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The 2009–10 ECHL season will be the 22nd season of the ECHL. It will run from October, 2009 until April, 2010, with the Kelly Cup Playoffs to follow, all the way to late May or early June. The league will welcome two franchises to the league for the 2009–10 season with the return of the Toledo Walleye, who will play in the Lucas County Arena in Toledo, Ohiomarker, after a two-year suspension of the Toledo franchise to allow for the construction of their new arena, and the admission of the Kalamazoo Wings as an expansion franchise who will play in Wings Stadiummarker in Kalamazoo, Michiganmarker. The ECHL will hold its annual All-Star Game and Skills Challenge on January 19-20 at Citizens Business Bank Arenamarker in Ontario, Californiamarker, home of the Ontario Reign.

League Business

Team changes


Following the league's Mid-Season Board of Governors Meeting on March 27, 2009, the league announced that two teams had been granted one-year extensions to voluntary suspensions because of arena issues, two teams would suspend operations for the season and that one team would cease operations following the conclusion of the 2008–09 ECHL season.

The current economic crisis has forced the ECHL to allow one-year extensions on voluntary suspensions for two teams in South Carolina, one in Columbia and one in Myrtle Beachmarker. Both franchises await approvals for their new arenas in Irmomarker and Conwaymarker, respectively, as neither arena has begun construction.

The Dayton Bombers and the Mississippi Sea Wolves announced that they would be suspending operations for the 2009–10 season and must present new business plans to the league in June 2009. Dayton owner Costa Papista cited declining support as the reason for the team being forced to suspend operations. Dayton averaged 3,679 fans per home game in 2008–09 (up slightly from 3,663 in 2007–08), but the Bombers would consistently fall short of the league's average attendance each year (4,218 in 2008–09). Papista stated that it is hard to sell hockey at the Bombers primary arena, the Nutter Centermarker on the campus of Wright State Universitymarker in Fairbornmarker as the seating capacity is upwards of 9,500 and has proposed building a $30 million, 5,500-seat arena in downtown Dayton that would house professional hockey in Dayton. The proposal is being explored by the Greater Downtown Dayton Plan. The suspension ends Dayton's run of 18 seasons in the ECHL, the second longest to league founder Johnstown Chiefs' 21-year run. With a team in Cincinnati and the return of a team to Toledo, ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna has said that he would like to see Dayton return to the league, stating "We very much would like to back in Dayton and, hopefully, some day we will be." However, Two Fort Wayne, Indianamarker-based businessmen gained approval from the International Hockey League to revive the Dayton Gems franchise. With the new IHL franchise in place and a failed drive for season tickets and managing partnership to resume play for the 2010-11 season, the Bombers owners relinquished their team's membership in the ECHL at the Annual Board of Governors' Meeting in Las Vegas in June 2009.

Mississippi owner Mike Rogers and team president Bill Yates also announced that their team would suspend operations due to economic troubles that included travel expenses and low ticket sales. Mississippi became the latest team on the Interstate 10 corridor to cease operations which over the years has included the Baton Rouge Kingfish, Louisiana IceGators, Mobile Mysticks and Pensacola Ice Pilots. Team president Bill Yates stated that the team still intends to continue operations in the ECHL, including possibly playing in 2010–11, but may move the team to a new city or a different league, most notably the Central Hockey League It was announced in May 2009 that Biloxi and Pensacola are expected to receive Southern Professional Hockey League franchises for the 2009–10 seasons. The SPHL announced also Lafayette, Louisiana will also move to the SPHL With the new SPHL franchise in place, the Sea Wolves former owners relinquished their team's membership in the ECHL at the Annual Board of Governors' Meeting.

The Phoenix RoadRunners told the Board of Governors that the team would not participate in the 2009–10 season and would cease operations effective immediately following the 2008–09 season. At the Annual Board of Governors' Meeting, Phoenix officially relinquished their membership in the ECHL.

After sitting out from the league for four seasons on voluntary suspension, the potential Myrtle Beach, South Carolinamarker franchise (formerly the Pee Dee/Florence Pride) relinquished their franchise's membership in the league at the Annual Board of Governors' Meeting.


