Skalde encouraged by expectation

(PHOTO: James Assinder)

Cardiff Devils head coach Jarrod Skalde says the challenge of continuing the success of the club was a big reason why he wanted the job.

Skalde replaced Andrew Lord last October after his predecessor won two league titles, two Challenge Cups and two play-off finals.

But after more changes to the team than anticipated, he’s more than happy to say he has his team ready to take on the challenges of the new campaign.

“One of the biggest things about pursuing this job was the chance to continue the success and that was exciting for me,” he said. “The expectations are high here and that’s why I wanted to come here.

“The job Todd Kelman and Andrew Lord have done over the last few years has been incredible with the foundations laid.

“When I began, we had 14 returnees ready to come back, but over time, that number fell to five or six because of opportunities elsewhere and players choosing to stay in North America.

With the changes we’ve had to make, it feels like my team.  There has been good and exciting players who have moved on, but I see it as a chance to put my mark on it and get the type of player I want in.”

Devils begin their domestic season with a Challenge Cup contest with Guildford Flames, who are two for two so far after victories over Coventry Blaze then Sunday’s televised clash with Sheffield Steelers to begin a new league campaign.

Skalde comes into the games this week on the back of four pre-season victories over Nottingham Panthers and Manchester Storm.

And he’s already been impressed at how quickly the group have gelled and how they’re already focussed on winning.

“In the four pre-season games, it was a great opportunity for us to play we wanted to and it was great because they never felt like exhibition games,” he added.

The Devils have won four out of four in pre-season including victories over Manchester Storm at the weekend (PHOTO: James Assinder)

“The guys were so eager to have the puck and get some success. The attitude we had, we wanted to win those games and get things right before we play Guildford this Saturday.

“It’s a credit to the guys, coming together so quickly and we have a group that care each other and the club already.  Todd sets the tone early on about the importance of winning in Cardiff and it’s great to see.

“Every game is so important here, whether it’s Challenge Cup or league play so, facing Guildford in the Challenge Cup is a chance to get in front of our fans and win a hockey game.

“It’s a big weekend for us, including going to Sheffield on Sunday in a big rivalry game.  The players all know about it as well and it’s exciting for them and for me.

“The two games with Sheffield before lockdown was brought up and we’ve been over all that.”

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