SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The American Hockey League announced that former Charlotte Checkers and current Manchester Monarchs goaltender Jason LaBarbera has been named the Rbk X-Pulse/AHL Goaltender of the Month for January.
LaBarbera, who played with Charlotte in each of his first two seasons, is the third consecutive former ECHL goaltender to win the award joining former All-Star and current Springfield Falcons goaltender Jonathan Boutin, who received the honor in December, and former Long Beach Ice Dogs and current Hamilton Bulldogs goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who received the honor in November.
The ECHL has affiliations with 24 of the 27 teams in the American Hockey League in 2006-07 and for the past 17 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup champion. The ECHL has had more players called up to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined each of the past four seasons with 1,646 call ups involving almost 1,000 players.
LaBarbera was 8-2-0 with a shutout, a goals-against average of 1.88 and a save percentage of .945 to help Manchester remain in first place in the Atlantic Division. He made a season-high 59 saves in a 3-2 overtime win at Hartford on Jan. 5 and picked up his fifth shutout of the year, second in the AHL, with 32 saves in a 6-0 win at Portland on Jan. 17. LaBarbera was the starting goaltender for the Canadian team in the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic. It was his second AHL All-Star appearance as he joined 10 other former ECHL players selected in the game.
LaBarbera is 25-14-1 in 41 games for Manchester and leads the AHL with 2,419 minutes and 1,234 saves. He is second in the league with 25 wins, a save percentage of .932 and five shutouts and third with a goals-against average of 2.23.
One of 315 players who has played in the National Hockey League after playing in the ECHL, LaBarbera was 11-9-2 with a shutout, a goals-against average of 2.89 and a save percentage of .900 in 29 games for Los Angeles in 2005-06 while also going 1-1-1 with a goals-against average of 3.25 and a save percentage of .907 in three games with Manchester.
LaBarbera, who played with Charlotte each of his first two seasons, was named AHL Most Valuable Player and AHL Goaltender of the Year in 2003-04. He became the fourth ECHL player to earn the MVP award joining Eric Boguniecki in 2001-02, Martin Brochu in 1999-2000, and Brad Smyth in 1995-96. LaBarbera is one of seven ECHL goaltenders to win the AHL award joining Dany Sabourin in 2005-06, Marc Lamothe in 2002-03, Martin Brochu in 1999-2000, Martin Biron in 1998-99, Manny Legace in 1995-96, and Frederic Chabot in 1993-94.
Other nominees for the Rbk X-Pulse/AHL Goaltender of the Month were Stephen Valiquette, who played for Dayton, Hampton Roads and Trenton and now plays for Hartford; Karl Goehring, who played for Dayton and now plays for Milwaukee; and Dimitri Patzold, who has played for Fresno this season and for Johnstown in 2003-04 and is now with Worcester.
Six times this season the winner of the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week award has been an ECHL player with Al Montoya, Charlotte and Hartford (Jan. 1), Jason Jaffray, Roanoke and Wheeling and Manitoba (Oct. 30), Zenon Konopka, Wheeling and Idaho and Portland (Nov. 13), Charles Linglet, Alaska and Las Vegas and Peoria (Dec. 4), Cory Larose, Jackson and Chicago (Dec. 18), and Quintin Laing, Jackson and Hershey (Dec. 26).
The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League in 2006-07, marking 10th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
There have been 315 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including a record 47 in 2005-06.
There have been 170 former ECHL players who have played their first game in the NHL in the past five seasons and 91 former ECHL players have skated in the NHL this season.
The ECHL was represented for the sixth consecutive year on the National Hockey League championship team, including Carolina Hurricanes head coach Peter Laviolette, who is the first ECHL coach to win the Stanley Cup.
The ECHL raised its average attendance for the third straight year in 2005-06 drawing 3,934,794 for 900 games which is an average of 4,372 per game, an increase of more than nine percent from 2004-05 and the largest per-game average since 1999-2000. Six teams surpassed 200,000 and nine teams averaged 5,000 per game for the first time since 1999-2000 as the league welcomed 39 sellout crowds and 13 of the 22 returning teams raised their average attendance from a year ago.
In 2005-06 the ECHL and its member teams contributed more than $2.3 million for charity and relief funds, including those benefiting victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, while also making thousands of appearances by players, coaches, team personnel and mascots at schools, hospitals, libraries and charity functions.
Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.