PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL announced that its 23rd season will begin on Oct. 15 with seven games being played in seven states from Alaska to Florida and continues on Oct. 16 with nine more games in eight states.
Click here to view the entire 2010-11 schedule.
Planning is well under way for the 2010-11 season and information on special team promotional nights will be available on individual team web sites.
Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league that will have 19 teams in 14 states and British Columbia playing 684 games from Oct. 15, 2010 to April 2, 2011.
Wheeling returns for its 19th season and South Carolina celebrates its 18th season. Toledo returns for its 17th season while Florida celebrates its 13th year; Trenton its 12th season and Reading its 10th season in the ECHL.
The third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League, the ECHL averaged 4,485 per game in 2009-10 which is the highest average since 1999-00 and the second-highest average in the last 11 years. It is the sixth consecutive season and the 18th time in the last 20 years that the ECHL has averaged over 4,000 fans and the league drew over 3 million fans for the 17th year in a row.
Cincinnati will raise its second Kelly Cup championship banner in the last three years and its second conference championship banner on Oct. 30 when it hosts the Wheeling Nailers. The Idaho Steelheads will hoist their third National Conference championship banner and their first West Division championship banner on Oct. 15 when they host Victoria. The Cyclones set a Kelly Cup Playoffs record with 13,483 fans in attendance for Game 5 against Idaho on May 21.
The Alaska Aces host the Utah Grizzlies on Oct. 15 and 16 while the Stockton Thunder will host the Ontario Reign on Oct. 15 and 16. Stockton has averaged over 6,000 fans per game in each of its five seasons in the league and led the league in attendance for each of its first four seasons before finishing third last year with an average of 6,031 per game.
The Elmira Jackals host the Cincinnati Cyclones for two games on Oct. 15 and 16. Elmira tied for the league lead in 2009-10 with 12 sellouts and raised its average attendance 9.9 percent over 2008-09 to 3,661.
Florida will host Gwinnett; South Carolina will host Greenville and Wheeling will host Toledo on Oct. 15. The Nailers will also play 10 games this season in Johnstown with the first game at Cambria County War Memorial on Oct. 23 against Trenton.
Bakersfield will raise its first Pacific Division championship banner when it opens its season on Oct. 16 against Las Vegas.
Trenton opens its season on Oct. 16 against Reading.
The Toledo Walleye open their season on Oct. 16 against Wheeling. The Walleye welcomed a Toledo hockey record 226,575 fans in 2009-10 and tied for the ECHL high with 12 sellouts.
The ECHL returns to Greenville, S.C. following a four-year absence with the home opener at BI-LO Center scheduled for Oct. 21 against Florida.
Utah opens its home schedule against Bakersfield on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23. The Grizzlies set a team record with 10,020 on Jan. 29 against Las Vegas and raised their average attendance 12.7 percent to 4,119 fans per game.
Las Vegas opens its eighth season at Orleans Arena on Oct. 22 and 23 against Victoria while Gwinnett hosts South Carolina on Oct. 22 in its home opener and Reading hosts Elmira on Oct. 23 to open its home schedule.
Ontario, which led the ECHL in 2009-10 with an average of 6,451 fans per game, hosts its home opener on Oct. 23 against Stockton.
Kalamazoo, which welcomed its highest average attendance since 1998-99 last season with 3,433 per game, welcomes Cincinnati to Wings Stadium for its home opener on Oct. 23.
Victoria opens its home schedule against Ontario on Oct. 27, 29 and 30.
The Bakersfield Condors, the City of Bakersfield and Rabobank Arena will host the 19th Annual ECHL All-Star Game on Jan. 26, 2011.
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.
• 443 players have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including a record 53 in 2008-09.
• 35 ECHL players have made their NHL debut this season. The most recent are: former Dayton, Kalamazoo, Mississippi and South Carolina goaltender Jeremy Duchesne (Philadelphia on April 1), former South Carolina Stingrays and Utah Grizzlies center Micheal Haley (New York Islanders on April 10), former Mississippi SeaWolves defenseman Scott Jackson (Tampa Bay on April 11), former Alaska and Las Vegas left wing and 2004 ECHL All-Star Charles Linglet (Edmonton on April 2) and former Texas Wildcatters defenseman Maxim Noreau (Minnesota on April 8).
• 6 players have played in the ECHL and the NHL this season: Kyle Calder with Bakersfield and Anaheim, Tomas Kana with Alaska and Columbus, Jeremy Duchesne with Kalamazoo and Philadelphia, Dan Sexton with Bakersfield and Anaheim, MacGregor Sharp with Bakersfield and Anaheim and Matt Zaba with Charlotte and the New York Rangers.
• The ECHL has had 251 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.
• 187 ECHL players have played their first game in the last five seasons for an average of more than 37 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.
• 28 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, Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette and St. Louis Blues head coach Davis Payne 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.
• Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.