Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford have placed a friendly wager on the Kelly Cup Finals.
If the Aces win, Palin will dine on shrimp and grits and the award-winning She-Crab soup from Tristan Restaurant in Downtown Charleston, S.C. while if the Stingrays win, Sanford will receive Alaska King Salmon.
“We’re awfully proud of how well the Stingrays have done this year, and we’re excited not only for the opportunity to show off a first-class sports franchise, but for the opportunity to show off the Charleston area as well,” said Sanford. “But personally, I’m most excited about the king salmon that Sarah is going to be sending my way when the Kelly Cup is decided!”
“I’ve always responded to a challenge, just like the Aces, and I also enjoy trying new food, which is why this bet is a no-brainer,” said Palin, a self-proclaimed hockey mom who has attended games at Sullivan Arena. “I have extreme confidence that our supremely talented team will represent our great state well enough to bring home our second championship in four years. I’ll make no predictions, other than I expect I’ll be trying the She-Crab soup and shrimp and grits real soon.”
The battle to determine the national ‘AA’ hockey champion begins Friday when the National Conference champion Alaska Aces host the American Conference champion South Carolina Stingrays in Game 1 of the Kelly Cup Finals at 7:15 p.m. AKDT at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska.
Game 2 will be Saturday at 7:15 p.m. AKDT at Sullivan Arena before the series travels three time zones and 4,517 miles to South Carolina where the Stingrays will host Games 3 and 4 at 7:05 p.m. ET at the North Charleston Coliseum on May 27 and May 29. Game 5, if necessary, would be at 7:05 p.m. ET at the North Charleston Coliseum on May 30. The series would return to Alaska for Game 6, if necessary, on June 4 at 7:15 p.m. AKDT and Game 7, if necessary, at 7:15 p.m. AKDT on June 5.
Stingrays Host Deadliest Catch Week
Embracing everything that is Alaska, the Stingrays have declared May 24-30 to be ‘Deadliest Catch’ week. Fans who bring their boat to the North Charleston Coliseum on May 29 will be given a free ticket for Game 4 and the team will award a prize for the biggest boat. Game 4 will also feature a Sarah Palin lookalike contest and a crab-leg eating competition.
Celebrating its 21st season in 2008-09, the ECHL is the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League and is the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
The Kelly Cup trophy is named for Patrick J. Kelly, who presents it each year to the postseason champion. Kelly was one of the founding fathers of the ECHL and the second inductee into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2008. Kelly served as Commissioner for the league’s first eight seasons and was named Commissioner Emeritus in 1996, a title that he continues to hold. Kelly, who celebrated his 55th season in professional hockey in 2007-08, coached 1,900 career games and had 935 wins. Kelly coached in the Eastern Hockey League, the Southern Hockey League and the National Hockey League where he was the only coach to ever lead the Colorado Rockies to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The ECHL is the primary development league for the AHL and the NHL. The ECHL and the AHL are the only two minor professional hockey leagues that are recognized in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and the National Hockey League Players’ Association. The CBA states that any player on an NHL entry-level contract designated for assignment to a minor league must report if assigned to a team in the ECHL or the AHL. A player on an NHL entry-level contract assigned to a minor professional league other than the ECHL or the AHL is not required to report and can request reassignment to a team in the ECHL or the AHL.
Kelly Cup Championship Banners In Seven States
South Carolina (South Carolina Stingrays in 1997 and 2001 and Greenville in 2002) has produced three of the 12 winners of the Kelly Cup while Idaho (Idaho Steelheads in 2004 and 2007) and New Jersey (Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies in 2003 and Trenton Titans in 2005) have each produced two champions.
The other five champions have been from Alaska (Alaska Aces in 2006), Illinois (Peoria Rivermen – 1999), Mississippi (Mississippi Sea Wolves – 1999), Ohio (Cincinnati Cyclones – 2008) and Virginia (Hampton Roads Admirals – 1998).
