Eastern Conference Finals (Best of Seven)
#3 Kalamazoo Wings vs. #4 Wheeling Nailers
A pair of North Division rivals will meet for the right to advance to the 2011 Kelly Cup Finals when Kalamazoo hosts Wheeling in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight at Wings Stadium.
Kalamazoo is making its first appearance in the Conference Finals in just its second season in the ECHL. The K-Wings have won the North Division regular season title in each of the last two seasons.
The Nailers are making their first trip to the Conference Finals since 1998 when they fell in six games to Hampton Roads. Wheeling advanced to the Riley Cup Finals in 1993, its first season in West Virginia, where it dropped a six-game series to Toledo.
In the 2010-11 regular season, Kalamazoo was 5-3-1 against the Nailers while Wheeling was 4-5-0 against the K-Wings. Trent Daavettila led Kalamazoo against the Nailers with 12 points (4g-8a) while Andrew Fournier scored seven goals in the nine head-to-head meetings. Ryan Nie went 4-1-1 in six appearances against Wheeling posting a 2.14 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. Wheeling was led in the season series by Mickael Bedard who tallied six points (4g-2a) in six games while Kyle Bushee chipped in with five points (2g-3a) in seven games.
Kalamazoo swept Reading 4 games to 0 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. After dropping the opening game against Florida in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the K-Wings have reeled off seven consecutive wins. Rookie Justin Taylor is tied for the playoff lead with seven goals while Daavettila is tied for the playoff lead with 13 points (4g-9a).
Wheeling defeated Greenville 4 games to 3 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Nailers won Game Seven 4-3 in overtime, becoming the first team in ECHL history to win a Game Seven in overtime on the road. All seven of Wheeling’s wins in the playoffs have been by one goal, including three overtime wins. Joey Haddad is third in the playoffs with six goals while Peter Delmas leads all goaltenders in the playoffs with 289 saves.