Ice Hockey in Cardiff

  • Last year was a very significant year in the history of the Cardiff Devils as it marked their 30th anniversary. The Devils have had many ups and downs over the years from where they first started in 1986 and played their hockey in Wales National Ice Rink. Although the first few games of the Devils existence had to be played away from home whilst their home rink was completed. The Devils first game at the Welsh National Ice Rink was on 30th November 1986 against Ashfield Islanders, 2,500 spectators turned up and weren’t left disappointed as their newly formed side demolished the Islanders 32-0.

Over the next few years the Devils gained momentum and although starting out in Division 2 (Midland section), quickly progressed through the leagues and collected top import players such as Steve Moria and the Cooper brothers (Stephen and Ian) along the way.  Towards the end of the 80s and throughout the 90s the Devils became one of the dominant forces in British Ice Hockey and won an array of League and Cup Titles.

All the Devils success was brought to an end when they were declared bankrupt in 2001, this was temporary, as a newly formed Cardiff Devils side started again and competed in the British National League. Unfortunately, after the dizzy heights of being the best in Britain, this newly formed Devils side had a very small budget and all the star names departed. This period was arguably the most difficult of the 30 years with many fans angry about the perceived financial mismanagement.

In 2003 the Devils became one of the founder members of the Elite League and things seemed to be turning for the better once more. However, in 2005 rumours again began to surface about the Devils future due to the plans to demolish the Welsh National Ice Rink and build a John Lewis department store. Eventually, the Devils secured a temporary ice rink named Cardiff Arena or the “Big Blue Tent”. The Big Blue Tent was always supposed to be a temporary ice rink but the Devils only moved to their new rink named the Ice Arena Wales in March 2016.

Perhaps it was written in the stars that for their 30th anniversary not only did the Devils get a nice new shiny ice rink, they also turned back the clock and became a force in the league again.  In a very tightly fought league, the Devils fought off fierce competition from Belfast Giants, Sheffield Steelers and Nottingham Panthers to clinch the title. They also managed to win the Challenge Cup and the Erhardt Conference.  Only a second overtime win from Sheffield in the Play-Off Final prevented the fairy tale year ending in a domestic grand slam.

Cardiff Devils must try to back up what was an unbelievable year last year by trying to also compete in the Champions League of Hockey this year. It’s very early on in the season, but with some new faces and some departed the Devils have had a bit of a mixed start.  For ice hockey fans in Cardiff, it is rare now to not be able to catch a game at Ice Arena Wales over the weekend.

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Whilst the Devils were enjoying life in the top league, the Cardiff Fire were completing back to back wins in NIHL 2 and due to the reforms in the lower leagues, the Cardiff Fire now have two teams this season. One is competing in NIHL 1 which is the second tier of British Ice hockey and the other in NIHL 2.

Both teams play out of Ice Arena Wales at Cardiff Bay so if the Devils are away then the likelihood is that one or both of the Cardiff Fire teams may be playing at home. Cardiff Fire boast among their ranks the Devils legend Jason
Stone as one of their coaches and back in August the Fire also announced another ex-Devils legend Nicky Chinn was joining.

For more information on the Cardiff Devils and Cardiff Fire visit:-

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Julian Blackburn

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