Aces Return Favor, Travel 4,926 Miles To Visit Everblades
PRINCETON, N.J. – After traveling almost 5,000 miles from Anchorage, the Alaska Aces arrived Sunday in Florida where they will meet the Florida Everblades in games on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. It is the second meeting this month between the two, who are 4,926 miles apart, which is the greatest distance between two North America professional opponents.
More than 14,500 fans at Sullivan Arena watched Alaska win 3-1 on Nov. 2 and 4-1 on Nov. 4 while Florida won 2-0 on Nov. 3. The Everblades are third in the league in attendance with 6,247 per game, which is more than 88 percent of capacity at the 7,080-seat Germain Arena in Estero. The Everblades, who had back-to-back sellouts in their first two games of their 10th Anniversary season, have never averaged less than 6,200 and led the league in attendance for a record five seasons in a row from 2000-05.
Travel isn’t anything new to the Aces, who begin each road trip with a 3 1/2-hour flight to Seattle and average around 70,000 miles on the road each season. The Everblades also spend their fair share of time on the road and will travel 26,206 miles this season, primarily by bus.
Since Alaska joined the league as an expansion team in 2003-04, the Aces lead the ECHL with 185 regular season wins and 38 victories in the Kelly Cup Playoffs while Florida is second with 36 postseason wins and fourth with 171 regular season victories. During the same time period the Aces and Everblades have each won a league-high nine playoff series and reached the conference finals three times apiece. Alaska won the Kelly Cup in 2006 while Florida advanced to the Kelly Cup Finals in 2004 and 2005.
Prior to their meeting earlier this month, the longest trip for ECHL opponents was 4,444 miles which is the distance from Anchorage to Trenton, N.J., home of the then Titans now Devils who beat the Aces in the conference finals on their way to the Kelly Cup championship in 2005. Alaska and Gwinnett set the record for the longest trip between Kelly Cup Finals opponents in 2006 with 4,396 miles, the distance from Gwinnett, Ga., home of the Gladiators, to Anchorage.
Alaska has reached the Kelly Cup Playoffs each of its first four seasons since joining the league as an expansion team in 2003-04 and the Aces have advanced to the conference finals each of the last three seasons, winning the Kelly Cup in 2006. Florida has reached the Kelly Cup Playoffs each of its first nine seasons and has advanced to the conference finals three times in the last four years while reaching the Kelly Cup Finals in 2004 and 2005.
The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league with 25 teams playing in 17 states and British Columbia in 2007-08, including the Mississippi (Biloxi) Sea Wolves, who return after missing two seasons in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the expansion Elmira (New York) Jackals.
There have been 333 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including a record 47 in 2005-06 and 26 in 2006-07. There have been 188 former ECHL players who have played their first game in the NHL in the past five seasons and 69 former ECHL players were on the opening day rosters of NHL teams. 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. 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 17 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.