Cardiff-based PredictorBet are backing the Elite League play-offs.
Their three-year sponsorship of the play-offs weekend is a massive boost for British ice hockey.
Welshman Jonathan Phillips was Sheffield Steelers captain when they won the championship in Nottingham last season, beating Cardiff Devils during sudden death overtime.
Former Devils forward Phillips says: “The Steelers v Devils final was probably the best game of hockey ever played in this Country – five periods of full on action.
“The atmosphere is always unbelievable at Nottingham with fans from all Elite League clubs sat together cheering the teams on. This year, with fans of Milton Keynes and Guildford added, there will be fans of 12 clubs, making it even more manic.
“It is a special weekend. It’s unique.
“Every hockey player in the world wants to win the last game of their season, the play off final. We did that last year and have been lucky enough to do it on many other occasions. We will be giving it our all this year as well.”
This year’s PredictorBet Playoffs are played over the Easter weekend at the Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham on Saturday, April 7 and Sunday, April 8.
As well as becoming title sponsors of the playoffs, PredictorBet will also become the official betting partner of the Elite Ice Hockey League.
It is the first major sponsorship deal for the league in five years.
Cardiff Devils won the Elite League title, Challenge Cup and Erhardt Conference last season, but their defeat in the play-off final against Steelers still stings.
“That was a tough loss, but we are looking to make some noise and hopefully be more successful this season,” says Devils captain Jake Morissette. “It’s a lot of fun to play at Nottingham – always exciting, always a big crowd.
“Devils fans love going to finals. It’s a fun weekend.
“Everybody is excited about PredictorBet coming in. Their sponsorship is really going to add a lot and everybody is really pumped up about that.”
The play-off finals weekend is held at Nottingham Panthers’ home rink and their captain, Steve Lee, says: “The atmosphere is unbelievable, exciting and very, very loud.
“It’s good the league is growing in recognition and excellent to see a big sponsor like PredictorBet coming on board.”
League leaders Devils have already qualified for this seasons play-offs and coach Andrew Lord’s men are intent on returning to Nottingham and lifting the trophy.
They are already through to the Challenge Cup final for a fourth successive season and play-offs are a major target.
Steelers will be out to retain their play-offs title and want revenge after Devils turned round a 6-2 deficit in the Cup semi-finals to win the return 7-1 and go through to the final.
Cardiff play Belfast Giants in the final at Ice Arena Wales on Sunday, March 4 (4pm).
League chairman and Steelers club owner Tony Smith is delighted with the new sponsorship deal, saying: “This partnership will allow us to link up with an exciting, fresh thinking company in an increasingly popular area of sports fandom.
“It presents both the Elite League and PredictorBet with some great opportunities to increase their reach and work together on some exciting projects over the next three years,” said Elite League Chairman, Tony Smith.
“The PredictorBet Playoffs Final weekend is a brilliant opportunity for fans from across the league to come together and mark the end of the hockey season in style.
“There is a real party atmosphere every year and given how exciting the 2017-18 campaign has already been I have no doubt the finals will be bigger and better than ever this year.”
PredictorBet director Lisa Entwistle-Evans said: “Ice hockey is a fast-paced, highly competitive, entertaining and sociable sport – and that’s exactly what PredictorBet is all about.
“It is the number one attended indoor professional sport in the UK and the third largest winter spectator sport in the UK after football and rugby union.
“We knew from the start that ice hockey was the sport with which we wanted to partner.
“There is such a fantastic spirit at every game, and such great loyalty amongst the fan base, and we look forward to giving those fantastic fans some great opportunities to back their teams and win some great prizes.“
“We can’t wait to get involved and the PredictorBet Playoffs Final weekend in Nottingham promises to be an incredible celebration of all that is good about this great sport.”
Devils are next in action on Wednesday evening when they play Guildford Flames away in an Elite League fixture.