Pelle apologises as he tips Devils for title glory

Jon Pelle will be in Belfast to see his old teams in action (PHOTO: Cardiff Devils)

Former Belfast Giants and Cardiff Devils forward Jon Pelle has tipped the current champions to win the title for a third time and immediately apologised to Giants coach Adam Keefe.

Both teams will meet in Northern Ireland in two massive games on Friday and Saturday that could have a bearing on the destination of the championship, with three points between them.

And Pelle, who is staying with good friend Keefe this weekend to see the games, reckons, taking the personal connection out of it, that the Devils’ previous experience of success could make the difference.

“I’m going to lose some friends here when I say I think Cardiff will go on and win the league this season, if I remove my emotions for a minute,” Pelle said.

“If I had to pick one, considering my friendship with Adam, I’d like to see it be Belfast.  I just think it’s a tough ask for the Giants to overcome a Devils squad that have been there and done it.

Pelle won the league with Belfast after being a record breaker with Cardiff (PHOTO: Barrie Peers)

“Andrew’s team know their way around the league and I just think it’s maybe a little much for Belfast so I want to say sorry to Adam, if he sees this.

“That being said, I think Belfast are capable of catching them.  It’s the Elite League and I’ve seen teams shut down the difference.  I’ve seen bigger gaps caught as well so until it’s mathematically possible, I wouldn’t write anyone off. I’m expecting a tight race right the way through.”

Pelle spent a season with Cardiff Devils in season 2010/11, picking up 116 points in 69 games and was named EIHL Forward of the Year and was part of the record breaking team that won 22 straight games, an achievement that got them a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

He returned to the UK the following season to play for Belfast Giants, where he won a league title under Doug Christiansen, scoring over 70 points in 55 games.

The 32-year-old called a halt to his career after that season to forge a new path in finance, where he still works and is now based in London, allowing him to keep close tabs on his two former teams.

As he assessed the talent of both teams, Pelle reckons he’d find it hard to break into either team, but spoke in glowing terms about the heightened quality around the league since his days playing in the UK.

He added: “I’m not sure I could crack either of the line-ups nowadays.  Ever since I left, the league has got better and better with the higher quality of players that have come in.

“The experience is improving and I can only imagine the budgets are better.  Plus we’re seeing British teams competing at European level and the GB national team competing as well.

“It’s really exciting for me to see and it’s probably far more competitive and much more parity compared to my time in the UK, which is a good thing.

“I continue to be impressed and I’m excited to see who can win the league this season as well.  Right now, I can’t wait to come over and see the games between these two and the chance to see some old friends again of course.”

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