Now that the 2017-18 season is underway, Dakota Johnson and I give you our three takeaways from the last week in the ECHL and who we would choose as the league award winners for the week.

3. And then…there were none

Seinfeld is my favorite show of all-time, there is just so much from that show that translates to today’s society. My favorite episode is called “The Contest.” I’ll save you the tedious plot summary, but the clip below was the first thing that popped in my head when I saw that every ECHL team had at least one regulation loss after Friday night’s action:

All of the streaks ended within an hour of each other Friday night. First, Reading fell 4-2 to Worcester, then South Carolina fell from the ranks of the unbeaten thanks to a three-goal comeback by the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. By the time the clock reached 10:30 Eastern Friday night, the final unbeaten team had lost. Wichita suffered a three (more like ten) minute lapse in the third period of Friday night’s game against the Allen Americans.

So, how has the final unbeaten team in the ECHL fared in the last several years? Let’s look, with the help of Joe Babik from the ECHL office:

Year Team Result
2016-17 Florida Lost in Division Finals
2015-16 Adirondack Lost in Conference Semis
2014-15 Evansville Did not make playoffs
2013-14 South Carolina Lost in Conference Quarters
2012-13 Cincinnati Lost in Conference Finals

Of the teams that qualified for the playoffs, three of the four had home-ice advantage in the first round and won at least one round of the playoffs.

Wichita is the final unbeaten (in regulation) team this season, we will be paying attention to see if they make the Kelly Cup playoffs and how far they go this season.

2. What’s Going on in Norfolk?

When the season started, most pundits eyeballed Norfolk as a team that could contend for a spot or make the Kelly Cup playoffs. While it’s still early, the returns from the Tidewater have not been positive.

Admirals goaltending have allowed the most goals per game in the ECHL — 4.6/game through their first 10 games. They have not allowed less than three goals per game at any point during the season and allowed five goals or more in half their games this season. The porous defense means that the offense is struggling to keep up, and it’s born out in their rank of 20th in goals for per game (3.1 through 10 games). The Ads also allow the third most shots per game in the ECHL, 40.80/game, while putting the third fewest on the net, an average of 28.20 per game.

Special teams-wise, the Admirals continue to be in the bottom third of the league and that will need to improve if the Admirals want to climb up the standings.

The Admirals will have to start playing tighter defense if they want to contend for a spot in the playoffs. Winning games 7-5, 6-4 on a consistent basis may get you to the tournament, but won’t keep you in it for long (see Greenville last season.)

1. “They are who we thought they were!” 

You might hear that line as part of the In the Corners podcast when Metcalf and I talk about performances that were sub-par from the last week, but for this final takeaway, this legendary Dennis Green has a different meaning:

(P.S. The best part of that rant is SportsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt saying “that’s a disappointed coach…” on the stat panel after they break away from the press conference.)

In this case, the Toledo Walleye are who we thought they were…which is a good team contending for a Brabham Cup. The Walleye are on another of their long winning streaks, now at four games, and seem to have shaken off their sluggish start to the season.

Pat Nagle was named ECHL Goalie of the Week Tuesday, after going 3-0-0 with a 2.03 goals-against average and a save percentage of .933 in three appearances last week. He has appeared in eight games this season and leads the ECHL with six wins while ranking second with a 1.97 goals-against average and tied for ninth with a .931 save percentage.

During their four-game winning streak, the Walleye have outscored the opposition 15-8 and have not allowed more than two goals in any game during the stretch. For the season, the Walleye defense and goaltending have allowed three or more goals in a game just three times.

Offensively, second-year forward Christian Hilbrich leads the fish in points with nine (4G, 5A) and we have yet to see high-scoring offensive players like Tyler BarnesShane Berschbach, and Darian Dziurzynski start collecting points in bunches. Once that happens, Toledo may run away and hide from the rest of the Central Division, much like last season.

Time to hand out some virtual “hardware!”

If we were given award ballots, here are our choices for the league’s major weekly awards:

Harding’s Awards

Goalie of the Week – Pat Nagle (TOL): See above for stats this week

Player of the Week – Reid Gardner (WHL): The Nailers rookie forward is continuing his torrid pace to the season, collecting another five points (3G, 2A) this weekend against Cincinnati & Indy. Gardner has an eight-game point-streak where he has collected 13 points.

Johnson’s Awards

Goalie of the Week – Pat Nagle (TOL): See above for stats this week

Player of the Week – Ryan Walters (UTAH): The Grizzlies forward is making the most of his second stint with the Grizzlies. In four games with the Grizz, Walters has piled up seven assists, including five in two games against Tulsa on November 3 & 4.

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