PRINCETON, N.J. – The Florida Everblades won their first ECHL Kelly Cup championship on Wednesday beating the Las Vegas Wranglers 3-2 in overtime in front of a standing-room only crowd of 7,290 at Germain Arena in Estero, Fla. to win the series 4 games to 1.
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 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 celebrated his 59th season in professional hockey in 2011-12, 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.
Celebrating its 24th season in 2011-12, 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 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.
Muse wins Most Valuable Player award
Florida goaltender John Muse was named Most Valuable Player of the 2012 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Muse appeared in 13 games during the postseason posting a record of 11-2 with one shutout, a 1.78 goals-against average and a save percentage of .939. He allowed two goals or less in 10 of his 13 appearances.
Florida captures second Kelly Cup
The Everblades are the first team since Cincinnati in 2008 to win their first Kelly Cup. Florida is the 11th different winner of the Kelly Cup since 1996-97. From 1989-96, the ECHL champion was awarded the Riley Cup. In the 24-year history of the ECHL, 16 different teams have captured the league title.
Florida won the title in its third Kelly Cup Finals appearance. The three appearances in the Finals are tied with six other clubs for the most appearances in ECHL history.
Fifth team to win title without top-five regular-season finish
Florida becomes the fifth team in ECHL history to win the postseason championship after not finishing in the top five of the regular season standings. The Everblades finished the 2011-12 season eighth overall in the league with 85 points.
Idaho won the 2007 title after finishing sixth in the regular season, and the 2004 title after an 11th place finish in the regular season. Trenton won the Kelly Cup after finishing sixth in 2004-05 while Hampton Roads finished 19th and qualified for the postseason on the last day of the 1997-98 season before winning the Kelly Cup.
Everblades are eighth Kelly Cup champion without home ice
Florida is the eighth team in 16 years to win the Kelly Cup without having home-ice advantage in the Finals. The other winners are Cincinnati in 2010, South Carolina in 2009, Trenton in 2005, Idaho in 2004, Atlantic City in 2003, South Carolina in 2001, Pensacola in 1998. Eleven of the 24 league champions have won the title without having home-ice advantage.
Celebration at home & on road
For the 11th time in ECHL history, the decisive game in the Finals was won at home. The Kelly Cup has been clinched at home eight times in 16 years with Florida (2012), Cincinnati (2010 and 2008), Idaho (2004), Atlantic City (2003), South Carolina (2001), Peoria (2000) and Mississippi (1999). The Riley Cup was won at home three times with Richmond (1995), Toledo (1993) and Hampton Roads (1991).
The 13 teams to clinch the ECHL championship on the road are Alaska (2011 and 2006), South Carolina (2009), Idaho (2007), Trenton (2005), Greenville (2002), Hampton Roads (1998), South Carolina (1997), Charlotte (1996), Toledo (1994), Hampton Roads (1992), Greensboro (1990) and Carolina (1989).
Fourth championship clinched in overtime
Florida becomes the fourth team to win the ECHL championship in overtime, joining Peoria (2000), Mississippi (1999) and Toledo (1993). Each of the three teams to win the ECHL title in overtime did so on home ice.
Kelly Cup championship banners in eight states
South Carolina (South Carolina Stingrays in 1997, 2001 and 2009 and Greenville in 2002) has produced four of the 16 winners of the Kelly Cup while Alaska (Alaska Aces in 2006 and 2011), Idaho (Idaho Steelheads in 2004 and 2007), New Jersey (Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies in 2003 and Trenton Titans in 2005) and Ohio (Cincinnati Cyclones in 2008 and 2010) have each produced two champions. The other four champions have been from Florida (Florida Everblades – 2012), Illinois (Peoria Rivermen – 2000), Mississippi (Mississippi Sea Wolves – 1999) and Virginia (Hampton Roads Admirals – 1998).
ECHL champions from 10 states
In the first 24 years of the ECHL, Ohio (Toledo Storm in 1993 and 1994 and Cincinnati Cyclones in 2008 and 2010), South Carolina (South Carolina Stingrays in 1997, 2001 and 2009 and Greenville in 2002) and Virginia (Hampton Roads Admirals in 1991, 1992 and 1998 and Richmond Renegades in 1995) have the most championships with four each. North Carolina (Carolina Thunderbirds in 1989, Greensboro Monarchs in 1990 and Charlotte Checkers in 1996) has three champions while Alaska (Alaska Aces in 2006 and 2011), Idaho (Idaho Steelheads in 2004 and 2007) and New Jersey (Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies in 2003 and Trenton Titans in 2005) have two apiece. Florida (Florida Everblades in 2012), Illinois (Peoria Rivermen in 2000) and Mississippi (Mississippi Sea Wolves in 1999) each have one winner.
Kelly Cup Finals game-worn jerseys, game-used pucks available
All of the jerseys will have the Kelly Cup Finals patch, which is available only on the team jerseys.
The jerseys worn in Games 1 and 2 are available now through June 7 while the jerseys that were worn during Games 3 and 4 will be available from May 29 through June 14. Game-used and goal-scored pucks from Games 1 and 2 are available through June 7.
The "Official Game-Worn Jersey Source of the ECHL" since 2002, MeiGray gives hockey fans and sports collectors worldwide the opportunity to purchase authentic game-worn ECHL jerseys online at MeiGray.com or by telephone at (888) 463-4472.
Kelly Cup Finals on America One for ninth straight year
Every game of the Kelly Cup Finals was broadcast live online by America One, the “Official Broadband & Mobile Broadcaster of the ECHL,” for the ninth year in a row. America One has broadcast more than 3,200 regular season ECHL games and over 500 Kelly Cup Playoff games around the globe the last nine 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.
