The Belfast Giants will take on Czech champions HC Oceláři Třinec, Swedish side Skellefteå AIK and Swiss heavyweights HC Davos in the group stages of next season’s Champions Hockey League (CHL).
Adam Keefe’s Elite League champions discovered their group stage opponents at the draw in Tampere, Finland and they have been handed a brutal trio of opponents.
Top-seeded Oceláři Třinec have won the last three consecutive Czech Extraliga titles, while Skellefteå are one of the leading Swedish sides and Davos are world-renowned for hosting the Spengler Cup each season.
The Giants will, of course, never say die, but they have been handed a group that will not afford them any easy fixtures, even at the SSE Arena where they beat Bili Tygri Liberec and pushed the Augsburger Panther all the way three years ago in their only other appearance in the CHL.
In the 2019-20 season, the Giants finished bottom of their group as they won just one of their six group games against Luleå Hockey, Liberec and Augsburg.
The Giants do have history against one of the teams, having famously beaten Davos 4-2 in the Continental Cup back in 2003, however this will be the first time they have faced either Oceláři Třinec or Skellefteå.
This is the seventh time both the Czechs and Swedes have competed in the CHL, while Davos have come up against Elite League opposition before when they faced the Cardiff Devils in 2017.
All three sides boast a wealth of international talent, with Skellefteå defenceman Jonathan Pudas a long-time Swedish star, while Davos are led by Swiss legend Andres Ambühl, both of whom are competing at the current World Championships.
The schedule will be released at a late date, with the first round of fixtures on September 1/2.