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AHL champion Hershey has eight former ECHL players

Tuesday, June 25th
AHL champion Hershey has eight former ECHL players

For the 33rd season in a row the ECHL is represented on the American Hockey League champion as eight of the 26 players who played for the Hershey Bears in the 2024 Calder Cup Playoffs played in the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League.
 
There have been 154 former ECHL players on the last 18 AHL champions.
 
The ECHL has had affiliations with 20 or more teams in the AHL each of the last 23 years. The South Carolina Stingrays served as the ECHL affiliate for Hershey during the 2023-24 season.
 
Former ECHL players who captured the 2024 Calder Cup title are Pierrick Dube (Trois-Rivières, 2021-23), Jimmy Huntington (Orlando, 2019-21), Nick Leivermann (South Carolina, 2023-24), Jake Massie (Greenville, 2019-22), Dmitry Osipov (Quad City, 2017-18 and Indy, 2018-21), Hunter Shepard (South Carolina, 2022-22), Clay Stevenson (South Carolina, 2022-23) and Matthew Strome (Reading, 2019-20 and 2021-22 and Greenville, 2020-21).
 
Both of Hershey’s assistant coaches have extensive ECHL experience. Patrick Wellar is one of nine individuals in ECHL history to have won three Kelly Cup titles winning with South Carolina in 2009, Alaska in 2011 and Reading in 2013. He was an assistant coach with Cincinnati in 2016-17 and Reading in 2017-18 before joining the Bears staff in 2018-19. Nick Bootland is in his second season on Hershey’s staff after 12 seasons as head coach in Kalamazoo. He ranks eighth in ECHL history with 437 career wins.
 
Head Athletic Trainer Shawn Fliszar previously worked in the ECHL with Norfolk while Assistant Athletic Trainer Max Finley spent time with South Carolina. Manager of Media Relations and Broadcasting Zack Fisch was in a similar role with South Carolina in 2015-16 while Media Specialist Jesse Liebman worked in Ontario from 2012-15 and with Orlando from 2015-22.
 
Three of the 22 players on the runner-up Coachella Valley Firebirds had ECHL experience with Chris Driedger (Elmira, 2013-14; Evansville, 2014-15; Wichita, 2016-17; Brampton, 2017-18 and Manchester, 2018-19), Luke Henman (Allen, 2021-22) and Tucker Robertson (Kansas City, 2023-24).
 
During the 2023-24 season, 321 ECHL players were recalled to the American Hockey League for a total of 631 recalls. The Adirondack Thunder and Orlando Solar Bears led the ECHL with 18 players recalled while Adirondack and the Reading Royals led the League with 38 overall recalls.
 
Eleven times in the last 24 years the winner of the AHL Coach of the Year award has been a former ECHL coach including former South Carolina Stingrays’ head coach Spencer Carbery, who won the award in 2020-21, and former Reading Royals and Ontario Reign head coach Karl Taylor, who won the award in 2019-20. Former Roanoke Valley Rebels’ and Richmond Renegades’ head coach Roy Sommer, won the award in 2016-17 while former Trenton Devils’ coach Rick Kowalsky, a 2017 inductee into the ECHL Hall of Fame, won the award in 2015-16. Former ECHL coaches Scott Gordon and Mike Haviland won the award in back-to-back years in 2006 and 2007. Former ECHL coaches won the award four consecutive years from 2001-04 with Don Granato, Bruce Cassidy, Geoff Ward and Claude Noel. The first former ECHL coach to win the award was Peter Laviolette in 1999.
 
For the 17th season in a row at least six former ECHL players were named AHL Player of the Week with former Toledo Walleye goaltender Sebastian Cossa, former Kalamazoo Wings goaltender Jet Greaves, former Norfolk Admirals goaltender Thomas Milic, former Rapid City Rush goaltender Ivan Prosvetov, former Idaho Steelheads goaltender Adam Scheel and former Tulsa Oilers goaltender Tomas Suchanek.
 
Nine of the 32 head coaches in the American Hockey League during the 2023-24 season previously served as coaches in the ECHL with Bakersfield’s Colin Chaulk, Bridgeport’s Rick Kowalsky, Colorado’s Aaron Schneekloth, Grand Rapids’ Dan Watson, Laval’s Jean-Francois Houle, Manitoba’s Mark Morrison, Milwaukee’s Karl Taylor, Providence’s Ryan Mougenel, and Texas’ Neil Graham.
 
Former ECHL broadcasters working in the American Hockey League during the 2023-24 season included Ryan Holt of the Bakersfield Condors, Alan Fuehring of the Bridgeport Islanders, Jason Shaver of the Chicago Wolves, Tony Brown of the Cleveland Monsters, Evan Pivnick of the Coachella Valley Firebirds, Kevin McGlue of the Colorado Eagles, Brian McCormack of the Henderson Silver Knights, Zack Fisch of the Hershey Bears, Bob Rotruck of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Jared Shafran of the Ontario Reign, Mike Folta of the Rockford IceHogs, Lukas Favale of the Syracuse Crunch, John Peterson of the Texas Stars, Adrian Denny of the Tucson Roadrunners and Jason Shaya of the Utica Comets.
 
Thirty-three of the 77 referees working in the American Hockey League, came from the ECHL, while 77 of the 164 linespeople in the AHL have worked games in the ECHL.
 
About the ECHL
 
Formed 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 one Canadian province for its 36th season in 2023-24. There have been 752 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 12 who have made their NHL debuts in the 2023-24 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 28 of the 32 NHL teams in 2023-24, marking the 27th 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.
 

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