2012 Kelly Cup Finals (Best of Seven)
Florida wins series 4-1
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
Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• Watch games live on America One, the “Official Broadband & Mobile Broadcaster” of the ECHL.
• The ECHL celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2012-13 and is 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 with 23 teams in 16 states in 2012-13.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• 490 players have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 23 in 2010-11.
• 23 ECHL players made their NHL debut in 2011-12: former Toledo Walleye, Gwinnett Gladiators and Colorado Eagles right wing Akim Aliu (Calgary on April 5), former Florida Everblades center Mike Angelidis (Tampa Bay on Jan. 24), former Victoria Salmon Kings defenseman Jordie Benn (Dallas on Jan. 3), former Bakersfield Condors and Elmira Jackals defenseman Stu Bickel (New York Rangers on Dec. 20), former Greenville Road Warriors defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon (Philadelphia on Nov. 21), former South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Joe Finley (Buffalo on Dec. 2), Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender Brian Foster (Florida on Feb. 4), former Victoria Salmon Kings defenseman Kris Fredheim (Minnesota on Nov. 17), former Gwinnett Gladiators center Ryan Garbutt (Dallas on Feb. 18), former Elmira Jackals center Mike Hoffman (Ottawa on Dec. 23), former Victoria Salmon Kings goaltender Leland Irving (Calgary on Dec. 16), former Toledo Storm and Reading Royals center Bracken Kearns (Florida on Oct. 20), Stockton Thunder center Milan Kytnar (Edmonton on Jan. 11), former Bakersfield Condors center Maxime Macenauer (Anaheim on Oct. 7), former Ontario Reign center Jordan Nolan (Los Angeles on Feb. 11), former Idaho Steelheads center and two-time ECHL All-Star Greg Rallo (Florida on Dec. 18), former Cincinnati Cyclones center Ryan Russell (Columbus on Jan. 7), former Reading Royals goaltender Jussi Rynnas (Toronto on March 27), former Reading Royals goaltender Ben Scrivens (Toronto on Nov. 3), former Cincinnati Cyclones defenseman Frederic St. Denis (Montreal on Nov. 16), former Ontario Reign defenseman Colten Teubert (Edmonton on Nov. 3), former Wheeling Nailers goaltender Brad Thiessen (Pittsburgh on Feb. 26) and former Las Vegas Wranglers right wing Matt Watkins (Phoenix on Feb. 21).
• Six players played in the ECHL and NHL in 2011-12: Akim Aliu with Colorado and Calgary, Brian Foster with Cincinnati and Florida, Milan Kytnar with Stockton and Edmonton, Peter Mannino with Chicago and Winnipeg, Jussi Rynnas with Reading and Toronto and Allen York with Chicago and Columbus.
• The ECHL has had 298 players reach the NHL since 2002-03 when it changed its focus to become the primary developmental league for the NHL and the AHL. The ECHL had 97 players reach the NHL in its first 10 seasons and 215 in the first 15 years.
• 234 ECHL players have played their first game in the last seven seasons for an average of more than 33 per year.
• ECHL had a record 81 players on NHL opening-day rosters in 2011-12, surpassing the 79 from 2010-11 and marking the ninth year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
• ECHL had affiliations with 26 of the 30 NHL teams in 2011-12, marking the 15th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
• 31 coaches with an ECHL background worked behind the benches of teams in the NHL in 2011-12 including Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau, Pittsburgh Penguins head coach and 2011 Jack Adams Award winner Dan Bylsma, New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano, Dallas Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan, Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette and Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel. It is the seventh consecutive season that there have been 11 or more coaches with an ECHL background working in the NHL. Boudreau, who coached Mississippi for three seasons winning the Kelly Cup championship in 1999, was named NHL Coach of the Year in 2007-08 becoming the first former ECHL coach to receive the award.
• 24 former ECHL officials worked as part of the NHL officiating team in 2011-12 with referees David Banfield, Darcy Burchell, Francis Charron, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, Mike Leggo, Mark Lemelin, Wes McCauley, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Justin St. Pierre, Graham Skilliter and Ian Walsh, and linesmen Steve Barton, Brian Mach, Matt MacPherson, Tim Nowak, Bryan Pancich and Jay Sharrers.
• ECHL was represented for the 11th year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion in 2011 with Boston Bruins assistant coach Geoff Ward, players Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder and Tim Thomas, radio broadcaster Dave Goucher and scout Tom McVie. Thomas is the first former ECHL player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There were 34 former players and 19 coaches on the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking the sixth year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the eighth consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience have competed in the NHL postseason.
• Former ECHL and current Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was the recipient of the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender in the NHL in 2010-11, marking the second time he has won the award in the past three seasons. Thomas set a single-season NHL record with a .938 save percentage.
• Former ECHL player and current Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma was the recipient of the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s Coach of the Year in 2010-11.
• ECHL was represented in the 2012 NHL All-Star Game by Dan Girardi of the New York Rangers, Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings and Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins.
• Former ECHL broadcasters working in the NHL include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, Tom Callahan of the Nashville Predators, Dave Goucher of the Boston Bruins, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Jack Michaels of the Edmonton Oilers, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Bob McElligott of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
• Ryan Stanzel and Jeremy Zager, who were both recipients of the ECHL Media Relations Director of the Year award, are working in the communications department for the Minnesota Wild and the Los Angeles Kings, respectively. Former ECHL assistant director of communications Joe Siville and Kelly Murray are now with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals, respectively, while former ECHL director of communications Jason Rothwell is the creative director for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
• In the last seven seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 3,500 call-ups involving more than 1,800 players and in 2011-12 there were 10 times as many call-ups from the ECHL to the AHL than all other professional leagues.
• The ECHL averaged 4,281 fans per game in 2011-12, marking the eighth consecutive season and the 20th time in the last 22 years that the ECHL has averaged over 4,000 fans.