Solent Devils head coach, Alex Murray is clearly delighted the veteran goaltender has agreed to return.
“Chico is part of the club’s DNA, he has been a tremendous servant to this club and is the best goaltender in the league! For me, Chico is one of the first names on the list to get to commit, his loyalty to our club is a testament to the man he is, and we are lucky to have him.”
In the 2019/20 season, Cole posted 19 wins and just 3 losses in a season which saw him make 801 saves, had a goals against average of 2.92 and a save percentage of 92.82 – earning him NIHL 1 South player of the month in November 2019, NIHL 1 South netminder of the year, and saw him named in the NIHL 1 South first all-star team. Somewhat modestly, Cole simply says
“I am very happy with how last season went, regardless of stats I feel I played my best season yet, and in a very good league.”
In addition to the amazing year and accolades from the 2019/20 season, Cole has had a career where he has played 278 games and has recorded 14 shut outs, won the playoffs in Bracknell at the end of the 2017/18 season and was the netminder for the team as they were runners up the subsequent year. Additionally, Cole has been named as a part of the all-star team four other times, and was part of the Solent Devils for the 2011/12 season, when the Devils became the ENL 2 league champions, earning promotion to league 1. With all this in mind, it is fair to say Cole has played in some high pressure games, but as he gets older Cole seems to take the pressure in his stride.
“I prepare for every game the same, but the more years I play I feel I am relaxing more and more, which is why I feel the best of me is yet to come.”
Murray has nothing but good things to say about the Solent Devils number one,
“Chico is an exceptional performer, his stats speak for themselves. There is never a situation where he lets us down, he is the last line of our defence and almost always comes out winning! The trust our team have in his ability allow us to be confident in our decision making, as well as play the game we want. If his best is still to come, I am very excited! Chico has been the best goaltender at this level for several years, if he can continue his high level of performances next season, then we stand a good chance of repeating our successful campaign.”
With the new season creeping towards everyone with agonising slowness, Cole simply lays out the plan for the future,
“I personally want to help the Devils lift trophies, so if I keep my performances consistent, and the team scores goals we are in with a chance.”
Duffy moves to the Devils from Oxford City Stars, where he has spent almost half of his senior career, after moving from Bracknell in 2016.
“I’m joining the Devils because I think they’re a great organisation,” Duffy says. “I’ve seen them come on a lot over the past few years, and I am really excited to be a part of that. I’ve known Alex Murray since we were kids, and I know he’s a winner – I’m looking forward to being coached by him.”
“I’ve known Duffy since we were kids,” echoes Devils head coach, Alex Murray, “I’ve played a lot of hockey – mainly inline – with him and he is a great guy, very experienced between the pipes at this level. I have tried to sign Duffy a few times during my tenure with the Devils, so I am delighted I have finally managed to bring him in. Mark will provide competition to Chico, which is both healthy and needed at this level.”
Duffy’s career spans 130 games, with a 4.79 GAA and a save percentage of 85.66% and was part of the league winning Oxford team over the 2017/18 season – the year Oxford pipped the Devils to the league title.
“I’m hoping to bring a strong alternative to Chico in net,” says Duffy, when asked his reasons for the move. “Chico is one of, if not the best goalie in the league and I want to push him to make sure he stays at his best all season long! I hope I can bring a bit of experience to the squad as well, which has some great young players in it.”
Murray lays out his expectations for his new signing, simply and concisely,
“Duffy has been around the game long enough and understands his role well. He has been brought in to challenge Chico and he recognises that he has an opportunity to join a club who are heading in a really positive direction – we are really happy to have him involved. We will be looking for Duffy to win us games when in net, and to quickly become acclimatised to the small rink at Solent.”