Long Beach Climbs Back Into Playoff Race
Long Beach Climbs Back Into Playoff Race
Monday, Feb. 19th, 2007
Long Beach has climbed back into the race for the National Conference’s final berth in the Kelly Cup Playoff after going 6-3-0 on a nine-game road trip, including 4-1-0 in the last five games.
The Ice Dogs are 19-27-3 and in 10th place with 41 points which is six points behind eighth-place Victoria (23-29-1) and two points in back of Utah (19-27-5). Long Beach will host league leader Alaska (36-13-3) on Friday and Saturday and Fresno (26-20-4) on Sunday. In the only meeting between Alaska and Long Beach this season the Aces won 6-3 on Jan. 19 to improve to 18-5-1 all-time against the Ice Dogs. Long Beach won its last game against Fresno 3-2 on the road in a shootout on Jan. 23, but trails 2-4-0 in the season series, including 1-1-0 at home, and is 16-12-3 all-time against the Falcons.
The Salmon Kings host Pacific Division leader Las Vegas (28-10-12) on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Looking to reach the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the first time since joining the league in 2004-05, Victoria posted its first-ever three-game sweep last week against Stockton to improve to 4-1-0 in the last five games and 9-3-0 in its last 12 games. The Salmon Kings have won their last three games against Las Vegas, including an overtime win and a shootout win, and are 3-1-0 in the season series and 4-11-2 all-time against the Wranglers.
Utah will host Idaho (27-18-4) on Monday before traveling to Idaho on Friday and Saturday. The Grizzlies are 1-1-0 at home and 1-3-1 in the season series with Idaho. The Steelheads, who are 7-2-2 in their last 11 games, are in second place in the West Division and fourth in the conference with 58 points (27-18-4) which is two points ahead of Fresno (26-20-4) and four points in front of Stockton (21-16-10).
Going 9-2-3 in its last 14 games, Las Vegas has 68 points and leads Bakersfield, which is 10-1-3 in its last 14 games, by two points for the Pacific Division lead. The Condors, who are 6-0-1 in the last seven games, play at Fresno on Monday, at Stockton on Wednesday before meeting Phoenix for the first time this season at Phoenix on Friday and at home on Saturday. Bakersfield has won the last five meetings to improve to 5-0-1 against the Falcons, including 1-0-1 at Fresno. The Condors have won their last two games against the Thunder to improve to 3-2-0, including 2-1-0 at Stockton.
Eight Points Divide Top Five Teams In North
Posting a pair of wins against Johnstown and a win against Toledo, Cincinnati improved to 27-18-4 and leads the North Division with 58 points.
Trenton is second with 53 points (24-20-5) followed by Dayton with 52 points (24-17-4), Toledo with 51 points (25-21-1) and Reading with 50 points (22-24-6).
The Cyclones play at Reading on Wednesday and at Trenton on Friday and Saturday. Cincinnati has won the last two games at Reading and is 3-1-0 on the road and 5-2-1 overall against the Royals, who are 22-24-6. Trenton won the last meeting 6-5 in overtime at Cincinnati and leads the season series with the Cyclones 3-1-0, including 1-0-0 at home.
Trenton plays at Dayton on Tuesday before hosting Cincinnati on Friday and Saturday and Wheeling on Sunday. The Titans are 2-0-0 on the road and 4-2-2 overall against the Bombers and 4-2-1 overall and 3-1-0 at home against the Nailers, who have won two of the last three games against Trenton.
Toledo heads south where it will visit Charlotte on Thursday and Augusta on Friday while Dayton hosts Trenton on Tuesday before visiting Reading on Friday and Saturday. The Bombers are 1-0-0 on the road and 3-1-0 overall against the Royals this season.
Johnstown is in sixth place with 49 points after going 6-2-1 in its last nine games to even its record at 22-22-5. The Chiefs play at Wheeling on Friday and Saturday. Johnstown won the last meeting 5-2 at home on Feb. 10 to improve to 5-3-0 against the Nailers, who are 2-1-0 at home this season against the Chiefs.
Gwinnett's Mifsud Ties ECHL Season High With 16-Game Point Streak
Scoring a goal and an assist on Feb. 18, Scott Mifsud of Gwinnett extended his scoring streak to 16 games, tying the ECHL season high set by Kevin Baker of Texas and tied by Gwinnett rookie teammate Colton Fretter.
Mifsud has 29 points (7g-22a) during his streak which began on Jan. 5 and he is second in the ECHL with 55 assists and 75 points in 48 games. Gwinnett teammate Brad Schell leads the league with 74 assists and 95 points. Schell is trying to become the first player to reach 100 points since 2002-03 when Buddy Smith of Arkansas led the league with 104 points and 74 assists and he needs 18 assists to tie the ECHL record of 93 assists set by Dan Gauthier of Knoxville in 1990-91. Schell and Mifsud are trying to become only the second set of teammates in league history to finish first and second in assists, joining Louisiana’s Ron Handy and John De Pourcq, who led the ECHL with 67 and 63 assists in 1996-97.
