PRINCETON, N.J. – The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL will drop the puck for its 18th season on Friday with nine games including the Utah Grizzlies playing their first ECHL game with Commissioner Brian McKenna in attendance when they host the Phoenix RoadRunners. The Grizzlies play at The “E” Center, a state-of-the-art facility in West Valley City which gained international acclaim and exposure as the host venue for the ice hockey championships at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
The Pensacola Ice Pilots will commemorate their regular season Brabham Cup championship on Friday when they host the Greenville Grrrowl which eliminated the Ice Pilots from the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Alaska Aces will celebrate their regular season division and conference titles and their postseason division title when they host the San Diego Gulls at Sullivan Arena, the site of 15 sellouts in 2004-05 including four straight in the conference finals. The Gwinnett Gladiators, who raised their average attendance more than 20 percent in their second season in 2004-05, will host the Charlotte Checkers in a rematch of the conference semifinals which the Checkers won in four games.
Ted Dent, who was an assistant coach with Kelly Cup winner Trenton in 2004-05, makes his head coaching debut when the Columbia Inferno celebrates its third consecutive regular season division title as it opens its fifth season hosting the Johnstown Chiefs. The Idaho Steelheads with new coach Derek Laxdal will host the Long Beach Ice Dogs at the newly-renamed Qwest Arena in a division semifinals rematch which the Ice Dogs won in four games. The first ECHL team outside the United States, the Victoria Salmon Kings return for their second season visiting the Fresno Falcons and new coach Matt Thomas. The South Carolina Stingrays will travel to Augusta which will open its eighth ECHL season and has a new coach in Bob Ferguson and longtime Ohio rivals Dayton and Toledo will meet at the historic Toledo Sports Arena.
B2 Networks is the “Official Broadband Broadcast Provider” for the ECHL and all 23 games on opening weekend can be viewed online. Broadcasts are accessible on ECHL.com and on the home pages of the teams providing their fans the opportunity to watch live telecasts in 2005-06.