PRINCETON, N.J. – The battle to determine the national ‘AA’ hockey champion begins Friday when the National Conference champion Alaska Aces host the American Conference champion South Carolina Stingrays in Game 1 of the Kelly Cup Finals at 7:15 p.m. AKDT at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska.
Celebrating its 21st season in 2008-09, 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 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 55th season in professional hockey in 2007-08, 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.
Game 2 will be Saturday at 7:15 p.m. AKDT at Sullivan Arena before the series travels three time zones and 4,517 miles to South Carolina where the Stingrays will host Games 3 and 4 at 7:05 p.m. EDT at the North Charleston Coliseum on May 27 and May 29. Game 5, if necessary, would be at 7:05 p.m. EDT at the North Charleston Coliseum on May 30. The series would return to Alaska for Game 6, if necessary, on June 4 at 7:15 p.m. AKDT and Game 7, if necessary, at 7:15 p.m. AKDT on June 5.
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.
Farthest Distance For Kelly Cup Finals
The 4,517 miles between Anchorage, Alaska and North Charleston, S.C. is the greatest distance between two teams in the history of the Kelly Cup Playoffs eclipsing the 4,444 miles between Anchorage, Alaska and Trenton, N.J. for the conference finals in 2005 and the 4,396 miles between Anchorage, Alaska and Duluth, Ga. for the Kelly Cup Finals in 2006.South Carolina is looking to become the first three-time winner having won the inaugural Kelly Cup in 1997 and becoming the first two-time winner in 2001. Stingrays head coach Jared Bednar was a member of both championship teams. The Stingrays have qualified for the postseason a league record 15 times in 16 seasons and are the all-time leader with 132 postseason games and 73 postseason wins.
Stingrays Look For Third Kelly Cup, Aces Chase Second
Alaska won the Kelly Cup in 2006 and is looking to join South Carolina and Idaho as the only two-time winners of the trophy. The Aces are third in postseason wins with 55, two behind the Toledo Storm. The ECHL postseason champion from 1989-96 was presented the Riley Cup. If the Stingrays win they would tie the league record for championships held by the Hampton Roads Admirals, who won in 1991, 1992 and 1998. South Carolina is making its third appearance in the finals tying the record held by the Greensboro Monarchs (1990, 1991 and 1995), the Hampton Roads Admirals (1991, 1992 and 1998) and the Wheeling Nailers (1989, 1990 and 1993).
Aces In Finals For Second Time In Four Years
The Aces are the top seed after finishing first in the National Conference and second overall in the ECHL with a winning percentage of .646 and a record of 45-24-3. The Aces finished first in the West Division in the regular season marking the fourth time in the last five years that they were first in the division and the third time that they were first in the National Conference. Alaska is only the second team in league history to reach the conference finals four times in five years after appearing in a record-tying three conference finals in a row from 2005-07. Louisiana reached the conference finals four times from 1997-2001 and Greensboro reached the conference finals in 1990, 1991 and 1992. The Aces are the only team to advance in the postseason each of their first six seasons and the first team to advance six consecutive years.
Alaska beat defending National Conference champion Las Vegas in four games in the conference finals. The Aces have outscored their opponents 52-22 and beat Victoria in five games in the West Division Finals and Utah in five games in the West Division Semifinals.
South Carolina was the fourth seed overall and the second seed in the South Division with a winning percentage of .634 and a record of 42-23-6. The Stingrays swept defending Kelly Cup champion Cincinnati in the American Conference Finals in a rematch of the 2008 conference finals. South Carolina upset regular season champion Florida in six games in the South Division Finals in a series that saw all six games decided by one goal including three in overtime. South Carolina beat Charlotte in six games in the South Division Semifinals.
Alaska, South Carolina and Cincinnati are the only teams to win the regular season Brabham Cup trophy and the Kelly Cup trophy in the same season. The Stingrays accomplished the feat in 1996-97 while the Aces did it in 2005-06 and the Cyclones did it in 2007-08.
