PRINCETON, N.J. – For the second day in a row there are 14 games scheduled in the ECHL and Saturday’s contests include 10 rematches from Friday. There are six teams separated by six points fighting for the four postseason spots in the North Division while there are still six teams still mathematically alive for the playoffs in the West Division. Wins by Columbia and South Carolina on Friday would allow them to join Charlotte, Florida and Pensacola in the American Conference postseason.
Peoria hosts Wheeling in the second game of a two-game set that has North Division playoff implications. Wheeling begins the weekend holding the fourth and final playoff berth in the division at 36-23-4 and 76 points, only one point ahead of Peoria at 34-22-7 and Toledo at 35-23-5. The Rivermen have won four of their last five games and are 11-4-0 in their last 15 games while Wheeling has lost three of its last four games and four of its last six. The Rivermen are 1-0-1 at home and 2-4-1 overall against the Nailers. Toledo, which is one point behind Wheeling for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division, travels to Dayton after hosting the Bombers on Friday. The Storm, which is 4-1-1 in its last six games, is 3-0-1 at home and 6-0-1 overall against Dayton, which won 2-1 at division-leading Reading on Thursday.
Beginning the weekend only one point behind Reading for first place in the North Division, Atlantic City hosts Johnstown on Saturday. The Boardwalk Bullies, who are 36-20-8 with 80 points, are 1-1-1 at home and 5-1-1 overall against Johnstown. Reading, which lost 2-1 at home to last-place Dayton on Thursday, travels to Trenton on Saturday. The Royals, who are 37-19-7 with 81 points, is 1-2-1 at Trenton and 3-4-2 overall against the Titans, who began the weekend 6-0-1 in their last seven home games and 19-8-4 overall at the Sovereign Bank Arena.
Traveling to Greenville on Saturday, Columbia entered the weekend needing only two points to clinch a postseason berth for the fourth straight season. The Inferno is 33-18-11 with 77 points, one point behind South Carolina for second place in the South Division and three points behind leader Charlotte with two games in hand on South Carolina and three games in hand on Charlotte. Columbia is 3-0-0 at Greenville and 6-0-1 overall against the Grrrowl. The first-place finishers in the East Division and the South Division will be seeded first and second, based on points, in the American Conference playoffs.
Charlotte, which leads the South Division at 37-22-6 and 80 points, travels to South Carolina, which is in second place in the South at 35-21-8, on Saturday. South Carolina has won the last two meetings with Charlotte to improve to 3-1-2 overall and 2-0-1 at home against the Checkers.
Long Beach, which begins the weekend in second place in the West Division, hosts San Diego, which is in sixth place and fighting to stay in the postseason race. Long Beach is 38-18-8 and 84 points, one point ahead of Bakersfield and four points behind leader Alaska. San Diego is 32-25-6 and 70 points, 10 points behind Idaho which currently holds the fourth and final playoff spot. Long Beach is 1-1-1 at home and 2-2-2 overall against San Diego.
In third place in the West Division at 37-19-9 and 83 points, Bakersfield hosts Gwinnett, which is 1-1-0 on its California road trip that concludes Sunday at San Diego. Bakersfield, is 1-2-0 in its last three home games and 19-9-3 overall at home, leads fourth-place Idaho by three points.
Playing the first of three games in three nights on Thursday, Idaho beat Fresno 5-2 to take the lead in the season series, three games to two. The defending ECHL Champion Steelheads, who are 16-1-3 in their last 20 games, are 37-21-6 with 80 points, three points ahead of Fresno for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Pensacola hopes to move another step closer to the regular season point title when it hosts Augusta on Saturday. The Ice Pilots lead the league with 93 points and 44 wins and entered Friday’s game at Augusta needing nine points to win the Brabham Cup, the trophy presented to the ECHL point champion every season since the league began in 1988-89. Pensacola, which has won the last four games with Augusta and is 3-0-0 at home and 2-0-1 at Augusta, is looking to become the 15th team in league history to reach 100 points and the sixth team in 17 seasons to win 50 games. The Ice Pilots are 22-3-1 in their last 26 games and have set team records for wins, points and road wins (22).
Playing its final regular season home game, Alaska hosts Las Vegas, which beat the Aces 3-2 in overtime Wednesday to improve to 2-0-1 at Sullivan Arena and 2-1-1 overall against Aces. Alaska, which leads the West Division at 40-17-8 and 88 points, has not lost in regulation at home since February 5 (6-0-3) and is 20-8-6 overall at home while Las Vegas is 4-1-0 in its last five road games and 16-14-4 overall on the road.
Florida, which holds the third seed in the American Conference at 38-18-9 and 85 points, hosts Victoria for the second game of a two-game series. The Everblades have won their last five home games and are 19-8-5 overall at home.
In third place in the South Division and sixth place in the conference at 34-22-6 and 74 points, Mississippi travels to Louisiana for the second game in a home and home series with the IceGators. The Sea Wolves are 1-2-0 at Louisiana and 3-3-1 overall.