It was a fantastic end to a fantastic year for Devils fans. 2017 saw the Devils secure several items of silverware and although the beginning of the 2017/18 season was a little disjointed, the Devils ended 2017 on fire.
The Devils 13 game Elite League winning streak was brought to an end on Saturday after an overtime loss away at Guildford. Fortunately, the Devils bounced straight back on Sunday beating the Nottingham Panthers on home ice. Although not another 4 point weekend a three-point weekend was a welcome start to 2018.
You have to go back to November 26th for the last time the Devils lost, this was at the hands of the Belfast Giants. In this winning run, it is no coincidence that several Devils players have found their best form of the season. Joey Martin seems back to his best and netted his 100th Elite League goal over the weekend. Ben Bowns is as always his consistent self and during the last couple of weeks, big defenceman Mark Louis has returned to the ice. Other players enjoying some great form are Captain Mo, Justin Faryna, Gleason Fournier and Tyson Strachan. Strachan, in particular, seems to have finally settled into the life in the Elite League. Head coach Andrew Lord seems to be relying on Tyson more and more lately and this has been noticeable by the amount of playing minutes.
So what lies ahead for the rest of the season?
Well, we have reached the business end of the season and the Devils have 24 games left and are sitting 7 points clear of their nearest rivals the Belfast Giants. 3rd placed Fife have 4 games in hand over Cardiff and if they win all four can draw level on points. The best thing for the Devils is to try to capitalise on their confidence and recent form and to try to keep their good form going. During this winning streak most of the rival teams have faltered and in the case of the Sheffield Steelers, they have pretty much imploded.
It is fair to say that Fife has been a revelation this season and I feel they will be the biggest threat to the Devils defending their title, although with Belfast back to decent form it will remain tight until the final weeks of the season. I’m sure most Devils fans, myself included, would like the team to continue to win every game and wrap the title up at the earliest opportunity.
The Devils play Fife at IAW on 21st January and this could be a key game in deciding where the title will be heading. Perhaps more worryingly is our continued struggles against Guildford Flames. Next, up the Devils have back to back fixtures against Guildford. Firstly it’s the second leg of the Challenge Cup which is finely balanced at 3-3 and then on Sunday, they are back in league action with both games at IAW.
After the way the Devils have turned their form around over the last 6 weeks I am feeling optimistic that just as Captain Jake Morissette told us in his interview, we will be in and around the trophies at the end of the season.
LET’S GO DEVILS!