The ECHL on Monday announced that the League is renaming the Goaltender of the Year Award the “Nick Vitucci Goaltender of the Year Award.” Vitucci, who was part of the first-ever induction class into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2008, enjoyed a 26-year association with the League, beginning in the inaugural season of 1988-89. In that season, he backstopped the Carolina Thunderbirds to the Riley Cup title, the first of his ECHL-record five championships, and received the Playoffs Most Valuable Player Award.
WATCH: Goaltender of the Year Award named for Nick Vitucci
A native of Welland, Ontario, Vitucci added Riley Cup titles with Greensboro in 1990, Toledo in 1994 and Charlotte in 1996, capturing his second postseason MVP honor with the Checkers. He received the Goaltender of the Year Award with Toledo in 1998, as he finished fourth in the league with 27 wins and a 2.78 goals-against average. “Nick Vitucci has been a major part of the ECHL during the past 34 years,” said ECHL Commissioner Emeritus Patrick J. Kelly. “He won five championships as a player and coach, and continues to be an advocate for the ECHL to this day. It is a great privilege to rename the League’s Goaltender of the Year Award in his honor.” Vitucci is the ECHL all-time leader in goaltender appearances (479), wins (265) and minutes played (27,291). He is tied for the most 20-plus win seasons all-time with seven and is one of just three goaltenders to post back-to-back 30-plus win seasons. He is also just one of 13 goaltenders in league history to score a goal, doing so for Charlotte on March 6, 1996 against Louisville. After concluding his playing career following the 2000-01 season, Vitucci became an assistant coach with the Greenville Grrrowl, and added the final championship to his resume when Greenville won the Kelly Cup title in 2001. Vitucci spent two more seasons with the Grrrowl before returning to Toledo, where he became head coach of the Storm in 2003-04. Over nine seasons as head coach of the Storm and Walleye, he posted an overall record of 289-262-53 and was named ECHL Coach of the Year in 2004-05. About the ECHL Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 27 teams in 20 states and two Canadian provinces for its 34th season in 2021-22. There have been 718 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 20 who have made their NHL debuts in the 2021-22 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 27 of the 32 NHL teams in 2021-22, marking the 25th consecutive season that the league has affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com as well as on Twitter and Facebook.