American Winger Denny Kearney On The Ice With Devils in Cardiff Bay

Denny Kearney is on the ice with his new Cardiff Devils team-mates today – and he’s ready to face Belfast Giants in Northern Ireland this weekend.

American winger Kearney is in peak condition, having been playing for Italian club Bolzano, and is the type of forward who will relish the physical element of Elite League hockey.

“Denny will be comfortable in a physical league,” says Devils player-coach Andrew Lord. “He is a player who has a big game mentality and to add a guy with his qualities is a major asset.”

Lord and the Devils management searched North America and Europe for the right player to add extra depth in a team who are Elite League leaders and have qualified for the Challenge Cup final against Sheffield Steelers.

Cardiff talked to Geoff Walker, the player who eventually signed for Steelers, but Kearney looks a far better fit for a Devils team who need a player to fit in fast and make a quick impact.

There are around six weeks left in the regular season and they have 12 league fixtures remaining in their quest to be crowned champions.

Lord revealed that Devils first talked to Kearney two years ago, saying: “Cardiff old boy Carl Hudson put us onto Denny. He played alongside him in France and I played against him.

“He has been playing in top end leagues and has a hockey IQ which is right up there. He reads the game well, his stick handling is through the roof, he can handle the puck and has a nice mix of playmaking ability and a scoring touch tight to the net.

“He plays with a little edge for a skills guy and will probably get under the skins of opposing teams. We are going to enjoy having him on the team.”

Kearney skated with Devils in training today and is available to play against Belfast Giants, who are second in the league, at the SSE Arena on Friday and Saturday (both 7pm).

Lord now has to find a slot on one of Cardiff’s four lines where Kearney can thrive.

Devils will surely keep Joey Martin, Sean Bentivoglio and Lord together, while the chemistry between Patrick Asselin, Layne Ulmer and Joey Haddad is looking top notch.

Lord now has a spare import, even with captain Jake Morissette injured, and he will be looking for careful rotation over the rest of this season.

The remaining imports, outside those top two lines, are Matthew Myers, Guillaume Doucet, David Brine, Chris Culligan, Patrick Bordeleau, Chris Jones and Luke Piggott.

Lord and bench coach Jamie Elson will make their final decision on which live Kearney will join over the next few days after testing things out in training.

Kearney scored 11 goals with 26 assists in 50 games for Bolzano this season, while he spent 2015-16 playing Swedish Allsvenskan League hockey with Tingsryds AIF where he scored 14 goals, the second highest on his team.

He won the French championship with Briancon in 2013-14, leading his team in goals during the regular season and playoffs, scoring 33 goals in 40 games.

He spent the following season, 2014-15, in Norway, again leading his team in goals with 29 in 45 games.

Before to turning professional, Kearney spent four years at Yale University, winning the league title in his second season and finishing in the top four scorers on his team all four years.

Kearney, who played third baseman in baseball for three years before focusing on ice hockey, is the brother of Hannah, who won the 2005 World Mogul freestyle skating title and a year later represented the USA in freestyle skating at the Winter Olympics in Italy.

Devils are in Northern Ireland this weekend, playing Belfast Giants twice, while their next home game is against Coventry Blaze on Saturday, February 25 (7pm).

The match, at Ice Arena Wales in Cardiff Bay, is almost sold out with less than 50 tickets still available yesterday.

Ticket information can be obtained from the Devils official website or via the hotline on 0800 0844 666.

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