10th Class officially joins the ECHL Hall of Fame

Paul Hendrick, Brad Phillips and Rick Kowalsky were inducted as the 10th class of the ECHL Hall of Fame on Wednesday at a luncheon presented by BFL CANADA and Sutton Special Risk at the Fort William Henry Hotel in Lake George, N.Y.

Hendrick has served as the ECHL’s general counsel since the 1994-95 season, and ranks today’s honor as one of the highlights of his life.

“I am tremendously humbled and it is indeed an honor and probably the most important thing that’s happened to me in my legal career.”

Kowalsky enjoyed a 14-year association with the ECHL, including 10 as a player and four as a head coach.

“It’s certainly very humbling and it’s a huge honor,” Kowalsky said. “I spent almost three-quarters of my career in the league as a player and essentially started my head-coaching career in the league , so I owe a lot to the ECHL and the people I crossed paths with as a part of the league.”

A linesman in the ECHL for 15 seasons, Phillips is one of just three on-ice officials to work at least 1,000 games in the league, and is only the second official to be inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame.

“It’s a huge honor to even be selected to go to the Hall of Fame,” he said. “But to be the second official, next to Joe Ernst is something that is a great accomplishment and probably one of the biggest achievements I’ll have in my life, especially in the officiating world.”

Hendrick has been instrumental in the guidance and foundation of building the league including the acquisition of expansion teams from the former West Coast Hockey League in 2002 and the Central Hockey League in 2014 and has played a significant role in League structure, governing documents and labor relations. Those two acquisitions rank as the best memories Hendrick has from his time with the ECHL.

“I think when we did the west coast expansion deal and I think when we finally brought the teams from the Central Hockey League into the League, we became a League that was truly national in scope.”

Kowalsky, who appeared in 516 career ECHL games with Hampton Roads, Roanoke and Trenton, wrapped up his playing career in 2004-05, captaining the Titans to the Kelly Cup title with a 4 games to 2 victory over the Florida Everblades.

“I think The Hockey News had picked us that year to win the whole thing and to actually go through it and do it, it was a heck of a ride.

“The way the series went, we played Atlantic City and Reading which were an hour and a half and hour away and all of a sudden we’re in Alaska for the Conference Finals and we go seven games and then back and forth to Florida. So we went from a couple short bus trips to close to 5,000 air miles.”

For Phillips, getting to share the ice, and work his brother’s first professional game as an official, stands his favorite memory from the ECHL.

“Officiating my brother’s first game, being on the ice to watch that, just being able to be out there with him and kind of mentor him through the game, that’s one that sticks out in my mind as being memorable.”

Three individuals with different paths and different backgrounds are now united together as the 10th class for the ECHL Hall of Fame.