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McArdle, Smolenak Increase ECHL Players In NHL To 374

December 3, 2008 - ECHL (ECHL) News Release

PRINCETON, N.J. - Former Florida Everblades forward Kenndal McArdle and former Johnstown Chiefs and Mississippi Sea Wolves forward Radek Smolenak played their first National Hockey League game on Tuesday bringing the total number of players who have played in the NHL after the ECHL to 374.

Smolenak assisted on the game-tying goal in the third period and had a fight in the first period of Tampa Bay's 4-3 loss at Philadelphia while McArdle played nine shifts in Florida's 5-3 win at Washington.

In the last week there have been six former ECHL players who have made their NHL debut as former Las Vegas Wranglers and Wheeling Nailers goaltender John Curry and former Greenville Grrrowl and Stockton Thunder center Tim Sestito played their first game on Nov. 27 and former Bakersfield Condors center Alexandre Bolduc and former Johnstown Chiefs center Andre Deveaux played their first game on Nov. 28.

The Premier 'AA' Hockey League, the ECHL has affiliations with 24 of the 30 teams in the NHL, marking the 12th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams. The Florida Everblades are the ECHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers.

There have been 118 former ECHL players who have played their first NHL game in the last four seasons and a record 47 players made their debut in 2005-06. Seventy-two former ECHL players were on NHL opening-day rosters this season and 333 ECHL players attended NHL training camps, including 139 who played in the league last season.

Selected in the third round (73rd overall) by Tampa Bay in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the 22-year-old Smolenak had 15 points (7g-8a) and 14 penalty minutes in 19 games for Mississippi in 2007-08 and 35 points (15g-20a) and 35 penalty minutes in 43 regular season games for Johnstown as a rookie in 2006-07.

Selected in the first round (20th overall) by the Florida Panthers in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the 24-year-old McArdle had four points (3g-1a) and 26 penalty minutes in six regular season games and two penalty minutes in three Kelly Cup Playoff games for the Florida Everblades as a rookie in 2007-08.

Former ECHL coaches working as head coaches in the NHL are Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals, Scott Gordon of the New York Islanders and Peter Laviolette of the Carolina Hurricanes. Boudreau, who coached Mississippi for three seasons winning the Kelly Cup championship in 1999, was named NHL Coach of the Year in 2007-08 becoming the first former ECHL coach to receive the award. Laviolette, who began his coaching career with the Wheeling Nailers, led Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup in 2006.

Nineteen former ECHL players have made their NHL debut this season: former Wheeling Nailers and ECHL All-Star defenseman Paul Bissonnette (Pittsburgh on Oct. 4) , former Bakersfield Condors center Alexandre Bolduc (Vancouver on Nov. 27), former Las Vegas Wranglers and Wheeling Nailers goaltender John Curry (Pittsburgh on Nov. 26), former Greenville Grrrowl goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers (Edmonton on Oct. 17) , former Johnstown Chiefs center Andre Deveaux (Toronto on Nov. 27), former Gwinnett Gladiators right wing Pat Dwyer former Columbus Cottonmouths and Tallahassee Tiger Sharks left wing Mitch Fritz (New York Islanders on Oct. 30), former Charlotte Checkers center Dwight Helminen (Carolina on Oct. 28), former Trenton Devils right wing Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (New Jersey on Oct. 22), former Charlotte Checkers defenseman Steve MacIntyre (Edmonton on Oct. 15), former Florida Everblades left wing Kenndal McArdle (Florida on Dec. 2), former Phoenix RoadRunners and Wheeling Nailers center Cam Paddock (St. Louis on Nov. 14), former Las Vegas Wranglers defenseman Adam Pardy (Calgary on Oct. 9), former Gwinnett Gladiators center Jared Ross (Philadelphia on Oct. 11) , former Alaska Aces goaltender Marek Schwarz (St. Louis on Oct. 25), former Greenville Grrrowl and Stockton Thunder center Tim Sestito (Edmonton on Nov. 26), former Dayton Bombers and Las Vegas Wranglers defenseman Tyler Sloan (Washington on Oct. 21), former Johnstown Chiefs and Mississippi Sea Wolves forward Radek Smolenak and former Augusta Lynx defenseman Brett Skinner (New York Islanders on Oct. 27).

The ECHL is represented for the eighth consecutive year on the National Hockey League championship team in 2008 by Aaron Downey of the Detroit Red Wings.

There are 18 former ECHL officials scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2008-09 with referees David Banfield, Chris Ciamaga, Ghislain Hebert, Marc Joannette, Mike Leggo, Wes McCauley, Dean Morton, Dan O'Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh and linesmen Steve Barton, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak and Jay Sharrers. Barton, Joannette, Leggo, McCauley, Nowak, Pollock, Rooney and Sharrers all worked the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Premier 'AA' Hockey League Fast Facts
- The ECHL celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2007-08 and is the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
- ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league with 22 teams playing in 16 states and British Columbia in 2008-09.
- The Reading Royals, the City of Reading and the Sovereign Center will host the 17th Annual ECHL All-Star Game on Jan. 21, 2009 and the 12th Annual All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 20, 2009.
- The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
- ECHL has affiliations with 23 of the 29 teams in the American Hockey League and for the past 19 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup Champion.
- In the last six seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 2,000 call-ups involving more than 1,000 players since 2002-03.
- Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at

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