PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL will be represented by 25 players and former Wheeling coach Peter Laviolette at the XX Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy.
Laviolette is making his first appearance as head coach of the United States team after coaching Team USA in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships each of the past two years, capturing a bronze medal in 2004. Laviolette began his coaching career in the ECHL in 1997-98 when he led Wheeling to the conference finals in the Kelly Cup Playoffs after finishing 37-24-9 in the regular season.
Nine of the 11 teams have an ECHL player led by Latvia which has eight former ECHL players and current Stockton forward Maris Ziedins, who has 22 points (10g-12a) in 36 games with the Thunder.
Italy has five former ECHL players while the Czech Republic, Germany, Kazakhstan and Switzerland each have two players and Finland, Slovakia and the United States each have one player.
Scott Gomez, who played for the Alaska Aces in 2004-05 during the National Hockey League lockout, is on Team USA. The native of Anchorage was named the ECHL Most Valuable Player after he led the league with 73 assists and 86 points in 61 games.
Czech Republic (2) – Milan Hnilicka (Richmond, 1993-94) and Tomas Vokoun (Wheeling, 1995-96).
Finland (1) – Antti Laaksonen (Charlotte, 1997-98).
Germany (2) – Jan Benda (Richmond, 1994-95) and Olaf Kolzig (Hampton Roads, 1990-92).
Italy (5) – Jason Cirone (Birmingham, 1993-94), Anthony Iob (Erie, 1992-93), John Parco (Hampton Roads, 1994-95 and 1999-2000), Andre Signoretti (Charlotte, 2000-02) and Anthony Tuzzolini (Huntington, 1999-2000 and Louisiana, 2002-03).
Kazakhstan (2) – Vitali Yeremeyev (Charlotte, 2000-02) and Oleg Kovalenko (Erie, 1993-94).
Latvia (9) – Arturs Irbe (Johnstown, 2002-03), Sergei Naumov (Greensboro, 2000-01), Rodrigo Lavins (Raleigh, 1994-95 and Tallahassee, 1994-97), Arvid Rekis (Peoria, 2000-03), Agris Saviels (Reading, 2002-03), Armands Berzins (Louisiana, 2003-04 and Wheeling, 2004-05), Aigars Cipruss (Nashville, 1994-96), Herbert Vasiljevs (Knoxville, 1996-97) and Maris Ziedins (Toledo and Greenville, 2004-05 and Stockton, 2005-06).
Slovakia (1) – Jan Lasak (Hampton Roads, 1999-2000).
Switzerland (2) – David Aebischer (Chesapeake and Wheeling, 1997-98) and Mark Streit (Tallahassee, 1999-2000).
United States (2) – Head Coach Peter Laviolette (Wheeling, 1997-98) and Scott Gomez (Alaska, 2004-05).