PRINCETON, N.J. – The Alaska Aces won their second ECHL Kelly Cup championship on Saturday beating the Kalamazoo Wings 5-3 at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo, Mich. to win the series 4 games to 1.
The Kelly Cup trophy is named for Patrick J. Kelly, who presents it each year to the postseason champion. Kelly was one of the founding fathers of the ECHL and the second inductee into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2008. Kelly served as Commissioner for the league’s first eight seasons and was named Commissioner Emeritus in 1996, a title that he continues to hold. Kelly, who celebrated his 58th season in professional hockey in 2010-11, coached 1,900 career games and had 935 wins. Kelly coached in the Eastern Hockey League, the Southern Hockey League and the National Hockey League where he was the only coach to ever lead the Colorado Rockies to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Celebrating its 23rd season in 2010-11, the ECHL is the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League and is the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
The ECHL is the primary development league for the AHL and the NHL. The ECHL and the AHL are the only two minor professional hockey leagues that are recognized in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and the National Hockey League Players’ Association. The CBA states that any player on an NHL entry-level contract designated for assignment to a minor league must report if assigned to a team in the ECHL or the AHL. A player on an NHL entry-level contract assigned to a minor professional league other than the ECHL or the AHL is not required to report and can request reassignment to a team in the ECHL or the AHL.
Howes led the Aces in scoring during the postseason with seven goals, 19 points and a +11 rating in 11 games. He led the Kelly Cup Playoffs in plus-minus while he was tied for third in goals and tied for fourth in points. Howes had scored at least one point in each of his first 11 games during the Kelly Cup Playoffs before being held scoreless on Saturday.
He becomes the first non-goaltender to win the Kelly Cup Playoffs MVP since Alaska’s Mike Scott in 2006.
Burt joins Bednar as three-time Kelly Cup champions
Alaska captain Scott Burt became just the second individual to have his name engraved on the Kelly Cup three times, joining Jared Bednar who won two Cups as a player with South Carolina in 1997 and 2001 and was the Stingrays’ head coach for the 2009 championship. Burt won championships with Idaho in 2004 and 2007 before leading the Aces to the title this season.
Alaska welcomed standing-room only crowds to Games 1 and 2 at Sullivan Arena. The Aces have hosted eight Kelly Cup Finals games in team history, and have sold out each game. A total of 51,800 fans have attended the eight Finals games in Anchorage for an average crowd of 6,475. The 6,599 fans at Games 1 and 2 was just 11 fans shy of the team record of 6,610 that attended Games 6 and 7 of the 2009 Kelly Cup Finals against South Carolina.
The ECHL welcomed a total of 183,916 fans at 63 games during the 2011 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Combined with the regular season, a total of 3,151,668 fans attended ECHL games in 2010-11 marking the 18th consecutive season that the ECHL has surpassed the 3 million mark in combined regular season and playoff attendance.
The Aces are the fourth team to win more than one Kelly Cup, joining South Carolina (1997, 2001 and 2009), Idaho (2004 and 2007) and Cincinnati (2008 and 2010).
Hampton Roads, which won the Riley Cup in 1991 and 1992 and the Kelly Cup in 1998, is tied with South Carolina for the most championships in the ECHL’s 23-year history. Alaska, Cincinnati and Idaho are joined by Toledo, which won Riley Cup titles in 1993 and 1994, as the other multiple ECHL champions.
Fourth team to win Brabham Cup and Kelly Cup in same season
Alaska becomes just the fourth team to win both the Brabham Cup as ECHL regular-season champion and the Kelly Cup in the same season. South Carolina was the first team to win both in 1997, followed by Alaska in 2006 and Cincinnati in 2008.
Aces are ninth Kelly Cup champion with home ice
Alaska is the ninth team in 15 years to win the Kelly Cup having home-ice advantage. The other winners are Cincinnati in 2008, Idaho in 2007 and 2004, Alaska in 2006, Greenville in 2002, Peoria in 2000, Mississippi in 1999 and South Carolina in 1997. Thirteen of the 23 league champions have had home-ice advantage.
For the 13th time in ECHL history and the second time in Aces history the decisive game in the Finals was won on the road. The Kelly Cup has been clinched on the road eight times in 15 years with Alaska (2011 and 2006), South Carolina (2009 and 1997), Idaho (2007), Trenton (2005), Greenville (2002) and Hampton Roads (1998). The Riley Cup was won on the road five times with Charlotte (1996), Toledo (1994), Hampton Roads (1992), Greensboro (1990) and Carolina (1989). The 10 teams to clinch the ECHL championship at home are Cincinnati (2010 and 2008), Idaho (2004), Atlantic City (2003), South Carolina (2001), Peoria (2000), Mississippi (1999), Richmond (1995), Toledo (1993) and Hampton Roads (1991).
