Matt Pope has paid tribute to the Mayor of Cardiff – Canadian centre Joey Martin.
The former Toledo Walleye player, voted Elite League Most Valuable Player in 2016, has scored 102 goals for Devils over his four seasons with the Welsh club.
“We call Joey the Mayor of Cardiff because everybody here loves him,” said Pope after Devils’ 5-2 League win against Nottingham Panthers in front of a 3,000-plus sell-out attendance.
Pope, Martin and captain Jake Morissette will join forces in Wednesday’s Challenge Cup home clash with Guildford Flames at Ice Arena Wales (7.30pm).
“Joey is one of the best players I have ever played with and he’s one of the best off the ice,” said Pope. “I’ve been lucky to play alongside him all season and we have really good chemistry.
“His 100 goals-plus landmark is huge.
“When Devils were recruiting me earlier this year, Lordo said he wanted me to team up with a top centreman who has been the league’s Most Valuable Player.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I certainly know all about Joey now. It’s a joy to play alongside him.”
Elite League leaders Devils put their title ambitions to the back of their mind on Wednesday when Flames come to Cardiff Bay. The teams tied 3-3 in the first leg and go into a one-game shoot-out, with overtime and penalties if needed, to decide who goes forward to play Sheffield Steelers in the semi-finals.
Pope is a key man on the Devils powerplay, current running on hugely creditable a 29 per cent success rate, and he’s been operating on point.
“Moving back means I have more room with the system we play,” says Pope. “I’ve played on point before and we talked about where I like to be on the PP. That’s one of the spots.
“Lordo likes to give me a hard time about being too offensive when I am the last man back. We were scored on shorthanded by Panthers and scored a couple of PP goals.
“It’s give and take. We have to try and score, but I am working on staying back and retreating at the right time, particularly because Gleason (Fournier) is an offensive D-man.”
Pope knows having players getting to the net is crucial and says: “We talk about going in there hard and stopping there. It’s a tough place to go and I took a stick in the face when I scored against Nottingham, but we need to do it.
“That’s where a majority of girls come from, around five feet or so from the net.
“We need to keep playing that way.”
Wednesday’s Challenge Cup quarter-final against Guildford is included on Devils season tickets. There is no need for holders to do anything except show up with their season ticket.
Match tickets can be bought via ONLINE HERE or by telephone on 0800 0842 666.
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