Group H Preview: reigning champions face three teams seeking first-ever Playoff place
Frölunda Indians, Graz 99ers, Mountfield HK and Cardiff Devils make up Group H

The final group ahead of this year’s Champions Hockey League features the reigning CHL champions, Frölunda Indians, taking on three teams who are all looking to start with a bang on game day one to punch their ticket to the Round Of 16 for either the first time. Mountfield HK and the Cardiff Devils are returning teams seeking to make it out of the group, whilst Austrian side Graz99ers will make their CHL debut in 2019/20.

Frölunda Indians

  • Qualified as CHL Champions / SHL Champions
  • Sixth CHL appearance; three-time champions
  • Club Information
     

No club has enjoyed more European domination that the Frölunda Indians, who once again enter the Champions Hockey League looking to defend their success from the year before. As they head into their sixth campaign, Frölunda have been in all but one CHL Final and they’ll be hoping to make it a fifth appearance this year if they can hit the ground running in the Group Stage.

Once again the Swedish side have a wealth of experience to draw on with 37-year-old Joel Lundqvist back for his 11th campaign as the teams captain, while they also have Ryan Lasch in the line-up, with the American forward coming in as the all-time points leader in CHL history, and he’ll be looking to add to his record with yet another impressive season.

It’s not just experience that Frölunda have, but a host of exciting young prospects, including 17-year-old Lucas Raymond who enters the new season as one of the top prospects ahead of next summer’s NHL Entry Draft. Youngsters have made an impact for the side in previous campaigns, with Samuel Fagemo scoring the opening goal in last year’s final against Red Bull Munich at just 18-years-old.

Mountfield HK

  • Qualified as Extraliga Regular Season Fourth-Place finisher
  • Third CHL appearance
  • Club Information
     

For a third straight campaign, Czech side Mountfield HK are back in the CHL, and hoping to improve their record in the competition after two-straight Group Stage exists in their first two attempts. Now the side will be looking to advance to the knockout rounds for the first time,

The Czech side are bolstered by the arrival of former NHLer Marek Mazanec with the 28-year-old goalie joining most of the last six seasons in North America, and he’ll likely assume the starting role ahead of youngsters Štěpán Lukeš and Daniel Dvořák.

At the other end of the ice, Mountfield have another former NHLer to rely on in 28-year-old Tomáš Vincour who returns for his second season after he led the team with a 21-goal campaign last year, good enough for the sixth most in Czech Extraliga

In their previous two campaigns, Mountfield have ended bottom of the group, but coming into the third straight appearance, on the back of another solid domestic season they have a great opportunity to progress to the knockout rounds for the first time, and with Tomáš Martinec coming into the Head Coaching role, they'll be hoping for European success.

Graz99ers

  • Qualified as EBEL Regular Season Round winners
  • First CHL appearance
  • Club Information
     

The Champions Hockey League welcomes a new Austrian entrant as Graz99ers gear up for their first run in the CHL after they managed their best season in years by finishing first in the EBEL's Regular Season Round, and reached the Playoff Semi-Finals for the first time since 2004.

Graz99ers have kept a solid group together from last year’s success, with leading scorer Colton Yellow Horn returning after a 58-point campaign, which was good enough for ninth overall in the entire EBEL last year, while the veteran presence of Oliver Setzinger is back to lead the team at the age of 36 for his fourth year with Graz.

Read our interview with Oliver Setzinger!

Head Coach Doug Mason has made some solid moves over the summer to bolster his squad for the new campaign and their CHL debut, bringing in an experienced goalie in Cristopher Nihlstorp who joins from the Malmö Redhawks, and has plenty of CHL experience to his name including an impressive spell last season where he had a 93.91 save percentage in his four outings, and with Austrian Thomas Höneckl also competing for time between the pipes, Graz99ers have assembled an impressive duo to try and make their first season, and impressive season in the CHL.

 

Cardiff Devils

  • Qualified as EIHL Runners-Up
  • Third straight CHL appearance; Group Stage exits in first two
  • Club Information

It’s a third straight appearance in the CHL for the Cardiff Devils, but for the first time they enter the Welsh side aren’t entering the competition as EIHL Champions. It was a competitive year for the Devils in the EIHL, and they’ll be hoping for a big year domestically, whilst also hoping to impress in the group stage.

Last year the club weren’t able to grab a win unlike their first season, but they ran some top European clubs to the bitter end in their group stage campaign, coming agonisingly close to pulling out a win or two with overtime losses to the Vaxjö Lakers and SC Bern.

Now the Devils are back with their similar core group of players, led by Head Coach Andrew Lord, with the player they call their greatest of all time in Joey Martin taking over as the clubs new captain, as well as their offensive leader. With new faces like Masi Marjamäki, joining the side for this season, their star goalie Ben Bowns is also back between the pipes to try and help the Devils towards European success when the puck drops at the end of August.