Photo via Lake Erie Monsters
-Though they have an very slim chance to make the playoffs, the Lake Erie Monsters aren’t going down without a fight. The Monsters swept the Adirondack Flames, despite being outshot 85-59 in the two games. Calvin Pickard made 82-saves throughout the weekend, while Tomas Vincour led the way offensively with a goal and assist in each game. Kenny Ryan had two goals on the weekend, while Troy Brouke had a goal and an assist. The Monsters are three points out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, but the Toronto Marlies– who hold the 8th spot now– have a game in hand.
-One team to look out for in the Eastern Conference will be the Hartford Wolf Pack. With three wins this weekend, which added to their five-game streak, the Wolf Pack are hitting their stride at the right time. Most of this could be due to the play of Yann Danis, who only allowed two goals in three games; posting a 31-save shutout Friday, saved 25 of 26 Saturday, and 30 of 31 shots on Sunday. Chris Bourque had a goal and three assists on the weekend, Dylan McIlrath had a goal and two assists, while Danny Kristo potted two goals on Friday. With the wins, the Wolf Pack overtook the Syracuse Crunch for 1st in the Northeast Division.
-In the Eastern Conference, the hottest team going into the playoffs is the Wheeling Nailers, who won three straight this weekend as they took two games from Elmira and won their last game against Brampton. Riley Brace had five assists on the weekend, with Sahir Gill being the second set-up guy with four assists, while David Gilbert had three goals to be the top goal-scorer on the weekend. In net, Franky Palazzese got the two wins over Elmira with Eric Hartzell getting the win in Brampton. Whether or not they can keep the hot streak alive against the Toledo Walleye in the first round remains to be seen; but they have the tools to have a major upset happen.
-Despite a slow start, the Indy Fuel were able to save face and barely come up short for the playoffs. They finished the season on a 4-0-0-1 clip and will have a lot to grow on from the end of the season and the last couple of months. Coach Scott Hillman worked his magic once again and was able to turn a possible trainwreck into a respectable outcome, even with all the roster changes that were made to bolster the line-up. Mac Carruth went 16-3-3 after January 17th, while Garett Bembridge and rookie Kyle Stroh were clutch for the Fuel after being acquired in two separate trades, combining for 43 goals and 42 assists in Indy.
-It’s still amazing to me that the Mississippi RiverKings won’t be hosting a game in the President’s Cup Finals due to the Landers Center having the circus there. Despite exhausting the options they had, they will be on the road in Knoxville for all three games. Whether or not this creates bad blood between the arena and team remains to be seen; the RiverKings coach Derek Landmesser reached out to the fans to explain and maybe hope to get some people to make the trip to Knoxville and to shame the Landers Center just a bit.