PRINCETON, N.J. – The 2002 ECHL All-Star Game was the first time that the ECHL asked its coaches to select players who the coaches believed were prospects who possessed the necessary skills to move up to the American Hockey League and the National Hockey League.
Five players from the 2002 ECHL All-Star Game have played in the NHL and countless others advanced to play in the AHL.
Michael Ryder was selected to play in the 2002 ECHL All-Star Game after scoring 15 points (7g-8a) in 10 games with Mississippi, but did not play because he was on call up to Quebec of the AHL. In 2003-04, Ryder, who has 29 points (18g-11a) in 40 games for Montreal, played his first season in the NHL and was named Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News. He finished second to Boston goaltender Andrew Raycroft in voting for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the National Hockey League’s top rookie, becoming the first player in ECHL history to be a finalist for the award.
Selected to the ECHL All-Star Game and named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team in 2001-02, Vernon Fiddler has 10 points (8g-2a) in 26 games with Nashville and seven points (1g-6a) in 11 games with Milwaukee of the AHL. The 25-year-old played his first NHL game for Nashville in November 2002 and had six points (4g-2a) in 19 games for the Predators in 2002-03 and played in 17 games for Nashville in 2003-04.
Named the starting goaltender for the Northern Conference in the 2002 ECHL All-Star Game, Curtis Sanford was named Defensive Player of the Week by the NHL on Nov. 21. He is 4-7-1 with a goals against of 2.76 and a save percentage of .900 in 13 games with St. Louis and 4-2-0 with a goals against of 1.84 and a save percentage of .929 in six games with Peoria of the AHL. The 26-year-old was 5-1-0 with a shutout, goals-against average of 1.96 and a save percentage of .912 save percentage in eight games with St. Louis in 2002-03.
Kevin Colley, who was named to the first of two consecutive ECHL All-Star Games in 2002, made his NHL debut with the New York Islanders on Oct. 27 and he has 31 penalty minutes in seven NHL games while also playing 21 games with Bridgeport of the AHL where he has 10 points (5g-5a) and 60 penalty minutes. The 27-year-old was named the MVP of the 2003 Kelly Cup Playoffs after scoring 20 points (13g-7a) to lead Atlantic City to the championship.
Named to the ECHL All-Star Game in his first professional season, Pat Leahy has six points (4g-2a) in 20 games with Boston in 2005-06 after making his NHL debut and playing six games with the Bruins in 2003-04.
Selected to the ECHL All-Star Game in his first professional season, David Gove has played in the AHL each of the past four years and in 2005-06 has 16 points (10g-6a) in 32 games with Lowell.
Named the starting goaltender for the Southern Conference in the 2002 ECHL All-Star Game, Frederic Cloutier was signed by the New York Islanders on Jan. 5 and is currently the backup goaltender for the Islanders. The 24-year-old is 1-1-0 with a goals against of 2.15 in three games with Bridgeport of the AHL and 5-6-2 with a goals against of 3.75 and a save percentage of .910 in 14 games with Pensacola.
Chris Madden, who was selected to the ECHL All-Star Game in 2002 and voted as a starter in 2005, is 7-6-0 with a goals against of 3.05 and a save percentage of .907 in 15 games with Bridgeport of the AHL. The 26-year-old was named ECHL Goaltender of the Year and First Team All-ECHL in 2004-05 after going 19-5-2 with five shutouts, a goals-against average of 2.14 and a save percentage of .941 in 28 games for Long Beach while also playing in the AHL for Providence where he was 5-4-0 with two shutouts, a goals-against average of 1.85 and a save percentage of .933 in 13 games.