Entering the final two weeks of the regular season, Wheeling has 100 points and a six-point lead over both Louisiana and San Diego in the race for the Henry Brabham Cup, the trophy awarded each season to the regular season points champion in the ECHL.
Wheeling has a game in hand on Louisiana (46-19-2) while San Diego (42-13-10) has a game in hand on Wheeling. Wheeling plays at Reading on March 23 and at Dayton on March 28 while hosting Johnstown on March 26 and Reading on March 27. Louisiana plays at Mississippi on March 26 before hosting Gwinnett on March 27 and 28. San Diego hosts Long Beach on March 23 before traveling to Idaho on March 26 and 27 and Fresno on March 29.
Qualifying for the postseason for the first time since 1997-98, Wheeling is looking for its fourth Brabham Cup, having won the trophy as the Winston-Salem Thunderbirds in 1989-90 and as the Wheeling Thunderbirds in 1992-93 and 1994-95. The Nailers have set team records with 48 wins, 100 points and 21 road wins while tying the team record for home wins with 27.
Louisiana is looking for its third Brabham Cup, having won the trophy in 1997-98 with 96 points and a 43-17-10 record and 2001-02 when the IceGators set ECHL records for points (116), winning percentage (.806), wins (56), home wins (30) and road wins (26).
Wheeling had 59 points in 2002-03 and its 41-point increase is the fourth-highest point increase from one season to the next, and only two points from tying Arkansas for the third-highest point increase (39 points in 1999-2000 to 82 points in 2000-01). The greatest single season point increase is 50 points by Knoxville (44 points in 1992-93 to 94 points in 1993-94) which broke Knoxville’s record of 49 points (48 points in 1989-90 to 97 points in 1990-91).
The Brabham Cup is named in recognition of Henry Brabham, who was a founding member of the ECHL and the first owner of the Erie Panthers. A former mayor and businessman who was a major force in professional hockey in Virginia for more than 15 years, Brabham worked tirelessly to establish the fledgling ECHL.