PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL will be represented on the American Hockey League champion for the 17th consecutive year as both head coaches, an assistant coach and 25 players in the 2006 Calder Cup Finals have ECHL experience.
When the Calder Cup Playoffs opened there were 172 players, seven head coaches and seven assistant coaches with ECHL experience, and all 16 teams had at least six former ECHL players on their playoff roster while Hartford and Syracuse had 16 and 15, respectively.
Milwaukee head coach Claude Noel was ECHL Coach of the Year in 2003 and was named AHL Coach of the Year in 2004, becoming the only coach to capture the coaching award in both leagues. Noel, who led the Admirals to the Calder Cup in 2004, was the fourth ECHL coach in a row to capture the AHL honor joining Geoff Ward (2003), Bruce Cassidy (2002) and Don Granato (2001). Former Wheeling and current Carolina Hurricanes head coach Peter Laviolette became the first ECHL coach to win the AHL award in 1999. Hershey head coach Bruce Boudreau was head coach of Mississippi and Hershey assistant coach Bob Woods was a player when the Sea Wolves won the Kelly Cup championship in 1999.
The ECHL had 416 call ups to the AHL in 2005-06, involving 263 players. 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.
Dany Sabourin became the eighth former ECHL goaltender to win the AHL Goaltender of the Year award in 2006, joining Jason LaBarbera (2004), Marc Lamothe (2003), Martin Brochu (2000), Martin Biron (1999), Scott Langkow (1998), Manny Legace (1996) and Frederic Chabot (1994). The AHL Most Valuable Player Award has been won four times by former ECHL players, most recently by former Charlotte goaltender Jason LaBarbera in 2003-04. Other former ECHL players who were named as MVP of the AHL are Eric Boguniecki in 2001-02, Martin Brochu in 1999-2000 and Brad Smyth in 1995-96.
Former Greensboro and current Manitoba goaltender Wade Flaherty, former Charlotte and current Hartford defenseman Thomas Pock, and former Florida and current Lowell center Keith Aucoin were all selected Second Team All-AHL. Former Greenville and current Norfolk center Martin St. Pierre and former Charlotte and current Hartford defenseman Daniel Girardi were both selected to the AHL All-Rookie Team. Former ECHL players won the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week award nine times in 2005-06 with Aucoin (Florida and Lowell), Mike Ayers (Dayton and Syracuse), Zdenek Blatny (Greenville and Springfield), Brian Finley (Toledo and Milwaukee), Jamie Holden (Fresno and Cleveland), Jani Hurme (Columbia and Portland), Brent Krahn (Las Vegas and Omaha), Lawrence Nycholat (Jackson and Hershey) and Nathan Robinson (Toledo and Providence).
In 2005-06, the ECHL was represented by eight head coaches, 13 assistant coaches and countless other personnel on the 27 teams in the AHL, including Mike Haviland, who won the Kelly Cup with Atlantic City in 2002-03 and Trenton in 2004-05 and moved up to the AHL as head coach of Norfolk.
Former ECHL Players, Coaches In Calder Cup Finals
Hershey Bears – Dean Arsene (Charlotte, 2001-02 and Reading, 2003-04), Head coach Bruce Boudreau (Head coach, Mississippi, 1996-99), Kirk Daubenspeck (Jacksonville, 1997-99; Chesapeake, 1998-99 and South Carolina, 1999-2006), Deryk Engelland (Las Vegas, 2003-05), J.F. Fortin (Hampton Roads, 1999-2000 and Richmond, 2001-02), Jonas Johansson (South Carolina, 2004-06), Boyd Kane (Charlotte, 1998-2001), Graham Mink (Richmond, 2001-02), Lawrence Nycholat (Jackson, 2000-01), Dave Steckel (Reading, 2004-05), Joey Tenute (South Carolina, 2004-05), Martin Wilde (Trenton, 2003-04 and Reading, 2004-05) and Assistant coach Bob Woods (Head coach, Mississippi, 2001-05; Player assistant coach, Tallahassee, 1997-98 and Player assistant coach, Mississippi, 1998-2001).
Milwaukee Admirals – Sheldon Brookbank (Mississippi, 2001-02), Paul Brown (Trenton, 2004-05), Chris Durno (Gwinnett, 2003-06), Brian Finley (Toledo, 2002-03), Simon Gamache (Greenville, 2001-02), Alex Kim (Reading, 2002-03; Peoria and Long Beach, 2003-04 and San Diego 2005-06), Steve Lingren (Dayton, 1994-97 and Victoria, 2005-06), Nathan Lutz (Reading, 2001-03 and Toledo, 2002-03), Scott May (Pensacola, 2004-05 and Trenton, 2005-06), Sean McAslan (Columbus, 2001-03 and Long Beach 2005-06), Jake Moreland (Atlantic City, 2003-05 and Stockton 2005-06), Head coach Claude Noel (Head coach, Roanoke Valley, 1990-91; Head coach, Dayton, 1991-93 and Head coach, Toledo, 2002-03), Rich Peverley (South Carolina, 2004-05 and Reading, 2005-06), T.J. Reynolds (Wheeling, 2002-05) and Kevin St. Pierre (Toledo, 1999-2000).