The Cardiff Devils and Manchester Storm have a rivalry almost a fierce as the one we share with the Sheffield Steelers and anytime you have to travel to Wales to face them on their home turf you know the match is going to be incredibly tough.
With apologies to Yazz and the Plastic Population.
Life is still not fantastic if you’re a Steelers supporter; the team are bottom of the Elite League table and on the receiving end of mirth and derision from everyone else in the EIHL family. However, we have a new head coach in place and between ourselves: have a bit of hope. Read on for my weekly musings.
Former Cardiff Devils defenseman Andrew Hotham has signed for the Stoney Creek Generals of the ACH, a senior hockey league in Canada, after spending four years with the back-to-back EIHL Champions.
Hotham joins his brother and former Devil Scott Hotham in his first year back in hockey in North America since the 2012-13 season where he split time in the ECHL and AHL.
The Cardiff Devils couldn’t quite get the win against the Växjö Lakers in their final Champions Hockey League game of the 2018/19 campaign meaning the EIHL side ended this group stage with two points from two overtime losses, and four regulation losses.
Now before the criticism comes, we can honestly learn a lot from the Devils from this. They didn’t quite reach the successes of their previous campaign but this was a huge step up from last year.
With six wins in seven games, Fife have had the best start to the the season that they could have hoped for. However, with success always comes tests and this week the Flyers will face their first greatest test in the form of Sheffield, Nottingham and Cardiff.
It’s now or never for the Cardiff Devils, after a promising Champions Hockey League campaign last year where they managed to rack up home wins against HC Davos and the Växjö Lakers, they find themselves coming into the final group game still searching for their first win.
Each week (or at least after every Cardiff Devils home game) I’m going to highlight a few things I noticed while commentating on the game.
In the first edition of this I’ll be looking at the Cardiff Devils 5 – 2 victory over the Dundee Stars from this past weekend, so with little need of a longer intro, let’s just get into it.
- Dundee are not a bottom half of the table team
It’s early days in the league so for anyone getting carried away with where your team is in the standings right now, stop it.
That being said I’m going to explain why Dundee shouldn’t be where they are right now…hypocrisy at it’s very best.
The team I saw skate out at Ice Arena Wales on Saturday night looked like a dangerous outfit. Omar Pacha has put together are highly committed and highly energetic team that plays a full 60 minutes no matter what the scoreline.
If you look at previous results (and the result from the following night on Sunday) Dundee have lost five games in either a shootout or overtime. They keep score lines as close as they can, and if they could just get over the finish line first (or in this case goal line) in overtime, think about where they would be. Five dropped points from five extra sessions, if you flip it so Dundee picked up those points they’d be tied with the Giants and Devils for third place in the league right now.
Those extra points could come in handy down the stretch, and it’s only a matter of time until they rack up more regulation wins
- Lukas Lundvald is unreal
To be honest you probably know this already, but what a talent Lukas Lundvald is. The sheer determination of the guy, mixed with his lightning quick speed and great hands just makes him a lethal threat. Not to mention he did leave the game for a little bit in the first period with what looked like a shoulder injury, but didn’t miss a shift and came back out as though nothing happened, in fact he was better after the knock.
He was an absolute steal by the Stars midway through last year and you don’t need me to tell you how great he was for them last year.
I think he’s better this year. He’s got a full training camp in with the team and he’s settled more, and it was hard for me to look at the ice and not spot him out there. His goal was just pinpoint, and I’m convinced it was only reviewed so the referees could enjoy it before carrying on with the game. He’s a game changer, and may be one of the fastest guys in the league.
Next time you watch Dundee, whether it’s in a rink or on their stream, he’ll catch your eye, and you won’t be able to look away.
- Ben Blood has great hands for more than just fighting
I’d 100% forgive you if you looked at Ben Blood on your favourite stats site before the season and saw low numbers in the points column and high numbers in the PIMs column and thought the Devils got themselves an enforcer.
Yeah they do…Mark Louis. Ben Blood can hold his own for sure, but he’s not once needed to showcase that side of his game. He’s great with his hands for throwing knuckles, but you need to pay more attention to when he’s handling the puck.
Not only has his skating surprised the hell out of me for a guy of his size, he’s smart on the puck, can generate offence out of seemingly nothing, and you saw that highlighted perfectly on the Devils third goal. With the puck along the boards and with a few guys around him, Blood was able to create space for himself to get the outlet pass up to Charles Linglet, and if you’re open and Linglet is on the puck, he’s always going to find you and he did to set up Mike Hedden for the go ahead goal, but that entire play doesn’t happen if it wasn’t for Blood managing to open the ice up in the first place.
- Jordan Cownie wants a seat on the plane for the World Championships
It may be some time away until Team GB head out to Slovakia for the World Championships against the worlds best teams, but Jordan Cownie is laying down a challenge for a seat already. He’s in his second full year in the EIHL and after an impressive rookie campaign, his value has skyrocketed with his start to the year. He started on the top line for the Stars and for a 23-year-old Brit with just one full year of experience in this league that’s impressive itself.
He nearly managed to pull of a potential highlight reel goal against Ben Bowns (more on that later) and the maturity he showed on the ice transcends what you would be allowed to say is limited experience at this level. Yes he’s a proven performer in the old EPIHL, but keep your eye on Cownie going forward, he’s going to be a threat every time he’s on the ice and I’m excited to see how his career progresses.
- Ben Bowns is part cat
If you follow him on social media you’ll see that he’s definitely more of a dog person, but some of the reactionary saves Bowns is able to make are just cat like.
That stop on Jordan Cownie is impressive yes, but to be honest week in week out it seems we’re seeing something similar with Bowns. To be able recover while his bodies going one way, to stop Jordan Cownie who’s going the other is just unreal, but honestly it’s becoming almost normal for him to do something like that lately.
Featured image: CardiffDevils.com