The defending Kelly Cup champion Colorado Eagles will take on the Fort Wayne Komets in the 2018 Western Conference Finals.
The Eagles eliminated Wichita 4 games to 2 in the Mountain Division Semifinals before defeating Idaho 4 games to 0 in the Mountain Division Finals. Colorado has gone 5-0 on the road in the playoffs, outscoring its opponents 16-8. The Eagles are second on the penalty kill in the postseason at 91.5 percent (43-for-47).
J.C. Beaudin ranks first in the playoffs with eight goals and is tied for third with 12 points while Matt Register, the Most Valuable Player of the 2017 Kelly Cup Playoffs, is tied for first among defensemen with 10 points (0g-10a). In goal, Joe Cannata has posted an 8-2 record with two shutouts, a 2.08 goals-against average and a save percentage of .924.
Fort Wayne is appearing in the Western Conference Finals for the second time in the last three years. The Komets defeated Cincinnati 4 games to 1 in the Central Division Semifinals and Toledo 4 games to 2 in the Central Division Finals. The Komets, who led the ECHL in the regular season with 4.03 goals per game, have carried over the offensive success to the playoffs as they rank second through two rounds with 3.55 goals per game.
Gabriel Desjardins is tied for third with six goals, and scored the game-winning goal in each of the final three games of the series against Toledo. Desjardins’ 15 points leads all players in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Daniel Maggio’s four goals are tied for first among defensemen while Bobby Shea is tied for third among blueliners with three goals and tied for fourth with seven points. Michael Houser is 8-3 in his 11 appearances in goal and leads the postseason with 685 minutes played while ranking second with 307 saves.
The two clubs met once during the regular season with Fort Wayne skating away with a 4-3 win at Colorado on Nov. 8. Ryan Culkin and Zac Larazza both had a pair of assists in the win for the Komets while Ryan Harrison notched two helpers for the Eagles.
The winner of the Western Conference Finals receives the Bruce Taylor Trophy. The trophy is named in recognition of Bruce Taylor, who was the founding father of the West Coast Hockey League. In the early 1990s, Taylor purchased teams in Fresno, Reno and Bakersfield and in 1995 joined them with teams in Anchorage, Fairbanks and San Diego to form the West Coast Hockey League. The Taylor Cup was presented to the playoff champion in the WCHL from the league’s inaugural season in 1995-96 until the league ceased operations following the 2002-03 season. Taylor’s ownership in hockey began in 1983 with the purchase of the Burnaby Bluehawks of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League and continued with the purchase of the Richmond Sockeyes in the BCJHL and the New Westminster Royals in the BCJHL.
Game 1 – Saturday, May 12 at 7:05 p.m. MT at Colorado
Game 2 – Sunday, May 13 at 7:05 p.m. MT at Colorado
Game 3 – Wednesday, May 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Fort Wayne
Game 4 – Friday, May 18 at 8 p.m. ET at Fort Wayne
Game 5 – Saturday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Fort Wayne (If Necessary)
Game 6 – Tuesday, May 22 at 7:05 p.m. MT at Colorado (If Necessary)
Game 7 – Wednesday, May 23 at 7:05 p.m. MT at Colorado (If Necessary)
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