Andrew Lord’s Cardiff Devils have lived up to their status as the best ice hockey team in Britain.
They clinched the Elite League and Erhardt Conference titles for a second successive season by winning 3-2 at Belfast Giants last night.
Joey Martin, Matt Pope and Andrew Hotham, with a winner scored 20.9 seconds from the final hooter, ensured Devils celebrated in style at the SSE Arena in Northern Ireland.
Head coach Lord told Belfast’s A View from the Bridge podcast: “It’s an unbelievable feeling and what a game of hockey as well.
“To win two in a row the way we did feels amazing.
“Last season was huge, winning it for the first time in 20 years and if you look at any sport all over the world, to repeat it is such a hard feat.
“We did it in a convincing fashion and to be ahead as much as we were in the last couple of months speaks volumes about the guys and their work ethic and I’m proud of them all.
“What a goal by Andrew Hotham to win it for us. He took some flack in the last few weeks and in the Challenge Cup final in particular for not playing to his best.
“I’m so pleased for him and we are where we are because of this guy. To score with 20 seconds to go just talks about the commitment of players and how badly they wanted it.
“The guys weren’t happy at how the Challenge Cup final went down. The way we’ve responded has been great and I say again, I’m so proud of them.
“This league has never been as good as it is now and that says a lot about how great our guys are and how hard they play every night to win the way they’ve done in such a convincing fashion over the course of the season.”
Devils have finished ahead of big rivals Belfast, Sheffield and Nottingham in both the League and Conference, while Manchester’s storming bid for the title has fallen short.
Storm are second in the table and have won the Patton Conference under the guidance of coach Ryan Finery, a former Devils captain.
Lord’s men still have four League fixtures to play before the play-offs, starting against Sheffield Steelers on Sunday (6pm) when the League champions will play and the fans will party.
Devils have again qualified for the Champions League, while they have won six trophies in the last four seasons since a Calgary-based business consortium, led by Steve King, bought the club.
Lord has led his team to two League titles, two Challenge Cups and they have finished top of the Erhardt Conference twice.
Devils have also been runners-up twice in the Challenge Cup twice, while they lost in the play-off final last season after several periods of sudden death overtime against Sheffield Steelers.
Remaining Devils fixtures in the regular season (play-offs start later this month):
Saturday 17 No game
Sunday 18 v Sheffield Steelers H (6pm)
Wednesday 21 v Manchester Storm H (7.30pm)
Saturday 24 v Belfast Giants H (7pm)
Sunday 25 v MK Lightning H (6pm)
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