Allen, South Carolina to open 2015 Kelly Cup Finals on Sunday
The battle to determine the national “AA” hockey champion begins Sunday when the Western Conference champion Allen Americans host the Eastern Conference champion South Carolina Stingrays in Game 1 of the 2015 Kelly Cup Finals at 4:05 p.m. CT at the Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas.
Celebrating its 27th season in 2014-15, the ECHL is the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League and is the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
The Kelly Cup trophy is named for Patrick J. Kelly, who presents it each year to the postseason champion. Kelly was one of the founding fathers of the ECHL and was the second inductee into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2008. Kelly served as Commissioner for the league’s first eight seasons and was named Commissioner Emeritus in 1996, a title that he continues to hold. Kelly, who celebrates his 62nd season in professional hockey in 2014-15, coached 1,900 career games and had 935 wins. Kelly coached in the Eastern Hockey League, the Southern Hockey League and the National Hockey League where he was the only coach to ever lead the Colorado Rockies to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Game 2 will be Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. CT at Allen Event Center with Game 3 set for Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. CT in Allen before the series shifts to South Carolina, where the Stingrays will host Game 4 on Sunday, June 7 at 7:05 p.m. ET. Game 5, if necessary, would be at 7:05 p.m. ET at the North Charleston Coliseum on Tuesday, June 9 with Game 6, if necessary, taking place on Wednesday, June 10 at 7:05 p.m. ET at South Carolina. The series would return to Allen for Game 7, if necessary, on Sunday, June 14 at 4:05 p.m. CT.
The ECHL is the primary development league for the AHL and the NHL. The ECHL and the AHL are the only two minor professional hockey leagues that are recognized in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and the National Hockey League Players’ Association. The CBA states that any player on an NHL entry-level contract designated for assignment to a minor league must report if assigned to a team in the ECHL or the AHL. A player on an NHL entry-level contract assigned to a minor professional league other than the ECHL or the AHL is not required to report and can request reassignment to a team in the ECHL or the AHL.
How they got here
Allen finished the 2014-15 regular season with an overall record of 48-14-10 for 106 points, finishing just one point behind Toledo to the ECHL’s regular-season championship. The Americans defeated Tulsa 4 games to 1 in the Central Division Semifinals and Rapid City 4 games to 2 in the Central Division Finals before dispatching Ontario 4 games to 3 in the Western Conference Finals. Allen became just the fifth team in ECHL postseason history to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 3 games to 1 in its victory over the Reign.
South Carolina, which finished second in the East Division and sixth overall in the league with an overall record of 45-20-7 for 97 points, defeated Reading 4 games to 3 in the East Division Semifinals and Florida 4 games to 2 in the East Division Finals before defeating Toledo 4 games to 3 in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Stingrays set an ECHL record during the regular season, winning 23 consecutive games from Feb. 7-March 27.
Stingrays look for ECHL record fourth title, Americans seek first championship
South Carolina is appearing the Kelly Cup Finals for an ECHL-record tying fourth time. The Stingrays have claimed Kelly Cup titles in each of their three previous trips to the Finals in 1997, 2001 and 2009. South Carolina is tied with Alaska (Kelly Cup titles in 2006, 2011 and 2014) and Hampton Roads (Riley Cup titles in 1991 and 1992 and Kelly Cup title in 1998) for the most championships through the ECHL’s first 26 years.
Allen is in the Kelly Cup Finals in its first season in the league, becoming the first expansion team to reach the Kelly Cup Finals since Idaho in 2004.
The 2014 Kelly Cup Playoffs have seen 18 overtime games through three rounds, which is tied for the fifth most for a single postseason in ECHL history. There were 26 overtime games in the 2008 Kelly Cup Playoffs and 24 overtime games in 2013. South Carolina has been involved in seven of the 18 overtime games in the 2014 Kelly Cup Playoffs, posting a 3-4 record in those games. The Stingrays have been involved in the two longest games of the 2015 postseason, falling to Florida in three overtimes in the East Division Finals and then defeating Toledo 1-0 in triple overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Allen has only been involved in one overtime game in the playoffs, defeating Tulsa 5-4 in Game 2 of the Central Division Semifinals.
Allen’s run at home to collide with South Carolina’s road success
With the first three games of the series set to take place in Allen, both teams will look to continue playing to their strength. The Americans went 24-6-6 at home during the 2014-15 regular season, and they have continued to play well on home ice during the postseason posting an 8-2 record and outscoring their opposition 41-22. During the regular season, the Stingrays posted the ECHL’s best road record, going 25-9-2 away from home. The 25 road wins are tied for the second most in a single season in ECHL history. In the playoffs, South Carolina is 8-2 on the road, and had a six-game road winning streak snapped in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Toledo.
Top two offenses in postseason go head-to-head
Allen leads the Kelly Cup Playoffs with 3.72 goals per game, while South Carolina ranks second with 3.35 goals per game. The Americans have scored first in seven of their 18 games, posting a 7-0 record when scoring first. Allen’s best period has been the third period, where the Americans have outscored their opponents 30-12. South Carolina has scored the game’s first goal in 12 of its 20 games, going 7-5 in those games.
Scoring leaders on both sides
Allen is led in the playoffs by Greger Hanson (10g-13a) and Chad Costello (7g-16a), who share the team lead with 23 points each. Hanson’s 10 goals are tied for fourth in the playoffs while Costello’s 16 assists are third in the league. Konrad Abeltshauser is tied for third among defensemen in the postseason with four goals while he and Justin Baker (3g-9a) are tied for fifth among blueliners with 12 points each.
