PRINCETON, N.J. – History will be made on Friday night when Roanoke hosts Long Beach in the first-ever regular-season meeting between a former East Coast Hockey League team and a former West Coast Hockey League team. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m. ET at the Roanoke Civic Center, the first opportunity for fans to compare and contrast the style and level of play of teams from the former rival leagues.
“This is a historic night as we kick off the expanded ECHL,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. “It is only appropriate that a former WCHL and ECHL team should meet on opening night, and this provides a special treat for fans in Roanoke.”
“It is going be a very special night and I think it’s very exciting for the fans in the Roanoke Valley, where we’ve had hockey for the past 30 years, to be a part of such a historical event,” said Roanoke Coach Tony MacAulay. “It’s the first time that a professional hockey game has been played in Virginia where the visiting team is from California.”
“The ECHL is a premier league and we’re very excited to be a part of it. It’s exciting to be a part of history by playing in the first meeting of WCHL and ECHL teams,” said Long Beach Coach Kevin Kaminski. “We look forward to having the opportunity night after night to play against young players, many who could have a chance to play in the NHL one day.”
Long Beach, which will play its first five games in the East, visits the historic and recently renovated Cambria County War Memorial on Saturday and plays at Wheeling on Sunday. The Ice Dogs visit Trenton on October 24 and conclude their season-opening road swing on October 25 when they play defending Kelly Cup Champion Atlantic City.
The ECHL opens its 16th season on Friday with 11 games, including Texas visiting Atlantic City, who will hoist its Kelly Cup Championship banner at Historic Boardwalk Hall. In other games on Friday, Toledo will raise its Brabham Cup Regular Season Championship banner before hosting Johnstown, and Columbia will lift its Southern Conference Championship banner into the Carolina Coliseum rafters before its game with Florence.
Opening night also features Las Vegas playing its first-ever game when it visits Idaho and Louisiana at Mississippi in a rematch of the Kelly Cup Playoffs Southwest Division Finals. Peoria plays at Cincinnati in a repeat of the Kelly Cup Playoffs Northwest Division Semifinals. Augusta will take to the ice under new ownership when it hosts Florida while the remainder of the Fridayís schedule has Fresno at Bakersfield, South Carolina at Greensboro, and Reading at Trenton.