Western Conference Finals Preview

Western Conference Finals (Best of Seven)

Fort Wayne Komets vs. Allen Americans
Series Matchup Sheet

Fort Wayne is making its first appearance in the Conference Finals in its four ECHL seasons while Allen is the first defending Kelly Cup champion to return to the Conference Finals the following season since Alaska in 2012.

The Komets rallied from an 0-2 deficit in the Western Conference Quarterfinals to defeat Cincinnati 4 games to 3 before eliminating Utah 4 games to 0 in the Western Conference Semifinals. Fort Wayne led the ECHL in the regular season with 3.33 goals per game and the offensive attack has carried over to the postseason with a playoff-leading 3.82 goals per game. The Komets’ defense has also been stout as the team ranks second among playoff teams allowing 2.27 goals per game.

Shawn Szydlowski, who was third in the league during the regular season with 75 points and was named to the All-ECHL Second Team, is tied for the playoff lead with 15 points and is tied for second with eight goals. Teammate Garrett Thompson has also tallied eight goals while Jordon Southorn leads defensemen with 10 assists while his 10 points are fourth among blueliners. Pat Nagle has appeared in goal for every game during the playoffs and is tied for the playoff lead with eight wins while ranking fourth with a 2.06 goals-against average.

Allen has reached the Western Conference Finals with a 4 games to 3 win over Idaho in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, a series in which the Americans won both Games 6 and 7 on home ice, and a 4 games to 2 win over Brabham Cup champion Missouri in the Western Conference Semifinals. The power play has been Allen’s key to success all season as the Americans led the ECHL during the regular season at 21.1 percent and have improved that number in the Kelly Cup Playoffs with a postseason-leading 23.6 percent success rate on the man advantage.

Chad Costello, who led the ECHL in scoring during the regular season for the second consecutive season and received the League Most Valuable Player award, paces the Americans offense in the postseason with 15 points (3g-12a) which is tied for the playoff lead. Greger Hanson, who was the Most Valuable Player of the 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs, is tied for second in the playoffs with eight goals while David Makowski is tied for second among defensemen with 11 points (2g-9a). Riley Gill, who has won Kelly Cup titles with Reading in 2013 and Allen last season, leads all goaltenders in the playoffs with a .935 save percentage and is third with a 1.96 goals-against average. His win in Game 6 of the conference semifinals against Missouri was his 44th career ECHL playoff win, breaking the previous record of 43, held by 2008 ECHL Hall of Fame inductee Nick Vitucci.

The winner of the Western Conference Finals receives the Bruce Taylor Trophy. The trophy is named in recognition of Bruce Taylor, who was the founding father of the West Coast Hockey League. In the early 1990s, Taylor purchased teams in Fresno, Reno and Bakersfield and in 1995 joined them with teams in Anchorage, Fairbanks and San Diego to form the West Coast Hockey League. The Taylor Cup was presented to the playoff champion in the WCHL from the league’s inaugural season in 1995-96 until the league ceased operations following the 2002-03 season. Taylor’s ownership in hockey began in 1983 with the purchase of the Burnaby Bluehawks of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League and continued with the purchase of the Richmond Sockeyes in the BCJHL and the New Westminster Royals in the BCJHL.

Game 1 – Friday, May 13 at 8 p.m. ET at Fort Wayne
Game 2 – Sunday, May 15 at 6 p.m. ET at Fort Wayne
Game 3 – Thursday, May 19 at 7:05 p.m. CT at Allen
Game 4 – Saturday, May 21 at 7:05 p.m. CT at Allen
Game 5 – Sunday, May 22 at 4:05 p.m. CT at Allen (If Necessary)
Game 6 – Tuesday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Fort Wayne (If Necessary)
Game 7 – Thursday, May 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Fort Wayne (If Necessary)