PRINCETON, N.J. – The first Kelly Cup Finals in the coast-to-coast ECHL is set with the Florida Everblades representing the Eastern Conference and the Idaho Steelheads representing the Western Conference. There are 2,787 miles and two time zones between Boise, Idaho and Estero, Florida.
Games 1 and 2 will be played in Florida on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET with Games 3 and 4 in Idaho on May 19 and 21 at 7:05 p.m. MT. Game 5, if necessary, would be played in Idaho on May 22 at 7:05 p.m. MT while Game 6, if necessary, would be played in Florida on May 25 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Game 7, if necessary, would be played in Idaho on May 28 at 7:05 p.m. MT.
Idaho was one of six teams from the former West Coast Hockey League that joined the ECHL for 2003-04 while Florida is in its sixth season in the league. The ECHL welcomed nine new markets in 2003-04 and played with 31 teams in 17 states across five time zones. The ECHL will play with 30 teams in 2004-05, including the Victoria Salmon Kings. The first ECHL team outside of the United States, the Salmon Kings will play in Victoria, British Columbia.
The attendance for the 2004 Kelly Cup Playoffs is 203,604 with an average attendance of 3,393 per game, the highest total and average attendance since 2000, and there have been six sellouts, including two each in Florida and Idaho.
The Premier “AA” Hockey League, the ECHL had affiliations with 21 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League in 2003-04 and every NHL team had an ECHL player play for it in 2003-04. There were former ECHL coaches behind the benches of 14 of the 28 teams in the American Hockey League and all 28 teams in the AHL had an ECHL player take the ice for them in 2003-04. The ECHL had affiliation agreements with 21 of the 28 teams in the AHL and there were over 90 players on AHL contracts in the ECHL in 2003-04. There were more than 220 players that played in both the ECHL and the AHL in 2003-04 and the ECHL had 425 call-ups, involving 234 players, to the AHL during the regular season.