Belfast Giants forward Liam Reddox believes there should be expectation on the team to do well in the Champions Hockey League, despite it being their debut appearance.
The puck drops tonight (Thursday) on the new European campaign with the Elite League champions set to test themselves in the competition for the first time.
And Reddox, a runner-up with previous club Växjö Lakers two seasons ago, reckons that after last season’s success, Belfast should be aiming high in Group C.
“There should be expectation on us to do well,” he said. “The season they had last year, winning the league and a couple of trophies, I don’t see why there wouldn’t be any high expectations.
“We want to be a team that shows up, competes and has a chance to win every night and it shouldn’t be any different in this Champions League tournament.
“For me, personally, this time in the CHL is going to be really neat, because I’m coming at it from a different perspective.
Happy ‘Hockey is back’ Eve folks! Join Paul Adey & myself LIVE on @FreeSports_TV tomorrow from 19:25 as @BelfastGiants make their CHL debut. Great weekend ahead in Cardiff too. 📺🏒 #CHL pic.twitter.com/XQrCn48mEa
— Aaron Murphy 🎙 (@MurphOnIce) August 28, 2019
“In Sweden, we’ve always been the top dogs so now, being in Belfast and it’s the first time they’ve been involved, it’s quite the opposite.
“At the same time, you’re not just playing for the Giants, you’re playing for the EIHL and it’s really important for us and Cardiff to have good showings in these games in this tournament.
“It draws a lot of attention from other import players and continues to put the league on the map in making it a viable option for guys looking to come to the UK.”
The players and teams, not to mention the arenas, opened his eyes to the quality of the league which intrigued him.
And he spoke about why Belfast was the move for him after deciding to leave Växjö, ending eight years playing there where he won two SHL titles.
WATCH: Reddox picks up a hat-trick against Herning Blue Fox
He added: “My experiences of playing over here were from my time with Vaxjo, having played Glasgow and Cardiff in the CHL and I was really surprised. I didn’t know what to expect or know anything about the league.
“So when I played in Glasgow, it was like ‘holy moly, these guys can play a little bit’. Then we drew Cardiff and they had an excellent showing, beating us and taking us to overtime.
“As time went on, it became a league I was more and more interested in and here I am now playing for the Belfast Giants.
“When it came to deciding on my move, they checked off all the boxes I had in what my family and I were looking for. I have a young family, so naturally, there’s more to consider. It’s not just a hockey decision.
“Belfast had a great reputation of a place that really looks after, plus their success on the ice last year, it was somewhere I wanted to be.”
Reddox’s CHL experience stands out, with 34 appearances alone in the competition out of a collective 45 across the team going into this season.
Four wins from four in pre-season puts Adam Keefe’s side on solid foundations when they take on Bili Tygri Liberec, from the Czech Republic followed quickly by German side Augsburger Panther coming to Northern Ireland on Saturday.
And while the 33-year-old is pleased to start the campaign with two home games at the SSE Arena, he says the buzz around the team is fantastic right now.
He said: “Right now, the feeling is awesome around the team and I t’ll be good to start at home for comfort level.
“These teams coming to this city might have a little too much fun and not recognising that we can play hockey over here. It’ll be good to have the fans behind us as well.
“Hopefully my experience can help and I’ll certainly do my best to share that. At the end of the day, it’s hockey. The pace might be faster and it’s maybe on a bigger stage and that’s the main message I’ll give.
“We don’t have to change what kind of play or what kind of team. We do our thing and worry about ourselves and just play the game against the teams we’re facing.”