Cardiff Devils 19/20 Season Awards
2019/20 Season Awards
After the abrupt end to the 2019/20 season the Cardiff Devils announced their end of season awards starting with defenceman and forward of the year on Monday 30th of March. The day after what would have been the final weekend of the season with the devils due to face Belfast at the Viola Arena on the Saturday before travelling to Sheffield to face the Steelers on the Sunday in what could have been a title deciding match. Unfortunately due to the ongoing global pandemic the league was forced to take action and cancel the remainder of the season. This was the correct decision to allow imports to travel home and for the safety of the fans. This decision has been followed by almost all worldwide sporting competitions with events such as the Olympics, Wimbledon and Euro 2020 being postponed for Summer 2020.
Despite the Devils not winning any silverware throughout the season it was still a successful one. Losing the Challenge Cup final against Sheffield at the Viola Arena was a killer especially after beating them convincingly in the league under 48 hours earlier. With a 1 point and 3 game in hand lead the Devils were not awarded the league title but were given the chance to represent the EIHL in next season's CHL for the fourth successive season. This season was their best season in the CHL with 3 wins in the group stages but finishing 3rd in the group behind the eventual winners and runners up of the competition in Frolunda and Mountfield respectively.
Defenceman of the year - Gleason Fournier
In his 4th full season as a Cardiff Devil after joining towards the end of 2015/16 season, Fournier has been a key part of the Devils blue line since joining. Slightly overshadowed by Andrew Hotham in previous years but his offensive output has grown significantly in the past 2 seasons. After a 71 point (24+47) season in 18/19 and averaging just over 1 point per game in this shorter season there was no other likely recipient for this award. It was very unlikely that Fournier would match his point totals of last season but he has shown that his offence is key to the Devils' success. Fournier also managed his best point total in a CHL group stage with 4 points (1+3) this season. Fournier's first line all-star selection is no surprise after leading all defenceman in the league in points with 3 more points than all-star D partner Mark Matheson. There wasn't much competition for Fournier for defenceman of the year at the Devils with only Sean McMonagle within 31 points of him. Fournier's 47 points was also a clear second behind Haddad who also had a stellar season. Re-signing Fournier will be top of the priority list for Andrew Lord when he builds his 2020/21 roster over the coming months.
EIHL First Line All-Star
Forward of the year - Joey Haddad
After an injury-stricken end to the 2018/19 season which meant he was unable to play his part in the Devils second straight successive playoffs and had to help in a coaching role along with Andrew Lord and Luke Piggott. Haddad returned with a point to prove in his 6th season as a Devil and he did this with a career EIHL season with 57 points (29+28). It was his first league campaign with over a point per game and his second 50 point season. Haddad finished 3rd overall in the league for goals behind Ferrara (33) and Herr (30). He also finished 2nd in points league wide only behind Herr (59). Haddad had a steady stream of goals throughout the season with his highest league drought being 5 games at the turn of the year. Haddad found good chemistry with linemates Charles Linglet and Stephen Dixon spending the majority of the season playing with those two apart for a short stint of absence when Charles Linglet was unavailable in February. It was no surprise to see Haddad clean up a number of the awards winning forward of the year, red army travel player of the year, player's player of the year and MVP. Haddad expressed his gratitude at winning all of these prestigious awards during his speeches on the award videos whilst giving thanks to the Devils fans and his teammates. Haddad will be a key import to re-sign next season for the Devils who will be hoping that he continues this fantastic form.
EIHL First Line All-Star
Unsung Hero - Mike McNamee
After joining the Devils in June last year from Danish league team Aalborg Pirates and averaging almost a point a game in league play. McNamee also had a taste of CHL hockey scoring 3 assists in 5 games for Aalborg. Expectations were high with McNamee joining the Devils in his 3rd year as a pro after spending 4 years at Carleton University leading scoring twice and finishing 2nd in the other 2 years. McNamee did not dissapoint and his season was slightly overshadowed by Haddad's career year. McNamee managed 34 points (15+19) in 42 games in league play with a number of crucial goals showing great poise and skill. He also managed 3 points (2+1) in the CHL whilst helping the Devils to the best CHL campaign so far. McNamee became a fan favourite for his on-ice actions as much as his off-ice actions. Devils fans warmed to McNamee's guitar playing and singing during after match events. McNamee has the potential to go on to bigger things after back to back solid seasons in pro hockey but if the Devils could re-sign him it would be a huge boost for their 4th CHL campaign and domestic campaign. McNamee winning unsung hero was helped by Joey Haddad's fantastic season helping him go under the radar but pick up points consistently throughout the season. Personally I was surprised to see this award not go to Bryce Reddick who after the Devils signed Shaone Morrisonn, had to adapt to play forward for the majority of the season and adapted rather well whilst playing with some of the Devils more skilled forwards.
