One Point Separates Five Teams in ECHL North
It didn’t seem like the North Division race could become any closer, but it has with the top five teams are separated by one point with two weeks and 21 games remaining. The same five teams began last week separated by two points.
Defending Kelly Cup champion Cincinnati (36-25-5) and Elmira (35-24-7) are tied for first with 77 points while Johnstown (36-26-4), Trenton (35-25-6) and Wheeling (34-24-8) are tied for third with 76 points.
The top four finishers in the division will advance to the Kelly Cup Playoffs where they will be seeded based on regular season point totals. The Division Semifinals will be played Apr. 9-22 with the first seed meeting the fourth seed and the second seed meeting the third seed in a best-of-seven series. The series format is 2-3-2 with game dates determined by the participants based upon arena availability. Teams in close proximity may agree to deviate from the standard series format subject to league guidelines.
Cincinnati, which has led or been tied for the North Division lead for all but three days since Feb. 3, plays at Dayton on Wednesday and at Johnstown on Saturday while hosting Trenton on Thursday. The Cyclones are 1-1-0 at home and 5-2-0 overall against the Devils and 4-3-1 overall and 3-2-0 on the road against the Chiefs. Cincinnati has won the last six meetings with the Bombers to improve to 4-1-1 at Dayton and 10-2-2 overall in the season series.
Elmira plays at Reading on Wednesday and then hosts Wheeling on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Jackals are 2-1-1 on the road and 4-2-2 overall against the Royals. Elmira has won the last two meetings with the Nailers to improve to 3-3-0 overall and 1-1-0 at home.
Johnstown will play at Reading on Friday and Sunday and hosts Cincinnati on Saturday. The Chiefs have won the last 12 meetings against the Royals and are 8-0-0 overall and 3-0-0 at Reading this season. Johnstown won the last meeting to improve to 4-4-0 against the Cyclones.
Trenton travels to Ohio where it will play at Cincinnati on Thursday and at Dayton on Friday and Saturday. The Devils won their last game against the Cyclones and have won their last four meetings with the Bombers to improve to 4-2-0 in the season series.
Five Teams Contend For Four Kelly Cup Playoff Berths In National Conference
With two weeks and 25 games remaining there are five teams battling for the remaining four Kelly Cup Playoff berths in the National Conference. The teams battling for the final four spots are Bakersfield, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Stockton and Utah.
The top four finishers in the West Division will advance to the Kelly Cup Playoffs where they will be seeded based on regular season winning percentage. In the Pacific Division there will be four postseason qualifiers based on winning percentage, including the fifth-place finisher from the West Division if it has a better winning percentage than the fourth-place team in the Pacific. The seeding is being done by winning percentage rather than points because Las Vegas and Ontario are each playing one more game than the other seven teams following Fresno ceasing operations. The Division Semifinals will be played Apr. 9-22 with the first seed meeting the fourth seed and the second seed meeting the third seed in a best-of-seven series. The series format is 2-3-2 with game dates determined by the participants based upon arena availability. Teams in close proximity may agree to deviate from the standard series format subject to league guidelines.
Las Vegas is 31-28-8 and in second place in the Pacific Division with a winning percentage of .522 and 70 points while Bakersfield and Stockton are tied for third with a winning percentage of .500. The Condors are 30-30-7 with 67 points and the Thunder are 30-30-6 with 66 points. Utah is 26-25-16 and in fourth place in the West Division with a winning percentage of .507 and 68 points while Phoenix is 28-32-5 and in fifth place in the West Division with a winning percentage of .469 and 61 points.
The defending National Conference champion Wranglers host Alaska on Tuesday and Friday before traveling to Bakersfield on Saturday and Stockton on Sunday. Las Vegas, which has reached the Kelly Cup Playoffs each of the last three years and four times since joining the league, is 1-2-0 at home and 2-5-1 overall against Alaska. The Wranglers are 2-2-0 on the road and 5-2-1 overall against Bakersfield and 0-2-0 on the road and 1-2-0 overall against Stockton.
