By Brian Compton
NHL.com Staff Writer
It’s that time again.
After a roller-coaster regular season that saw two teams fold before Christmas and two division races decided by one point or less, the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Playoffs are set to get under way Thursday.
Leading the pack is Malcolm Cameron’s Florida Everblades, who finished with a league-best 49 wins and 103 points. Also back in the playoffs are last year’s champion, the Cincinnati Cyclones, who beat out the Trenton Devils for the North Division title by just one victory in a tiebreaker.
In the National Conference, the Alaska Aces finished with the best record at 45-24-3. They finished ahead of the Idaho Steelheads (44-24-4) for the West Division crown by just one point. Both teams completed the regular season by winning seven of their last 10 games.
Playing their first season in the ECHL, the Ontario Reign — guided by former Reading Royals coach Karl Taylor — won the Pacific Division title with 82 points (38-29-6). The only team to miss the playoffs in the National Conference was the Phoenix RoadRunners, who will not be returning to the league next season.
With that in mind, here are NHL.com ‘s first-round predictions: