Opponents announced for Toledo’s outdoor games
The ECHL on Wednesday announced the dates and opponents for the first two outdoor games in League history, to be hosted by the Toledo Walleye at Fifth Third Field during the 2014-15 season.
The Walleye will face the Kalamazoo Wings in the first game on Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014 with the Fort Wayne Komets providing the opposition for the second game on Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015. These two historic games are part of a 10-day outdoor Winterfest celebration in downtown Toledo from Dec. 26, 2014 through Jan. 4, 2015.
“There has been a lot of excitement around the League since we first announced this event last October,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. “With the Walleye hosting regional rivals Kalamazoo and Fort Wayne in the first outdoor games in ECHL history, we are expecting a tremendous response from fans and are looking forward to two great nights during the 2014-15 season.”
Fifth Third Field, the home of the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, will be converted from a baseball field into an outdoor hockey rink. The length of the ice will run across the infield between first and third base.
Adding to the excitement is an alumni showdown between Toledo and Fort Wayne prior to the game on Jan. 3. This will be the second match-up featuring former Toledo pro-hockey players against alumni from the Fort Wayne Komets.
While the marquee events of Winterfest 2014 are the two ECHL outdoor games, there will also be youth, high school and adult hockey at the outdoor rink. Kids and adults alike will enjoy a Rockefeller Center-like experience during community skates.
Additional information on Winterfest is available by calling the Walleye at (419) 725-WALL or by visiting http://www.toledowalleye.com/fan-center/winterfest-2014.
Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• Watch games live on America ONE Sports, the “Official Broadband & Mobile Broadcaster” of the ECHL.
• 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 22 teams in 15 states in 2013-14.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• 527 players have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 22 in 2012-13.
• 15 ECHL players have 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 Colorado Eagles defensemen Ben Chiarot (Winnipeg on Nov. 2) former San Francisco Bulls left wing Jamie Devane (Toronto on Oct. 5), 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 Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender Magnus Hellberg (Nashville on Oct. 26), former Ontario Reign goaltender Martin Jones (Los Angeles on Dec. 3), 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 Reading Royals defenseman Patrick Wey (Washington on Dec. 7) and former Ontario Reign goaltender Jeff Zatkoff (Pittsburgh on Oct. 11).
• The ECHL has had 335 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.
• 271 ECHL players have played their first game in the last nine seasons for an average of more than 30 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 has affiliations with 27 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.
• 29 coaches with an ECHL background are working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau, Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma, New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano and Florida Panthers interim head coach Peter Horachek. 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 are scheduled to work 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 13th year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion in 2013 with Chicago Blackhaws assistant coach Jamie Kompon, players Sheldon Brookbank and Daniel Carcillo, vice president/assistant to the president Al MacIsaac, director of pro scouting Ryan Stewart and general manager of minor league affiliations Mark Bernard. The ECHL was represented by 53 former players and 18 coaches on the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking the eighth year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the 10th 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 and Jeremy Zager, who were both recipients of the ECHL Media Relations Director of the Year award, are working in the communications department for the Minnesota Wild and the Los Angeles Kings, respectively. Former ECHL assistant director of communications Joe Siville works in the communications department for the Philadelphia Flyers.
• In the last nine seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined 4,000 with over call-ups involving more than 2,100 players and in 2012-13 there were 10 times as many call-ups from the ECHL to the AHL than all other professional leagues.
• The ECHL averaged 4,695 fans per game in 2012-13, the highest single-season average since 1999-2000, and marking the ninth consecutive season and the 21st time in the last 23 years that the ECHL has averaged over 4,000 fans.