Bakersfield has won its last three games to improve to a league-leading 16-4-1 in the last 21 games. The Condors host Victoria on Wednesday and Friday and Las Vegas on Saturday. Bakersfield, which has qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs each of the last four years, won the last meeting with Victoria to improve to 1-1-1 at home and 1-5-1 overall in the season series. The Condors won their last game against Las Vegas to improve to 2-2-0 at home and 3-5-0 overall in the season series.
Stockton, which has qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs each of the last two years, hosts Victoria on Tuesday and Saturday, Utah on Friday and Las Vegas on Sunday. The Thunder are 1-3-0 at home and 4-5-0 overall this season against Victoria and 2-1-0 at home and 2-5-0 overall against Utah. Stockton has won its last two meetings with Las Vegas to improve to 2-0-0 at home and 2-1-0 overall in the season series.
The Grizzlies are looking for their second straight postseason appearance after advancing to the conference finals a year ago. Utah hosts Phoenix on Tuesday and Wednesday and plays at Stockton on Friday. The Grizzlies are 1-1-1 at home and 3-1-3 overall against Phoenix and 1-1-1 on the road and 5-1-1 overall against Stockton.
Alaska, which was the first team in the National Conference to qualify for the Kelly Cup Playoffs on Mar. 13, is 42-22-3 and leads the conference and the West Division with a winning percentage of .649 and 87 points. The Aces have reached the postseason in every one of their six seasons and won the Kelly Cup in 2006 and reached the conference finals in 2005 and 2007.
Idaho has qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the sixth time in six years. The Steelheads, who are 39-22-4 and in second place in the conference and the West Division with a winning percentage of .631 and 82 points, became only the second expansion team in league history to capture the Kelly Cup championship in 2003-04 and became the second two-time Kelly Cup winner in 2007.
Victoria, which has qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the third year in a row, is 35-26-7 and in third place in the West Division and tied for third place in the conference with a winning percentage of .566 and 77 points.
The latest team to qualify is Ontario which is 36-27-5 and leads the Pacific Division with a winning percentage of .566 and 77 points.
Gladiators, Sea Wolves Battle For Final Spot In South
Gwinnett and Mississippi continue to battle for the fourth and final spot in the South Division while Charlotte qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the fifth straight year on Sunday.
Florida is 44-17-5 and leads the division and the league with a winning percentage of .705 and 93 points. South Carolina is 38-22-6 and in second place in the division with a winning percentage of .621 and 82 points while Charlotte is 32-25-8 and in third place with a winning percentage of .554 and 72 points. Gwinnett is in 29-30-6 and in fourth place with a winning percentage of .492 and 64 points while Mississippi is 27-31-8 and in fifth place with a winning percentage of .470 and 62 points.
The top four finishers in the division will advance to the Kelly Cup Playoffs where they will be seeded based on regular season winning percentage. The seeding is being done by winning percentage rather than points because Gwinnett is playing one more game than the other four teams following Augusta ceasing operations. The Division Semifinals will be played Apr. 9-22 with the first seed meeting the fourth seed and the second seed meeting the third seed in a best-of-seven series. The series format is 2-3-2 with game dates determined by the participants based upon arena availability. Teams in close proximity may agree to deviate from the standard series format subject to league guidelines.
The five straight appearances ties the Checkers record for consecutive postseason appearances set in their first five seasons from 1993-98. Charlotte hosts Gwinnett on Thursday and Mississippi on Friday before traveling to Florida on Saturday. The Checkers are 3-2-1 at home and 6-7-1 overall in the season series with Gwinnett and 3-1-0 at home and 7-2-1 overall against Mississippi.
The Gladiators have not missed the Kelly Cup Playoffs since moving to Georgia in 2003-04 while the Sea Wolves are trying to reach the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the sixth straight time and the ninth time in 11 seasons. Gwinnett plays at Charlotte on Thursday and hosts South Carolina on Friday and Saturday. Gwinnett is 8-5-1 in the season series against the Checkers and 3-2-1 at home and 5-5-1 overall against the Stingrays.
South Carolina has qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs for a league record 15th time while Florida was the first team to qualify for the postseason on Mar. 7. The Stingrays won the first Kelly Cup in 1997 and became the first two-time winner in 2001. South Carolina holds the ECHL record for most playoff games with 116 and most playoff wins with 61. The Everblades have reached the Kelly Cup Playoffs in every one of their11 seasons and advanced to the Kelly Cup Finals in 2004 and 2005 and to the conference finals in 2007.
