Why Games 1 and 2 Are In Florida – Idaho finished the regular season with 89 points (40-23-9) while Florida finished with 84 points (37-25-10). Idaho holds home-ice advantage for the Kelly Cup Finals which normally are split into a 2-3-2 series with the higher seed hosting the first two games. Because of scheduling conflicts with TECO Arena during the week of May 17, the Steelheads agreed to play Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven series in Florida on May 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET with Games 3 and 4 in Idaho on May 19 and 21 at 7:05 p.m. MT. Game 5, if necessary, would be played in Idaho on May 22 at 7:05 p.m. MT while Game 6, if necessary, would be played in Florida on May 25 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Game 7, if necessary, would be played in Idaho on May 28 at 7:05 p.m. MT.
Kelly Cup Champions – Here is a complete list of Kelly Cup Champions:
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
Not First Time For Kelly Cup Finals In Sunshine State – This is not the first time for the Kelly Cup Finals in Florida as Pensacola lost in six games to Hampton Roads in 1998.
Kelly Cup Finalists’ Location to the Equator – Looking at a map tells you that Idaho would be the Kelly Cup and ECHL Champion located the furthest west. The Steelheads would also become the Kelly Cup and ECHL Champion located the furthest north. Boise’s latitude is 43.64564 N surpassing 2000 Kelly Cup Champion Peoria’s latitude of 40.687987 N and 1991 and 1992 ECHL Champion Toledo’s latitude of 41.640701 N. For the record, the longitude for Boise is 116.13285 W. It is also fairly easy to look at a map to see that Florida would be the Kelly Cup and ECHL Champion located the furthest south. The latitude of Estero is 26.44117 N surpassing 1999 Kelly Cup Champion Mississippi’s latitude of 30.40334 N.
Frequent Flyers – The distance between Boise, Idaho and Estero, Florida is 2,787 miles, so the Steelheads and Everblades will each initially travel 5,574 miles roundtrip. If Game 6 becomes necessary the Steelheads travel increases to 11,148 while the Everblades grows to 8,361. If Game 7 becomes necessary both teams total travel will be 11,148 miles.
Idaho Becomes Second Expansion Team To Reach Finals – Idaho becomes the second expansion team to reach the ECHL Finals. The expansion Greensboro Monarchs advanced to the ECHL Finals in 1989-90 defeating Winston-Salem, four games to one, for the Riley Cup Championship. The Wheeling Thunderbirds advanced to the ECHL Finals in 1992-93, the first season after relocating from Winston-Salem, N.C. The Jacksonville Lizard Kings advanced to the ECHL Finals in 1995-96, the first season after relocating from Louisville, Ky.
Name Already On Cup – Florida defenseman Ryan Brindley is the only player in the 2004 Kelly Cup Finals that already has his name engraved on the Kelly Cup. Brindley scored 14 points (3g-11a) in 18 games and helped South Carolina win the Kelly Cup in 2001. Brindley would become the ninth individual to have his name on the cup twice and all nine were part of South Carolina’s championship team in 2001. Seven of the eight had their name engraved for the second time while the eighth had his name engraved for the first time in 2001 when South Carolina won the Kelly Cup. Rick Adduono was assistant coach in 1997 and head coach in 2001 while Jason Fitzsimmons was a player in 1997 and assistant coach in 2001. Jared Bednar, Brad Dexter, Brett Marietti and Dave Seitz were all players in both 1997 and 2001. Marty Clapton had his name first engraved in 1998 with Hampton Roads and in 2001 with South Carolina. Mike Nicholishen had his name engraved for the first time in 2001 with South Carolina and for the second time in 2003 with Atlantic City.
