PRINCETON, N.J. – The 2004 ECHL All-Star Game was the third time that coaches were asked to name those ECHL players who the coaches felt would have the opportunity to move up within the professional hockey ranks to the American Hockey League and perhaps eventually the National Hockey League. Despite the NHL lockout, there have been 12 players from the 2004 game who have played in the AHL this season while three others played in the AHL in 2003-04.
In his first professional season with San Diego in 2003-04, Greg Barber was chosen after scoring 16 points (8g-8a) in 22 games. Barber finished second among ECHL rookies with 46 assists and 76 points while tying for second with 30 goals. He was 12th overall in scoring and was named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team, finishing third in voting for ECHL Rookie of the Year. Selected in the seventh round (207th overall) by Boston in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Barber has three points (1g-2a) in 24 games with Hershey of the AHL in 2004-05.
In his first professional season, Idaho goaltender Dan Ellis was 8-7-0 and ranked 19th with a 2.52 goals-against average in 15 games when chosen for the All-Star Game. Ellis was named the Most Valuable Player of the Kelly Cup Finals after leading the postseason with 13 wins and three shutouts. He was 4-1 with a shutout, a goals-against average of 1.95 and a save percentage of .933 in the Finals as Idaho won the ECHL title in its inaugural season. Ellis was 13-8-1 with a goals-against average of 2.56 and a save percentage of .909 in 23 regular season games with Idaho and 5-14-0 with a goals-against average of 2.92 and a save percentage of .909 in 20 games with Utah of the AHL. Ellis made his NHL debut on February 18 and made 25 saves in the Stars’ 4-3 win at Los Angeles. He was one of three players to appear in the ECHL, the AHL and the NHL in 2003-04. The other two were Adam Munro (Gwinnett, Norfolk and Chicago Blackhawks) and Damian Surma (Florida, Lowell and Carolina Hurricanes). Selected in the second round (60th overall) by Dallas in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft and under NHL contract with the Stars, the 24-year-old Ellis has played the entire 2004-05 season in the AHL with Hamilton where he is 6-14-0 with a goals-against average of 2.60 and a save percentage of .914.
In his first professional season in 2003-04, Brian Fahey was selected to the All-Star Game, named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team and finished among the top five vote-getters for both ECHL Rookie of the Year and Defenseman of the Year. Selected in the fourth round (119th overall) by Colorado in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Fahey led Atlantic City defensemen with 11 goals and 37 points in 2003-04 while also playing two games in the AHL with Worcester and 12 games with Hershey where he had one assist. Signed to an AHL contract by Worcester in February, Fahey had 11 points (3g-8a) in 21 games with Atlantic City before being recalled to Worcester in December where he has three assists in 14 games.
Michael Garnett was named to the Western Conference team after compiling a 13-4-2 record while tying for the league lead in shutouts with two. Garnett was 21-10-2 with four shutouts and ranked third in the league with a goals-against average of 2.14 in 2003-04 and helped Gwinnett advance to the Western Conference Finals, going 7-5-0 with a goals-against average of 2.65 in 12 Kelly Cup Playoff games. He was 7-3-2 with a goals-against average of 2.63 and a save percentage of .914 in 13 games with Chicago of the AHL. Selected in the third round (80th overall) by Atlanta in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft and under NHL contract with the Thrashers, the 22-year-old Garnett has played the entire 2004-05 season in the AHL with Chicago where he is 3-3-0 with a goals-against average of 3.30 and a save percentage of .903 in nine games.
Making 10 saves in the third period to pick up the win for the Northern Conference, Chris Houle returned to Philadelphia of the AHL after the 2004 All-Star Game and appeared in three games for the Phantoms. He was 7-8-3 with a goals-against average of 2.36 and a save percentage of .919 in 19 games with Trenton in 2003-04. Under contract to Philadelphia of the AHL, the 22-year-old Houle is 9-4-3 with a goals-against average of 2.55 and a save percentage of .915 in 17 games with Trenton in 2004-05 while also appearing in one game for the Phantoms.
In his first professional season in 2003-04, Greg Jacina was selected to the All-Star Game after scoring a team-leading 10 assists and 16 points in 21 games for Augusta. Under contract to San Antonio of the AHL, Jacina scored 38 points (15g-23a) in 58 games for Augusta in 2003-04 while also picking up four assists in 13 games with San Antonio. The 22-year-old Jacina has played the entire 2004-05 season in the AHL with San Antonio and is tied for fourth on the team with nine goals and ranks fifth in scoring with 19 points (9g-10a) in 46 games.
