This division features two of the most complete teams in the ECHL in the Colorado Eagles and Allen Americans. Meanwhile, the race for the final playoff spot in the division is heating up between the Alaska Aces, Missouri Mavericks, and Utah Grizzlies all of whom are separated by three points heading into action this week. What does each team need to do at this deadline to secure a berth or position themselves well for next season? Let’s find out.
Overall Record: 40-15-1-3, 84 pts (1st in Mountain Division, 2nd in Western Conference)
Home Record: 22-7-0-2
Road Record: 18-8-1-1
Last 10 Games: 9-1-0-0
Greatest Need: Depth forward
Prediction for the Deadline: The Eagles lost Josh Nicholls and Jesse Mychan to Europe earlier in the season, and so far, those holes in the forward corps have been filled by Alex Belzile and Shawn St. Amant. Both Belzile and St. Amant have been recalled to AHL San Antonio. If head coach Aaron Schneekloth really felt the itch to make a move, I could see it being a depth forward, but it is likely St. Amant and Belzile rejoin the Eagles for the playoff run.
Overall Record: 37-17-3-2, 79 pts (2nd in Mountain Division, 3rd in Western Conference)
Home Record: 17-8-2-1
Road Record: 20-9-1-1
Last 10 Games: 8-1-1-0
Greatest Need: Depth Defenseman
Prediction for the Deadline: As of this writing on Wednesday morning, the Americans have 14 healthy forwards on their roster. It is hard to see all 14 sticking around past Thursday’s deadline. With Aaron Gens still out and Travis Brown getting close to returning to the lineup, Steve Martinson may turn one of those forwards around and acquire a depth defenseman. Don’t be surprised, however, if Allen is as quiet as a church mouse at the deadline.
Overall Record: 33-18-5-2, 73 pts (3rd in Mountain Division, 5th in Western Conference)
Home Record: 17-8-3-0
Road Record: 16-10-2-2
Last 10 Games: 8-2-0-0
Greatest Need: Defensive forward
Prediction for the Deadline: While Landon Bow has been a wonderful addition to the Steelheads net (runner-up for goaltender of the week twice,) and head coach Neil Graham has retrofitted the back end, there is still a need for a defensive forward up front for the Steelheads. Entering action this week, the forward corps is a collective -2 on the season. That said, I do not see the Steelheads being active at the deadline.
Overall Record: 28-20-2-6, 64 pts (4th in Mountain Division, 7th in Western Conference)
Home Record: 14-10-0-3
Road Record: 14-10-2-3
Last 10 Games: 3-5-1-1
Greatest Need: Offensive Playmaker & Defense
Prediction for the Deadline: The Alaska Aces have been without playmaking forward Peter Sivak since February 1 with a lower-body injury. Stephen Perfetto has returned to the lineup after being out for a couple of weeks with an injury. The Aces could use one more offensive playmaker, in the event that Sivak does not return to the lineup the rest of the regular season. Also, the Aces have been allowing 3.26 goals per game, so a defenseman or two could be used in the Great White North. If you’re looking for a team to root for heading into the deadline to be big “buyers,” I submit to you the Alaska Aces.
Overall Record: 27-23-2-5, 61 pts (5th in Mountain Division, 9th in Western Conference)
Home Record: 16-12-0-2
Road Record: 11-11-2-3
Last 10 Games: 6-4-0-0
Greatest Need: Defense
Prediction for the Deadline: Like other teams in the ECHL, the Mavericks have been decimated by call-ups and injuries in the last two months, but somehow, they have managed to get back in the thick of the playoff race. The Mavericks have been in scramble mode since they lost Tyler Elbrecht to Manchester to fulfill the Zach Tolkinen deal. It is likely the only help the Mavericks are likely to get from their affiliation with the Islanders is the return of Jesse Graham if and when Pat Cullity and Kane LaFranchise return to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers lineup. I think Head Coach John-Scott Dickson and General Manager Brent Thiessen will be busy at the deadline looking to make a deal for at least one defenseman.
Overall Record: 27-24-5-2, 61 pts (6th in Central Division, 10th in Western Conference)
Home Record: 16-9-3-2
Road Record: 11-15-2-0
Last 10 Games: 3-4-2-1
Greatest Need: Defensive forward
Prediction for the Deadline: Head Coach Tim Branham has rebuilt the Grizzlies defense on the fly this season, adding Martin Nemcik, Marc-Andre Levesque and Gabriel Verpaelst since their abysmal stretch in late November through December. The Grizzlies have given up 204 goals this year, and need a defensive forward to help contain the top line for the opposition. Branham has already been active this week (Verpaelst trade with Norfolk,) don’t be surprised if he isn’t active as we approach the deadline.
RAPID CITY RUSH:
Overall Record: 21-29-8-0, 50 pts (7th in Central Division, 12th in Western Conference)
Home Record: 9-16-4-0
Road Record: 12-13-4-0
Last 10 Games: 6-4-0-0
Greatest Need: Offense
Prediction for the Deadline: The Rapid City Rush are not going to make the Kelly Cup Playoffs, but if the they want to finish the season challenging with a .500 record, they need some offense. Lindsay Sparks is gone, as is Josh MacDonald, both of whom had big offensive punches in the Rush lineup. It will be curious to see how Joe Ferras and Mark DeSantis approach the deadline, do they sell bigly or do they stand pat and evaluate the roster as it’s constructed?
Please consider becoming a Patron as a way to say thanks and support us for what we do! https://www.patreon.com/thesinbinhockey