Conference Semifinals Preview
Eastern Conference Semifinals (Best of Seven)
#1 Greenville Road Warriors vs. #4 Wheeling Nailers
Greenville defeated Elmira in the Conference Quarterfinals 3 games to 1, while Wheeling got past South Carolina in the first round by the same margin. Road Warriors’ goaltender Chris Beckford-Tseu, who captured a Kelly Cup championship with Alaska in 2006, came up big against the Jackals in games 3 and 4 going 2-0-0 with one shutout, a 0.41 goals-against average and a save percentage of .978. Wheeling’s Peter Delmas started all four games in the Conference Quarterfinals going 3-1-0 with a 2.38 goals-against average and a save percentage of .908.
The Road Warriors swept the six-game regular season series against the Nailers, winning three games each at home and on the road. Jimmy Kilpatrick led Greenville against the Nailers with 11 points (2g-9a) while rookie Marc-Olivier Vallerand chipped in five goals. Jason DeSantis led active Nailers in the regular-season series with four points (0g-4a).
Game 5 – Saturday, April 23 at 7:35 p.m. ET at Wheeling (If Necessary)
Game 6 – Tuesday, April 26 at 7:35 p.m. ET at Greenville (If Necessary)
Game 7 – Wednesday, April 27 at 7:35 p.m. ET at Greenville (If Necessary)
#2 Reading Royals vs. #3 Kalamazoo Wings
Reading eliminated Cincinnati 3 games to 1 in the Conference Quarterfinals, winning two games in double overtime including the series clincher. Kalamazoo won the final three games against Florida to win its series 3 games to 1. The two squads are meeting in the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the second straight season. Reading defeated the K-Wings 3 games to 2 in the 2010 American Conference Quarterfinals.
The Royals and K-Wings met two times during the 2010-11 regular season, with each team picking up a win in a two-game series at Reading in mid-December. Both games were decided by identical 3-2 scores. Ryan Cruthers (2g-0a), Andrew Sarauer (0g-2a) and Yannick Riendeau (0g-2a) all had two points for Reading against the K-Wings while Sam Ftorek led Kalamazoo against the Royals with three points (0g-3a).
Game 5 – Saturday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Kalamazoo (If Necessary)
Game 6 – Tuesday, April 26 at 7:05 p.m. ET at Reading (If Necessary)
Game 7 – Wednesday, April 27 at 7:05 p.m. ET at Reading (If Necessary)
Western Conference Semifinals (Best of Seven)
#1 Alaska Aces vs. #5 Idaho Steelheads
Alaska, which won the Mountain Division regular season title and the Brabham Cup for having the ECHL’s best record in the regular season, earned a bye in the Conference Quarterfinals. Idaho eliminated Las Vegas 3 games to 2 in its first-round series. Either the Aces or Steelheads have represented the National/Western Conference in the Kelly Cup Finals in five of the previous seven seasons, are meeting in the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the fourth time. Idaho defeated the Aces in the 2004 Pacific Division Finals and 2007 National Conference Finals while Alaska defeated the Steelheads in the 2008 National Conference Quarterfinals.
Alaska was 7-2-0 against the Steelheads in the 2010-11 regular season while Idaho went 2-4-3 against the Aces. Five games in the season series were decided by one goal, including three which went to either overtime or a shootout. Brian Swanson (4g-4a) and Kory Falite (2g-6a) led Alaska offensively against the Steelheads with eight points each while goaltender Adam Courchaine was 4-0-0 against Idaho with a 1.96 goals-against average and a save percentage of .925. Mark Derlago led Idaho against the Aces with seven points (4g-3a) with Evan Barlow contributing six points (3g-3a).
Game 5 – Saturday, April 23 at 7:10 p.m. MT at Idaho (If Necessary)
Game 6 – Tuesday, April 26 at 7:15 p.m. AKT at Alaska (If Necessary)
Game 7 – Wednesday, April 27 at 7:15 p.m. AKT at Alaska (If Necessary)
#6 Utah Grizzlies vs. #7 Victoria Salmon Kings
Utah upended Stockton 3 games to 1 in the Conference Quarterfinals while Victoria defeated Bakersfield 3-1 in the first round. The Grizzlies and Salmon Kings are meeting in the postseason for the second time – Utah eliminated the Salmon Kings 4 games to 1 in the 2008 National Conference Semifinals.
Utah went 3-4-1 against the Salmon Kings in the regular season while Victoria was 5-2-1 agianst the Grizzlies. Hugo Carpentier (2g-3a), Matt Clarke (1g-4a) and Tom May (0g-5a) led Utah in the season series with five points each while J.P. Lamoureux posted a 2-0-0 record with a 0.88 goals-against average and a .967 save percentage against the Salmon Kings. Chad Painchaud (6g-5a) and Rob Hennigar (1g-10a) paced Victoria against the Grizzlies with 11 points each while David Shantz went 4-2-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.
Game 5 – Saturday, April 23 at 7:05 p.m. PT at Victoria (If Necessary)
Game 6 – Monday, April 25 at 7:05 p.m. MT at Utah (If Necessary)
Game 7 – Wednesday, April 27 at 7:05 p.m. MT at Utah (If Necessary)