Bakersfield became the third team in the National Conference to secure a spot in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, joining defending champion Alaska and Las Vegas. The remaining seven teams in the conference all are still in the hunt for the final five berths.
In the National Conference, playoff berths will be awarded to the first-place team in each division as well as to the next six-best teams, based on regular-season point totals, and all playoff series will be best-of-seven games. In the Conference Quarterfinals, which will be best-of-seven game series, the division winners will be seeded first and second in order of points and the next six-best teams will be seeded third through eighth in order of points. In the Conference Semifinals and the Conference Finals, teams will be re-seeded according to the same criteria as the Conference Quarterfinals with division leaders seeded first and second while the remaining teams will be seeded in order of regular-season points.
The Condors (36-13-10) and Wranglers (34-12-14) are tied for the Pacific Division lead with 82 points which is 10 points behind Alaska (44-13-4) which leads the ECHL with 92 points. Bakersfield has reached the postseason each of the last three years while Alaska and Las Vegas have reached the postseason four times and three times, respectively.
The defending Brabham Cup and Kelly Cup champion Aces, who have been the first to clinch a berth each of the last two years, are looking to become the first team in ECHL history to repeat as regular season champion. Alaska became only the second team to win both the regular season and postseason championships in the same season in 2006 joining the South Carolina Stingrays who captured the Brabham Cup and the Kelly Cup in 1997.
Idaho is in second place in the West Division and fourth in the conference with 71 points (33-21-5) and needs only three points to reach the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the fourth straight year. In their first season in 2003-04, the Steelheads became only the second expansion team in league history and the first since 1990 to win the Kelly Cup. Idaho plays at Stockton on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and at Fresno on Saturday.
Fresno, which won two out of three games at Idaho over the weekend, is in third place in the Pacific Division and fifth in the conference with 69 points (32-22-5). The Falcons need only five points to advance to the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the second straight season after reaching the National Conference Finals a year ago before losing in double overtime in Game 7 at Alaska. Fresno plays at Las Vegas on Tuesday before hosting Alaska on Friday and Sunday and Idaho on Saturday.
Stockton is in fourth place in the Pacific Division and sixth in the conference with 64 points (27-21-10) while Victoria is in third in the West Division and seventh in the conference with 56 points (26-31-4). The Thunder in their second season and the Salmon Kings in their third season are both looking for their first trip to the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Stockton hosts Idaho on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and travels to Bakersfield on Saturday while Victoria hosts Utah on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
Phoenix holds onto the eighth and final postseason spot with 55 points (25-30-5) followed by Utah with 49 points (21-32-7) and Long Beach with 47 points (22-34-3). The RoadRunners, who did not reach the Kelly Cup Playoffs in their inaugural season in 2005-06, host Bakersfield on Tuesday and Thursday and Las Vegas on Saturday while traveling to Las Vegas on Friday. The Grizzlies play at Victoria on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday while the Ice Dogs host Bakersfield on Friday, Alaska on Saturday and Las Vegas on Sunday.