Each Team Has Three Who Have Reached Kelly Cup Finals – There are three players on Florida’s roster and three players on Idaho’s roster who have appeared in the Kelly Cup Finals. Florida defenseman Ryan Brindley scored 14 points (3g-11a) in 18 games and helped South Carolina win the Kelly Cup in 2001. Florida right wing Chris Thompson scored 12 points (3g-9a) in 12 games with Dayton in the 2002 Kelly Cup Playoffs while defenseman Matt Pagnutti scored eight points (6g-2a) in 19 games with Louisiana in the 2000 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Idaho defenseman Darrell Hay scored 11 points (2g-9a) in 17 games with Columbia in the 2003 Kelly Cup Playoffs while left wing Ben Keup scored seven points (5g-2a) in 13 games with Dayton in the 2002 Kelly Cup Playoffs and defenseman Dan Vandermeer scored four points (0g-4a) in 16 games with Richmond in the 1999 Kelly Cup Playoffs.
First Time For Champion From Eastern Conference Or Western Conference – The 2004 Kelly Cup Finals will be the first time that the winner has been from an Eastern Conference or Western Conference. The Kelly Cup Champion has come from the Northern Conference three times (2003 – Atlantic City, 2000 – Peoria and 1998 – Hampton Roads) and from the Southern Conference three times (2002 – Greenville, 2001 – South Carolina and 1999 – Mississippi). The first season that the Kelly Cup was awarded the ECHL did not have conferences but rather three divisions (East, North and South). The winner was South Carolina from the East Division. In the eight years prior to the Kelly Cup, the ECHL Champion came from the East Division four times (Hampton Roads – 1991 and 1992, Richmond – 1995, Charlotte – 1996). There was one champion from the West Division (Toledo – 1993) and one champion from the North Division (Toledo – 1994).
Here is a look at the division and conference breakdown for each of the 16 seasons:
88-90 – One Division
90-93 – Two Divisions (East and West)
93-94 – Three Divisions (East, North and West)
94-97 – Three Divisions (East, North and South)
97-03 – Two Conferences (Northern and Southern)
Four Divisions (Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest)
03-04 – Two Conferences (Eastern and Western)
Four Divisions (Northern, Southern, Central and Pacific)
First Time For Kelly Cup Champion From Florida or Idaho – There has never been a Kelly Cup Champion from the state of Florida or Idaho. The state of South Carolina has produced the winner three of the seven years that the Kelly Cup has been awarded (South Carolina Stingrays – 1997 and 2001 and Greenville Grrrowl – 2002) while the states of Illinois (Peoria Rivermen – 1999), Mississippi (Mississippi Sea Wolves – 1999), New Jersey (Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies – 2003), and Virginia (Hampton Roads Admirals – 1998) have each produced one winner. In the 15 years of the ECHL, the state of Virginia (Hampton Roads Admirals – 1991, 1992 and 1998 and Richmond Renegades – 1995) has produced four champions. North Carolina (Carolina Thunderbirds – 1989, Greensboro Monarchs – 1990, Charlotte Checkers – 1996) and South Carolina (South Carolina Stingrays – 1997 and 2001 and Greenville Grrrowl – 2002) have each produced three champions while Ohio has produced two champions (Toledo Storm – 1993 and 1994). The states of Illinois (Peoria Rivermen – 1999), Mississippi (Mississippi Sea Wolves – 1999), and New Jersey (Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies – 2003) have each produced one winner.
Top Five Regular Season Finish Not Required For 2004 Champion – The 2004 winner will be only the second team in league history to capture the Kelly Cup after not finishing in the Top Five in the regular season standings. Idaho finished tied for 11th overall while Florida finished tied for 13th. Hampton Roads finished 18th overall and qualified for the postseason on the final day of the regular season. Ironically, only once in ECHL history has a team finished first in the regular season and gone on to win in the postseason – South Carolina in 1997.
Home-Ice Advantage – Kelly Cup Finals – The team with home-ice advantage in the ECHL Championship has won nine out of 15 times, including Greenville in 2002. Since the first Kelly Cup Championship in 1997, four of the seven winners had home-ice advantage: Greenville (2002), Peoria (2000), Mississippi (1999) and South Carolina (1997). The other home-ice advantage winners are: Charlotte (1996), Richmond (1995), Toledo (1994) and Hampton Roads (1991 and 1992).
