PRINCETON, N.J. – The Stanley Cup Tour of the ECHL hits three cities in three days this weekend when it visits the Wheeling Nailers on Friday, the Toledo Storm on Saturday and the Dayton Bombers on Sunday. The Tour officially began Wednesday night at Cambria Country War Memorial, home of the Johnstown Chiefs, who have been a member of the league since it began in 1988.
The National Hockey League and the Hockey Hall of Fame are touring the Stanley Cup to 20 teams in the ECHL between October 26 and December 17 to help raise awareness and money for hurricane relief efforts.
The Mississippi Sea Wolves and Texas Wildcatters were both unable to play in 2005-06 as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but both teams have announced plans to return to the ice in 2006-07.
“I would like to thank Commissioner Gary Bettman and the National Hockey League, the NHL Players’ Association and the Hockey Hall of Fame for their role in raising the level of awareness and assistance for people in both Mississippi and Southeast Texas, two ECHL markets hard hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. “We encourage fans in all participating cities to come see professional sport’s most famous trophy and help in fundraising at the same time.”
“It’s great that ECHL fans will be able to enjoy the Stanley Cup and at the same time help out those in need,” said Mike Rogers, Mississippi Sea Wolves operating owner. “I am proud of the Sea Wolves’ partnership with the ECHL in this endeavor because a lot of people will be assisted by this promotion and they will be very grateful for the support. It will help restore normalcy in the lives of those who have been affected by the hurricanes.”
Every ECHL team was given the opportunity to host the Stanley Cup and only three teams that submitted requests were not able to be included in the current tour schedule. The NHL is making every effort to incorporate visits to San Diego and Stockton in conjunction with the Stanley Cup’s annual visit to the ECHL All-Star Game which will be hosted by the Fresno Falcons at Save Mart Center on January 25 and the NHL is also continuing to work on a visit to Estero, Florida which was just hit by Hurricane Wilma.
Proceeds benefit charities assisting in hurricane relief efforts including, but not limited to, the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and the United Way. The Tour is another addition to the National Hockey League’s charitable efforts which have included a joint donation with the NHL Players’ Association of $1 million to the Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina relief.
The MeiGray Group is auctioning limited-edition game-worn jerseys and limited-edition game-used pucks from opening weekend with proceeds going to The Salvation Army for its hurricane relief efforts, including those persons in Biloxi and Beaumont. The auction continues until November 17 at ECHLAuction.at.EDeal.com. Fans can donate to The Salvation Army using their cell phone with a text message. To participate, text to: 68683 (mVote) the keyword: GIVE. Cost for each text message is $2.99. Each ECHL arena is displaying dasher boards that say “Hurricane Relief” with the logos of the ECHL and The Salvation Army.
For the fifth consecutive year the ECHL was represented on the Stanley Cup in 2004 with Tampa Bay’s Ruslan Fedotenko, Nolan Pratt and Andre Roy as well as radio announcer Dave Mishkin and assistant equipment manager Dana Heinze. The three players are the most ECHL representatives in one year surpassing 2001 when David Aebischer and Pratt helped Colorado win the title, and brings the total number of ECHL alumni on the Stanley Cup to nine. Pratt is the first ECHL player to have his name engraved twice on the Stanley Cup. The previous alumni whose names are on the Stanley Cup are Corey Schwab (New Jersey – 2003), Manny Legace (Detroit – 2002), Aebischer and Pratt (Colorado – 2001), Krzysztof Oliwa (New Jersey – 2000) and Kevin Dean (New Jersey – 1995).
The ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the NHL and there is one head coach (Peter Laviolette), 12 assistant coaches, 12 referees and five linesmen working in the NHL in 2005-06 who have ECHL experience. There have been 267 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including Evgeny Artukhin (Tampa Bay on October 20), Adam Berkhoel (Atlanta on October 15), Derek Boogaard (Minnesota on October 5), Michael Garnett (Atlanta on October 12), Steven Goertzen (Columbus on October 21),Timo Helbling (Tampa Bay on October 5), Colin Hemingway (St. Louis on October 19), Raitis Ivanans (Montreal on October 8), George Parros (Los Angeles on October 5), Nolan Schaefer (San Jose on October 26) and Mark Streit (Montreal on October 8) in 2005-06.
Stanley Cup Tour of ECHL Cities
Johnstown Chiefs – Affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning
Wheeling Nailers – Affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Toledo Storm – Affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks
Dayton Bombers – Affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets
Trenton Titans – Affiliate of Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders
Reading Royals – Affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings
Pensacola Ice Pilots – Affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs
West Valley City, Utah
Las Vegas Wranglers – Affiliate of the Calgary Flames
Long Beach Ice Dogs – Affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens
Long Beach, Calif.
Victoria Salmon Kings
Victoria, British Columbia
Idaho Steelheads – Affiliate of the Dallas Stars
Columbia Inferno – Affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks
South Carolina Stingrays – Affiliate of the Washington Capitals
North Charleston, S.C.
Gwinnett Gladiators – Affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers
Charlotte Checkers – Affiliate of the New York Rangers
Greenville Grrrowl – Affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers