ECHL

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Posted by pompos 03/09/2009 @ 14:10

Tags : echl, hockey, sports

News headlines
ECHL Today - May 15 - ECHL.com
North Division Champion Cincinnati * The ECHL celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2007-08 and is the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League. * ECHL began in 1988-89 with...
Aces coach has had Midas touch all season - Anchorage Daily News
mccambridge also signed center Josh Soares with no guarantee Soares, a second-year pro who harbored legitimate AHL ambitions after being All-ECHL as an Aces rookie, would actually be playing here. Indeed, Soares played just 12 regular-season games for...
Familiar franchises in ECHL conference finals - Anchorage Daily News
By DOYLE WOODY Four ECHL hockey clubs remain alive in the Kelly Cup quest to be crowned king, and it's like a convention of rink royalty. The Alaska Aces tonight entertain the Las Vegas Wranglers in the opener of the National Conference finals and the...
Aces Set Home Dates for Kelly Cup Finals - OurSports Central (press release)
Alaska has out-scored its opposition 52-22 in winning 12 of 14 playoff games to advance to the ECHL championship round for the second time in four seasons. The Aces claimed the 2006 Kelly Cup by beating Gwinnett in five games....
Kelly Cup Quest Daily - OurSports Central (press release)
Named in recognition of Patrick J. Kelly, one of the founding fathers of the ECHL. Kelly served as Commissioner of the ECHL for the first eight seasons before being named Commissioner Emeritus in 1996, a title which he continues to hold....
Cyclones Continue Quest For Kelly Cup - WCPO
The Cyclones, who are the reigning champs of the ECHL, are currently down two games to none in the best of seven series. Promoters say game attendees can enjoy a 'Wet Wednesday' with $1 selected domestic beers throughout the evening....
Sit back and enjoy the moment, I know I am - Charleston Post Courier
It's been nearly eight years since the Stingrays beat Trenton, 3-2, in Game 5 of the Kelly Cup finals and won their second ECHL championship. I can still remember the deafening roar of the crowd as they counted down the final seconds of that game....
Jim Balsillie: Canadian Folk Hero or American Joke? - Bleacher Report
Las Vegas is the home of the Wranglers of the ECHL, who were just swept by the Alaska Aces. The Aces expected a tougher test than what they got, according to the Alaska Daily News. The ECHL is the league formerly known as the East Coast Hockey League...
IceGators' goal is bringing title to the Hub City - The Daily Advertiser
The franchise will be a member of the Southern Professional Hockey League, described Friday as "Single-A hockey, one step below the ECHL," and the season is tentatively scheduled to begin Oct. 23 against Biloxi, Miss. It will be a 52-game season with...
Reign host open house - Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
It will also be an opportunity to select a seat for the 2009-10 ECHL season. In addition, the Reign will be conducting locker room tours and new team merchandise will be available for purchase. On Wednesday, Reign head coach Karl Taylor will hold a...

ECHL

ECHL logo

The ECHL (formerly the East Coast Hockey League) is a mid-level professional ice hockey league based in Princeton, New Jersey, with teams scattered across the United States and Canada, generally regarded as a tier below the American Hockey League. The ECHL's official website lists the league as "The Premier AA" league of hockey in North America, because most teams serve as feeder teams for American Hockey League teams. Hockey generally does not use letter-designations to define their league's levels, but the ECHL has tried for years to establish such a pecking order, with some success.

The ECHL, along with the AHL, are the only minor leagues recognized by the collective bargaining agreement between the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association, meaning that any player that is signed to an entry-level NHL contract and is designated for assignment, must report to a club either in the AHL or the ECHL.

The league, which combined teams from the defunct Atlantic Coast Hockey League and All-American Hockey League, began play as the East Coast Hockey League in 1988 with 5 teams, the Carolina Thunderbirds (now the Wheeling Nailers), the Erie Panthers (now the Victoria Salmon Kings), the Johnstown Chiefs, the Knoxville Cherokees (the franchise, as the Pee Dee Pride, is currently suspended, to resume play in Conway, South Carolina in 2009-10), and the Virginia Lancers (now the Utah Grizzlies).

Since that time, the ECHL has met with a mixture of failures and successes, reaching its largest size in 2003 of 31 teams before being reduced to 28 teams for the 2004 season. In September 2002, the West Coast Hockey League ceased operations, and the ECHL Board of Governors approved membership applications from the Anchorage (now Alaska) Aces, the Bakersfield Condors, the Fresno Falcons, the Idaho Steelheads, the Las Vegas Wranglers, the Long Beach Ice Dogs and the San Diego Gulls as well as from teams in Ontario, California and Reno, Nevada. Alaska, Bakersfield, Fresno, Idaho, Las Vegas, Long Beach and San Diego began play in the 2003-04 season as expansion teams.

