The ECHL is a mid-level professional ice hockey league with teams scattered across the United States and two franchises in Canada. The ECHL and AHL are the only minor leagues recognized by the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHLPA. That means any player on an entry-level hockey contract must report to a club in the ECHL or AHL, but most players are signed to ECHL contracts. We are at the midseason point now, so here are my predictions for the playoffs and end of season awards.
A rookie if defined as a player who has played less than 25 games prior to the start of this season.
Goalie– Thomas Sholl, Idaho Steelheads
Defensemen– Jalen Smereck, Norfolk Admirals and Alex Breton, Allen Americans
Forwards– Chris Collins, Kalamazoo Wings; Giorgio Estephan, Newfoundland Growlers; Steven Iacobellis, Wichita Thunder
All-ECHL First Team
Goalie– Michael Houser, Cincinnati Cyclones
Defensemen– Kevin Spinozzi, Wheeling Nailers and Matt Register, Toledo Walleye
Forwards– Jesse Schultz, Cincinnati Cyclones; Caleb Herbert, Utah Grizzlies; Reid Gardiner Kalamazoo Wings
All-ECHL Second Team
Goalie– Sean Bonar, Atlanta Gladiators
Defensemen– Jalen Smereck, Norfolk Admirals and Matt Petgrave, Brampton Beast
Forwards– T.J Hensick, Toledo Walleye; Nick Saracino, Wheeling Nailers; Steven Iacobellis; Wichita Thunder
ECHL Sportsmanship Award- Jesse Schultz, Cincinnati Cyclones
The ECHL Sportsmanship Award is presented annually to the player who is judged to have exhibited the best sportsmanship combined with a high standard of playing ability.
CCM/ECHL Rookie of the Year- Steven Iacobellis, Wichita Thunder
ECHL Scoring Award- Caleb Herbert, Utah Grizzlies
AMI Graphics/ECHL Plus Performer of the Year- Logan Roe, Florida Everblades
CCM/ECHL MVP- Jesse Schultz, Cincinnati Cyclones
Warrior Hockey/ECHL Goalie of the Year- Michael Houser, Cincinnati Cyclones
CCM/ECHL Defenseman of the Year- Kevin Spinozzi, Wheeling Nailers
ECHL Best Ice Award- Toledo Walleye
Kelly Cup Playoff Predictions
In the Kelly Cup Playoff format the top 4 teams in each division qualify, while playing the first two rounds entirely in the division, with the winner playing in their respective conference finals for a birth into the Kelly Cup Final.
Brabham Cup- Florida Everblades
The Brabham Cup is awarded to the team with the best regular season record and ensures home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs
#1 Newfoundland Growlers defeat #4 Maine Mariners
#3 Brampton Beast defeat #2 Adirondack Thunder
Newfoundland Growlers defeat Brampton Beast
Florida Everblades defeat South Carolina Stingrays
Jacksonville Icemen defeat Orlando Solarbears
Florida Everblades defeat Jacksonville Icemen
Eastern Conference Finals:
Newfoundland Growlers defeat Florida Everblades to win E.A. “Bud” Gingher Memorial Trophy
#1 Cincinnati Cyclones defeat #4 Fort Wayne Komets
#3 Wheeling Nailers defeat #2 Toledo Walleye
Cincinnati Cyclones defeat Wheeling Nailers
#1 Utah Grizzlies defeat #4 Kansas City Mavericks
#2 Idaho Steelheads defeat #3 Tulsa Oilers
Utah Grizzlies defeat Idaho Steelheads
Western Conference Finals:
Cincinnati Cyclones defeat Utah Grizzlies to win the Bruce Taylor Trophy.
Kelly Cup Champion: Newfoundland Growlers over Cincinnati Cyclones
Thank you for reading my predictions, which can be very different come end of the season due to call-ups and injuries, but these are the players that excel in the E. Follow Game Changer Sports Network on Facebook and Twitter (@TheOfficialGCSN) for my ECHL Coverage. Next week I am going to drop an article on players you could see representing your favorite NHL team and maybe a few other surprises.
Photo Credit: ECHL.com
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