It’s less than a month until Ice Hockey returns to South Wales with the Cardiff Devils beginning their pre-season against the Nottingham Panthers on the road on August 11th before returning to Ice Arena Wales on August 12th.
There’s still a few players left to announce for Andrew Lord’s Devils team, but during an emotional night in IAW as hundreds of fans attended the UK Premiere of the My Turn documentary, they were treated to the two latest nameplates to be placed above lockers in the Devils dressing room.
With last nights two signings the Cardiff Devils have more or less locked up their defensive core for the 2018/19 season, bringing back Bryce Reddick for a second year, and introducing their fans to just the second new signing this summer in Ben Blood.
Reddick was part of the league, conference, playoff (and Aladdin cup) winning Devils side last season, and despite taking a few games to find his feet in the EIHL, became one of the teams most reliable defenseman, earning Coaches Player of the Year at the teams end of year awards.
“Bryce brings a great attitude to the rink every day and is a work horse on and off the ice.” Andrew Lord explained.
“You can see that he wants to get better every day and that drive is infectious. You need more people with that desire to improve and love of the game that Bryce brings to this team.
“He is one of the best skating defenceman in the league and likes to join the offensive rush. He has a great shot and plays solid at both ends of the ice.
“He got better and better as the season progressed and he is a guy that can be used in every situation. He skates so well and has a I expect he will come into Cardiff again in great shape and raring to go once again this year.”
The 28-year-old from the USA, posted 18 points in 53 league games, and showed a physicality beyond his 5’10 and 181lb frame, not afraid to drop the gloves from time to time too.
The new guy may mean Reddick, and the rest of the team don’t have to worry about dropping the gloves next season.
Ben Blood joins the Devils after spending three years in Liiga in Finland, playing for the Lahti Pelicans for his first two years, and then last season with Porin Ässät.
Across the past three years, Blood either lead the leg in PIMs or was second in that category.
He comes in at 6’4″ and 227lbs so he’s a big body who you can expect to use that to his advantage. However he’s not an out and out fighter.
Blood is more of a gifted two-way blueliner who can also drop the gloves when needed, more than a punch happy player who plays a bit of defence.
In the 2007 NHL Entry Draft the Ottawa Senators selected Blood in the fourth round, and he then went on to enjoy a successful college career with North Dakota, winning in the championship three straight years through 2010 and 2012, being named to the NCAA (WCHA) All-Academic Team during those years aswell.
Since leaving college hockey in 2012 he’s spent time in the ECHL and AHL as part of the Senators farm system, before moving to Norway to play for Stjernen Hockey in the 2014-15 season.
After 22 games in Norway he moved to Liiga for the past three years before bringing his hard hitting style of play to Cardiff for the next season.
Andrew Lord was full of praise when explaining his latest signing by saying “Ben is a solid two-way defenceman who can jump into the play but looks after his own end first. He plays tough and at 6’4” is a big body that other teams hate playing against.
“You need to be a great skater to be able to play 3 seasons in the top league in Finland, it is one of the fastest leagues in the world. We watched a lot of video on him and were impressed with how he moves out on the ice, especially for such a big guy.
“We expect him to have a big year for the Devils. He is coming from a top European League and he wants to win. He won 3 league titles in University but nothing at the pro level and part of his motivation to come here is because we have proven we can win over the last 4 years.
“He will be attending Cardiff Met to earn his MBA next season along with a couple of teammates, and that was a big reason we were able to attract him to Cardiff.”
With the latest two signings, the Devils have seven guys on their roster who can play D this year, with Josh Batch, Craig Moore and Mark Louis also able to play forward if needed by Head Coach Andrew Lord.
The Devils come into 2018-19 as back-to-back EIHL champions, so other teams will be gunning for them to try and dethrone the South Wales side, and with Blood around to patrol the blueline and make the opposition play with their head on a swivel, and Reddick continuing to use his speed and skills to join the rush, the Devils are doing all they can to continue to be ahead of the grade in the EIHL.