Friday, March 23, 2012
1.) It Comes Down to This- Excitement is building up in the Turner Conference as all of the seeding for the playoffs is still up for grabs and there is even conceivably a chance for a four-way tie at the top. Fort Wayne leads the conference with 81 points but is 1-2-4 in their last seven games. Both Evansville and Rapid City are tied for second with 80 points and Missouri is in fourth with 78 points. Quad City is in fifth place with 74 points and in order to make the post-season will need to win their final two games and have the Mavs lose their remaining three games in regulation. The Komets host Dayton on Friday and Saturday and then finish the season on Sunday in Dayton. Evansville hosts Quad City on Friday and then finishes the season at Wichita and at Texas. The Rush have a pair of road games in Arizona and the Mavs are home to Bloomington, home to Tulsa and then finish the season at Tulsa.
2.) Killer Bees in the Driver’s Seat- The final playoff spot in the Berry Conference will come down to the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (67 points) and the Tulsa Oilers (63 points). Tulsa has three games remaining (vs. Texas, at Missouri, vs. Missouri) and the Bees have a pair of home games versus Laredo left on the slate. If Tulsa wins all three remaining games in regulation, they would have 69 points meaning that the Killer Bees would need to earn three of a possible four points in their games to win. Currently, the Oilers own the tiebreaker over the Killer Bees based on the number of non shootout wins. Whoever claims the final spot, the Bees or the Oilers, earns the honor of playing the Wichita Thunder in the opening round of the playoffs.
3.) Déjà vu- The 2011-12 season is suspiciously similar to the 2010-11 season entering the final weekend of the regular season as the Rapid City Rush are taking a very familiar path. The Rush have won five of their last six games and are 12-4-2 in their last 18 games. Last season, Rapid City finished the regular season on a four-game win streak and won seven of their last eight games. A pair of wins this weekend at Arizona would earn the same record in the team’s final eight games as last season. The opponent for Rapid City is the same as last season, the Sundogs, who they topped 4-3 and 5-2. In fact, Rapid City has won 14 straight games against the Sundogs dating back to last season. The last win for the Sundogs against the Rush was December 15, 2010. A pair of wins for Rapid City, and they have a chance to win their conference’s regular season title for the third straight season.
Inside the Numbers
1– The point difference in the chase for the Joe Burton Scoring Championship between Evansville’s Todd Robinson and Quad City’s Brandon Marino. Robinson leads the league with 90 points (23-67=90) and Marino is second with 89 points (40-49=89). Marino and the Mallards play at Evansville on Friday night and then close the season on Saturday at home against Bloomington. Robinson has Friday’s game against the Flock and then road games at Wichita and Texas on Saturday/Sunday.
On the Fly
-With their 6-5 win in Texas on Tuesday night, the Wichita Thunder (44-16-3, 91 points) won the CHL’s regular season points title for the third time in franchise history and the first time since the 1994-95 season. In both previous campaigns, the Thunder went on the win the CHL Championship (1994 and 1995). The Thunder’s season also earned some hardware for head coach Kevin McClelland who was named the CHL Coach of the Year on Thursday. McClelland becomes just the second coach to earn the honor twice joining current Arizona Sundogs head coach David Lohrei (1998 and 2000).
-Missouri’s Ed McGrane has picked a good time to catch fire notching points in 10 straight games. The veteran has three goals and 13 assists during his streak and since January 21, has scored 12 goals with 25 assists (26 games). On the season, McGrane is sixth in the CHL with 70 points (25-45=70).
-Both the Texas Brahmas (32-23-8) and the Evansville IceMen (38-21-4) head into the final weekend with playoff berths clinched but both head in on slides. The Brahmas have dropped four straight games and the IceMen are winless in their last three contests. The two teams are set to meet this weekend on Sunday in one of five games slated for the final day of the regular season. Other Sunday tilts include Laredo at Rio Grande Valley, Dayton at Fort Wayne, Wichita at Allen and Missouri at Tulsa.
-The two top teams in the Berry Conference, the Wichita Thunder and the Allen Americans, square off twice this weekend in what could be a Berry Conference Finals preview. So far this season, the Americans have gone 2-1-2 against the Thunder earning points in four of the five games so far.
-The CHL’s MVP award is going to be given on Monday with five candidates up for the honor. The finalists are Allen’s Bruce Graham, Rapid City’s Shawn Limpright, Quad City’s Brandon Marino, Wichita’s Matt Robinson and Evansville’s Todd Robinson.
-Quad City’s Jared Brown keeps his hold on the scoring lead among rookies with 65 points (26-39=65) although Tulsa’s Dylan Clarke has caught fire and now sits with 59 points (25-34=59) and his teammate Mike Ullrich has 59 points (28-31=59) as well. Clarke has two goals and four assists in his last four games and Ullrich has three goals and two assists in his last three games.
-Rio Grande Valley’s Aaron Lee is the hottest goal scorer in the CHL with eight goals over his last six games. His six-game goal scoring streak is tied for the longest in the CHL and on Saturday night when the Bees host Laredo he will have a chance to set the longest streak this season. Lee has 36 goals on the season, third in the league.