North Division Race Gets Tighter

The race in the North Division got more interesting as only two teams picked up points last week and only eight points separate six teams battling for five berths in the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

Extending its winning streak to a season-high five games with three victories, Johnstown improved to 21-20-4 to move into fifth place with 46 points, two points ahead of Reading (19-23-6) for the North Division’s fifth and final spot in the Kelly Cup Playoffs and only six points behind leader Cincinnati (24-17-4). The Chiefs, who are scoring 4.20 goals-per game and allowing only 1.60 goals-per game during the current streak, visit Trenton on Wednesday and Cincinnati on Friday before hosting the Cyclones on Saturday and Trenton on Sunday. Johnstown is looking for its first back-to-back playoff appearance since 2001 and 2002.

In the North Division, berths in the Kelly Cup Playoffs will be 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 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. The winners will advance to the best-of-seven Division Finals with the winner advancing to the American Conference Finals to meet the winner of the South Division.

Dayton moved into third place with 48 points (22-16-4), one point in front of Toledo (23-20-1) and one point behind second-place Trenton (22-18-5). The Bombers, who are looking for their first postseason trip since advancing to the Kelly Cup Finals in 2002, host Toledo on Tuesday, Reading on Friday and Saturday and Columbia on Sunday. The Titans, who have reached the postseason six times in seven seasons, host Johnstown on Wednesday and Wheeling on Friday and Saturday before visiting the Chiefs on Sunday.

Cincinnati, which continues to lead the division with 52 points (24-17-4), will host Reading on Wednesday, Johnstown on Friday and Toledo on Sunday while visiting Johnstown on Saturday.

Toledo, which reached the conference finals a year ago, plays at Dayton on Tuesday and at Cincinnati on Sunday while hosting Columbia on Friday and Saturday. Reading, which has not missed the postseason the last three years, concludes a five-game road trip playing at Cincinnati on Wednesday and at Dayton on Friday and Saturday before hosting Wheeling on Sunday.