Las Vegas begins the week needing only one point clinch a berth in the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive year and the third time in four seasons since joining the league as an expansion team in 2003-04.
The Wranglers would join defending Kelly Cup champion Alaska which qualified for the postseason last weekend. Las Vegas leads the Pacific Division and is second in the National Conference and the ECHL with 79 points and a 33-11-13 record.
Alaska leads the league with 86 points and a 41-13-4 record, and for the second straight year was the first team to clinch a berth in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The defending Brabham Cup and Kelly Cup champion Aces have reached the postseason each of their first four seasons and are looking to become the first team in ECHL history to repeat as the regular season champion. A year ago, the Aces became only the second team in history to win both the regular season point championship and the postseason championship, joining the South Carolina Stingrays who captured the Brabham Cup and the Kelly Cup in 1997.
In the National Conference, playoff berths will be awarded to the first-place team in each division as well as to the next six-best teams, based on regular-season point totals, and all playoff series will be best-of-seven games. In the Conference Quarterfinals, which will be best-of-seven game series, the division winners will be seeded first and second in order of points and the next six-best teams will be seeded third through eighth in order of points. In the Conference Semifinals and the Conference Finals, teams will be re-seeded according to the same criteria as the Conference Quarterfinals with division leaders seeded first and second while the remaining teams will be seeded in order of regular-season points.
Bakersfield is in second place in the West and third in the National Conference and the league with 76 points and a 33-13-10 record. The Condors were 2-0-2 last week including a win at Alaska on Sunday that ended the Aces’ team record 14-game home winning streak. Bakersfield remains on the road this week traveling to Utah on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Victoria holds the eighth and final spot in the National Conference with 53 points (26-31-1), which is six points ahead of Long Beach (22-31-3) and Utah (21-31-5) who each have 47 points. The Salmon Kings have not advanced to the Kelly Cup Playoffs each of their first two seasons. The Ice Dogs have reached the postseason each of the last two years after missing the playoffs their first season while the Grizzlies are looking for their second straight trip. Victoria, which is 6-2-0 in its last eight games, plays at Stockton on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Long Beach, which is 3-1-0 in its last four games, travels to Alaska for games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday while Utah hosts Bakersfield on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Idaho is second in the West Division and fourth in the conference with 67 points (31-19-5) while Fresno is third in the Pacific Division and fifth in the conference with 65 points (30-21-5). The Steelheads have reached the postseason each of their first three seasons and in 2004 became only the second expansion team in league history and the first since 1990 to win the Kelly Cup. The Steelheads play at Las Vegas on Tuesday before hosting Fresno on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Falcons reached the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the first time a year ago and advanced to the National Conference Finals before losing in double overtime in Game 7 at Alaska.
Stockton is in fourth place in the Pacific Division and sixth place in the conference with 58 points (24-21-10) while Phoenix is in third place in the West Division and seventh in the conference with 55 points (25-28-5). Both in their second season, the Thunder and RoadRunners both are looking to reach the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the first time. Stockton hosts Victoria on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday while Phoenix hosts Texas on Tuesday and Thursday.