Former Cardiff Devils defensive kingpin Mark Smith has joined Cardiff Fire’s coaching team for 2017-18.
Canadian Smith will be assistant to head coach Mark Cuddihy at the National League Division One club.
Smith joined the Devils in 2010 from Edinburgh Capitals.
Before coming to the UK, Smith developed through the Alberta Junior League, playing in 238 games and scoring 116 points before joining University of Alaska in NCAA, the top college league in North America.
He spent four years in NCAA hockey, playing 129 times and scoring 47 points.
Smith then signed for Charlotte Checkers (East Coast League) and Rocky Mountain Rage (Central League).
In 2009 he made the move to the UK, firstly with the Edinburgh then onto the Cardiff Devils and Coventry Blaze in the Elite League. Smith played 252 times in Elite League, scoring 20 goals with 58 assists (78 points).
He earned a big reputation for his fierce defence displays and was invariably one of the top shot blockers in the league.
Smith spent last season with Swindon Wildcats in the EPL, but an injury cut his season short. Following that injury he has decided to start his coaching career and has joined Fire.
“It’s huge for us to be able to bring Mark into our coaching set up,” says Cuddihy. “Mark’s experience is fantastic, playing for so long in the Elite League and his experience of NCAA hockey is something that’s going to be a massive help to our players and I.
“We will all learn a lot from him. He’s passionate about hockey, really loves the game and that will rub off on everyone in the dressing room.
“We’re keen to develop players, grow their game and take it to the next level.
“Young players in Cardiff are now blessed with every level of senior hockey in the UK and that is rare for a city.
“I wanted to make sure we had the best coaching set up we could and adding Mark will be crucial to us moving forward, joining Sam Motton and Mike Brabon as the new additions this season.
“Mark is highly ambitious for his coaching career and that is great for us. We’re all absolutely thrilled to have him onboard.”
Fire have signed eight players so far and they are Joe Myers, Brad Watchorn, Tamas Elias, Sam Bryant, Alex Symonds, Sam Smith, Callum Buglass and Great Britain under-20 international Michael Stratford in the Fire team.
Cuddihy and Smith are close to adding more recruits to their team over the next week or so.
Mark Smith said: “Firstly I want to thank Mark Cuddihy for the opportunity to join the Fire in a coaching role.
“He is a well known figure in Cardiff ice hockey and I look forward to working with him.
“During my playing career coaching was something I never intended to get into, but now I realise there is an itch to stay within the game.
“I look forward to passing on the knowledge I have obtained over my career and helping the younger players progress their playing careers as far as they can.
“Being new to coaching I am sure there will be a learning curve, but I am confident in my abilities to help the Fire achieve success.
“I know several of the players fairly well and I look forward to building quality working relationships with all the guys.
“I was always a player that brought 100 per cent to each and every game and training session. That is something that I will look for players to bring on a nightly basis.
“Ensuring we are mentally spot on is something that will also be crucial for our success, and hopefully this is another aspect I can help instil in our players.”