Weber excited by challenge ahead
Coach Chuck Weber has urged Genting Casino Coventry Blaze to "embrace that underdog mentality" when they face Cardiff Devils in the Elite League play-off semi-final on Saturday.
The defending champions are two games away from becoming only the third team in EIHL history to successfully defend the trophy.
Blaze take on Devils in the first semi-final on Saturday before Nottingham Panthers meet Fife Flyers as the season reaches its climax at the National Ice Centre.
Weber's side have a 2-7-1 record against Devils this term but beat the Welshmen 2-1 in the last match to be played at the Big Blue Tent on February 27.
The American said: "We match up well with them and we know each other inside out. Lordy [Devils player-coach Andrew Lord] will have his side prepared for us just as much as we will be for them. It will come down to who executes, who is most disciplined and who outworks their opponent.
"I am a big fan of the best of five or best of seven, it is what I grew up with. Here it is a shorter format which brings a different type of excitement. I compare it to a 100 metre sprint where a best of seven is like running a mile.
"In my one and a half years in this league I have been lucky to do this twice. It is a fantastic and enjoyable experience and I know we are looking forward to it. It is the old coach's mantra in that we need to take it one shift at a time. But we know we can play with them.
"Cardiff are so talented, they have two of the three nominees for Player of the Year, their goalie has been nominated for Goaltender of the Year, [Andrew] Hotham has been nominated for Defenceman of the Year and Andrew Lord has been nominated for Coach of the Year.
"A lot of people think we don't have a chance. I don't know how we cannot be the underdogs - they are the number two seed and they were battling for the league title all year.
"They have had a fantastic season, even though in two of the regular-season hardware they fell a little short. We will need to play the right way and capitalise on our opportunities."