AHL champion Grand Rapids has seven former ECHL players

For the 28th year in a row the ECHL is represented on the American Hockey League champion as seven of the 23 players who played for Grand Rapids in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs played in the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League.

There have been 124 former ECHL players on the last 13 AHL champions.

The ECHL has had affiliations with 20 or more teams in the AHL the last 16 years. The Toledo Walleye served as the ECHL affiliate for Grand Rapids during the 2016-17 season.

Former ECHL players who captured the 2017 Calder Cup title are Mike Borkowski (Toledo, 2016-17), Jared Coreau (Toledo, 2013-15), Matthew Ford (Charlotte, 2008-10), Martin Frk (Toledo, 2013-15), Brian Lashoff (Toledo, 2010-11), Edward Pasquale (Gwinnett, 2010-11 and Brampton, 2015-16) and 2010-11 ECHL Rookie of the Year Ben Street (Wheeling, 2010-11)

Grand Rapids Assistant Coach Bruce Ramsay was head coach of Tulsa during the 2014-15 season while fellow Assistant Coach Ben Simon played in the ECHL with Kalamazoo in 2009-10 and was head coach of Cincinnati in 2013-14, leading the Cyclones to the 2014 Kelly Cup Finals.

Other former ECHL personnel with the Griffins include Athletic Trainer John Bernal, who was trainer for Texas in 2003-04 and Senior Director of Public Relations Randy Cleves, who was Director of Public Relations for Dayton in 1996-97.

Eight of the 26 players on runner-up Syracuse had ECHL experience with Mathieu Brodeur (Las Vegas, 2010-11 and Adirondack, 2015-17), Cory Conacher (Cincinnati, 2010-11), Byron Froese (Toledo, 2011-13 and Cincinnati, 2013-15), Yanni Gourde (San Francisco, 2012-13 and Kalamazoo, 2013-14), Kristers Gudlevskis (Florida, 2013-14), Henri Ikonen (Greenville, 2015-16), Kevin Lynch (Toledo, 2013-14; Evansville, 2013-14; Florida, 2014-16 and Indy, 2016-17) and Mike McKenna (Las Vegas, 2005-07). Other former ECHL personnel with the Crunch are Broadcaster/Account Executive Dan D’Uva, who was the director of public relations and broadcasting for Trenton from 2009-11 and Athletic Trainer Brad Chavis, who was the trainer for both Phoenix and Pensacola in the ECHL.

During the 2016-17 season, 368 ECHL players were recalled to the American Hockey League for a total of 581 recalls. For the second consecutive season, the Manchester Monarchs led the ECHL with 31 players recalled a total of 55 times.

Nine times in the last 17 years the winner of the AHL Coach of the Year award has been a former ECHL coach including former Roanoke Valley Rebels’ and Richmond Renegades’ head coach Roy Sommer, who won the award this season and former Trenton Devils’ coach Rick Kowalsky, a 2017 inductee into the ECHL Hall of Fame, who won the award in 2015-16. Former ECHL coaches Scott Gordon and Mike Haviland won the award in back-to-back years in 2006 and 2007. Former ECHL coaches won the award four consecutive years from 2001-04 with Don Granato, Bruce Cassidy, Geoff Ward and Claude Noel. The first former ECHL coach to win the award was Peter Laviolette in 1999.

For the 10th season in a row at least six former ECHL players were named CCM/AHL Player of the Week with former Idaho Steelheads goaltenders Richard Bachman and Jack Campbell, former Cincinnati Cyclones forward Frederick Gaudreau, former Alaska Aces defenseman John Ramage, former Wheeling Nailers forward Paul Thompson and former South Carolina Stingrays goaltender Vitek Vanecek.

There were seven former ECHL players who participated in the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic as well as former Wheeling Nailers’ Head Coach Clark Donatelli, who served as head coach for the Atlantic Division All-Stars.

Fourteen of the 30 head coaches in the American Hockey League during the 2016-17 season had an ECHL background with Albany’s Rick Kowalsky, Bakersfield’s Gerry Fleming, Binghamton’s Kurt Kleinendorst, Bridgeport’s Brent Thompson, Hershey’s Troy Mann, Iowa’s Derek Lalonde, Lehigh Valley’s Scott Gordon, Manitoba’s Pascal Vincent, Providence’s Kevin Dean, Rockford’s Ted Dent, San Antonio’s Eric Veilleux, San Jose’s Roy Sommer, Texas’ Derek Laxdal and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Clark Donatelli.

Former ECHL broadcasters working in the American Hockey League during the 2016-17 season included Josh Heller of the Albany Devils, Kevin Bartl and Ryan Holt of the Bakersfield Condors, Grady Whittenburg of the Binghamton Senators, Alan Fuehring of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Jason Shaya of the Charlotte Checkers, Jason Shaver of the Chicago Wolves, Tony Brown of the Cleveland Monsters, Joe O’Donnell and Josh Fisher of the Iowa Wild, Bob Rotruck of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Joseph Zakrzewski of the Ontario Reign, Bob Mills of the Rockford IceHogs, Dan Weiss of the San Antonio Rampage, Brandon Kisker of the Stockton Heat, Dan D’Uva of the Syracuse Crunch, Andy Zilch of the Utica Comets and Mike O’Brien of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Thirty-two of the 47 referees working in the American Hockey League, including four of the nine referees contracted to the NHL, came from the ECHL. Eighty-seven of the 178 linesmen in the AHL, spent time in the ECHL while 10 current ECHL referees and 31 current ECHL linesmen have worked AHL games this season.

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 29th season in 2016-17. There have been who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including 24 who made their debut in the 2016-17 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 30 NHL teams in 2016-17, marking the 20th 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