Kelly Cup Finalists Gwinnett, Alaska Tied for ECHL Lead
Kelly Cup Finalists Gwinnett, Alaska Tied for ECHL Lead
Monday, Jan. 22nd, 2007
Posting back-to-back wins against Florida, defending American Conference champion Gwinnett moved atop the South Division and into a tie for first place in the ECHL with defending Kelly Cup champion Alaska. The race remains tight in the South Division with only seven points separating the Gladiators from fifth-place South Carolina.
The Gladiators (24-12-4) and Aces (25-11-2) lead the league with 52 points. Gwinnett travels to Florida for a rematch with the Everblades on Friday and Saturday while Alaska will host Stockton on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The Gladiators and Aces meet in a rematch of the Kelly Cup Finals on Jan. 30 and Feb. 3 at Gwinnett.
Texas is 23-11-5 and in second place in the South and in third place overall with 51 points while Florida is 24-13-0 and in third place in the South and tied with Fresno and Bakersfield for fourth overall with 48 points. The Falcons (23-12-2) and Condors (22-11-4) are tied for first in the Pacific Division, one point ahead of defending division champion Las Vegas (19-8-9) and three points ahead of Stockton (19-9-7).
Gwinnett continues to lead the league on the power play with 26.3 percent and in power-play goals with 77 in 40 games. The Gladiators, who are on pace to score 138 power-play goals, had 114 power-play goals in 2005-06, one shy of the ECHL record of 115 power-play goals set by Nashville in 1995-96. Gwinnett led the league in 2005-06 with a power-play percentage of 24.1, the highest percentage since Greenville had a league-high 24.3 percent in 1999-2000.
Texas has 33 games remaining and it has already eclipsed its team records for wins, points and road wins (12). Looking to qualify for the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the first time since moving to Beaumont in 2003-04, the Wildcatters are 11-4-3 at home and with 18 home games remaining need only three wins to tie the team record for home wins set in 2003-04 (14-21-1).
Toledo went 3-0-0 with a pair of shutouts and Reading went 2-0-1 with a pair of wins against second-place Trenton to tighten the race in the North Division. Cincinnati remains in first place with 45 points at 21-14-3 while Trenton (19-13-3) and Reading (18-18-5) are tied for second with 41 points followed by Dayton with 40 points (18-11-4) and Toledo with 39 points (19-17-1).
Reading will host Charlotte on Friday and Toledo on Saturday before traveling to Trenton on Sunday while Toledo visits Dayton on Friday and Reading on Saturday. Trenton hosts Johnstown on Wednesday, Augusta on Friday and Reading on Sunday while playing at Wheeling on Saturday.
Cincinnati leads the ECHL on the penalty kill with 88.6 percent allowing a league-low 31 power-play goals in 273 chances. Fresno leads the league with 16 shorthand goals while Florida is second with 15 shorthand scores.
Awe-some Week For Gladiators Defenseman
Jon Awe of the Gwinnett Gladiators had quite a week as he set the record for hardest shot in the ECHL All-Star Game Skills Competition on Jan. 16 and broke the league record for power-play goals by a defenseman on Jan. 19.
The 6-foot-4 and 220-pound Awe’s first attempt in the hardest shot competition was 102.2 mph easily surpassing the record of 99.3 mph set by Jaroslav Obsut in 1999.
In his second professional season, the 26-year-old leads the league with 17 power-play goals, eclipsing the record of 16 set by Joe Cook of Columbus in 1993-94 and tied by four-time ECHL Defenseman of the Year and seven-time ECHL All-Star Chris Valicevic in 1995-96. The league record for power-play goals is 27 by Colin Ward of Nashville in 1995-96.
Awe leads ECHL defensemen with 20 goals and 43 points in 36 games. He is only the fourth defenseman since 2000-01 to reach 20 goals joining Dayton’s Tom Nemeth (20 in 2000-01), Roanoke’s Duncan Dalmao (22 in 2001-02) and Victoria’s Steve Lingren (22 in 2005-06). The league record for goals by a defenseman is 28 by Jay Neal of Toledo in 1994-95.
ECHL Attendance Rises After All-Star Break South Carolina Has First Sellout Since 1998
Coming out of the All-Star break the ECHL had a strong attendance weekend including All-Star host Idaho having back-to-back sellout crowds and South Carolina having its first sellout in eight years. The Steelheads had 5,018 on Friday and a team record 5,533 on Saturday while the Stingrays had 10,496 on Saturday which is the first sellout since Oct. 24, 1998 and the second crowd of more than 10,000 this year.
The league is averaging 4,053 per game and is closing in on two million fans for the 14th consecutive season.
Stockton welcomed more than 16,000 for two games, including a capacity crowd of 9,737 on Saturday, to raise its league-leading attendance to 6,861 per game which is up 7.55 percent from a year ago when the Thunder led the league in their first season.
Charlotte sold out for the second Friday in a row and for the league-leading fourth time with 8,675 on Saturday, raising its average to 5,603 per game which is fifth in the ECHL. Utah has had its three largest crowds the last three games, including 7,028 on Saturday, to raise its average attendance to 4,639 per game while Pensacola had its second-largest crowd of the year on Saturday. The Grizzlies average is up a league-high 17.14 percent from their inaugural season in 2005-06.
Dayton and Toledo rank second and third in average attendance increase with 8.69 percent and 6.63 percent while Texas is up 5.97 percent from 2004-05, the last season that the Wildcatters played.
Bakersfield is third in average attendance with 5,868 per game which is an increase of 4.52 percent from a year ago. The Condors have raised their average attendance each of their three seasons in the ECHL and are up over 30 percent from their expansion season in 2003-04.
Gwinnett is fourth with 5,670 per game which is an increase of 2.57 percent while Alaska is up 2.09 percent to 4,987 per game and Fresno has raised its average by 1.50 percent to 4,534 per game.
The league has raised average attendance each of the last three years, including 2005-06 when it had its largest per-game average since 1999-2000 with 4,372 per game as 13 of 22 returning teams raised attendance.
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