Idaho Back In Playoff Contention, North Race Still Close

PRINCETON, N.J. – Getting points in 16 of its last 17 games, including 11 of 12 on the road, defending Kelly Cup champion Idaho has pulled itself to within one point of Fresno for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division. The Steelheads, who are 4-0-2 on their current road trip, visit Texas on Saturday and Sunday while Fresno plays at Las Vegas on Friday. The Steelheads and Falcons will battle head-to-head next week when Idaho hosts Fresno at the Bank of America Centre on March 24-26.

The North Division on Saturday will have the top two teams meeting when Reading travels to Atlantic City. The other match-ups have Trenton playing its second straight game at Toledo and Peoria traveling to Wheeling. Atlantic City, which hosts Peoria on Friday, heads into the weekend in first place at 35-19-8 and 78 points, one point ahead of Reading in second place at 36-18-5 and 77 points. Wheeling, which hosts Johnstown on Friday, is in third place at 35-22-4 and 74 points, one point ahead of Trenton at 32-19-9 and 73 points. Toledo is one point out of the playoffs at 34-22-4 and 72 points followed by Peoria at 31-21-7 and 69 points.

Atlantic City is 2-1-0 at home and has won the last two meetings to improve to 5-2-0 against Reading. The Royals, who won the last meeting at Atlantic City, are 1-1-1 on the road and 2-3-2 overall against the Bullies. Trenton is 2-0-0 at Toledo and 5-1-0 overall against the Storm, whose only victory was 7-5 at Trenton on February 16. Toledo is 20-8-1 at home while Trenton is 1-2-1 in its last four road games and 13-11-5 overall on the road. Peoria won 5-2 at Wheeling on Sunday to improve to 1-3-0 on the road and 2-3-1 overall against the Nailers.

Florida begins the weekend needing any combination of two points from wins, overtime losses or shootout losses or Pee Dee losses to become the second team to secure a berth in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Everblades arrived in Greenville on Friday with a six-game winning streak and have won their last two road games. Greenville, however, has won the only two meetings, beating Florida 5-1 on November 24 and 3-2 on November 26 with both games in Estero.

Charlotte entered Friday’s game at Pee Dee needing any combination of five points from wins, overtime or shootout losses or Pee Dee losses to clinch a postseason spot. The Checkers begin the weekend holding the second seed in the American Conference as the leader of the East Division at 36-21-5 and 77 points, three points ahead of South Carolina at 33-20-8. Charlotte will host Gwinnett on Saturday while South Carolina will host Pee Dee. The Checkers are 2-0-0 at home and 3-2-0 overall against Gwinnett while the Stingrays, who had won their last six home games entering Friday’s game against Columbia, are 5-0-0 at home and 6-1-2 overall against Pee Dee.

Pensacola, which has already clinched its Kelly Cup Playoff berth, is 41-14-5 and leads the ECHL with 87 points, two points ahead of Alaska at 39-16-7 and 85 points. Pensacola concludes a two-game series at Augusta on Saturday while Alaska plays the second of two games at Bakersfield, which began the weekend four points behind the Aces at 36-17-9 and 81 points.

Columbia and Mississippi will be looking to improve their seed in the American Conference when the Inferno hosts the Sea Wolves, who won 6-5 in a shootout in the only meeting on February 22, on Saturday. Columbia is 31-16-10 and in fifth place in the conference with 72 points while Mississippi is 32-22-5 and tied for seventh place with Greenville at 69 points.