PRINCETON, N.J. – Midweek games are going to help clarify the Kelly Cup Playoff picture. In the North Division only Dayton has clinched a postseason berth and six teams remain in a battle for the remaining four spots. The South Division has six teams separated by nine points contending for five playoff spots. In the National Conference there are still four teams battling for two remaining postseason spots.
Here are the key match-ups for Wednesday:
Trenton Titans at Reading Royals on Wednesday
This is the first of two remaining regular-season games between these traditional rivals with the second scheduled for Apr. 5 at Trenton. The Titans are 32-29-5 and have 69 points, which puts them two points ahead of Reading, which is 30-30-7 and currently holding the last playoff berth in the North Division. The Royals are three points in front of Johnstown and Wheeling, who each have 64 points and a 29-31-6 record. Trenton won the last meeting 5-4 on Jan. 28 and is 5-5-0 against Reading. The Royals have won the last three games at Reading to improve to 3-0-2 at home and 5-3-2 overall against Trenton. The Titans have reached the playoffs in every season but one since joining the league in 1999-2000 and won the Kelly Cup in 2005 and reached the Kelly Cup Finals in 2001. Reading is looking for its fourth consecutive trip to the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Long Beach Ice Dogs at Idaho Steelheads on Wednesday
Long Beach is still fighting for the eighth and final postseason berth in the National Conference while Idaho is battling to secure home-ice advantage for the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Long Beach is 24-38-3 and tied for ninth place with Utah with 51 points, four points behind Phoenix, while the Steelheads are 37-24-5 with 79 points, one point in front of Stockton and three points ahead of Fresno. The Ice Dogs, who are looking for their third straight Kelly Cup Playoffs appearance, won the last meeting 4-2 at Long Beach on Mar. 3, but the Steelheads lead the season series 2-1-0.
Victoria Salmon Kings at Utah Grizzlies on Wednesday
Victoria can clinch the first Kelly Cup Playoff berth in its three-year history with a win while Utah is still fighting for the eighth and final postseason spot in the National Conference. The Grizzlies are 22-37-7 and tied for ninth place with Long Beach with 51 points, four points behind Phoenix. The Salmon Kings won 4-1 at Victoria on Mar. 18 to take a 3-2-0 lead in the season series including a 1-1-0 record at Utah.
Augusta Lynx at Columbia Inferno on Wednesday
Augusta is 37-26-3 and tied for fourth place in the South Division with Charlotte (37-25-3) and South Carolina (34-24-9) with 77 points. The Lynx have won the last two meetings to improve to 3-1-1 at Columbia and 3-4-1 overall this season against the Inferno. Augusta has not made back-to-back Kelly Cup Playoff appearances since 2000 and 2001.
Phoenix RoadRunners at Bakersfield Condors on Wednesday
Phoenix currently holds onto the last postseason spot in the National Conference, four points ahead of Long Beach and Utah, while Bakersfield has secured home-ice for the first round with its shootout loss at Las Vegas on Tuesday. The Condors have won the last four meetings to improve to 2-0-0 at home and 4-0-1 overall in the season series with the RoadRunners only victory being a 3-2 overtime win at Phoenix on Feb. 23.
South Carolina Stingrays at Gwinnett Gladiators on Thursday
A win by Gwinnett would clinch a Kelly Cup Playoff berth for not only the Gladiators, but also for South Division leader Florida. The Stingrays have not missed the postseason in the 13 seasons since joining the ECHL in 1993-94 and they hold the league record for most playoff appearances and consecutive playoff appearances, including 1997 and 2001 when the Stingrays won the Kelly Cup. South Carolina is 34-24-9 and tied for fourth place with Augusta (37-26-3) and Charlotte (37-25-3) with 77 points. The Gladiators have advanced to the postseason every season since relocating to Georgia in 2003-04, reaching the Kelly Cup Finals in 2006 and the conference finals in 2004. Gwinnett has won the last the last three meetings and is 3-0-0 at home and 6-0-1 overall against the Stingrays, who won 5-4 in overtime on Nov. 7.
Pensacola Ice Pilots at Charlotte Checkers on Thursday
Charlotte is 37-25-3 and tied for fourth place in the South Division with South Carolina (34-24-9) and Augusta (37-26-3) with 77 points. The Checkers, who are 6-2-0 in their last eight games, are trying to reach the postseason three consecutive years for the first time since advancing each of its first five seasons from 1994-98. Charlotte has won the last two meetings with Pensacola and is 2-1-0 at home and 5-3-0 overall against the Ice Pilots this season.
Scores, standings and Kelly Cup Playoffs information can be found at ECHL.com.