$EBR we did it, we survived and made it to the start of another European hockey season. Thursday afternoon things open up in the Champions League. If you have been riding with the crew for the last 2 years you know we have dominated the books with these games and we plan to do it again.
We covered the 3 rule changes we will see on the ice this season in Parts I and II, but there was also a major change for the tournament off the ice. In past seasons the tournament consisted of 8 groups of 4 teams with the teams only playing those teams in their group. This season the new format will see teams play 6 different opponents and one group standings for all 24 teams. The top 16 teams will move on to the knockout stage.
TEAM: Lahti Pelicans
LEAGUE: Finland SM-Liiga
2022-23 RECAP: Finished 4th in the regular season and lost in the Final. This was a bit of a surprise as the Pelicans are not known for their success in the domestic league. The once financially unstable team club has a new lease on life and will look for continued success.
SIP 'EM: Taivaanranta is the local Whiskey maker with a distillery in a basement.
FUN FACT: The team used to be located in Russia but had to move to Lahti due to World War II but did they secure Russian gas for intermissions? Also known as the Chicago of Finland.
2023-24 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE OUTLOOK: Advance to the knockout stage and will be a tough out in the playoff.
ODDS TO WIN: +1700
PLAYER TO WATCH: American Ryan Lasch is the all-time leading scorer in Champions League history.
$EBR BET: Pelicans moneyline bets in the early stage.
TEAM: Lukko Rauma
LEAGUE: Finland SM-Liiga
2022-23 RECAP: Finished 3rd in the regular season and were upset in the Quarterfinals. Despite being in a small town in Finland the fans are rabid and helped the team’s success last season.
SIP 'EM: Head down to Street Bar and grab a few Karhu beers to play some darts and hear some live music.
FUN FACT: The word “Lukko” means “Lock” in English. How can you not like to gamble on a team with that name?
2023-24 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE OUTLOOK: Not an easy draw but should sneak into the knock out round.
ODDS TO WIN: +1700
PLAYER TO WATCH: Tukko Tieksola is on loan from Carolina and can score in the Liiga. An offensive-minded player who had 5 points in 11 games last season in Finland.
$EBR BET: This is a team I can see playing a lot of OT in the early round. Murley Specials +300 are always good for the bankroll.
TEAM: Ocelári Trinec
LEAGUE: Czech Extra-Liga
2022-23 RECAP: Won the Championship after finishing 6th in the Regular Season. This legendary club "just got in the dance" and made a legendary run. $EBR rode this team plenty of times during the 22-23 season and will do the same this year.
SIP 'EM: Chilled Shot of Prazska Vodka (not even close to as good as Pink Whitney)
FUN FACT: Have won 4 straight Extra-Liga titles. The official team motto is “ We have the power of the dragon!”
2023-24 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE OUTLOOK: Trinec is a steel town and the fans love this Euro Competition so the team takes it very seriously. The best hope for a Czech team to raise the Cup.
ODDS TO WIN: +2000
PLAYER TO WATCH: Adam Smith cut his teeth in the AHL with Wilkes-Barre and now makes the move to Europe and joins the Czech champs. This tough-minded Dman will be a great addition especially when they play the bigger clubs in the competition.
$EBR BET: Ride them on the moneyline at home, but will be a stay away on the road.
TEAM: Rapperswil-Jona Lakers
LEAGUE: Switzerland National A-League
2022-23 RECAP: Finished 3rd in the Regular Season, but were upset in the Quarterfinals by Zug in 6 games. The club is located on the banks of Lake Zurich, which makes it a destination. They have never lifted the trophy but the 22-23 season shows they are on the right path to make a run this year.
SIP 'EM: Goldschlager - The Swiss enjoy this as an after-dinner drink to slowly sip on, in contrast to us Americans who pound shots of it in college to get drunk.
FUN FACTS: I played 11 games for Rapperswil in 2010 scoring 12 points…Not a Big Deal. The casino there is 1 of only 2 casinos in the World that I'm actually up money on. I always thought it was funny that the management couldn't figure out why I had a McDonald's McFlurry before every game.
2023-24 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE OUTLOOK: This team has a tough road to get out of the group stage.
ODDS TO WIN: +2300
PLAYER TO WATCH: Brett Connolly - The NHL veteran of 536 games makes the move over from Lugano where he had 38 points in 45 games. Let's hope he won't leave his Lakers teammates hanging.
$EBR BET: Will be fading them against the Swedes and the Finns.