The 2015-2016 Champions Hockey League is well under way and with the final set to be played on the 3rd February 2016 we are well on the way to finding out who the two final teams will be, although there still remains a long way to go. This, the second ever Champions Hockey League after its inaugural year last season, started back in August, as Sweden’s Lulea Hockey look to defend their crown against European hockey’s elite club sides.
Read on as we take a look at how the early stages of the Champions Hockey League have panned out and predict what will happen over the coming weeks and months. We’ve got analysis, betting tips and, thanks to our live odds comparison, the best betting odds around for the outright winner market of this exciting competition.
Lulea qualified from Group K, along with Finnish outfit Lukko, the latter priced at odds of 14/1 with William Hill to go on to outright glory this season. Lulea topped the three-team group by two points in what was a high scoring battle and there is now doubt that the defending champions will feel they have plenty of room for improvement having lost one of their games and required overtime for one of their three wins. Lulea have only won their domestic league once but their core of Swedish players are experienced and whilst the group have not been together all that long, we feel they can really call on their performances last year to once again go very well at big odds of 9/1 with Unibet in the outright betting.
The side leading the way at the moment when it comes to the outright Champions Hockey League betting are another Swedish outfit, Skelleftea AIK. AIK have won the Swedish title three times in total but, impressively, in both 2013 and 2014. Moreover, they were runners-up last year and also in 2011 and 2012, testament to their consistent performances over the last few years.
They topped Group D with three wins and an OT victory, advancing to the playoffs with relative no-hopers Bílí Tygři Liberec from the Czech Republic. AIK are priced at 4/1 with William Hill and are worthy favourites but we suspect those odds are a shade short given their history of going close but not quite lasting the pace and also in light of their slightly limited offensive options.
Next in the outright winner odds come Karpat Oulu at 6/1, again with William Hill who certainly lead the way when it comes to Champions Hockey League odds. The Finns were one of five sides to pass through the group phase with a 100% record (without requiring OT) and they have certainly got to be respected given the strength of Finnish hockey. Their mean defence makes them a nightmare to play against and they should certainly have no trouble with Sparta Prague at the start of November before a likely clash with Sweden’s HV in the quarters.
HV are priced at 12/1 with Bet365 and that could well be worth a bet, although on balance we fancy Karpat Oulu should just about get the better of the underrated Swede’s at the quarter final stage. Yet another Swedish side, Frolunda HC Goteborg, are also worth thinking about, with the Gothenburg outfit priced as 7/1 (with Bet365) third favourites in the outright market. The Frölunda Indians passed through the group phase with one of the most impressive records around, and their vocal home crowd and tight-knit, predominantly Swedish squad, make them a threat to anyone.
Ultimately though we have to side with the defending champions. Lulea can retain their Champions Hockey League title and at generous odds of 10/1 in the outright betting they look like great value, with a favourable draw sure to help them if they can get past a likely quarter-final against the Indians.Google+