West Division Is Tight Three-Team Race

By Brian Compton
NHL.com Staff Writer

Three teams. Two points.

That’s what separates the Victoria Salmon Kings, Idaho Steelheads and Alaska Aces in the West Division standings. If you ask Steelheads forward Lance Galbraith, the Kelly Cup Playoffs already have begun.

“Every game’s a battle,” Galbraith told NHL.com. “Every team’s playing every game like it’s their last. No game has been an easy one, especially being the champions from last year. Every team is gunning for us.”

Idaho and Victoria have been in a hotly contested divisional battle for the past few months, while Alaska has won seven of its last 10 games to jump in the mix. While the Salmon Kings have a game in hand on the Aces and two on the Steelheads, it’s a possibility the division crown won’t be decided until next Saturday — the final day of the ECHL’s regular season.

“They’re on fire,” Galbraith said of the Aces. “They weren’t playing that great, but I guess every team goes through that. They’ve turned it around. It looks like they’re getting guys sent down from (AHL) Peoria that are helping them out. Having a Josh Soares on your team doesn’t hurt, either.”

While Idaho coach Derek Laxdal is more concerned with making sure his team is prepared for the postseason, he understands the importance of home-ice advantage.

“We went through this last year being a four-seed and going through the playoffs,” Laxdal said. “We’re really not worried about where we finish, but we’ve got an opportunity to make a run for it here.”

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