NHL Hires Former ECHL Referee Banfield

PRINCETON, N.J. – The National Hockey League announced that it has hired former ECHL referee David Banfield.

Banfield became a full-time official for the ECHL in 2003-04 and has worked more than 200 regular season and playoff games in the ECHL since 2003-04.

“We congratulate David on his advancement to the NHL,” said ECHL Director of Officiating Bryan Lewis. “The ECHL is pleased for his development during his tenure in the ECHL.”

In addition to Banfield there are 17 former ECHL officials working as part of the NHL officiating team in 2007-08 with referees Kyle Rehman, Chris Ciamaga, Mike Leggo, Wes McCauley, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Chris Rooney, Justin St. Pierre, Ian Walsh and Dean Warren, and linesmen Steve Barton, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak and Jay Sharrers.

The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003.

Opening Day for the 20th Anniversary Season is Oct. 18 when the Johnstown Chiefs host the Wheeling Nailers at Cambria County War Memorial. The game will be a rematch of Game 7 from the first-ever ECHL Finals that were played in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Cambria County War Memorial. The two teams will wear special jerseys for the Opening Day game that begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast worldwide on B2 Networks, the “Official Broadband Broadcast Provider of the ECHL”.

The remaining teams will open their seasons the weekend of Oct. 19-21 including the Mississippi Sea Wolves, who return after missing two seasons in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the expansion Elmira Jackals. The Sea Wolves have sold the most season tickets ever as fans eagerly anticipate their return to the ice at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum for the first time since Apr. 15, 2005. The newest ECHL member is Elmira which will play its home games at First Arena, a 4,000-seat multi-purpose facility in Downtown Elmira, N.Y.

The Stockton Thunder and the City of Stockton will host the 16th Annual ECHL All-Star Game at Stockton Arena on Jan. 23, 2008 and the 11th Annual ECHL All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 22, 2008.

For the fourth straight year and the 10th time in the last 11 years, the ECHL had more than four million fans attend its games in 2006-07 and averaged 4,101 fans per game.

The total attendance for the regular season and the Kelly Cup Playoffs is twice as many fans as the total attendance for the WNBA, Arena Football League and Major League Soccer and four times greater than total attendance for both the National Lacrosse League and af2.

There have been more than 66 million fans who have attended over 15,000 games since the ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in three states.

There have been 329 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including a record 47 in 2005-06 and 26 in 2006-07.

There have been 184 former ECHL players who have played their first game in the NHL in the past five seasons and 107 former ECHL players have skated in the NHL this season.

The ECHL had affiliations with 26 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League in 2006-07, marking the 10th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.

The ECHL is represented for the seventh consecutive year on the National Hockey League championship team in 2007 with Anaheim assistant coach Dave Farrish, players Francois Beauchemin and George Parros and broadcasters John Ahlers and Steve Carroll.

The ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 29 teams in the American Hockey League in 2006-07 and for the past 17 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup champion.

In each of the last two seasons there have been more than 225 players who have played in both the ECHL and the AHL and there were over 800 call-ups involving more than 500 players.

In the last five 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.