A handful of Greater Trail players wrap up their American Hockey League regular seasons this weekend poised for the Calder Cup playoffs.
Warfield’s Craig Cunningham and the Springfield Falcons are the exception, however, and will vacation early this season, as the NHL Arizona Coyotes affiliate currently resides in the cellar of the Atlantic division and well out of playoff contention. Still Cunningham forged a fine season with the Falcons finishing third in scoring with 21 goals and 42 points in 58 games. The former Beaver Valley Nitehawk also played in 10 games with the Coyotes this season and netted an assist against the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 29.
The Lake Erie Monsters with Trail’s Steve McCarthy on the blueline will wrap up its weekend with a playoff spot clinched.
After signing with the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings in October, McCarthy, a former Trail Smoke Eater, played in 30 games and counted nine points before jumping to Lake Erie and the Columbus Blue Jackets affiliate in January. The 40-22-6-5 Monsters are in second place in the Central division and have three games remaining before starting their Calder Cup playoff run. However, with the Jackets out of the NHL playoff picture, McCarthy’s playing time may be compromised after Columbus bolstered the Monsters back end by assigning defencemen Justin Falk and Dean Kukan, and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo to Lake Erie for the playoff run.
Since joining the Utica Comets from the Bakersfield Condors, Montrose native Kellen Jones has made a strong impression scoring three goals and adding two assists in 18 games.
The 36-25-8-4 Comets are third in the North division. The Vancouver Canucks affiliate clinched a playoff spot last week and will face the Albany Devils in the first round of the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Connor Jones and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers are still in the heat of a playoff hunt. Currently in fourth place in the Atlantic division, the New York Islanders affiliate is two points up on the Hartford Wolf Pack and need at least two points in their final three games to secure the cross-over playoff spot in the North.
The Wolf Pack defeated the league’s regular-season champion Toronto Marlies 3-2 on Wednesday to stay in the race and will finish up their regular season with a two-game road series against the St. John’s IceCaps, who have received reinforcements from the Montreal Canadiens.
Hartford, the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers, has reached the playoffs in 14 of the past 17 seasons.
However, Bridgeport also faces a difficult end to its campaign with three games in the final three days of the regular season. The Sound Tigers close out their season against the Portland Pirates, Albany, and the Atlantic-division leading Providence Bruins this weekend.
The AHL Calder Cup Playoff begins Wednesday.