As the ECHL enters the penultimate week of the 2011-12 regular season, head-to-head match ups in both the Eastern and Western Conference will help decide the overall number one seed on each side for the upcoming Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Greenville hosts Gwinnett on Friday and Saturday at BI-LO Center in a pair of games that will go a long way to deciding who captures the South Division title. Entering the week, the Road Warriors trail the Gladiators by two points not only for the division lead, but also for the top overall spot in the conference. Gwinnett has won the last three head-to-head meetings against Greenville, and is 8-6-1 overall against the Road Warriors this season.
The top spot in the Western Conference, and the accompanying bye in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, will be on the line on Friday and Saturday at Citizens Business Bank Arena as Ontario hosts Alaska. The Reign lead the Pacific Division with 86 points, three more than Las Vegas. Alaska captured its sixth division title in nine ECHL seasons on Saturday, and enjoys a five-point lead over Ontario for the number one spot in the conference. In addition to the two games this weekend, the Aces and Reign close out the regular season in southern California on March 30 and 31.
Elsewhere around the league, a three-team race has developed for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Reading, Cincinnati and Chicago each have 69 points, with the Royals currently in possession of the eighth and final spot by virtue of having the most regulation and overtime wins of the three clubs. The Cyclones and Express meet three times over the final two weeks of the season, with the first head-to-head match-up on Wednesday in Cincinnati.
The Florida Everblades, who went 5-2-0 on their recently-concluded seven-game northern road trip, return home to host South Carolina for games on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The two clubs are separated by just two points in the standings with the Stingrays currently holding down the sixth spot with 77 points while the Everblades are in seventh with 75.