Komets Shifted To Western Conference, ECHL Makes Playoff Changes

The Annual ECHL Board of Governors Meeting was held at The Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada last week.

Conference, divisional alignment set for 2014-15 season

The Board of Governors approved the following conference and divisional alignment for the 2014-15 season.

Eastern Conference

North Division
Cincinnati Cyclones, Elmira Jackals, Reading Royals, Toledo Walleye, Wheeling Nailers

South Division
Florida Everblades, Greenville Road Warriors, Gwinnett Gladiators, Orlando Solar Bears, South Carolina Stingrays

Western Conference

Midwest Division
Colorado Eagles, Evansville IceMen, Fort Wayne Komets, Indy Fuel, Kalamazoo Wings

Pacific Division
Alaska Aces, Bakersfield Condors, Idaho Steelheads, Ontario Reign, Stockton Thunder, Utah Grizzlies

Format determined for 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs

The top four teams in each division during the regular season will qualify for the 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs. All four rounds of the playoffs will be played in a best-of-seven format.

The first two rounds of the playoffs will be played entirely within the division with the division winner meeting the fourth-place finisher and the second-place finisher meeting the team that finished in third place in the Division Semifinals. The Division Finals will pit the winner of each series against each other. The winner of the North Division Finals will meet the winner of the South Division Finals in the Eastern Conference Finals while the winner of the Midwest Division will meet the winner of the Pacific Division Finals in the Western Conference Finals. The 2015 Kelly Cup Finals will see the Eastern Conference champion take on the Western Conference champion.

The Board of Governors determined that this would create a more equitable opportunity for all teams to qualify for a playoff position.

Approval of hybrid icing

Following the lead of the National Hockey League, the Board of Governors has approved the implementation of hybrid icing for the 2014-15 season.

The hybrid-icing system allows the linesman to blow the play dead and call an automatic icing if he determines that the puck will cross the goal line and the defending player is not behind in the race to the end-zone faceoff dots in his defensive zone. The faceoff would go to the far end of the ice as it did with icings called in the no-touch icing used by the ECHL in the past.

If the attacking player is leading the race, the linesman is supposed to allow the play to continue.

Change to overtime format for regular season

Teams will start overtime of all regular-season games in the opposite end they started the game.

Gwinnett’s Chapman re-elected Chairman of the Board

Steve Chapman, president of the Gwinnett Gladiators, was re-elected to serve a ninth term as Chairman of the Board of Governors. Chapman was voted ECHL Executive of the Year in 2005 and 2006 becoming the first person in league history to win the award twice.

Bakersfield’s Riley receives Executive of the Year award

Matthew Riley, president of the Bakersfield Condors, was presented with the ECHL Executive of the Year award for the 2013-14 season. The award is determined in a vote of the ECHL Board of Governors.

Riley, who also won the award in 2006-07, joins Chapman, as the only two-time winners of the Executive of the Year award since it was introduced in 1995.

Riley was named president of the Condors in 2001 and has been with the organization since 1997 and he also serves on the ECHL’s Executive Committee. Prior to joining the Condors, Riley worked in minor league baseball serving as executive director of the Mobile BayBears, general manager of the Mobile Bay Sharks, and assistant general manager of the Chattanooga Lookouts. He began his career in professional sports as an intern with the St. Louis Cardinals. A native of Keokuk, Iowa, Riley received his communications degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University and his master’s degree in sports management from the United States Sports Academy. Riley and his wife, Teri, reside in Bakersfield with their son, Landon.

Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• The ECHL celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2012-13 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 five teams in four states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league with 21 teams in 14 states in 2014-15.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• 541 players have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 22 in 2012-13.
• 29 ECHL players made their NHL debuts in 2013-14: former Reading Royals Will Acton (Edmonton on Oct. 1), former Kalamazoo Wings left wing Darren Archibald (Vancouver on Oct. 25), former Columbia Inferno, Charlotte Checkers, Greenville Road Warriors and Reading Royals defenseman Julien Brouillette (Washington on Feb. 6), former Colorado Eagles defensemen Ben Chiarot (Winnipeg on Nov. 2) former San Francisco Bulls left wing Jamie Devane (Toronto on Oct. 5), former Elmira Jackals and Reading Royals left wing Brett Gallant (New York Islanders on April 8), former Idaho Steelheads left wing Luke Gazdic (Edmonton on Oct. 1), former Toledo Walleye center Luke Glendening (Detroit on Oct. 12), former Wheeling Nailers defenseman Alex Grant (Anaheim on Nov. 30), former Florida Everblades goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis (Tampa Bay on April 11), former Trenton Titans goaltender Cal Heeter (Philadelphia on April 12), former Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender Magnus Hellberg (Nashville on Oct. 26), former Reading Royals and Ontario Reign goaltender Michael Hutchinson (Winnipeg on April 7), former Alaska Aces, Idaho Steelheads, Utah Grizzlies and Cincinnati Cyclones right wing Justin Johnson (New York Islanders on April 11), former Ontario Reign goaltender Martin Jones (Los Angeles on Dec. 3), former Greenville Road Warriors, Florida Everblades and Alaska Aces goaltender Connor Knapp (Buffalo on April 11), former Toledo Walleye forward Peter Leblanc (Washington on April 12), former Greenville Road Warriors goaltender Nathan Lieuwen (Buffalo on March 16) former Alaska Aces goaltender Joni Ortio (Calgary on Feb. 27), former Wheeling Nailers center Adam Payerl (Pittsburgh on April 6), former Wheeling Nailers defenseman Philip Samuelsson (Pittsburgh on Dec. 16), former Wheeling Nailers center Zach Sill (Pittsburgh on Nov. 16), former Toledo Walleye goaltender Kent Simpson (Chicago on Dec. 14), former Greenville Road Warriors goaltender Cam Talbot (New York Rangers on Oct. 24), former Cincinnati Cyclones center and 2010 Kelly Cup champion Mark Van Guilder (Nashville on March 30), former Gwinnett Gladiators goaltender Mark Visentin (Phoenix on April 12), former Reading Royals defenseman Patrick Wey (Washington on Dec. 7), former Cincinnati Cyclones forward Garrett Wilson (Florida on March 18) and former Ontario Reign goaltender Jeff Zatkoff (Pittsburgh on Oct. 11).
• Seven players played in the ECHL and NHL in 2013-14: John Curry with Orlando and Minnesota, Kristers Gudlevskis with Florida and Tampa Bay, Magnus Hellberg with Cincinnati and Nashville, Michael Hutchinson with Ontario and Winnipeg, Connor Knapp with Greenville, Florida, Alaska and Buffalo, Joni Ortio with Alaska and Calgary and Patrick Wey with Reading and Washington.
• The ECHL has had 349 players reach the NHL since 2002-03 when it changed its focus to become the primary developmental league for the NHL and the AHL. The ECHL had 97 players reach the NHL in its first 10 seasons and 215 in the first 15 years.
• 285 ECHL players have played their first game in the last nine seasons for an average of more than 31 per year.
• ECHL had a record 93 players on NHL opening-day rosters in 2013-14, surpassing the 87 from 2012-13 and marking the 11th year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
• ECHL had affiliations with 26 of the 30 NHL teams in 2013-14, marking the 17th consecutive season that the league has affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
• 25 coaches with an ECHL background are working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau, Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette and New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. It is the ninth consecutive season that there have been 11 or more coaches with an ECHL background working in the NHL.
• 27 former ECHL officials wored as part of the NHL officiating team in 2013-14 with referees Darcy Burchell, Francis Charron, Tom Chmielewski, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, Trent Knorr, Mike Leggo, Dave Lewis, T.J. Luxmore, Wes McCauley, Jon McIsaac, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Graham Skilliter, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh, and linesmen Steve Barton, Matt MacPherson, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak, Bryan Pancich and Jay Sharrers.
• ECHL was represented for the 14th year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion in 2014 with Los Angeles Kings assistant coach Davis Payne; players Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis, Martin Jones, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Jonathan Quick; manager of communications and broadcasting Jeremy Zager; and scouts Mark Mullen and Mark Yannetti. The ECHL was represented by 49 former players and 14 coaches on the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking the ninth year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the 11th consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience have competed in the NHL postseason.
• Former ECHL broadcasters working in the NHL include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, Dave Goucher of the Boston Bruins, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Jack Michaels of the Edmonton Oilers, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Bob McElligott of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
• Ryan Stanzel, who was a recipient of the ECHL Media Relations Director of the Year award, is working in the communications department for the Minnesota Wild while former ECHL assistant director of communications Joe Siville works in the communications department for the Philadelphia Flyers.
• ECHL had affiliations with 26 of the 30 teams in the American Hockey League in 2013-14 and for the past 25 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup champion.
• In the last 10 seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined 4,500 with over call-ups involving more than 2,400 players and in 2013-14 there were 10 times as many call-ups from the ECHL to the AHL than all other professional leagues.
• The ECHL averaged 4,706 fans per game in 2013-14, the highest single-season average since 1999-2000, and marking the 10th consecutive season and the 22nd time in the last 24 years that the ECHL has averaged over 4,000 fans.
• Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

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