PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL will be represented by nine players and one coach in the second World Cup of Hockey tournament which will be played August 30-September 14.
Featuring eight of the top hockey nations, the North American pool will have the United States, Canada, Russia and Slovakia while the European pool will be comprised of the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and Sweden.
The official web site for the World Cup of Hockey tournament is www.wch2004.com.
Peter Laviolette, who began his professional coaching career in the ECHL with Wheeling, will be an assistant coach for the defending champion United States, which defeated Canada in the best-of-three final in 1996, the last time the World Cup of Hockey was played. Slovakia has three players who began their professional careers in the ECHL with goaltenders Jan Lasak and Rastislav Stana and defenseman Jaroslav Obsut. Germany has goaltender Olaf Kolzig and defenseman Rob Leask, who both played parts of two seasons in the ECHL. Russia has goaltender Alexandre Fomitchev and defenseman Alexander Khavanov, who both played in the ECHL in their first professional season. The Czech Republic has goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who began his professional career in the ECHL with Wheeling, and Finland has forward Antti Laaksonen, who began his professional career in the ECHL with Charlotte.
Laviolette was head coach of the team that captured the bronze medal at the 2004 International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship in May, the first medal for Team USA at the IIHF World Championship since 1996 when it also captured the bronze. It is the third appearance in the last nine years by Team USA in a Medal-Round Game of the IIHF Men’s World Championship and each has been for the bronze medal. In 1996 the United States captured the bronze in Austria and in 2001 it finished fourth in Germany. The medal in 1996 was the first medal for Team USA since it won a bronze medal back in 1962.
Hired as head coach by the Carolina Hurricanes on December 15, 2004, Laviolette led Wheeling to a second place finish in the Northeast Division with a 37-24-9 record in 1997-98. The Nailers advanced to the Northern Conference Finals of the Kelly Cup Playoffs before losing to eventual ECHL Champion Hampton Roads. Laviolette became the second ECHL coach to become a head coach in the NHL, coaching the New York Islanders from 2001-03. The Islanders were 77-68-19 (6 overtime losses) under Laviolette and qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2002 and 2003 after missing the postseason for seven consecutive seasons. Prior to joining the Islanders, Laviolette was an assistant coach with Boston of the NHL in 2000-01 and was head coach of Providence of the American Hockey League from 1998-2000.
Selected in the seventh round (193rd overall) by Washington in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, the 6-2 and 184-pound Stana was 20-12-3 with a shutout, a 2.72 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage in 36 games with Richmond in 2001-02. He began his professional career in 2000-01 going 15-16-2 with a 2.56 goals-against average, sixth in the ECHL, a shutout and a .914 save percentage in 38 games with Richmond.
Selected in the second round (65th overall) by Nashville in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, the 6-0 and 202-pound Lasak was 36-17-4 with a goals-against average of 2.55 and a save percentage of .917 in 59 regular season games and he led the league in wins (36), shootout wins (7) and minutes (3408). In the Kelly Cup Playoffs, he was 5-5 with a shutout, a goals-against average of 2.75 and a save percentage of .918.
Selected in the eighth round (188th overall) by Winnipeg in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, the 6-1 and 210-pound Obsut began his professional career in 1996-97 with Toledo scoring one goal in three regular season games while registering one assist in five playoff games. He returned to the ECHL in 1997-98, scoring 32 points (6g-26a) in 60 regular season games with Raleigh. In 1998-99 with Augusta, Obsut scored 36 points (11g-25a) in 41 regular season games and in 2000-01 he had four assists in three regular season games with Peoria.
Selected in the first round (19th overall) by Washington in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, the 6-3 and 225-pound Kolzig played in the ECHL in his first full professional season in 1990-91, going 11-9-1 with a goals-against average of 3.41 in 21 regular season games and 1-2-0 with a 4.66 goals-against average in three postseason games with Hampton Roads. Kolzig returned to Hampton Roads in 1991-92 and had a save percentage of .914 while going 11-3-0 with a 2.90 goals-against average in 14 regular season games.
Selected in the 10th round (209th overall) in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, the 6-2 and 210-pound Leask scored 36 points (11g-25a) in 52 regular season games and three points (1g-2a) in three playoff games with Johnstown in 1993-94. He returned to Johnstown in 1994-95 and ranked sixth among league defensemen and tied for second on the team with 61 points (16g-45a) in 60 regular season games while also appearing in one playoff game.
In his first professional season in 1992-93, the 6-1 and 192-pound Khavanov scored three points (0g-03a) in 19 regular season games with Birmingham and six points (0g-6a) in 17 games with Raleigh.
In his first professional season in 2000-01, the 5-10 and 177-pound Fomitchev was 16-8-2 with a goals-against average of 2.65 and a save percentage of .917 in 28 games with Tallahassee. Fomitchev returned to the ECHL in 2001-02 and was 9-14-3 with a goals-against average of 2.94 and a save percentage of .905 in 34 games with Columbus.
Selected by Nashville from Montreal in the 1998 NHL Expansion Draft, Vokoun was 20-10-2 and ranked 18th in the ECHL with a 3.67 goals-against average in 35 regular season games for Wheeling in 1995-96. He ranked third in the ECHL with a 2.61 goals-against average while going 4-2-1 with a .903 save percentage in seven postseason games for Wheeling.
Selected in the eighth round (191st overall) by Boston in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Laaksonen scored seven points (4g-3a) in 15 regular season games and three points (0g-3a) in six playoff games with Charlotte while also scoring five points (3g-2a) in 38 regular season games with Providence of the American Hockey League.
ECHL Representatives – World Cup of Hockey
Czech Republic – Tomas Vokoun
Finland – Antti Laaksonen
Germany – Olaf Kolzig and Rob Leask
Russia – Alexandre Fomichev and Alexander Khavanov
Slovakia – Jan Lasak, Jaroslav Obsut and Rastislav Stana
United States – Peter Laviolette