Division, Playoff Races Start To Take Shape As Season Passes Halfway Mark
The ECHL season reached the halfway point over the weekend, and playoff and division races are starting to materialize around the league.
In the Eastern Conference, Reading sits atop the Atlantic Division with 48 points entering a Monday matinee against Trenton. The Royals, who are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games, have a five-point lead over Elmira, which has 43 points.
The closest race for first place in the ECHL is in the South Division where all four teams are within six points of the top spot. Greenville, which hosts Kalamazoo on Monday afternoon, currently sits in first place with 50 points, two more than Florida. South Carolina and Gwinnett, who meet today at The Arena at Gwinnett Center, are tied for third place with 44 points each.
Wheeling leads the North Division 42 points, three ahead of defending Kelly Cup champion Cincinnati. Third-place Kalamazoo is six points off the pace and Toledo, which has gone 6-4-0 in its last 10 games, has moved to within nine points of the division lead.
In the Eastern Conference, postseason berths will be awarded to the first-place team in each division and the next five teams in the conference, based on points. The division winners will be seeded first, second and third and will play the eighth-place finisher, the seventh-place finisher and the sixth-place finisher, respectively, while the fourth-place finisher and the fifth-place finisher will meet. The conference semifinals will have the winner of the first-place and eighth-place matchup will meet the winner of the fourth-place and fifth-place game while the winner of the second-place and seventh-place game will face the winner of the third-place and sixth-place matchup.
Cincinnati currently holds the eighth and final playoff spot with 39 points. Kalamazoo sits three back, Toledo is three points off the pace and Trenton trails the final berth by nine points.
In the Western Conference, Utah owns the top spot in the Mountain Division with 48 points, four points ahead of second-place Alaska. Meanwhile in the Pacific Division, the Las Vegas enjoys the largest lead of any first-place squad in the ECHL with 47 points, six more than Bakersfield and seven ahead of Stockton.
Postseason berths in the Western Conference will be awarded to the first-place team in each division and the next five teams in the conference, based on points. The division winner with the best record in the conference will receive a bye in the first round. The other division winner will be seeded second and meet the team that finishes seventh in the conference in the first round. The other first round matchups will be the third-place finisher in the conference against the sixth-place finisher in the conference and the fourth-place finisher in the conference against the fifth-place finisher in the conference. The conference semifinals will have the first-place finisher meeting the winner of the fourth-place and fifth-place matchup and the winner of the second-place finisher and seventh-place finisher against the winner of the third-place finisher against the sixth-place finisher.
· Justin Donati is second in the league with 47 points (11g-36a).
· Elmira is first on the penalty kill on the road at 91.4 percent (64-for-70).
· The Jackals are at Toledo on Friday and Saturday and at Kalamazoo on Sunday.
· Yannick Riendeau is on a seven-game point streak (3g-5a).
· The Royals are on a season-high five-game unbeaten streak at home (4-0-1).
· Reading hosts Trenton on Monday and is at Florida on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
· Ryan Ginand leads the league with 222 shots.
· Trenton is 9-2-0 when leading after two periods.
· The Devils play at Reading on Monday, play Wheeling in Johnstown on Friday, and host Wheeling on Saturday and Sunday (at Atlantic City).
· Scott Lehman is second among defensemen with a 16.7 percent shooting percentage.
· The Cyclones are 10-4-7 in one-goal games.
· Cincinnati hosts Wheeling on Tuesday, is at Kalamazoo on Friday, hosts the K-Wings on Saturday and travels to Toledo on Sunday.
· Kalamazoo has killed off its opponents last 13 power-play attempts.
· Sam Ftorek is two assists shy of 300 in his professional career.
· The K-Wings are at Greenville on Monday, host Cincinnati on Friday, are at Cincinnati on Saturday and host Elmira on Sunday.
· Jason Lepine has 11 points (2g-9a) in 12 games with Toledo.
· The Walleye have scored three shorthanded goals in the last three games after scoring just one in the previous 33 contests.
· Toledo hosts Elmira on Friday and Saturday and Cincinnati on Sunday.
· Nick Petersen has scored a goal in nine of the last 12 games.
· Wheeling is 16-5-1 when scoring first.
· The Nailers are at Cincinnati on Tuesday, host Trenton in Johnstown on Friday, play at Trenton on Saturday and against Trenton in Atlantic City on Sunday.
· Francis Lemieux has at least one point in seven of the last nine games (4g-6a).
· Everblades lead the league on the penalty kill at 88.9 percent (176-for-198).
· Florida hosts Reading on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
· Brandon Wong is on a six-game scoring streak (5g-4a).
· Greenville’s 134 goals are tied for second most in the league.
· The Road Warriors host Kalamazoo on Monday and South Carolina on Friday before travelling to South Carolina on Saturday and Gwinnett on Sunday.
· Michael Forney has 18 points (4g-14a) in the last 16 games.
· Andy Brandt is the only Gladiator to appear in every game this season.
· Gwinnett hosts South Carolina on Monday and Greenville on Sunday.
· Rob Ricci has 10 points (7g-3a) in his last seven games.
· South Carolina was 6-2-1 on its season-long nine-game home stand.
· The Stingrays are at Gwinnett on Monday and at Greenville on Friday before hosting the Road Warriors on Saturday.
· Alaska has outshot its opponent in 17 of the last 19 games.
· Scott Howes has at least one point in eight of his last 10 games.
· The Aces are at Las Vegas on Tuesday and host Victoria on Friday and Saturday.
· Mark Derlago is third in the league with 20 goals.
· The Steelheads lead the league on the power play at 23.3 percent (45-for-193).
· Idaho hosts Utah on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
· Kevin Deeth is fourth among rookies with 21 assists.
· Utah is tied for first on the power play on the road at 24.5 percent (26-for-106).
· The Grizzlies are at Idaho on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
· Victoria’s 114 goals are the second most in the Western Conference.
· David Shantz recorded his first shutout of the season with 29 saves in a 4-0 win at Idaho on Sunday.
· The Salmon Kings are at Alaska on Friday and Saturday.
· Pete Zingoni has six goals in his last four games.
· The Condors have won 12 of their last 15 games since Dec. 10.
· Bakersfield is at Ontario on Wednesday and at Las Vegas on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
· Joe Fallon is tied for fourth with a 2.52 goals-against average.
· Las Vegas is 14-3-3 when scoring first.
· The Wranglers host Alaska on Tuesday and Bakersfield on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
· David Walker is tied for fourth among defensemen with 17 assists.
· The Reign are 8-1-1 when leading after two periods.
· Ontario hosts Bakersfield on Wednesday, is at Stockton on Friday and Saturday and hosts Stockton on Sunday.
· Bretton Cameron has 15 points (8g-7a) in the last eight games.
· The Thunder are second in the league with an average attendance of 5,983 fans per game.
· Stockton plays at Utah on Monday, hosts Ontario on Friday and Saturday and is at Ontario on Sunday.