Ben Blood has sent an emotional message to Cardiff Devils fans following his departure from the Elite Leagues champions to play for Finnish club Tappara.
The American defenceman, hugely popular among Devils fans went public after Cardiff’s third successive defeat, a 3-4 result against Fife Flyers.
Blood’s verdict is: “Hang in there! Bend but don’t break! This is hockey this is sports! All the great teams go through the fire!! I believe in these guys and the organisation.
“Devils Family, emotional day. Wow. Thank you for your spirit and your hearts.
“Cardiff is a special place. Devils are a special organisation, top to bottom.
“Good hearts, good souls. Love the energy of the city and it was sad to say goodbye, but I could not pass up the opportunity I was offered.
“The owners (Steve King and C0), Todd (Kelman) and Lord (Andrew Lord) know what they are doing.
“Ultra smart, mega passionate dudes with hearts of gold.
“I’m excited for you guys. Great things are coming for DevNation.
“Thank you for being awesome fans. Sport needs more people like you.”
Devils have comfirmed they will move quickly for a replacement and are already ahead of the game having been monitoring D-men becoming available following the departure of Tom Parisi earlier this season.
The exciting form of British D-man Josh Batch meant there was no need for a swift response to Parisi’s decision, but the loss if Blood is a different situation.
Devils have been checking NHL and American League camps to ensure they know exactly which top-end players are becoming available.
Compensation was been agreed with Devils before Blood was given the go-ahead to join Tappara and a club statement said: “Ben has agreed a two-year deal with a top team in one of the best leagues in Europe.
Well Ted, the @cardiffdevils are certainly much bigger than one player. He will be replaced. Right now, the fans can help by getting the boys going and showing everyone that The Diff is the best place to play in all of Europe! https://t.co/UoRTNTaPav
— Steve King (@Tacosteve10) November 7, 2018
“We will never agree to release a player without ensuring that the compensation covers everything we have invested in the player. Tappara and us have agreed a fair package.”
“Our fans will be devastated to see him go, but this is pro hockey. Ben has been a big part of this team and despite the circumstances, we know this is a great chance for him to get back to Finland and we wish him well with Tappara.”
Owner King tweeted in reply to Devils fans: “@cardiffdevils are certainly much bigger than one player. Ben will be replaced.
“Right now, the fans can help by getting the boys going and showing everyone that The ‘Diff is the best place to play in all of Europe!
“It’s the part of the season where we learn about ourselves. Every season has at least one. Do we regroup and grow from adversity or do we let it fester? If the past is an indicator, I know where my money’s at.
“Let’s go @cardiffdevils.”
Devils suffered a 5-4 overtime defeat against Flyers and now focus on fixtures against MK Lightning (away) and Belfast Giants (home) this weekend.
Giants visit the Viola Arena in Cardiff Bay on Sunday (6pm).
“We must show what this team is made of,” said head coach Lord. “There were a lot of good things in the team performance against Fife.
“We didn’t win and that’s awful, brutal. But our shot count was through the roof and we had grade A chances.”
An overtime winner with three minutes 18 seconds left was enough to give the Fife Flyers the two-point win in Cardiff, while Devils earned one point for taking the game into an extra period,
Flyers had an excellent opening period, with goals from Joe Basaraba and former Devil Paul Crowder.
Joey Martin and man of the match Bryce Reddick hit back to make the game score 2-2, but Mike Cazzola gave Fife another lead at 3-2.
Layne Ulmer picked up a rebound to slot home and level the scores again, but Danick Gauthier fired Fife’s fourth.
There was no lack of spirit and heart in the Cardiff team and Matthew Myers made it 4-4 when he tipped in a Mark Richardson shot.
One minutes 42 seconds into OT Crowder skated through the Devils defence and when goalie Ben Bowns saved Brett Bulmer fired the rebound into a wide open net to give Flyers the 5-4 overtime win.
Dates have been agreed for the Challenge Cup quarter-finals:
Belfast Giants at Dundee Stars on Wednesday, November 28 (7.30pm)
Dundee at Belfast on Tuesday, December 11 (7pm)
Cardiff Devils at Glasgow Clan on Wednesday 28 November 28 (7.30pm)
Clan at Cardiff on Friday, December 14 (7.30pm)
Nottingham Panthers at Manchester Storm on Tuesday, December 4 (7.30pm)
Storm at Nottingham on Tuesday, December 11 (7.30pm)
Guildford Flames at Sheffield Steelers on Wednesday, December 12 (7.30pm)
Steelers at Guildford on Wednesday, December 19 (7.30pm)
The best-placed team still in the competition after the quarter-finals, will plays the lowest seeded team remaining team. Belfast are top seeds, Cardiff second, Nottingham third, Guildford fourth.
Devils have confirmed two fixture changes. Cardiff’s trip to Sheffield will now be played on Wednesday, January 23 (originally Saturday, December 8).
Cardiff v Glasgow Clan has been switched to Wednesday, February 27 at the Viola Arena, Cardiff Bay (formerly Ice Arena Wales).
The Clan home League fixture game has been replaced on December 14 by Devils’ Challenge Cup quarter-final second leg tie at home against the same opposition (Glasgow Clan).
Cardiff Devils remaining fixtures in November
Saturday 10 v MK Lightning (away, 7pm)
Sunday 11 v Belfast Giants (home, 6pm)
Saturday 17 v Nottingham Panthers (home, 7pm)
Sunday 18 v Dundee Stars (away, 5pm)
Wednesday 21 v Fife Flyers (home, 7.30pm)
Saturday 24 v Manchester Storm (away, 7pm)
Sunday 25 v MK Lightning (home, 6pm)
Devils match tickets:
CLICK HERE TO BOOK ONLINE or CALL 0800 0842 666 to book
CLICK HERE to be redirected to the full fixtures list.
ELITE ICE HOCKEY LEAGUE 2018-19
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