Devils end 20-year title drought to qualify for CHL
European hockey is coming to Wales after the Cardiff Devils won the Elite League regular season, thus qualifying for the CHL!
by Luke Fisher
Last night was a historic one in Sheffield, as the Cardiff Devils clinched the Elite League trophy, ending a 20-year drought of regular season silverware. Tonight, they will lift the trophy on home ice as the team takes on the Fife Flyers knowing they cannot be caught.
It’s been a historic season for the Devils since the puck was dropped back in September, with the team celebrating its 30th anniversary season. The team set off this season with ambitions of winning the league title after coming close the past seasons – finishing 3rd and 2nd respectively over the last two years. Despite the wait for a league title stretching back to winning the Superleague in the 1996-97 season, the team has picked up silverware in between – taking the playoffs in 1998-99, the Challenge Cup in 2005-06, 2014-15, and this season, as well as the British Knock-Out Cup back in 2006-07. The Devils also suffered play-off final heartbreak as they lost in the final match three seasons running from 2009 to 2012.
However, since former Belfast Giants GM Todd Kelman came on board in 2014, and the team moved into their new Ice Arena Wales in March last year, the league title has been the goal.
This season has been special for the Devils – the first full season in their new arena, and as the ‘team to beat’ for most of the regular season. Under player-coach Andrew Lord, the Devils have won 30 of their 49 regular season games thus far, taking the title with three games to spare.
“It’s unbelievable. There’s been so much work put in by everyone involved at this club. For me, it hasn’t sunk in yet and I’m lost for words,” said the West Vancouver native. “To think, less than three years ago, we were a ninth-place hockey team and now we’ve won the league in Sheffield.
“It doesn’t get much better than this and I’m delighted for all the fans. I have people that have been here since day one and to think where we’ve come from, it’s truly amazing.”
The journey though is only just beginning – the Devils will be aiming for a clean sweep of trophies as they target the play-offs, and will take part in European hockey for the first time since the 1999-2000 Continental Cup. However, first, at tonight’s sold out game, now all connected with the club will enjoy a party two decades in the making.