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Recap of 2024 Kelly Cup Finals

Monday, June 10th
Florida Everblades team photo on ice with the Kelly Cup

The Florida Everblades won the ECHL Kelly Cup championship on Saturday defeating the Kansas City Mavericks 4-3 in overtime at Hertz Arena in Estero, Florida in Game 5 of the 2024 Kelly Cup Finals.
 
Florida becomes the first team in the ECHL’s 36-year history to win three consecutive titles, while the club’s fourth overall championship (2012, 2022, 2023, 2024) sets a new League record. The Everblades were appearing in the Kelly Cup Finals for the seventh time, which also established a new ECHL record.

It marked the fifth time in ECHL history that the deciding game of the Finals was determined in overtime (Toledo, Game 6 in 1993; Mississippi, Game 7 in 1999; Peoria, Game 6 in 2000 and Florida, Game 5 in 2012).
 
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 71st season in hockey in 2023-24, 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 36th season in 2023-24, 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.
 
Chau wins Most Valuable Player award
 
Florida forward Oliver Chau earned the June M. Kelly Playoffs Most Valuable Player Award as the Most Valuable Player of the 2024 Kelly Cup Playoffs.
 
Chau was tied for the playoff lead with 23 points (9g-14a) in 23 games while he finished second in plus-minus at +21. He scored six goals during the Kelly Cup Finals, which is tied for the second most in a Finals series in ECHL history while his hat trick in Game 3 was the 15th in a Finals series. He scored two shorthanded goals in the series, becoming one of just eight players to score multiple shorthanded goals in a Riley/Kelly Cup Finals series, while his +9 rating in the Finals series is tied for the best mark in league history.
 
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. Mrs. Kelly was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2024.
 
Everblades’ Neuber earns fourth title, Johnson, Pendenza and Ralph capture third
 
It was the fourth Kelly Cup title for Florida forward Kyle Neuber, who previously captured a championship with Allen in 2016 and with Florida in 2022 and 2023. Neuber becomes the first person to have his name engraved on the Kelly Cup four times, and he ties 2008 ECHL Hall of Fame inductee Nick Vitucci for the most ECHL championships as a player. Vitucci won Riley Cup titles with Carolina in 1989, Greensboro in 1990, Toledo in 1994 and Charlotte in 1996.  
 
Everblades players Cam Johnson and Joe Pendenza, and Head Coach Brad Ralph, join Jared Bednar, Scott Burt, Riley Gill, Louis Mass, Matt Register and Patrick Wellar as individuals to have their name engraved on the Kelly Cup three times.
 
Eight other Everblades capture second title
 
Eight other players on Florida’s roster earned their second Kelly Cup title – Oliver Chau, Cam Darcy, Sean Josling, Logan Lambdin, Cole Moberg and Zach Uens won championships for the second consecutive season while Jordan Sambrook was also part of the Everblades 2022 title squad while Todd Skirving previously won a Kelly Cup title with Newfoundland in 2019.
 
The second championship for each players brings the total number of individuals to win multiple Kelly Cup titles to 71.
 
Ralph leads Everblades to third title
 
Florida head coach Brad Ralph is one of eight coaches in ECHL history to win multiple championships, and with his third title, he ties John Brophy, a 2009 inductee into the ECHL Hall of Fame, as the only coaches to lead teams to three championships. Brophy led 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 (153) and postseason wins (95).
 
Florida wins title after eighth place regular-season finish
 
For the second consecutive season, Florida won the Kelly Cup after not finishing in the top of the regular-season standings. The Everblades went 40-23-9 in 2023-34 to finish eighth overall in the ECHL. It is the seventh time in ECHL history that a team has won after not finishing in the top five of the overall regular-season standings. The Everblades are responsible for three of the seven occurrences – Florida finished eight overall in 2011-12 and 11th in 2022-23. 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 seventh (Jacksonville, 91 points), ninth (Orlando, 86 points), fourth (Adirondack, 97 points) and first (Kansas City, 114 points) in the 2023-24 regular season. It is the third consecutive season in which the Everblades have defeated the regular-season champion in the Kelly Cup Finals (Toledo in 2022, Idaho in 2023, Kansas City in 2024).
 