ECHL Reaches 3 Million For 16th Consecutive Year
More than 27,000 in Ontario, over 18,000 in South Carolina and more than 17,800 in Victoria helped the ECHL surpass 3 million fans for the 16th year in a row.
The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League reached the 3 million mark in the least amount of games since 2005-06 as its attendance increased for the ninth week in a row to 4,182 per game.
Back-to-back sellout crowds of 9,644 on Saturday and Sunday and 8,115 on Wednesday helped the expansion Reign raise their attendance to 5,856 per game which is second in the league. Stockton continues to lead the league with 6,193 per game and is trying to become the first team to finish atop the ECHL in attendance for four consecutive seasons since Florida led the league for a record five straight years from 2000-05.
The Everblades are third with 5,601 per game while Gwinnett is fourth with 5,504 per game and Bakersfield is fifth with 5,488 per game.
Wheeling had its second-largest crowd of the season with 5,268 on Saturday and raised its average to 2,882 per game while Johnstown had its third-largest crowd of the year with 2,899 on Sunday to raise its average to 2,184 per game.
Victoria welcomed more than 17,800 for four games, including the third-largest crowd of the season with 6,314 on Saturday, to raise its average to 4,923 per game which is up from 4,871 per game last season.
South Carolina had more than 18,000 for three games to increase its average to 5,001 per game while Trenton raised its average to 2,675 per game after drawing over 7,300 for two games, including the second-largest crowd of the season on Saturday.
Elmira increased its average to 3,306 after having almost 7,000 for two games and Reading had over 5,000 to raise its average to 4,974 per game.
Las Vegas had 6,301 on Saturday to raise its attendance to 4,554 per game while Phoenix increased its average to 2,926 per game.
Brabham Cup Battle Between Aces, Everblades, Steelheads
The battle for the regular season points title and the Brabham Cup has come down to Florida, Alaska and Idaho.
The Brabham Cup is the trophy awarded annually to the ECHL team that finishes with the most points in the regular season. The recipient is guaranteed home-ice advantage throughout its participation in the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
The award is named in recognition of Henry Brabham, who founded the ECHL in 1988-89 with five teams in four states. Brabham, who was the first inductee into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2008, owned three of the original five teams, including the legendary Johnstown Chiefs who are celebrating their 20th season in 2007-08. The dedication of the Virginia businessman was crucial to the league surviving to span from coast-to-coast while advancing 353 players and countless coaches, on-ice officials and front office personnel to the National Hockey League.
The Everblades are 44-17-5 and lead the league and the American Conference with a winning percentage of .705 and 93 points while Alaska is 42-22-3 and leads the National Conference with a winning percentage of .649 and 87 points. Idaho is 39-22-4 and in second place in the conference and the West Division with a winning percentage of .631 and 82 points.
Florida and Alaska each have five games remaining while Idaho has seven games left. The Everblades and Steelheads are at home for their remaining games while the Aces will be on the road.
The Everblades, who have already clinched home ice through the conference finals, won the Brabham Cup in 1999-2000 and set ECHL records with 53 wins and 108 points. The 53 wins are now tied for the third most in league history while the 108 points are tied for sixth.
Alaska won the Brabham Cup in 2005-06 in 2005-06 with 53 wins and 113 points. The 53 wins are tied for the third most in league history while the 113 points are fourth behind Cincinnati and Texas, who each had 115 points in 2007-08, and Louisiana, which holds the record with 116 points and 56 wins in 2001-02.
Florida was the first team to qualify for the postseason on Mar. 7 followed by Alaska on Mar. 13 and Idaho on Mar. 18. The Everblades have reached the Kelly Cup Playoffs in every one of their 11 seasons and advanced to the Kelly Cup Finals in 2004 and 2005 and to the conference finals in 2007.
