Founded in 1986, the club became the dominant force in the sport in the late 1980s and early 1990s, winning a total of 7 league titles.
The Cardiff Devils were formed during the summer of 1986 when Sports Nationwide built the Wales National Ice Rink in the centre of Cardiff. John Lawless, a 25-year-old Canadian, was given the responsibility of setting up a brand new team, having been a trainee assistant manager at Peterborough who were owned by the same company.
The club entered the British Ice Hockey League Structure at the bottom in Division 2 (Midland Section) at a time when each team was only allowed a maximum of three import players. With Lawless deciding to play himself, he brought over fellow Canadians Perry Olivier and Bill Taylor to join him on the roster, with the remaining places going to British players, one of whom, Paul Morganti, a student at Cardiff University, had been raised in Canada and had significant high school hockey experience. With the WNIR not ready for the start of the season, the team played several games away from home to begin with. The Cardiff Devils' first ever game was a Challenge match away to the Oxford City Stars on 12 October 1986. Despite Oxford playing in the division above, the Devils won the game 9–8.
Cardiff finally got to play their first ever game at the WNIR on 30 November 1986 where a crowd of 2500 saw their new heroes humiliate Ashfield Islanders 32–0.
Devils finished the league season unbeaten with 13 wins and 1 draw from 14 games to finish top of Division 2 (Midlands), 2 points clear of Welsh rivals Deeside Dragons. Promotion to Division 1 though was dependent on them winning the Division 1 Play-off Champions, which the club hosted at the WNIR. Their semi-final against Northern winners Grimsby Buffaloes was surrounded in controversy when the game was abandoned after a 34-player bench clearance with Cardiff leading 10–4. The BIHA officials though ruled that it had been provoked by the English side and hence the score should stand as a final result. In the other semi-final Scottish League Champions Aviemore Blackhawks beat Southern Winners Streatham Bruins(13–4) to set up an all Celtic final the following day. Unfortunately for the Devils, despite a final period comeback after being 4 goals behind, Aviemore were able to hang on for a 10–9 win and promotion to Division 1 at the expense of Cardiff. But in a strange twist of fate the result proved to be irrelevant. The BIHA decided the league structure needed re-organising, and as a result the Cardiff Devils were moved into Division 1 (South) for the following season.
Following promotion to Division 1 (South) and a new Sponsorship deal, Lawless was able to strengthen his team. Key signings included netminder Jeff Smith, coach Brian Kanewischer and Canadian defenceman Shannon Hope as a replacement for Bill Taylor who was injured midway through the previous season. The season proved to be successful with the Devils winning the Autumn Trophy in November with an 11–10 aggregrate win over the Trafford Metros.
In the league the side finished a very respectable 3rd place, although 10 points behind winners Telford Tigers. The two teams had created a fierce rivalry during the season due to several controversial and violent games. During a game on 16 January in Telford, the Devils players were subjected to constant sticking offences resulted in Shannon Hope receiving a serious injury just below his eye. With the referee not calling any penalty, coach Kanewischer took his team off the ice in protest midway through the 2nd period. After a league investigation Cardiff were eventually fined £1000 for their actions and Kanewisher banned for the rest of the season.
Lawless and Cardiff shocked the whole of British Ice Hockey by signing 3 of the top players from the Premier Division over the summer. Canadian import Steve Moria was signed from the Fife Flyers, and then the Cooper brothers Ian and Steve joined from Heineken Champions Durham Wasps. It was the first time top British players were being offered good money to sign for other clubs and it led to claims that Cardiff and their "Cheque Book Hockey" would ruin the game. The signings were crucial as the Devils finished first 1st in Division 1, just a single point ahead of Medway Bears. They also retained the Autumn Trophy they had won the previous season, beating Medway 15–8 on aggregate.
To gain promotion though they had to beat the Premier Division's bottom club – the Streatham Redskins. Cardiff destroyed their Premier Division rivals 12–1 in the first leg, and a 9–5 victory in Streatham the following weekend secured an easy aggregrate victory and a place in the Heineken Premier Division for the following season.