South Carolina (South Carolina Stingrays in 1997, 2001 and 2009 and Greenville in 2002) has produced four of the 14 winners of the Kelly Cup while Alaska (Alaska Aces in 2006 and 2011), Idaho (Idaho Steelheads in 2004 and 2007), New Jersey (Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies in 2003 and Trenton Titans in 2005) and Ohio (Cincinnati Cyclones in 2008 and 2010) have each produced two champions. The other three champions have been from Illinois (Peoria Rivermen – 1999), Mississippi (Mississippi Sea Wolves – 1999) and Virginia (Hampton Roads Admirals – 1998).
In the first 23 years of the ECHL, Ohio (Toledo Storm in 1993 and 1994 and Cincinnati Cyclones in 2008 and 2010), South Carolina (South Carolina Stingrays in 1997, 2001 and 2009 and Greenville in 2002) and Virginia (Hampton Roads Admirals in 1991, 1992 and 1998 and Richmond Renegades in 1995) have the most championships with four each. North Carolina (Carolina Thunderbirds in 1989, Greensboro Monarchs in 1990 and Charlotte Checkers in 1996) has three champions while Alaska (Alaska Aces in 2006 and 2011), Idaho (Idaho Steelheads in 2004 and 2007) and New Jersey (Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies in 2003 and Trenton Titans in 2005) have two apiece. Illinois (Peoria Rivermen in 1999) and Mississippi (Mississippi Sea Wolves in 1999) each have one winner.
Kelly Cup Finals game-worn jerseys, game-used pucks available
All of the jerseys will have the Kelly Cup Finals patch, which is available only on the team jerseys.
The jerseys worn in Games 1 and 2, as well as game-used pucks from the first two games, are available now through June 2 while the jerseys that are worn during Games 3 and 4 will be available through June 7.
The "Official Game-Worn Jersey Source of the ECHL" since 2002, MeiGray gives hockey fans and sports collectors worldwide the opportunity to purchase authentic game-worn ECHL jerseys online at MeiGray.com or by telephone at (888) 463-4472.
Kelly Cup Finals on America One for eighth straight year
Every game of the Kelly Cup Finals was broadcast live online by America One, the “Official Broadband & Mobile Broadcaster of the ECHL,” for the eighth year in a row. America One has broadcast more than 2,500 regular season ECHL games and over 450 Kelly Cup Playoff games around the globe the last eight years including the ECHL All-Star Game. The first hockey game broadcast by America One was the Las Vegas Wranglers in February 2004 and the first hockey championship carried by America One was the 2004 Kelly Cup Playoffs.
2011 Kelly Cup Finals (Best of Seven)
Alaska wins series 4-1
Kelly Cup Champions
2011 – Alaska defeated Kalamazoo, 4 games to 1
2010 – Cincinnati defeated Idaho, 4 games to 1
2009 – South Carolina defeated Alaska, 4 games to 3
2008 – Cincinnati defeated Las Vegas, 4 games to 2
2007 – Idaho defeated Dayton, 4 games to 1
2006 – Alaska defeated Gwinnett, 4 games to 1
2005 – Trenton defeated Florida, 4 games to 2
2004 – Idaho defeated Florida, 4 games to 1
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
1996 – Charlotte defeated Jacksonville, 4 games to 0
1995 – Richmond defeated Greensboro, 4 games to 1
1994 – Toledo defeated Raleigh, 4 games to 1
1993 – Toledo defeated Wheeling, 4 games to 2
1992 – Hampton Roads defeated Louisville, 4 games to 0
1991 – Hampton Roads defeated Greensboro, 4 games to 1
1990 – Greensboro defeated Winston-Salem, 4 games to 1
1989 – Carolina defeated Johnstown, 4 games to 3
Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• Watch games live on America One, the “Official Broadband & Mobile Broadcaster” of the ECHL.
• The ECHL celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2007-08 and is the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
• ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league with 19 teams in 14 states and British Columbia in 2010-11.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• 466 players have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 35 in 2009-10.
