PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL is represented by 34 players and two coaches in the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship that begins Friday in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Quebec City, Quebec.
It is the sixth consecutive year that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players competing in the IIHF World Championship. There were 35 former ECHL players in 2003, 33 in 2006, 31 in 2007 and 30 in 2004 and 2005.
There is a former ECHL player or coach on 13 of the 16 teams led by Latvia with eight players and Italy and Sweden with four players each. Germany and Slovakia each have three former ECHL players while the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Norway, Russia and United States all had two players and Finland and Switzerland each have one.
Two of the players were in the ECHL this season with Denmark’s Morten Madsen playing for Texas and Lavtia’s Jekabs Redlihs playing for Elmira. Daniel Manzato was on the Switzerland roster before returning to Las Vegas for the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Three of the players are making their fourth consecutive appearance in the World Championship with Peter Hirsch with Denmark, Agris Saviels and Herbert Vasilijevs with Latvia. Morten Ask with Norway, Jason Cirone and John Parco with Italy, Sergei Naumov and Arvid Rekis with Latvia and Raffaele Sannitz of Switzerland are all playing in their third straight competition while Dmitri Patzold and John Tripp with Germany, Andre Signoretti with Italy and Armands Berzins and Rodrigo Lavinsh with Latvia are making their second appearance.
Fans can follow the action on World Championship Sports Network at WCSN.com.
ECHL Players in 2008 IIHF World Championship
Czech Republic – Milan Hnilicka (Richmond Renegades, 1993-94) and Vladimir Sicak (Greenville Grrrowl, 2000-01)
Denmark – Peter Hirsch (Bakersfield Condors, 2003-04) and Morten Madsen (Texas Wildcatters, 2007-08)
Finland – Head Coach Doug Shedden (Louisiana IceGators, 1995-99)
France – Eddy Ferhi (San Diego Gulls, 2003-05) and Laurent Meunier (Florida Everblades, 2002-03)
Germany – Dmitri Patzold (Johnstown Chiefs, 2003-04 and Fresno Falcons, 2006-07), Chris Schmidt (Mississippi Sea Wolves, 1996-97 and 1998-99) and John Tripp (Johnstown Chiefs, 1998-2000 and Pensacola Ice Pilots, 2000-02)
Italy – Jason Cirone (Birmingham Bulls, 1993-94), John Parco (Hampton Road Admirals, 1994-95, 1999-2000), Steven Patrick Gallace (Cincinnati Cyclones, 2002-03) and André Signoretti (Charlotte Checkers, 2000-02)
Latvia – Armands Berzins (Louisiana IceGators, 2003-04 and Wheeling Nailers, 2004-05), Rodrigo Lavins (Raleigh Icecaps, 1994-95 and Tallahassee Tiger Sharks, 1994-97), Sergejs Naumovs (Greensboro Generals, 2000-01), Jekabs Redlihs (Dayton Bombers, 2006-07 and Elmira Jackals, 2007-08), Arvids Rekis (Peoria Rivermen, 2000-03), Agris Saviels (Reading Royals, 2002-03), Juris Stals (Charlotte Checkers, 2004-06) and Herberts Vasiljevs (Knoxville Cherokees, 1996-97) Norway – Morten Ask (Toledo Storm, 2003-04 and Las Vegas Wranglers, 2003-05) and Marius Holtet (Louisiana IceGators, 2004-05)
Russia – Evgeni Artyukhin (Pensacola Ice Pilots, 2003-04) and Fedor Fedorov (Columbia Inferno, 2001-02)
Slovakia – Jan Lasak (Hampton Roads Admirals, 1999-2000), Frantisek Skladany (San Diego Gulls, 2005-06) and Rene Vydareny (Columbia Inferno, 2001-02)
Switzerland – Raffaele Sannitz (Dayton Bombers, 2004-05)
United States – Assistant Coach Kurt Kleinendorst (Raleigh Icecaps, 1991-94 and 1995-97) and Tim Thomas (Birmingham Bulls, 1997-98)
Celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2007-08, the ECHL is the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League and the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league with 25 teams playing 900 games in 17 states and British Columbia in 2007-08.
The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
The ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 30 teams in the NHL in 2007-08, marking the 11th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
There have been 355 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including 99 in the last three seasons. There have been 210 former ECHL players who have played their first game in the NHL in the past seven seasons.
There are 15 coaches in the NHL who have ECHL experience including former Wheeling coach Peter Laviolette, who is head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, and former Mississippi coach Bruce Boudreau, who is head coach of the Washington Capitals.
The ECHL is represented for the seventh consecutive year on the National Hockey League championship team in 2007 with Anaheim assistant coach Dave Farrish, players Francois Beauchemin and George Parros and broadcasters John Ahlers and Steve Carroll.
The ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 29 teams in the American Hockey League in 2007-08 and for the past 18 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup champion.
In each of the last two seasons there have been more than 225 players who have played in both the ECHL and the AHL and there were over 800 call-ups involving more than 500 players. In the last five seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 2,000 call-ups involving more than 1,000 players since 2002-03.
Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.