By Andrew Phillip Chernoff
The Alaska Aces, newly affiliated with the Vancouver Canucks, will be playing in a new division for the 2016-17 season, the ECHL announced on July 11.
The Conference and Divisional alignment for the 2016-17 Season will be as follows:
Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Elmira Jackals, Manchester Monarchs, Reading Royals, Wheeling Nailers
Atlanta Gladiators, Cincinnati Cyclones, Florida Everblades, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, Norfolk Admirals, Orlando Solar Bears, South Carolina Stingrays
Fort Wayne Komets, Indy Fuel, Kalamazoo Wings, Quad City Mallards, Toledo Walleye, Tulsa Oilers, Wichita Thunder
Alaska Aces, Allen Americans, Colorado Eagles, Idaho Steelheads, Missouri Mavericks, Rapid City Rush, Utah Grizzlies
The first two rounds of the Kelly Cup Playoffs will be played entirely within the division, with the division winner playing the fourth-place finisher and the second-place team meeting the third-place team in the Division Semifinals. The winners of each series will meet in the Division Finals, leading to the Conference Finals and Kelly Cup Finals.
The new format will allow most teams to have a better chance of playing traditional rivals in the first two rounds of the playoffs, and to allow for more economical travel.