PRINCETON, N.J. – Former Gwinnett Gladiators defenseman Scott Lehman (pictured) and former Las Vegas Wranglers defenseman Tyson Strachan played their first National Hockey League game on Thursday taking the ice with the Atlanta Thrashers and the St. Louis Blues, respectively.
Twelve former ECHL players have made their NHL debut in December raising the number of players who have played in the NHL after the ECHL to 384.
Selected in the third round (76th overall) by Atlanta in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Lehman played in every game for Gwinnett as a rookie in 2006-07 scoring 14 points (2g-12a) in 72 regular season contests while also playing in all four Kelly Cup Playoff games. He returned to the Gladiators in 2007-08 and had two assists and 18 penalty minutes in six games before returning to Chicago where he was a member of the American Hockey League winner.
The 24-year-old Strachan was selected to the ECHL All-Star Game as a rookie in 2007-08, but was unable to play in the game after signing on Jan. 2 with Peoria of the AHL where he had three points (1g-2a) and 61 penalty minutes in 34 games. He had nine points (2g-7a) and 68 penalty minutes in 25 regular season games and four assists and 12 penalty minutes in 16 Kelly Cup Playoff games while helping the Wranglers advance to the Kelly Cup Finals.
The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has affiliations with 24 of the 30 teams in the NHL, marking the 12th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams. The Gwinnett Gladiators are the ECHL affiliate of Atlanta and the Alaska Aces are the ECHL affiliate of St. Louis.
There have been 128 former ECHL players who have played their first NHL game in the last four seasons including a record 47 who made their debut in 2005-06. Seventy-two former ECHL players were on NHL opening-day rosters this season and 333 ECHL players attended NHL training camps, including 139 who played in the league last season.
Former ECHL coaches working as head coaches in the NHL are Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals and Scott Gordon of the New York Islanders. Boudreau, who coached Mississippi for three seasons winning the Kelly Cup championship in 1999, was named NHL Coach of the Year in 2007-08 becoming the first former ECHL coach to receive the award. Peter Laviolette, who began his coaching career with the Wheeling Nailers, led Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup in 2006. There are 18 assistant coaches in the NHL who were players or coaches in the ECHL.
Twenty-nine former ECHL players have made their NHL debut this season: former Wheeling Nailers and ECHL All-Star defenseman Paul Bissonnette (Pittsburgh on Oct. 4), former Bakersfield Condors center Alexandre Bolduc (Vancouver on Nov. 27), former Florida Everblades defenseman Brett Carson (Carolina on Dec. 7), former South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Sean Collins (Washington on Dec. 6), former Las Vegas Wranglers and Wheeling Nailers goaltender John Curry (Pittsburgh on Nov. 26), former Greenville Grrrowl goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers (Edmonton on Oct. 17), former Johnstown Chiefs center Andre Deveaux (Toronto on Nov. 27), former Dayton Bombers center Philippe Dupuis (Colorado on Dec. 12), former Gwinnett Gladiators right wing Pat Dwyer former Columbus Cottonmouths and Tallahassee Tiger Sharks left wing Mitch Fritz (New York Islanders on Oct. 30), former Charlotte Checkers center Dwight Helminen (Carolina on Oct. 28), former Trenton Devils right wing Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (New Jersey on Oct. 22), former Gwinnett Gladiators defenseman Scott Lehman (Atlanta on Dec. 18), former Charlotte Checkers defenseman Steve MacIntyre (Edmonton on Oct. 15), former Florida Everblades left wing Kenndal McArdle (Florida on Dec. 2), former Phoenix RoadRunners and Wheeling Nailers center Cam Paddock (St. Louis on Nov. 14), former Las Vegas Wranglers defenseman Adam Pardy (Calgary on Oct. 9), former Idaho Steelheads left wing Warren Peters (Calgary on Dec. 7), former Charlotte Checkers defenseman Corey Potter (New York Rangers on Dec. 7), former Charlotte Checkers, Columbia Inferno and Elmira Jackals defenseman Bryan Rodney (Carolina on Dec. 11), former Gwinnett Gladiators center Jared Ross (Philadelphia on Oct. 11), former Alaska Aces goaltender Marek Schwarz (St. Louis on Oct. 25), former Greenville Grrrowl and Stockton Thunder center Tim Sestito (Edmonton on Nov. 26), former Dayton Bombers and Las Vegas Wranglers defenseman Tyler Sloan (Washington on Oct. 21), former Johnstown Chiefs and Mississippi Sea Wolves forward Radek Smolenak (Tampa Bay on Dec. 2), former Augusta Lynx defenseman Brett Skinner (New York Islanders on Oct. 27), former Las Vegas Wranglers defenseman Tyson Strachan (St. Louis on Dec. 18), former Wheeling Nailers right wing Tim Wallace (Pittsburgh on Dec. 10) and former Idaho Steelheads center Tom Wandell (Dallas on Dec. 10).
The ECHL is represented for the eighth consecutive year on the National Hockey League championship team in 2008 by Aaron Downey of the Detroit Red Wings.
There are 18 former ECHL officials scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2008-09 with referees David Banfield, Chris Ciamaga, Ghislain Hebert, Marc Joannette, Mike Leggo, Wes McCauley, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh and linesmen Steve Barton, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak and Jay Sharrers. Barton, Joannette, Leggo, McCauley, Nowak, Pollock, Rooney and Sharrers all worked the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• Watch Games Live on B2 Networks, the “Official Broadband Broadcast Provider” of the ECHL.
• Watch ECHL Games Around The Clock On ECHL TV on B2CableTV.com.
• The ECHL celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2007-08 and is the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
• ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league with 22 teams playing in 16 states and British Columbia in 2008-09.
• The Reading Royals, the City of Reading and the Sovereign Center will host the 17th Annual ECHL All-Star Game on Jan. 21, 2009 and the 12th Annual All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 20, 2009.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• ECHL has affiliations with 23 of the 29 teams in the American Hockey League and for the past 19 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup Champion.
• In the last six seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 2,000 call-ups involving more than 1,000 players since 2002-03.
• Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.