Your Walleye continue their march toward the playoffs, and are slowly checking items off of their to do list as the season winds down. First on the list was make the playoffs, check, second was to secure home ice in the first round, check, and third on the list was to win the division for home ice in the second round. At 100 points Toledo sits firmly atop the Central Division, with second place being occupied by the Fort Wayne Komets with 86 points. Toledo has an opportunity to clinch home ice and the Central Division title tonight or this weekend, and then put their focus on getting home ice for the Conference and Kelly Cup Finals. Time to take a look at the various scenarios that give the Walleye home ice for future playoff rounds.
After playing 66 games of hockey Toledo is first in the league with 100 points, while the Fort Wayne Komets are four spots back at fifth after 65 games. With seven games remaining on Fort Wayne’s schedule, they would have to win each remaining game just to tie Toledo’s current point total. Four of their remaining seven games are against teams who have clinched a playoff spot, two against Quad City and two against Toledo, so winning out would be extremely difficult for the Komets. On top of winning out, the Komets would need Toledo to lose their last six games in regulation to force a tie in the division. Three of the Walleye’s last six games are against the Indy Fuel, which is the third worst team in the ECHL. The odds of Toledo picking up a win (or extra time loss) in at least one of those games is considerable, especially when the previous two contests against Indy ended in 4-1 and 8-1 victories. Long story short: your Walleye only need one more point, or a Fort Wayne loss, to claim the Central Division Title! Maybe next year Fort Wayne. After winning the division title Toledo will have earned home ice during the first and second round of the playoffs. Our opponent for the first round will likely be decided at seasons end, as Quad City and Kalamazoo are separated by four points with six and five games left respectively. Regardless of who we will face in the first round, Toledo will almost certainly enter as Central Division champs, but the Walleye will continue to work toward winning the Western Conference and Brabham Cup.
Four teams have a statistical chance at winning the regular season Western Conference title, but realistically speaking only three of those teams are contenders. Toledo, Colorado, Allen, and Fort Wayne are the four with a chance, but as I pointed out prior Fort Wayne must win out and needs everyone else to lose their remaining games in regulation. The odds of that happening for Fort Wayne are miniscule, so with due respect the Komets will likely not win the west. Allen, Colorado, and Toledo all have very real chances for the conference, the teams sit at 92, 95, and 100 points respectively. There are multiple scenarios for clinching the conference for all the teams, so I won’t be listing them all. I will however give the trends and requirements for clinching.
For the Allen Americans to win the conference outright they need to:
- Earn at least 10 of 12 remaining points, Toledo gains 1 or no points of 12 possible, while Colorado earns 6 or less points of 10 possible for their final games.
- As Toledo and Colorado each earn an additional point above 1 and 6, Allen must earn an additional point above 10. Example: Toledo earns 3 points and Colorado earns 8 points, Allen must gain 12 points to maintain first place.
- If Toledo or Colorado reaches 105 points Allen cannot win the conference title.
For the Colorado Eagles to win the Western Conference outright the team must:
- Earn at least 6 of remaining 10 points, Allen obtains 8 or less points of 12 possible, Toledo fails to earn anymore points
- As Toledo and Allen obtain an additional point above 0 and 8, Colorado must earn an additional point from 6. Example: If Toledo earns 3 points and Allen gains 11, then Colorado must earn 9 points for the title.
- Should Toledo earn 6 of 12 points possible, for a total of 106, Colorado cannot win the conference.
Finally, your Toledo Walleye are in the driver’s seat for the conference and can clinch by:
- Earning 6 out of 12 possible points, regardless of what Allen or Colorado does
- If Allen earns 8 of 12 possible points, and Colorado gains 5 of 10 points, Toledo needs 1 point to clinch the conference.
- As Allen and Colorado each earn an additional point above 8 and 5, Toledo must earn an additional point above 1 to win the Western Conference. Example: Allen earns 10 and Colorado earns 7, Toledo must earn 3 points.
The odds are looking good for Toledo to win the Western Conference, but it will not be a walk in the park. Although we have three games against a sub-par Indy Fuel, we also have to play Fort Wayne twice and Cincinnati once, which will be hard fought games. Don’t write off Indy either, they are still playing for pride and would love to spoil our home ice plans. As for the Brabham Cup, five teams are statistically able to win it, while the top three teams are the realistic contenders. From first to fifth in the ECHL you have: Toledo Walleye, Colorado Eagles, Allen Americans, Florida Everblades, and Fort Wayne Komets. We already know about four of those teams’ point totals and clinching scenarios, so the focus will be on the Florida Everblades. I would consider them virtually eliminated from contention for the Brabham Cup, like Fort Wayne. For Florida to finish with the best regular season record, many events need to occur:
- The Florida Everblades need to win all 6 remaining games to earn 12 points
- Allen must earn 8 or fewer of 12 possible points
- Colorado must earn 5 or fewer of 10 possible points
- Toledo must lose each remaining game in regulation/earn 0 points
After looking at all of those requirements, I think you’ll agree with me that the Everblades will most likely not be taking home the Brabham Cup. It will be a race between Allen, Colorado, and Toledo, so whoever wins the Western Conference will almost certainly win the Brabham Cup. That again leaves Toledo as the late favorite for the Brabham Cup, and likely owner of home ice throughout the playoffs.
The importance of home ice goes without saying. A packed Huntington Center is noticed by friend and foes alike, and the Walleye have drawn inspiration from our chanting crowd many times. Being able to go into these Kelly Cup Playoffs knowing Games 1 and 2 will be home in every round would be a huge advantage for the coaching staff as well. Preparation is much easier at home, brings an element of familiarity, and can help ease the nerves of the entire team. Before we can get to wrapped up in the playoff prep, we need to take care of business during these last six games. If Fort Wayne loses tonight, Toledo will clinch the Central Division and turn our focus on the Western Conference. If not, then we can clinch with a win against Indy on Friday. We will earn it one step at a time, as we continue to work toward One Goal. The Kelly Cup. Let’s Go Walleye!