PRINCETON, N.J. – The Trenton Titans won their first Kelly Cup Championship on Wednesday, beating Florida 4-1 in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 7,805 at Germain Arena in Estero, Fla. The Titans won all three games on the road in the finals to win the series in six games.
Trenton becomes the first team in league history to win the Kelly Cup by defeating four teams that had over 90 points in the regular season, beating Atlantic City (92 points), Reading (93), Alaska (98) and Florida (94). The Titans are the third team in history to capture the title after not finishing in the Top Five in the regular-season standings, joining Idaho, which finished 11th in the regular season in 2003-04, and Hampton Roads, which finished 19th and qualified for the postseason on the last day of the regular season.
Mike Haviland is the second coach in history to lead two different teams to the ECHL title, having won the Kelly Cup in 2003 with Atlantic City. John Marks won the Riley Cup with Charlotte in 1996 and won the Kelly Cup with Greenville in 2002. Trenton defenseman Steve Munn, who played for Atlantic City in 2003, and Haviland become the ninth and 10th individuals to have their name engraved twice on the Kelly Cup.
Leon Hayward was named the Most Valuable Player after scoring the first goal and assisting on two other goals in Game 6 to finish with six points (3g-3a) in the finals and 11 points (6g-5a) in 20 postseason games.
Trenton’s Scott Bertoli led the postseason in assists (18), power-play assists (10) and power-play points (13). Bertoli and Florida’s David Lundbohm, who led the postseason with 12 goals, tied for the scoring lead with 24 points.
Trenton’s Rick Kowalsky had five power-play goals, tying him with teammate Michael Schutte for the postseason lead, and three game-winning goals, tying him with Alaska’s Mike Scott and Florida’s Damian Surma for the league lead. Kowalsky ranked second overall in goals (10) and power-play assists (7) and third in assists (13) and points (23).
The finals drew 40,796 for six games, the largest finals attendance since 45,927 for seven games in 1999. The average of 6,799 per game was the largest since 8,156 in 1998. Florida’s crowd of 7,805 for Game 6 on Wednesday was the second-largest postseason crowd in the past six years, surpassing Florida’s crowd of 7,738 in the conference finals in 2004. The largest crowd in the playoffs since 2000 was 8,834 on May 27, 2001 at South Carolina. The 2005 Kelly Cup Playoffs averaged 3,931 per game, an increase of almost nine percent from 2004.
The Premier “AA” Hockey League, the ECHL had affiliations with 24 of the 28 teams in the American Hockey League in 2004-05 and provided over 78 percent of the roster additions to the 28 teams in the AHL. The ECHL accounted for 355 of the 450 roster additions involving players from the four professional minor leagues in North America. The 28 teams in the ECHL provided 219 of the 267 players listed by the AHL as being added to rosters in 2004-05, the remaining 48 players coming from the remaining 39 minor professional teams. The ECHL has affiliations with 23 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League and almost 100 players in the ECHL are on NHL contracts. The ECHL welcomed its first team outside the United States in 2004-05 with the addition of the Victoria Salmon Kings in British Columbia and 2005-06 will welcome the Stockton Thunder in California and the Phoenix Roadrunners in Arizona.