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2019 Kelly Cup Finals Open on Saturday

May 24, 2019 - ECHL (ECHL) News Release

The battle to determine the national "AA" hockey champion begins Saturday when the Eastern Conference champion Newfoundland Growlers host the Western Conference champion Toledo Walleye in Game 1 of the 2019 Kelly Cup Finals presented by SmileDirectClub at 7 p.m. NT at Mile One Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Celebrating its 31st Season in 2018-19, 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 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 was 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 celebrates his 66th season in professional hockey in 2018-19, 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.

Game 2 will be Sunday at 7p.m. NT at Mile One Centre before the series shifts to Huntington Center in Toledo Ohio, where the Walleye will host Game 3 on Wednesday, May 29 at 7:35 p.m. ET and Game 4 on Friday, May 31 at 7:35 p.m. ET. Game 5, if necessary, would be at 7:35 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 1. The series would return to Newfoundland, if necessary, for Game 6 on Tuesday, June 4 at 7 p.m. NT and Game 7 on Wednesday, June 5 at 7 p.m. NT.

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.

Newfoundland is the ECHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs while Toledo is the ECHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings.

How they got here

Newfoundland captured the North Division title in the regular season with an overall record of 43-21-8 for 94 points. The Growlers defeated Brampton 4 games to 2 in the North Division Semifinals and Manchester 4 games to 2 in the North Division Finals before dispatching Florida 4 games to 1 in the Eastern Conference Finals. Newfoundland is the first Canadian-based team to reach the final round of the ECHL playoffs.

Toledo finished the 2018-19 regular season in second place of the Central Division with an overall record of 40-23-9 for 89 points. The Walleye defeated Fort Wayne 4 games to 2 in the Central Division Semifinals and ECHL regular-season champion Cincinnati 4 games to 1 in the Central Division Finals before eliminating Tulsa 4 games to 3 in the Western Conference Finals.

Growlers reach Finals in inaugural season

Newfoundland joined the ECHL as an expansion team prior to the 2018-19 season. The Growlers are the first team to reach the final round of the ECHL postseason in its first season of existence since the Greensboro Monarchs in 1990. Greensboro defeated Winston-Salem 4 games to 1 in the 1990 Riley Cup Finals.

Two other teams won the Kelly Cup in their first season in the ECHL. Idaho captured the title in 2004 after joining the ECHL as an expansion team in 2003-04 after the league welcomed teams from the former West Coast Hockey League, and Allen won the 2015 championship after joining as an expansion team in 2014-15 after the league welcomed teams from the former Central Hockey League.

Toledo seeks third ECHL crown

The Toledo Walleye are celebrating their 10th ECHL season, and have reached the Kelly Cup Finals for the first time in team history. The Toledo Storm, who were part of the ECHL from 1991-2007, advanced to the Riley Cup Finals two times, capturing back-to-back championships in 1993 (4 games to 2 over Wheeling) and 1994 (4 games to 1 over Raleigh).

Working overtime

The 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs have seen 18 overtime games through three rounds. The record for overtime games in a single postseason is 26, which was set in the 2008 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Newfoundland is 3-1 in games that have gone beyond regulation in the postseason while the Walleye are 0-2.

All three of the Growlers' overtime wins came in the first round against Brampton (Games 2, 3 and 6) while they fell in Game 5 of the North Division Finals against Manchester.

Toledo lost in extra time against Fort Wayne in Game 3 of the Central Division Semifinals and against Tulsa in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.

High-scoring offenses meet stingy defenses

Toledo leads the Kelly Cup Playoffs in both goals per game (3.39) and goals-against per game (2.06) while Newfoundland ranks third with 3.58 goals per game and is fifth with 2.88 goals-against per game. The Walleye have scored four or more goals in eight of their 18 postseason games while allowing two goals or less in 13 of 18 outings. The Growlers have scored at least four goals seven times in 17 games and allowed two goals or less in 13 of 17 contests.

Scoring leaders on both sides

Newfoundland is led in the playoffs by Zach O'Brien, who is tied for playoff lead with 14 goals and is tied for second with 24 points. O'Brien tallied hat tricks in Game 6 against Manchester an Game 5 against Florida, becoming just the seventh player in ECHL postseason history to record two hat tricks in a single playoff year. Brady Ferguson leads rookies in the playoffs, and is fifth overall, with 21 points (5g-16a) while Giorgio Estephan ranks second among first-year players and sixth overall with 17 points (7g-10a).