Rookie Representation – Seven of the 48 players in the Kelly Cup Finals are rookies. The rookies for Idaho are goaltender Dan Ellis, forwards Jan Kopecky and David Bararuk and defenseman Mick Mounsey. Florida’s rookies are forwards Chad Larose and Brandon Coalter and defenseman Paul Esdale.
Where Do They Come From – Twenty-nine of the 48 players in the Kelly Cup Finals were born in Canada, 16 were born in the United States and three players were born in Europe – two in the Czech Republic and one in Russia. Florida has 15 American players and 10 Canadian players while Idaho has 17 Canadians, four Americans, two Czechs and one Russian. The breakdown by Canadian Province is: Ontario (15), British Columbia (6), Alberta (5) and Saskatchewan (3). The breakdown by states is: Michigan (4), Massachusetts (3), New York (2), Minnesota (2), North Dakota (2), Illinois (1), New Hampshire (1), and Alaska (1).
Age Breakdown – The average age for both teams is 25.5 years old. The oldest players on the Idaho roster are defenseman Jeremy Mylymok, who turned 32 on January 12, and forward Andrei Vasilyev, who turned 32 on March 30. The oldest player for Florida is forward Jim Brown, who will turn 31 on June 17. The youngest player for Idaho is forward David Bararuk, who will turn 21 on May 26. The youngest players for Florida are forward Chad Larose, who turned 22 on March 27, and defenseman Jared Newman, who turned 22 on March 7. The average age breakdown by position for Florida is: forwards (25.5 years old), defensemen (23.7 years old), and goaltenders (25 years old). The average age breakdown by position for Idaho is: forwards (25 years old), defensemen (25.8 years old), and goaltenders (26 years old).
Height Breakdown – The average listed height for Florida is 72.6 inches compared to the average listed height of 71.9 inches for Idaho. Florida has 16 players who are listed at 6-0 (72 inches) or taller while Idaho has 14 players who are listed at 6-0 (72 inches) or taller. The tallest player in the Kelly Cup Finals is Florida defenseman Ian Forbes, who is listed at 6-6 (78 inches), while the shortest player is Idaho forward Andrei Vasilyev, who is listed at 5-8 (68 inches). The shortest players on Florida are forwards Brian McCullough and Damian Surma, who are both listed at 5-9 (69 inches), while the tallest players on Idaho are defensemen Regan Darby and Martin Vasut, who are both listed at 6-2 (74 inches). The average height for Florida by position is: forwards (72.1 inches), defensemen (73.1 inches) and goaltenders (73.5 inches). The average height for Idaho by position is: forwards (72 inches), defensemen (71.9 inches) and goaltenders (71.5 inches).
Weight Breakdown – The average listed weight for Florida is 198.4 pounds compared to Idaho’s average listed weight of 194.8 pounds. The heaviest player is Florida forward Paul Vincent, who has a listed weight of 236 pounds. The heaviest player on Idaho’s roster is forward Adam Copeland, who is listed at 215 pounds. The lightest player in the Kelly Cup Finals is Idaho defenseman Dan Vandermeer, who is listed at 171 pounds, four pounds lighter than Florida forward Chad Larose’s listed weight of 175. The average weight by position for Florida is: forwards (197.4 pounds), defensemen (201.9 pounds) and goaltenders (190 pounds). The average weight by position for Idaho is: forwards (193.8 pounds), defensemen (197.2 pounds) and goaltenders (200 pounds).
NHL Contracts – There are seven players in the Kelly Cup Finals who are under contract to teams in the National Hockey League. Florida’s Damian Surma, Rob Zepp, Chad Larose and Jared Newman are all under contract to the Carolina Hurricanes while Idaho’s Brett Draney, Dan Ellis and David Bararuk are all under contract to the Dallas Stars.
AHL Contracts – There are 12 players in the Kelly Cup Finals who are under contract to teams in the American Hockey League. Idaho’s Jeff Bateman, Dylan Gyori, Zenon Konopka, David Cornacchia, Regan Darby and Warren Peters are all under contract to the Utah Grizzlies while Florida’s Jeff Maund, Matt Pagnutti, Brent McDonald, Brian McCullough, Ryan Van Buskirk and Paul Esdale are all under contract to the Lowell Lock Monsters.
