PRINCETON, N.J. – Former Peoria and Reading goaltender Mathieu Chouinard made his National Hockey League debut with Los Angeles on Sunday, giving the ECHL a total of 244 players that have advanced to the NHL. Chouinard replaced Cristobal Huet in the third period and made two saves while playing 2:43 in the Kings’ 6-3 loss at Anaheim.
Recalled from Manchester of the American Hockey League on February 20, Chouinard becomes the sixth goaltender to appear in both the ECHL and NHL in 2003-04 joining Arturs Irbe, Andy Chiodo, Dan Ellis, Dany Sabourin and Adam Munro.
Signed as a free agent by Los Angeles on July 7, 2003, the 23-year-old Chouinard was 8-5-0 with a 2.19 goals against average and a .917 save percentage in 18 games for Manchester. The 6-1 and 211-pound Chouinard appeared in three games with Reading going 1-1-1 with a 2.27 goals against average and a .922 save percentage.
Selected in the first round (15th overall) by Ottawa in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft and in the second round (45th overall) by Ottawa in the 2000 NHL Draft, Chouinard was 12-2-0 with a 2.12 goals against average and a save percentage of .924 in 15 games with Peoria in 2002-03. He also played for Binghamton in the AHL in 2002-03 going 2-0-0 with a 1.98 goals against average and a save percentage of .932 in four regular season games while also appearing in one playoff game. In 2001-02, Chouinard was 11-12-1 with a 2.48 goals against average and a .894 save percentage in 25 games with Grand Rapids of the AHL. He began his professional career in the International Hockey League with Grand Rapids going 17-7-1 with a 2.64 goals against average and a save percentage of .902 in 28 games.
There have been 29 players in 2003-04 that have made their first NHL appearance since playing in the ECHL surpassing the single-season high of 27 players set in 1999-2000 and equaled in 2000-01. Chouinard becomes the 28th ECHL player to make his NHL debut in 2003-04 joining Johnathan Aitken (Chicago on November 26), Ryan Barnes (Detroit on December 15), Mike Bishai (Edmonton on January 29), Darryl Bootland (Detroit on November 8), Garrett Burnett (Anaheim on October 8), Andy Chiodo (Pittsburgh on February 18), Carl Corazzini (Boston on January 15), Dan Ellis (Dallas on February 18), Mike Green (Florida on February 3), Andrew Hutchinson (Nashville on October 18), Boyd Kane (Philadelphia on October 16), Quintin Laing (Chicago on February 29), Patrick Leahy (Boston on December 6), Steve McLaren (St. Louis on December 16), Jason MacDonald (New York Rangers on December 12), Graham Mink (Washington on February 3), Adam Munro (Chicago on March 1), Lawrence Nycholat (New York Rangers on January 20), Pat Rissmiller (San Jose on November 13), Nathan Robinson (Detroit on November 28), Michael Ryder (Montreal on October 9), Dany Sabourin (Calgary on October 29), Rob Skrlac (New Jersey on December 13), Rastislav Stana (Washington on November 14), Mike Stuart (St. Louis on October 24), Darcy Verot (Washington on January 1), and Jeremy Yablonski (St. Louis on December 30). Travis Brigley, who played for Macon of the ECHL in 2001-02, played for Colorado on October 26.
There have been 94 ECHL players that have played in the NHL in 2003-04, a total that has 28 goaltenders including NHL All-Star Tomas Vokoun of Nashville. There were 53 former ECHL players on NHL opening-day rosters surpassing the record of 50 players set in 2002-03. There are nine ECHL coaches in the NHL including Carolina Hurricanes Head Coach Peter Laviolette and Florida Panthers Interim Head Coach John Torchetti. The ECHL has affiliations with 21 of the 30 teams in the NHL in 2003-04 and there has been an ECHL player on each of the 30 NHL teams in 2003-04.