PRINCETON, N.J. – Entering the final weekend of the regular season, Bakersfield and Fresno continue to battle for the final playoff spot in the West Division while the fight for first place in the East Division has come down to Columbia and South Carolina.
The Condors, who currently hold the berth at 38-22-10 and 86 points, host defending Kelly Cup Champion Idaho on Friday. One of the seven expansion teams to join the ECHL in 2003-04, Bakersfield is winless in the last two games, 1-4-1 in the last six games and 2-6-1 in the last nine games. The Condors are 1-0-1 at home and 3-1-1 overall against Idaho. The Steelheads, who won the league title as an expansion team in 2003-04, have won their last five road games and are 14-0-4 in the last 18 games and 21-1-4 in the last 26 games. Idaho is 1-1-0 at Bakersfield and 2-3-0 overall against the Condors.
Fresno, which is 38-24-8 with 84 points, will host Long Beach, which beat the Falcons 7-0 on Sunday, on Friday. Fresno is 0-5-0 in its last five home games after going 20-7-2 in the first 29 games at Save Mart Center. The Falcons are 0-3-0 at home and 1-6-0 overall against Long Beach, which can clinch the second seed in the West Division with wins in its final two games.
Alaska clinched the West Division on Tuesday and it can clinch the National Conference with a victory at Las Vegas on Friday. One of seven expansion teams that joined the ECHL in 2003-04, the Aces are 2-0-0 at Las Vegas and 5-1-1 overall against the Wranglers.
Columbia leads the East at 37-21-12 and 86 points, one point ahead of South Carolina at 38-23-9 and 85 points and four points ahead of Charlotte at 38-26-6 and 82 points. Columbia plays at Florida on Friday while South Carolina visits Pee Dee and Charlotte hosts Greenville. The winner of the division will have the second seed in the American Conference Quarterfinals. Columbia is 1-0-0 at Florida, winning 4-3 in overtime on January 15, and 2-2-0 overall against the Everblades. South Carolina is 1-1-2 at Pee Dee and 7-1-2 overall against the Pride. Charlotte is 4-0-0 at home and 7-2-0 overall against Greenville.
Toledo can secure its playoff berth on Thursday with a win or an overtime/shootout loss at Reading. The Storm, who can eliminate Peoria with a win or an overtime/shootout loss on Friday, is 3-2-0 at home and 6-4-0 overall against Peoria.
Reading, which has a chance to clinch the North Division with a win against Toledo on Thursday, travels to Atlantic City on Friday. The Royals are 42-20-7 with 91 points, three points ahead of Atlantic City at 40-22-8 and 88 points and four points ahead of Trenton at 39-21-9 and 87 points. Reading is 1-1-2 at Atlantic City and 3-3-3 overall against the Boardwalk Bullies, who are 3-1-0 at home and 6-3-0 overall against the Royals.
Trenton, which returns to the playoffs after missing the postseason last season for the first time in five seasons, hosts Wheeling on Thursday and visits Johnstown on Friday. The Titans are 3-1-0 at Johnstown and 7-2-0 overall against the Chiefs.
Gwinnett is 38-24-8 with 84 points, one point behind South Carolina at 38-23-9 and Mississippi at 39-23-7. Gwinnett hosts the Stanley Cup and Augusta on Friday while Mississippi hosts Pensacola, which leads the league at 49-16-5 and 103 points. The Sea Wolves are 3-7-0 overall against the Ice Pilots, who are 4-1-0 at Mississippi and 7-2-1 overall. The Gladiators are 2-2-0 at Augusta and 3-4-1 overall against the Lynx.