and punched their ticket to European hockey after a 17-year break. The Devils previously competed in Continental Cup (1998-99, 1999-00) and European Trophy way back in 1994 and 1995.

Their maiden voyage to CHL got off to a less than desirable start when they landed into one of the toughest groups possible. As a result, major bookies such as Betway had them, and their British companions, at the time of the writing (16 August) at 200/1 to win the title.

It requires a Herculean effort from the Devils to get out of Group F with Bili Tygri Liberec (Czech Extraliga runner-ups), Växjö Lakers (Swedish Hockey League regular season winners) and HC Davos (semi-finalists in the Swiss NLA).On the upside; the team has retained most of their title-winning team, including the Team GB keeper Ben Bowns.

Devils head to Davos for their opening match on 24 August where Betway sees them currently (16 August) as heavy 13/1 outsiders, followed by a visit to Liberec on 26 August. After this they enjoy a three game home stand before closing the round robin in Växjö. The three home games are an ideal ground for the unknown underdog to cause an upset, but reaching playoffs is a dream which is likely to stay as one.

Nottingham Panthers have been underachieving during the EIHL regular season for some time despite their recent success in Europe and other domestic competitions. Ahead of their second CHL visit and in search of a faster, more dynamic team, the Panthers roster went through quite a shakeup during the off-season.

Departures of their star goalie Miika Wiikman and captain Brad Moran leave a dent, but the return of Evan Mosey is a big plus. All three netminders, basically the whole backend and a vast majority of their offense is new, making the Panthers an even bigger question mark in the Group F. Despite being the lowest seed, the upset over Hamburg Freezers and a tie with Lukko Rauma during their 2014-15 campaign showed they can strike when given the chance.

If the Welsh have it tough, the Panthers aren’t exactly going to have a walk in the park either. They are accompanied by Czech Extraliga semi-finalists Mountfield HK, TPS Turku (Finnish Liiga regular season runner-ups) and none other than Swiss champions SC Bern. This is a daunting trio for any team to face when the puck drops on 24 August.

Panthers are thrown straight to the deep end, facing Bern away as 13/1 outsiders on Betway (Odds on 16 August) before heading to Czech Republic to face Mountfield HK on 26 August. Like Cardiff, they play the next three on home soil before closing the group stage in Finland against TPS in mid-October.

Regardless of your viewpoint, the likelihood of a British champion on European ice this season seems distant, but the dual representation is a victory in itself. Playing against opposition of this calibre will be a great experience and a great teacher for both teams, hopefully sending positive waves through the whole sport in Britain.

And perhaps most importantly, this is a superb possibility for the British fans to enjoy some of the best hockey Europe has to offer. Delivered straight to not only Wales and but also to the Midlands.The 2017-18 hockey season inches closer across the globe. For 32 teams across 13 European countries this also means that the hunt for the European Trophy, this oddly shaped piece of silverware, is about to begin.

Heading to its fourth season, Champions Hockey League is becoming an established, top-level European club competition. This is something which has failed on numerous occasions since European Cup ended in 1997. The structure of the competition has slightly changed from last year in the search of the best format and both the number of teams and the group stage structure have seen changes.

The presence of British hockey has also doubled; the lone wolves last season, Sheffield Steelers, were replaced by the new champions, Cardiff Devils. The other British representative is Nottingham Panthers, who sensationally became the first British team ever to conquer a European trophy last season, bringing home the IIHF Continental Cup.

But what are the prospects of either team tasting success in Europe this season?

Cardiff Devils took the EIHL title to Wales for the first time last season and punched their ticket to European hockey after a 17-year break. The Devils previously competed in Continental Cup (1998-99, 1999-00) and European Trophy way back in 1994 and 1995.

Their maiden voyage to CHL got off to a less than desirable start when they landed into one of the toughest groups possible. As a result, major bookies such as Betway had them, and their British companions, at the time of the writing (16 August) at 200/1 to win the title.

It requires a Herculean effort from the Devils to get out of Group F with Bili Tygri Liberec (Czech Extraliga runner-ups), Växjö Lakers (Swedish Hockey League regular season winners) and HC Davos (semi-finalists in the Swiss NLA).On the upside; the team has retained most of their title-winning team, including the Team GB keeper Ben Bowns.

Devils head to Davos for their opening match on 24 August where bookmaker Betway sees them as heavy 13/1 outsiders, followed by a visit to Liberec on 26 August. After this they enjoy a three game home stand before closing the round robin in Växjö. The three home games are an ideal ground for the unknown underdog to cause an upset, but reaching playoffs is a dream which is likely to stay as one.

Nottingham Panthers have been underachieving during the EIHL regular season for some time despite their recent success in Europe and other domestic competitions. Ahead of their second CHL visit and in search of a faster, more dynamic team, the Panthers roster went through quite a shakeup during the off-season.

Departures of their star goalie Miika Wiikman and captain Brad Moran leave a dent, but the return of Evan Mosey is a big plus. All three netminders, basically the whole backend and a vast majority of their offense is new, making the Panthers an even bigger question mark in the Group F. Despite being the lowest seed, the upset over Hamburg Freezers and a tie with Lukko Rauma during their 2014-15 campaign showed they can strike when given the chance.

If the Welsh have it tough, the Panthers aren’t exactly going to have a walk in the park either. They are accompanied by Czech Extraliga semi-finalists Mountfield HK, TPS Turku (Finnish Liiga regular season runner-ups) and none other than Swiss champions SC Bern. This is a daunting trio for any team to face when the puck drops on 24 August.

Panthers are thrown straight to the deep end, facing Bern away as 13/1 outsiders on Betway (Odds on 16 August) before heading to Czech Republic to face Mountfield HK on 26 August. Like Cardiff, they play the next three on home soil before closing the group stage in Finland against TPS in mid-October.

Regardless of your viewpoint, the likelihood of a British champion on European ice this season seems distant, but the dual representation is a victory in itself. Playing against opposition of this calibre will be a great experience and a great teacher for both teams, hopefully sending positive waves through the whole sport in Britain.

And perhaps most importantly, this is a superb possibility for the British fans to enjoy some of the best hockey Europe has to offer. Delivered straight to not only Wales and but also to the Midlands.

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