ECHL Champions From Nine States
In the first 20 years of the ECHL, Virginia has been home to the most champions with four (Hampton Roads Admirals in 1991, 1992 and 1998 and Richmond Renegades in 1995). North Carolina (Carolina Thunderbirds in 1989, Greensboro Monarchs in 1990 and Charlotte Checkers in 1996), Ohio (Toledo Storm in 1993 and 1994 and Cincinnati Cyclones in 2008) and South Carolina (South Carolina Stingrays in 1997 and 2001 and Greenville Grrrowl in 2002) have each had three champions. Idaho (Idaho Steelheads in 2004 and 2007) and New Jersey (Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies in 2003 and Trenton Titans in 2005) have each produced two champions while Alaska (Alaska Aces in 2006), Illinois (Peoria Rivermen in 1999) and Mississippi (Mississippi Sea Wolves in 1999) each have one winner.
Kelly Cup Playoffs Produce Alaska’s Greatest Sports Moment
Alaska’s run to the Conference Finals in 2005 was chosen as the “Greatest Team Sports Moment In Alaska History” in an online poll by The Anchorage Daily News: Alaska’s Newspaper. The Aces had more than six times the number of votes received by the second-place finisher – “Libby Riddles Becoming First Woman To Win The Iditarod In 1985,” and the team was honored by the City of Anchorage with “Alaska Aces Pride Day”.
Kelly Cup Finals Feature 13 Rookies
Thirteen of the players in the Kelly Cup Finals are rookies. The four Alaska rookies are T.J. Fast, Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, Matt Lundin and Ryan Turek. The nine South Carolina rookies are Mick Berge, Michael Dubuc, Josh Godfrey, Nikita Kashirsky, Johann Kroll, Maxime Lacroix, Lyon Messier, James Reimer and Rob Ricci.
Seven Players On NHL Contracts, Six On AHL Contracts
There are seven players in the Kelly Cup Finals who are under contact to a team in the National Hockey League. The ECHL has affiliations with 24 of the 30 teams in the NHL in 2008-09 marking 12th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Alaska is the ECHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. Alaska players under NHL contract to St. Louis are T.J. Fast and Tomas Kana. South Carolina is the ECHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals. South Carolina players under NHL contract to Washington are Travis Morin, Sasha Pokulok and Josh Godfrey. Jonathan Boutin of the Stingrays is under NHL contract to the San Jose Sharks and James Reimer is under NHL contract to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Sixteen players on the Kelly Cup Finals rosters have been selected in the National Hockey League Entry Draft with South Carolina having nine players and Alaska having seven players.
There are six players in the Kelly Cup Finals who are under contract to a team in the American Hockey League. The ECHL has affiliations with 23 of the 29 teams in the AHL and for the past 19 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup Champion. Alaska is the ECHL affiliate of the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL. Tyson Marsh of the Aces is under AHL contract to the Chicago Wolves while Kevin Nastiuk is under AHL contract and still playing for the Providence Bruins. South Carolina is the ECHL affiliate of the Hershey Bears, who are the AHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League. South Carolina players under AHL contract to Hershey are Michael Dubuc, Maxime Lacroix and Patrick Wellar. Johann Kroll of the Stingrays is under AHL contract to the Syracuse Crunch.
Five All Stars In Kelly Cup Finals
Five players in the Kelly Cup Finals played in the 2009 ECHL All-Star Game with Alaska being represented by rookie goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, right wing Colin Hemingway and defenseman Matt Shasby and South Carolina being represented by center Travis Morin and defenseman Johann Kroll. Hemingway, Lamoureux, Morin and Shasby were all selected as starters.
11 Win ECHL Title On Road, Nine At Home
In the 20 previous ECHL Playoffs, the champion has won the deciding game on the road 11 times and at home nine times. The 11 teams to win the title on the road are: Idaho (2007), Alaska (2006), Trenton (2005), Greenville (2002), Hampton Roads (1998 and 1992), South Carolina (1997), Charlotte (1996), Toledo (1994), Greensboro (1990) and Carolina (1989). The nine teams to win the title on home ice are: Cincinnati (2008), Idaho (2004), Atlantic City (2003), South Carolina (2001), Peoria (2000), Mississippi (1999), Richmond (1995), Toledo (1993) and Hampton Roads (1991).
