ECHL Cancels Rest of 2019-20 Season

Today, the ECHL became the first professional sports league to cancel their remaining season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The league had previously suspended play on March 12.

The ECHL Board of Governors approved the cancelation Saturday according to a news article on the ECHL’s official website that served as a statement from ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin.

The decision to cancel the season came from the fact that they could not guarantee the safety of players, staff and the fans. As Crelin said: “Our game and our product are base on our Fans and their ability to cheer on their favorite ECHL team and Players at one of our many facilities around the continent. Without that social environment and game atmosphere, the ECHL simply isn’t the same.”

That passage in the article indicates that the league must have contemplated playing in front of empty arenas but felt it would not be feasible. That is pure speculation on my part, however.

Crelin continued: “On behalf of the ECHL, and our Board of Governors, we appreciate the Professional Hockey Players’ Association for their assistance during this unprecedented time and working as partners in hockey to reach this decision for the best interest of the ECHL and its Players. This decision allows our Players the opportunity to return to their homes and removes the uncertainty that currently exists.”

The league announced that (should the pandemic clear by then) they will be playing a 2020-21 season.

This cancelation, as Crelin admitted, comes at a difficult time for the players. The playoffs were approaching and that is what hockey players in any league train all year for: the chance to win a championship. That has been denied them this year, but it is for the benefit of everyone associated with the league’s health.

The decision to cancel the season was made with in conjunction with “local authorities across the continent” according to Crelin.

The Newfoundland Growlers, Reading Royals, South Carolina Stingrays, Florida Everblades, Cincinnati Cyclones and Allen Americans has already clinched playoff positions at the time of the cancelation.

The Adirondack Thunder, the Devils’ affiliate, finished fifth in the North Division with a 22-28-8-5 record with 57 points. They were out of a playoff spot for the time being after 63 games played.

This is a bold move by the ECHL. Should things continue to get too out of control, we could be seeing this across the board. Let’s hope things get better soon so that we have some hockey to watch come playoff time.

East Wins 2020 ECHL All-Star Classic

The Eastern Conference tonight won the 2020 ECHL All-Star Classic held at the INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas.

No Adirondack Thunder players took part in the event.

The format for the ECHL All-Star game is a round-robin tournament between all-stars from the Western and Eastern Conferences and two teams made of the players from the host team. In the case of this year’s game, the Wichita Thunder were hosting and the two teams featuring their players were the “Bolts” and the “Hammers.”

The games are played three-on-three, much like the NHL All-Star Game, but with continuously-running clocks (each game is seven minutes long), no faceoffs and penalty shots being awarded for any infractions.

Also, the scores of each game contributed to an aggregate score that influenced seeding in the semifinals. In addition, skills competitions were held between games with the winners of those events earning a “goal” for their respective team.

Each team also featured one member each of the 2018 US Olympic Women’s hockey team who won the gold medal in South Korea. Dani Cameranesi played for the Hammers, Kali Flanagan (whose father was the MVP of the 1994 ECHL All-Star Game) played for the Eastern Conference, Gigi Marvin played for the Western Conference and Annie Pankowski played for the Bolts. According to the ECHL’s official website (ECHL.com), the All-Star Classic was a stop on the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association’s “Dream Gap Tour” which is barnstorming across North America seeing the USA take on their counterpart national team from Canada.

The game results saw the Bolts edge the Hammers 3-2 in game one, the Eastern Conference beat the Hammers 6-1 in game two, the Bolts knock off the East in game three, 3-1, the Hammers beat the West 5-2 in game four, the West beat the East 2-1 in game five and the Bolts tie the Hammers 2-2 in game six.

On those games, the Bolts finished with eight goals, the Hammers with eight, the West with six and the East with eight.

In the skills competition, the Tulsa Oilers’ JJ Piccinich (Western Conference) won the fastest skater event. That was worth one goal for the West. The Idaho Steelheads’ Brady Norrish won the hardest shot competition to gain two goals for the Western Conference. In the accuracy shooting event, the Atlanta Gladiators’ Tommy Marchin won three points for the Eastern Conference.

This game the West a total of nine points and the East a total of eleven.

This set up the semifinals were the West met the Hammers, winning 4-1 and the East tied with the Bolts, 4-4.

With the West ending with 13 points, the East with 15 and the Bolts with 12 and the Hammers with nine, we were set for a championship game featuring the two actual all-star teams. The East began with a two-goal lead due to their two-goal aggregate lead over the West, and won 4-2.

The MVP of the festivities was Logan Roe of the Florida Everblades, who had two goals and five assists for a total of seven points, tops in the event.

So that wraps up the first of the All-Star events this week. We will return for you with the NHL game this weekend and the AHL early next week.

On a personal note, I just wanted to pass along condolences to the friends and family of Steve Paskovich, who passed away suddenly this past weekend. If you have read my posts before, you know that Steve had done a lot for this site.

He got the site up and running whenever it was needed in a timely manner.

It is no stretch to say that if it were not for Steve, I would have given up on this site a long time ago. He was a truly wonderful man who could always be counted on for his help and to lend his expertise to the situation.

Again, condolences to Elyse and his family as well as his numerous friends. I found this quote on a site called My Sister’s Garden that I think sums things up nicely: “Grief is not the final act of love; remembrance is the final act of love.” Rest in peace, Steve. You will never be forgotten.