One Hell of a Season for the Devils!

This season started well for the 16-17 Elite league champions and their fans have seen them win their conference and ultimately the league title.

While they lost out on the Challenge Cup to conference rivals the Belfast Giants, who took that trophy from them in their own arena after a gruelling game which finished 6-3. Cardiff played a strong game, but it just wasn’t enough for them to take a third trophy and clean up this season. That’s not to say that they don’t have plenty of other things to celebrate.

While they lost out on the Challenge Cup to conference rivals the Belfast Giants, who took that trophy from them in their own arena after a gruelling game which finished 6-3. Cardiff played a strong game, but it just wasn’t enough for them to take a third trophy and clean up this season. That’s not to say that they don’t have plenty of other things to celebrate.

In November the Devils formed a partnership with LGBT Sport Cymru which only further promotes the club’s ethos of “ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.” This is a continuation from last seasons You Can Play project which the Devils were hugely instrumental in promoting. Their pride night saw them wearing rainbow inspired jerseys, which were sold off to raise money for charity.

December saw the team win BBC Sport Team of the Year after their phenomenal season last year. In which, they took home the Conference Trophy, League Title and the Challenge Cup. Tod Kelman spoke of the achievement saying “This is a great honour to be recognised by the mainstream media after our incredible season last year. We are honoured just to be part of the awards with so many impressive team and individual performances over the last 12 months.”

Coming into the new year the Devils looked strong. They had already tucked many important wins under their ever growing belt and the momentum was only continuing to swing in their favour. Early January saw some big wins for the team, taking Guildford out of the running for the Challenge Cup and by the end of the month and a well deserved shut out against the Braehead Clan and Ben Bowns was named EIHL player of the week and Chasing The Puck’s Netminder of the Week. This shows that not only was he statistically the best netminder that week, but that Devil’s fans were clearly behind the homegrown Rotherham born goalie.

The last week in January, also found the Devils with a 4 point weekend after taking down the depleted Coventry Blaze, twice in two days.

Their road to the Challenge Cup final however was not easy and after losing out in the first leg 6-2 to a dominating Sheffield Steelers. Rather than putting their heads down however, the Devils came back strong and took the second leg with a convincing 7-1 victory to send the Orange Army back to Sheffield with their tails between their legs.

February was a very hit and miss month for the Devils on the ice. While play was consistently good, the score lines didn’t reflect that. WIth some huge wins over conference rivals Belfast and Sheffield (which included another shutout for Ben Bowns) Nottingham Panthers got the best of them and took them down in a 7-2 slog to the finish.

March didn’t get off to the best start. Snow and ice wouldn’t stop anyone from getting to practise and while it did halt some games, it didn’t stop the Challenge Cup Final from coming to Ice Arena Wales. The Devils were all set to defend their title against the might of the Belfast Giants. However it was not meant to be. The Devils fell 6-3 and the Belfast Giants were awarded the cup there on the Devils home ice. A real kicker for the side who had fought their way to the final for the second consecutive year, only to fall at the last fence. Though still they soldiered on. They had the league title in their sights for a second year and as they widened the gap between themselves and second place Manchester Storm, it gave the fans something to cheer about yet again.

On the 16th of March the 28 men who would go to training camp as part of the Great Britain squad was named and among them four players from the Cardiff Devils. Netminders Ben Bowns and Thomas Murdy, defenseman Mark Richardson and forward Matthew Myers were all called up. The following day it was confirmed that Cardiff had once again won the league title after a win in Belfast. They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but the Devils came into that game red hot and ready to walk away with the silverware.

The Devils met the Blaze in the final 8 and ripped the rug from under the feet of the Coventry side both at the Skydome and Ice Arena Wales to progress through to the Final Four and playoff weekend in Nottingham, alongside the Fife Flyers, Sheffield Steelers and home team Nottingham Panthers.

The semi final saw them drawn against Scotland Fife Flyers and while the Scottish side battled hard with Andy Iles back stopping the team, they were no match for a red hot Devils. Iles did all he could to try and stop the Cardiff side but they ultimately went on to the final against last years winners, the Sheffield Steelers.

After a hard fought game which saw the Steelers come from behind to pull the game equal at 4 goals a piece, the Cardiff Devils netminder Ben Bowns denied the Sheffield side any more goals and they came out the victors. Celebrations came thick and fast and in front of a huge Devils crowd, they brought home the playoff championship. In the process handing the second Continental Cup place to the Belfast Giants.

This was first published in Coventry Blaze’s OnFire magazine and has been published here now with their permission.

For more hockey discussion follow me on Instagram and Twitter! @CTPHockey

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