Baker scored in each of the first 16 games of the season and had 28 points (16g-12a) from Oct. 20-Nov. 28 while Fretter has 27 points (15g-12a) during his streak that began on Jan. 6. Fretter, who is injured but expected to return in time for the Kelly Cup Playoffs, also has a five-game goal streak (8g) and is second in the league with 35 goals and seventh with 64 points in 49 games.
The assist and point leader the last two seasons have been from Alaska. Scott Gomez had 73 assists and 86 points during the NHL lockout in 2004-05 and Alex Leavitt had 65 assists and 91 points in 2005-06. Mike Scott of Alaska was second in the league with 87 points a year ago marking the first time since 1996-97 and only the fourth time in league history that teammates have finished first and second in scoring. South Carolina’s Ed Courtenay (54g-56a) and Mike Ross (50g-60a) tied for the lead with 110 points in 1996-97. Erie’s Scott Burfoot led the league with 97 points (29g-68a) and teammate Stephane Charbonneau was second with 91 points (50g-41a) in 1994-95. Stan Drulia of Knoxville led the league with 140 points (63g-77a) and teammate Dan Gauthier was second with 134 points (41g-93a) in 1990-91.
Twelve Teams See Increase In Average Attendance Climbing
Idaho had its fourth sellout in the last five weeks with 5,119 on Feb. 17 while Johnstown had more than 5,000 for the second weekend in a row and South Carolina welcomed more than 8,000 on Feb. 18.
Johnstown raised its average to 2,475 per game which is up more than two percent from last season and South Carolina had more than 18,000 for three game as its average grew to 5,128 per game which is up 2.50 percent from last year.
Twelve of the 23 teams returning from 2005-06 have seen their average attendance increase as the league tries to raise attendance for the fourth year in a row for the first time ever. The ECHL had its largest average since 1999-2000 with 4,327 per game in 2005-06 when 13 of 22 returning teams raised attendance.
Stockton continues to lead the league with 6,978 per game which is up more than nine percent from 2005-06 when the Thunder led the league in their inaugural season. Stockton’s average is the largest since 2000-01 when Florida led the ECHL with 7,086 per game and Greenville was second with 7,015.
Trenton saw its average continue to increase after having its largest crowd of the year on Feb. 17 and Reading had its third-largest crowd of the season with 6,712 on Feb. 18. Victoria had almost 12,000 in attendance for its three-game sweep of Stockton while Bakersfield had more than 12,000 for two games to raise its average to 5,662 per game. The Condors average is up from last season as they try to increase average attendance for the fourth straight season since joining as an expansion team in 2003-04.
Toledo had its fifth crowd of more than 5,000 and raised its average to 4,207 per game which is an increase of 5.63 from a year ago while Augusta had almost 6,000 for two games to raise its average attendance for the third week in a row.
Dayton leads the league in increased attendance with 13.37 percent while Utah is second with 11.90 percent and Fresno is third with 10.45 percent. The Bombers are averaging 3,988 per game while the Grizzlies and Falcons are averaging 4,363 per game and 4,987 per game, respectively.
Welcoming almost 18,000 for three games, including its second-largest crowd of the season with 5,977 on Feb. 18, Phoenix raised its average attendance to 3,552 per game.
Wildcatters Continue Record-Setting Season, Lead South Division
Going 8-3-4 in its last 10 games and 10-5-5 in the last 15 games, Texas leads the South Division with 69 points (30-14-9) which is three points in front of Florida (31-15-2) and five points ahead of Gwinnett (29-15-6). The Wildcatters are second in the ECHL, six points behind defending Kelly Cup and Brabham Cup champion Alaska (36-13-3) and one point ahead of Pacific Division leader Las Vegas (28-10-12).
Texas, which is looking to reach the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the first time since relocating to Beaumont in 2003-04, was not able to play a year ago in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The Wildcatters had 45 points (17-44-11) in 2004-05 and 50 points (22-44-6) in 2003-04 and have already surpassed their team records for wins, home wins and road wins. Texas, which will host Stockton on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, is 4-0-4 in its last eight home games and 9-3-4 in the last 16 games.
Florida, which is 7-2-1 in its last 10 games, hosts Gwinnett on Wednesday and Friday and Augusta on Saturday. Gwinnett will play at Pensacola on Tuesday and at Florida on Wednesday and Friday before hosting South Carolina on Saturday and Pensacola on Sunday. Augusta, which is in fourth place with 60 points (29-21-2) will host South Carolina on Tuesday and Toledo on Friday before playing at Florida on Saturday.
Charlotte (27-19-3) and South Carolina (26-19-5) are tied for the South Division’s fifth and final berth in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Charlotte hosts Toledo on Thursday before playing on Friday and Sunday at South Carolina which will visit Augusta on Tuesday and Gwinnett on Saturday. The Checkers have won the last three meetings with the Stingrays and lead the season series 5-2-0 and 2-0-0 at South Carolina.
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