Home-Ice Advantage In Finals
Eight of the 12 Kelly Cup winners, including the last three champions, and 12 of the 20 league champions have had home-ice advantage. The Kelly Cup winners are Cincinnati (2008), Idaho (2007), Alaska (2006), Idaho (2004), Greenville (2002), Peoria (2000), Mississippi (1999) and South Carolina (1997) while the Riley Cup winners are Charlotte (1996), Richmond (1995), Toledo (1994) and Hampton Roads (1991 and 1992).
Where Do They Come From
Twenty four of the 45 players on the Kelly Cup Finals rosters were born in Canada and 18 were born in the United States. The remaining three were born in the Czech Republic (Vladimir Novak and Tomas Kana of Alaska) and Russia (Nikita Kashirsky of South Carolina). Alaska has 12 players from Canada, eight from the United States and two from Czech Republic. South Carolina has 12 players from Canada, 10 from the United States and one from Russia. The break down by Canadian province is Ontario (6), Quebec (6), British Columbia (6), Alberta (2), Saskatchewan (3) and Manitoba (1). The breakdown by state is Minnesota (5), Michigan (2), Alaska (2), California (1), Connecticut (1), New York (1), New Jersey (1), North Dakota (1), Oklahoma (1), Pennsylvania (1), Texas (1), and Washington (1).
The average age of the players in the Kelly Cup Finals is 25.3 years old for Alaska and 24.1 years old for South Carolina. The oldest player is Alaska forward Scott Burt at 32 years old while the youngest player is South Carolina forward Michael Dubuc at 20 years old. The oldest player for Alaska is forward Scott Burt at 32 years old, while the youngest players are defensemen T.J. Fast and Ryan Turek and forward Tomas Kana at 21 years old. The oldest players for South Carolina are defensemen Nate Kiser, Spencer Carbery and Brad Farynuk and forward Matt Scherer at 27 years old while the youngest player is forward Michael Dubuc at 20 years old. The average age for Alaska by position is 26 years old for forwards, 24.9 years old for defensemen and 23.5 years old for goaltenders, while the average age for South Carolina by position is 24.5 years old for forwards, 24.2 years old for defensemen and 22 years old for goaltenders.
The average listed height of the players in the Kelly Cup Finals for Alaska is 70.5 inches and 72.5 inches for South Carolina. The tallest player for Alaska is defenseman Nick Tuzzolino at 6-foot-5 while the shortest player is forward Luke Erickson at 5-foot-8. The tallest player for South Carolina is defenseman Sasha Pokulok at 6-foot-5 while the shortest are forwards Rob Ricci and Pierre-Luc O’Brien at 5-foot-9. The average height for Alaska by position is 72 inches for forwards, 72 inches for defensemen and 72 inches for goaltenders while the average height for South Carolina by position is 78 inches for forwards, 73.5 inches for defensemen and 75 inches for goaltenders.
The average listed weight of the players in the Kelly Cup Finals for Alaska is 193.4 pounds and 196.5 pounds for South Carolina. The heaviest player is South Carolina defenseman Sasha Pokulok at 230 pounds while the lightest is Alaska goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux at 155 pounds. The heaviest players for Alaska are forwards Cam Keith and Matt Stefanishion and defenseman Nick Tuzzolino at 225 pounds. The heaviest player for South Carolina is defenseman Sasha Pokulok at 230 pounds. The average weight for Alaska by position is 194.8 pounds for forwards, 197 pounds for defensemen and 170 pounds for goaltenders, while the average weight for South Carolina by position is 186.3 pounds for forwards, 207.7 pounds for defensemen and 207 pounds for goaltenders.
