PRINCETON, N.J. – Fifteen players and Milwaukee coach Claude Noel represent the ECHL in the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Finals that begin Tuesday. Games 1 and 2 will be played at Milwaukee on Tuesday and Wednesday with Games 3 and 4 scheduled for Friday and Sunday at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, whose affiliate is the Wheeling Nailers, have seven former ECHL players while the Milwaukee Admirals, whose affiliate is the Toledo Storm, have eight former ECHL players. Milwaukee broadcaster Kyle Schultz was the radio announcer for Augusta in 2001-02 and 2002-03 and was the radio announcer for Tallahassee from 1996-2000. When the Calder Cup Playoffs began, the ECHL was represented by 190 players and 13 coaches and each of the 20 teams had no less than four ECHL players on their roster and 10 of the teams had more than 10 players.
There has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup Champion each of the past 14 seasons, and in 2003 there were five ECHL players on the Houston roster, including Playoff MVP Johan Holmqvist.
Noel began his coaching career in the ECHL coaching Roanoke in 1990-91 and Dayton in 1991-93. Noel was named ECHL Coach of the Year in 2002-03 after leading Toledo to a 47-15-10 record and the Brabham Cup, awarded annually to the ECHL team with the most regular season points, one year after Toledo finished last in the Northwest Division with a 28-34-10 record. Noel was named outstanding coach of the AHL in 2003-04 becoming the fourth ECHL coach in a row and the fifth ever to win the AHL coaching honor.
Milwaukee’s Wade Flaherty is 12-5 with a shutout, a goals against average of 1.95 and a save percentage of .931. Flaherty, who played for Greensboro in 1989-90, leads the Calder Cup Playoffs in wins with 12 and games played with 17. Simon Gamache, who played for Greenville in 2001-02, leads Milwaukee with 11 assists and ranks third on the team in scoring with 15 points.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Andy Chiodo is 9-4 with three shutouts, a goals against average of 1.78 and a save percentage of .927. Chiodo, who played for Wheeling in 2003-04, is tied for the postseason lead in shutouts (3) with Hartford’s Jason LaBarbera, who played for Charlotte in 2000-01 and 2001-02.
There were former ECHL coaches behind the benches of 14 of the 28 teams in the AHL and all 28 teams had an ECHL player take the ice for them in 2003-04. The ECHL had affiliation agreements with 21 of the 28 teams in the AHL and there were over 90 players on AHL contracts in the ECHL in 2003-04. There were more than 220 players that played in both the ECHL and the AHL and the ECHL had 425 call-ups, involving 234 players, to the AHL during the regular season. A call-up is defined as a player who is either recalled or loaned from a team in the ECHL to a team in the AHL, and there can be multiple call-ups for an individual player.
ECHL Players In 2004 Calder Cup Finals
Milwaukee (8) – Head Coach Claude Noel (Roanoke, 1990-91; Dayton, 1991-93 and Toledo, 2002-03), Brian Finley (Toledo, 2002-03), Andrew Hutchinson (Toledo, 2002-03), Simon Gamache (Greenville, 2001-02), Raitis Ivanans (Pensacola, 1999-2000; Toledo, 2001-02 and Baton Rouge, 2001-02), Nathan Lutz (Reading, 2001-02 and Reading and Toledo, 2002-03), Vernon Fiddler (Arkansas, 2000-01 and Roanoke, 2001-02), Wade Flaherty (Greensboro, 1989-90) and Alexandre Jacques (Toledo, 1997-98 and Toledo and Atlantic City, 2000-04).
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (7) – Darcy Robinson (Wheeling, 2001-03), Michel Ouellet (Wheeling, 2002-03), Marquis Mathieu (Wheeling, 1993-94 and 1997-98; Raleigh and Toledo, 1994-95; Johnstown and Birmingham, 1995-96; Baton Rouge and Pensacola, 2002-03), David Koci (Wheeling, 2001-03), Pauli Levokari (Greenville, 2003-04), Martin Brochu (Wheeling, 1995-96 and 2003-04) and Andy Chiodo (Wheeling, 2003-04).