Lord’s Men Sign Pope In New Elite Recruitment Drive

Canadian power forward Matt Pope has committed to Cardiff Devils for a second season.

It was thought Pope would return to the Asian League for 2018-19, but he is among the first four players to make a Devils commitment.

He has signed a new contract along with Joey Martin, Jory Haddad and Great Britain’s gold medal winning defenceman Mark Richardson.

Pope had an impressive first season with Devils, finishing second on the team in overall scoring with 30 goals and 73 points in 66 games.

The Elite League title was the first championship he had won as a pro, while Devils went on to win the Erhardt Conference and play-offs championship and he is hungry for more.

The right-winger joined the Devils after a season in Asia with the Tohoku Free Blades where he led the top league in scoring with 33 goals and 35 assists for 68 points in 46 games.

Pope played four years at Bemidji State University and then turned pro with the Bakersfield Condors in 2008-09 scoring 63 points (30 goals, 33 assists) in 54 games.

He spent the next four seasons splitting time between the American Hockey League and the East Coast Hockey League before moving to Denmark in 2013 to join the Aalborg Pirates.

During his team in the AHL, he played pre-season games for the NHL club Vancouver Canucks.

Pope scored 21 goals and 26 assists in 53 games for Aalborg and then moved to Italy. He played for Valpellice, scoring 25 goals and 41 assists in 42 games, then moved to Bolzano in 2015-16 season before making the move to Asia last year.

The 6ft 2ins tall Pope, 33, hits hard and gets into the odd tussle because of that.

“Matt is a power forward who wins battles all over the ice,” said head coach Andrew Lord. “He can score, make plays or grind it out in the corners. He is a real complete player.”

Pope combined playing ice hockey with studies at Cardiff Met’s School of Management over the 2017-18 season.

Martin returns after leading the Devils in scoring and being voted Elite League top forward and player of the year honours. His 94 points overall were one point behind the overall point leader Mike Hammond of the Manchester Storm.

Haddad has built a reputation as one of the top power forwards in the league and returns for his fifth season as a Devil. He missed nine games because of injury last season, but still finished with 44 points in 56 games.

Richardson is fresh off a gold medal winning performance with Team GB and he returns for his 12th season as a Devil after another League-winning performance in 2017-18.

Lord has signed three of the league’s best forwards and one of the top defencemen Britain – a solid start to building another championship team in Cardiff for 2018-19.

More signings are certain in the next couple of weeks as Lord’s Devils plan to push for a third successive League title and progress in the European Champions League.

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