So that’s it, the Cardiff Devils have finished their CHL adventure. Having watched the team at their home games, and out in Davos, the improvement has been huge.
But that said, the reigning Elite League Champions haven’t exactly been firing on all cylinders. Two big home league losses – 6-1 to Manchester Storm; and 5-3 to Belfast Giants – have meant that criticism has come from fans and owners alike.
Frustration really has begun to show from coach Andrew Lord. And after the defeat to the Belfast Giants, Lord said: “It’s just not good enough to be totally honest”. The question now lies, are the Devils a league winning team?
One of the big characteristics of the Cardiff Devils last season was consistency, especially on penalty kill. And that’s been the big difference from last term, to this. The Devils had the second best penalty kill in the league last year – 87%. Compare that with the first six games of the new season – 67% – you see perhaps one place where the Devils have been going wrong. Are they missing the stability of David Brine and Scott Hotham? They were a large reason for the success of the Devils’ penalty kill last year, that’s for sure.
On a positive note, a few players have caught my eye so far this year. One being Craig Moore. After his first Devils goal in the game against Vaxjo, I was extremely lucky to be able to congratulate him on his achievement, he jokingly replied, “Don’t expect that every week”. After scoring your first Devils goal. In the CHL. Beating an SHL standard goal-tender. That’s maturity and strong temperament right there.
Here’s Craig Moore’s first goal as a Devil.
Though he hasn’t had a huge amount of ice time yet as a Devil, he has excelled and shown himself to be not only solid and full of energy, but also improving in every game and with every experience he gets. The relationship that he has with Coach Lord, is clearly full of trust and faith in one another, and that’s visible when they’re sat on the bench together.
The end of the CHL for this year may well be a blessing for the Devils, as it will allow them to concentrate on their domestic competition. If they play the way they did in the wins over HC Davos, and the Vaxjo Lakers, they will be league contenders, mark my words on that. They have the roster for it. The big question is though, can that roster step up and show the consistency needed?
Three huge Challenge Cup games are on the horizon for the Devils, along with two big League games against the Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers. They will need to be ready, and they will need to be up for it.
By the end of October we may well see if the Cardiff Devils are on course to repeat the success of last season, or if it’s a case of what could have been, for Andrew Lord’s men.
Feature Photo – Helen Brabon