PRINCETON, N.J. – Sponsored by the Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino and hosted by the Peoria Rivermen and the City of Peoria, the 2004 Par-A-Dice ECHL All-Star Game was played in front of 7,242 fans at the 9,919-seat Carver Arena at the Peoria Civic Center in Peoria, Ill. on Wednesday.
Peoria’s Randy Rowe scored two goals and had an assist to earn Most Valuable Player honors and Trenton’s Chris Houle stopped all 10 shots in the third period as the Eastern Conference scored four third-period goals to post a 7-6 win over the Western Conference. The Eastern Conference also won the skills competition, 11-10 on Tuesday. It marked the seventh year that the winner of the skills competition has gone on to win the game.
Thirty five of the 42 players were making their first appearance in an ECHL All-Star Game. Among the seven players that had appeared in an ECHL All-Star Game before were second-year professionals Andrew Ianiero, Jason Jaffray and Jon Zion. Twenty three of the players in the game were rookies and the average age of the two rosters was just over 23 years old.
In attendance were National Hockey League scouts from Colorado, Nashville, St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Toronto as well as scouts from Chicago, Manitoba, Utah and Winnipeg of the American Hockey League.
Televised live for the third consecutive year, the game was available to more than 24 million homes, including for the second straight year to subscribers of NHL Center Ice, the “Official Sports Package of the ECHL,” in the United States on DIRECTV, DISH Network and iN DEMAND, and to subscribers of the NHL Network in Canada. Offered free of charge to ECHL teams, the game was carried live in Greensboro, Greenville, Idaho, Peoria and San Diego. The game is being televised on tape delay by Comcast Sports Southeast, New England Sports Network, CN8 and Cox Sports Louisiana as well as in Bakersfield and Fresno. The color commentary was handled by former New York Rangers President and General Manager and current ESPN, TSN and NHL Network analyst Neil Smith while Jack Michaels of Alaska did the play-by-play and Ned Bowdern of Wheeling was the ice-level reporter.
The ECHL in association with Yahoo! Broadcast made the telecast available online with live broadcast video, and for the sixth consecutive year the game was produced in conjunction with NHL Radio and available on the internet through Yahoo! Broadcast and on radio in several ECHL markets. Joe Babik of Florence, Dustin Bixby of Gwinnett and Norm Ulrich of Peoria handled the radio broadcast duties.
For the fourth consecutive year, the festivities also featured the NHL’s Stanley Cup.
Twenty players from the ECHL All-Star Game have advanced to the NHL and there are two former ECHL All-Star Game coaches and one former ECHL All-Star Game equipment manager currently behind the benches of NHL teams and five former ECHL All-Star Game coaches behind the benches of American Hockey League teams.
There have been 235 ECHL players that have advanced to the NHL, including 20 in 2003-04 that have made their first NHL appearance since playing in the ECHL: Johnathan Aitken (Chicago on November 26), Ryan Barnes (Detroit on December 15), Darryl Bootland (Detroit on November 8), Garrett Burnett (Anaheim on October 8), Carl Corazzini (Boston on January 15), Andrew Hutchinson (Nashville on October 18), Boyd Kane (Philadelphia on October 16), Patrick Leahy (Boston on December 6), Steve McLaren (St. Louis on December 16), Jason MacDonald ( New York Rangers on December 12), Pat Rissmiller (San Jose on November 13), Nathan Robinson (Detroit on November 28), Michael Ryder (Montreal on October 9), Dany Sabourin (Calgary on October 29), Rob Skrlac (New Jersey on December 13), Rastislav Stana (Washington on November 14), Mike Stuart (St. Louis on October 24), Darcy Verot (Washington on January 1), and Jeremy Yablonski (St. Louis on December 30). Travis Brigley, who played for Macon of the ECHL in 2001-02, played for Colorado on October 26.