Three of five games in Finals feature capacity crowds
 
Game 2 in Kansas City and Games 4 and 5 in Florida all welcomed standing-room only crowds. There were 5,807 fans at Game 2 at Cable Dahmer Arena (capacity 5,800) in Independence, Missouri. Game 4 in Florida welcomed 7,448 fans while Game 5 attracted 7,910 fans to Hertz Arena (capacity 7,181). The Game 5 attendance marks the largest crowd to attend a game in the 26 years the Everblades have been in existence, surpassing Florida’s Kelly Cup-clinching victory over Idaho in Game 4 of the 2023 Kelly Cup Finals.
 
There have now been 53 all-time sell-outs in the Riley/Kelly Cup Finals, including 20 out of 35 games since 2017.
 
Overall in the 2024 Kelly Cup Playoffs, the ECHL averaged 5,067 fans over 81 games, marking the first time since 1997 (5,423 average attendance over 59 games) that the League’s average playoff attendance surpassed 5,000 fans per game.
 
Everblades are 12th Kelly Cup champion without home ice
 
Florida is the 12th team in 26 years to win the Kelly Cup without home-ice advantage in the Finals. The other winners are Florida (2012, 2022 and 2023), 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 18th time in ECHL history, and the fifth 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, 2022 and 2023), 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 27 Kelly Cup champions. South Carolina (South Carolina Stingrays in 1997, 2001 and 2009 and Greenville in 2002) and Florida (Florida Everblades in 2012, 2022, 2023 and 2024) have both produced four of the 26 winners of the Kelly Cup. Alaska (Alaska Aces in 2006, 2011 and 2014) has produced three championships 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), 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 15 states, one province
 
In the first 36 years of the ECHL, Florida (Florida Everblades in 2012, 2022, 2023 and 2024), 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. Alaska (Alaska Aces in 2006, 2011 and 2014) and North Carolina (Carolina Thunderbirds in 1989, Greensboro Monarchs in 1990 and Charlotte Checkers in 1996) have 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 20th 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 20th straight season that every game of the Kelly Cup Finals was available for viewing.
 
2024 Kelly Cup Finals
Game 1 – FLORIDA 8 at Kansas City 1
Game 2 – Florida 1 at KANSAS CITY 5
Game 3 – Kansas City 3 at FLORIDA 6
Game 4 – Kansas City 1 at FLORIDA 4
Game 5 – Kansas City 3 at FLORIDA 4 (OT)
 
Kelly Cup Champions
2024 – Florida defeated Kansas City, 4 games to 1
2023 – Florida defeated Idaho, 4 games to 0
2022 – Florida defeated Toledo, 4 games to 1
2021 – Fort Wayne defeated South Carolina, 3 games to 1
2020 – Playoffs were cancelled due to COVID-19
2019 – Newfoundland defeated Toledo, 4 games to 2
2018 – Colorado defeated Florida, 4 games to 3
2017 – Colorado defeated South Carolina, 4 games to 0 
2016 – Allen defeated Wheeling, 4 games to 2
2015 – Allen defeated South Carolina, 4 games to 3
2014 – Alaska defeated Cincinnati, 4 games to 2
2013 – Reading defeated Stockton, 4 games to 1
2012 – Florida defeated Las Vegas, 4 games to 1
2011 – Alaska defeated Kalamazoo, 4 games to 1
2010 – Cincinnati defeated Idaho, 4 games to 1
2009 – South Carolina defeated Alaska, 4 games to 3
2008 – Cincinnati defeated Las Vegas, 4 games to 2
2007 – Idaho defeated Dayton, 4 games to 1
2006 – Alaska defeated Gwinnett, 4 games to 1
2005 – Trenton defeated Florida, 4 games to 2
2004 – Idaho defeated Florida, 4 games to 1
2003 – Atlantic City defeated Columbia, 4 games to 1
2002 – Greenville defeated Dayton, 4 games to 0
2001 – South Carolina defeated Trenton, 4 games to 1
2000 – Peoria defeated Louisiana, 4 games to 2
1999 – Mississippi defeated Richmond, 4 games to 3
1998 – Hampton Roads defeated Pensacola, 4 games to 2
1997 – South Carolina defeated Louisiana, 4 games to 1
 
Riley Cup Champions
1996 – Charlotte defeated Jacksonville, 4 games to 0
1995 – Richmond defeated Greensboro, 4 games to 1
1994 – Toledo defeated Raleigh, 4 games to 1
1993 – Toledo defeated Wheeling, 4 games to 2
1992 – Hampton Roads defeated Louisville, 4 games to 0
1991 – Hampton Roads defeated Greensboro, 4 games to 1
1990 – Greensboro defeated Winston-Salem, 4 games to 1
1989 – 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 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 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.

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