The Colorado Eagles won their second consecutive ECHL Kelly Cup championship on Saturday defeating the Florida Everblades 3-2 at Germain Arena in Estero, Florida in Game 7 of the 2018 Kelly Cup Finals.
Colorado becomes just the fourth team in the ECHL’s 30-year history to win back-to-back titles joining the Allen Americans (2015 and 2016), Toledo Storm (1993 and 1994) and Hampton Roads Admirals (1991 and 1992).
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 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 celebrated his 65th season in hockey in 2017-18, 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.
Celebrating its 30th season in 2017-18, 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 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.
Joly wins Most Valuable Player award
Colorado’s Michael Joly was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Joly led all players in the postseason with 13 goals and 29 points. He also led the Eagles in the Kelly Cup Finals with four goals and nine points.
Game 7 rarity
The 2018 Kelly Cup Finals marked just the fifth time in the ECHL’s 30-year history that the Finals series was decided in seven games.
With Colorado’s win, the road team is 3-2 in Game 7 of the Finals series. The other road teams to win the seventh game are Carolina (at Johnstown in 1989) and South Carolina (at Alaska in 2009). The two home teams to win Game 7 are Mississippi (1999 vs. Richmond) and Allen (2015 vs. South Carolina).
Register joins elite company with third title
Colorado defenseman Matt Register became the first person in ECHL history to win three consecutive championships. Register also won with Allen in 2016 and Colorado in 2017, and is the sixth individual to win three Kelly Cup titles.
Register joins Scott Burt, Riley Gill and Patrick Wellar as the only individuals to win three titles as a player. Burt captured championships with Idaho in 2004 and 2007 and Alaska in 2011, Gill won titles with Reading in 2013 and Allen in 2015 and 2016 while Wellar won titles with Alaska in 2006, South Carolina in 2009 and Reading in 2013.
The other individuals to win three Kelly Cup titles are Jared Bednar and Louis Mass. Bednar won as a player with South Carolina in 1997 and 2001, and was the head coach of the Stingrays for their win in 2009 while Mass won as a player with Alaska in 2006 and as the Aces’ assistant coach in 2011 and 2014.
Seven players earn second title
It was the second Kelly Cup title for seven members of the Eagles who were also part of the team in 2017 – Matt Garbowsky, Lukas Hafner, Ryan Harrison, Jake Marto, Julien Nantel, Shawn St-Amant and Teigan Zahn – bringing the total number of individuals to win multiple Kelly Cup titles to 48.
Schneekloth leads Eagles to back-to-back titles
Colorado head coach Aaron Schneekloth, who in 2017 became the first coach to lead a team to an ECHL title in his first season as head coach since Greensboro’s Jeff Brubaker in 1990, became the sixth coach in ECHL history to win multiple playoff championships.
John Brophy, a 2009 inductee into the ECHL Hall of Fame, is the ECHL all-time leader with three championships, leading Hampton Roads to Riley Cup titles in 1991 and 1992 and Kelly Cup championship in 1998. The other five other coaches who have won multiple championships are Chris McSorley, who won Riley Cup championships with Toledo in 1992 and 1993; John Marks, a 2012 ECHL Hall of Fame inductee, led Charlotte to the 1996 Riley Cup title and Greenville to the 2002 Kelly Cup championship; Mike Haviland won Kelly Cup titles with Atlantic City in 2003 and Trenton in 2005; Chuck Weber coached Kelly Cup winning teams in Cincinnati in 2008 and 2010 and Steve Martinson captured Kelly Cup titles with Allen in 2015 and 2016.
Eagles’ seven overtime wins set record
Colorado went 7-2 in overtime during the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs, including a win in Game 3 of the Kelly Cup Finals, setting a new ECHL postseason record for most overtime wins in a single playoff year. The previous record of six overtime wins was set by the Eagles in 2017.
Colorado rallies from 3-2 deficit to win Finals
Colorado became the 18th team in ECHL history, and just the second in the Finals, to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 3 games to 2. The only previous team to rally from a 3-2 deficit in the Finals was Mississippi, which came back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat Richmond in 1999.
Eagles are ninth Kelly Cup champion without home ice
Colorado is the ninth team in 22 years, and the first since Florida in 2012, to win the Kelly Cup without home-ice advantage in the Finals. The other winners are Florida (2012), Cincinnati (2010), South Carolina (2009), Trenton (2005), Idaho (2004), Atlanta City (2003), South Carolina (2001) and Hampton Roads (1998). Twelve teams have won League titles without having home-ice advantage in the Finals. Riley Cup winners without home ice are Toledo (1993), Greensboro (1990) and Carolina (1989).
