ECHL Playoff Summary

By Parker Neale

Kelly Cup Playoffs

The race for the Kelly Cup has definitely heated up. Here is a brief recap of the series results to this point.

In the Southern Conference, a Wild Card Round was held to determine who would occupy the number 7 and 8 seeds for the quarterfinals. Subsequently, New Orleans toppled Augusta and Arkansas ousted Baton Rouge in two tight one-goal contests. These two victors then moved on to the Conference Quarterfinals where South Carolina rolled over Arkansas 3-1 and New Orleans lost a hard-fought battle to Louisiana 3-2. The other two series also went the distance as Mobile upset the number 3 seed Jackson and Pee Dee had a minor upset over Florida.

No Wild Card Round was needed in the Northern Conference. Therefore, teams jumped directly into the Conference Quarterfinals and their best-of-five series. Trenton had little trouble dispatching Johnstown 3-1. After losing the first game at home, Peoria dominated Richmond the rest of the series, outscoring them 11-3 in the remaining three games. Dayton ousted Charlotte in a series where three of the five games went into overtime. And, Toledo was stretched to the limit against Roanoke yet prevailed 5-2 in the fifth game.

The Conference Semifinals are now well underway with a best-of-five format again being employed. In the Southern Conference, top-seed South Carolina is tied 1-1 with sixth seed Mobile. Dave Seitz leads the way for the Stingrays offensively with 15 points in only 6 games while Jason Elders of Mobile counters with 10 points of his own. The second game of this series was extended into overtime before Mobile was able to even it up.
In the other series, Louisiana has outscored Pee Dee 10-4 to take a 2-0 series lead. Shawn McNeil, Corey Neilson, Jay Murphy and John Spoltore lead Louisiana’s intimidating offence while Ryan Petz and Peter Geronazzo counter for the Pride. Pee Dee must find a way to right their ship in a hurry and improved special teams may be the answer as they have surrendered 8 power play goals in 7 games through the playoffs thus far.

In the Northern Conference, Trenton has rolled over Toledo thus far, outscoring them 10-2 in the first two games. This series could be over tonight unless Toledo can receive a spark from their hometown fans. The keys to the Titan’s success are a balanced attack and stellar goaltending from Scott Stirling, who has allowed only 9 goals against in 6 games.

In the other series, Peoria have already advanced to the Conference Finals after dumping Dayton 3-0. The Rivermen also rely on a balanced attack and seem to be hungry to repeat as Kelly Cup champions. Their special teams have been effective and goaltender Curtis Sanford has sparkled.

While the Southern Conference is still fairly wide open, it appears as though Trenton and Peoria are ready to take part in a rematch of last year’s Northern Conference Final. Look for the winner of this tilt to be the favorite in the Kelly Cup Final unless these two teams tire each other out in what should be a physical affair.