Elite League preview: Challenge Cup takes centre stage

Nottingham Panthers warmed up for the Elite Challenge Cup Final against Cardiff Devils with an emphatic 6-1 victory in the league against the Welsh team on Friday night.

Stephen Schultz (2) topped the scoring for the Panthers who will now go into Sunday’s clash full of confidence.

Evan Mosey (above) told the Nottingham Post: “The guys are really excited for Sunday. To be able to play for a trophy and being back in the Challenge Cup final is big for the club.

“Not making it last year was a disappointment. A lot of the guys are used to winning it five years in a row. It’s good to be back in a final.”

“Cardiff are one of the top two teams we’ve played I’d say. They’re a well-balanced team – definitely one of the hardest we’ll play.”

Belfast Giants host Braehead Clan on Saturday aiming to extend their winning run in the league to seven games.

Giants are now just three points behind Devils with a game in hand and defenseman Jim Vandermeer is keen to keep the momentum going.

“The guys have been on a roll,” he said. “We’re not looking too far ahead – we’re just worrying about one game at a time.

“The league is within reach and as long as we play good every night, we give ourselves a chance to get there.”

Coventry Blaze Head Coach Chuck Weber has warned against the danger of underestimating Edinburgh Capitals this weekend.

Blaze face Capitals at home on Saturday, before heading to Edinburgh for the reverse fixture the following day, and Weber has targeted four points as his team chase a play-off spot.

He said: “Edinburgh have guys playing for jobs for next year and playing for pride. They have shown there is still a lot of fight left in them.

“It is not going to be easy and we need to get off to a fast start like we did in Edinburgh when we took a 4-1 lead before letting them back in.

“We will need to stay focused and not give them hope. It is human nature that when you have hope there is a possibility to do something.

“They have guys who can finish and they have a proven goalie (Carsen Chubak) who made 62 saves in a 2-1 loss in Cardiff, so we are going to have to be prepared.

“Last weekend we proved we can play with and beat anyone in this league. I hope it can be a catalyst for us and I hope we can keep pushing forward.”

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WEEKEND FIXTURES

Saturday

Belfast Giants v Braehead Clan
Coventry Blaze v Edinburgh Capitals
Sheffield Steelers v Fife Flyers

Sunday

Dundee Stars v Braehead Clan
Edinburgh Capitals v Coventry Blaze
Manchester Storm v Fife Flyers
Nottingham Panthers v Cardiff Devils (Elite Challenge Cup Final)

(Image permission: Karl Denham)

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