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Recap of 2023 Kelly Cup Finals

Monday, June 12th
Recap of 2023 Kelly Cup Finals

The Florida Everblades won the ECHL Kelly Cup championship on Friday defeating the Idaho Steelheads 4-3 at Hertz Arena in Estero, Florida in Game 4 of the 2023 Kelly Cup Finals. It was the first sweep in the Kelly Cup Finals since 2017, and the fifth in the 34 all-time Riley/Kelly Cup Finals series. Florida, which was appearing in the Kelly Cup Finals for the sixth time (tied for most in ECHL history), won the Kelly Cup title for the second consecutive season and the third time overall. The Everblades are the fifth team in ECHL history to claim back-to-back titles, joining Hampton Roads (1991 and 1992), Toledo (1993 and 1994), Allen (2015 and 2016) and Colorado (2017 and 2018) while their third championship ties Hampton Roads, South Carolina and Alaska for the most in League history. The Kelly Cup trophy is named for Patrick J. Kelly, who presents it each year to the postseason champion. Kelly was one of the founding fathers of the ECHL and the second inductee into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2008. Kelly served as Commissioner for the league’s first eight seasons and was named Commissioner Emeritus in 1996, a title that he continues to hold. Kelly, who celebrated his 70th season in hockey in 2022-23, coached 1,900 career games and had 935 wins. Kelly coached in the Eastern Hockey League, the Southern Hockey League and the National Hockey League where he was the only coach to ever lead the Colorado Rockies to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Celebrating its 35th season in 2022-23, the ECHL is the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League and is the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League. The ECHL is the primary development league for the AHL and the NHL. The ECHL and the AHL are the only two minor professional hockey leagues that are recognized in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and the National Hockey League Players' Association. The CBA states that any player on an NHL entry-level contract designated for assignment to a minor league must report if assigned to a team in the ECHL or the AHL. A player on an NHL entry-level contract assigned to a minor professional league other than the ECHL or the AHL is not required to report and can request reassignment to a team in the ECHL or the AHL. Johnson wins Most Valuable Player award Florida goaltender Cam Johnson earned the June M. Kelly Playoffs Most Valuable Player Award for the second consecutive postseason. Johnson played every minute during Florida's playoff run, posting a 16-6 record with four shutouts, a 2.10 goals-against average and a save percentage of .922. His four shutouts are tied for the second most in a single postseason in ECHL history, while his eight career playoff shutouts are tied for the most in ECHL postseason history. Johnson becomes the first player in ECHL history to win the postseason MVP award in consecutive seasons and he joins Nick Vitucci and Dave Gagnon as the only players to win the award twice over their career. The Playoffs Most Valuable Trophy was renamed in 2019 in honor of June M. Kelly, the wife of ECHL Commissioner Emeritus Patrick J. Kelly, whom the Kelly Cup is named after. Mrs. Kelly was an integral part of the ECHL behind the scenes during her husband’s tenure as Commissioner from the League’s inaugural season in 1988-89 through his retirement following the 1995-96 season. Everblades’ Neuber earns third title It was the third Kelly Cup title for Florida forward Kyle Neuber, who previously captured a championship with Allen in 2016 and Florida in 2022. Neuber joins Jared Bednar, Scott Burt, Riley Gill, Louis Mass, Matt Register and Patrick Wellar as the only individuals to win three Kelly Cup titles Eight other Everblades capture second title Eight other players on Florida’s roster earned their second Kelly Cup title, after being on the Everblades 2022 club - Cam Johnson, Lukas Kälble, Levko Koper, Stefan Leblanc, Ben Masella, John McCarron, Kyle Neuber, Joe Pendenza and Blake Winiecki. The second championship for each players brings the total number of individuals