Celebration at home & on road
For the 17th time in ECHL history, the decisive game in the Finals was won on the road. The Kelly Cup has been clinched on the road 12 times with Colorado (2017 and 2018), Alaska (2014), Reading (2013), Alaska (2011), South Carolina (2009), Idaho (2007), Alaska (2006), Trenton (2005), Greenville (2002), Hampton Roads (1998) and South Carolina (1997). The Riley Cup was won on the road five times with Charlotte (1996), Toledo (1994), Hampton Roads (1992), Greensboro (1990) and Carolina (1989).
The 13 winners at home are: Allen (2015 and 2016), Florida (2012), Cincinnati (2010 and 2008), Idaho (2004), Atlantic City (2003), South Carolina (2001), Peoria (2000) and Mississippi (1999), Richmond (1995), Toledo (1993) and Hampton Roads (1991).
Kelly Cup championship banners in 11 states
Eleven different states have produced the 22 Kelly Cup champions. South Carolina (South Carolina Stingrays in 1997, 2001 and 2009 and Greenville in 2002) has produced four of the 22 winners of the Kelly Cup while Alaska (Alaska Aces in 2006, 2011 and 2014) has three championships. Colorado (Colorado Eagles in 2017 and 2018) joins Idaho (Idaho Steelheads in 2004 and 2007), New Jersey (Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies in 2003 and Trenton Titans in 2005), Ohio (Cincinnati Cyclones in 2008 and 2010) and Texas (Allen Americans in 2015 and 2016) with two champions. The other five champions have been from Florida (Florida Everblades – 2012), Illinois (Peoria Rivermen – 2000), Mississippi (Mississippi Sea Wolves – 1999), Pennsylvania (Reading Royals – 2013) and Virginia (Hampton Roads Admirals – 1998).
ECHL champions from 13 states
In the first 30 years of the ECHL, Ohio (Toledo Storm in 1993 and 1994 and Cincinnati Cyclones in 2008 and 2010), South Carolina (South Carolina Stingrays in 1997, 2001 and 2009 and Greenville in 2002) and Virginia (Hampton Roads Admirals in 1991, 1992 and 1998 and Richmond Renegades in 1995) have the most championships with four each. Alaska (Alaska Aces in 2006, 2011 and 2014) and North Carolina (Carolina Thunderbirds in 1989, Greensboro Monarchs in 1990 and Charlotte Checkers in 1996) both have three champions while Colorado (Colorado Eagles in 2017 and 2018), Idaho (Idaho Steelheads in 2004 and 2007), New Jersey (Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies in 2003 and Trenton Titans in 2005) and Texas (Allen Americans in 2015 and 2016) have two apiece. Florida (Florida Everblades in 2012), Illinois (Peoria Rivermen in 2000), Mississippi (Mississippi Sea Wolves in 1999) and Pennsylvania (Reading Royals in 2013) each have one winner.
Kelly Cup Finals available online for 15th consecutive year
Every game of the Kelly Cup Finals was broadcast live on ECHL.TV, powered by NeuLion. It marked the 15th straight season that every game of the Kelly Cup Finals was available for viewing.
2018 Kelly Cup Finals
Game 1 – Florida 1 at COLORADO 3
Game 2 – FLORIDA 4 at Colorado 3
Game 3 – COLORADO 5 at Florida 4 (OT)
Game 4 – Colorado 6 at FLORIDA 7 (OT)
Game 5 – Colorado 0 at FLORIDA 5
Game 6 – Florida 2 at COLORADO 4
Game 7 – COLORADO 3 at Florida 2
Kelly Cup Champions
2018 – Colorado defeated Florida, 4 games to 3
2017 – Colorado defeated South Carolina, 4 games to 0
2016 – Allen defeated Wheeling, 4 games to 2
2015 – Allen defeated South Carolina, 4 games to 3
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
About the ECHL
Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 27 teams in 21 states and one Canadian province for its 30th season in 2017-18. There have been 641 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 18 who have made their NHL debuts in the 2017-18 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 31 NHL teams in 2017-18, marking the 21st consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com as well as on Twitter and Facebook.