The ECHL announced on Thursday that the 2018 inductees for the ECHL Hall of Fame are Steve Chapman, Sam Ftorek and Jason Saal.
The three will be formally inducted as the 11th class of the ECHL Hall of Fame at a banquet ceremony that will be held in conjunction with the 2018 CCM/ECHL All Star Classic. The 2018 ECHL Hall of Fame ceremony, presented by BFL CANADA and Sutton Special Risk, will take place on Monday, January 15 at 6:30 p..m. ET at the Hilton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites, the official host hotel of the 2018 CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic. The Keynote Address will be delivered by Chicago Blackhawks Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations, Al MacIsaac, a 2014 inductee into the ECHL Hall of Fame.
“All three inductees are most deserving of this honor for their contributions to the growth and history of the ECHL,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. “Sam was one of the most versatile, consistent and durable performers in League history. Jason was a workhorse goalie who put up impressive numbers during a high-scoring era and Steve has had a long and distinguished career as a team and League executive, and Chairman of the Board of Governors.”
Steve Chapman began his involvement with the ECHL in 1992, when he was hired as a sales executive with the Birmingham Bulls. Three years later, he was offered, and accepted, the General Manger position for the Mobile Mysticks, who brought professional hockey to Mobile, Alabama for the first time. In 2001, he played in integral role in relocating the team to Gwinnett County, Georgia, where the Gladiators began play in the 2003-04 season. The team reached the playoffs in each of their first six seasons in Atlanta, and finished in the top six in League attendance five times in their first six seasons. Chapman served as Chairman of the ECHL Board of Governors for nine seasons from 2005-06 through 2014-15, and is the only person to win the ECHL Executive of the Year award in back-to-back seasons, doing so in 2005-06 and 2006-07. He departed the Gladiators following the 2014-15 season and is in his third season as Group VP, Brand, Community & Partnership Development for the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues.
Sam Ftorek spent 14 seasons of his 17-year professional playing career in the ECHL, culminating in setting the League’s all-time games played record in his final season of 2014-15. He set the record on Dec. 13, 2014, breaking the previous mark of 789 which was held by 2010 ECHL Hall of Fame inductee Cam Brown, and ended his career having appeared in 837 career ECHL games. Ftorek ranks 10th in ECHL history with 360 career assists, 17th with 548 career points and 29th with 188 career goals. He earned a spot on the All-ECHL First Team, and was runner-up for the League’s Defenseman of the Year award in 2013-14, when he posted 47 points (13g-34a) in 70 games with the Kalamazoo Wings. Following his retirement as a player, he served as an assistant with Kalamazoo during the 2015-16 season and is currently in his second season as the head coach of the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
Jason Saal becomes just the fourth goaltender to be selected for induction into the ECHL Hall of Fame. He ranks second among goaltenders in ECHL history with 455 career games, is fourth with 20 shutouts, and is fifth with 19,858 minutes played and 173 wins. He won 20 or more games five times in his ECHL career, which ranks third all-time in League history and he is one of just six goaltenders to have posted at least four consecutive seasons of at least 20 wins, doing so from 2000-01 through 2003-04. He also holds a record that may never be broken among ECHL goaltenders, as he posted a three-assist game for the Augusta Lynx on Dec. 12, 2003 against Greenville, becoming the first, and to this point only, goaltender in League history to record a three-point game.
Tickets for the 2018 ECHL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony can be purchased by visiting ECHLAllStarClassic.com or by calling the Indy Fuel front office at (317) 925-FUEL. A limited number of seats are available, so reserve your space early.
The inaugural ECHL Hall of Fame class inducted in 2008 was Henry Brabham, Patrick J. Kelly, Chris Valicevic and Nick Vitucci while the second class in 2009 was John Brophy, Blake Cullen, Tom Nemeth and Rod Taylor. The 2010 ECHL Hall of Fame class was Cam Brown, E.A. “Bud” Gingher, Olaf Kolzig and Darryl Noren; the 2011 class was Richard Adams, Phil Berger, Luke Curtin and Joe Ernst; the Class of 2012 was Bill Coffey, Sheldon Gorski, John Marks, Dave Seitz and Bob Woods; the 2013 class was David Craievich, Marc Magliarditi, Steve Poapst and Darren Schwartz; the Class of 2014 was James Edwards, Wes Goldie, Al MacIsaac and John Spoltore; the Class of 2015 was Darren Colbourne, Louis Dumont, Scott Sabatino and Carl Scheer; the Class of 2016 was Daniel Berthiaume, Craig Brush and Allan Sirois and the Class of 2017 was T. Paul Hendrick, Rick Kowalsky and Brad Phillips. Inductees are enshrined in the ECHL Hall of Fame, which is open around the clock online at ECHLHallOfFame.com, as well as being recognized at the league office in Princeton, N.J. and in the ECHL section at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario.
The third-longest tenured professional hockey league, behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League, the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League has grown from five teams in four states in 1988-89 into a coast-to-coast league with 27 teams in 21 states and one Canadian province for its 30th season in 2017-18.
Hall of Fame members are selected in four categories: Player, Developmental Player, Builder, and Referee/Linesman. No more than five candidates may be elected to the ECHL Hall of Fame each year with no more than three Players, one Developmental Player, two Builders and one Referee/Linesman. The Developmental Player, Builder and the Referee/Linesman categories are dependent upon the number of candidates in the Player category.
The nomination and/or selection of candidates will be determined by the Hall of Fame Selection Committee and its Chairman Patrick J. Kelly.
Only members of the Selection Committee, the Board of Governors, teams or persons affiliated with the ECHL may submit official nominations which must be made in writing to the league office. Fans are encouraged to contact their team to propose names for nomination.
About the ECHL
Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 27 teams in 21 states and one Canadian province for its 30th season in 2017-18. There have been who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 10 who have made their NHL debuts in the 2017-18 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 31 NHL teams in 2017-18, marking the 21st consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com as well as on Twitter and Facebook.