With the Devils finally reaching the promised land of the Premier Division, John Lawless was able to strengthen his team with the addition of an extra import now that he himself had received his British Passport. Paul Castron was signed but pulled out just before the start of the season, but fortunately for the club Doug McEwen had been released by Peterborough at the same time and so signed for the Devils instead. Victory in the pre-season Trafford Tournament gave an indication of the success to come, although the Devils did get knocked out of the Autumn Cup at the semi-final stage to Durham Wasps. In the league though they were unbeaten until December, by which time they had built up a healthy lead at the top of the table. A 14–7 victory at home to the Peterborough Pirate on 4 March 1990 clinched their first ever Premier Division League title. Unbeaten in the Playoffs Qualifying group, the Devils travelled to Wembley where they beat Fife Flyers 5–1 in the semi-final. In the final they faced the Murrayfield Racers who quickly went 3–0 up. Cardiff fought back though and a Steven Cooper goal 95 seconds from the end tied the game at 6–6 and sent the game into Overtime and then a Penalty Shootout. After Doug McEwen had scored the 23rd shot, Jeff Smith saved Tony Hand's attempt and the Devils had won the Playoff Championship in one of the greatest Finals of all time, live on BBC Grandstand.
After the previous years success, the British players were in great demand. Ian and Stephen Cooper both returned to Durham, whilst Brian Dickson and Robbie Morris also left. In came Derek King (Fife Flyers), Neil Browne (Slough Jets), Paul Heavey and Peter Smith (both Peterborough Pirates). Despite a record breaking Europa Cup tournament which included an 11–8 victory over Rodovre and a 3rd placed group finish, the team struggled for consistency domestically. Knocked out once again at the semi-final stage of the Autumn Cup by Durham Wasps, they finished second to the Wasps in the league and were knocked out in the Playoff Semi-finals by Peterborough Pirates as Durham completed the Grand Slam.
In 1997 the club won the Superleague championship. Hardship followed and the club was declared bankrupt in 2001 but a new team was soon formed which competed in the British National League. The new owners massively reduced spending and effectively disbanded the old Cardiff Devils, with the entire Superleague team departing. The then-owner, Bob Phillips was the subject of much scorn amongst fans due to the perceived mismanagement and effective destruction of what was then one of Britain's most established and stable teams.
The new team was formed from a handful of quickly drafted players, as well scavenging the Cardiff Devils youth teams to make up the numbers under the lower budget. Attendances at games dropped heavily, going from full arenas to typically less than fifty. During the first two seasons under Phillips, large protests and demonstrations were commonplace outside games, with initially hundreds of supporters club members appearing outside the arena. While eventually the supporters club would reconcile with Bob Phillips and some of the old players would make goodwill appearances, the team's best years were clearly behind them.
In 2003, the Devils became founder members of the Elite League, finishing the first season in 5th place. They were semi finalists in the end of season playoffs, losing to champions Sheffield Steelers.
During the 2004–05 NHL lock-out, Rob Davison of the San Jose Sharks played for the Devils.
The 2004–5 season did not finish well for the Devils. As in the 03–04 season, they reached the playoff semi-finals, but were once again defeated, this time by the Nottingham Panthers.
During 2005, serious questions over the future of the Devils began to emerge. The Wales National Ice Rink was due for demolition in 2006 to make way for a John Lewis store and plans for a new ice arena at Sophia Gardens were progressing at an extremely slow pace. There was a very real threat that 2005–06 could have been the last season of the Cardiff Devils.
The Save Our Rink Action Committee (SORAC) formed to lead calls from the city's ice hockey clubs and fans for a temporary facility to be constructed while a more permanent building was finally built. SORAC successfully campaigned for a temporary rink in the Cardiff Bay area of the city. Planning permission was given in January 2006 and the structure was expected to be completed in time for the 2006–07 ice hockey season.
