Fuel to face two new divisional foes

The Indy Fuel will have some new division foes when the 2017-18 ECHL season commences.

The Fuel will be in the Central Division with the Cincinnati Cyclones, Fort Wayne Komets, Kalamazoo Wings, Kansas City Mavericks, Quad City Mallards and Toledo Walleye.

That gives the Fuel two new divisional foes in the seven-team division.  Cincinnati moves in from the Eastern Conference’s South Division, while Kansas City moves in from the Mountain Division of the Western Conference. They replace Tulsa and Wichita, who move to the Mountain Division.

The new division alignment was foreshadowed a bit by the schedule announced in May. The Fuel will play 54 of their 72 games against Central Division teams, playing each team at least five times. The Fuel will play 11 games against Quad City, 10 each against Cincinnati and Kalamazoo and nine each against Fort Wayne and Toledo. Indy will meet Kansas City five times. Indy will play its remaining 18 games against seven non-division foes, with only Wheeling (five games) showing up on the schedule more than thrice. The Fuel will play six games against the North Division (5 vs. Wheeling, 1 vs. Brampton), three against the South Division (all at Florida) and nine against the Mountain Division (3 each vs. Tulsa and Wichita, 2 vs. Utah and 1 vs. Allen).

In the Eastern Conference, the expansion Worcester Railers move into the North Division, which remains at six teams after the Elmira Jackals suspended operations at the end of the 2016-17 season. The Jacksonville IceMen will take the ice in 2017 and play in the South Division, which necessitated the move of Cincinnati to the Western Conference. The Alaska Aces, who played in the Mountain Division, suspended operations and will resume play in 2018-19 in Portland, Maine.

The ECHL playoff format will be the same as last season, with the top four teams in each division qualifying for the playoffs. The first two rounds will be played within the division, with the division champion playing the fourth-place team, and the second-place team meeting the third-place team in the opening round. The first-round winners within a division will play in the second round. The Eastern and Western Conference playoff division champs will face off in the third round, with the winners going to the Kelly Cup Finals. All series will remain best-of-seven.

2017-18 ECHL division alignment

Western Conference
Central Division (7): Cincinnati Cyclones, Fort Wayne Komets, Indy Fuel, Kalamazoo Wings, Kansas City Mavericks, Quad City Mallards, Toledo Walleye
Pacific Division (7): Allen Americans, Colorado Eagles, Idaho Steelheads, Rapid City Rush, Tulsa Oilers, Utah Grizzlies, Wichita Thunder

Eastern Conference
North Division (6): Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Manchester Monarchs, Reading Royals, Wheeling Nailers, Worcester Railers
South Division (7): Atlanta Gladiators, Florida Everblades, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, Jacksonville IceMen, Norfolk Admirals, Orlando Solar Bears, South Carolina Stingrays