Champions Hockey League 18-19 Preview

Champions Hockey League 18-19 Preview

12 Aug 2018Adrian J»
 

The 30 August sees the start of this year's Champions Hockey League. The draw was done on 16 May by a group including managers Sam Hallam and Andrew Lord. These two will soon face each other again, but on opposing sides of the ice as their teams, Växjö Lakers and Cardiff Devils, ended up in the same group.

 
 
 
 

The groups are seeded, but with only two teams going forward naturally some groups might be easier than others. All four finals have seen Sweden against Finland with the result currently standing at 3-1 to the blue-and-golds.

My money is on Frölunda Indians to take back the title but who will break the Nordic dominance in the competition? Will it be Red Bull Munchen who have four Olympic Silver Medalists in their line up? Or will reigning champions JYP Jyväskylä of Finland take another title?

Here's a quick rundown of who should be going from the group stages into the knockout rounds to compete for European glory:

Group A

This should see Sweden's two times champions, Frölunda Indians and Swiss ZSC Zurich Lions through to the next round with teams from Denmark and Austria also in the group.

Group B

This group contains Sweden's Malmö Redhawks but is one of the most even groups with German, Red Bull München and Finnish, TPS Turku also looking to qualify. The final team in the group is Yunost Minsk (not to be confused with KHL team, Dianmo Minsk) from Belarus who also have potential to go forward if they can get results on the road.

Group C

This group should see Sweden's Skellefteå AIK and Finnish IFK Helsinki qualify against Polish and Italian opposition.

Group D

This is another wide open group where anything is possible. We will certainly see two teams who are not from Nordic nations in the quarterfinals as this group contains teams from Germany (EIsbären Berlin), Switzerland (EV Zug), Czech Republic and again, Belarus.

Group E

This group contains last year's surprise semifinalists, Oceláři Třinec, who only missed the final in a penalty shootout to eventual winners, JYP. The Czech team will be fighting it out with Sweden's Djurgården IF, Finnish Tappara and Norwegian, Storhamar. 

Whilst the group should be another even contest, the latter club may be the weakest of the four. However, they will be bolstered by the return to his youth team of one of the country's best ever players, 34 year old, Patrik Thoresen, who played for the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers in 2006-8.

Group F

Kärpät Oulu from Finland were seeded second and will be favourites to qualify from this group. Joining them, I think, will be the team from Czech Republic (Mountfield HK) with opposition coming clubs from Germany and France. But it is another chance for teams to get through to the knock out stages and upset the Nordic stranglehold on the cup.

Group G

Disappointingly for British hockey, Cardiff Devils are unlikely to qualify from the toughest group. They will again have to face Swedish champions, Växjö Lakers as well as SC Bern who won the regular season of the Swiss NLA as well as an Austrian side. 

The Lakers will probably be without top scorer, Elias Pettersson next season. But SC Bern have signed Jan Mursak from Frölunda Indians. The Slovenian scoring machine had a higher Points Per Game average than the young Swede in the SHL last season. Whilst the 19 year old will be playing his first game in the NHL in the autumn, the 30 year old can boast 46 games with the Detroit Red Wings as well as impressive stats from the AHL and KHL.

Group H

Reigning champions, JYP Jyväskylä from Finland should qualify from this group but behind them it will be a close contest between teams from the Czech Republic and Slovenia. The Swiss, who have yet to leave their mark on this European competition, will be represented by HC Lugano in this, the final group of the 2018-9 CHL competition.

For a full line up see:

https://www.championshockeyleague.com/en/news/draw-complete

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