ECHL, AHL & NHL Same Year – Idaho goaltender Dan Ellis and Florida left wing Damian Surma each played in the National Hockey League, the American Hockey and the ECHL in 2003-04. Ellis made his NHL debut with Dallas on February 18 and made 25 saves in the Stars 4-3 win at Los Angeles. After recording an assist in the Everblades’ playoff-clinching 4-2 win against Augusta on April 3, Surma had an assist in Carolina’s 6-6 tie at Florida on April 4. There were 11 players who played in both the ECHL and the NHL in 2003-04, surpassing the previous high of five players that played in both leagues in 2001-02. Over 220 players played in both the ECHL and the AHL in 2003-04 and the ECHL had 425 call-ups, involving 234 players, to the AHL during the regular season.
NHL Draft Selections – Twenty-two players in the Kelly Cup Finals have been selected in the National Hockey League Entry Draft. There are 14 players on Florida’s roster and eight players on Idaho’s roster. Here is a breakdown by year:
2002 NHL Entry Draft
David Bararuk, Idaho (5th round – 147th overall – Dallas Stars)
2001 NHL Entry Draft
Peter Reynolds, Florida (9th round – 274th overall – Carolina Hurricanes)
Rob Zepp, Florida (4th round – 110th overall – Carolina Hurricanes)
Daniel Boisclair, Florida (6th round – 181st overall – Carolina Hurricanes)
2000 NHL Entry Draft
Dan Ellis, Idaho (2nd round – 60th overall – Dallas Stars)
Jared Newman, Florida (4th round – 110th overall – Carolina Hurricanes)
Ryan Van Buskirk, Florida (4th round – 121st overall – Washington Capitals)
1999 NHL Entry Draft
Peter Reynolds, Florida (2nd round – 60th overall – Toronto Maple Leafs)
Ed Hill, Florida (2nd round – 61st overall – Nashville Predators)
Rob Zepp, Florida (4th round – 99th overall – Atlanta Thrashers)
Jeff Bateman, Idaho (4th round – 126th overall – Dallas Stars)
Damian Surma, Florida (6th round – 174th overall – Carolina Hurricanes)
Brett Draney, Idaho (6th round – 186th overall – Dallas Stars)
Darrell Hay, Idaho (9th round – 271st overall – Vancouver Canucks)
1998 NHL Entry Draft
Ian Forbes, Florida (2nd round – 51st overall – Philadelphia Flyers)
Kevin Holdridge, Florida (3rd round – 70th overall – Carolina Hurricanes)
Regan Darby, Idaho (4th round – 90th overall – Vancouver Canucks)
Ryan Van Buskirk, Florida (4th round – 100th overall – Phoenix Coyotes)
Brandon Coalter, Florida (5th round – 127th overall – San Jose Sharks)
Brent McDonald, Florida (9th round – 239th overall – Carolina Hurricanes)
1997 NHL Entry Draft
Jay Legault, Florida (3rd round – 72nd overall – Mighty Ducks of Anaheim)
1996 NHL Entry Draft
Reggie Berg, Florida (7th round – 178th overall – Toronto Maple Leafs)
1994 NHL Entry Draft
Adam Copeland, Idaho (4th round – 79th overall – Edmonton Oilers)
Tom Buckley, Florida (8th round – 187th overall – Hartford Whalers)
1992 NHL Entry Draft
Andrei Vasilyev, Idaho (11th round – 248th overall – New York Islanders)
ECHL All-Stars – Idaho defenseman David Cornacchia and goaltender Dan Ellis represented the Western Conference in the 2004 ECHL All-Star Game while Florida forward Brian McCullough was voted as a starter for the Eastern Conference.
