Ex-EIHL trio begin campaigns in Germany

(PHOTO: Panthers Images/Al Goold/Dean Woolley)

Two former Elite League coaches will go head to head in the opening game of the new season in DEL 2, which begins tonight.

Pete Russell, who took over at EHC Freiburg, takes his team to Weißwasser in Upper Lusatia to face Lausitzer Füchse, coached by GB colleague Corey Neilson.

For Russell, it’s his first taste of domestic German action since leaving Glasgow Clan at the end of last season and go into the game with a pre-season record of five wins in seven games, including two games in Scotland against his former club.

Freiburg themselves will be looking for a better campaign after narrowly avoiding relegation, where they defeating Deggendorf in a seven-game series.

WATCH: Pete Russell returns to Glasgow with his new team, Freiburg

Russell is already a fan of the youth set-up at the club is keen to give some of the young talent an opportunity to develop at his new club.

He told the DEL 2 site: “We want to develop the Freiburg site and give it more professionalism. Our philosophy is to encourage young players and put experienced players to the side so that they can take responsibility early on in the team.

“The goal must be to put a hungry and offensive team on the ice, that in every game there is everything which contributes to the team’s success.”

Neilson is back for a second season with the ‘Foxes’, where he took them to a fifth place finish and ended the campaign with the DEL 2 Coach of the Year award.

WATCH: Corey Neilson at Lausitzer Füchse’s press conference earlier this week

The former Nottingham Panthers coach has recruited some familiar faces as he looks to build on the job he began, by bringing in Mike Hammond from Manchester Storm, Robert Farmer from the Panthers and former Belfast Giants’ marksman Darcy Murphy.

Speaking at a media conference earlier this week, Neilson reckons his team are more prepared now they’ve had time to work under him and assistant coach Christopher Straube.

He said: “We are much farther than at the same time last year. Last year, all players had to relearn what Chris and I want. Now there is a core of players who already know our system and the new ones can follow.”

Friday also sees another British coach begin his season in Germany as Paul Thompson resumes his career with Schwenninger Wild Wings when they host Ingolstadt in their DEL opener.

Almost a year after leaving Sheffield Steelers, Paul Thompson is ready for another season in the DEL with Schwenninger Wild Wings (PHOTO: Schwenninger Wild Wings)

After taking on a team that struggled in the early part of the campaign, the former Sheffield Steelers and Coventry Blaze coach led them to 14th, but progress had been made.

And Thompson is looking forward to the challenge of a full DEL season.

“We are hungry and ready,” he said. “We meet a top team in the league, which has its strengths especially offensively and that our opponent also has a lot of respect for us.”

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