Everblades' Baker One Shy Of Power-Play Record
Kevin Baker of the Florida Everblades leads the league with 53 goals in 65 games which is the most goals scored in a season since Andrew Williamson had 63 goals in 63 games in 1999-2000. Baker is the first player to reach 50 goals since Williamson had 52 goals in 66 games in 2000-01, and he was the first North American player to score 50 goals this season.
Wes Goldie of Victoria is second with 47 goals in 68 games while Wheeling rookie Bryan Ewing is third with 42 goals in 61 games. The last time there were two 50-goal scorers in the ECHL was 1999-2000 when Williamson had 63 goals and Jay Murphy of Louisiana had 55 goals in 69 games.
The 50-goal plateau has been reached 42 times in ECHL history. The league high for 50-goal scorers is seven players in 1991-92 while six players reached the plateau in 1993-94, 1995-96 and 1996-97. The ECHL record for goals is 85 goals by Trevor Jobe of Nashville in 1992-93 while the league record for goals by a rookie is 80 goals by Bill McDougall of Erie in 1989-90.
Wes Goldie led the league in 2007-08 with 42 goals after finishing second with 41 goals in 2006-07 and he ranks 13th in league history with 244 career goals. He and his brother, Ash Goldie, made history in 2007-08 when they became the first set of teammates and the first set of brothers to lead the league in goal scoring after finishing with 42 goals and 40 goals, respectively.
Baker also leads the league with a career-high and team record 95 points. He is also first in the ECHL with a team record 26 power-play goals, 46 power-play points and 10 game-winning goals. The 26 power-play goals tie him with Williamson, who had 26 power-play goals in 1999-2000, and Darren Colbourne, who had 26 power-play goals for Dayton in 1991-92. The ECHL record for power-play goals is 27 by Colin Ward of Nashville in 1995-96.
American Conference - North Division
* Cincinnati is 20-13-1 on the road and tied for the league lead with 20 road wins.
* Cyclones are 63-28-7 (.669) since the 2008 All-Star Game.
* Cincinnati plays at Dayton on Wednesday and at Johnstown on Saturday and hosts Trenton on Thursday.
* Bombers are fifth in the league on the power play at home with 19.2 percent.
* Andrew Fournier has four assists in his last two games.
* Bombers host Cincinnati on Wednesday and Trenton on Friday and Saturday.
* Elmira is 22-7-3 when scoring first.
* Steve Yetman leads the Jackals in March with nine points (4g-5a) in nine games.
* Elmira plays at Reading on Wednesday before hosting Wheeling on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
* Chiefs won back-to-back road games for the first time since Dec. 5-6.
* Johnstown is 27.0 percent (10-for-37) on the power play in its last six home games (4-2-0).
* Chiefs play at Reading on Friday and Sunday and host Cincinnati on Saturday.
* Tyler Doig has a four-game point streak (4g-3a) and a three game goal streak (4g).
* Ben Gordon has a four-game point streak (2g-4a) and a three game assist streak (4a).
* Reading hosts Elmira on Wednesday and Johnstown on Friday and Sunday.
* Devils have won their last 14 games on Friday.
* Rick Kowalsky won his 100th game on Sunday.
* Devils play at Cincinnati on Thursday and at Dayton on Friday and Saturday.
* Wheeling is 9-4-1 in their last 14 games.
* Bryan Ewing has 42 goals which leads ECHL rookies and is tied for fifth all-time in Nailers history.
* Wheeling plays at Elmira on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
American Conference - South Division
* Checkers play five of their last six games at home where they are 17-11-4.
* Jeff Jakaitis is 7-2-5 with two shutouts and a goals-against average of 2.30 in his last 14 games.
* Checkers host Gwinnett on Thursday and Mississippi on Friday and play at Florida on Saturday.
*Florida is second in the league on the penalty kill with 86.7 percent (378-for-436).
* David Leggio is second in the league with a goals-against average of 2.32.
* Florida hosts Charlotte on Saturday.
* Gladiators are 19-0-1 when leading after two periods.
* Defenseman Scott Marchesi has four game-winning goals and has scored his last two in overtime.
* Gladiators play at Charlotte on Thursday and host South Carolina on Friday and Saturday.
Mississippi Sea Wolves
* Ryan Munce leads the league with six shootout wins and is tied for fourth with 23 wins.
