Opponent Preview 2017/18: Cardiff Devils
The Genting Casino Coventry Blaze take on the Cardiff Devils for the first time this season at the Skydome Arena on Sunday (5.15pm). Blaze TV's Ed Kimberley takes a look at the 2017/18 branded Devils:
Andrew Lord and his merry band of owners have really ramped up the temperature in Cardiff since the trio of Kelly Hughes, Steve King and, also GM, Todd Kelman took over from the Paul Regan regime.
Last season saw the dream of restoring Cardiff to the pinnacle of British Hockey actualised. They won the Cup – League Double and were narrowlyvbeaten by the Sheffield Steelers in the Playoff Final, just missing out on the Grand Slam.
As a result, Lord and Kelman have adopted a “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” mentality, having kept the core of last season’s team and only adding a sprinkling of new faces.
It’s been a challenging season for the Devils so far. They represented the EIHL in the CHL and despite notching a pair of wins were unable to qualify for the last 16. Unfortunately with the Nottingham Panthers progressing, the Devils achievement is somewhat overshadowed by their Erhardt Conference rivals. Whereas everyone knows about the likes of Joey Martin and Andrew Hotham and what they bring to the Devils line-up, below is a focus on some of the new faces:
Three’s a Crowder
Last summer the Devils took a punt on Patrick Asselin, a Danish Champion, who before had a terrific ECHL career despite taking a season out of the game. The gamble paid off. Asselin became a huge part of the Cardiff Double last year scoring clutch goals along the way. He had 18 goals, 29 assists in the regular season and 2 goals, 7 assists in the Cup. Like Asselin, Cardiff have rolled the dice on another player who took last season out, signing tall centre Paul Crowder. Crowder provides some size up the middle standing 6’3" and weighing 200lbs. He is a power forward who, like Asselin, had a tremendous ECHL career scoring 225 points in 279 games. Crowder, from Victoria BC also had several stints in the AHL icing in 106 games. He will always be compared to his team mate because of the above similarities and while he finds his feet in the EIHL he provides an upgrade to David Brine in the bottom 6.
The Devils may have 8 defencemen on the roster but thanks to the versatility of Josh Batch and Craig Moore who can also play forward, they have added a pair of import defencemen who sure up the back end but also add a dangerous offensive punch.
In Drew Paris they have, on paper upgraded on Scott Hotham from last year’s roster. A big unit at 6’4, 220lbs he is rugged in his own end but is primarily an offensive blue-liner. He has had some success scoring in top European leagues, putting up 30 points in 70 Allsvenskan games and 37 points in 94 DEL outings. He was big for the Devils in the CHL scoring 2 goals, 3 assists in the 6 games, and has 4 assists in 4 league games. He provides many similar qualities to Andrew Hotham.
In Bryce Reddick they have another player with a keen eye for offence. Coming from good stock, his father ‘Pokey’ Reddick won a Stanley Cup with the Oilers in 89/90, the diminutive right shooting defenceman has spent the majority of his career in Europe having graduated from the D1 school at Michigan Tech. His 8 goals and 25 assists in 58 games last season was good enough to lead the Danish league in assists for a defenceman. The best is yet to come from Reddick however in the U.K, as he has only managed 1 goal, 1 assist in all outings thus far as a Devil.
Pope is a Devil
There are a few more players making their way to the EIHL from the Asian League this season, with Cole Jarrett in Belfast being one and Matt Pope in Cardiff being another. Pope is an NCAA D1 champion (Bemidji) who had a strong career in the AHL with 45 points in 200 games. Turning to Europe he had great seasons in Denmark and Italy where he was well over a point per game, and Austria where he iced with the highly rated Bolzano Foxes. He then turned to Asia where the big British Columbian led the league in points, scoring 33 goals, 35 assists for the Tohoku Free Blades. Like Crowder he is a big body at 6’2, 200lbs who can play up the middle and on the wing.
Tickets vs. Devils - Sunday (5.15pm Skydome Arena)
No queing, guaranteed seat - show ticket on your mobile device – no need to print!
or call/visit the Skydome Arena box office in person - 02476 630693.
The box office is open from 9am every day and you can also pay on the door when you arrive, however it is recommended that you book online to save queing.
Devils fans please book tickets in block 7.