Fan Favourite - Blair Riley
Considering 12 months ago Riley had just captained the Belfast Giants to a league title win over the Cardiff Devils on the final day on regulation wins. Nobody would have expected him to win fan favourite for the Devils a year later. Riley was announced as part of the Devils leadership group and wore an A all season. Riley had a very good season which included a Spengler cup title with Team Canada around Christmas time. Riley put up 31 points (18+13) in 40 league matches putting him 7th on the team for points in the league. Had he not missed those matches to attend the Spengler cup he would have likely finished as second highest point scoring forward behind Joey Haddad. Riley scored some big goals throughout the season endearing himself to the Devils fans and leading to winning this award. Devils fans will be hoping that Riley returns next season especially after showing excitement after the Devils were chosen to represent the EIHL in the CHL on Twitter.
Scott Matzka Award - Stephen Dixon
In his 2nd season with the Devils after a successful first season where he managed 45 points (21+24) in 60 league games after joining from DEL side Grizzlys Wolfsburg. Dixon had long been a fan favourite for his ability to score but also his willingness to give 110% on every shift. Dixon works hard on a line with Linglet and Haddad to allow those skilled players to find the incisive pass or the back of the net. Haddad's EIHL career year this season was very much helped by Dixon's hard work and Linglet's pinpoint passing. Dixon is a highly skilled forward himself but that doesn't stop him from getting involved in the dirtier side of the game with the forward dishing out multiple hits to bigger opponents causing an angry reaction and also putting his body on the line to block shots to ensure team success. Dixon was the stand out candidate for this prestigious award this season and I'm sure the Devils fans would be delighted to have the baby wolfman back next season.
Coach's Player of the year - Sam Jardine
Joining the Devils after spending the majority of the 2018/19 season with Toronto Maple Leafs AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies. Big things were expected of 26 year old, Sam Jardine who had won the Kelly Cup with the Newfoundland Growlers at the end of the season and previously in 2016/17 to show that he was a winner. He took his time to settle whilst starting his Devils career with Bryce Reddick. Jardine's season improved drastically when the Devils signed former NHL defenseman Shaone Morrisonn. Morrisonn allowed Jardine a freedom that he didn't have with Bryce Reddick due to Morrisonn being a typical stay at home defenseman with great size and skill. Jardine ended the season with 15 points (4+11) in 45 league games and the highest +/- on the team of +24 whilst his defensive partner Morrisonn also ended the season with a great +/- of +14. Winning coach's player of the year shows Jardine's willingness to improve his game after game. It is likely the defenseman would have ended the season with some more silverware to add to his prestigious collection. As a 26 year old, Jardine was a relative youngster on the team but looked like a veteran player when given the chance. Hopefully Jardine returns next season to finish this season's unfinished business.
Comeback of the Year - Evan Mosey
After a long time of battling to get fit from a knee injury suffered with GB in the World Championships, Mosey finally managed to return for the Devils against the Coventry Blaze on the 15th of February. After returning the forward managed to score 7 points (4+3) in 8 league games which is a fantastic total for a player returning from a long term injury. This award was created for this season to congratulate Evan Mosey on his hard work to return from the knee injury and perform so well after returning. It is likely Mosey will be returning to the Devils next season as it's unlikely many teams will take a gamble on a player so fresh from a long term injury. Hopefully he returns next season and continues the form shown in the latter stage of the season.
Goal of the Season - Sam Duggan
Sam Duggan may have not scored many this season but this beauty against Manchester Storm was more than worthy of winning goal of the season. Duggan deflected a Gleason Fournier shot going well wide of the goal under the blocker of Storm netminder, Matt Ginn. Duggan also had a goal against Sheffield included in the vote with a lovely shot that found the top corner of the net. In his 2nd season with the Devils after joining from a short stint with American team Jamestown Rebels, Duggan had managed to score 7 points (3+4) in 45 league matches. Predominantly spending his ice time with fellow Brits Josh Batch and Matthew Myers. If he rejoins next season he and the Devils will be hoping for an increased points total as the young Brit will hope to reach double figures in the league. Duggan's worth increases next season with the rule changes introduced which adds value to all British players for EIHL team especially those younger ones.
© 2020 Elliot Thomas