Winning Game 1 or Game 2 Does Not Guarantee Success
Winning either Game 1 or 2 often is listed as a key to winning a series, but winning Game 4 or 5 has almost always guaranteed a series victory. In the previous 84 seven-game series, the team that has won Game 4 has gone on to win the series 64 times (76.2 percent). Fifteen of the 20 winners in the finals have won Game 4. The five winners that lost Game 4 are Cincinnati in 2008, Alaska in 2006, Trenton in 2005, Idaho in 2004 and Mississippi in 1999. Alaska and South Carolina are both 2-1 in Game 4. The Aces lost 4-0 at Victoria in the West Division Finals while South Carolina lost 3-2 in double overtime at home against Florida in the South Division Finals. Other teams that have lost Game 4 and gone on to win the series are Alaska (2009), Bakersfield (2009), South Carolina (2009), Alaska (2008), Elmira (2008), Dayton (2007), Idaho (2007) and Florida (2007), Bakersfield (2006) Las Vegas (2006), Florida (2005), Trenton (2005), Atlantic City (2003), Columbia (2003) and Toledo (1993). The winners of Game 5 have won 53 of the 84 seven-game series (63.1 percent), including each of the 17 finals that have lasted five games.
Home-Ice Advantage In Overtime
There have been 94 overtime games in seven-game series and the home team has won 54 times. There have been 16 overtime games in the 2009 Kelly Cup Playoffs and the home team has won 10 times. There have been 19 overtime games in the ECHL Finals and the home team has won 10 times.
Playing Past Regulation
Nine of the 19 games in the ECHL Finals that have been tied at the end of regulation have gone to multiple overtimes. There have been eight games decided in double overtime, including Game 4 of the 2007 Kelly Cup Finals, and one decided in triple overtime, Game 4 of the 1991 Riley Cup Finals.
In the 2009 Kelly Cup Playoffs there have been 16 overtime games and the home team has won 10 times. Alaska is 0-1 overall and 0-1 on the road in overtime while South Carolina is 2-1 overall and 2-0 on the road in overtime.
Here are the five longest games in Finals history:
1991 HAMPTON ROADS 2 at Greensboro 1 Game 4 5:47 3rd OT (105:47)
2007 IDAHO 2 at Dayton 1 Game 4 14:20 2nd OT (94:20)
1990 Winston Salem 3 at GREENSBORO 4 Game 4 14:18 2nd OT (94:18)
1994 Raleigh 3 at TOLEDO 4 Game 1 1:38 2nd OT (91:38)
1999 Richmond 3 at MISSISSIPPI 4 Game 7 10:31 2nd OT (90:31)
Overtime Wins Can Result In Series Win
Winners of 62 of the 94 overtime games in seven-game series have gone on to win the series, including a 33–11 record in Games 4–7. Eleven teams that have won in overtime in Game 3 have gone on to win the series – Las Vegas in the 2008 conference finals, Alaska and Victoria in 2008 conference quarterfinals, Las Vegas in 2007 conference quarterfinals, Idaho in 2007 conference quarterfinals, Alaska in 2007 conference semifinals, Alaska in 2006 conference finals, Trenton in 2005 conference finals, Idaho in 2004 Kelly Cup Finals, Greenville in 2002 Kelly Cup Finals and Peoria in 2000 Kelly Cup Finals.
Down 3-1 Isn’t Impossible
There have been 34 series where a team has trailed 3-1 and only three times has the trailing team come back to win. Dayton came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat Cincinnati in the division finals in 2007, winning Game 5 (6-2 at Cincinnati) before winning Game 6 (3-0 at home) and Game 7 (5-3 at home). Mississippi came back from a 3-1 deficit against Richmond in the Kelly Cup Finals in 1999 winning Game 5 (2-0 at home) before winning Game 6 (7-3 at Richmond) and Game 7 (4-3 at home in double overtime). Las Vegas came back from a 3-1 deficit against Idaho in the division semifinals in 2006 winning Game 5 (5-2 at Idaho) before winning Game 6 (6-0 at home) and Game 7 (6-2 at home). There has never been a team that has trailed 0-3 in a seven-game series that has come back to win.
Farthest Distance For Kelly Cup Finals
The 4,517 miles between Anchorage, Alaska and North Charleston, S.C. is the greatest distance between two teams in the history of the Kelly Cup Playoffs eclipsing the 4,444 miles between Anchorage, Alaska and Trenton, N.J. for the conference finals in 2005 and the 4,396 miles between Anchorage, Alaska and Duluth, Ga. for the Kelly Cup Finals in 2006.
