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Noreau Becomes 441st ECHL Player To Reach NHL

April 9, 2010 - ECHL (ECHL) News Release

PRINCETON, N.J. - Former Texas Wildcatters defenseman Maxim Noreau became the 441st player to play in the National Hockey League after the ECHL when he made his debut with the Minnesota Wild in a 2-1 win against the Calgary Flames on April 8.

The 22 year old registered 7:01 of ice time for the Wild, whose line up also included former ECHL players Derek Boogaard, Andrew Brunette and Shane Hnidy.

Noreau played in two games with Texas in 2007-08, tallying three assists. Over the last three seasons, he has appeared in 201 games with Houston of the American Hockey League, scoring 106 points (40g-66a) and registering 155 penalty minutes. Noreau is tied for the team lead in scoring this season and ranks fourth among AHL defensemen with 58 points (18g-33a) while also being named a Second Team AHL All-Star.

Thirty-three ECHL players have made their NHL debut this season: former Charlotte Checkers and Reading Royals defenseman Dean Arsene (Edmonton on Nov. 16), former Augusta, Greenville, Pensacola and Toledo goaltender Mike Brodeur (Ottawa on Dec. 19), former Wheeling Nailers left wing Luca Caputi (Pittsburgh on Jan. 5), former Idaho Steelheads left wing Richard Clune (Los Angeles on Feb. 11), former Gwinnett Gladiators and 2006 ECHL All-Star right wing Guillaume Desbiens (Vancouver on Oct. 11), former Cincinnati Cyclones center and 2008 ECHL Most Valuable Player David Desharnais (Montreal on Nov. 25), former Stockton Thunder and 2007 ECHL All-Star goaltender Devin Dubnyk (Edmonton on Nov. 28), former Dayton, Kalamazoo, Mississippi and South Carolina goaltender Jeremy Duchesne (Philadelphia on April 1), former Las Vegas Wranglers, Reading Royals and South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Deryk Engelland (Pittsburgh on Nov. 10), former Dayton Bombers defenseman Mark Flood (New York Islanders on March 25), former Louisiana IceGators defenseman Maxime Fortunus (Dallas on Dec. 19), former Dayton Bombers and Charlotte Checkers center Trevor Frischmon (Columbus on March 28), former Idaho Steelheads center Aaron Gagnon (Dallas on Oct. 16), former Victoria Salmon Kings defenseman Shaun Heshka (Phoenix on Nov. 7), former Wheeling Nailers right wing Nick Johnson (Pittsburgh on Jan. 21), former Alaska Aces center Tomas Kana (Columbus on March 30), former Florida Everblades and Texas Wildcatters goaltender Anton Khudobin (Minnesota on Feb. 4), former Wheeling Nailers right wing David Laliberte (Philadelphia on Oct. 31), former Wheeling Nailers center Mark Letestu (Pittsburgh on Nov. 14), former Alaska and Las Vegas left wing and 2004 ECHL All-Star Charles Linglet (Edmonton on April 2), former Texas Wildcatters defenseman Maxim Noreau (Minnesota on April 8), former Stockton Thunder right wing Colin McDonald (Edmonton on Nov. 27), former Stockton Thunder center Ryan O'Marra (Edmonton on Nov. 10), former Reading Royals right wing Scott Parse (Los Angeles on Oct. 24), former Florida Everblades and 2008 ECHL All-Star goaltender Justin Peters (Carolina on Feb. 6), former Charlotte Checkers center Tom Pyatt (Montreal on Nov. 5), former Johnstown Chiefs defenseman Jay Rosehill (Toronto on Oct. 1), former Bakersfield Condors right wing Dan Sexton (Anaheim on Dec. 4), former Bakersfield Condors center MacGregor Sharp (Anaheim on Nov. 19), former Idaho Steelheads left wing Francis Wathier (Dallas on Oct. 21), former South Carolina Stingrays center Kyle Wilson (Washington on Dec. 15) and former Cincinnati Cyclones right wing J.T. Wyman (Montreal on Nov. 24) and former Charlotte Checkers and Idaho Steelheads goaltender Matt Zaba (New York Rangers on Jan. 23).

The ECHL had a record 78 players on NHL opening-day rosters, surpassing the 71 from a year ago and marking the seventh year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters. Every ECHL team has an affiliation with an NHL team and the league has affiliations with 28 of the 30 NHL teams, marking the 13th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.

There have been 441 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including a record 52 who made their debut in 2008-09. The ECHL has had 249 players reach the NHL since 2002-03 when it changed its focus to become the primary developmental league for the NHL and the AHL. The ECHL had 97 players reach the NHL in its first 10 seasons and 215 in the first 15 years. There have been 185 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last five seasons for an average of more than 35 per year.

There are 29 coaches with an ECHL background are working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau, New York Islanders head coach Scott Gordon, Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette, Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Claude Noel and St. Louis Blues interim head coach Davis Payne while former ECHL player Dan Bylsma is head coach of the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. It is the fifth consecutive season that there have been 11 or more coaches with an ECHL background working in the NHL. 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.

There are 20 former ECHL officials scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2009-10 with referees David Banfield, Francis Charron, Chris Ciamaga, Ghislain Herbert, 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, Bryan Pancich, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak and Jay Sharrers.

There were nine players who played in the ECHL and the NHL in 2008-09 with goaltenders Matt Climie (Idaho and Dallas), Riku Helenius (Elmira, Mississippi and Tampa Bay), Chris Holt (Alaska and St. Louis), Michal Neuvirth (South Carolina and Washington) and Marek Schwarz (Alaska and St. Louis), defensemen Wes O'Neill (Johnstown and Colorado), Raymond Macias (Johnstown and Colorado) and Kevin Quick (Augusta, Elmira and Tampa Bay) and right wing Joel Rechlicz (Utah and New York Islanders).

The ECHL was represented for the ninth year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion with Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma, player Ruslan Fedotenko, equipment managers Dana Heinze and Dave Zeigler, athletic trainers Chris Stewart and Scott Adams and scout Derek Clancey.

Former ECHL and current Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was the recipient of the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender in the NHL and was also presented the William Jennings Trophy with teammate Manny Fernandez as the goaltenders finishing the season having surrendered the fewest goals. Thomas was also named First Team All-NHL after registering a career-high 36 wins while leading the NHL with a goals-against average of 2.10 and a save percentage of .933 to help the Bruins finish with the most wins (53) and points (116) since 1971-72.

The first ECHL player to play in the NHL was Johnstown Chiefs goaltender and current New York Islanders head coach Scott Gordon, who played his first game with the Quebec Nordiques against Buffalo on Jan. 30, 1990. The 100th player honor is shared by Jean Sebastien Aubin and Manny Legace, who both made their debut on Oct. 21, 1998 with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Los Angeles Kings, respectively. The 200th player was Brett McLean with the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 10, 2002 while the 300th was David Liffiton with the New York Rangers on Apr. 11, 2006 and the 400th was Phil Oreskovic on Mar. 9, 2009 with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Former ECHL broadcasters working in the National Hockey League include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, Tom Callahan of the Nashville Predators, Dave Goucher of the Boston Bruins, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Bob McElligott and John Michael of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Rob Simpson, who is a producer/host for The NHL Network.

Ryan Stanzel and Jeremy Zager, who were both recipients of the ECHL Media Relations Director of the Year award, are working in the communications department for the Minnesota Wild and the Los Angeles Kings, respectively. Former ECHL assistant director of communications Joe Siville and Kelly Murray are now with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals, respectively, while former ECHL director of communications Jason Rothwell is the creative director for the Columbus Blue Jackets.


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