Don’t Plan On Home-Ice Celebration – In the 15 previous ECHL Playoffs, the champion has won the deciding game on the road eight times. Greenville broke a three-year streak of home-ice winners in 2002 when it won Game 4 at Dayton. The seven teams to win the title on home ice are: Atlantic City (2003), South Carolina (2001), Peoria (2000), Mississippi (1999), Richmond (1995), Toledo (1993) and Hampton Roads (1991).
Home-Ice Advantage – Overtime – There have been 35 overtime games in seven-game series and the home team has won 24 times. In the ECHL Finals, the home team has won eight of 14 overtime games.
Playing Past Regulation – Eight of the 17 games in the Finals that have been tied at the end of regulation have gone to multiple overtimes. There have been seven games decided in double overtime, including Game 3 of the 2001 Kelly Cup Finals, and one decided in triple overtime, Game 4 of the 1991 Riley Cup Finals. There have been eight overtime games and one double overtime game in the 2003 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Here are the five longest games in Finals history:
1991 Hampton Roads 2, GREENSBORO 1 Game 4 5:47 3rd OT (105:47)
1990 GREENSBORO 4, Winston-Salem 3 Game 4 14:18 2nd OT (94:18)
1999 MISSISSIPPI 4, Richmond 3 Game 7 10:31 2nd OT (90:31)
2001 Trenton 4, SOUTH CAROLINA 3 Game 3 10:14 2nd OT (90:14)
1994 TOLEDO 4, Raleigh 3 Game 1 1:38 2nd OT (91:38)
Overtime Wins Can Result In Series Win – Winners of 20 of the 34 overtime games in seven-game series have gone on to win the series, including a 12-3 record in Games 4-7. Two teams that have won in overtime in Game 3 have gone on to win the series, Greenville in 2002 and Peoria in 2000.
Game 7 Is Not Common – In the history of the ECHL, there have been five Game 7s and it has only happened twice in the Finals. In 1999, Mississippi won the final three games of the Kelly Cup Finals against Richmond, including a 4-3 double overtime win in Game 7. In the first-ever Riley Cup Finals in 1989, Carolina defeated Johnstown 7-4 in Game 7.
The following is a breakdown of the length of the 34 seven-game series in ECHL history:
Four Games: 8 (23.53%)
Five Games: 11 (32.35%)
Six Games: 10 (29.41%)
Seven Games: 5 (14.71%)
The following is a breakdown of the 15 Finals in ECHL history:
Four Games: 3 (20.00%)
Five Games: 7 (46.67%)
Six Games: 3 (20.00%)
Seven Games: 2 (13.33%)
Winning Game 1 or Game 2 Does Not Guarantee Success – While winning either Game 1 or Game 2 is often pointed to as a key for winning a series, winning Game 4 or Game 5 has almost always guaranteed a series victory. In the previous 34 seven-game series, the team that has won Game 4 has gone on to win the series 30 times, including 14 of the 15 Finals, the exception being the Richmond Renegades in the 1999 Kelly Cup Finals. Atlantic City and Columbia, who both lost Game 4 in the 2003 Conference Finals, join Toledo in the 1993 Semifinals as the only teams to lose Game 4 while winning the series. The winners of Game 5 have won 22 of 26 seven-game series, including each of the 12 ECHL Finals that have lasted five games. Peoria won Game 5 in the 2001 Northern Conference Finals, but lost the series to Trenton. Trenton won Game 5 in the 2000 Northern Conference Finals, but lost the series to Peoria.
The following is a breakdown of the record for eventual series winners in each game:
Game 1 22-12 9-6
Game 2 22-12 11-4
Game 3 24-10 8-7
Game 4 30-4 14-1
Game 5 22-4 12-0
Game 6 11-4 4-1
Home Cooking Is Sweet Early But Can Turn Sour Later – The home team has enjoyed success early in seven-game series, but that success has faded in later games, particularly in the Finals. In the 2003 Kelly Cup Finals, the home team was 2-3 as Atlantic City defeated Columbia in five games.
Game 1 23-11 9-6
Game 2 26-8 11-4
Game 3 18-16 7-8
Game 4 19-15 6-9
Game 5 20-6 7-5
Game 6 8-9 3-3
Game 7 5-1 1-1