December 1, 2011

The Get Real Guide to The Cardiff Devils: 25 Years of Hockey History

Home: Cardiff Arena

Colours: Red, Black, White

Founded: 1986

The Cardiff Devils are a team that has become one of the most famous in British ice hockey for their actions on and off the ice as well as everything in between. They are a team that has been at the top level for one of the longest periods of any team in the UK and have never been far from the headlines. Headlines that have included bench brawls leading to games being abandoned, arena problems, league titles, financial problems,  injuries and the world’s longest winning streak.

Founded in 1986 the Devils played their first home game 25 years ago this week at the then new Welsh National Ice Rink. Whilst the WINR maybe gone the Devils quickly rose through the ranks of the old promotion/ relegation system of British ice hockey to reach the Premier Division for their fourth season and went on to win the league that same season.  That win was backed up by the play off title when they beat Murrayfield after penalty shots at Wembley Arena in one of the most famous televised games in British ice hockey history. That league title was followed up two more in 1993 and 1994.

The high flying Devils and their large bank balance were one of the driving forces behind the biggest major change in British ice hockey when in 1996 they helped to form a new professional, no import restriction Superleague. The new league was then won by the Devils that first season.

However that success and philosophy would not last as the cash flow stopped in 2001 and the team had to be reformed but this time on a tighter budget and in the second tier British National League. But a return to the top flight was not to be far off as the Superleague disbanded the Cardiff Devils became founder members of the Elite League in 2003. This was not to be the end of the troubles for the Devils however as in 2006 the Welsh National Ice Rink was closed and demolished without a new rink being opened. In February 2007 the new temporary Cardiff Arena was opened and the Devils returned to Cardiff to complete the 2006-2007 season.

The Devils are yet to win a league title in the Elite League era but have been a top team winning the Challenge Cup in 2006 and the Knockout Cup in 2007 as well as being playoff runner ups in 2005, 2010 and 2011. The team also broke the world record for the longest winning streak during the 2010 – 2011 season with 22 competitive wins and 21 league wins.

As for the future the Devils remain competitive if lacking the facilities and money to make the final step to become league winners every season. But with consultants on a new permanent arena on going the future does look positive.


Neil Tucker

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