Elite League preview: Lord embracing Grand Slam pressure

Cardiff Devils’ boss Andrew Lord is relishing the opportunity to win a Grand Slam.

The Challenge Cup, Erhardt Conference and Elite League trophies are all in the cabinet at Ice Arena Wales, with the play-off crown now the focus of their attention this weekend.

Cardiff face Dundee Stars in Saturday’s first semi-final and Lord says his team is ready for the challenge.

“I can’t really put words on what it would mean to achieve a Grand Slam – in three years, how far we’ve come is simply incredible,” said Lord.

“We missed the play-offs in my first year, finishing second bottom. Now to have a league title, two Challenge Cups and some Conference trophies with his group is amazing.

“We have the chance to do something that’s never been done before and to do it would be over the top. It would sum up the year for this group, who have worked so hard every day.

“I don’t think our confidence can be any higher right now. Hopefully it’s not that high, but we’re rolling along nicely and we’re hungry to finish the season off in the right way.

“Dundee are a good team, well-coached and have a ton of speed and players that can break the game open single-handedly.

“We’ve had some real battles with them in the past and they have guys that know how to play tough hockey and a one-off game where anything can happen – it can come down to that player or bounce.

“We always put the pressure on ourselves to perform and get the win. This group really relishes the pressure and it hasn’t been any different this coming weekend.”

Dundee Head Coach Marc LeFebvre insists there’s absolutely no pressure on his team as they get ready for a debut appearance at the play-off weekend.

The Stars lost all four regular season meetings against the Devils, but LeFebvre believes anything is possible at Nottingham.

“It’s massive for the club to get to the finals – they’ve had their ups and downs since coming into the league, from winning the Conference a few years ago to finishing last place after.

“The fans know we’re not the biggest club in the world, but they support us greatly. The expectations are realistic and they deserve to come to the party.

“There’s zero pressure on us going into this and we’re used to having that mentality. We’re not feeling it at all and we’ll take it one shift at a time and we’ll see what happens.

“For a long time, people were down on this group and had us dead and buried in January, but the guys played some great hockey to get us there.

“It was tough for me mentality at that time, but I had to remain upbeat to keep it going and work our way through it. I had to pick the guys up a few times this season and I’m delighted for them.

“Next up for us is Cardiff, who are a great team, with a group of good veteran guys and they’ve won every trophy going for them so far.

“I have a lot of respect for Andrew, who’s done a great job in the last three seasons. We know we’re in for a tough battle, but a sixty-minute game in a neutral venue, anything can happen.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Saturday

Belfast Giants v Sheffield Steelers
Cardiff Devils v Dundee Stars

Sunday

3rd/4th place game
Final

(Image permission: Cardiff Devils)

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