Roster Includes 12 Rookies, 19 First-Time Selections
PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL on Thursday announced the starting lineup and roster of the American Conference team for the 2010 ECHL All-Star Game presented by Reebok Hockey and brought to you by Toyota and the City of Ontario.
The 2010 ECHL All-Star Game presented by Reebok Hockey and brought to you by Toyota and the City of Ontario will be hosted by the Ontario Reign at Citizens Business Bank Arena and played on Jan. 20, 2010 while the 2010 ECHL All-Star Skills Competition will be held on Jan. 19, 2010.
There are 12 rookies on the American Conference and 19 of the 21 players are making their first appearance in an ECHL All-Star Game.
There have been 58 players from the All-Star Game who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League, including 33 since 2002 when the lineups began having players who coaches felt were prospects to move up to a higher level.
American Conference Starters
G – Todd Ford, South Carolina (24 gp, 16-6-1, 1 shutout, 2.88 GAA, .910 save pct.)
D – J.C. Sawyer, Toledo (28 gp, 12g, 16a, 28 pts)
D – Zach Tarkir, South Carolina (26 gp, 4g, 12a, 16 pts)
F – Justin Donati, Elmira (29 gp, 14g, 30a, 44 pts)
F – Ben Gordon, Reading (28 gp, 16g, 24a, 40 pts)
F – Jacob Micflikier, Florida (16 gp, 9g, 23a, 32 pts)
The starting lineups are determined in voting by American Conference coaches, team captains, media directors, broadcasters and media members. Coaches also submitted the top prospects from within their conference to determine the final roster with each of the 12 teams having a representative.
The third class will be inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame on Jan. 20, 2010 during a luncheon ceremony at the Hilton Ontario Airport, the official host hotel of the 2010 ECHL All-Star Game presented by Reebok Hockey and brought to you by Toyota and the City of Ontario. The featured speaker at the ECHL Hall of Fame luncheon will be Hockey Hall of Fame member and Los Angeles Kings President of Business Operations Luc Robitaille.
Tickets for the luncheon are $40 each or a table with seven tickets can be purchased for $250. The Ontario Reign is offering a special ticket package that includes a tickets to the ECHL Hall of Fame luncheon, the All-Star Skills Competition, the Fan Fest at Dave & Busters and the ECHL All-Star Game for only $75. To purchase tickets visit OntarioReign.com/team/allstar/ or telephone the Ontario Reign at (909) 941-7825.
Kelly Cup champion South Carolina has two starters with goaltender Todd Ford and defenseman Zach Tarkir as well as rookie goaltender Braden Holtby and rookie forward Nikita Kashirsky. It is the second All-Star selection for Ford, who played for the American Conference in 2005 at Reading, Pa. Ford, who is currently on loan to the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League, is 16-6-1 with a shutout and leads the league with 16 wins, 1,416 minutes and 690 saves. Tarkir, who is currently on loan to Lake Erie of the AHL, has 16 points (4g-12a) in 26 games. Holtby, who is under contract to the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League and currently with Hershey of the AHL, is 7-2-3 with a goals-against average of 2.95 and a save percentage of .911. Kashirsky, who is currently on loan to Springfield of the AHL, leads ECHL rookies with 17 goals and is tied for the lead with five game-winning goals while his 30 points in 33 games tie him for second.
Florida is represented by starting forward Jacob Micflikier, rookie forward Brandon Buck and defenseman A.J. Thelen. MicFlikier, who is under contract to and currently called up by Albany of the AHL, has 32 points (9g-23a) in 16 games and is tied for third with 12 power-play assists and tied for fourth with 15 power-play points. Buck, who is under contract to Houston of the AHL, has 17 points (8g-9a) in 24 games. Thelen, who is currently on loan to Rochester of the AHL, is tied for third among league defensemen with four power-play goals and tied for fifth with seven goals while his 15 points in 26 games tie him for 20th.
