The top three teams in the Eastern Conference standings meet head-to-head a total of three times this week in match-ups that could go a long way in determining who earns the number one seed in the conference for the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Entering the week, the defending Kelly Cup champion Reading Royals lead the conference with 87 points, but will play the two teams directly behind them in the standings in each of their three games this week. The Royals, who have gone 27-9-2 since Jan. 8, host Orlando on Wednesday and Kalamazoo on Friday and Saturday.
The Solar Bears are tied with South Carolina for first place in the South Division with 84 points, and are three points behind Reading. After Wednesday’s game in Reading, Orlando visits Elmira on Friday and Wheeling on Saturday before ending the season with three home games next week. The Amway Center has been tough on opponents this season as the Solar Bears have posted a 13-2-2 record in their last 17 games at home.
Kalamazoo has 85 points, and is two points behind Reading. The K-Wings began a season-long six-game road trip on Sunday, and will visit Elmira on Wednesday before their two-game showdown in Reading this weekend.
The race for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference remains tight as just seven points separate four teams with two weeks remaining in the season. Wheeling enters this week in seventh place with 76 points. The Nailers have a busy week ahead with four games – hosting Toledo on Tuesday and Wednesday, Evansville on Friday and Orlando on Saturday.
Fort Wayne currently owns the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference with 74 points. The Komets also have four games ahead of them this week with a pair of home games against Cincinnati (Wednesday and Saturday), a game at Toledo on Friday and a match-up at home against the Walleye on Sunday.
Florida trails Fort Wayne by two points for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Everblades play their final six games at home, with three games against South Carolina this week. Evansville, which plays its final five games on the road, is five points out of the final playoff spot. The IceMen are at Cincinnati on Thursday, Wheeling on Friday and Elmira on Saturday.