PRINCETON, N.J. – Jay Leach, who played in the ECHL with Mississippi, Augusta, Long Beach and Trenton, made his National Hockey League debut on Saturday with the Boston Bruins and there have now been 273 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL. The 26-year-old defenseman, who had seven penalty minutes and a plus-minus rating of +1 in 13 shifts of the Bruins’ 6-3 win over Pittsburgh, was one of four ECHL players who made their debut over the weekend.
Selected in the fifth round (115th overall) by Phoenix in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, the 6-foot-4 and 215-pound Leach began his professional career in the ECHL with Mississippi in 2001-02 and had 16 points (3g-13a) and 116 penalty minutes in 70 regular season games and two points (1g-1a) and eight penalty minutes in 10 Kelly Cup Playoff games. He played in the ECHL each of the last four years and has 51 points (13g-38a) and 344 penalty minutes in 180 regular season games and two points (1g-1a) and eight penalty minutes in 10 Kelly Cup Playoff games. Including this season, Leach has played four seasons in the American Hockey League with Bridgeport, Providence and Springfield and he has 10 points (4g-6a) and 146 penalty minutes in 104 regular season games and one assist and 38 penalty minutes in 24 playoff games.
The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the NHL and there is one head coach, 12 assistant coaches, 12 referees and five linesmen working in the NHL in 2005-06 who have ECHL experience.
There have been 17 players in 2005-06 that have made their first NHL appearance since playing in the ECHL: Evgeny Artukhin (Tampa Bay on October 20), Adam Berkhoel (Atlanta on October 15), Derek Boogaard (Minnesota on October 5), Kevin Colley (New York Islanders on October 27), Michael Garnett (Atlanta on October 12), Trevor Gillies (Anaheim on November 6), Steven Goertzen (Columbus on October 21), Jeff Giuliano (Los Angeles on November 5), Timo Helbling (Tampa Bay on October 5), Colin Hemingway (St. Louis on October 19), Raitis Ivanans (Montreal on October 8), Zenon Konopka (Anaheim on October 30), Jay Leach (Boston on November 5), George Parros (Los Angeles on October 5), Nolan Schaefer (San Jose on October 26), Martin St. Pierre (Chicago on November 4), and Mark Streit (Montreal on October 8).