The teams from the defunct lower-level WCHL, along with Las Vegas, joined as expansion teams for the ECHL’s 16th season in 2003-04. In a change reflective of the nationwide presence of the ECHL, the East Coast Hockey League changed its name to simply ECHL on May 19, 2003.

The league, because of geographical anomalies, continues to use unbalanced conferences and divisions, which has in the past made for some extremely varied playoff formats and limited interconference play. Due to travel costs, the league has attempted to placate owners in keeping those costs down, which has led to the sometimes-odd playoff structures. The league currently (as of 2008) consists of nine West Coast-based teams in the National Conference, and twelve eastern, midwestern and southern teams in the American Conference.

In the past four years, the ECHL has attempted to be more tech-friendly to its fans. Some improvements on the league's website have included a new schedule and statistics engine powered by League Stat, Inc. (introduced in 2006), internet radio coverage for most teams, and pay-per view broadcasting of ECHL games through B2 Networks. In 2008, the league introduced the ECHL toolbar for internet browsers which gave users short cut access to statistics, scores, transactions, and news updates.

One team is scheduled to relocate for the 2009-10 season and two which were previously under suspension will return with new home arenas.

Teams that no longer play within the ECHL are listed below. Many of the former teams which had not moved are considered to have suspended operations and the franchises placed for sale, but in reality are and were simply financial failures, similar to defunct teams in all other minor league sports histories.

While the ECHL stated in recent years they would not grant voluntary suspensions of franchises for more than one year, both the Toledo Storm and Mississippi Sea Wolves have had two-year suspensions -- the Sea Wolves because of Hurricane Katrina and the Storm in order to demolish their present arena and construct a new arena on the site. The new owners of the Toledo franchise, the businessmen who own the area AAA-baseball team the Toledo Mud Hens, have stated they will choose a new name for the team. Toledo Arena Sports General Manager Joe Napoli and Toledo Arena Sports President Mike Miller unveiled the new name on February 20, 2008. The Mississippi Sea Wolves resumed play for the 2007-2008 season, while the Toledo Walleye will return to play for the 2009-2010 season.

In celebration of the league's 20th year of play, the ECHL Board of Governors created the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2008, to recognize the achievements of players, coaches, and personnel who dedicated their careers to the league. Hall of Fame members are selected in four categories: Player, Developmental Player, Builder, and Referee/Linesman. Players must have concluded their career as an active player for a minimum of three playing seasons, though not continuous or full seasons. Development Players must have begun their career in the ECHL and went on to a distinguished career in the NHL, playing a minimum of 260 regular season games in the NHL, AHL and ECHL. Builders may be active or inactive whereas Referee/Linesman must have concluded their active officiating career for a minimum of three playing seasons.

No more than five candidates are elected to the Hall of Fame each year with no more than three Players, one Developmental Player, two Builders and one Referee/Linesman. The Builder and the Referee/Linesman categories are dependent upon the number of candidates in the Player category.

The nomination and subsequent selection of candidates is determined by the ECHL Hall of Fame Selection Committee which is appointed by the ECHL.

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Alaska Aces (ECHL)

AlaskaAces.png

Originally an amateur club known as the Anchorage Aces, they won the National Amateur Championship in 1993 and 1994. They finished second in 1992 and 1995.

Anchorage was an original WCHL franchise, joining the league in 1995. In 2002, with financial troubles, the team was put up for sale on eBay. They were renamed the Alaska Aces in 2003. The team gained national notoriety in 2004 when it signed New Jersey Devils all-star and Alaska-born Scott Gomez after the NHL lockout, who went on to lead the ECHL in scoring and win league Most Valuable Player honors. Home games are played at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.

The triple overtime win against Las Vegas Wranglers (2006) was the third longest game in ECHL history, 113 minutes, 30 seconds long.

In 2006, the Aces became only the second team in ECHL history (joining the South Carolina Stingrays of Charleston, SC) in winning both the Brabham Cup and Kelly Cup championships in the same season.

The Aces play in the West Division of the ECHL's National Conference.

In 2006, Alaska won the ECHL Kelly Cup title in five games over the Gwinnett Gladiators. This was the first professional sports title won by an Alaska team since 1980. Mike Scott received the ECHL Kelly Cup MVP award after the Aces' 4-3 win over the Gladiators in Game Five of the series.

On October 4, 2007, the Aces announced a one-year affiliation extension with the Blues and the Rivermen.

