Looking ahead to the upcoming Kelly Cup playoffs, we are going to discuss the top three teams we think have a chance to become Champion this season.
The Florida Everblades had a phenomonial postseason last year, going 11-0 and winning the Kelly Cup.
The Everblades went into the postseason ranked fifth in the Eastern Conference, the same as they are right now. In the finals, Florida was matched up with the Las Vegas Wranglers and won the series 4-1. They capped the finals off with a 3-2 overtime win in game five.
We must include them in the running again this season. The Everblades are stacked with talent, including two players who place in the top ten point list; Mathieu Roy is currently No. 2 in the league with 70 points, while teammate Matthew Pistilli is No. 9 with 61 points.
One problem for the team this season may be goaltending. On March 6th, Everblades goalie Pat Nagle was called up to the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL. Florida signed goaltender Jesse Deckert, who made his ECHL debut in Nagle’s place. He went 16-9 this season with the University of Manitoba. While Deckert is new to the Everblades, he has stepped up and is 3-0 in net for the team so far.
The second team we think has a pretty good chance at the championship this season is the Ontario Reign.
Last season Ontario lost in the conference quarterfinals to Idaho in five games. The team didn’t make the playoffs the two prior years, but it may be different this season for the Reign. On March 9th, Ontario clinched the Pacific Division for the third time.
The downfall for the Reign is that two of their best players were called up to the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL. Left wing Colton Yellow Horn led the league in goals when he was called up. Goalie Jean-Francois Berube had a 15-4-2 record in net when he was called up to the Monarchs. While the two losses hurt the team, Ontario has enough depth to fill them.
Ontario, like Florida, also has two players in the top ten point leaders; Kyle Kraemer is No. 6 in the league with 62 points, and C. J. Stretch is 10th with 60.
Goalie Chris Carrozzi currently ranks 19th in the league with a .887 save percentage and is 19-7-2.
The third team we think is in the running and has the best chance for the Kelly Cup is the Alaska Aces.
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Currently, Alaska leads the league in points with 98. The Aces won the cup in 2011, and still have four players from the championship team on the roster. Last year, the team was the champion of the Western Conference and the Mountain Division.
Alaska is currently on a hot streak, and has won its last seven games as of March 9th.
The team has a lot of talent throughout, including Nick Mazzolini. Mazzolini is fifth in the league for points with 64.
The Aces have nothing to worry about in front of the net, because their two goaltenders are ranked among the top five leading goalies in the league; Gerald Coleman, ranked second, is 21-4-1and has a .923 save percentage. Mark Guggenberger is ranked fourth and is 23-7-5 with a .920 save percentage.
We think Alaska will take home the cup this season because the Aces have depth in every position. They’re used to handling pressure situations and coming out on top.
While we’ve made our choices, we will have to wait and see how it all plays out.
Tell us who you think will be the Kelly Cup Champions this season!