The Elite League play-off finals weekend is upon us as the last four teams standing will battle it out for the final piece of silverware of the season.
For many, it’s a chance to see some of the players you maybe haven’t seen enough of who could make a difference or a significant contribution to their team’s chances in Nottingham.
So here’s who we think are the six to watch this weekend:
TYLER BESKOROWANY (BELFAST GIANTS)
The Belfast Giants goalie has been a revelation between the pipes for Adam Keefe’s men this season and will be looked upon to keep the form going that made him such an important part of their team.
Backstopping them to the league and Challenge Cup success, he’s played as big a part at the back as regular goalgetters Darcy Murphy, Kyle Baun and Blair Riley have offensively.
From a career point of view, it’s been a great one after a brief spell at Edinburgh Capitals last season following a hiatus from the game and to see he’s come back to form of his career can be viewed as an understatement.
No doubt a hero within and outwith the Giants dressing room and when tested, can pull off some quite incredible saves.
CALLE ACKERED (GUILDFORD FLAMES)
One of the standouts from a Guildford Flames team over the last two seasons and their fans will worry the Swede may be lured away from Surrey over the summer.
Ackered is a player who moves the puck well, defends strongly and has an eye for goal and once again, was a big part of how well a season the Flames have had to getting to Nottingham.
It’s fair to say the 28-year-old was a relative unknown in a career that flitted between the competitive Allsvenskan and Division 1 tiers in Sweden before coming to the UK two years ago and making such an impact.
Ackered is especially strong in special teams, with 15 powerplay goals to his name in 2018/19, the second highest in the Elite League this season. With a stat like that, the other teams will need to be on their toes when penalty killing.
GLEASON FOURNIER (CARDIFF DEVILS)
If there’s a man who’s really come to the fore for the Devils this season, it’s Fournier, who has been a standout in a season that hasn’t quite provided the success they’d hoped for.
Fournier has been in Wales for three and a half seasons and is always a player coach Andrew Lord speaks very highly of and after the campaign he’s enjoyed, you can why Lord is such a big fan.
As well as being a no nonsense defenceman, the 27-year-old has added scoring to his game and his 80 plus points this season has made him the highest scoring defenceman in the EIHL.
If Cardiff are to retain their play-off crown, Fournier could be the man to play a key role and once the dust settles, don’t bet against his coach falling over himself to bring Fournier back and help spearhead another CHL and EIHL campaign.
COLIN SHIELDS (BELFAST GIANTS)
If you’re going to out at any level, you always want it to be the top and irrespective of how Belfast Giants do this weekend, seeing Shields in action for the last time will be worth seeing.
The veteran will make his last club appearance before finishing off with GB this summer and after winning the league and Challenge Cup already in his farewell tour, a play-off title to complete a Grand Slam would really be the icing on the cake.
His points production may have been down than in recent years, but he brings so much experience to the big occasion and provides for others which will be massive for Adam Keefe’s team going into the final push.
Fans from all over the league wouldn’t grudge a man who has been a fine servant to the sport one last honour after such a glittering career.
ALEX GUPTILL (NOTTINGHAM PANTHERS)
With the ‘home’ team involved, there’s always one man to look toward to lead the charge and for Panthers, it will be Alex Guptill, who has been a top performer for them all season.
In what has been an indifferent season, despite the lofty third place finish and a change in coach halfway through, Guptill has risen above it to provide 65 points in all competitions.
For him personally, it’s the first he’s had a full season at the one club after spending the last three seasons splitting campaigns with the upheaval of moving and having to settle into another club and getting used to a new coach and team-mates.
Undoubtedly, he’s been a highlight in an up and down season for the Panthers and could be a shining light in a big weekend for them.
JOEY MARTIN (CARDIFF DEVILS)
They call him the GOAT (greatest of all time) for a reason and once again, Joey Martin will be expected to fulfil an important role as Cardiff Devils look to end 2018/19 with something to show for their massive efforts this year.
Andrew Lord and the fans of the club have got great memories of Martin and everything he does and it’s no surprise he’ll be expected to lead the way again in Nottingham.
Charles Linglet has been the club’s top scorer, but what Martin brings is a player who moves well in the forward areas, has a wicked shot and is a constant threat to the defenceman who have to track him when he’s on the ice.
He’s also a player who rises for the big occasion and his experience of these events will serve the Devils well as they try to salvage something from their 2018/19 season.