to win multiple Kelly Cup titles to 63. Ralph leads Everblades to second title Florida head coach Brad Ralph becomes the eighth coach in ECHL history to win multiple championships. John Brophy, a 2009 inductee into the ECHL Hall of Fame, is the ECHL all-time leader with three championships, leading Hampton Roads to Riley Cup titles in 1991 and 1992 and a Kelly Cup championship in 1998. The other six coaches to have won multiple championships are Chris McSorley, who won Riley Cup championships with Toledo in 1992 and 1993; John Marks, a 2012 ECHL Hall of Fame inductee, led Charlotte to the 1996 Riley Cup title and Greenville to the 2002 Kelly Cup championship; Mike Haviland won Kelly Cup titles with Atlantic City in 2003 and Trenton in 2005; Chuck Weber coached Kelly Cup winning teams in Cincinnati in 2008 and 2010; Steve Martinson captured Kelly Cup titles with Allen in 2015 and 2016 and Aaron Schneekloth led Colorado to Kelly Cup championships in 2017 and 2018. Ralph is the ECHL all-time leader in career postseason games coached (130) and postseason wins (79). Florida’s title first of its kind in 13 seasons Florida finished the regular season 11th overall in the League standings with 85 points. It is the first time since the Everblades 2012 title that a team won the Kelly Cup without finishing in the top five of the overall regular-season standings. It is the sixth time in ECHL history that a team has won after not finishing in the top five. The other four occurrences are Idaho (11th in 2003-04 and sixth in 2006-07), Trenton (sixth in 2004-05) and Hampton Roads (19th in 1997-98). On its way to the title, Florida defeated teams which finished fifth (South Carolina, 95 points), sixth (Jacksonville, 93 points), fourth (Newfoundland, 98 points) and first (Idaho, 119 points) in the 2022-23 regular season. Three of four games in Finals feature capacity crowds Games 1 and 2 in Idaho and Game 4 in Florida all welcomed standing-room only crowds. There were 5,032 fans at Game 1 and 5,101 for Game 2 at Idaho Central Arena (capacity 5,006). Game 4 in Florida welcomed 7,855 fans to Hertz Arena (capacity 7,181), marking the largest crowd to attend a game in the 25 years the Everblades have been in existence. There have now been 50 all-time sell-outs in the Riley/Kelly Cup Finals, including 17 out of 30 games since 2017. Everblades are 11th Kelly Cup champion without home ice Florida is the 11th team in 25 years to win the Kelly Cup without home-ice advantage in the Finals. The other winners are Florida (2012 and 2022), Colorado (2018), Cincinnati (2010), South Carolina (2009), Trenton (2005), Idaho (2004), Atlantic City (2003), South Carolina (2001) and Hampton Roads (1998). Overall, 14 teams have won League titles without having home-ice advantage in the Finals. Riley Cup winners without home ice are Toledo (1993), Greensboro (1990) and Carolina (1989). Celebration at home & on road For the 17th time in ECHL history, and the fourth Finals in a row, the decisive game in the Finals was won at home. The other Kelly Cup winners who have clinched at home are Fort Wayne (2021), Newfoundland (2019), Allen (2015 and 2016), Florida (2012 and 2022), Cincinnati (2010 and 2008), Idaho (2004), Atlantic City (2003), South Carolina (2001), Peoria (2000) and Mississippi (1999), while the Riley Cup was clinched at home by Richmond (1995), Toledo (1993) and Hampton Roads (1991).  The 17 winners on the road are: Colorado (2017 and 2018), Alaska (2014), Reading (2013), Alaska (2011), South Carolina (2009), Idaho (2007), Alaska (2006), Trenton (2005), Greenville (2002), Hampton Roads (1998) and South Carolina (1997). The Riley Cup was won on the road five times with Charlotte (1996), Toledo (1994), Hampton Roads (1992), Greensboro (1990) and Carolina (1989). Kelly Cup championship banners in 12 states, one province Twelve different states and one Canadian province have produced the 26 Kelly Cup champions. South Carolina (South Carolina Stingrays in 1997, 2001 and 2009 and Greenville in 2002) has produced four of the 25 winners of the Kelly Cup while Florida joins Alaska (Alaska Aces in 2006, 2011 and 2014) with three championships. Colorado (Colorado Eagles in 2017 and 2018), Idaho (Idaho Steelheads in 