Cardiff Devils. Ice hockey champions of Britain for a second successive season. Pic: Helen Brabon.

Captain Mo’s The Man For Devils – Don’t Doubt It

It was party night at Ice Arena Wales in Cardiff Bay. Devils showed off the Monteith Bowl, presented to Elite League champions, and the Erhardt Conference winners trophy.

Both have been won by Devils for a second successive season.

The last four years have been an astonishing success for the Welsh club, who have won seven championships – two League titles, three Conference titles and two Challenge Cups – and have seen off the opposition again.

Sheffield, Nottingham, Belfast and more have been left in Cardiff’s wake – and Welsh ice hockey fans celebrated wildly.

Former Cardiff Devils player, coach and now director of corporate development Neil Francis presents captain Jake Morissette with the Erhardt Conference Trophy. Pic: Helen Brabon.

Jake Morissette was presented as the most successful captain in the 30-plus years history of the club, while Andrew Lord was hailed as the most successful head coach of those three decades.

That’s a huge compliment to ‘Mo’, quietly spoken and a man who leads the team by example. He has total respect in the locker room.

Consider the quality of past captains including Perry Olivier, Steve Moria, Paul Heavey, Doug McEwen, Stephen Cooper, Mike Ware, Ivan Matulik, Kirk DeWaele, Brad Voth, Ryan Finnerty, Stuart MacRae, Mac Faulkner, Tyson Marsh.

Captain ‘Mo’ really is the most successful skipper in Devils’ history.

Fans who have picked out Morissette for criticism on social media – and there have been more than a few – must feel really silly now. He is a remarkable man, a winner, highly skilled forward and a fabulous captain.

Morissette then showed a touch of real class when he stood back and insisted long-serving British defenceman Mark Richardson go forward and collect the Monteith Bowl. A magnificent gesture.

Celebration time for Cardiff Devils. Pic: Helen Brabon.

Lord’s record is even more remarkable. The rookie coach who has led Devils on a major sweep of domestic honours and taken Devils on a European mission.

They won two Champions League matches earlier this season – and now have a lot more knowledge ahead when they take their place in Europe again.

Lord’s men have won seven trophies. He has taken Devils beyond the fantastic achievements of John Lawless, Paul Heavey, Gerad Adams and more.

It is incredible. Lord is a man of rare quality in ice hockey coaching and will surely go join to greater achievements.

Red Army fans were ecstatic when the trophy was paraded by Devils players. They chanted ‘ We are number one’ and ‘Champions’, while Tina Turner’s ‘Simply The Best’ blasted out during breaks in play.

Every Devils player paraded the League trophy – skating around the ice one after the other to huge cheers from supporters.

Mark Richardson lifts the Monteith Bowl. Pic: Helen Brabon.

The chanted ‘Oh, Justin Faryna’ and ‘Drewww’ when defenceman Paris skated around the pad.

That reminded me of the ‘Stuuuuu’ chants when MacRae was captain.

It sounds as though fans are booing. Far from it. They are showing their respect, their admiration for players who have taken Cardiff Devils back to the number one position in Britain.

On the night Sheffield Steelers won 4-3, but there are a lot of factors behind that result. For Devils the match was difficult.

They had already won the title and it must have been hugely difficult to build themselves up for the challenge of a Steelers team who were fifth going into the fixture.

Sheffield simply had to make a point and they came out hard, intent on spoiling the celebrations. They succeeded to a point, but Devils hit back from 3-0 down, lost 4-3 and were only denied victory by magnificent goaltender Brad Day.

Man of the match Day led Steelers to victory. Andreas Valdix scored twice, Jonas Westerling on the powerplay with the game winner coming from Robert Dowd.

Two of those goals were scrambled affairs, but Devils were not at all bothered by a result which, on their terms, was meaningless.

“We played a great game” said Steelewrs coach Paul Thompson. “Brad played well here last week when we put him so we told him to go get us a win

“He was excellent, but so were the troops in front of him, collectively we deserved the victory tonight, especially without Davey in the line up.

The Cardiff Devils management team. Left to right:Jamie Elson, Fie Adolfsen, Todd Kelman, Neil Francis, Katrina Williams, Andrew Lord, Kris Agland, Pic: Helen Brabon.

“Our first period was first class, 19-3 we shot Cardiff, not many teams do that here.

“We had some early powerplays, which doesn’t always happen in this building, and it was good to take advantage of one and lead 3-0 early in the middle period

“Later, of course, we had to kill. Being put on a 5on3 for a face off violation was strange mind you. I haven’t seen that before.

“Guillaume Desbiens made the road trip and we showed the spirit he played with.

“Since Robert Dowd’s return we have seen that line with Levi Nelson and Andreas Valdix back at their best and they were strong offensively, scoring three of the four goals.”

Champions Devils are still waiting to find out who they will play in the play-off two-leg quarter-finals. It now looks certain to be Braehead Clan or Coventry Blaze.

Match stats:

Scorers, Devils: Matt Pope 1+0, Layne Ulmer 1+1, Justin Faryna 1+0, Andrew Hotham 0+1, Mark Richardson 0+2, Joey Haddad 0+1.

Steelers: Andreas Valdix 2+1, Jonas Westerling 1+0, Robert Dowd 1+1, Mathieu Roy 0+2, Mark Matheson 0+1, Ben O’Connor 0+1, Levi Nelson 0+1.

Period scores (Devils first): 0-2; 1-1 (1-3); 2-1 (3-4).

Shots on goal: Devils (on Day) 3+13+13=29; Steelers 19+12+8=39.

Power plays: Devils 0/3; Steelers 1/4.

Penalties in minutes: Devils 2+10+0=12; Steelers 2+8+2=12.

Attendance: 3,095.

Referees: Mike Hicks and Matt Thompson.

Stars of the game: Devils, Layne Ulmer; Steelers, Brad Day.

Remaining Devils fixtures in the regular season (play-offs start later this month):

Wednesday 21 v Manchester Storm H (7.30pm)

Saturday 24 v Belfast Giants H (7pm)

Sunday 25 v MK Lightning H (6pm)

CLICK HERE to book a ticket for any of the remaining fixtures. Call 0800 0842 666 to book via the phone.

ELITE LEAGUE STANDINGS

Regular 2017/18 – all teams okay 56 matches

Rk Team GP W L OTL SOL WPCT Pts
1 Cardiff Devils 53 39 11 1 2 .764 81
2 Manchester Storm 53 34 14 3 2 .689 73
3 Fife Flyers 53 33 18 1 1 .642 68
4 Belfast Giants 53 32 19 2 0 .623 66
5 Sheffield Steelers 53 31 19 2 1 .613 65
6 Guildford Flames 53 27 17 5 4 .594 63
7 Nottingham Panthers 52 29 18 2 3 .606 63
8 Braehead Clan 54 24 24 5 1 .500 54
9 Coventry Blaze 54 24 25 4 1 .491 53
10 Dundee Stars 53 22 27 3 1 .453 48
11 Milton Keynes Lightning 53 19 32 1 1 .377 40
12 Edinburgh Capitals 54 5 48 0 1 .102 11

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