The 2017/18 Elite Ice Hockey League has seen immense triumph for the Cardiff Devils, with the side securing a second-successive title following an emphatic campaign on the ice.
While their trophy laden season derives from the culmination of hard-work, talent and elite coaching, the impact of the Devils’ unique partnership with Cardiff Metropolitan University, which sees them able to offer players the opportunity to study across a variety of academic fields whilst competing for the club, cannot be underestimated.
A relationship that has proven to be a vital asset when it comes to the Devils attracting high profile players, four Devils are currently engaged in academic study at Cardiff Met.
British Columbia native Matt Pope joined the Devils this season and is one of three newcomers to arrive at the club with a view to securing an education while pursuing a career on the ice.
Having played hockey all over the world, including stints in Japan and Denmark, the Cardiff Devils’ school deal proved a significant factor in persuading him to make the move to Wales.
Matt Pope is one of three newcomers that took up the Devils’ ‘school deal’
Drew Paris is a fellow newcomer to the team, having previously iced for teams in Sweden, Germany and his native Canada.
Alongside studying at Cardiff Met’s School of Management, a notable highlight of Drew’s time in Cardiff came as he scored an over-time winner in the Devils’ first ever Champions Hockey League win in September.
The tournament features the top teams from the first-tier leagues of countries across Europe, the Devils’ participation in the tournament symbolising their impressive development as a club over the past few years.
Tyson Strachan joined the club after the season had started and arrived with the mission of tightening the side’s defence.
A hockey veteran with almost 200 NHL games under his belt, securing his signature was a huge achievement for the club – the ability to offer Tyson a package that included the promise of furthering his education was pivotal in the side’s ability to attract a player of such pedigree.
Another player to take advantage of the club’s school deal is Mark Louis, who has recently concluded his second season with the Devils and was inspired to take up the option having learnt about it during his first year at the team.
Affectionately known as ‘Big Lou’ amongst the Red Army, Louis has now won six trophies during his successful spell as a Devil.
The value of the relationship is not lost on the club. On the successful campaign, Cardiff Devils MD Todd Kelman said:
“This season the team won the league, the conference and the play-offs.
“The play-offs had escaped our club for 19 years, so it’s been another historic and memorable season for the Devils.
“As well as their on-ice success, all our school guys can add to that the prestige of an MBA from Cardiff Met, too!”
Meanwhile, Professor David Brooksbank, Dean of the Cardiff School of Management, said:
“The school has been extremely proud to welcome so many talented sportsmen onto our MBA programme.
“Watching them hone their business skills is testament to their commitment to learning and they clearly recognise that Higher Education provides a gateway to future opportunities once their playing careers end.”
Check out this great video of the story behind the Devils!