Dylan Sadowy paces Toledo in the postseason with 16 points (8g-8a), while David Pope ranks fifth among rookies with 13 points (4g-9a). Trevor Hamilton leads all defensemen in the playoffs with five goals while Matt Register is tied for second among blueliners with 12 points (4g-8a).

Between the pipes

Michael Garteig has played every minute of the playoffs in goal for the Growlers, posting a 12-5 record and ranking fourth with a 2.07 goals-against average and fifth with a .934 save percentage. Garteig posted three shutouts in Newfoundland's five-game series win against Florida in the Eastern Conference Finals, including in the final two games of the series. His three shutouts in the playoffs are tied for fourth in a single playoff year in ECHL history. Richmond's Maxime Gingras holds the postseason record with five shutouts during the 1999 Kelly Cup Playoffs.

Just like Garteig, Toledo's Pat Nagle has also played every minute during the Walleye's playoffs run. A member of Florida's 2012 Kelly Cup championship team, Nagle is 12-6 and leads the playoffs with a 1.79 goals-against average and is second with a .940 save percentage. Nagle's 40 career postseason wins are third in ECHL playoff history, trailing second-place Nick Vitucci by three wins entering the Finals. Riley Gill holds the all-time ECHL playoff record with 53 career postseason wins.

Behind the Benches

Newfoundland's John Snowden began the season as the Growlers' assistant coach, but took over head-coaching duties on Jan. 24 when Ryane Clowe stepped down for personal reasons. Snowden led the Growlers to a 16-10-6 record and the North Division title in the team's inaugural season.

Toledo's Dan Watson has won at least 40 games in each of his three seasons as the team's head coach, and captured Central Division titles in 2016-17 and 2017-18. Watson received the John Brophy Award as ECHL Coach of the Year following the 2016-17 season, and has served as a head coach in the ECHL All-Star Classic in two of the last three seasons. He has been a part of the Walleye's coaching staff for each of their 10 seasons of existence.

Toledo's Register looks to add to championship resume

Toledo's Matt Register is in the Kelly Cup Finals for the fourth consecutive season, and looks to add to his championship resume this season. Register has won each of the ECHL's last three championships, winning Kelly Cup titles with Allen in 2016 and Colorado in 2017 and 2018, becoming the only person in ECHL history to accomplish that feat. He is one of just six individuals to have won three Kelly Cup titles, and with one more championship would tie the mark of four titles by one player set by 2008 ECHL Hall of Fame inductee Nick Vitucci, who won Riley Cup championships as a goaltender with Carolina (1989), Greensboro (1990), Toledo (1994) and Charlotte (1996). Vitucci added a fifth championship to his name as an assistant coach on Greenville's 2002 Kelly Cup championship team.

Name already on Kelly Cup

In addition to Register, four other players in the 2019 Kelly Cup Finals have previously won a Kelly Cup title. Toledo's Pat Nagle was with Florida in 2012, Chris Crane captured a title with Allen in 2015 and Ben Storm was part of Colorado's 2018 championship team. Newfoundland's Sam Jardine earned a title with Colorado in 2017.

Players returning to Finals

In addition to the five players who have won a Kelly Cup championship in the past, Newfoundland's James Melindy previously appeared in the Kelly Cup Finals with Wheeling in 2016.

ECHL.TV broadcasts Kelly Cup Finals

For the 16th year in a row every game of the Kelly Cup Finals will be available online. Each game of the Finals is available for purchase through ECHL.TV, powered by Endeavour Streaming.

Visit ECHL.TV for ordering instructions.

2019 Kelly Cup Finals Schedule

Game 1 - Saturday, May 25 at 7 p.m. NT at Mile One Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland

Game 2 - Sunday, May 26 at 7 p.m. NT at Mile One Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland

Game 3 - Wednesday, May 29 at 7:35 p.m. ET at Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio

Game 4 - Friday, May 31 at 7:35 p.m. ET at Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio

Game 5 - Saturday, June 1 at 7:35 p.m. ET at Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio *

Game 6 - Tuesday, June 4 at 7 p.m. NT at Mile One Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland *

Game 7 - Wednesday, June 5 at 7 p.m. NT at Mile One Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland *

* - If Necessary

Kelly Cup Champions

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


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