Dennis Sorenson formed an Anchorage senior men’s ice hockey team, named Anchorage Aces, to compete against a local in-state team, the Fairbanks Gold Kings. The Aces played four unofficial games during in the 1989-90 season. During the 1990-1991 season, Keith Street led the team on a 22-game schedule, which included 20 games against teams registered with USA Hockey. The 1990-1991 season ended with the Aces winning the Senior Men's Open National Championship held in Fairbanks.

The Aces joined the Pacific Northwest Hockey League for the 1991-92 season, playing six of their home games at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage and eight at the Central Peninsula Sports Center in Soldotna. The Aces finished second in the PNHL with a 16-12-2 regular season record, and were the runners-up in the national USA Hockey tourney after a 0-4-1 tourney run.

In the 1992-93 season, new Head Coach Mike Ashley led the Aces to a 19-3-0 regular season record. However, in the USA Hockey Senior Men's Open Tournament, the Aces finished second for the second year in a row after compiling a 4-1 record in the tourney, losing the tiebreaker to the Chicago Chargers. Ashley resigned following the season.

For the 1993-94 season, Steve Gasparini took over as head coach, and led the Aces to a 22-9-1 regular season record. The Aces also won their second championship in the USA Hockey Senior Men's Open National Tournament with a 5-0 run highlighted by the 6-0 rout of the Fresno Falcons. In 1994-95, the team went 27-9 and lost in the championship game to the Gold Kings.

After an unsuccessful attempt to form a new Pacific Rim Hockey League, the Aces joined the new West Coast Hockey League for the 1995-96 season, and played in that league until 2003.

Mike Cusack Jr. became sole owner of the franchise following the 1995-1996 season.

In the 1996-97 season, the Aces initially lost in the league playoffs to the Fresno Falcons three games to one. However the WCHL commissioner determined that their 2-4 loss in game four would be changed to a 1-0 victory due to forfeit by the Fresno Falcons when they failed to meet the minimum roster requirement because of injuries and suspensions. The Aces won the deciding fifth game 5-3 and advanced to the Taylor Cup.

In the 2000-2001 season a new Director of Player Personnel/Assistant Coach, Stirling Wright, was brought in. The Aces finished in third place with a 34-30-4 record and advanced to the semifinals, only to be ousted by Tacoma in three games.

In 2000-01, Stirling Wright was instrumental in bringing in former NHL players when the Aces signed former NHL goalie Vincent Riendeau and right wing Kevin Brown. The Idaho Steelheads defeated the Aces 3-0 in the first round of the playoffs.

In 2001-02, the Aces hired Stirling Wright as the new GM. He then hired former NHL coach and player Butch Goring as their new head coach, and re-signed only four players from the previous season. The Aces signed five former NHL players: defenseman Jim Paek, goaltender Scott Bailey, wingers Todd Harkins and Daniel Goneau and center Clayton Beddoes. Clayton Beddoes retired just a few games into the season due to a previous shoulder injury. The Aces promoted a "Guaranteed Win Night" where if they lost the game, the fans in attendance would receive free Aces tickets. After a 10-18-4 start, Aces' owner Mike Cusack fired Goring and VP of business operations Lou Corletto, and hired former head coach Poddubny. Shortly thereafter, general manager Stirling Wright stepped down due to his disapproval of the owner's decisions. The Aces went on to win only a few more games and the mass exodus of players soon followed after Wright left the team. The team itself was making a profit but the owner's other financial ventures continued to drain the team of its revenue. Much of the staff and players did not get paid on a regular basis.

In May 2002, Both Mike Cusack personally and his business properties including an Anchorage hotel and the Aces filed for bankruptcy; according to the filing papers, the team was almost $2 million in debt. In June 2002, the Aces were put up for sale on eBay. The club's owner, Cusack, accepted a $1.862 million bid from Duncan Harrison, owner of Alaskan Automotive Distributing in Anchorage, but U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge Donald MacDonald converted the Aces' bankruptcy case to Chapter 7, which allowed him to reject the Harrison bid. The club was eventually sold for $1.05 million to a seven-member group led by Terry Parks, a local investor, and Dan Coffey, a local businessman. Cusack's former hotel, known as the Northern Lights Hotel, was placed in receivership and currently sits empty.

The Aces joined the ECHL for the 2003-04 season following a merger between the WCHL and the East Coast Hockey League. They were renamed the Alaska Aces after the league switch, and unveiled a new logo and new uniforms.

Records as of January 29,2007.

As of February 24, 2009. Data taken from ECHL website.

