I know in my last piece I said my CHL experience was over, but since then I’ve become slightly addicted with the competition. Since my previous piece I’ve managed to get work experience at the CHL final and I’ve been asked to do a few things for the competition in the meantime, which I couldn’t refuse.As every British Ice Hockey fan knows, the Nottingham Panthers reached the final 16 in the Champions Hockey League, where they faced the Zurich Lions. No one can say that Nottingham didn’t play to the best of their abilities, they played better than many European teams, as proven in the group stages previously in the year.
Just like many Devils fans I became very interested in the CHL and its developments, even after we left the competition. So as all mental cases do, myself, my boyfriend and my dad travelled up to Nottingham to support the Panthers in what would be their final CHL game this year. And I must say although they lost there wasn’t any disappointment, just admiration.
So, after a 2-and-a-half-hour journey turned into a 4-hour journey, we arrived at the match ten minutes late. With Zurich leading 3-1 after the first leg, Nottingham were determined to win on home ice.
Nottingham might not have had the best of first periods, but they didn’t back down. Despite both teams’ efforts neither net minder made any faults leaving the game equal after the first.
Being a fan ambassador for the Cardiff Devils, I wanted to do my best to represent the Devils and the EIHL across Europe, so in the first period break, I met the fan ambassadors from Nottingham (Ben and Amy) and the fan ambassador from Zurich (Mario). It was fantastic to meet others from across the campaign who are proud to represent their team in the same way as myself.
Chatting to them gave me a better understanding of how they felt to be part of the competition, and their admiration for not only their home team, but the opposing teams. Hearing all this was amazing.
Nottingham came into the second period persistent, but had a few chances missed on goal. Zurich got the upper-hand with Frederik Pettersson scoring a long pass goal, making the panthers’ uphill battle even steeper.
With the home crowd behind them, Nottingham opened the third killing off a five-minute penalty and pushing forward creating more goal chances, but were unable to bypass Zurich’s net minder, Lukas Flueler. Zurich were undoubtedly dominant in their play with a slap shot goal from Roman Wick and a second goal from Pettersson with 5.40 left to play.
After winning 3-1 at home and 3-0 against the Panthers away, the Lions won 6-1 overall on aggregate, and progress to the playoffs where they will face Bílí Tygri Liberec.
I said earlier on that I was asked to do some work for the CHL and this is where my work started. I was honoured to be part of the media team for the CHL where I could interview a Zurich Lions player.
There’s one thing they don’t tell you when do media work for other organisations, and that’s that you look like a lost puppy for about 10 minutes wandering around trying to find the right place to go.
Then when you’re interviewing players from foreign teams…finding an English-speaking player is an issue. But lucky enough for me, after asking three different people I found someone who spoke English.
Defenceman, Chris Baltisberger was kind enough to be interviewed by me after the game.
A normal sports interview usually starts with “how was the game for you?”, but not mine, because of my nerves I completely blanked out the game and asked him about the atmosphere and how he feels about playing Liberec in the playoffs (which lucky enough for me were okay questions.)
“It was a lot of fun, a great atmosphere, hockey makes fun if you can play in front of passionate people.
“It’s great, they’re a good team, they beat the champions from last year so we’re excited.”
So, despite missing out to a playoff spot against Zurich, Nottingham fans aren’t disheartened and neither are the team. The fans are proud of their team and astonished about how far they’ve gone in this campaign, as is all of British Hockey.
We hope to see them in the campaign next year along with another British team.
That’s it for now, but come February I’ll have a lot more to say and many more updates on the CHL final. A British team might not be there but it’s hockey so who cares.
Good luck to Zurich and all the other team continuing their CHL journey.
Keep an eye out for updates on our twitter as well @ahockeyjournal.
See you in February.