Reading, Stockton to open 2013 Kelly Cup Finals on Saturday
PRINCETON, N.J. – The battle to determine the national “AA” hockey champion begins Saturday when the Eastern Conference champion Reading Royals host the Western Conference champion Stockton Thunder in Game 1 of the 2013 Kelly Cup Finals at 7:05 p.m. ET at Sovereign Center in Reading, Pa.
Celebrating its 25th season in 2012-13, the ECHL is the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League and is the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
The Kelly Cup trophy is named for Patrick J. Kelly, who presents it each year to the postseason champion. Kelly was one of the founding fathers of the ECHL and was the second inductee into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2008. Kelly served as Commissioner for the league’s first eight seasons and was named Commissioner Emeritus in 1996, a title that he continues to hold. Kelly, who celebrates his 60th season in professional hockey in 2012-13, coached 1,900 career games and had 935 wins. Kelly coached in the Eastern Hockey League, the Southern Hockey League and the National Hockey League where he was the only coach to ever lead the Colorado Rockies to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Game 2 will be Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET at Sovereign Center before the series shifts to Stockton, Calif., where the Thunder will host Game 3 on Tuesday, May 21 at 7 p.m. PT and Game 4 on Friday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m. PT at Stockton Arena. Game 5, if necessary, would be at 7:30 p.m. PT at Stockton Arena on Saturday, May 25. The series would return to Reading for Game 6, if necessary, on Tuesday, May 28 at 7:05 p.m. ET and Game 7, if necessary, at 7:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 29.
The ECHL is the primary development league for the AHL and the NHL. The ECHL and the AHL are the only two minor professional hockey leagues that are recognized in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and the National Hockey League Players’ Association. The CBA states that any player on an NHL entry-level contract designated for assignment to a minor league must report if assigned to a team in the ECHL or the AHL. A player on an NHL entry-level contract assigned to a minor professional league other than the ECHL or the AHL is not required to report and can request reassignment to a team in the ECHL or the AHL.
How they got here
Reading finished the 2012-13 regular season as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, capturing its second Atlantic Division title in the last three years with a record of 46-19-7 for 99 points. The Royals set club records for wins and points this season. Reading defeated Greenville 4 games to 1 in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals and Florida 4 games to 3 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals before dispatching Cincinnati 4 games to 1 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Stockton, which finished second in the Pacific Division and fourth in the Western Conference with an overall record of 37-26-9 for 83 points, defeated Las Vegas 4 games to 3 in the Western Conference Quarterfinals and Alaska 4 games to 2 in the Western Conference Semifinals before eliminating Idaho 4 games to 1 in the Western Conference Finals.
First time champion to be crowned
This is the first appearance in the Kelly Cup Finals for both Reading and Stockton. It is the first time since Cincinnati and Las Vegas squared off in the 2008 Kelly Cup Finals that both teams are making their first Finals appearance.
Both teams working overtime
The 2013 Kelly Cup Playoffs have seen 23 overtime games through three rounds, which ranks as the second most for a single postseason in ECHL history. There were 26 overtime games in the 2008 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Both clubs in the Finals have enjoyed their share of success in overtime in this year’s postseason. Stockton is 5-1 in overtime, and has tied the ECHL record for most overtime wins in one postseason (Mississippi in 1999, Peoria in 2000 and Florida in 2005). Reading is 4-1 in overtime during the postseason.
Stockton’s run at home to collide with Reading’s road success
When the series shifts to Stockton Arena for the middle three games of the series, the home-ice run of Stockton will collide with Reading’s strength on the road. The Thunder are 8-2 at home during the 2013 Kelly Cup Playoffs, and their eight wins are two more than any other team has had on home ice during these playoffs. During the regular season, Stockton was 22-11-3 at home. Reading is 6-3 on the road during the playoffs, winning two games away from home in each of its first three series. The Royals posted a 20-11-5 mark away from home during the regular season.
Reading’s strong starts versus Stockton’s come-from-behind ability
Reading has scored the first goal in 10 of its 17 games during the postseason, posting a 9-1 record when tallying the game’s first goal. In the regular season, the Royals were fourth in the league with 41 first goals, and were 32-4-5 when scoring first. However, Stockton is no stranger to working from behind during the 2013 Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Thunder have allowed the first goal of the game in 13 of their 18 postseason contests, and are 8-5 when their opponent scores first. Stockton is 6-3 when trailing after one period during the playoffs and has a postseason-best four wins (4-5) when trailing after two periods.
Scoring leaders on both sides
Reading is led in the playoffs by Yannick Tifu who has 17 points (9g-8a) in 17 postseason contests. Tifu’s nine goals are tied for first among playoff participants and his 17 points are tied for third. Brett Flemming leads all defensemen in the playoffs with three goals and is tied for second with his teammate Mark Mitera among bluelines with nine points each.