* Rookie Ryan Cruthers leads the team with 35 assists and 63 points and is tied for the team lead with 28 goals.
* Mississippi plays at Charlotte on Friday and at South Carolina on Sunday.
South Carolina Stingrays
* Stingrays have qualified for the postseason a league record 15 times in 16 seasons.
* James Reimer posted back-to-back shutouts and had a scoreless streak of 174:19.
* Stingrays play at Gwinnett on Friday and Saturday and host Mississippi on Sunday.
National Conference - Pacific Division
* Bakersfield leads the National Conference and is third in the league with 3.33 goals per game.
* Dave Bonk has a team record 76 points (28g-48a) in 55 games.
* Bakersfield hosts Victoria on Wednesday and Friday and Las Vegas on Saturday.
Las Vegas Wranglers
* Wranglers are second in the league with a goals-against average of 2.60.
* Las Vegas will host “Over 18” night on Tuesday.
* Wranglers host Alaska on Tuesday and Friday and play at Bakersfield on Saturday and at Stockton on Sunday.
* Ontario had back-to-back sellout crowds of 9,644 on Saturday and Sunday.
* Bud Holloway (6g-5a) and Tim Kraus (2g-9a) lead the team in March with 11 points each.
* Ontario plays at Idaho on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
* Thunder are 2-2 in overtime and 3-0 in shootouts since Matt Thomas became head coach on Dec. 29, 2008.
* Ryan Huddy has a team record 32 goals and 63 points, five points shy of the team record.
* Thunder host Victoria on Tuesday and Saturday, Utah on Friday and Las Vegas on Sunday.
National Conference - West Division
* Alaska is 4-1-0 in their last five road games and 14-15-2 overall on the road.
* Jean-Philippe Lamoureux leads the ECHL with 30 wins, seven shutouts and a goals-against average of 2.31.
* Alaska plays at Las Vegas on Tuesday and Friday and at Phoenix on Saturday.
* Brandon Svendsen has four assists and six points in his first four professional games.
* Bryan McGregor has seven points (5g-2a) in his last two games.
* Steelheads host Ontario on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
* Phoenix set a team record with their 28th win on Saturday.
* Daniel Sisca has 15 points (6g-9a) in his last 13 games.
* Phoenix plays at Utah on Tuesday and Wednesday and hosts Alaska on Saturday.
* Grizzlies are 3-0-1 in their last four home games and 13-10-9 overall at home.
* Tom May has five goals in his last two games including career-high four goals on Thursday.
* Grizzlies host Phoenix on Tuesday and Wednesday and play at Stockton on Friday.
Victoria Salmon Kings
* Victoria clinched a Kelly Cup Playoff berth for the third time and faser than the previous two seasons.
* Brady Leavold has four goals and four points in his last five games.
* Victoria plays at Stockton on Tuesday and Saturday and at Bakersfield on Wednesday and Friday.
ECHL Record Book Look
Most Power-Play Goals, Season
27 - Colin Ward, Nashville, 1995-96
26 - Kevin Baker, Florida, 2008-09
- Andrew Williamson, Toledo, 1999-2000
- Darren Colbourne, Dayton, 1991-92
25 - Darren Colbourne, Richmond, 1993-94
24 - five times, most recent; Don Parsons, Louisiana, 1997-98
Most Shutouts By Goaltender, Season
7 - Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, Alaska, 2008-09
- Frederic Cloutier, Louisiana, 2001-02
- David Brumby, Jackson, 1999-2000
- Maxime Gingras, Richmond, 1998-99
6 - Alfie Michaud, Peoria, 2004-05
- Matthew Yeats, Texas, 2006-07
Most Shutouts, One Season
11 - Wheeling Nailers, 2003-04
10 - Wheeling Nailers, 2004-05
- Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies, 2003-04
- Louisiana IceGators, 2001-02
9 - four times, most recent; Alaska Aces, 2008-09
Most Ties, One Season
18 - Mobile Mysticks, 2001-02
16 - Utah Grizzlies, 2008-09
Johnstown Chiefs, 2005-06
15 - South Carolina Stingrays, 2005-06
14 - seven times, most recent; Las Vegas Wranglers, 2006-07