PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL will be represented on the American Hockey League champion for the 18th consecutive year as 29 players and two coaches in the 2007 Calder Cup Finals have ECHL experience.
Defending AHL champion Hershey has head coach Bruce Boudreau, assistant coach Bob Woods and 17 players, including seven who played in the ECHL this season, while Hamilton has 12 players with ECHL experience, including seven who played in the Premier â€˜AAâ€™ Hockey League this year. Boudreau is the first coach to win both the Calder Cup and the Kelly Cup, having led Mississippi to the ECHL championship in 1999. Woods was a player/assistant coach for Mississippi from 1998-2001 and was head coach of the Sea Wolves from 2001-05.
The ECHL has affiliations with 24 of the 27 teams in the AHL and in each of the last two seasons there have been more than 225 players who have played in both the ECHL and the AHL and there were over 800 call-ups involving more than 500 players. Since 2002-03 the ECHL has had over 2,000 call-ups to the AHL involving more than 1,000 players which is more than the total call-ups for all other professional leagues combined during those five seasons.
In 2006-07 there were 91 players on an AHL contract who were assigned to a team in the ECHL. The ECHL had affiliations with 24 of the 27 teams in the AHL, marking the sixth consecutive season that the ECHL had affiliations with 20 or more teams in the AHL.
The CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week award was won 14 times by a former ECHL player in 2006-07 while a former ECHL goaltender was named the Rbk X-Pulse/AHL Goaltender of the Month the last five months of the season.
Six former ECHL players were on the All-AHL Teams in 2006-07 with former Charlotte goaltender Jason LaBarbera, who also won Goaltender of the Year; former Mississippi defenseman Sheldon Brookbank, who also was named Defenseman of the Year; and former Greenville center Martin St. Pierre being named to the First Team while former Roanoke and Wheeling left wing Jason Jaffray and former Florida center Keith Aucoin were named to the Second Team. Former Long Beach goaltender Jaroslav Halak was named to the AHL All-Rookie team and former Atlantic City and Trenton coach Mike Haviland was voted as the AHL Coach of the Year.
Former ECHL Players, Coaches In Calder Cup Finals
Hamilton Bulldogs â€“ Andrew Archer (Columbus, 2003-04), Mathieu Aubin (Cincinnati, 2006-07), Ajay Baines (Greenville, 1999-00), Troy Bodie (Stockton, 2006-07), Jimmy Bonneau (Long Beach, 2005-06 and Cincinnati, 2006-07), Cedrick Desjardins (Cincinnati, 2006-07), Jon Gleed (Cincinnati, 2006-07), Michael Lambert (Long Beach, 2004-06), Eric Manlow (Columbus, 1996-97 and Florida, 1998-2000), Philippe Sauve (Mississippi, 2004-05), Gregory Stewart (Cincinnati, 2006-07) and Cory Urquhart (Long Beach, 2004-06 and Cincinnati, 2006-07).
Hershey Bears – Dean Arsene (Charlotte, 2001-02 and Reading, 2003-04), head coach Bruce Boudreau (Mississippi, 1996-99), Kip Brennan (Long Beach, 2006-07), Marc Busenburg (South Carolina, 2006-07), Maxime Daigneault (South Carolina, 2004-06), Deryk Engelland (Las Vegas, 2003-05; South Carolina, 2005-06 and Reading, 2006-07), Andy Hedlund (Trenton, 2001-03), Matt Hendricks (Florida, 2004-05), Quintin Laing (Jackson, 2000-02), Daren Machesney (South Carolina, 2006-07), Troy Milam (Gwinnett, 2003-04 and 2005-06 and Reading, 2004-05), Brad Ralph (Mississippi, 2001-02; Augusta, 2002-03; Dayton, 2003-04 and Columbia, 2004-05 and 2006-07), Tyler Sloan (Dayton, 2002-03 and 2004-05 and Las Vegas, 2005-06), Dave Steckel (Reading, 2004-05), Joey Tenute (South Carolina, 2004-05), Peter Vandermeer (Columbus, 1996-98, Richmond, 1997-98 and 1999-2000 and Trenton, 2001-02), Stephen Werner (South Carolina, 2006-07), Kyle Wilson (South Carolina, 2006-07) and assistant coach Bob Woods (Tallahassee, 1997-98 and Mississippi, 1998-2005).
The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in three states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league that will have 25 teams playing in 17 states and British Columbia in 2007-08, including the Mississippi (Biloxi) Sea Wolves, who return after missing two seasons in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Opening Day for the 20th Anniversary Season will be Oct. 18 when the Johnstown Chiefs host the Wheeling Nailers at Cambria County War Memorial. The game is a rematch of Game 7 from the first-ever ECHL Finals played in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Cambria County War Memorial. The two teams will wear throwback jerseys for the Opening Day game that begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast worldwide on B2 Networks, the â€œOfficial Broadband Broadcast Provider of the ECHLâ€. The remaining teams will open their seasons the weekend of Oct. 19-21.
The Premier â€˜AAâ€™ Hockey League, the ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League in 2006-07, marking the 10th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
There have been 329 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including a record 47 in 2005-06 and 26 in 2006-07. There have been 184 former ECHL players who have played their first game in the NHL in the past five seasons and 107 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 in 2006, including Carolina Hurricanes head coach Peter Laviolette, who is the first ECHL coach to win the Stanley Cup.
Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.