Top playoff goaltenders featured prominently in Finals
Both of the goaltenders on Reading’s playoff roster, Riley Gill and Mark Owuya have seen action in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Gill has appeared in 12 games, and has started each of the last nine games for the Royals, and ranks second among playoff goaltenders with a 1.90 goals-against average. He is tied for second in both wins (9) and save percentage (.929) while ranking third in minutes played (790) and fourth in saves (328). Owuya has played five games during the postseason, posting two shutouts among his three wins, and ranks first with a 1.61 goals-against average.
For Stockton, Olivier Roy has played all but 50 minutes through 18 playoff games, and leads all playoff goaltenders in wins (12) and saves (513) while ranking second in minutes played (1,082). The Edmonton Oilers’ prospect is tied for 10th with a 2.55 goals-against average.
Behind the Benches
Stockton head coach Matt Thomas won the Kelly Cup title as an assistant coach with Atlantic City in 2003. He is in his ninth season as a head coach in the ECHL and his fifth with the Thunder. Thomas is 342-225-80 in the regular season, and is fifth all-time in career coaching wins. During the postseason, he is 48-44, and entering the Kelly Cup Finals is third in career postseason wins. His 92 postseason games as a head coach are second all-time, and he will surpass 2009 ECHL Hall of Fame inductee John Brophy for the most career postseason games coached following Game 3 of the Finals.
Reading head coach Larry Courville is in his fifth season with the Royals, and is the club’s all-time leader with 326 games coached and 178 wins. He has led the Royals to the Kelly Cup Playoffs in each of the last four seasons, posting a record of 27-19, and the club has captured the Atlantic Division title in two of the last three seasons.
Name already on Kelly Cup
Reading’s Patrick Wellar was part of championship teams with Alaska in 2006 and South Carolina in 2009. He looks to join Scott Burt as the only individuals to win three Kelly Cup titles as players. Nikita Kashirsky was also part of South Carolina’s 2009 championship squad while Ethan Cox won a Kelly Cup championship with Alaska in 2011. Stockton head coach Matt Thomas won the Kelly Cup as an assistant coach with Atlantic City in 2003.
Players returning to Finals
America One broadcasts Kelly Cup Finals
For the 10th year in a row every game of the Kelly Cup Finals will be broadcast by America One Sports, the “Official Broadband & Mobile Broadcaster of the ECHL”.
America One has broadcast more than 4,000 regular season ECHL games and over 600 Kelly Cup Playoff games around the globe the last 10 years including the ECHL All-Star Game. The first hockey game broadcast by America One was the Las Vegas Wranglers in February 2004 and the first hockey championship carried by America One was the 2004 Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Visit AmericaOne.com for ordering instructions.
2013 Kelly Cup Finals Schedule
Game 1 – Saturday, May 18 at 7:05 p.m. ET at Sovereign Center in Reading Pennsylvania
Game 2 – Sunday, May 19 at 4:05 p.m. ET at Sovereign Center in Reading Pennsylvania
Game 3 – Tuesday, May 21 at 7 p.m. PT at Stockton Arena in Stockton, California
Game 4 – Friday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m. PT at Stockton Arena in Stockton, California
Game 5 – Saturday, May 25 at 7:30 p.m. PT at Stockton Arena in Stockton, California *
Game 6 – Tuesday, May 28 at 7:05 p.m. ET at Sovereign Center in Reading Pennsylvania *
Game 7 – Wednesday, May 29 at 7:05 p.m. ET at Sovereign Center in Reading Pennsylvania *
* If Necessary
Kelly Cup Champions
2012 – Florida defeated Las Vegas, 4 games to 1
2011 – Alaska defeated Kalamazoo, 4 games to 1
2010 – Cincinnati defeated Idaho, 4 games to 1
2009 – South Carolina defeated Alaska, 4 games to 3
2008 – Cincinnati defeated Las Vegas, 4 games to 2
2007 – Idaho defeated Dayton, 4 games to 1
2006 – Alaska defeated Gwinnett, 4 games to 1
2005 – Trenton defeated Florida, 4 games to 2
2004 – Idaho defeated Florida, 4 games to 1
2003 – Atlantic City defeated Columbia, 4 games to 1
2002 – Greenville defeated Dayton, 4 games to 0
2001 – South Carolina defeated Trenton, 4 games to 1
2000 – Peoria defeated Louisiana, 4 games to 2
1999 – Mississippi defeated Richmond, 4 games to 3
1998 – Hampton Roads defeated Pensacola, 4 games to 2
1997 – South Carolina defeated Louisiana, 4 games to 1
Riley Cup Champions
1996 – Charlotte defeated Jacksonville, 4 games to 0
1995 – Richmond defeated Greensboro, 4 games to 1
1994 – Toledo defeated Raleigh, 4 games to 1
1993 – Toledo defeated Wheeling, 4 games to 2
1992 – Hampton Roads defeated Louisville, 4 games to 0
1991 – Hampton Roads defeated Greensboro, 4 games to 1
1990 – Greensboro defeated Winston-Salem, 4 games to 1
1989 – Carolina defeated Johnstown, 4 games to 3