Elmira has a pair of rookie forwards with starter Justin Donati and Maxime Gratchev. Donati leads the ECHL with 30 assists and 44 points while his 12 power-play assists and 18 power-play points are tops among rookies and his six power-play goals tie him for third. Gratchev is tied for second among league rookies with 30 points while his 17 assists tie him for third and his 13 goals tie him for fifth.
Toledo has starting defenseman J.C. Sawyer and rookie forward Maxime Tanguay. It is the second All-Star appearance for Sawyer, who played for the American Conference in 2008 at Stockton, Calif. He leads ECHL defensemen with 12 goals and 28 points and is tied for third with 16 assists while his five game-winning goals are first among defensemen and tied for the overall lead. Tanguay is second among league rookies with 19 assists and tied for second with 30 points and 13 power-play points while his nine power-play assists tie him for third.
Representing Reading is starting forward Ben Gordon, who is currently on loan to Toronto of the AHL. Gordon is third in the league with 40 points and tied for fourth with 24 assists in 28 games.
Gwinnett will be represented by rookie defensemen Drew Paris and Sam Roberts. Roberts leads all rookie defensemen and is fourth overall among league defensemen with 20 points (7g-13a) in 29 games while Paris is tied for ninth with 18 points (7g-11a) in 29 games.
Representing Cincinnati will be rookie goaltender Jeremy Smith and rookie forward Matt Pierce. Pierce is tied for second among league rookies with 14 goals and is tied for third among rookies with six power-play goals while his 23 points in 28 games tie him for 10th among rookies. Smith is 8-6-1 with a shutout and is sixth in the league with a goals-against average of 2.65.
Charlotte will be represented by rookie forward Matt Schepke, who has 17 points (7g-10a) in 28 games.
Johnstown will be represented by forward Connor Shields, who is tied for the league rookie lead with seven power-play goals and tied for fifth with 13 goals while his 26 points in 30 games tie him for seventh.
Representing Kalamazoo will be forward Rick Cleaver, who is currently on loan to Syracuse of the AHL. He ranks seventh in the league with 34 points (13g-21a) in 26 games.
Trenton will be represented by Jeff Prough, who leads the team with 10 goals and ranks third with 18 points in 23 games.
Representing Wheeling will be Mitch Ganzak, who was named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team in 2008-09. He is tied for third among league defensemen with 16 assists and tied for fifth with 19 points in 32 games.
The past seven ECHL All-Star Games have generated more than $1 million each for the local economy as guests, players, coaches and fans occupy hundreds of hotel rooms and spend three days in the host city.
The game has been available live on the NHL Network the last seven years as well as being broadcast on multiple regional networks. The audio broadcast has been carried on XM Satellite Radio as well as being available in all ECHL markets.
The Stanley Cup and the Patrick J. Kelly Cup will both be on display throughout the event, marking the 10th time in the last 11 years that the NHL championship trophy and the ECHL championship trophy have been displayed together at the All-Star Game.
Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• 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 20 teams in 15 states and British Columbia in 2009-10.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• 428 players have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including a record 52 in 2008-09.
• 21 ECHL players have made their NHL debut this season: former Charlotte Checkers and Reading Royals defenseman Dean Arsene (Edmonton on Nov. 16), former Augusta, Greenville, Pensacola and Toledo goaltender Mike Brodeur (Ottawa on Dec. 19), former Gwinnett Gladiators and 2006 ECHL All-Star right wing Guillaume Desbiens (Vancouver on Oct. 11), former Cincinnati Cyclones center and 2008 ECHL Most Valuable Player David Desharnais (Montreal on Nov. 25), former Stockton Thunder and 2007 ECHL All-Star goaltender Devin Dubnyk (Edmonton on Nov. 28), former Las Vegas Wranglers, Reading Royals and South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Deryk Engelland (Pittsburgh on Nov. 10), former Louisiana IceGators defenseman Maxime Fortunus (Dallas on Dec. 19), former Idaho Steelheads center Aaron Gagnon (Dallas on Oct. 16), former Victoria Salmon Kings defenseman Shaun Heshka (Phoenix on Nov. 7), former Wheeling Nailers right wing David Laliberte (Philadelphia on Oct. 31), former Wheeling Nailers center Mark Letestu (Pittsburgh on Nov. 14), former Stockton Thunder right wing Colin McDonald (Edmonton on Nov. 27), former Stockton Thunder center Ryan O’Marra (Edmonton on Nov. 10), former Reading Royals right wing Scott Parse (Los Angeles on Oct. 24), former Charlotte Checkers center Tom Pyatt (Montreal on Nov. 5), former Johnstown Chiefs defenseman Jay Rosehill (Toronto on Oct. 1), former Bakersfield Condors right wing Dan Sexton (Anaheim on Dec. 5), former Bakersfield Condors center MacGregor Sharp (Anaheim on Nov. 19), former Idaho Steelheads left wing Francis Wathier (Dallas on Oct. 21), former South Carolina Stingrays center Kyle Wilson (Washington on Dec. 15) and former Cincinnati Cyclones right wing J.T. Wyman (Montreal on Nov. 24).
