PRINCETON, N.J. – Former Greenville Grrrowl center Simon Gamache became the 211th former East Coast Hockey League player to advance to the National Hockey League when he made his debut with Atlanta on Friday.
The 22-year-old Gamache had three shots and was +1 in the Thrashers 2-1 loss to Florida.
Selected by Atlanta in the ninth round (290th overall) in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Gamache helped Greenville capture the 2002 Kelly Cup Championship and shared the Kelly Cup Playoffs Most Valuable Player award with teammate Tyrone Garner. Gamache led led the playoffs with 15 goals, six power-play goals and 24 points while his three game-winning goals tied him with teammate Colin Pepperall and Mississippi’s Jerome Marois for the postseason lead. The 5-10 and 185-pound Gamache scored a point in the last 11 postseason games (11g-6a) and also had a seven-game goal-scoring streak in the playoffs. He scored 38 points (19g-19a) in 38 regular season games for the Grrrowl while also scoring six points (2g-4a) in 26 games with Chicago of the American Hockey League.
Gamache began 2002-03 with Chicago of the AHL and ranked fifth in the league with 30 goals and was tied for ninth with 60 points in 62 games.
Gamache becomes the 16th ECHL player to make his NHL debut in 2002-03 joining Francois Beauchemin (Montreal), Joe Corvo (Los Angeles), Fedor Fedorov (Vancouver) Vern Fiddler (Nashville), Brian Finley (Nashville), Ryan Kraft (San Jose), Brett McLean (Chicago), Cody Rudkowsky (St. Louis), Curtis Sanford (St. Louis), Mike Siklenka (Philadelphia), Chris Schmidt (Los Angeles), Jerred Smithson (Los Angeles), Tim Thomas (Boston), John Tripp (New York Rangers) and Matt Walker (St. Louis).
There have been 62 former ECHL players that have played in the NHL in 2002-03 and 24 of the 30 teams in the NHL have affiliations with teams in the ECHL. In 2001-02, there were 83 former ECHL players that played in the NHL, including 18 who played in their first NHL game with five of those playing in both the ECHL and NHL during the season.