The ECHL announced on Tuesday the launch of the 2015 Kelly Cup Tour with the first stop on Saturday in Greenville. Every team begins the season with the goal of winning the Patrick J. Kelly Cup, presented annually to the Postseason Champion of the ECHL and won in 2014 by the Alaska Aces.
The tour will travel to seven ECHL cities, making appearances at games, schools, sponsors, radio and television stations and other community events. The Kelly Cup will travel 8,366 miles during the tour, including 2,114 miles from Wheeling, West Virginia to Boise, Idaho and 2,034 miles from Estero, Florida to Loveland, Colorado, where the tour concludes during the first round of the 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs.
“The level of play, intensity and excitement generated during the Kelly Cup Playoffs represents the best the ECHL has to offer,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. “The Kelly Cup Tour will give fans in these cities a flavor for the outstanding entertainment they can expect in their city when the battle for the league championship begins in April.”
After its stop in Greenville on Saturday, the Kelly Cup Tour will visit Wheeling on March 14, Idaho on March 20-21, Cincinnati on March 27, Indy on April 4-5, Florida on April 10-11 and Colorado during the first round of the playoffs.
The Kelly Cup Tour offers ECHL fans the opportunity to view the coveted Patrick J. Kelly Cup, which has been awarded to the ECHL postseason champion since 1996-97. The ECHL retired its playoff championship trophy, the Jack Riley Cup, in 1996 and replaced it with the Kelly Cup, first awarded to the playoff champion in 1997. Standing 28 inches tall and weighing 37 pounds, the Kelly Cup features the names of players, coaches and support staff from each of the 26 ECHL champions. Accompanying the Kelly Cup will be a special display that highlights the intensity and excitement of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
The Kelly Cup is named in recognition of Patrick J. Kelly, who is one of the founding fathers of the ECHL. Kelly served as Commissioner of the ECHL for the first eight seasons before being named Commissioner Emeritus in 1996, a title which he continues to hold. Kelly celebrates his 62nd season in hockey in 2014-15, having begun his career with the St. Catherine Teepees of the Ontario Junior Hockey League in 1952. He played professionally for the Springfield Indians of the American Hockey League, the Troy Bruins of the International Hockey League, and the Greensboro Generals of the Eastern Hockey League. Kelly coached in the Eastern Hockey League from 1965-73 and was head coach and general manager of Charlotte in the Southern Hockey League from 1973-76. He coached the Colorado Rockies in the NHL in 1977-78 and is the only coach to lead the Rockies to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Following coaching stops in the American Hockey League, he went to Peoria in the International Hockey League where he led the Rivermen to the Turner Cup in his first season in 1984-85.
Scott Burt, Jared Bednar, Louis Mass and Patrick Wellar are the only individuals to have their name engraved on the Kelly Cup three times. Burt won championships with Idaho in 2004 and 2007 and Alaska in 2011; Bednar won as a player with South Carolina in 1997 and 2001, and was the head coach of the Stingrays for their win in 2009; Mass won as a player with Alaska in 2006 and as the Aces’ assistant coach in 2011 and 2014 while Wellar won titles with Alaska in 2006, South Carolina in 2009 and Reading in 2013. There are 22 other individuals who have their name engraved on the Kelly Cup twice.
Thirty-three players whose name appears on the Kelly Cup have played in the National Hockey League: Sebastien Charpentier (Hampton Roads, 1998); Chris Schmidt and Travis Scott (Mississippi, 1999); Cody Rudkowsky and Cam Severson (Peoria, 2000); Zdenek Blatny, Tyrone Garner, Simon Gamache and Luke Sellars (Greenville, 2002); Kevin Colley and Matt Yeats (Atlantic City, 2003); Dan Ellis, Zenon Konopka, Warren Peters (Idaho, 2004); Chris Beckford-Tseu, Barrett Heisten, Doug Lynch, Chris Minard and Matt Underhill (Alaska, 2006); Jay Beagle, B.J. Crombeen, Greg Rallo and Francis Wathier (Idaho, 2007); David Desharnais, Cedrick Desjardins and Ryan Russell (Cincinnati, 2008); Travis Morin and James Reimer (South Carolina, 2009); Mark Van Guilder (Cincinnati, 2010); Gerald Coleman (Alaska, 2011 and 2014) and Brian Swanson (Alaska, 2011) and Kevin Quick and Justin Shugg (Florida, 2012). In addition, Bruce Boudreau, who coached Mississippi to the 1999 Kelly Cup championship, is the head coach of the Anaheim Ducks and Davis Payne, who coached Alaska to the 2006 title, is an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Kings.
2015 Kelly Cup Tour
|March 7||Bon Secours Wellness Arena||Greenville, S.C.|
|March 14||WesBanco Arena||Wheeling, W.Va.|
|March 20-21||CenturyLink Arena||Boise, Idaho|
|March 27||U.S. Bank Arena
|April 4-5||Indiana Farmers Coliseum||Indianapolis, Ind.|
|April 10-11||Germain Arena||Estero, Fla.|
|1st Round of Playoffs||Budweiser Events Center||Loveland, Colo.|
About the ECHL
Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 28 teams in 20 states and one Canadian province for its 27th season in 2014-15. There have been 559 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 18 who made their NHL debuts in the 2014-15 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 29 of the 30 NHL teams in 2014-15, marking the 18th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter.