PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL announced that its member teams donated more than $2.8 million to charitable organizations and relief funds throughout the 2006-07 season, including over $1.2 million in monetary donations.
The financial contributions from ECHL teams were in addition to the thousands of appearances by players, coaches, team personnel and mascots at schools, hospitals, libraries and charity functions throughout the year. In the last two seasons the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League and its teams have raised more than $5 million for charitable organizations.
“The goal of the ECHL is not only to provide great entertainment, but also to participate in the worthwhile causes in all of the markets where we have teams,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. “On behalf of the ECHL, we are proud of all our teams participation and fundraising efforts during this past season.”
For the third consecutive year the ECHL donated proceeds from its annual All-Star game-worn jersey and game-used puck auction to the Professional Hockey Players’ Association Health and Welfare Fund. Since beginning its All-Star auctions in 2002, the ECHL and The MeiGray Group have combined to raise almost $90,000 for the PHPA Health and Welfare Fund, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Karmanos Cancer Institute and Twin Towers Fund.
“Pink in the Rink” promotions in Charlotte, Columbia, Fresno, Idaho, Las Vegas, South Carolina, Stockton and Utah helped raise nearly $200,000 for breast cancer organizations while the Third Annual Fighting Cancer Hockey-Thon in Bakersfield raised $61,238 and Phoenix garnered almost $20,000 with Face-Off Against Kids Cancer.
Raising a record-breaking $470,000 in 2006-07, Bakersfield has provided over $875,000 in goods, services and monetary contributions the last two seasons, resulting in back-to-back Beautiful Bakersfield Humanitarian Group Awards for the Condors. Charlotte generated more than $400,000 in charitable contributions while Fresno, Idaho and Stockton each donated more than $200,000 in cash and goods to their respective communities.
Despite not being able to play each of the last two seasons because of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Mississippi Sea Wolves donated almost $50,000 in goods and services to assist local charity fundraising.
The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in three states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league that will have 25 teams playing in 17 states and British Columbia in 2007-08, including the Mississippi (Biloxi) Sea Wolves, who return after missing two seasons in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Opening Day for the 20th Anniversary Season will be Oct. 18 when the Johnstown Chiefs host the Wheeling Nailers at Cambria County War Memorial. The game is a rematch of Game 7 from the first-ever ECHL Finals played in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Cambria County War Memorial. The two teams will wear throwback jerseys for the Opening Day game that begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast worldwide on B2 Networks, the “Official Broadband Broadcast Provider of the ECHL”. The remaining teams will open their seasons the weekend of Oct. 19-21.
There have been 329 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including a record 47 in 2005-06 and 26 in 2006-07. There have been 184 former ECHL players who have played their first game in the NHL in the past five seasons and 107 former ECHL players have skated in the NHL this season. More than 100 players under contract to NHL teams have played in the ECHL this season. The ECHL had affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League in 2006-07, marking the 10th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
The ECHL is represented for the seventh consecutive year on the National Hockey League championship team in 2007 with Anaheim assistant coach Dave Farrish, players Francois Beauchemin and George Parros and broadcasters John Ahlers and Steve Carroll.
The ECHL has affiliations with 24 of the 27 teams in the American Hockey League in 2006-07 and for the past 17 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup champion.
In each of the last two seasons there have been more than 225 players who have played in both the ECHL and the AHL and there were over 800 call-ups involving more than 500 players.
In the last five seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 2,000 call-ups involving more than 1,000 players since 2002-03.
Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.