PRINCETON, N.J. – Former Gwinnett Gladiators center Jared Ross became the 358th player to play in the National Hockey League after playing in the ECHL when he made his NHL debut with the Philadelphia Flyers in a 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday.
Ross was signed by Gwinnett in July 2005 following a four-year career at the University of Alabama Huntsville. He began the season with the Gladiators and played in their season opener before being called up to the American Hockey League where he had 37 points (10g-27a) and 37 penalty minutes in 62 games for Chicago.
He played in the AHL each of the last two seasons and had 15 points (7g-8a) in 41 games for the Wolves in 2006-07 before being traded to Philadelphia where he had 14 points (4g-10a) in 21 games. He had career highs in 2007-08 with 23 goals, 39 assists, 56 points and 67 games for Philadelphia while making his first professional postseason appearance, scoring nine points (5g-4a) in 12 games.
The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the NHL, marking the 12th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
The have been 102 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL in the last four seasons, including a record 47 in 2005-06. Seventy-two former ECHL players were on NHL opening-day rosters and there were 333 former ECHL players who attended NHL training camps, including 139 who played in the league last season.
Former Wheeling Nailers defenseman and ECHL All-Star Paul Bissonnette was the first former ECHL player to make his NHL debut this year, playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins in their 4-3 overtime win against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 4 in Stockholm, Sweden. Former Las Vegas Wranglers defenseman Adam Pardy was the second player to play in the NHL this season when he made his debut with the Calgary Flames in a 6-0 loss at Vancouver on Thursday.
Former ECHL coaches working as head coaches in the NHL are Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals, Scott Gordon of the New York Islanders and Peter Laviolette of the Carolina Hurricanes. 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. Laviolette, who began his coaching career with the Wheeling Nailers, led Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup in 2006. There are 15 assistant coaches in the NHL who were players or coaches in the ECHL.
The ECHL is represented for the eighth consecutive year on the National Hockey League championship team in 2008 by Aaron Downey of the Detroit Red Wings.
There are 18 former ECHL officials scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2008-09 with referees David Banfield, Chris Ciamaga, Ghislain Hebert, Marc Joannette, Mike Leggo, Wes McCauley, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh and linesmen Steve Barton, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak and Jay Sharrers. Barton, Joannette, Leggo, McCauley, Nowak, Pollock, Rooney and Sharrers all worked the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Watch games live on B2 Networks, the “Official Broadband Broadcast Provider” of the ECHL.
The ECHL celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2007-08 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 playing 828 games in 16 states and British Columbia in 2008-09.
The Reading Royals, the City of Reading and the Sovereign Center will host the 17th Annual ECHL All-Star Game on Jan. 21, 2009 and the 12th Annual All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 20, 2009.
The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
The ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 29 teams in the American Hockey League in 2007-08 and for the past 19 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup champion.
In the last six seasons the ECHL has had more call ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 2,300 call ups involving more than 1,200 players. In each of the last three seasons there have been more than 225 players who have played in both the ECHL and the AHL in the same season.
Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.