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Craig Is 284th ECHL Player To Play In NHL

December 19, 2005 - ECHL (ECHL) News Release

PRINCETON, N.J. - Former Pensacola Ice Pilots center Ryan Craig made his National Hockey League debut with defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay on Saturday becoming the 284th player to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL and the 28th former ECHL player to play his first NHL game in 2005-06.

The 23-year-old scored a goal to put the Lightning up 3-2 in the second period against Detroit which won the game 6-3. Craig had three shots and registered 9:52 of ice time on 15 shifts, including 49 seconds on the power play.

Selected in the eighth round (255th overall) by the Lightning in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, the 6-foot-2 and 220-pound Craig began the season with Springfield of the American Hockey League where he had 22 points (12g-10a) in 28 games.

The native of Abbotsford, British Columbia began his professional career with Pensacola in 2003-04 and scored eight points (3g-5a) in five games before being called up to Hershey of the AHL where he scored 12 points (4g-8a) in 61 games. He returned to the Ice Pilots for the Kelly Cup Playoffs and had an assist in two games before joining the Lightning with whom he practiced and traveled throughout the run to the Stanley Cup. In his second professional season in 2004-05, he led Springfield with 27 goals and 41 points in 80 games.

The Premier 'AA' Hockey League has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the NHL and more than 100 players on ECHL rosters are under contract to an NHL team. There is one head coach, 12 assistant coaches, 13 referees and five linesmen currently in the NHL with ECHL experience. Chris Holt (Charlotte and New York Rangers) and Mike Morrison (Greenville and Edmonton) have played in both the ECHL and the NHL this season and Chris Beckford-Tseu was called up to St. Louis following Alaska's game on Friday and served as the backup goaltender for the Blues on Saturday.

Former ECHL goaltenders have won the NHL Defensive Player of the Week four times with Tomas Vokoun, Wheeling and Nashville (Dec. 5), Morrison, Greenville and Edmonton (Nov. 28), Curtis Sanford, Peoria and St. Louis (Nov. 21) and Manny Legace, Richmond and Detroit (Nov. 1).

There have been 28 players in 2005-06 that have made their first NHL appearance since playing in the ECHL: Evgeny Artyukhin (Tampa Bay on Oct. 20), Adam Berkhoel (Atlanta on Oct. 15), Derek Boogaard (Minnesota on Oct. 5), Kevin Colley (New York Islanders on Oct. 27), Ryan Craig (Tampa Bay on Dec. 17), Brian Eklund (Tampa Bay on Nov. 8), Michael Garnett (Atlanta on Oct. 12), Trevor Gillies (Anaheim on Nov. 6), Steven Goertzen (Columbus on Oct. 21), Jeff Giuliano (Los Angeles on Nov. 5), Josh Gratton (Philadelphia on Dec. 15), Timo Helbling (Tampa Bay on Oct. 5), Colin Hemingway (St. Louis on Oct. 19), Chris Holt (New York Rangers on Dec. 3), Raitis Ivanans (Montreal on Oct. 8), Greg Jacina (Florida on Nov. 12), Zenon Konopka (Anaheim on Oct. 30), Chad LaRose (Carolina on Dec. 6), Jay Leach (Boston on Nov. 5), Rob McVicar (Vancouver on Dec. 1), Mike Morrison (Edmonton on Nov. 7), Michel Ouellet (Pittsburgh on Nov. 22), George Parros (Los Angeles on Oct. 5), Geoff Platt (Columbus on Dec. 2), Nolan Schaefer (San Jose on Oct. 26), Martin St. Pierre (Chicago on Nov. 4), Grant Stevenson (San Jose on Nov. 23) and Mark Streit (Montreal on Oct. 8).

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