Five of the 16 teams in the Kelly Cup Playoffs have won the Kelly Cup with Alaska, Cincinnati, Idaho, South Carolina and Trenton. The five have won the trophy seven of the 12 times it has been presented as Idaho (2004 and 2007) and South Carolina (1997 and 2001) have each won it twice. The field includes the last five champions with Cincinnati, Idaho, Alaska and Trenton.
Charlotte won the Riley Cup in 1996 which was the last season it was the trophy presented to the ECHL champion.
The Kelly Cup trophy is named for Patrick J. Kelly, who 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.
Cincinnati is the defending champion and one of only three teams to win both the Brabham Cup, the trophy awarded to the regular season champion and the Kelly Cup in the same season. The Cyclones had 71 combined wins in the regular season and postseason breaking the ECHL record of 69 wins by Alaska when it won the Kelly Cup in 2006. Cincinnati was the third team to finish the regular season with 100 points and win the Kelly Cup joining Alaska (113 points in 2005-06) and South Carolina (100 points in 1996-97).
South Carolina captured the first Kelly Cup in 1997 and became the first repeat champion in 2001 when it defeated Trenton. The Stingrays were the first team in history to win both the Brabham Cup and the Kelly Cup in the same season in 1996-97. Stingrays head coach Jared Bednar was a member of both championship teams.
Idaho is the other ECHL team that has won two Kelly Cups beating Florida to win the first-ever ‘AA’ national title in 2004 and Dayton in 2007. The Steelheads became only the second expansion team in history to win the ECHL title joining the Greensboro Monarchs who beat Winston-Salem in 1990. Darrell Hay was a member of both championship teams and is one of the 13 players/coaches to have his name engraved twice on the Kelly Cup.
Cincinnati is the first Kelly Cup winner from Ohio, but not the first ECHL champion from the state as the Toledo Storm won the Riley Cup in 1993 and 1994. Ohio has hosted the Kelly Cup Finals three times and the ECHL Finals five times.
Since becoming a national league in 2003-04, the ECHL has seen the Kelly Cup Champion come from Alaska (Alaska Aces in 2006), Ohio (Cincinnati Cyclones in 2008), Idaho (Steelheads in 2004 and 2007) and New Jersey (Trenton Titans in 2005) while the runner-ups have come from Nevada (Las Vegas Wranglers in 2008), Ohio (Dayton Bombers in 2007), Georgia (Gwinnett Gladiators in 2006) and Florida (Everblades in 2004 and 2005).
Alaska became the second team to win both the Brabham Cup and the Kelly Cup in 2005-06 when it finished first in the regular season with 113 points and defeated Gwinnett in five games. The Aces have reached the conference finals three times in the last four years, tying them for the second-most conference finals appearances since 1997 with Florida, Mississippi and Peoria. Louisiana holds the record with four conference finals appearances.
Four teams have won the ECHL championship after not finishing in the Top Five in the regular season standings. Idaho in 2006-07 and Trenton in 2004-05 each finished sixth overall while the Steelheads were 11th in 2003-04. Hampton Roads finished 19th and qualified for the postseason on the last day of the 1997–98 regular season before winning the Kelly Cup.
There have been only six teams that have finished with 100 points who have advanced to the Kelly Cup Finals: Alaska (113 points in 2005-06), Cincinnati (115 points in 2007-08), Gwinnett (107 points in 2005-06), Las Vegas (106 points in 2007-08), South Carolina (100 points in 1996-97) and Trenton (104 points in 2000-01). The only teams to finish with 100 points and win the Kelly Cup are Alaska with 113 points in 2005-06 and South Carolina with 100 points in 1996-97. Only twice in 20 years have two 100-point teams met in the Kelly Cup Finals with Cincinnati (115 points) beating Las Vegas (106 points) in 2008 and Alaska (113 points) beating Gwinnett (107 points) in 2006.
The biggest postseason upset in ECHL history was in 1994 when Louisville beat Knoxville in three games in the first round. Louisville was 16-44-8 and had 40 points while Knoxville was 44-18-6 and the regular season champion with 94 points.
The Brabham Cup winner has lost in the first round nine times, in the second round three times, in the conference finals two times, and in the Kelly Cup Finals three times. The last winner to lose in the first round was Pensacola in 2005. Cincinnati won the Kelly Cup in 2008, Alaska won in 2006 and South Carolina won in 1997.
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 four 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).
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 (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 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