PRINCETON, N.J. – Six teams separated by less than 10 points continue to fight for four Kelly Cup Playoff berths in the North Division while four teams are still battling for the three remaining postseason spots in the West Division. Three points separates three teams vying for first place in the East Division and the resulting second seed in the opening round of the playoffs.
In the North Division, Atlantic City has a three-point lead over Reading and Trenton, but the Boardwalk Bullies have played three more games than the Royals and two more games than the Titans. Peoria is the current holder of the fourth and final playoff berth with 80 points, one point ahead of Toledo and two points ahead of Wheeling.
The match-ups in the North on Friday have Atlantic City hosting Peoria, Reading visiting Dayton, Toledo hosting Johnstown and Trenton traveling to Wheeling. Atlantic City is winless in the last six games against Peoria and enters Friday’s game with a 1-6-0 record against the Rivermen, including 0-3-0 at home. Losing 2-1 at home against Dayton on March 24, Reading is 6-2-0 overall and 3-0-0 at Dayton. Toledo, which is 6-2-1 in its last nine games, is 4-0-0 at home and 6-2-0 overall against Johnstown. Wheeling is 4-0-0 at home and 6-1-0 overall against Trenton, which has won five games in a row for the first time since opening the season 6-0-0.
In the West Division, Alaska has already secured a playoff berth and sits in first place with 92 points, six points ahead of Long Beach and Bakersfield. Defending ECHL Champion Idaho holds the fourth and final playoff spot at 85 points, three points ahead of Fresno. Alaska could clinch the division on Friday with a win in regulation at Long Beach combined with a regulation win by San Diego and a win by Fresno.
Friday’s games in the West with postseason ramifications have Alaska playing at Long Beach while Fresno travels to Bakersfield and Idaho hosts San Diego. Alaska has won the last two times at Long Beach and is 2-1-0 on the road and 4-1-1 overall against the Ice Dogs. Bakersfield is 3-1-0 at home and 4-2-3 overall against Fresno, which is 6-5-1 in its last 12 games. Idaho, which is 11-0-4 in its last 15 games and 18-1-4 in the last 23 games, eliminated San Diego from the postseason with a 3-1 win on Wednesday. The Steelheads are 1-0-0 at home and 2-3-0 overall against the Gulls.
All of the six games involving American Conference teams will have an effect on the postseason. Columbia, which has finished atop its division in each of the last two seasons, leads the East Division with 83 points and the Inferno has two games in hand on South Carolina, which is in second place with 82 points, and Charlotte, which is in third place with 80 points.
Columbia will host Pee Dee on Friday while South Carolina hosts Florida and Charlotte travels to Greenville. Columbia, which hosts Florida on Thursday, is 4-0-0 at home and 4-3-1 overall against Pee Dee. South Carolina, which is 9-1-0 in its last 10 home games and 9-3-0 in its last 12 games, has won the last three meetings with Florida and is 3-1-0 overall and 1-1-0 at home. In second place in the South Division and the American Conference with 87 points, Florida holds the third seed for the postseason. The Everblades are 1-0-1 at South Carolina and 1-2-1 overall against the Stingrays. Charlotte, which is 1-4-2 in its last seven games, has is 2-2-0 on the road and 6-2-0 overall against Greenville.
Pensacola has already secured the top seed in the American Conference with a league-leading 97 points. The Ice Pilots have lost back-to-back games for the first time since losing three games in a row December 31-January 4 and for only the third time all season. Pensacola hosts Texas, which beat the Ice Pilots 5-4 on Sunday, on Friday. The Ice Pilots, who are 24-5-1 in their last 30 games, are 4-0-0 at home and 6-2-0 overall against the Wildcatters.
Mississippi, which has won four games in a row and is 6-0-1 in its last seven games, has moved into a tie for fifth place in the conference with Charlotte at 80 points, two points behind South Carolina. The Sea Wolves, who have played two less games than Charlotte and South Carolina, visit longtime rival Louisiana on Friday. Mississippi has won the last two meetings with Louisiana and is 5-3-1 overall and 2-2-0 on the road against the IceGators. In seventh place in the conference, Gwinnett returns home following a 3-2-0 road trip to California to host Augusta on Friday. The Gladiators, who have lost back-to-back home games, are 1-1-1 at home and 3-3-1 overall against Augusta.