Nottingham Panthers look to make British ice hockey history in Europe

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Neilson relishing European challenge

Nottingham Panthers continue the quest to become the first British ice hockey team to win European honours when their Continental Cup campaign reaches the Super Final stage in Italy on Friday.

Panthers reached the final stages of Europe's second-tier event by topping their four-team group in November.

Coach Corey Neilson told BBC East Midlands Today: "We are excited that we have put ourselves in this position.

"This is a nice break to play against unique opposition and test ourselves."

The best-ever Continental Cup performance by a British side came in 2010, when Sheffield Steelers finished third in Grenoble, France.

Seventeen teams from 17 countries entered this season's competition, and the winning side will go onto play in next season's Champions Hockey League - the sport's premier European competition.

Nottingham's bid for history-setting honours, in ice hockey's equivalent of football's Europa League, sees them face Odense of Denmark on Friday, Beibarys Atyrau of Kazakhstan on Saturday and hosts Ritten on Sunday.

Corey Neilson
Corey Neilson has won numerous honours as Panthers boss, but last led his club into the Continental Cup in 2013

Neilson added: "We have done our due diligence checking out their rosters. We have had this league focus all season long. Now it's a matter of going out and doing our thing."

Panthers are fourth in the Elite League, but they have won 10 of their past 13 games and recent signing Jason Williams said the team is in good shape.

Williams, a former Stanley Cup winner who played for Ritten in this season's Continental Cup, added: "We have confidence to put on a good show.

"Everybody is looking forward to it. Hopefully for the three games in three nights, we can stay healthy and everybody will contribute. We need everybody, that is for sure."

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