Kelly Cup Finals Feature Two Marquee Markets

Cyclones, Wranglers Trying To End Cities Title Drought

PRINCETON, N.J. – The 2008 ECHL Kelly Cup Finals are being played in Cincinnati and Las Vegas, two of the largest and most recognizable markets in the United States.

The two cities have a combined population of almost four million and an additional 39.2 million visitors will travel to Las Vegas each year making it one of the largest combined markets for a finals series in the 20-year history of the 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. Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states the league has grown to be a coast-to-coast league that will play with 24 teams in 16 states and British Columbia in 2008-09.

Game 1 of the Kelly Cup Finals 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 Las Vegas will host Games 3 and 4 at 7:05 p.m. on May 29 and 30 at the Orleans Arena.

Charlotte, N.C. is the largest market (2,025,541) to win the ECHL championship as the Checkers captured the last Riley Cup in 1996. Since becoming a coast-to-coast league in 2003-04, the ECHL champions have come from Boise, Idaho (510,876) twice, Anchorage, Alaska (339,487) and Trenton, N.J. (341,000).

The Kelly Cup champions the last four years have come from Alaska (Aces in 2006), Idaho (Steelheads in 2004 and 2007) and New Jersey (Trenton Titans in 2005) while the runner-ups have come from Florida (Everblades in 2004 and 2005), Georgia (Gwinnett Gladiators in 2006) and Ohio (Dayton in 2007).

Championship Drought Will End For One City

It has been almost 20 years since a team from Cincinnati or Las Vegas has won a national championship. The Cyclones are trying to bring Cincinnati its first professional championship since the Reds won the World Series in 1990 while the last national championship won in Las Vegas was a basketball title by the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 1990.

In addition to the Reds of Major League Baseball and the Bengals of the National Football League, Cincinnati is also home to Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati.

The last time the Queen City hosted a professional hockey finals series was 1973 when the Cincinnati Swords beat Nova Scotia for the American Hockey League championship. The city has won six hockey championships including five International Hockey League titles in a row from 1952-57. The NHL affiliate for the IHL championship teams was the Montreal Canadiens, who are the NHL affiliate for the modern-day Cyclones.

Las Vegas is home to UNLV and the Las Vegas 51s, who are the AAA affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the city annually hosts world championship boxing events, the National Finals Rodeo and a NASCAR race. The last professional team championship won in Las Vegas was the Pacific Coast League championship by the Las Vegas Stars in 1988.

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.