Bednar, McCambridge Having Success Behind Bench
South Carolina’s Jared Bednar is the first coach to take his team to the conference finals in his first two seasons. He is 89-45-9 in the regular season and 22-14 in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The former defenseman was an assistant coach for five years before taking over as head coach in 2007-08. He is in his 13th season with the organization having played for the Stingrays from 1995-2002 and helping South Carolina win the Kelly Cup in 1997 and 2001. Alaska’s Keith McCambridge, who was captain of the Aces championship team in 2006, is 17-6 in the Kelly Cup Playoffs and 86-50-8 in the regular season.
Kelly Cup Finals Back On Familiar Ice
This is the third time that the Kelly Cup Finals have been played in the North Charleston Coliseum and the second time at the Sullivan Arena. It is the fifth time that the ECHL championship series has been hosted in the Palmetto State as Greenville won the championship in 2002 and Columbia lost to Atlantic City in 2003. South Carolina clinched the Kelly Cup at Louisiana in 1997 and won it at home in 2001 while Alaska hoisted its trophy at Gwinnett in 2006.
Aces, Stingrays Have Hot Goaltenders
Alaska rookie Jean-Philippe Lamoureux is 12-2 and leads the Kelly Cup Playoffs with four shutouts, 12 wins, a goals-against average of 1.57. a save percentage of .949, 843 minutes and 409 saves. He is 5-0 with a shutout, a goals-against average of 1.40 and a save percentage of .959 in his last five starts and 10-1 with two shutouts, a goals-against average of 1.73 and a save percentage of .942 in his last 11 games. Lamoureux has tied the ECHL record with 12 shutouts, including a record eight in the regular season. Maxime Gingras of Richmond had 12 shutouts in 1998-99 setting the regular season record with seven and the postseason record with five.
Jonathan Boutin of South Carolina is 11-2 with a goals-against average of 2.74 and a save percentage of .906. He is second with 11 wins and 767 minutes while ranking third with 339 saves. Boutin is 6-0 with a goals-against average of 2.60 and a save percentage of .912 in his last six starts and 11-1 with a goals-against average of 2.44 and a save percentage of .914 in his last 12 games. James Reimer of the Stingrays is 1-2 with a goals-against average of 2.75 and a save percentage of .916.
Scoring Leaders On Both Sides
Colin Hemingway of Alaska leads the Kelly Cup Playoffs with 15 assists and is tied for second with eight power-play points and three power-play goals while his 22 points tie him for the league lead with teammate Josh Soares. Soares is tied for the league lead with four game-winning goals while ranking second with nine goals and tied for fifth with 13 assists. Alaska’s Cam Keith is tied for second with 14 assists and tied for fifth with 16 points while Bryan Miller is third among defensemen with nine assists and tied for fifth with 10 points.
South Carolina’s Trent Campbell is tied for second with 14 assists and is third with 18 points while rookie Nikita Kashirsky is tied for fifth with 16 points (5g-11a). Kashirsky is tied for the rookie lead in points while ranking second in assists and tied for fourth in goals. He has two game-winning goals which ties him for the rookie lead with teammate Maxime Lacroix, who is tied for the rookie lead with seven goals while ranking eighth with 11 points. Lacroix is tied for the rookie lead with two power-play goal while his five power-play points tie him for second and his three power-play assists are tied for third.
Zach Tarkir of the Stingrays leads ECHL defensemen with three game-winning goals and he is tied for the lead with five goals and three power-play goals. He is third with 13 points and tied for fourth with eight assists while ranking second overall and second among defensemen with eight power-play points and fourth among defensemen with five power-play assists. South Carolina’s Brad Farynuk is tied for the lead among defensemen with three power-play goals while his seven power-play points tie him for third and his four power-play assists are fifth. He is tied for third with three goals and tied for fifth with 10 points.
Top Power Play, Best Penalty Kill
South Carolina leads the Kelly Cup Playoffs on the power play with 18 goals and 20.9 percent while ranking 10th on the penalty kill with 80.6 percent (79-for-98). Alaska has the best penalty kill in the postseason with 92.3 percent (72-for-78) and has not allowed a power-play goal in the last four games (22-for-22). The Aces set the league record in the regular season with 89.3 percent (334-for-374). Alaska is fourth in the Kelly Cup Playoffs on the power play with 19.0 percent (16-for-84). The Aces lead the Kelly Cup Playoffs with a goals-against average of 1.57 while South Carolina is fifth with 2.88. The Stingrays rank second with 3.88 goals per game while Alaska is third with 3.71 goals per game.
