ECHL BLOG, SIX PACKS ON ICE: Three Teams Clinch Playoff Spots
The race in the Western Conference of the ECHL is heating up as the season comes to a close with three teams having clinched a playoff spot in the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
The Ontario Reign was the first team to secure a playoff berth on Feb. 8 by claiming the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Division with a 4-3 shootout win against the San Francisco Bulls.The Reign are currently second in the league with a record of 35-12-3-2 and has 75 points despite losing some impact players this month, including Colton Yellow Horn and Jean-Francois Berube.
Yellow Horn was called up to the AHL on Feb. 7. The left wing led the ECHL in points with 58 and had 36 goals in 48 games. Check out one of his goals here.
Berube left the team for the second time this season when he was called up to the AHL on Feb. 6. The goalie played in 22 games for the Reign and had 523 saves and a .910 save percentage. He was 15-4-1-1 during the season. While Berube and Yellow Horn are gone, other players on the Reign are going to have to step up.
C.J. Stretch has played 52 games for Ontario. He had 26 goals and 54 points for the team, recording two goals in the last three games.
Dan DaSilva has recently returned to the roster after being on IR for 21 games. During his first game back on Feb. 16 against the Idaho Steelheads, DaSilva scored the first goal of the night.
Unfortunately for the Reign, the team lost the game against the Steelheads 4-2, which is the third consecutive loss for Ontario.
The Reign lost to Stockton 2-1 in overtime on Feb. 15. The team lost 4-3 in overtime against Las Vegas on Feb. 9.
The Alaska Aces clinched a spot in the Kelly Cup Playoffs one day after the Reign when they achieved the No. 1 spot in the Mountain Division with a 3-2 shootout win against Stockton on Feb. 9. The spot was the quickest clinch for the Aces in team history. The team now leads its division with 78 points and a 36-11-2-4 record.
The Aces have the league’s No. 3 goalie in Mark Guggenberger, and the No. 4 goalie in Gerald Coleman. Guggenberger has played in 30 games for the Aces and has recorded 788 saves. He has a .914 save percentage and is 18-6-2-3 this season. Coleman has played 22 games and has 582 saves. He also has a .914 save percentage, but is 17-4-0-1 so far.
Nick Mazzolini leads the Aces with 48 points. The center has appeared in 51 games and has scored 28 goals.
The Aces went on a three-game winning streak on Feb. 8-Feb. 10 against Stockton.The streak ended in a 3-2 shootout loss against Utah on Feb. 15. The Aces defeated the Grizzlies 6-2 the following night.
The final team to clinch the playoffs so far is the Idaho Steelheads, who are 33-15-1-4 and have 71 points. The Steelheads made certain the team would see the postseason with a 4-2 win against Ontario on Feb. 16. Idaho broke a two-game losing streak with the victory. The Steelheads lost 4-2 against Las Vegas on Feb. 15, and 6-3 to San Francisco on Feb. 13.
The Steelheads have dealt with their share of call-ups this season. Justin Dowling led the team with 46 points and 13 goals before he was sent to the AHL on Jan. 7. Austin Fyten had 40 points and 14 goals before he left on Feb. 1 for the AHL.
While the Steelheads have lost some players, others are making their presence known.Tristan King has recorded 37 points in 35 games, and had 18 goals. Sam Carrick has 35 points and has scored 15 goals for the team.
The intensity level in the Western Conference will continue to increase while the teams fight for every point to make sure they earn one of the five remaining slots for the Kelly Cup playoffs.
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