Cyclones, Grizzlies, Stingrays, Wranglers Battle For ‘AA’ National Title
PRINCETON, N.J. – The 2008 ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs is down to the final four teams competing for the ‘AA’ National Championship with the Cincinnati Cyclones, the Las Vegas Wranglers, the South Carolina Stingrays and the Utah Grizzlies.
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.
The American Conference Finals will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday when the North Division champion Cyclones host the South Division champion Stingrays in Game 1 of a best-of-seven series at the U.S. Bank Arena.
The National Conference Finals will begin at 7:05 p.m. PT on Monday when Las Vegas hosts Utah in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series at the Orleans Arena.
The winners will advance to Finals to compete for the Kelly Cup, the championship trophy named in honor of Patrick J. Kelly, who was one of the founding fathers of the ECHL. One of the inaugural inductees into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2008, Kelly served as Commissioner for the league’s first eight seasons and was named Commissioner Emeritus in 1996, a title that he continues to hold. Kelly, who celebrated his 50th season in professional hockey in 2002-03, coached 1,900 career games and had 935 wins. Kelly coached in the Eastern Hockey League, the Southern Hockey League and the National Hockey League where he was the only coach to ever lead the Colorado Rockies to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Conference Finals Shine National Spotlight On Cities
The Kelly Cup Playoffs will bring national attention and focus to Cincinnati, Las Vegas, North Charleston, S.C. and West Valley City, Utah. It is the first time since becoming a coast-to-coast league that the conference finals have been in Nevada, South Carolina and Utah after previously being hosted in Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania. It is not, however, the first time that the conference finals have been in South Carolina as the Stingrays are making their third trip to the conference finals. The Stingrays won in each of their previous trips to the conference finals in 1997 and 2001, going on to win the Kelly Cup both times. This year’s conference finals will be played across three time zones with Eastern (Cincinnati and South Carolina), Mountain (Utah) and Pacific (Las Vegas).
The Kelly Cup champions the last four years have come from Alaska (Aces in 2006), Idaho (Steelheads in 2004 and 2007) and New Jersey (Trenton Titans in 2005) while the runner-ups have come from Florida (Everblades in 2004 and 2005), Georgia (Gwinnett Gladiators in 2006) and Ohio (Dayton in 2007). The 4,396 miles from Duluth, Ga. to Anchorage, Alaska was the greatest distance ever between two teams in the Kelly Cup Finals. It was not, however, the farthest distance between two playoff teams which is 4,444 miles, the distance from Anchorage to Trenton, N.J., home of the Titans who beat the Aces in the conference finals en route to the Kelly Cup title in 2005.