2006 Rookie Of The Year Leavitt Wins AHL Award

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The American Hockey League announced that 2006 ECHL Rookie of the Year Alex Leavitt has been named the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Mar. 4.

Leavitt had six points (2g-4a) and was +7 in two games for San Antonio which acquired him from Houston just prior to the AHL Clear Day deadline on Mar. 1. In his first two games with the Rampage, he had four assists and was +5 in a 5-1 win at Iowa on Mar. 3 and scored both goals for San Antonio in a 3-2 loss at Chicago on Mar. 4.

In his second professional season and under AHL contract to Houston, the 23-year-old has 24 points (10g-14a) and 32 penalty minutes in 30 games with Texas. The ECHL rights to Leavitt were acquired by Texas from Alaska on Nov. 20, 2006 in exchange for rookie forward Gino Guyer. He has seven points (2g-5a) and two penalty minutes in three games with San Antonio and 11 points (2g-9a) and 14 penalty minutes in 23 games with Houston.

Leavitt had 91 points (26g-65a) in 72 regular season games for Alaska in 2005-06 to become the first rookie in 15 years and only the third in history to lead the ECHL in scoring. He had 13 points (1g-12a) in 16 games to help the Aces capture the Kelly Cup championship. He was voted to the All-ECHL First Team and the ECHL All-Rookie Team while also being chosen to play in the ECHL All-Star Game where he had a goal in the National Conference’s 7-6 win.

Leavitt is the ninth former ECHL player to win the AHL award this season, joining former Roanoke and Wheeling and current Manitoba left wing Jason Jaffray (Oct. 30), former Wheeling and Idaho and current Portland center Zenon Konopka (Nov. 13), Former Alaska and Las Vegas and current Peoria left wing Charles Linglet (Dec. 4), former Jackson and current Chicago center Cory Larose (Dec. 18), former Jackson and current Hershey left wing Quintin Laing (Dec. 26) and former Charlotte and current Hartford goaltender Al Montoya (Jan. 2) and Dan LaCosta (Feb. 5) and former Toledo and current Grand Rapids center Matt Ellis (Feb. 19).

Other nominees for the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week award included former Florida and current Albany center Keith Aucoin, former Toledo and current Grand Rapids right wing Jamie Tardif, former Charlotte and current Hartford right wing Hugh Jessiman, former Alaska and current Peoria goaltender Chris Beckford-Tseu, former Trenton and current Philadelphia defenseman David Printz, former Dayton and Gwinnett and current Rochester goaltender Adam Berkhoel and former Richmond and current Worcester right wing Graham Mink.

The ECHL has affiliations with 24 of the 27 teams in the American Hockey League and there are 86 players under contract to AHL teams who have played in the ECHL this season. For the past 17 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup champion and the ECHL has had more players called up to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined each of the past four seasons with 1,646 call ups involving almost 1,000 players.

Former ECHL goaltenders have been named as the Rbk X-Pulse/AHL Goaltender of the Month each of the last four months. Al Montoya, who played for Charlotte and now plays for Hartford, won the award for February while another former Checker Jason LaBarbera, who now plays for Manchester, won the award for January. Jonathan Boutin, who was an ECHL All-Star with Johnstown and now plays for Springfield, won in December, while Jaroslav Halak, who played for Long Beach and now plays for Montreal in the NHL, won for November when he was playing for Hamilton.

The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003.

The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League in 2006-07, marking 10th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.

There have been 325 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including a record 47 in 2005-06.

There have been 180 former ECHL players who have played their first game in the NHL in the past five seasons and 101 former ECHL players have skated in the NHL this season.

More than 100 players under contract to NHL teams have played in the ECHL this season.

The ECHL was represented for the sixth consecutive year on the National Hockey League championship team, including Carolina Hurricanes head coach Peter Laviolette, who is the first ECHL coach to win the Stanley Cup.

There have been 22 ECHL players who have played their first NHL game this season: former Greenville and Richmond right wing Krys Barch (Dallas on Jan. 15), former Mississippi defenseman Sheldon Brookbank (Nashville on Feb. 6), former Reading goaltender Barry Brust (Los Angeles on Nov. 30), former Wheeling left wing Daniel Carcillo (Phoenix on Mar. 3), former Toledo center Matt Ellis (Detroit on Dec. 18), former Wheeling defenseman Drew Fata (New York Islanders on Feb. 4), former Reading defenseman Jeff Finger (Colorado on Feb. 20), former Bakersfield and Reading goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji (Los Angeles on Jan. 13), former Charlotte defenseman Daniel Girardi (New York Rangers on Jan. 27), former Long Beach goaltender Jaroslav Halak (Montreal on Feb. 18), former Trenton goaltender Martin Houle (Philadelphia on Dec. 13), former Alaska left wing D.J. King (St. Louis on Oct. 5), former Florida center Drew Larman (Florida on Nov. 13), former Florida defenseman Martin Lojek (Florida on Feb. 3), former Toledo goaltender Joey MacDonald (Detroit on Oct. 19), former Pensacola center Kris Newbury (Toronto on Dec. 23), former South Carolina and Reading center Rich Peverley (Nashville on Mar. 4), former Augusta right wing Pierre Parenteau (Chicago on Feb. 7), former Columbia right wing Jesse Schultz (Vancouver on Nov. 28), former ECHL All-Star goaltender Mike Smith (Dallas on Oct. 21), former Reading left wing Shay Stephenson (Los Angeles on Mar. 1) and former Augusta goaltender Mike Wall (Anaheim on Nov. 26).

In 2005-06 the ECHL and its member teams contributed more than $2.3 million for charity and relief funds, including those benefiting victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, while also making thousands of appearances by players, coaches, team personnel and mascots at schools, hospitals, libraries and charity functions.

* 2008 ECHL All-Star Game and Skills Competition will be hosted by Stockton Thunder, City of Stockton and Stockton Arena on Jan. 22-23, 2008.

Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.