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2008–09 ECHL season

The 2008-09 ECHL season will be the 21st of the ECHL. The league is expected to welcome one new franchise, the Ontario Reign, which will relocate from Beaumont, Texas and will play at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA. Two teams, the Columbia Inferno and the Myrtle Beach Thunderboltz, will voluntary suspend operations for the season with plans on returning in the 2009-10 season. The Myrtle Beach franchise were originally planning to return to operations, but their home arena had not been completed in time for the Board of Governors Meeting during the All-Star Break. The league announced that they were immediately terminating the Pensacola Ice Pilots franchise, because the team's owners did not intend on fielding a team for the 2008-09 season or any season after that. The team was a founding member of the ECHL as the Nashville Knights and moved to Pensacola, Florida after the 1995-96 season.

The league also saw the return of the Fresno Falcons to Selland Arena, after the team spent its first five seasons in the ECHL at the Save Mart Center on the campus of California State University, Fresno campus. However, this was short-lived, as Fresno joined the Augusta Lynx in suspending operations during the month of December.

On June 23, the ECHL announced the new divisional alignment of its 23 franchises. The league saw three teams vacate the South Division of the American Conference shrinking the division from nine to six teams and added a franchise to the Pacific Division of the National Conference increasing the division total from four teams to five. There will be thirteen teams in the American Conference, which stretches from New York south to Florida and from Mississippi east to New Jersey, and ten teams in the National Conference which stretches from Alaska south to Arizona.

On December 2, the Augusta Lynx suspended operations and voluntarily relinquished their membership to the league, in effect becoming the first team in the league's 21-year history to suspend midseason. Lynx owners stated that financial troubles and failed attempts to find additional investors were causes for the team to suspend operations. Dan Troutman, one of the team's owners, stated that he had asked the league to take over operations so the team could finish the season, but the move was voted down by the league's Board of Governors. The owners had also stated that attendance issues, in which Augusta has ranked no higher than 20th in the league the past three seasons, as the major reason for their financial problems as the team was successful in sponsorship issues.

On December 22, the Fresno Falcons became the second team in twenty days to cease operations, as the league's Board of Governors voted unanimously to terminate the franchise after Fresno's ownership notifying the league that they were unable to continue the membership for financial reasons. Fresno Hockey Club, LLC., the team's ownership group, cited "overwhelming financial issues due to declining attendance and dwindling corporate sponsorships" as reasons the team did not continue to operate for the 2008-09 season. This move comes less than a year after the team signed a 20-year lease with Selland Arena (starting with the 2008-09 season) and an agreement with the city of Fresno in which the city invested $5 million into upgrades for hockey at Selland Arena, as long as the team would not be sold or moved without the direct approval from the city. A clause in the agreement, stated that the city could take over the team as a government agency if owners were unable to continue operations; however, the option was declined after it was determined that the hockey club would finish the season $500,000 under expenses. City officials have expressed interest in bringing the franchise back as early as the 2009-10 season, although ECHL Commissioner was less enthusiastic stating that "a great deal of damage had been done" and that the league would give a new ownership "nine to ten months of lead time to create a solid foundation." At the time of their folding, the Falcons were in first place of the Pacific Division and had the fifth best record in the ECHL.

The ECHL All-Star Game was played in Reading, Pennsylvania on January 21, 2009. The host club was the Reading Royals. The American Conference defeated the National Conference 11-5, with Matthew Ford of Charlotte and Florida's Kevin Baker both scoring hat tricks to over come a 3-1 deficit after the 1st Period.

On June 23, the league announced its new playoff format for the 2008-09 season. The playoffs would feature a total of sixteen teams (eight from each conference) and four rounds of play. The top four finishers in each division will be seeded based on regular season point totals. The Division Semifinals will have the first seed meeting the fourth seed and the second seed meeting the third seed in a best-of-seven series. The winners of the Division Semifinals will advance to the Division Finals which is a best-of-seven series. The Division Finals winners will advance to the Conference Finals which is a best-of-seven series. The winner of the American Conference and the winner of the National Conference will meet in the Kelly Cup Finals, a best-of-seven game series. Home-ice advantage will be determined by regular season points. This format is similar to that used by the American Hockey League for the Calder Cup playoffs.

At the Mid-Season Board of Governors Meeting in Reading, PA, during All-Star Game. two changes were announced for the playoff format due to Augusta and Fresno folding mid-season. In the National Conference, the team with the better record between 4th place in the Pacific Division and 5th place in the Western Division will become the Pacific Division's 4th seed. The Southern Division will use percentage of points won because of an unbalanced number of games played caused by rescheduling (Points divided by Games, then divided by two).

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Source : Wikipedia