• 3 players have played in the ECHL and the NHL this season: Kyle Calder with Bakersfield and Anaheim, Dan Sexton with Bakersfield and Anaheim and MacGregor Sharp with Bakersfield and Anaheim.
• The ECHL has had 234 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.
• 170 ECHL players have played their first game in the last five seasons for an average of 34 per year.
• ECHL had a record 78 players on NHL opening-day rosters, surpassing the 71 from a year ago and marking the seventh 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 and the league has affiliations with 28 of the 30 NHL teams, marking the 13th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
• 27 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 head coach Scott Gordon and Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette while former ECHL player Dan Bylsma is head coach of the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. It is the fifth 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.
• 20 former ECHL officials are working as part of the NHL officiating team in 2009-10 with referees David Banfield, Francis Charron, Chris Ciamaga, Ghislain Herbert, 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, Bryan Pancich, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak and Jay Sharrers.
• ECHL was represented for the ninth year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion with Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma, player Ruslan Fedotenko, equipment managers Dana Heinze and Dave Zeigler, athletic trainers Chris Stewart and Scott Adams and scout Derek Clancey. There were 43 former players and 14 former coaches on 15 of the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking the fourth year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the sixth consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience have competed in the NHL postseason.
• Former ECHL and current Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was the recipient of the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender in the NHL and was also presented the William Jennings Trophy with teammate Manny Fernandez as the goaltenders finishing the season having surrendered the fewest goals. Thomas was also named First Team All-NHL after registering a career-high 36 wins while leading the NHL with a goals-against average of 2.10 and a save percentage of .933 to help the Bruins finish with the most wins (53) and points (116) since 1971-72.
• ECHL was represented in the 2009 NHL All-Star Game by Mark Streit of the New York Islanders and Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins while former ECHL players Dan Ellis, Jonathan Quick and Tomas Vokoun were all selected as recipients of the NHL’s “Three Stars” award in 2008-09.
• Former ECHL broadcasters working in the National Hockey League 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, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Bob McElligott and John Michael of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Rob Simpson, who is a producer/host for The NHL Network.
• 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.
• ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 29 teams in the American Hockey League and for the past 20 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup Champion.
• In the last six seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 2,500 call-ups involving more than 1,300 players and in 2008-09 there were 10 times as many call-ups from the ECHL to the AHL than all other professional leagues.
• The ECHL averaged 4,258 fans per game in 2008-09 and is the only minor professional hockey league to increase average attendance each of the last two seasons. It is the fifth consecutive season and the 17th time in the last 19 years that the ECHL has averaged over 4,000 fans and the league drew over 3 million fans for the 16th year in a row and reached the 3 million mark in the fewest number of games since 2005-06.
• There have been more than 75 million fans who have attended over 17,000 games since the ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states.
• The Ontario Reign, the City of Ontario and Citizens Business Bank Arena will host the 18th Annual ECHL All-Star Game presented by Reebok Hockey on Jan. 20, 2010 and the 13th Annual All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 19, 2010.
• Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.