Guildford Flames coach Paul Dixon insists he’s happy with the ‘underdog’ tag as his team prepares for a first ever cup final since joining the Elite League.
The Surrey side will head to Cardiff to take on Belfast Giants in the Sunday’s Challenge Cup Final, looking to cause an upset against one of the league’s most consistent sides.
And Dixon reckons it’s one of the biggest games the Flames will face in their 27-year history, although they have a history of success from their EPL and BNL days.
“We’ve been on the other side of the coin and it suits me to be the underdog going into this game,” he said. “Nobody really expects you to do what we’ve done so it’s fair.
“Belfast will be favourites and rememeber, they beat Cardiff in Cardiff in this fixture last year to win the cup so we know how much a challenge this will be. They’ve been around the top for most of the season and you can see why with the squad they’ve got.
“It feels different and it doesn’t compared to what we’ve experienced before. Play-offs, cups, league titles, we’ve put ourselves in those positions through the years as a club.
“I’ve been there in the past, but it’s our first one in the Elite League and we’re very excited to be there and part of it.
“This game is up there in terms of biggest games this club has been involved in. Sure, we won trebles and all the trophies in the EPL, where we played, but you’ve got to live in the present and that’s where we are now
“It’s huge to have come into the Elite League and be in a cup final and it’s a massive occasion for us.”
Dixon addressed the imbalance in form between the two teams, with Giants having won six of the previous seven between the teams.
He insists it’s been a lot closer than what the results suggest and Sunday holds no fears in how they’ll face Adam Keefe’s men.
And he reckons Flames winning the trophy and bringing it back to the Spectrum would be a huge deal for anyone connected with the team.
He added: “We may have lost six of the last seven against Belfast, but I would say there’s maybe one game where they were a good deal better than us. The rest have been much closer, but they are the favourites, maybe based on that record.
“The positives I can certainly take from those is the fact we matched them in most of those games and with that in mind, my players can go in knowing they can compete and hopefully get that win.
“It’s a one-off game and could come down to one guy having a bad night or someone playing the game of their lives. But I do believe in a cup final, you need an element of luck.
“Sometimes teams can get the breaks and the bounces on the night can those games can be won and lost.
“I’d love to see the boys walk up and receive the cup. It would be massive for the club and I don’t think anybody’s given us a chance so to win it would be huge.
“We’ve got fans that have followed us from the start and have seen some good times and bad times so to go to the top flight and win a first major trophy would be incredible for them.”