PRINCETON, N.J. – For the fifth straight year and the 11th time in the last 12 years, the ECHL has seen more than four million fans attend its games.
The third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League, the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League celebrated its 20th season in 2007-08 by averaging over 4,000 fans in the regular season for the fourth straight year and the 16th time in the last 18 seasons.
Almost 300,000 fans have watched the 2008 Kelly Cup Playoffs including 15,573 for Games 1 and 2 of the Kelly Cup Finals at Cincinnati on May 24 and 25. Games 3, 4 and 5 will be played on Thursday, Friday and Monday in Las Vegas where the Wranglers welcomed more than 8,600 the last two games.
The attendance of 8,676 in Cincinnati for Game 1 was the largest Kelly Cup Playoffs crowd since 8,834 on May 27, 2001 at South Carolina for the decisive game in the Kelly Cup Finals. The Cyclones are averaging 4,157 per game in the postseason, up 64.8 percent from the regular season when Cincinnati led all of professional hockey by increasing its attendance 36.8 percent from 2006-07.
Eleven ECHL teams raised their attendance in 2007-08 and the league had 51 sellouts, the most capacity crowds in the last five years and the fourth time in the last five seasons that the league has had at least 40 sellouts.
Over 70.6 million fans have attended more than 16,000 games since the ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states. The league has grown to become a coast-to-coast league that will have 24 teams in 16 states and British Columbia playing in 2008-09. The league’s newest member is the Ontario Reign, who will play in the new state-of-the-art Citizens Business Bank Arena, a $130 million multi-purpose facility in Ontario, Calif.
Nineteen of the 24 teams in the ECHL have played at least five years in their current city and nine have played at least 10 years in their current market, including the Johnstown Chiefs have been a member of the league for all 21 seasons.
The ECHL will open its 21st season on Oct. 17 with eight games being played in seven states from Alaska to Florida and will continue on Oct. 18 with 11 more games in 10 states.
Celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2007-08, the ECHL is the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League and the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league that will play with 24 teams in 16 states and British Columbia in 2008-09.
The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
The ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 30 teams in the NHL in 2007-08, marking the 11th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
There have been 355 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including 99 in the last three seasons. There have been 210 former ECHL players who have played their first game in the NHL in the past seven seasons.
There are 15 coaches in the NHL who have ECHL experience including former Wheeling coach Peter Laviolette, who is head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, and former Mississippi coach Bruce Boudreau, who is head coach of the Washington Capitals.
The ECHL is represented for the seventh consecutive year on the National Hockey League championship team in 2007 with Anaheim assistant coach Dave Farrish, players Francois Beauchemin and George Parros and broadcasters John Ahlers and Steve Carroll.
The ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 29 teams in the American Hockey League in 2007-08 and for the past 18 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup champion.
In each of the last two seasons there have been more than 225 players who have played in both the ECHL and the AHL and there were over 800 call-ups involving more than 500 players. In the last five seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 2,000 call-ups involving more than 1,000 players since 2002-03.
Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.