Record attendances for the Elite League

The Elite League saw a fantastic 12% growth in attendances last season compared to the 2015/16 campaign.

More than 940,000 people watched EIHL hockey – smashing last year’s record by almost 100,000.

League attendances rose for the fourth straight year, with clubs celebrating numerous sell-outs. Both the Challenge Cup final and play-off finals weekend were also completely sold out.

The EIHL now boasts the seventh highest average league attendance in Europe and Asia according to a recent IIHF study – ahead of Austria, Slovakia and Denmark – with Nottingham Panthers, Sheffield Steelers and Belfast Giants all climbing the individual club rankings.

The league will also learn more about its standing in Europe with two representatives in the 2017/18 Champions Hockey League, with league winners Cardiff Devils and IIHF Continental Cup winners Nottingham entering the prestigious tournament.

Play-off winners Sheffield will enter the 2017/18 Continental Cup.

EIHL chairman Tony Smith said: “It has been another excellent year for the Elite League. This season has been one of the most competitive we have seen since the league was formed, with an exciting title race and the battle for the play-offs going right down to the last weekend.

“It was capped off with another brilliant play-off finals weekend at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham, culminating in the superb Grand Final between Cardiff and Sheffield.

“It is a testament to the hard work that goes on every week at both club and league level that attendances continue to rise, and with Guildford Flames and MK Lightning joining us from next season naturally we expect that trend to continue and we hope to smash the one million spectator mark during 2017/18.

“We have also seen British ice hockey return to free-to-air television this year, while the play-off finals weekend received extensive coverage on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, with the Grand Final also shown live by the BBC.”

(Image permission: Press Eye)

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