Kelly Cup Tour begins Friday in Norfolk

ECHL Trophy will visit five cities, travel 2,952 miles in 29 days

The ECHL announced on Monday the launch of the 2018 Kelly Cup Tour with the first stop on Friday, March 2 in Norfolk. Every team begins the season with the goal of winning the Patrick J. Kelly Cup, presented annually to the Postseason Champion of the ECHL and won in 2017 by the Colorado Eagles.

The tour will travel to five ECHL cities, making appearances at games, schools, sponsors, radio and television stations and other community events. The Kelly Cup will travel 2,952 miles during the tour, with the longest trek encompassing 891 miles from Greenville, South Carolina on March 23 to Independence, Missouri on March 30.

“As part our 30th Anniversary season we are proud to present our 2018 Kelly Cup Tour,” ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna said. “As an added bonus, Mr. Pat Kelly, Commissioner Emeritus of the ECHL, will be available on select stops. We are excited to share the history, pride and tradition the Cup represents as teams begin the stretch drive for this year’s playoffs.”

After its stop in Norfolk on Friday, the Kelly Cup Tour will visit Kalamazoo, where it will be joined by the Stanley Cup, on March 9, Reading on March 16 and Greenville on March 23 before concluding in Kansas City on March 30.

The Kelly Cup Tour offers ECHL fans the opportunity to view the coveted Patrick J. Kelly Cup, which has been awarded to the ECHL postseason champion since 1996-97. The ECHL retired its playoff championship trophy, the Jack Riley Cup, in 1996 and replaced it with the Kelly Cup, first awarded to the playoff champion in 1997. Standing 28 inches tall and weighing 37 pounds, the Kelly Cup features the names of players, coaches and support staff from each of the 27 ECHL champions. Accompanying the Kelly Cup will be a special display that highlights the intensity and excitement of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

The Kelly Cup is named in recognition of Patrick J. Kelly, who is one of the founding fathers of the ECHL. Kelly served as Commissioner of the ECHL for the first eight seasons before being named Commissioner Emeritus in 1996, a title which he continues to hold. Kelly celebrates his 65th season in hockey in 2017-18, having begun his career with the St. Catherine Teepees of the Ontario Junior Hockey League in 1952. He played professionally for the Springfield Indians of the American Hockey League, the Troy Bruins of the International Hockey League, and the Greensboro Generals of the Eastern Hockey League. Kelly coached in the Eastern Hockey League from 1965-73 and was head coach and general manager of Charlotte in the Southern Hockey League from 1973-76. He coached the Colorado Rockies in the NHL in 1977-78 and is the only coach to lead the Rockies to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Following coaching stops in the American Hockey League, he went to Peoria in the International Hockey League where he led the Rivermen to the Turner Cup in his first season in 1984-85. In 2016, Kelly received the Lester Patrick Trophy from the National Hockey League for outstanding service to hockey in the United States.  

Scott Burt, Jared Bednar, Riley Gill, Louis Mass and Patrick Wellar are the only individuals to have their name engraved on the Kelly Cup three times. Burt won championships with Idaho in 2004 and 2007 and Alaska in 2011; Bednar won as a player with South Carolina in 1997 and 2001, and was the head coach of the Stingrays for their win in 2009; Gill was part of Reading’s 2013 Kelly Cup championship team and has captured championships with Allen in 2015 and 2016; Mass won as a player with Alaska in 2006 and as the Aces’ assistant coach in 2011 and 2014 while Wellar won titles with Alaska in 2006, South Carolina in 2009 and Reading in 2013. There are 33 other individuals who have their name engraved on the Kelly Cup twice.

Thirty-nine players whose name appears on the Kelly Cup have played in the National Hockey League: Sebastien Charpentier (Hampton Roads, 1998); Chris Schmidt and Travis Scott (Mississippi, 1999); Cody Rudkowsky and Cam Severson (Peoria, 2000); Zdenek Blatny, Tyrone Garner, Simon Gamache and Luke Sellars (Greenville, 2002); Kevin Colley and Matt Yeats (Atlantic City, 2003); Dan Ellis, Zenon Konopka, Warren Peters (Idaho, 2004); Chris Beckford-Tseu, Barrett Heisten, Doug Lynch, Chris Minard and Matt Underhill (Alaska, 2006); Jay Beagle, B.J. Crombeen, Greg Rallo and Francis Wathier (Idaho, 2007); David Desharnais, Cedrick Desjardins and Ryan Russell (Cincinnati, 2008); Travis Morin and James Reimer (South Carolina, 2009); Jeremy Smith and Mark Van Guilder (Cincinnati, 2010); Gerald Coleman (Alaska, 2011 and 2014) and Brian Swanson (Alaska, 2011); Kevin Quick and Justin Shugg (Florida, 2012); Stanislav Galiev (Reading, 2013); Turner Elson and John Ramage (Alaska, 2014) and Darryl Bootland and Kent Simpson (Colorado, 2017). In addition, Bruce Boudreau, who coached Mississippi to the 1999 Kelly Cup championship, is the head coach of the Minnesota Wild; Jared Bednar, who won three Kelly Cup titles with South Carolina (1997, 2001 and 2009) is head coach of the Colorado Avalanche; Bob Woods, who won the 1999 Kelly Cup title with Mississippi, is an assistant coach with the Minnesota Wild; Don Granato, who coached Peoria to the 2000 Kelly Cup title, is an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks and Davis Payne, who coached Alaska to the 2006 Kelly Cup title, is an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres.

2018 Kelly Cup Tour

March 2                       Norfolk Scope                                     Norfolk, Virginia

March 9                       Wings Event Center                            Kalamazoo, Michigan

March 17                     Santander Arena                                 Reading, Pennsylvania

March 24                     Bon Secours Wellness Arena            Greenville, South Carolina

March 30                     Stoney Creek Hotel                             Independence, Missouri

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 17 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.