Preview of Kelly Cup Playoffs Western Conference Finals
Western Conference Finals (Best of Seven)
#1 Alaska Aces vs. #7 Victoria Salmon Kings
While the Eastern Conference Finals matchup will not be determined until after tonight’s Game Seven between Greenville and Wheeling, the Kelly Cup Playoffs Western Conference Finals commence tonight with the Brabham Cup champion Alaska Aces hosting the Victoria Salmon Kings at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
A trip to the Conference Finals is old hat for the Aces. This year marks the fifth time in the last seven seasons that Alaska has advanced to the Conference Finals. Twice over that span, 2006 and 2009, the Aces have gone on to the Kelly Cup Finals.
This marks the Salmon Kings first-ever trip to the Conference Finals. Victoria, which began play in the ECHL as the Erie Panthers in the league’s inaugural season in 1988-89, has never advanced to the third round of the postseason until this season.
In the 2010-11 regular season, Alaska was 8-5-0 against the Salmon Kings while Victoria was 5-7-1 against the Aces. Wes Goldie led Alaska offensively in the season series with 11 goals and 19 points while goaltender Gerald Coleman went 4-0-0 with a 2.33 goals-against average. Rob Hennigar paced Victoria in the head-to-head series with 10 points (1g-9a) while David Shantz was 4-4-1 in goal with a 2.72 goals-against average.
Alaska allowed just two goals in its 4 games to 0 win over Idaho in the Western Conference Semifinals, setting an ECHL postseason record for fewest goals allowed in a four-game series. Scott Howes (2g-3a) and Goldie (1g-4a) led the Aces in the series with five points each. Goldie is tied with Mark Deazeley for fifth place on the ECHL’s all-time postseason list with 33 goals while ranking 18th all-time with 61 points. Coleman leads ECHL goaltenders in the playoffs with two shutouts, a 0.50 goals-against average and a .979 save percentage.
Victoria defeated Bakersfield 3 games to 1 in the Western Conference Quarterfinals before eliminating Utah 4 games to 0 in the Western Conference Semifinals. Hennigar leads the Salmon Kings in the playoffs with eight points (0g-8a) while Chad Painchaud leads the club with four goals. Shantz is tied for the playoff lead with seven wins while ranking third with a .940 save percentage and fourth with a 1.79 goals-against average.
Game 5 – Wednesday, May 4 at 7:05 p.m. PT at Victoria (If Necessary)
Game 6 – Saturday, May 7 at 7:15 p.m. AKT at Alaska (If Necessary)
Game 7 – Sunday, May 8 at 7:15 p.m. AKT at Alaska (If Necessary)