The Elite League have announced that Cardiff Devils will take part in next season’s Champions Hockey League as the UK representative.
It will be their fourth consecutive participation from a season that ended prematurely due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
But a line has finally been drawn under the 2019/20, with Cardiff taking the European place with a bigger win percentage.
EIHL Head of Hockey Operations Mike Hicks said: “With the title race as close as it was and five teams realistically still able to win the league, we felt that awarding a league trophy on the basis of probabilities just was not the correct thing to do.
— Champions Hockey League (@championshockey) March 26, 2020
“This was especially so as a lot of the remaining games involved many of the teams still in contention being scheduled to play against each other.
“We are in the position of not having finished the regular season and the decision not to declare a national champion is consistent with the precedent across all of Europe’s top leagues, most of which were cancelled before the conclusion of their playoffs.
“It also follows similar decisions in the sports’ history. We again thank our fans for their patience as decisions are taken.”
EIHL chairman Tony Smith revealed last week in an interview with British Ice Hockey that there would be no champion to be crowned as the effects of the virus began to take hold.
But the decision to allow Devils to take part in the CHL was based on the information that as the team in first place and with the highest winning percentage of 70% when the league’s remaining games were cancelled.
What an honour to be in this great tournament for the 4th season in a row. Such a great challenge and so exciting for everyone involved. https://t.co/LUTTHTRbk4
— Andrew Lord (@AndrewLord17) March 26, 2020
Devils coach Andrew Lord tweeted his delight at return to the top table when he said: “What an honour to be in this great tournament for the 4th season in a row. Such a great challenge and so exciting for everyone involved.”
Cardiff’s Managing Director Todd Kelman added: “We received the invite yesterday and we are honoured to be competing in the Champions League again.
“It was a strange situation with the league not being completed, but like they did with other leagues across Europe, the CHL offered the spot to the team in first place when the season was stopped.
“The other teams in the league were supportive in the decision to allow a team in the EIHL to participate in the CHL, which is very sporting of them and I thank my colleagues across the EIHL for this.”
“I want to congratulate Coach Andrew Lord and all the players for their hard work and determination throughout another incredibly competitive EIHL season.”