With only five weeks remaining in the 2009-10 regular season, teams are starting their final push to the Kelly Cup Playoffs which begin in April.
While no team has officially earned a playoff berth just yet, a few of the teams are within striking distance, including the Idaho Steelheads.
Idaho is leading the National Conference with a 37-12-5 record and 79 points and could potentially become the first team to clinch a spot in the 2010 Kelly Cup Playoffs. They are only nine points away from a playoff berth and could clinch the first spot on March 12 by winning at least four of their five games between now and then and earning at least one more point in the fifth game.
The Steelheads have hoisted the Kelly Cup twice in its history. The team won the Cup during their inaugural season in the ECHL in 2004 and celebrated a second ECHL championship in 2007 after five games against the Dayton Bombers.
It took three years for Idaho to repeat as Kelly Cup Champions and it has been three years since they last won the Kelly Cup. The Steelheads are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games and are poised to make a strong push toward a third Kelly Cup championship run.
All-Star Richard Bachman and Rejean Beauchemin lead the Steelheads with their strong goaltending. Bachman is 15-5-3 with two shutouts, a goals-against average of 2.26 and a save percentage of .911 in 24 appearances for the Steelheads. He has also appeared in six games for the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League going 3-3-0 with a shutout, a 2.07 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.
Beauchemin has appeared in 31 games for the Steelheads posting a record of 21-7-2 with a shutout, a goals-against average of 2.72 and a save percentage of .890. He has also appeared in two games for the Manitoba Moose of the AHL.
Offensively, the Steelheads are lead by Mark Derlago, whose 61 points (27g-34a) not only leads Idaho but ranks him fifth among league skaters. This season, Derlago has been named ECHL Player of the Week twice and was named ECHL Player of the Month for January.
Rookie All-Star forward Evan Barlow has been one of the Steelheads’ most productive players this season. Barlow is first among ECHL rookies 13 power-play goals, second with 22 power-play assists and third with 52 points (26g-26a).
Defenseman Aaron Dawson joined Idaho on Feb. 23 and has appeared in three games for the Steelheads while registering six penalty minutes. Dawson is the grandson of ECHL Hall of Famer, Bud Gingher, who was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame during the 2010 ECHL All-Star Weekend in Ontario, Calif.
The Steelheads are on a three-game win streak that started on Feb. 13 and they will look to continue that streak this week with three games against Bakersfield on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.