SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The American Hockey League announced that former Charlotte Checkers and current Hartford Wolf Pack goaltender Al Montoya has been named the Rbk X-Pulse/AHL Goaltender of the Month for February.
Montoya becomes the second former Checker in a row to win the award joining Jason LaBarbera, who played for Charlotte each of his first two seasons and is now with the Manchester Monarchs. Charlotte is the ECHL affiliate of the Wolf Pack of the AHL and the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League.
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.
Selected in the first round (sixth overall) by the Rangers in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Montoya allowed fewer than two goals in each of his seven starts in February and was 5-2-0 with a shutout, a goals-against average of 1.37 and a save percentage of .946. After beginning the month with a 2-1 loss to defending Calder Cup champion Hershey, he won his next five decisions beginning with a 3-0 win against Worcester on Feb. 16 for his third shutout of the season.
In his rookie season in 2005-06, Montoya was 1-1-0 with a goals-against average of 3.92 in two games with Charlotte and 23-9-1 with a goals-against average of 2.61 and a save percentage of .907 in 40 games with Hartford.
Other nominees for the Rbk X-Pulse/AHL Goaltender of the Month were Tyler Weiman, who played for San Diego and now plays for Albany; Miroslav Kopriva, who played for Texas and now plays for Houston; Dan Ellis, who played for Idaho and now plays for Iowa; Jason LaBarbera, who played for Charlotte and now plays for Manchester; Adam Berkhoel, who played for Dayton and Gwinnett and now plays for Rochester; and Thomas Greiss, who played for Fresno and now plays for Worcester.
Eight times this season the winner of the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week award has been an ECHL player with Roanoke and Wheeling and current Manitoba left wing Jason Jaffray (Oct. 30), former Wheeling and Idaho and current Portland center Zenon Konopka (Nov. 13), Former Alaska and Las Vegas and current Peoria left wing Charles Linglet (Dec. 4), former Jackson and current Chicago center Cory Larose (Dec. 18), former Jackson and current Hershey left wing Quintin Laing (Dec. 26), former Charlotte, current Hartford goaltender Al Montoya (Jan. 2), former Dayton and current Syracuse rookie goaltender Dan LaCosta (Feb. 5) and former Toledo and current Grand Rapids center Matt Ellis (Feb. 19).
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 322 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 177 former ECHL players who have played their first game in the NHL in the past five seasons and 98 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.