Stingrays Look For Third Kelly Cup, Aces Chase Second
Alaska won the Kelly Cup in 2006 and is looking to join South Carolina and Idaho as the only two-time winners of the trophy. The Aces are third in postseason wins with 55, two behind the Toledo Storm. The ECHL postseason champion from 1989-96 was presented the Riley Cup. If the Stingrays win they would tie the league record for championships held by the Hampton Roads Admirals, who won in 1991, 1992 and 1998. South Carolina is making its third appearance in the finals tying the record held by the Greensboro Monarchs (1990, 1991 and 1995), the Hampton Roads Admirals (1991, 1992 and 1998) and the Wheeling Nailers (1989, 1990 and 1993).
Aces In Finals For Second Time In Four Years
The Aces are the top seed after finishing first in the National Conference and second overall in the ECHL with a winning percentage of .646 and a record of 45-24-3. The Aces finished first in the West Division in the regular season marking the fourth time in the last five years that they were first in the division and the third time that they were first in the National Conference. Alaska is only the second team in league history to reach the conference finals four times in five years after appearing in a record-tying three conference finals in a row from 2005-07. Louisiana reached the conference finals four times from 1997-2001 and Greensboro reached the conference finals in 1990, 1991 and 1992. The Aces are the only team to advance in the postseason each of their first six seasons and the first team to advance six consecutive years.
Alaska beat defending National Conference champion Las Vegas in four games in the conference finals. The Aces have outscored their opponents 52-22 and beat Victoria in five games in the West Division Finals and Utah in five games in the West Division Semifinals.
South Carolina was the fourth seed overall and the second seed in the South Division with a winning percentage of .634 and a record of 42-23-6. The Stingrays swept defending Kelly Cup champion Cincinnati in the American Conference Finals in a rematch of the 2008 conference finals. South Carolina upset regular season champion Florida in six games in the South Division Finals in a series that saw all six games decided by one goal including three in overtime. South Carolina beat Charlotte in six games in the South Division Semifinals.
Alaska, South Carolina and Cincinnati are the only teams to win the regular season Brabham Cup trophy and the Kelly Cup trophy in the same season. The Stingrays accomplished the feat in 1996-97 while the Aces did it in 2005-06 and the Cyclones did it in 2007-08.
Bednar, McCambridge Having Success Behind Bench
South Carolina’s Jared Bednar is the first coach to take his team to the conference finals in his first two seasons. He is 89-45-9 in the regular season and 22-14 in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The former defenseman was an assistant coach for five years before taking over as head coach in 2007-08. He is in his 13th season with the organization having played for the Stingrays from 1995-2002 and helping South Carolina win the Kelly Cup in 1997 and 2001. Alaska’s Keith McCambridge, who was captain of the Aces championship team in 2006, is 17-6 in the Kelly Cup Playoffs and 86-50-8 in the regular season.
Kelly Cup Finals Back On Familiar Ice
This is the third time that the Kelly Cup Finals have been played in the North Charleston Coliseum and the second time at the Sullivan Arena. It is the fifth time that the ECHL championship series has been hosted in the Palmetto State as Greenville won the championship in 2002 and Columbia lost to Atlantic City in 2003. South Carolina clinched the Kelly Cup at Louisiana in 1997 and won it at home in 2001 while Alaska hoisted its trophy at Gwinnett in 2006.
Preseason To Postseason
The two teams met in Alaska before the 2008-09 season and raised more than $120,000 for the American Cancer Society in Alaska and Breast Cancer Focus, Inc. Lamoureux made 34 saves and Colin Hemingway had two assists in Alaska’s 3-2 overtime win on Oct. 8, 2008 while Travis Morin had three assists and four points in South Carolina’s 5-1 win on Oct. 9, 2008. Alaska visited South Carolina in 2003-04 and the Stingrays won 4-1 on Mar. 16, 2004 and 4-3 in a shootout on Mar. 19, 2004.
