Dayton Demonz coach Marc LeFebvre knows what it feels like to lift a championship trophy over his head.
As a player for the Sheffield Steelers of the Elite Ice Hockey League in Sheffield, England, LeFebvre helped lead the team to the 2004 title. Now he hopes to claim his first as a coach and watch his players celebrate the way he did.
“I remember how it felt,” LeFebvre said as his Demonz prepare to open the best-of-five Federal Hockey League championship series against the Danbury Whalers tonight at 7:35 at Hara Arena. “I am so excited for all of our players to have this chance.”
LeFebvre is also excited about the chance to snap Dayton’s 37-year championship drought. The Dayton Gems claimed their final Turner Cup in the old International Hockey League in 1976 with such players as Jim Bedard, Steve Self, Jim Bannatyne and Bill Riley.
“I think this city is dying for a championship,” LeFebvre said. “To be able to bring a championship here with everything everyone in the city has done for us would be amazing. Losing team after losing team have come in here and it is nice we can give them something to be excited about. We have given them some hope and restored some of that passion in hockey.”
The Demonz dominated the FHL during the regular season, and the Whalers were no exception. Dayton ou scored Danbury 41-35 in claiming a 7-1 advantage in the series. Dayton won two games in shootouts, including the regular-season finale Feb. 24. Danbury’s lone win came on Feb. 15, 9-4.
“They are a physical team,” LeFebvre said. “But, top to bottom, we’ve got so much more depth. They can try and cut down one or two of our lines, but we just keep coming in waves.”
Game two is Saturday at Hara at 7:35 p.m. before the series shifts to Danbury.
“It is three tough wins to get,” LeFebvre said. “It is one shot at a time, one play at a time. The playoffs are a rollercoaster of emotions. We have no pressure. All we have to do is play our game and enjoy the moment.”
FHL Championship Series, Game 1
Danbury at Dayton, 7:35 p.m., Hara Arena