Kelly Cup Finals Feature NHL, AHL Prospects, Rookies

PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL Kelly Cup Finals between the Cincinnati Cyclones and the Las Vegas Wranglers have some of the top young players including 13 rookies, 10 players under contract to National Hockey League teams and 11 players under contract to American Hockey League teams.

The Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League will all be monitoring their prospects on the Kelly Cup Finals. The Cyclones are the ECHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens and the Nashville Predators while the Wranglers are the ECHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames.

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.

Game 1 in the battle to determine the national ‘AA’ hockey champion 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 the Wranglers will host Games 3 and 4 at 7:05 p.m. on May 29 and 30 at the Orleans Arena.

Cincinnati is the top seed in the Kelly Cup Playoffs after finishing 55-12-5 to capture the Brabham Cup with 115 points. The Cyclones beat South Carolina in five games in the American Conference Finals after beating Reading in seven games in the division finals and Johnstown in four games in the first round.

Las Vegas swept Utah in the National Conference Finals after beating Alaska in five games in the conference semifinals and Stockton in six games in the quarterfinals. In its three previous postseason trips, Las Vegas has been eliminated by the eventual Kelly Cup champion with Idaho in 2004 and 2007 and Alaska in 2006.

The playoff rosters submitted by the 21 teams in the Kelly Cup Playoffs had 86 players on NHL contracts and 73 players on AHL contracts. 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 has affiliations with 26 of the 29 teams in the American Hockey League in 2007-08, marking the seventh consecutive season that it has had affiliations with 20 or more teams in the AHL.

The six Cincinnati rookies are Thomas Beauregard, David Desharnais, Billy Irish-Baker, Ryan Maki, Sean Perkins and Ryan Russell while the seven Las Vegas rookies are Jason Dest, Ryan Donally, Brandon Kaleniecki, Kevin Lalande, Daniel Manzato, Adam Miller and Tyson Strachan.

Cincinnati players under NHL contract to Montreal are forwards Mathieu Aubin, Jimmy Bonneau and Ryan Russell while forward Ryan Maki is under NHL contract to Nashville. Forward Olivier Latendresse is under NHL contract to the Phoenix Coyotes, who assigned him to the Cyclones.

Las Vegas players under NHL contract to Calgary are forward Aki Seitsonen, right wing Adam Cracknell, left wing Ryan Donally and goaltender Kevin Lalande. Goaltender Daniel Manzato is under NHL contract to the Carolina Hurricanes, who assigned him to the Wranglers.

The Cyclones also have players who are under contract to Hamilton, which is the AHL affiliate of Montreal, and Milwaukee, which is the AHL affiliate of Nashville. Under contract to Hamilton are defensemen Jon Gleed and Conrad Martin, goaltender Cedrick Desjardins, and forwards Thomas Beauregard and David Desharnais while goaltender Maxime Daigneault and defenseman Bryan Schmidt are under contract to Milwaukee.

The Wranglers also have defenseman Gerry Burke, who is under contract to Quad City, which is the AHL affiliate of the Flames. Other AHL-contracted players assigned to the Wranglers are defenseman Jason Jozsa from Grand Rapids, center Curtis Fraser from San Antonio and defenseman Tyson Strachan from Peoria.

2008 Kelly Cup Finals Schedule

Game 1 – Saturday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati
Game 2 – Sunday, May 25 at 7:30 p.m. ET at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati
Game 3 – Thursday, May 29 at 7:05 p.m. PT at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas
Game 4 – Friday, May 30 at 7:05 p.m. PT at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas
Game 5 – Monday, June 2 at 7:05 p.m. PT at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas *
Game 6 – Thursday, June 5 at 7:30 p.m. ET at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati *
Game 7 – Saturday, June 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati *

* – If Necessary

ECHL
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.