Preseason To Postseason
The two teams met in Alaska before the 2008-09 season and raised more than $120,000 for the American Cancer Society in Alaska and Breast Cancer Focus, Inc. Lamoureux made 34 saves and Colin Hemingway had two assists in Alaska’s 3-2 overtime win on Oct. 8, 2008 while Travis Morin had three assists and four points in South Carolina’s 5-1 win on Oct. 9, 2008. Alaska visited South Carolina in 2003-04 and the Stingrays won 4-1 on Mar. 16, 2004 and 4-3 in a shootout on Mar. 19, 2004.
Name Already On Kelly Cup
Alaska’s Cam Keith, Vladimir Novak, Corbin Schmidt, Matt Shasby and coach Keith McCambridge were all members of the Aces Kelly Cup championship team in 2006. Scott Burt and Lance Galbraith played for Idaho when the Steelheads won the Kelly Cup in 2004 and 2007. In addition to Burt and Galbraith there are 13 individuals who have their name engraved on the Kelly Cup twice including South Carolina coach Jared Bednar, who played for the Stingrays when they won in 1997 and 2001. Peter Metcalf and Joe Talbot won the Kelly Cup with Atlantic City in 2003 and with Alaska in 2006. Eight of those who have had their name engraved twice were members of South Carolina’s championship team in 2001. Rick Adduono was an assistant coach for South Carolina when it won the first Kelly Cup in 1997 and was head coach when the Stingrays when they won in 2001. Jason Fitzsimmons was a player for South Carolina in 1997 and an 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 engraved in 1998 with Hampton Roads and in 2001 with South Carolina while Mike Nicholishen had his name engraved in 2001 with South Carolina and in 2003 with Atlantic City.
Players Returning To Finals
Alaska’s Scott Burt and Lance Galbraith played for Idaho in the Kelly Cup Finals in 2004 and 2007 while Cam Keith, Vladimir Novak, Corbin Schmidt and Matt Shasby of the Aces and Patrick Wellar of the Stingrays all played in the Kelly Cup Finals for the Aces in 2006. South Carolina’s Brad Farynuk played for Dayton in the Kelly Cup Finals in 2007.
B2 Networks Broadcasts Kelly Cup Finals
For the sixth year in a row every game in the Kelly Cup Finals will be broadcast by B2 Networks, the “Official Broadband Broadcast Provider of the ECHL”.
B2 Networks has broadcast more than 2,000 regular season ECHL games and over 400 Kelly Cup Playoff games around the globe the last six years including the ECHL All-Star Game. The first hockey game broadcast by B2 Networks was the Las Vegas Wranglers in February 2004 and the first hockey championship carried by B2 Networks was the 2004 Kelly Cup Playoffs.
The first channel on B2CableTV.com, a free 24-hour cable-style network dedicated to broadcasting sports and entertainment to viewers worldwide, was ECHL TV which allows fans to watch the biggest games from the previous week for free. B2CableTV.com also offers ECHLALLSTARTV which broadcasts ECHL All-Star Games 24 hours a day for free.
To watch ECHL TV and ECHLALLSTARTV fans can go to B2CableTV.com and click on the “Hockey” tab. Viewers will need a high-speed internet connection and a current version of Microsoft Windows Media Player to watch the Network. All events on ECHL TV and ECHLALLSTARTV are free of charge and available 24 hours a day.
2009 Kelly Cup Finals Schedule
Game 1 – Friday, May 22 at 7:15 p.m. AKDT at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska
Game 2 – Saturday, May 23 at 7:15 p.m. AKDT at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska
Game 3 – Wednesday, May 27 at 7:05 p.m. EDT at North Charleston Coliseum in South Carolina
Game 4 – Friday, May 29 at 7:05 p.m. EDT at North Charleston Coliseum in South Carolina
Game 5 – Saturday, May 30 at 7:05 p.m. EDT at North Charleston Coliseum in South Carolina *
Game 6 – Thursday, June 4 at 7:15 p.m. AKDT at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska *
Game 7 – Friday, June 5 at 7:15 p.m. AKDT at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska *
* – If Necessary
Kelly Cup Champions – Here is a complete list of Kelly Cup Champions:
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