NEW YORK – The National Hockey League announced that former ECHL All-Star and current Dallas Stars goaltender Mike Smith has been selected as the “Third Star” in the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Nov. 25.
Each Monday, the NHL recognizes three players who delivered the top performances over the past week. Smith received the weekly honor twice as a rookie in 2006-07, being named on Nov. 26 and Feb. 12. He is the second former ECHL player to receive the weekly NHL honor this season, joining former Charlotte Checkers and current Los Angeles goaltender Jason LaBarbera who was chosen as the “First Star” for the week ending Oct. 28.
The 25-year-old Smith, who was selected to the 2006-07 NHL All-Rookie Team, was 3-0-0 with a shutout, a goals-against average of 1.00 and a save percentage of .963 as Dallas moved into first place in the Pacific Division. After making 22 saves for his fourth career shutout in a 3-0 win against Los Angeles on Nov. 19, he stopped 17 shots in a 2-1 win over Anaheim on Nov. 21 and then made a season-high 39 saves in a 3-2 road win against the New York Rangers on Nov. 25.
He is 6-3-0 with a shutout, a goals-against average of 2.19 and a save percentage of .916 in nine games for Dallas after going 12-5-2 with a goals-against average of 2.23 and a save percentage of .912 in 23 games for the Stars as a rookie. He became the first goaltender in Stars history to record a shutout in his NHL debut, making 22 saves in a 4-0 win at Phoenix on Oct. 21, 2006.
In his first professional season in 2002-03, Smith was named to the ECHL All-Star Game and was 11-10-4 with a goals-against average of 2.55 and a save percentage of .910 in 27 games with Lexington while also playing in the AHL with Utah where he was 5-5-0 with a goals-against average of 3.23 and a save percentage of .906 in 11 games.
In his third professional start on Oct. 22, 2002, Smith picked up not only his first win and his first shutout, but also scored his first-ever goal in a 2-0 win over Dayton. With Lexington leading 1-0 late in the third period, Dayton dumped the puck behind the net where Smith gained control and flipped it out of the zone. The puck hit in the center face off circle and then slid untouched into the empty net at 19:04. The goal by the then 20-year-old Smith, who is the youngest goaltender ever to score a goal in a professional game, was featured on ESPN’s NHL 2Night.
There have been 333 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including four who have played their first game this season: former Johnstown Chiefs and Fresno Falcons goaltender Dmitri Patzold (San Jose on Oct. 7), former San Diego goaltender Tyler Weiman (Colorado on Oct. 4), former Charlotte right wing Craig Weller (Phoenix on Oct. 4) and former Phoenix RoadRunners center Daniel Winnik (Phoenix Coyotes on Oct. 4).
There were 69 former ECHL players on NHL opening-day rosters and there have been 188 former ECHL players who have played their first game in the NHL in the past six seasons. Twenty-six former ECHL players made their NHL debut in 2006-07, including two who played in both the ECHL and the NHL as goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji played for Reading and Los Angeles while defenseman Bryan Young skated for Stockton and Edmonton. Dave McKee played for Augusta and dressed for five games as the backup goaltender for Stanley Cup champion Anaheim.
The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 30 teams in the NHL, marking the 11th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL, and there are 14 coaches in the NHL who have ECHL experience. 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 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.
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.