The line-up for the quarter finals of the 2017/18 Elite League Challenge Cup has been confirmed.
Using the ‘pick your opponent’ format for the first time, the top three seeds – the group winners – were given the chance to pick who they’ll face in the last eight and their home leg preference.
Sheffield Steelers, the top seeds, after finishing Group A with the best record chose eighth seeds Dundee Stars to be their quarter final rivals.
Milton Keynes Lightning, competing in the tournament for the first time, were the second seeds after winning Group C and have picked Nottingham Panthers to be their opponents in the quarter final.
Then Belfast Giants, Group B winners, chose Fife Flyers as their opposition with Cardiff Devils and Guildford Flames paired together to complete the line-up.
Sheffield Steelers owner Tony Smith gave his reasons for choosing the Stars and said: “We’ve got a good record against Dundee Stars and we think it will give us the best route towards the final.
“It’s a potential banana skin of course and by picking Dundee, the other teams will see that Steelers fancy their chances. There were five choices and they were ours.”
Milton Keynes Lightning owner Graham Moody discussed his team’s decision to take up a two-legged date with Nottingham Panthers
He said: “All the teams are as hard as each other and there are no easy games.
“We’ve had a couple of good games against Nottingham so far and we think these will give us a couple more, plus it’s only an hour up the M1 and we think it’s the right fixture for us.”
Belfast Giants general manager Steve Thornton added: “Graham surprised me by picking Nottingham and they weren’t the three we expected to pick from.
“Every game is a tough one and we felt Fife would give us the best match-up. We’ve had a couple of good games against them and we’re looking forward to more.”
All ties are to be played by 10th January 2018.
QUARTER FINAL TIES (Dates to be confirmed))
Sheffield Steelers vs Dundee Stars (QF1)
Milton Keynes Lightning vs Nottingham Panthers (QF2)
Belfast Giants vs Fife Flyers (QF3)
Cardiff Devils vs Guildford Flames (QF4)
SEMI FINAL TIES (Dates to be confirmed)
Sheffield Steelers or Dundee Stars vs Cardiff Devils or Guildford Flames
Milton Keynes Lightning or Nottingham Panthers vs Belfast Giants or Fife Flyers