7 Postseason Berths Remain, 11 Teams Still In Contention
PRINCETON, N.J. – As Wheeling, Columbia, Louisiana and San Diego try to secure division titles, 11 other teams continue to battle for the remaining seven berths in the 2004 Kelly Cup Playoffs.
With a win or a regulation loss by Atlantic City, Wheeling will win its first division title since 1994-95 and also will clinch the Eastern Conference regular season title. The Nailers host Johnstown on Friday and Reading on Saturday while Atlantic City plays at Toledo on Friday and Saturday.
Columbia needs a win or a regulation loss by Greensboro to win its second straight division title. The Inferno hosts South Carolina on Friday and travel to Charlotte on Saturday for the Checkers final regular season home game. Charlotte needs a win against Florence on Friday to keep its postseason hopes alive.
Needing five points to win the Pacific Division, San Diego plays at Idaho on Friday and Saturday. The Gulls lead the division with 96 points, eight points ahead of Las Vegas which leads Idaho by four points. Las Vegas, which needs nine points to secure second place in the division, hosts Fresno on Friday and Bakersfield on Saturday.
Trenton, Reading Remain Tied In Battle For Final Northern Division Berth
Reading and Trenton begin the weekend with 77 points each and are tied for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Northern Division. The first tiebreaker used in determining a berth in the postseason is wins while the second is head-to-head points. Trenton is 35-25-7 and had nine points (6-3-3) against Reading. Reading is 34-24-9 and had 12 points (6-3-0) against Trenton.
Trenton has not missed the postseason in each of its first four seasons while Reading is looking to make the playoffs for the first time in its three-year history.
Trenton hosts Greensboro on Friday and travels to Johnstown while Reading plays at Cincinnati on Friday and travels to Wheeling on Saturday.
Johnstown and Atlantic City are tied for third place in the Northern Division with 88 points, three points behind second-place Peoria. The defending Kelly Cup Champion, Atlantic City, has three games in hand on Peoria and two games in hand on Johnstown. Atlantic City plays at Toledo on Friday and Saturday while Peoria hosts Dayton on Friday and Saturday. Johnstown plays at Wheeling on Friday and hosts Trenton on Saturday.
The fourth-place finisher and fifth-place finisher in the Northern Division will meet in a Wild Card Game on April 5 with the winner advancing to meet the first-place finisher in the Northern Division Semifinals.
The best-of-five division semifinals will be played April 6-15 while the best-of-five division finals are scheduled to be played April 16-25. The best-of-five conference finals will be played April 27-May 8 with the best-of-seven Kelly Cup Finals scheduled for May 10-23.
Columbus, Gwinnett, Pensacola, Mississippi Compete For Three Spots In Central Division
Looking to advance to the postseason for the first time in its three ECHL seasons, Columbus begins the weekend with 77 points and is four points out of the final playoff spot in the Central Division. The Cottonmouths play at Pensacola on Friday and host South Carolina on Saturday.
Pensacola and Gwinnett are tied for third in the Central Division with 81 points and both need 11 points to secure a playoff berth. Pensacola hosts Columbus on Friday and Texas on Saturday while Gwinnett plays at Texas on Friday and at Louisiana on Saturday. Pensacola is looking to make its third consecutive postseason appearance while Gwinnett is looking to make its first playoff appearance in its first season in Georgia.
Mississippi needs a win and a regulation loss by Columbus to advance to the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the third straight season. The Sea Wolves host Central Division leader Louisiana, who needs six points to clinch the division title, on Friday.
Five Still Alive For Last Three Playoff Berths In Southern Division
A 6-4 win at Trenton on Thursday has moved Greensboro into second place with 79 points, one point ahead of third-place Florida and two points ahead of fourth-place South Carolina. The Generals, who have won three consecutive games, have a game in hand on Florida while South Carolina has a game in hand on Greensboro. In their fifth season, the Generals are looking to make their second straight appearance in the postseason after qualifying for the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the first time in 2003. Greensboro plays at Trenton on Friday.
Looking to qualify for the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the sixth time in its six-year history, Florida is in third place with 78 points, one point behind Greensboro, one point ahead of South Carolina and four points ahead of Roanoke. The Everblades play at Roanoke on Friday and at Greensboro on Sunday.
South Carolina holds the fourth and final playoff spot in the Southern Division with 77 points and it has a three-point lead and a game in hand on fifth-place Roanoke. The Stingrays are trying to qualify for the postseason for the 11th consecutive season, tying the ECHL record for playoff appearances. South Carolina hosts Columbia on Friday and plays at Columbus on Saturday.
Roanoke opens the weekend with 74 points and trails South Carolina by three points for the fourth and final playoff berth in the Southern Division. The Express, who have not missed the playoffs in their first 10 seasons, have won four games in a row and are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games. Roanoke hosts Florida on Friday before traveling to Greenville on Saturday.
Charlotte is in sixth place in the Southern Division with 70 points and faces a must-win situation on Friday against Florence to avoid missing the postseason for the second season in a row. The Checkers will host division leader Columbia in their final regular season home game on Saturday.