However this proved not to be the case, with construction problems delaying the opening of the Cardiff Arena until December 2006.
The Devils won their first silverware of the EIHL era in 2006. The Devils faced arch rivals Coventry Blaze in a repeat of the previous year's Challenge Cup final but were beaten 3–0 in the first leg of the final in Coventry. The Devils however managed an incredible turn around in the second leg, defeating the Blaze 4–1 to tie the game on aggregate and won the cup 1–0 in the following penalty shoot-out. "Man of the Match" Nathan Rempel scored a memorable hat-trick, whilst Rejean Stringer scored the winning goal in the penalty shoot-out.
In January 2007 player/coach Ed Patterson was released by the Devils in a cost-cutting move.  Patterson was replaced as Player / Coach by Gerad Adams, with Brad Voth taking over from Adams as Captain.
After several games during which injured players carried out the duties of Bench Coach, former Devils player Brent Pope was appointed to the position. Despite off-ice difficulties throughout the 2006–07 season, the Devils finished 3rd in the league. The Devils also won the British Knockout Cup, beating rivals Coventry Blaze 3–0 at Coventry's Skydome. A cup double was snatched from the Cardiff Devils' grasp when they lost 1–0 on penalties to the Nottingham Panthers in the 2006–07 Playoff Final, after the game finished 1–1 after overtime.
The 2007–08 season saw the Devils finish the league in 6th place. After a string of losses at the beginning of the season, they rose to an unbeaten run of games which propelled them to the top of the Elite League. However this was soon ended as a huge injury crisis hit the club leading to many of the first team having to watch from the sidelines. The Devils managed to qualify for the playoff weekend by beating the Nottingham Panthers at the Trent FM Arena, and holding them to a 3–3 draw the following evening. The Devils were defeated at the playoff weekend by the eventual winners, the Sheffield Steelers, going down 2–1. The loss capped a disappointing season.
The Devils season was mixed. The team struggled again with injuries and suspensions – notably the highly controversial 11 game suspension of club captain Brad Voth (which was cut to 7 on review). Two summer signings, defenceman Likit Andersson and forward Rod Hinks, were cut from the squad due to injury and performance respectively. Returning defenceman Tyson Teplitsky filled the gap left by Andersson and contributed greatly in points. Canadian Marc Fulton was drafted in to replace Hinks, however after a promising start, was sidelined by injury and did not play for the club again. Joining Fulton on the injury list were centre Lee Cowmeadow and then top scorer Mike Prpich.
On 26 January 2009, the Devils announced the signing of Matt Elich, a former NHL player with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Elich, brought in to replace the injured Derek Campbell, scored 1+1 in his debut game and continued to contribute points consistently.
The Devils, although eliminated from the Challenge Cup got through to the British Knockout Cup final, a trophy won during the 06–07 season, after demolishing a dwindling Basingstoke Bison squad 17–1 over two legs [8–0, 9–1]. They faced and eventually lost out to the Belfast Giants
Devils captain Brad Voth was given the honour of being named Captain for the South team for the 'All-Star Spectacular'.
The Devils scraped through to the playoff semi-finals in Nottingham after beating the Belfast Giants with an overtime goal in the Cardiff Arena from Captain Brad Voth, ending the series 6–5.
The Devils then lost to the Sheffield Steelers 5–2 in the Playoff semi-finals. Sheffield went on to win the playoffs, defeating the Nottingham Panthers by 2–0 in the final, completing their league and playoff double.
The Devils started their season fairly well with big imports such as Mark Smith and Max Birbraer returning and newly signed forward Tylor Michel becoming a fan favourite quickly.
The Devils buried their Challenge Cup voodoo from the new arena and progressed to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup for the first time in 3 years by beating the Coventry Blaze 3–2 on 28 October 2009
On 7 December 2009 it was announced that forward Ryan Finnerty, formerly of the rival Sheffield Steelers had signed for Cardiff. Shortly afterward, import defenceman Scott Romfo was released, with coach Gerad Adams citing salary costs as the main reason. This move left many fans feeling disappointed, due to Scott's impressive performance over the preceding weeks. Romfo surprisingly returned to the club on 12 January 2010, following the announcement that he was being resigned to the team to provide injury cover.
On 16 February 2010, leader Brad Voth was relieved of the captaincy, after over 3 years, by head coach Gerad Adams. The reason being that Coach Adams felt Voth was being unfairly targeted by officials because of the image he had built up over the years as a hard-hitting enforcer, and that by releasing him of his duties, he could re-focus on his game. Also, if Voth had been ejected from one more game as Captain, he would face a lengthy ban. Therefore by relinquishing the armband he could carry on playing the enforcer role. British Defenceman Mark Richardson was named new team captain in his place.
On 9 March 2010, the Devils lost 8–7 on aggregate in the final of the Challenge Cup to the Nottingham Panthers. The Devils in fact won the game 5–4 on the night but it was not enough to overturn the 4–2 loss suffered in the 1st leg in Cardiff the previous week.
The Devils defeated the reigning Playoff champions the Sheffield Steelers in the quarter-final match up over two nights. The first leg in Cardiff saw the Devils win 4–2. The following night in Sheffield saw the Devils win again 5–3, ending the series with an aggregate score of 9–5. On 3 April, the Devils defeated the newly crowned league champions Coventry Blaze in the playoff semi-final in Nottingham by 6 goals to 3 to advance to the final. Meanwhile on the same day, the Belfast Giants defeated the Nottingham Panthers after a penalty shootout to also advance. The final was played in Nottingham on 4 April. Belfast and Cardiff were tied 2–2 after regulation time. A scoreless OT period meant the final would go to a penalty shootout. Evan Cheverie for the Belfast Giants shot past Stevie Lyle in the second round of penalties and won the playoff title for Belfast.
The Devils embarked on the season with an average start, with critics citing an underperforming defence. With enforcer Justin Sawyer leaving the club for personal reasons in October 2010, and with iconic power forward Brad Voth out with a hand injury, things were looking bleak. On 1 November, the club announced the signing of Sawyer's replacement, ex-NHL defenceman Craig Weller. With Weller on board and Voth back in the line-up, the club embarked on a record breaking winning streak, which ended after a penalty shootout loss in Dundee on 16 January. The club did not lose a game between 28 October 2010 and 16 January 2011. On 9 January, the Devils went to the top of the Elite Ice Hockey League table with a 7–1 home win over Dundee Stars. The victory also saw first line winger Jon Pelle beat the league record for goals in a season (35), previously held by former Devils player Mike Prpich. As of 15 January 2011, the club now hold the UK record for games unbeaten in all competitions (22) and most consecutive league games unbeaten (21). The Devils management have had discussions with the IIHF and Guinness World Records who have verified that this is in fact a World Record.7 Doug McEwen
9 John Lawless
10 Jason Stone
14 Brian Dickson
19 Steve Moria
26 Brad Voth
35 Shannon Hope
League Championships1989–90, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1996–97
Play-off Championships1989–90, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1998–99
Challenge Cups2005–06, 2014–15
British Knockout Cups2006–07
First Team All-Stars1996–97: Stevie Lyle, Kip Noble, Ivan Matulik, Vezio Sacratini
1998–99: Kip Noble
2004–05: Vezio Sacratini
2006–07: Mark Smith
2009–10: Wes Jarvis
2012–13: Mac Faulkner
Second Team All-Stars1997–98: Kip Noble, Steve Thornton
1998–99: Ivan Matulik
1999–2000: Steve Thornton
2000–01: Steve Thornton
2003–04: Jeff Burgoyne
2004–05: Jon Cullen
2006–07: Tyson Teplitsky
2013–14: Mac Faulkner
2013–14: Tyson Marsh