Mark Richardson, the British rock on which Cardiff Devils have built their success over the last five years, has committed to the Elite League play-off champions again.
Defenceman ‘Richie’, who has been with Devils for 12 seasons, has been remarkably consistent for Cardiff and last season and finished 2018-19 with only eight penalty minutes from 56 EIHL matches.
That is an astonishing record for a D-man and four of those were for delay of game when clearances flew over the Plexiglas-Glass.
“Richy is one of the most dependable players I have ever coached,” says head coach Lord. “His consistency and desire to improve each season is what makes him so valuable.
“He doesn’t always grab the same headlines as his defensive partners, but it is no coincidence that for the last five years the player alongside Mark has won EIHL Defenceman of the Year, first with Andrew Hotham and last season with Gleason Fournier.
“Because he has been with us for so long, people may not understand how vital he is to our success year on year. He is one of the top defencemen in the league, has been for the last few years and I am happy to have him back on the blue line for another season.”
Over the past five seasons with Andrew Lord as head coach, Richardson has lifted two League titles, two Challenge Cups and two play-off Championships.
He is the longest serving Devil on the current roster and is heading into his 17th year of pro hockey after making his debut for Bracknell Bees at the age of 16.
Richardson is only the sixth player to reach the 800 game milestone in EIHL, along with Ashley Tait, Jason Hewitt, Devils team-mate Matthew Myers and Cardiff-born Jonathan Phillips.
“Any time you win a championship or a title in the league, it’s a great memory,” said Richardson. “In Cardiff over the past few years we’ve been fortunate to have those moments.
“I can remember playing my first game in the old Wales National Ice Rink, then the Big Blue Tent, and now our Viola Arena. Given that we’ve played in three rinks during my career, 800 games starts making a bit more sense.”
Richardson scored nine goals with 26 assists for 35 points in 61 games last season, his best total in his 12 years as a Devil.
The 32-year-old defender from Swindon has also been a key player for Great Britain when they earned promotion to the World Championships top tier and then maintained that status last season.
Former Devils player and coach Gerad Adams believes Richardson can play at EIHL level for quite a few years yet, saying: “Richie is one of the most professional players off the ice and that has led to his tremendous success on the ice.
“The standards he sets himself are amazing. To see how far Ritchie has come since his first year with the Devils is astonishing.
“You will not find anyone who has a bad word to say about Richie. A true gentleman in all aspects of life.
“Richie is understated in his approach to his own game, but brings reliability, consistency and the ability to move the puck. He is a natural talent.”
Cardiff Devils’ confirmed signings (15):
Head coach: Andrew Lord
Netminder: Ben Bowns
Defence: Mark Richardson, Mark Louis (import), Gleason Fournier (import).
Forwards: Masi Marjamaki (import), Blair Riley (import), Stephen Dixon (import), Matthew Myers, Matt Pope (import), Mike McNamee (import), Sam Duggan, Joey Martin (import), Joey Haddad (import), Charles Linglet (import), Josh Batch.
Cardiff Devils pre-season and Champions League schedule:
Saturday 10 and Sunday 11: Cardiff Devils v Fehervar (Viola Arena, Cardiff Bay)
Saturday 17: Nottingham Panthers v Devils (in Nottingham)
Sunday 18 Devils v Nottingham Panthers (Viola Arena, Cardiff Bay)
Sunday 25 Devils V MAC Budapest (Viola Arena, Cardiff Bay)
Friday 30 Devils v Mountfield HK (Champions Hockey League fixture, Viola Arena, 7.30pm)
Sunday 1 Devils v Graz 99ers (Champions Hockey League fixture, Viola Arena, 6pm)
Thursday 5 Mountfield HK v Devils (5pm)
Saturday 7 Graz 99ers v Devils (6.15pm)
Tuesday 8 Frolunda Indians v Devils (5pm)
Tuesday 15 Devils v Frolunda Indians (Champions Hockey League fixture, Viola Arena, 7.30pm)
Elite League and Challenge Cup fixtures yet to be announced.
Single game tickets for pre-season and Champions Hockey League matches are now available along with the even-game ticket pack.
CLICK HERE TO BOOK ONLINE or call us on 0800 0842 666
The 7-game pack, covering all four pre-season and three CHL home fixtures, offer big discounts and no service charges.