Andrew Lord coached his Cardiff Devils team to victory in the PredictorBet Play-offs final and said: “That’s the final voodoo smashed.”
Lord’s men defeated Sheffield Steelers 3-1 in the final, ending a wait of almost two decades to lift this trophy for the first time in the Elite League era.
Scot Paul Heavey was head coach when Cardiff were last crowned play-off champions in 1999 and Lord has put an ended to Devils’ barren run.
It had been 20 years since Devils last won the league title. Captain Jake Morissette and his team swept to the title last season – and repeated that feat in 2017-18.
Please don’t take me home https://t.co/TNbso5q4jv
— Cardiff Devils (@cardiffdevils) April 8, 2018
Now Devils have the big one. They are play-off champions and Welsh ice hockey fans sang their hearts out at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham.
“We have an unbelievable group in our locker room,” said an emotional Lord, who appeared to be in tears during the presentations. “The League title was our first aim because that is a trophy won after 56 matches.
“It all felt great to see the guys come out on top in the play-offs.”
Morissette fired the goal which clinched victory, calmly shooting into an empty net with 17 seconds left when Sheffield Steelers were desperately battling to level the scores.
“I’m so happy for the guys and Devils fans,” said Morissette, turning to acknowledge hundred of supporters who had travelled to Nottingham.
More than 7,000 spectators watched the final and Devils were made to work hard by a slick, hugely competitive Steelers team.
Tyson Strachan was a composed, cool figure for Devils, while goalie Ben Bowns produced another huge display. He conceded only one goal in two matches over the finals weekend.
Justin Faryna, a spark plug player who fires up this Devils team, was man of the match, while their game management after taking the lead was impeccable.
With time running out Joey Haddad took the puck into a corner, twisting one way, then the other and frustrating Steelers players trying to regain possession.
Matthew Myers, Joey Martin and more joined in and Cardiff ran down the clock before Morissette’s game clinching empty net goal.
The celebrations began as soon as the final hooter sounded and boy did the Devils party.
Morissette collected the trophy, taking Devils haul to eight in four seasons.
Steelers, for their part, finished 2017-18 with nothing to show for their efforts.
Devils earned a trophy treble this season, winning the League title, Erhardt Conference and play-offs, while they only missed out on retaining the Challenge Cup in the final.
Their players also swept the board in the League awards, taking home every major award.
Elite League awards:
Forward of the Year: Joey Martin.
Defenceman of the year: Andrew Hotham.
Netminder of the year: Ben Bowns.
British player of the year: Ben Bowns.
Coach of the year: Andrew Lord.
Player of the year: Joey Martin.
League first all star team: Ben Bowns (Cardiff Devils), Andrew Hotham (Cardiff Devils), Jesse Craige (Guildford Flames), Joey Martin (Cardiff Devils), Mike Hammond (Manchester Storm), Sebastien Sylvestre (Belfast Giants).
Match stats (Devils v Steelers):
Scorers, Devils: Matt Pope 1+1, Andrew Hotham 1+1, Jake Morissette 1+0, Joey Martin 0+1.
Steelers: Eric Neiley 1+0, Miika Franssilla 0+1.
Period scores (Devils first): 0-0; 2-0 (2-0); 1-1 (3-1).
Shots on goal: Devils (on Mustukovs) 11+11+11=33; Steelers (on Bowns) 7+6+9=24.
Penalties in minutes: Devils 0+2+4=6; Steelers 2+2+2=6.
Powerplays: Devils 1/3; Steelers 0/3.
Referees: Tom Darnell and Mike Hicks
Stars of the game: Devils, Justin Faryna; Steelers, Ben O’Connor.