Cardiff Devils‘ boss Andrew Lord believes playing the final of the Elite Challenge Cup on home ice is a “special opportunity” for his team.
The Devils head into Sunday’s game against Sheffield Steelers bidding to win the cup for the second time in third years, and Lord is hoping the atmosphere at Ice Arena Wales will spur his side on to glory.
“Its extra incentive being in front of our home crowd in our home rink – it’s going to be a special opportunity and I know the guys are ready and we’re full of confidence,” he told IceTime TV.
“Sheffield is one heck of a hockey team, extremely fast, and we need to be prepared for their speed. It’s going to be a very intense game that’s for sure.
“I think this one’s extra special because it’s in Cardiff. Whatever happens let’s just go and play our game, play relentless Cardiff Devils hockey with our passion and if we do that we will have a very good chance of coming out on the right side of things.”
Despite winning six of their eight meetings against the Steelers this season, Lord acknowledged that the Steelers have players capable of causing the Devils problems.
“Their captain Johnathan Phillips is normally on their fourth line, but he’s got tonnes of energy and chipped in with big goals – he scored a big one here last time they were in Cardiff,” added Lord.
“I could go up and down the line – you’ve got the guys like (Ben) O’Connor, their goaltender (Ervins Mustukovs) as well, but I think the big thing is focusing on what we can do and just being in the moment really.
“If we overlook or look past other things or start thinking about things that don’t really have an impact on the game that’s when we get in trouble – we play our way it’s very effective.”
In addition to the Challenge Cup, the Devils are also on course to claim the Elite League and Erhardt Conference titles.
With the end-of-season play-offs still to come, Lord believes the Devils’ development over the past few seasons has been staggering.
“I think a lot of people have forgotten because it has gotten so big so quick,” he said. “Me and a few of the guys were here under the old regime and we’ll have a little chat and look at this and say ‘wow’.
“You take a step back and it really is remarkable and I think that’s a message to the guys right now to get to where we are and especially for a home game for the Challenge Cup.
“We’ve got to go and enjoy this. It’s not gonna happen every single year, hopefully it does, but we’ve got to go out and enjoy this opportunity and relish it.”
(Image permission: Scott Wiggins)