PRINCETON, N.J. – Rich Peverley, who played as a rookie with the South Carolina Stingrays and last season with the Reading Royals, made his National Hockey League debut with the Nashville Predators on Sunday.
Called up from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League under emergency conditions, Peverley won an offensive-zone faceoff back to Kimmo Timonen for a shot that resulted in the game’s first goal. Peverley finished with one point and was +2 while skating 21 shifts and winning five faceoffs in a 3-2 shootout loss at Anaheim.
The Nashville lineup also had ECHL All-Star Vernon Fiddler and former ECHL players Tomas Vokoun and Jerred Smithson as well as former ECHL coach Peter Horachek, who is now an assistant for the Predators. Two-time ECHL Coach of the Year Dave Farrish is an assistant coach for Anaheim and the Ducks have former ECHL players Francois Beauchemin and George Parros. Former ECHL officials working the game were referee Justin St. Pierre and linesman Tim Nowak, who in 2003 became the first ECHL official to work the Stanley Cup Finals.
The 24-year-old is the third former ECHL player in the last four days to play his first NHL game. He joins former Reading teammate Shay Stephenson, who played for Los Angeles on Thursday and former Wheeling left wing Daniel Carcillo, who played for Phoenix on Saturday. There have been 22 former ECHL players who have played their first NHL game this season and 325 players overall who have played in the NHL after the ECHL.
Peverley had 58 points (30g-28a) and 72 penalty minutes in 69 regular season games and four points (2g-2a) and six penalty minutes in four Kelly Cup Playoff games as a rookie in 2004-05 while also playing one game in the AHL with Portland. He began 2005-06 with Reading and had 15 points (4g-11a) and four penalty minutes in 11 games before being called up to the AHL where he had 46 points (12g-34a) and 44 penalty minutes in 65 regular season games and 11 points (2g-9a) and 18 penalty minutes in 21 playoff games for Milwaukee.
The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has affiliations with 25 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.
Since 2000-01 there have been 180 players who have played in the NHL after the ECHL including a record 47 who made their NHL debut in 2005-06. There have been 101 former ECHL players who have played in the NHL this season and all 30 teams have had a former ECHL player take the ice for at least one game. There were 112 former ECHL players who played in the NHL in 2005-06, including five goaltenders who played a game in both the ECHL and the NHL, and all 30 teams had a former ECHL player take the ice for at least one game.
There have been 22 ECHL players who have played their first NHL game this season: former Greenville and Richmond right wing Krys Barch (Dallas on Jan. 15), former Mississippi defenseman Sheldon Brookbank (Nashville on Feb. 6), former Reading goaltender Barry Brust (Los Angeles on Nov. 30), former Wheeling left wing Daniel Carcillo (Phoenix on Mar. 3), former Toledo center Matt Ellis (Detroit on Dec. 18), former Wheeling defenseman Drew Fata (New York Islanders on Feb. 4), former Reading defenseman Jeff Finger (Colorado on Feb. 20), former Bakersfield and Reading goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji (Los Angeles on Jan. 13), former Charlotte defenseman Daniel Girardi (New York Rangers on Jan. 27), former Long Beach goaltender Jaroslav Halak (Montreal on Feb. 18), former Trenton goaltender Martin Houle (Philadelphia on Dec. 13), former Alaska left wing D.J. King (St. Louis on Oct. 5), former Florida center Drew Larman (Florida on Nov. 13), former Florida defenseman Martin Lojek (Florida on Feb. 3), former Toledo goaltender Joey MacDonald (Detroit on Oct. 19), former Pensacola center Kris Newbury (Toronto on Dec. 23), former South Carolina and Reading center Rich Peverley (Nashville on Mar. 4), former Augusta right wing Pierre Parenteau (Chicago on Feb. 7), former Columbia right wing Jesse Schultz (Vancouver on Nov. 28), former ECHL All-Star goaltender Mike Smith (Dallas on Oct. 21), former Reading left wing Shay Stephenson (Los Angeles on Mar. 1) and former Augusta goaltender Mike Wall (Anaheim on Nov. 26).
There are two NHL head coaches (Peter Laviolette and Jim Playfair) and nine NHL assistant coaches who have an ECHL background. The ECHL was represented for the sixth consecutive year on the Stanley Cup champion in 2006 by Laviolette, who is the first ECHL coach to hoist the coveted trophy, Chad LaRose, Andrew Hutchinson and assistant athletic trainer Chris Stewart.
The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
The ECHL has affiliations with 24 of the 27 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. The ECHL has had more players called up to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined each of the past four seasons with 1,646 call ups involving almost 1,000 players.
The ECHL raised its average attendance for the third straight year in 2005-06 drawing 3,934,794 for 900 games which is an average of 4,372 per game, an increase of more than nine percent from 2004-05 and the largest per-game average since 1999-2000. Six teams surpassed 200,000 and nine teams averaged 5,000 per game for the first time since 1999-2000 as the league welcomed 40 sellout crowds and 13 of the 22 returning teams raised their average attendance from a year ago.
In 2005-06 the ECHL and its member teams contributed more than $2.3 million for charity and relief funds, including those benefiting victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, while also making thousands of appearances by players, coaches, team personnel and mascots at schools, hospitals, libraries and charity functions.
2008 ECHL All-Star Game and Skills Competition will be hosted by Stockton Thunder, City of Stockton and Stockton Arena on Jan. 22-23, 2008.
Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.