• 23 ECHL players have made their NHL debut this season: former Idaho Steelheads goaltender and 2010 ECHL All-Star Richard Bachman (Dallas on Dec. 11), former Minnesota Wild defenseman Drew Bagnall (Minnesota on April 8), former Las Vegas Wranglers right wing Adam Cracknell (St. Louis on Dec. 15), former Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender Mark Dekanich (Nashville on Dec. 18), former South Carolina Stingrays left wing Stefan Della Rovere (St. Louis on Dec. 1), former Phoenix RoadRunners center Andrew Desjardins (San Jose on Jan. 3), former Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender and 2007 ECHL All-Star Cedrick Desjardins (Cincinnati on Dec. 30), former Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies and Idaho Steelheads defenseman Brian Fahey (Washington on Oct. 16), former South Carolina Stingrays goaltender and 2010 ECHL All-Star Braden Holtby (Washington on Nov. 7), former Charlotte Checkers right wing Hugh Jessiman (Florida on Feb. 27), former Texas Wildcatters left wing Matt Kassian (Minnesota on Nov. 5), former Ontario Reign center Dwight King (Los Angeles on Nov. 17), former Utah Grizzlies goaltender Mikko Koskinen (New York Islanders on Feb. 8), former Phoenix RoadRunners and Utah Grizzlies goaltender Nathan Lawson (New York Islanders on Dec. 18), former Toledo Walleye goaltender Thomas McCollum (Detroit on March 30), former Trenton Titans defenseman Olivier Magnan (New Jersey on Oct. 22), former Trenton Devils center Brad Mills (New Jersey on Oct. 30), former South Carolina Stingrays center and two-time ECHL All-Star Travis Morin (Dallas on Jan. 26), former Johnstown Chiefs and Cincinnati Cyclones forward Chris Mueller (Nashville on Dec. 28), former Bakersfield Condors and Elmira Jackals goaltender and 2010 ECHL All-Star Timo Pielmeier (Anaheim on Feb. 19), former Alaska Aces right wing Ryan Reaves (St. Louis on Oct. 11), former Reading Royals and South Carolina Stingrays goaltender and 2009 Kelly Cup Playoffs Most Valuable Player James Reimer (Tortonto on Dec. 20) and former Victoria Salmon Kings defenseman Yann Sauve (Vancouver on Feb. 15).
• 4 players have played in the ECHL and the NHL in 2010-11: Mike Brodeur with Elmira and Ottawa, Thomas McCollum with Toledo and Detroit, Timo Pielmeier with Elmira and Anaheim and Yann Sauve with Victoria and Vancouver.
• The ECHL has had 274 players reach the NHL since 2002-03 when it changed its focus to become the primary developmental league for the NHL and the AHL. The ECHL had 97 players reach the NHL in its first 10 seasons and 215 in the first 15 years.
• 210 ECHL players have played their first game in the last six seasons for an average of 35 per year.
• ECHL had a record 79 players on NHL opening-day rosters in 2010-11, surpassing the 78 from 2009-10 and marking the eighth year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
• Every ECHL team has an affiliation with an NHL team in 2010-11 and the league has affiliations with 27 of the 30 NHL teams, marking the 14th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
• 30 coaches with an ECHL background are working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau, New York Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano, Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette and St. Louis Blues head coach Davis Payne. It is the sixth consecutive season that there have been 11 or more coaches with an ECHL background working in the NHL. Boudreau, who coached Mississippi for three seasons winning the Kelly Cup championship in 1999, was named NHL Coach of the Year in 2007-08 becoming the first former ECHL coach to receive the award.
• 21 former ECHL officials are working as part of the NHL officiating team in 2010-11 with referees David Banfield, Francis Charron, Chris Ciamaga, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, Mike Leggo, Wes McCauley, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh, and linesmen Steve Barton, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak, Bryan Pancich and Jay Sharrers..
• ECHL was represented for the 10th year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion with Chicago Blackhawks assistant coaches Mike Haviland and John Torchetti, developmental goaltending coach Wade Flaherty, senior director of hockey administration Al MacIsaac, general manager of minor league affiliations Mark Bernard and scout Ryan Stewart. There were 35 former players and 14 former coaches on 15 of the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking the fifth year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the seventh consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience have competed in the NHL postseason.
• Former Hampton Roads Admirals left wing Andrew Brunette became the first ECHL alum to play in 1,000 regular-season NHL games when he reached the milestone with the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 1, 2011.
• ECHL was represented in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game by Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins, while former ECHL coaches Mike Haviland and Peter Laviolette served as coaches for the All-Star Game.
• Former ECHL broadcasters working in the NHL include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, Tom Callahan of the Nashville Predators, Dave Goucher of the Boston Bruins, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Jack Michaels of the Edmonton Oilers, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Bob McElligott and John Michael of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
• Ryan Stanzel and Jeremy Zager, who were both recipients of the ECHL Media Relations Director of the Year award, are working in the communications department for the Minnesota Wild and the Los Angeles Kings, respectively. Former ECHL assistant director of communications Joe Siville and Kelly Murray are now with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals, respectively, while former ECHL director of communications Jason Rothwell is the creative director for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
• In the last seven seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 3,000 call-ups involving more than 1,500 players and in 2009-10 there were 10 times as many call-ups from the ECHL to the AHL than all other professional leagues.
• The ECHL averaged 4,486 fans per game in 2009-10, the highest single-season average since 1999-00, and is the only minor professional hockey league to increase average attendance each of the last three seasons. It is the sixth consecutive season and the 18th time in the last 20 years that the ECHL has averaged over 4,000 fans and the league drew over 3 million fans for the 17th year in a row.
• Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.