2004 and 2007), New Jersey (Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies in 2003 and Trenton Titans in 2005), Ohio (Cincinnati Cyclones in 2008 and 2010) and Texas (Allen Americans in 2015 and 2016) each have two champions. The other six champions have been from Illinois (Peoria Rivermen – 2000), Indiana (Fort Wayne Komets – 2021), Mississippi (Mississippi Sea Wolves – 1999), Newfoundland and Labrador (Newfoundland Growlers – 2019), Pennsylvania (Reading Royals – 2013) and Virginia (Hampton Roads Admirals – 1998). ECHL champions from 14 states, one province In the first 35 years of the ECHL, Ohio (Toledo Storm in 1993 and 1994 and Cincinnati Cyclones in 2008 and 2010), South Carolina (South Carolina Stingrays in 1997, 2001 and 2009 and Greenville in 2002) and Virginia (Hampton Roads Admirals in 1991, 1992 and 1998 and Richmond Renegades in 1995) have the most championships with four each. Florida joins Alaska (Alaska Aces in 2006, 2011 and 2014) and North Carolina (Carolina Thunderbirds in 1989, Greensboro Monarchs in 1990 and Charlotte Checkers in 1996) with three champions while Colorado (Colorado Eagles in 2017 and 2018), Idaho (Idaho Steelheads in 2004 and 2007), New Jersey (Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies in 2003 and Trenton Titans in 2005) and Texas (Allen Americans in 2015 and 2016) have two apiece. Illinois (Peoria Rivermen in 2000), Indiana (Fort Wayne Komets in 2021), Mississippi (Mississippi Sea Wolves in 1999), Newfoundland and Labrador (Newfoundland Growlers in 2019) and Pennsylvania (Reading Royals in 2013) each have one winner. Kelly Cup Finals available online for 19th consecutive year Every game of the Kelly Cup Finals was broadcast live on FloHockey, the Exclusive Live Streaming Partner of the ECHL. It marked the 19th straight season that every game of the Kelly Cup Finals was available for viewing. 2023 Kelly Cup FinalsGame 1 – FLORIDA 3 at Idaho 2 (OT)Game 2 – FLORIDA 5 at Idaho 3Game 3 – Idaho 0 at FLORIDA 1Game 4 – Idaho 3 at FLORIDA 4 Kelly Cup Champions2023 – Florida defeated Idaho, 4 games to 02022 – Florida defeated Toledo, 4 games to 12021 – Fort Wayne defeated South Carolina, 3 games to 12020 – Playoffs were cancelled due to COVID-192019 – Newfoundland defeated Toledo, 4 games to 22018 – Colorado defeated Florida, 4 games to 32017 – Colorado defeated South Carolina, 4 games to 0 2016 – Allen defeated Wheeling, 4 games to 22015 – Allen defeated South Carolina, 4 games to 32014 – Alaska defeated Cincinnati, 4 games to 22013 – Reading defeated Stockton, 4 games to 12012 – Florida defeated Las Vegas, 4 games to 12011 – Alaska defeated Kalamazoo, 4 games to 12010 – Cincinnati defeated Idaho, 4 games to 12009 – South Carolina defeated Alaska, 4 games to 32008 – Cincinnati defeated Las Vegas, 4 games to 22007 – Idaho defeated Dayton, 4 games to 12006 – Alaska defeated Gwinnett, 4 games to 12005 – Trenton defeated Florida, 4 games to 22004 – Idaho defeated Florida, 4 games to 12003 – Atlantic City defeated Columbia, 4 games to 12002 – Greenville defeated Dayton, 4 games to 02001 – South Carolina defeated Trenton, 4 games to 12000 – Peoria defeated Louisiana, 4 games to 21999 – Mississippi defeated Richmond, 4 games to 31998 – Hampton Roads defeated Pensacola, 4 games to 21997 – South Carolina defeated Louisiana, 4 games to 1 Riley Cup Champions1996 – Charlotte defeated Jacksonville, 4 games to 01995 – Richmond defeated Greensboro, 4 games to 11994 – Toledo defeated Raleigh, 4 games to 11993 – Toledo defeated Wheeling, 4 games to 21992 – Hampton Roads defeated Louisville, 4 games to 01991 – Hampton Roads defeated Greensboro, 4 games to 11990 – Greensboro defeated Winston-Salem, 4 games to 11989 – Carolina defeated Johnstown, 4 games to 3 About the ECHL Formed in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 28 teams in 20 states and two Canadian provinces for its 35th season in 2022-23. There have been 740 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 13 who have made their NHL debut in the 2022-23 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 28 of the 32 NHL teams in 2022-23, marking the 26th 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.

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