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North Division Playoff Race Deadlocked

February 28, 2005 - ECHL (ECHL) News Release

With six weeks remaining, only one point separates five teams for four Kelly Cup Playoff berths in the North Division of the National Conference. Wheeling (31-17-4) and Toledo (31-20-4) are tied for first place with 66 points while Reading (30-16-5), Atlantic City (29-17-7) and Trenton (29-17-7) are tied for third place with 65 points.

Wheeling, which is 3-0-2 in its last five games and 4-0-1 in its last five home games, will host Atlantic City on Wednesday, Johnstown on Friday and Dayton on Sunday while traveling to Reading on Saturday. The Nailers are 1-1-1 at home and 3-1-1 overall against Atlantic City and 2-0-0 at home and 3-1-0 overall against Johnstown. Wheeling is 1-1-0 at home and 4-4-0 overall against Dayton and 1-1-2 at Reading and 3-3-2 overall against the Royals, who upset the top-seeded Nailers in the Northern Division Semifinals in the 2004 Kelly Cup Playoffs.

Toledo, which was 2-1-0 at home over the weekend, will travel to Peoria on Friday and Saturday. The Storm is 3-0-0 at Peoria and 4-2-0 overall against the Rivermen. Reading, which is 4-0-1 in its last five home games, will host Johnstown on Tuesday, Dayton on Friday and Wheeling on Saturday before traveling to Johnstown on Sunday. The Royals are 3-1-0 at home and 2-2-0 at Wheeling, 2-0-0 at home and 2-2-0 overall against Johnstown and 1-0-0 at home and 4-0-0 overall against Dayton.

Atlantic City, which picked up five of a possible six points last weekend, travels to Wheeling on Wednesday before returning home to host Charlotte and Johnstown. The Bullies have won the last two games with Wheeling, both on the road, to improve to 2-0-1 at Wheeling and 2-0-3 overall against the Nailers. Atlantic City is 1-0-0 against Charlotte and 3-1-1 overall and 0-1-1 at home against Johnstown. Trenton, which is 5-2-0 in its last seven games, will host Greenville on Friday and will travel to Peoria on Sunday. The Titans, who missed the postseason for the first time in their five-year history in 2003-04, are 0-2-1 against the Rivermen, including 0-2-0 at Peoria.

Pilots Pulling Away In American Conference

Going 3-1-0 last week, Pensacola improved to 37-13-4 and remains atop the league and the South Division of the American Conference with 78 points. The Ice Pilots are 10 points ahead of Charlotte, which leads the East Division at 32-20-4, and Florida, which is in second place in the South Division at 30-16-8, for the top seed in the American Conference for the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

Entering the week, the remaining five teams in playoff position were Columbia (29-14-8), Greenville (30-20-5), South Carolina (28-19-7), Gwinnett (27-17-7) and Mississippi (27-20-4).

Because of geographical proximity in the American Conference, first-round playoff berths will be awarded to the top eight (8) teams - the first-place team in each division (based on regular-season point totals in each conference), as well as the next six-best teams (based on regular-season point totals in each conference). The two division winners will be seeded first and second (in order of points) and the next six-best teams (in order of points) will be seeded third through eighth.

Pensacola will host Texas on Friday and Mississippi on Saturday before traveling to Mississippi on Sunday. Charlotte travels to Atlantic City on Friday and hosts Greenville on Saturday while Florida, which has won its last three games, visits Mississippi on Tuesday and Louisiana on Wednesday before returning home to host Louisiana on Saturday and Sunday.

Columbia will host Augusta on Friday and Saturday while Greenville travels to Trenton on Friday and Charlotte on Saturday and South Carolina plays at Pee Dee on Saturday and hosts Texas on Sunday. Gwinnett will visit Mississippi on Friday and hosts Texas on Saturday. Mississippi is scheduled to host Florida on Tuesday, Gwinnett on Friday and Pensacola on Sunday while traveling to Pensacola on Saturday.

