As we continue our look at the matchups for the first round of the 2020/21 Champions Hockey League season, we focus our attention on the ZSC Lions Zurich as they return to the competition after a year away to take on SønderjyskE Vojens.
With Zurich returning, Head Coach Rikard Grönborg is expecting a difficult test in their season opener.
I know that Danish hockey is very good and I expect very hard competition.
Rikard Grönborg, Head Coach ZSC Lions Zurich
“A very interesting opponent. Since I’ve coached against the Danish national team, I know that Danish hockey is very good, and I expect very hard competition.” he opened.
With a new format in place this year as the competition starts with the Round of 32 instead of the usual Group Stage, it leaves very little room for error, something Grönborg knows he’ll have to be prepared for.
“It’s a change of course, but we feel that every team is qualified to be in the knock-out games and hence the “fun” starts immediately," he said.
Places in the CHL are always a huge point of pride for the competing clubs and that’s no different for Zurich.
"We have worked out extremely hard this summer because we felt that we didn’t’ get the opportunity to finish out last season the way we wanted. But something we did accomplish was to qualify for the CHL, which was a huge goal of ours. We feel a huge pride in representing not only our National League but also Zurich and all our fans in Europe. With that pride we also see it as a responsibility to prepare the best way we can," said Grönborg
For SønderjyskE, it’s been a while since they last participated in the CHL, with their last appearance in the 2015/16 season. They qualified following their success at last year’s Continental Cup to book their third appearance in the CHL.
SønderjyskE will be lead for a third season straight by Head Coach Mario Simioni and he spoke about how proud the organisation is to be returning to the CHL.
“I would first have to say that we are very happy to be participating in the CHL, last season’s team played extremely well in the Continental Cup to win it all. We are the first Danish team to do so and are a very proud organization!"
“Our goal for the CHL, is to have every player on our Team to play his best hockey of the season at that point of the season," said Simioni.
Coming into the opening round as underdogs, he's under no illusion of the difficult challenge that awaits them.
Without belief there is no hope.
Mario Simioni, Head Coach SønderjyskE Vojens
“It will be a very difficult task for our team, but like any adversary you play against in order to have a chance of winning you need to believe that you can do it. Without belief there is no hope."
After a few years without CHL action, Simioni and his squad are excited ahead of their return this season and know how exciting it is for the fans as well.
"Obviously we are all very excited about being in the CHL. It is the 3rd time for Sonderjyske."
"Our supporters, fans and sponsors are all proud of the team's accomplishments and are all very positive and enthusiastic about being able to watch hockey at the highest level being played in Vojens!" finished Simioni.