PRINCETON, N.J. – For only the 11th time in the 19-year history of the ECHL there will be a Game 7 on Thursday when the Dayton Bombers host the Cincinnati Cyclones at 7 p.m. ET at the Nutter Center.
In its only Game 7 appearance, Cincinnati lost 3-2 at Atlantic City in the conference finals in 2003. The Bombers, who have never played a Game 7, are trying to become only the third team ever to overcome a 3-1 deficit after winning 6-2 at Cincinnati on Monday and 3-0 on Wednesday. Cincinnati won the first two games at Dayton, 5-4 on Apr. 22 and 1-0 on Apr. 25, while the Bombers won 4-3 on the road on Apr. 27.
There were four Game 7s in the 2006 Kelly Cup Playoffs and the home team won every one to improve to 8-2. One of the winners last year was the Las Vegas Wranglers who beat Idaho 6-2 in Game 7 of the division semifinals to become only the second team in history to overcome a 3-1 deficit, joining Mississippi which beat Richmond 4-3 in double overtime in Game 7 to win the Kelly Cup in 1999. The Trenton Titans are the last road team to win Game 7 beating the Alaska Aces 2-0 in the conference finals in 2005. The only other team to win Game 7 on the road is the Carolina Thunderbirds who beat the Johnstown Chiefs 7-4 in the first ECHL championship in 1989.
Making its first postseason appearance since advancing to the Kelly Cup Finals in 2002, Dayton was 37-26-9 and finished first in the North Division with 83 points, a 37-point improvement over 2005-06. Cincinnati, which had a voluntary suspension for each of the last two seasons, was 37-29-6 and finished third in the division to reach the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the third time since relocating in 2001-02. The Cyclones advanced to the conference finals in 2003 before losing in Game 7 to eventual Kelly Cup champion Atlantic City.
The winner on Thursday will advance to meet the winner of the South Division Finals in the best-of-seven American Conference Finals scheduled for May 7-19. Florida leads Texas three games to two in the South Division Finals with Game 6 scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday at Germain Arena in Estero, Fla. The National Conference Finals begin on Monday when the defending Kelly Cup Champion Alaska Aces host the 2004 Kelly Cup Champion Idaho Steelheads in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
Paul Kelly leads the Bombers with six goals, nine points and a plus-minus rating of +11 in six postseason games against Cincinnati while Sam Ftorek leads the Cyclones with five assists and seven points in five postseason games against Dayton.
Dayton’s Adam Berkhoel made 32 saves on Wednesday for his league-leading third shutout of the postseason. He is 3-3 with a goals-against average of 2.70 and a save percentage of .911 in six postseason games against Cincinnati and 6-3 overall and sixth in the Kelly Cup Playoffs with a goals-against average of 2.13 and a save percentage of .925. Voted by league coaches as the ECHL Goaltender of the Year, Berkhoel was 5-3-1 with two shutouts and a goals-against average of 2.08 in nine regular-season games against the Cyclones.
Cincinnati’s Cedrick Desjardins is 3-3 with a goals-against average of 3.35 and a save percentage of .892 in six postseason games against Dayton and 6-3 overall and tied for second with two shutouts and has a goals-against average of 2.68 and a save percentage of .919. Desjardins, who was named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team and who finished third in voting for ECHL Rookie of the Year, was 4-4-0 with two shutouts and a goals-against average of 2.23 in eight regular season games against the Bombers.
It is the third time that Dayton and Cincinnati, who are located 62 miles from each other, have met in the ECHL postseason. On their way to a berth in the 2002 Kelly Cup Finals, which was also their last postseason appearance, the Bombers swept the Cyclones in the division semifinals. In the other meeting between the cities, Cincinnati beat Dayton in three games in the first round of the 1992 Riley Cup Playoffs.
Dayton won the last regular season meeting 3-2 at Cincinnati on Apr. 5 and the Bombers were 3-2-1 on the road and 5-5-2 overall against the Cyclones in 2006-07. Cincinnati won the last meeting at Dayton 3-2 on Mar. 18 and the Cyclones were 4-2-0 on the road and 7-4-1 overall against the Bombers in the regular season.
Yannick Tifu led Dayton with eight assists and 11 points and tied for the team lead with three goals in 10 regular season games against Cincinnati. Jason Deitsch led Cincinnati with seven goals, four power-play goals and two shorthand goals and 10 points in 11 regular season games against Dayton.
Since becoming a national league in 2003-04, the ECHL has seen its Kelly Cup Champion come from Alaska with the Aces in 2006, New Jersey with the Trenton Titans in 2005 and Idaho with the Steelheads in 2004.
Broadcasting the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the fourth year in a row is B2 Networks, the “Official Broadband Broadcast Provider of the ECHL”. Fans can access the B2 Networks broadcast from the scores page on ECHL.com.