Trio Battle Atop The West

Going 8-0-2 in its last 10 games, Alaska has improved to 34-15-6 and moved into first place in the West Division of the National Conference with 74 points, one point ahead of Long Beach at 34-16-5. Bakersfield is in third place with 70 points and a 31-15-8 record while Fresno holds onto the fourth and final Kelly Cup Playoff berth in the division with 67 points and a 30-17-7 record.

Defending champion Idaho has won nine of its last 11 games, but remains in sixth place with 59 points, three points behind San Diego (28-20-6) and eight points behind Fresno. The Steelheads saw their seven-game winning streak and five-game road winning streaks, both team records, end on Sunday with a 3-2 loss at San Diego. Idaho will host Las Vegas on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The Steelheads have won the last four meetings with the Wranglers to improve to 5-1-0, including 2-0-0 at home.

Alaska, which is 4-0-1 in its last five home games and 18-8-4 overall at home, will host Long Beach, which is 3-0-1 in its last four road games and 17-7-3 overall on the road, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The only time the teams have met this season was in Long Beach when the Ice Dogs won 2-0 on November 12 and the Aces won 3-0 on November 13.

Bakersfield will travel to Fresno on Tuesday and after hosting San Diego on Wednesday will visit Victoria on Friday and Saturday. The Condors are 0-0-2 at Fresno and 3-1-2 overall against the Falcons and 3-0-0 at home and 5-2-1 overall against San Diego. Bakersfield lost its last two meetings at Victoria and is 1-2-0 on the road and 4-2-0 overall against the Salmon Kings.

Fresno, which is 5-0-2 in its last seven games, will host Bakersfield on Tuesday and San Diego on Friday before visiting San Diego on Saturday. The Falcons are 2-0-0 at home and 3-3-0 overall against Bakersfield and 3-0-0 at home and 4-2-1 overall against San Diego.

Phoenix Names Filion, Daigneault as Coaches

PHOENIX - The new ECHL team in Phoenix has announced that Ron Filion has been named head coach and that J.J. Daigneault will serve as assistant coach and director of player development. Owned by the investment group that owns and operates the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Rattlers and Phoenix Mercury, the team is scheduled to begin play in October at America West Arena, also operated by the investment group, bringing professional hockey to Downtown Phoenix. The 39-year-old Filion coached Cholet of the European First Division for five seasons, leading the Dogs to a league championship in 1997. Daigneault, who played 899 regular season and 99 postseason games in the National Hockey League, brings 17 years of playing experience and was a member of the 1993 Stanley Cup Champion Montreal Canadiens.

Peoria's Professional Hockey Record Penalty Kill Ends

Peoria saw its ECHL and professional hockey record of consecutive penalty kills end at 71 when Charles Linglet scored a power-play goal in the third period of Alaska's 6-4 win at Peoria on Thursday.

The Rivermen, who broke the record of 66 straight penalty kills by Mississippi in 2000-01, raised their penalty kill from 84.52 percent (142-for-168) to 88.98 percent during the streak. Peoria has successfully killed off its opponents last seven power-play opportunities and leads the ECHL in penalty killing with 88.70 percent.

ECHL Feature Games Of The Week

National Conference - North Division

Trenton at Peoria
Sunday at 3:00 p.m. CT
* Titans are tied for the fourth and final playoff spot while Peoria is eight points back in fifth place.
* Peoria is 3-0-0 against Trenton with a 0.97 goals-against average and .971 save percentage.

American Conference - East Division
Augusta at Columbia
Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET
* Lynx are 7-2-2 in their last 11 games and are 2-1-0 with two shutouts against Columbia.
* Inferno are two points behind first-place Charlotte, having played five less games.

American Conference - South Division
Gwinnett at Mississippi
Friday at 7:35 p.m. CT
* Sea Wolves are currently eighth in the conference two points behind Gwinnett.
* Mississippi leads the season series 3-1-1, winning two out of the last three.

National Conference - West Division
San Diego at Fresno
Friday at 7:00 p.m. PT
* Falcons have the fourth and final playoff seed, five points ahead of fifth-place San Diego.
* Fresno is 4-2-1 and has won three out of the last four meetings with the Gulls.

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ECHL Stories from February 28, 2005

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