South Carolina’s Wayne Simpson leads all players in the playoffs with 31 points (9g-22a), which is tied for the fifth highest total in a single postseason in ECHL history. Simpson enters the Finals just three points behind the all-time record of 34 points, shared by Louisiana’s John Spoltore in 2000 and Richmond’s Blaine Moore in 1995. Joe Devin, who scored the game-winning goal in triple overtime of Game 7 against Toledo, and Andrew Rowe share the playoff lead with 11 goals each.
Between the pipes
Allen’s Riley Gill, who was the Most Valuable Player of the 2013 Kelly Cup Playoffs after helping to lead Reading to the title, has gone 9-4 in the postseason with a 2.43 goals-against average, which ranks eighth. Rookie Joel Rumpel has seen action in seven games, posting a 3-2 record with a 2.94 goals-against average.
ECHL Goaltender of the Year and Most Valuable Player Jeff Jakaitis has seen the bulk of the action in goal for South Carolina, playing all but 69 minutes through three rounds. Jakaitis is 12-7 with one shutout, a 2.77 goals-against average and a save percentage of .900.
Behind the Benches
Allen head coach Steve Martinson began his coaching career in 1996 with the San Diego Gulls of the WCHL, where he coached for nine seasons and over 600 games, winning five championships. During his ECHL expansion season in 2003-04 with San Diego, his club set an ECHL record for most points by an expansion team with 100 points. In his 16 years of coaching, Martinson has failed to reach the post-season only once. He won his first championship in the Central Hockey League in 2012-13 as Allen defeated Wichita in seven games. He won his 800th game against the Rapid City Rush on March 14, 2014.
South Carolina’s Spencer Carbery received the John Brophy Award as ECHL Coach of the Year in 2013-14 and finished as the runner-up for the award this season. The Stingrays have improved their record in each of Carbery’s four years as the club’s head coach. Carbery won the Kelly Cup as a player with the Stingrays in 2009, and looks to join fellow former Stingrays player and coach Jared Bednar as the only individuals to win the Kelly Cup as both a player and coach.
Name already on Kelly Cup
Allen’s Riley Gill won the Kelly Cup title with Reading in 2013 while assistant coach Kevin Colley won as a player with Atlantic City in 2003. Gill and Colley were both named the Most Valuable Player of the Kelly Cup Playoffs in those seasons. South Carolina’s Drew McKenzie was part of Alaska’s championship team in 2013 while Rob Ricci won with the Stingrays in 2009. Stingrays’ head coach Spencer Carbery was a player on South Carolina’s 2009 championship team.
Players returning to Finals
South Carolina’s Scott Ford participated in the 2007 Kelly Cup Finals with the Dayton Bombers.
ECHL.TV broadcasts Kelly Cup Finals
For the 12th year in a row every game of the Kelly Cup Finals will be available online. Each game of the Finals is available for purchase through ECHL.TV, powered by NeuLion.
Visit ECHL.TV for ordering instructions.
2015 Kelly Cup Finals Schedule
Game 1 – Sunday, May 31 at 4:05 p.m. CT at Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas
Game 2 – Tuesday, June 2 at 7:05 p.m. CT at Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas
Game 3 – Wednesday, June 3 at 7:05 p.m. CT at Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas
Game 4 – Sunday, June 7 at 7:05 p.m. ET at North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, S.C.
Game 5 – Tuesday, June 9 at 7:05 p.m. ET at North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, S.C. *
Game 6 – Wednesday, June 10 at 7:05 p.m. ET at North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, S.C. *
Game 7 – Sunday, June 14 at 4:05 p.m. CT at Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas *
* If Necessary
Kelly Cup Champions
2014 – Alaska defeated Cincinnati, 4 games to 2
2013 – Reading defeated Stockton, 4 games to 1
2012 – Florida defeated Las Vegas, 4 games to 1
2011 – Alaska defeated Kalamazoo, 4 games to 1
2010 – Cincinnati defeated Idaho, 4 games to 1
2009 – South Carolina defeated Alaska, 4 games to 3
2008 – Cincinnati defeated Las Vegas, 4 games to 2
2007 – Idaho defeated Dayton, 4 games to 1
2006 – Alaska defeated Gwinnett, 4 games to 1
2005 – Trenton defeated Florida, 4 games to 2
2004 – Idaho defeated Florida, 4 games to 1
2003 – Atlantic City defeated Columbia, 4 games to 1
2002 – Greenville defeated Dayton, 4 games to 0
2001 – South Carolina defeated Trenton, 4 games to 1
2000 – Peoria defeated Louisiana, 4 games to 2
1999 – Mississippi defeated Richmond, 4 games to 3
1998 – Hampton Roads defeated Pensacola, 4 games to 2
1997 – South Carolina defeated Louisiana, 4 games to 1
Riley Cup Champions
1996 – Charlotte defeated Jacksonville, 4 games to 0
1995 – Richmond defeated Greensboro, 4 games to 1
1994 – Toledo defeated Raleigh, 4 games to 1
1993 – Toledo defeated Wheeling, 4 games to 2
1992 – Hampton Roads defeated Louisville, 4 games to 0
1991 – Hampton Roads defeated Greensboro, 4 games to 1
1990 – Greensboro defeated Winston-Salem, 4 games to 1
1989 – Carolina defeated Johnstown, 4 games to 3