The Alaska Aces became the first team to qualify for the 2012 Kelly Cup Playoffs on Saturday with a 9-4 win over Bakersfield. Alaska clinched a berth in just 54 games, becoming the second quickest team to qualify for the postseason in ECHL history.
The only other team to qualify for the playoffs earlier was the Texas Wildcatters, who secured a spot after just 48 games during the 2007-08 season. The Aces edged out Louisiana for the second-quickest clinching in league history. The Ice Gators qualified for the 2002 Kelly Cup Playoffs after 56 games.
Alaska leads the league with 34 wins and 74 points, and has qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs in each of its nine seasons in the league. The Aces have won two Brabham Cups as regular-season champions, in 2006 and 2011, and both times, went on to capture the Kelly Cup as well.
Wes Goldie tallied a hat trick in Saturday’s win over Bakersfield, inching him closer to the ECHL’s all-time record for career goals. Goldie is tied for second in the league with teammate Dan Kissel with 28 goals on the season, and for his career now has 363 goals, leaving him just five shy of the all-time record held by 2009 ECHL Hall of Fame inductee Rod Taylor.
With two more goals, Goldie will also tie Taylor’s all-time record of eight 30-or-more goal season. It would also mark the sixth consecutive season of at least 30 goals for Goldie, which would tie Taylor (1992-98) and Dany Bousquet (1996-2000) for the most consecutive 30-plus goal seasons in league history.
Goldie will look to make history at home this week as the Aces host Las Vegas on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.