PRINCETON, N.J. – With only four points between first-place Atlantic City and fifth-place Toledo, there will be another shakeup in the standings as six of the eight teams in the North Division will take to the ice against each other as part of six ECHL games scheduled for St. Patrick’s Day.
Atlantic City travels to Wheeling, which despite not playing on Tuesday slipped from first place to third place following wins by Atlantic City and Reading. Atlantic City is 34-19-8 and in first place with 76 points followed by Reading at 35-18-5 and 75 points and Wheeling at 35-21-4 and 74 points. Atlantic City, which won 1-0 in overtime at Dayton on Tuesday, has won the last three times at Wheeling to improve to 3-0-1 on the road and 3-0-4 overall against the Nailers.
Reading, which beat Peoria 3-1 on Tuesday, concludes a four-game home stand when it hosts Dayton. The Royals are 2-1-0 at home and 5-1-0 overall against Dayton. Reading goaltender Barry Brust is 5-0-0 with two shutouts and a 0.60 goals-against average in his last five starts and is 8-0-1 with a 0.78 goals-against average in his last 10 appearances.
Peoria, which is in sixth place at 30-21-7 and 67 points, will visit Johnstown, which will be looking to end its team-record 11-game winless streak (0-8-3). The Rivermen are 1-3-0 on their current seven-game road trip and 11-14-2 overall on the road. Peoria won the last meeting to improve to 1-2-0 at Johnstown and 2-2-1 overall against the Chiefs.
In ninth place and eight points out of the final playoff berth in the American Conference, Pee Dee can gain ground when it hosts Greenville, which is the team currently in the eighth spot. The Grrrowl are 31-23-5 and have 67 points after finishing in last place in 2003-04 with 33 points and a 14-53-5 record. The 34-point turnaround ties Greenville with Jacksonville for eighth place on the ECHL list for Top 10 single-season point increases. The Grrrowl needs only one more point to move into a tie for seventh place with their own 35-point turnaround from 1998-99 to 1999-2000.
Idaho and Louisiana will meet for the second time in two nights as the defending Kelly Cup Champions continue to battle for a berth in the postseason. Following a 3-2 shootout loss at Mississippi on Tuesday, the Steelheads were 32-21-6 and five points behind Fresno, which has played two more games than Idaho, for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division of the National Conference. Idaho is 2-0-2 on its current eight-game road trip that will conclude Saturday and Sunday at Texas.
The sixth game on Thursday will have Victoria, looking for its first road win since November 21, traveling to Texas, which has not won at home since January 23. Winless in its last nine home games (0-6-3), Texas is 4-18-6 at home having won back-to-back home games only one time, January 22 and 23 against Augusta. Concluding its inaugural season with 12 road games, Victoria is winless in an ECHL season-high 14 consecutive road games (0-11-3) and 3-19-3 overall on the road. The Salmon Kings set the ECHL record for consecutive games without a win (20 games from December 31 to February 5) and have the longest home winless streak in the league (12 games from December 31 to February 5).