PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL conference finals are familiar territory to Trenton Titans head coach Mike Haviland, who is making his third appearance in four seasons as a head coach and his fifth appearance in six seasons behind the bench.
The National Conference Finals series between Trenton and Alaska is tied at one game each with Game 3 scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton. Game 4 will be Sunday at 5 p.m. and Game 5 is Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Haviland is the fourth ECHL coach in 17 years to lead two different teams to the conference finals. John Marks coached Greenville to the conference finals in 2000 and 2002 after leading Charlotte in 1996. Jeff Brubaker coached Jacksonville to the conference finals in 1996 after leading Greensboro in 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1995. Chris McSorley led Toledo to the conference finals in 1993 and 1994 after coaching Winston-Salem to the conference finals in 1990.
If Trenton advances to the Kelly Cup Finals, Haviland will join Marks (1996 and 2002), Brubaker (1990, 1991, 1995 and 1996) and McSorley (1990, 1993 and 1994) as the only coaches to lead two different teams to the league finals. Marks won the Riley Cup in 1996 and the Kelly Cup in 2002 while Brubaker won the Riley Cup in 1990 and McSorley won the Riley Cup in 1993 and 1994.
Born in Middletown, N.J., Haviland returned to the Titans in June 2004 after three years as the head coach and director of hockey operations for Atlantic City. The first professional coaching job that Haviland had was as an assistant coach during the Titans’ first two seasons after helping to scout and recruit players before the team joined the league as an expansion team in 1999-2000.
After finishing second in the North Division at 42-21-9, Trenton swept Atlantic City in the division semifinals before upsetting division winner Reading in the division finals. Haviland has never had less than 40 wins in a season as a head coach and his teams have finished first or second in the division each of the past three years.
Named head coach of Atlantic City prior to 2001-02, he earned Coach of the Year from The Hockey News after the team reached the conference finals following a third-place regular season finish. In 2002-03, the Boardwalk Bullies, after finishing first in the division, won the Kelly Cup Championship. In 2003-04, Atlantic City won over 40 games for the third consecutive season, finished second in the division and reached the postseason for the third year in a row.
Haviland is 172-81-35 in the regular season and ranks second all-time among ECHL coaches with a winning percentage of .657. Haviland is 29-15 in the postseason, tying him for fourth in ECHL playoff wins with Chris McSorley. Haviland’s playoff winning percentage of .659 ranks him fifth. Haviland will coach his 45th career playoff game on Saturday, moving him into a tie for fourth with McSorley. When combined with his two seasons as an assistant coach, Haviland is 259-128-43 in the regular season and 48-29 in the playoffs.
Haviland has twice been voted by his peers to be a coach in the ECHL All-Star Game, helping lead the North Conference to an 8-2 win in 2003 and the National Conference to a 6-2 win in 2005.
Selected by the New Jersey Devils in the 1990 Draft, Haviland played in the American Hockey League with Binghamton in 1989-90 and in the ECHL with Richmond and Winston-Salem in 1990-91. He helped Elmira College capture two Eastern College Athletic Conference titles and was named First Team All-America and team MVP in 1989-90 after scoring 72 points (41g-31a) in 33 games.