American Conference Races Tight With Three Weeks Left
PRINCETON, N.J. – Six games in the next 72 hours can help to clear up the Kelly Cup Playoffs picture in the American Conference where all seven teams in the North and seven of eight teams in the South are still mathematically alive in the postseason race.
In the North Division only seven points separate the top five teams and all seven teams are still alive in the battle for five postseason spots, awarded to the first-place team and the next four-best teams based on regular-season point totals. The fourth seed and the fifth seed will play a best-of-three series in the Division Quarterfinals with the winner advancing to meet the division winner in the Division Semifinals, a best-of-five series that also had the second seed playing the third seed.
Here are some of the key American Conference match-ups in the next three days:
Toledo at Dayton on Tuesday and Dayton at Toledo on Wednesday
Currently tied for second place in the North Division with 68 points, Dayton (31-22-6) and Toledo (33-26-2) play a home-and-home series on Tuesday at the Nutter Center and Wednesday at the Toledo Sports Arena. The teams have already played eight times and will meet two more times before season’s end on Apr. 6 at Toledo and Apr. 7 at Dayton. Dayton won the last meeting 6-2 on Feb. 27 to improve to 3-1-0 at home and 3-4-1 overall against the Storm, who are 4-0-0 at home and 5-3-0 overall against the Bombers.
Wheeling at Cincinnati on Tuesday
Wheeling will try to keep its postseason hopes alive on Tuesday when it visits North Division leader Cincinnati. The Nailers are 25-31-6 and 10 points behind Reading for the fifth and final playoff spot while the Cyclones are 34-23-5 and have a five-point lead over Toledo and Dayton. Cincinnati is 3-2-0 at home and 4-4-0 overall against Wheeling which will host the final two games of the series on Mar. 30 and 31 at WesBanco Arena.
Charlotte at Pensacola on Tuesday
Charlotte enters Tuesday’s game at Pensacola with a chance to overtake Augusta for the fifth and last postseason berth in the South Division. The Checkers are 34-24-3 and tied with the Lynx, who are 34-26-3, for fifth place with 71 points. Pensacola won the last meeting with Charlotte to improve to 2-2-0 at home and 3-3-0 overall against the Checkers.
Johnstown at Trenton on Wednesday
Currently in fourth place with 67 points and a 31-26-5 record, Trenton hosts Johnstown, which is 26-29-6 and in sixth place with 58 points, on Wednesday. The Titans have won the last two meetings and are 7-2-2 against the Chiefs, including 4-0-1 at home.
South Carolina at Augusta on Thursday
In fourth place with 75 points and a 34-24-7 record, South Carolina will travel to Augusta on Thursday. The Lynx have won the last two meetings at home against the Stingrays, including 2-1 in overtime on Feb. 20 and are 4-4-0 overall against South Carolina. The Stingrays are 1-1-1 at Augusta and 4-2-2 overall against the Lynx, who will play South Carolina three times and Charlotte twice in their last nine games.
In the South Division, berths in the Kelly Cup Playoffs are awarded to the first-place team as well as to the next four-best teams based on regular-season point totals. The fourth seed and the fifth seed will play a best-of-three game series in the Division Quarterfinals with the winner advancing to meet the division leader in the Division Semifinals, a best-of-five series that also had the second seed playing the third seed.