Name Already On Kelly Cup
Alaska’s Cam Keith, Vladimir Novak, Corbin Schmidt, Matt Shasby and coach Keith McCambridge were all members of the Aces Kelly Cup championship team in 2006. Scott Burt and Lance Galbraith played for Idaho when the Steelheads won the Kelly Cup in 2004 and 2007. In addition to Burt and Galbraith there are 13 individuals who have their name engraved on the Kelly Cup twice including South Carolina coach Jared Bednar, who played for the Stingrays when they won in 1997 and 2001. Peter Metcalf and Joe Talbot won the Kelly Cup with Atlantic City in 2003 and with Alaska in 2006. Eight of those who have had their name engraved twice were members of South Carolina’s championship team in 2001. Rick Adduono was an assistant coach for South Carolina when it won the first Kelly Cup in 1997 and was head coach when the Stingrays when they won in 2001. Jason Fitzsimmons was a player for South Carolina in 1997 and an assistant coach in 2001. Jared Bednar, Brad Dexter, Brett Marietti and Dave Seitz were all players in both 1997 and 2001. Marty Clapton had his name engraved in 1998 with Hampton Roads and in 2001 with South Carolina while Mike Nicholishen had his name engraved in 2001 with South Carolina and in 2003 with Atlantic City.
Players Returning To Finals
Alaska’s Scott Burt and Lance Galbraith played for Idaho in the Kelly Cup Finals in 2004 and 2007 while Cam Keith, Vladimir Novak, Corbin Schmidt and Matt Shasby of the Aces and Patrick Wellar of the Stingrays all played in the Kelly Cup Finals for the Aces in 2006. South Carolina’s Brad Farynuk played for Dayton in the Kelly Cup Finals in 2007.
B2 Networks Broadcasts Kelly Cup Finals
B2 Networks, the “Official Broadband Broadcast Provider of the ECHL,” will broadcast every game in the Kelly Cup Finals.
B2 Networks has broadcast ECHL games around the globe the last six years including the Kelly Cup Finals and the ECHL All-Star Game. The first hockey game broadcast by B2 Networks was the Las Vegas Wranglers in February 2004 and the first hockey championship carried by B2 Networks was the 2004 Kelly Cup Playoffs.
The first channel on B2CableTV.com, a free 24-hour cable-style network dedicated to broadcasting sports and entertainment to viewers worldwide, was ECHL TV which allows fans to watch the biggest games from the previous week for free. B2CableTV.com also offers ECHLALLSTARTV which broadcasts ECHL All-Star Games 24 hours a day for free.
To watch ECHL TV and ECHLALLSTARTV fans can go to B2CableTV.com and click on the “Hockey” tab. Viewers will need a high-speed internet connection and a current version of Microsoft Windows Media Player to watch the Network. All events on ECHL TV and ECHLALLSTARTV are free of charge and available 24 hours a day.
2009 Kelly Cup Finals Schedule
Game 1 – Friday, May 22 at 7:15 p.m. AKDT at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska
Game 2 – Saturday, May 23 at 7:15 p.m. AKDT at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska
Game 3 – Wednesday, May 27 at 7:05 p.m. EDT at North Charleston Coliseum in South Carolina
Game 4 – Friday, May 29 at 7:05 p.m. EDT at North Charleston Coliseum in South Carolina
Game 5 – Saturday, May 30 at 7:05 p.m. EDT at North Charleston Coliseum in South Carolina *
Game 6 – Thursday, June 4 at 7:15 p.m. AKDT at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska *
Game 7 – Friday, June 5 at 7:15 p.m. AKDT at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska *
* – If Necessary
Kelly Cup Champions – Here is a complete list of Kelly Cup Champions:
2008 – Cincinnati defeated Las Vegas, 4 games to 2
2007 – Idaho defeated Dayton, 4 games to 1
2006 – Alaska defeated Gwinnett, 4 games to 1
2005 – Trenton defeated Florida, 4 games to 2
2004 – Idaho defeated Florida, 4 games to 1
2003 – Atlantic City defeated Columbia, 4 games to 1
2002 – Greenville defeated Dayton, 4 games to 0
2001 – South Carolina defeated Trenton, 4 games to 1
2000 – Peoria defeated Louisiana, 4 games to 2
1999 – Mississippi defeated Richmond, 4 games to 3
1998 – Hampton Roads defeated Pensacola, 4 games to 2
1997 – South Carolina defeated Louisiana, 4 games to 1