PRINCETON, N.J. – For the first time in the 20-year history of the league, the Kelly Cup Finals feature two winners of the John Brophy Award with Cincinnati’s Chuck Weber, who is this year’s recipient, and Las Vegas’ Glen Gulutzan, who won the award in 2005-06.
The John Brophy Award is the trophy presented annually to the ECHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success as selected in a vote of league coaches. The trophy is named for John Brophy, who won a record three ECHL titles with Hampton Roads in 1991, 1992 and 1998.
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. Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states the league has grown to be a coast-to-coast league that will play with 24 teams in 16 states and British Columbia in 2008-09.
Game 1 of the Kelly Cup Finals is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. Game 2 will be Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET before the series travels to Nevada where Las Vegas will host Games 3 and 4 at 7:05 p.m. on May 29 and 30 at the Orleans Arena.
Gulutzan and Weber coached against each other on Jan. 23 in the ECHL All-Star Game in Stockton, Calif. The National Conference posted a 10-7 win as Las Vegas’ Peter Ferraro had two goals and five points and teammate Daniel Manzato made 11 saves in the third period.
In his second season behind the bench in 2007-08, Weber led the Cyclones to the Brabham Cup with 115 points which is the second most in the 20-year history of the ECHL, one behind the record of 116 by Louisiana in 2001-02. The Brabham Cup is the trophy awarded annually to the ECHL team that finishes with the most points in the regular season.
Cincinnati was 55-12-5 and tied the ECHL record with 26 road wins while finishing one shy of the record 56 wins by Louisiana in 2001-02. The Cyclones’ 29 home wins ties the league record for fourth-most held by Pee Dee in 1998-99, Toledo in 2002-03 and Gwinnett in 2005-06 while their 12 regulation losses ties the record for third-fewest losses held by Alaska in 2005-06 and Las Vegas in 2006-07. Cincinnati had four home losses tying the record for third-fewest shared by nine teams including Gwinnett and Alaska in 2005-06.
The Cyclones set the ECHL record with 17 wins in a row from Jan. 16-29, breaking the record of 14 by Knoxville from Dec. 28, 1993-Jan. 29, 1994 and Louisiana from Nov. 23-Dec. 22, 2001. Cincinnati also had an ECHL season-high and team-record 14-game home winning streak from Jan. 5-Mar. 12.
Weber is 92-41-11 in his first two seasons and has led the Cyclones to the postseason both years where he has an 18-5 record. The 35 year old finished second in voting for coach of the year in 2006-07 when the Cyclones returned to the ice for the first time since 2003-04 and finished 37-29-6 record. Cincinnati advanced to the Kelly Cup Playoffs where they lost to American Conference champion Dayton in seven games.
Gulutzan, who finished third in voting for coach of the year this season, has been head coach of the Wranglers since the team joined the ECHL in 2003-04 and he has a career regular season record of 220-93-47 (.676 winning percentage) and a postseason record of 26-17 (.605 winning percentage).
He was named ECHL Coach of the Year in 2005-06 after Las Vegas finished second in the league with 112 points and a 53-13-6 record, tying the record for second-most wins and finishing with the third-highest point total in league history. The Wranglers tied the ECHL record for longest road winning streak with 10 consecutive wins from Nov. 22-Dec. 31, 2005 and tied the third-longest winning streak in league history with 12 wins in a row from Dec. 3-30, 2005. Las Vegas set team records with 53 wins, 28 home wins and 25 road wins.
The Wranglers set an ECHL record and tied the professional hockey league record with 18 consecutive wins in 2006-07, winning their final 13 regular season games and their first five games of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The 13-game regular season streak by the Wranglers from Mar. 10-Apr. 7, 2007 is the third-longest winning streak for a single season in league history. Las Vegas won its first four games of 2007-08 to finish with a 17-game regular season winning streak.
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.