Cardiff Devils more focused now than all season - Todd Kelman

Cardiff Devils coach Andrew Lord
Cardiff Devils head coach Andrew Lord first joined the club as a player back in 2013

The Cardiff Devils are more focused now than they have been all season, says managing director Todd Kelman.

With just nine matches remaining, the Devils sit two points clear of nearest rivals Belfast Giants having played a game less.

With a third successive Elite League title within touching distance for the Devils, Kelman believes every game is a "must-win" for the Cardiff side.

"Hopefully come the end of March we can celebrate another title," said Kelman.

"This month is pretty stressful but we've been like this the last five years, each year we have been competing for the league title.

"I'm sure we will slip up again and I'm sure they (Belfast Giants) will as well so you can never get too excited."

A former Giant himself, Kelman spent seven years playing for the Belfast before becoming general manager in 2007.

During his time the Giants won five pieces of silverware, and in 2013 the club retired the number 44 jersey which he wore during his time at the club.

But now, six years on, the Giants will be hoping their two victories against Kelman's Devils just a fortnight ago were not in vain.

"There was a time when we were up by seven or eight points before we slipped up at Belfast and let the Giants back in the title race, so if anything we are more focused than ever," said Kelman.

"Last week we had three games and played some of our best hockey of the season so now we have to keep the ball rolling.

"Now, every game is a must-win because someone is going to slip up somewhere, all we can do is do what we have done every year and prepare our guys the best we can for each game."

Devils heading back to Europe

Cardiff Devils goaltender Ben Bowns produced a string of impressive saves
Ben Bowns produced a string of impressive saves in Devils' overtime defeat to Swedish champions Vaxjo Lakers last year

Last weekend's results meant the Cardiff Devils are guaranteed a top-two finish in the Elite League this season, which in turn sealed their place in the Champions Hockey League for a third straight season.

The CHL, much like football's Champions League, pits the best teams from across Europe against one another, a prospect Kelman is excited to experience once again.

"The guys are really excited about it, as are the coaching staff and myself personally," Kelman said.

"We didn't know what to expect the first year we got accepted into it after winning the league, so I don't think we were really prepared, then last year we were better prepared but had a really tough group.

"You learn so much from playing teams at a higher level than you, on and off the ice, so for us it has been great preparation for getting the season off to a good start."

The CHL begins in August of each year, earlier than the Elite League, and offers the Cardiff Devils a chance to play competitive fixtures in preparation for the domestic campaign - rather than pre-season friendlies.

The tournament also gives the Devils the chance to test themselves against the very best Europe has to offer, as well as putting the club on the European stage, something Kelman believes has benefitted the club.

"Players at any level want to test themselves against the best and I think we get some guys in because it is part of the benefit of playing here," added Kelman.

"We have not advanced far enough to win big money because you're going against the top teams in Europe, but our fans much rather see us playing in the CHL every year and ticket sales have always been great for the games which is great for us."

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