With two goals in a crucial away win in Manchester, and an assist on the game-winning goal at home to Fife, Cardiff Devils' Joey Haddad is the EIHL Player of Week.
The EIHL Media Team caught up with the forward after today's morning skate as he prepared to head out to one of the local schools in Cardiff and introduce a new generation to ice hockey.
"I think the way our season was going as a team, we were maybe missing a bit of consistency in our team game. We played in Glasgow, came back and then knew we were going into a small, tough rink to play another very good team," explained Haddad about their win in Manchester. "I think we did a great job stepping up as a group, we had a game plan that we executed and it gave us a lot of confidence going into Sunday."
Sunday brought the visit of Fife in which the teams were locked in a scoreless tie until the third period. "It feels like we’ve had quite a few games like we had against Fife – being all over teams, having a high puck possession percentage but unable to beat the goalie or a post," said Haddad. "Scoring three goals late was hopefully a changing tide for us, we kept persevering and got on top."
He continued: "Earlier in the season we’d have the puck the whole game and run into a hot goalie, but then the other team would get one chance and the puck would be in our net; this was quite tough to deal with and we came out on the wrong end of some of those games. This time against Fife we kept going, Ben Bowns is really coming into top form and I feel like as a six-man unit we’re getting a lot more consistent defensively. We showed what we can do and have set the bar for ourselves now."
Haddad has had an excellent start to the season personally. He has 20% of the team's 49 league goals and 17 points so far - more than half of his total from last season. Is it the linemates, his role on the team, or just generally feeling better that's helped? "It’s been a little bit of everything so far. Obviously, I had a very tough second half of the season last year with a very unique injury, to say the least, which kept me bogged down for a long time," he admitted.
"In the offseason I had a lot of work to do and the medial and support staff we have here have really helped me a lot both with rehab, on and off-ice training to get me back up to ‘neutral’. That continued over the summer and I think it’s paying off now – I’ve been fortunate with some bounces, but I’m also feeling good on the ice."
Despite some games going against them, the Devils have 10 wins from 15 league games and find themselves in joint-second place. How would Haddad view the team's season so far? "I think the biggest difference so far this season has been the competitiveness of all 10 teams. We don’t have the traditional top two or three and then a gap below that, everyone has depth, is well-coached and is working hard to get better. Within our group at the Devils that we need to work no is team consistency, and make sure we stick with our overall game plan. That means not getting too low if we get scored on for example, and if we score then not relaxing on the next shift" he concluded.