Jason Jaffray was voted as a starter for his second consecutive All-Star Game in 2004, was named All-ECHL Second Team and finished third in Most Valuable Player voting. Jaffray was third in the league with 37 goals and had 74 points in 54 games with Wheeling while registering an assist in five games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. In his first professional season in 2002-03, Jaffray was named First Team All-ECHL, to the ECHL All-Rookie Team and ECHL Rookie of the Year after scoring 85 points (34g-51a) in 64 games with Roanoke. The 23-year-old Jaffray opened the 2004-05 season with Wheeling, scoring 12 points (6g-6a) in 23 games, but was loaned to Cleveland of the AHL in December where he has six points (3g-3a) in 18 games.
Selected to the All-Star Game in his first professional season, defenseman Nate Kiser had 15 points (5g-10a) and 144 penalty minutes in 63 games with Dayton in 2003-04 while also picking up an assist and 14 penalty minutes in five games with Syracuse of the AHL. Selected in the fifth round (160th overall) by Phoenix in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft and under contract to Portland of the AHL, the 22-year-old Kiser opened the 2004-05 season in Portland, registering 29 penalty minutes in five games. Kiser is currently playing with South Carolina where he has one assist and 59 penalty minutes in 23 games.
Selected as a replacement, Shawn Limpright returned from Syracuse of the AHL to play in the All-Star Game and recorded an assist. Limpright returned to Syracuse following the game and finished the season with the Crunch, scoring 18 points (9g-9a) in 45 regular season games and one goal in six playoff games. Under contract to Syracuse, Limpright has six points (1g-5a) in nine games with Las Vegas and 14 points (5g-9a) in 29 games with Dayton.
Chris Lynch was selected to the All-Star Game after leading Greenville with 12 goals and 21 points in 22 games, finishing with 40 points (21g-19a) in 41 games with the Grrrowl. Lynch finished the season with Reading where he had 13 points (4g-9a) in 28 regular season games and two assists in 15 Kelly Cup Playoff games. In 2004-05, Lynch has 13 points (5g-8a) in 29 games with San Diego.
Under contract to Hershey of the AHL and in his first professional season, David Masse was tied for sixth among ECHL rookies with 13 assists and tied for 13th in rookie scoring with 18 points in 19 games while also scoring one point (1g-0a) in six games with Hershey at the time of his All-Star selection. Masse scored 47 points (14g-33a) in 53 regular season games with Reading in 2003-04 and tied for fifth in Kelly Cup Playoff scoring with 14 points (6g-8a) as Reading advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. He also had nine points (4g-5a) in 19 games with Hershey. After opening the season and scoring four points (2g-2a) in 11 games with Reading, Masse has been in the AHL with Hershey where he is third on the team with 11 goals and has 15 points (11g-4a) in 27 games.
A rookie defenseman with Gwinnett, Troy Milam was selected to the All-Star Game after being tied for eighth among league defensemen with 19 points (5g-14a) in 26 games. Milam had 33 points (6g-27a) in 60 regular season games and five assists in 10 Kelly Cup Playoff games for Gwinnett in 2003-04. He scored one goal in seven AHL games with Manchester and had two assists in 13 AHL games with San Antonio. The 24-year-old Milam has played the entire 2004-05 season in the AHL with Manchester, scoring 10 points (2g-8a) in 30 games.
Scoring 24 points (10g-14a) in his first 25 games as a rookie with Atlantic City, forward Sam Paolini was selected to the All-Star Game. Paolini finished the season with 46 points (18g-28a) in 63 regular season games and three points (1g-2a) in four Kelly Cup Playoff games for Atlantic City while also playing in the AHL with Cleveland (one assist in one game) and Rochester (one goal in four games). The 24-year-old Paolini has 32 points (9g-23a) in 36 games with Toledo while also playing in one game with Utah of the AHL in 2004-05.
Named the Most Valuable Player after scoring the game-winning goal and three points (2g-1a), Randy Rowe of Peoria was called up to St. John’s of the AHL following the All-Star Game. In 17 games with St. John’s, Rowe had seven points (3g-4a) while scoring 56 points (30g-26a) in 49 games with Peoria. In 2004-05, Rowe has 25 points (9g-16a) in 34 games with Peoria.
Defenseman Jonathan Zion was voted as a starter for the 2004 All-Star Game, making his second consecutive All-Star appearance having been selected as a rookie for the 2003 game. In 2003-04, Zion played in the ECHL with Reading and Greenville and in the AHL with Manchester and Syracuse. He scored 28 points (6g-22a) in 29 games with Reading and three points (2g-1a) in seven games with Greenville while registering two assists in 19 AHL games. Under contract to Utah of the AHL, the 23-year-old Zion played two games with Utah in 2004-05 and has scored 18 points (2g-16a) in 34 games with Idaho, which acquired him in a November trade with Bakersfield.