Lord cautious over CHL targets

(PHOTO: Cardiff Devils)

Cardiff Devils coach Andrew Lord has refused to set a target on qualification from Group H of the Champions Hockey League ahead of their opening game tonight (Friday).

Czech Republic side Mountfield make up the opposition for the Devils’ first game of the campaign as they embark on their third crack at Europe’s top club competition ahead of play netent slots.

But he was coy over his side’s chances, but insists it’s something he and his team are aiming to achieve this time around.

“We’ve had a couple of good years doing it now and I’ve learned a lot in that time,” Lord said.  “It’s an amazing experience being involved and playing these great teams.

“I think we’re all just excited to get started again and with the pre-season out of the way.  You want the real thing and it’s time to get going.

“It’s always been our goal to get out of the group and I’ve always been cautious of putting any set goal on this competition. There are so many factors, not only with your own team, but your opponents and so much can change from one year to the next.

“What I will say is, I like our team and our speed has gone up.  We can actually keep up and our structure has improved and the game plan is something we’ve worked on, seeing what works and what doesn’t.

“We have a lot of guys who know what to expect which is going out and executing what needs to be successful at this game pace.

“I would love to get out of the group, but I’m under no illusions about the teams we’re playing, start on Friday against a very good team in Mountfield and we’ll have to play our best game to come out with a win there.”

Devils have enjoyed a good pre-season programme, with five games under their belt and Lord has been pleased at how well his team has come together so far.

But he admits scouting his opponents has been difficult heading into a busy home weekend, with Austrian side Graz 99ers due in the Welsh capital for game two on Sunday.

WATCH: Cardiff Devils introduce themselves to the Champions Hockey League

He added: “I’m really happy with the team over the last few weeks.  We have good team speed and a lot of aggressive players, which is what we wanted.  Something more grittier and exciting and I think we’ve accomplished that.

“I like the home start.  I always enjoy the road trips too, but it gets our building rocking and gives us the chance to go at them early.  We need a real good start and see where we’re at.

“We’ll have to adjust to the speed quickly and stay out of the box.  Mountfield have a tremendous amount of speed, probably one of the fastest I’ve ever watched and I’ll looking forward to getting things going here.

“The first couple of weeks is all about ourselves and implementing the systems we want to play and getting the new guys up to speed. One of the fun things I like as a coach is retaining that core group each season and build off it.

“More recently, we’ve been looking at the other teams and what they’re all about.  From a coaching perspective, it can be a bit of a nightmare.  Scouting pre-season games are tough.

“Mountfield and Graz, it’s been different line-ups and mixing and matching.  Just like us as they try new things so you’re not getting an exact feel of the make up of the team.  Plus the camera angles aren’t ideal and the quality isn’t good, but we’re doing what we can.  We’ll be ready.”

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