Champions Hockey League: Cardiff Devils manager Todd Kelman aims for knock-outs

Cardiff Devils v Bili Tygri Liberec
The Devils faced Bili Tygri Liberec of Czech Republic, HC Davos of Switzerland and Sweden's Vaxjo Lakers in last year's competition

Cardiff Devils general manager Todd Kelman says his side are aiming to go one better than last time in next season's Champions Hockey League.

The Devils finished bottom of Group E in their inaugural Champions Hockey League campaign last year.

However, fellow Elite League side Nottingham Panthers managed to win their group to the surprise of most.

"It's a tough group once again, but our goal is to move on from the group stage," said Kelman.

"Panthers shocked the entire Champions Hockey League when they won their group last year so we would love to be able to move on.

"It's a lot to ask but that's our plan and that's our goal."

Cardiff Devils kept up the pressure on the Vaxjo Lakers goal
Cardiff Devils won two of their six group games, one in overtime, in last year's Champions Hockey League

Devils, the Elite League champions, are the only British team in next season's tournament and have been drawn in Group G with Red Bull Salzburg, SC Bern and Vaxjo Lakers.

Vaxjo were the eventual runners up last season, despite losing to the Devils in the group stage, whilst SC Bern reached the quarter-finals.

All three of the Devils' group-stage opponents have qualified for the tournament every year since its inception in 2014.

However, despite the daunting prospect of going head-to-head with Europe's heavyweights, Kelman said he was pleased with the Devils' draw.

"We are really happy," added Kelman. "We played Vaxjo Lakers last year so it's kind of a rematch for that.

"They weren't too happy when we beat them last year, it made front page of Swedish papers calling it a national disaster, so I'm sure they took a lot of heat for that.

"But of the teams that our fans would have wanted the most, Bern would have been close to the top.

"Switzerland have the biggest crowds in European hockey so it will be really cool to go and experience that atmosphere, so we are really excited."

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