For the 26th year in a row the ECHL is represented on the American Hockey League champion as eight of the 24 players who played for Manchester in the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs played in the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League.
There have been 96 former ECHL players on the last nine AHL winners and 114 former ECHL players on the last 11 champions.
The ECHL has had affiliations with 20 or more teams in the AHL the last 14 years. The Ontario Reign served as the ECHL affiliate for Manchester during the 2014-15 season.
Former ECHL players who captured the 2015 Calder Cup title are Sean Backman (Idaho, 2010-11), Jean-Francois Berbue (Ontario, 2011-13), Paul Bissonnette (Wheeling, 2006-08), Andrew Crescenzi (San Francisco, 2012-13), Nick Ebert (Ontario, 2012-13), Josh Gratton (San Diego, 2003-04 and Trenton, 2004-05), Vincent LoVerde (Ontario, 2011-13) and Zach O’Brien (Ontario, 2013-14).
Manchester president Darren Abbott worked in ECHL with Roanoke and South Carolina while assistant coach Chris Hajt played in the ECHL with Augusta.
Eight of the 24 players on runner-up Utica had ECHL experience with Will Acton (Reading, 2010-11), Darren Archibald (Kalamazoo, 2011-13), Cory Conacher (Cincinnati, 2010-11), Brandon DeFazio (Wheeling, 2010-11), Travis Ehrhardt (Toledo, 2009-10), Alex Friesen (Kalamazoo, 2012-13), Alexandre Grenier (Kalamazoo, 2012-13) and Wacey Hamilton (Elmira, 2011-12).
During the 2014-15 season, 320 ECHL players were recalled to the American Hockey League for a total of 576 recalls. For the second consecutive season, the Wheeling Nailers led the league with 52 recalls during the 2014-15 season.
Seven times in the last 15 years the winner of the AHL Coach of the Year award has been a former ECHL coach including Scott Gordon and Mike Haviland in 2006 and 2007. Former ECHL coaches won the award four consecutive years from 2001-04 with Don Granato, Bruce Cassidy, Geoff Ward and Claude Noel. The first former ECHL coach to win the award was Peter Laviolette in 1999.
For the eighth season in a row at least seven former ECHL players were named CCM/AHL Player of the Week with former Idaho Steelheads goaltender Richard Bachman, former Toledo Walleye goaltender Jared Coreau, former Idaho Steelheads and Utah Grizzlies center Justin Dowling, former Stockton Thunder forward Bryan Lerg, former Toledo Walleye goaltender Petr Mrazek, former Reading Royals goaltender Jussi Rynnas and former Elmira Jackals defenseman Chris Wideman.
There were six former ECHL players who participated in the 2014 AHL All-Star Classic.
Fourteen of the 30 head coaches in the American Hockey League during the 2014-15 season had an ECHL background with Albany’s Rick Kowalsky, Bridgeport’s Brent Thompson, Hershey’s Troy Mann, Iowa’s John Torchetti, Norfolk’s Jarrod Skalde, Oklahoma City’s Gerry Fleming, Portland’s Ray Edwards, Providence’s Bruce Cassidy, Rockford’s Ted Dent, Springfield’s Jared Bednar, St. John’s Keith McCambridge, Texas’ Derek Laxdal, Toronto’s Gord Dineen and Worcester’s Roy Sommer.
Former ECHL broadcasters working in the American Hockey League during the 2014-15 season include Grady Whittenburg of the Binghamton Senators, Jason Shaya of the Charlotte Checkers, Jason Shaver of the Chicago Wolves, Joe O’Donnell of the Iowa Wild, Doug Plagens of the Lake Erie Monsters, Bob Rotruck of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Pete Michaud of the Norfolk Admirals, Dan Weiss of the San Antonio Rampage, Andy Zilch of the Springfield Falcons, Dan D’Uva of the Syracuse Crunch, Brendan Burke of the Utica Comets and Eric Lindquist of the Worcester Sharks.
About the ECHL
Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 28 teams in 20 states and one Canadian province for its 27th season in 2014-15. There have been 569 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 28 who made their NHL debuts in the 2014-15 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 29 of the 30 NHL teams in 2014-15, marking the 18th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter.