Destination Cardiff looms as last four battle out final spot

PHOTOS: Panthers Images & Scott Wiggins

It’s a big night in the Elite League as the Challenge Cup semi-finals reach their conclusion and two sets of fans will be booking a trip to Cardiff next month.

BELFAST GIANTS (1) vs GLASGOW CLAN (2)

(7pm, SSE ARENA)

Belfast Giants could go a step closer to retaining the trophy they won last year if they beat Glasgow Clan on home ice in the first of three meetings in four days between the clubs.

Adam Keefe’s men may have lost in Nottingham on Sunday in overtime, but with a home domestic record that reads 11 wins from their 12, it’s fair to say Clan have a job to do.

The fact they’ve won six of their last seven meetings with Glasgow/Braehead on home ice also swings the favourites tag their way.

They may be down 2-1 from the first leg, but that won’t phase them as they look to return to Cardiff in the hope they can retain the Challenge Cup.

Pete Russell’s team are on great form with four straight wins that lifted them to third in the league and secured the Gardiner Conference title earlier this week.

With only one loss in their last seven, Clan will look to draw upon the spirit that saw them overcome Cardiff Devils in the quarter finals in only their second ever Challenge Cup semi final.

They’ve lost once in regulation time in their last 17 outings, going back to the turn of the year and their fans are heading over in droves in the hope they can get to their first ever final.

It would be a huge achievement for them after last season’s disappointing campaign and the Purple Army will be hoping Pete delivers in his first year.

VOTE NOW: Who will make it to the Challenge Cup Final?

NOTTINGHAM PANTHERS (2) vs GUILDFORD FLAMES (5)

(7.30pm, MOTORPOINT ARENA)

Guildford Flames head to Nottingham Panthers with a seemingly healthy 5-2 lead after the first leg and would love to reach their first final in their second season in the EIHL.

While Flames would still be considered as underdogs, progression to the final would be a massive achievement for Paul Dixon and his men.

However their recent form has been patchy, particularly on the road with only two successes in their last seven trips away from home.

Overall it’s been two wins in six for Flames as they head to a venue where they’ve won once in four previous visits.

As for Panthers, they’ve just been overtaken by Glasgow Clan in the EIHL standings as they continue to struggle to go on any real form.

Rick Strachan has been in charge for nine games, since replacing Rich Chernomaz, winning four of them, three at home.

They got a much-needed confidence boost on Sunday with an overtime 3-2 win over Belfast Giants to take them into this contest.

Their pedigree in this tournament is beyond doubt, having lifted the trophy eight times in the Elite League era.  Oh, how they would love a ninth title.

VOTE NOW: Who will make it to the Challenge Cup Final?

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