Following their two year voluntary suspension due to construction of a new arena, the Toledo Walleye (formerly Toledo Storm) will return to the ECHL and compete at the Lucas County Arena in downtown Toledo. The Walleye will bring back former Storm boss Nick Vitucci as the team's inaugural head coach and while Joe Napoli will serve as the team's general manager. Napoli also serves as the general manager and vice president of the Toledo Mud Hens minor league baseball club, which owns the Walleye, their co-anchor tenant Toledo Bullfrogs arena football team and Lucas County Arena under the Mud Hens subsidiary, Toledo Arena Sports, Inc.

On June 9, 2009, the ECHL welcomed the Kalamazoo Wings as an expansion member for the 2009–10 season. The Wings will join the American Conference's North Division where it will renew old rivalries from the original IHL with Toledo and Cincinnati. The Wings became the second team in three years to jump from the new International Hockey League to the ECHL, following the Elmira Jackals who transferred from the IHL to the ECHL in time for the 2007–08 season. Kalamazoo's move to the ECHL was expected after the club announced they were leaving the IHL on June 3, 2009.

League realignment

With Phoenix ceasing operations, Dayton and Mississippi suspending operations for the season and Toledo being added, the ECHL found itself with 19 teams and in need for a realigniment of its teams. Following the Mid-Season Board of Governors Meeting, the ECHL announced a new divisional alignment of 11 teams in the American Conference and 8 teams in the National Conference. In the American Conference, the expansion Toledo Walleye would move into the North Division, while the Reading Royals and Trenton Devils were forced to move from the North Division to the South Division. The Pacific and West Divisions of the National Conference will remain the same with the exception of the Phoenix Roadrunners and the Fresno Falcons who folded mid-way through the 2008-09 season.

On June 9, 2009, the ECHL announced that the newly admitted Kalamazoo Wings would compete in the American Conference's North Division bring the total number of teams in the North Division to six and the total number of teams in the American Conference to twelve.

Following the Annual Board of Governors' Meeting in June, the ECHL announced that it would establish a third division in the American Conference consisting of the Elmira, Johnstown, Reading and Trenton franchises. The move slightly balances the league as all five divisions have four members.

American Conference

East Division

North Division

South Division

National Conference

Pacific Division

West Division

2010 Kelly Cup Playoffs format

At the Annual Board of Governors' Meeting unanimously approved a new format for the Kelly Cup Playoffs in 2010 as follows:

The conference quarterfinals will be a best-of-five game series with the remaining rounds being best-of-seven game series. The best-of-five series will be a 2-3 format with the higher seed choosing if it wishes to host Games 1-2 or Games 3-5. Teams that are less than 350 miles apart may choose to play a 2-2-1 format.

In the National Conference, postseason berths will be awarded to the first-place team in each division and the next five teams in the conference, based on points. The division winner with the best record in the conference will receive a bye in the first round, the other division winner will play the 7th seed, and so on. The semifinals will put the Conference champion against the winner of the 4-5 seed games, and the other two series winners aainst each other.

In the American Conference, postseason berths will be awarded to the first-place team in each division and the next five teams in the conference, based on points, with the division winners being the top three seeds. The winners of the 1-8 matchup will play the winner of the 4-5 matchup in the first Conference semifinal series, and the other two winners will meet in the other semifinal.

Player roster revision

As well as the newly approved playoff format, the league also stated that the Injured Reserve would be abolished during the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Instead, the teams will have a maximum roster of 23 players for the postseason with 20 active players and up to three inactive players.

Other league business

During the Annual Board of Governors' Meeting in June, the league announced a few decisions set to try and stabilize the league. The first of which was the Board of Governors' unanimously reelecting Steve Chapman of the Gwinnett Gladiators as the Chairman of the Board of Governors for a fourth straight term. Chapman had been awarded the ECHL Executive of the Year Award in 2005 and 2006, the only person in league history to win the award multiple times.

With the four team difference between the American and National Conferences, the league revised its expansion policy. After having a membership as high as 40 during the ECHL-WCHL merger, the league capped the number of teams the league would allow to 24, with a priority of putting teams in the South and West. The league currently has 20 active members and two inactive members in Columbia, SC and Reno, NVmarker.

The league received updates from the inactive Columbia Inferno and Reno, Nevada franchises who were granted a one-year extension to their voluntary suspensions. Columbia advised the Board that construction is scheduled to begin later in the Summer on the Lexington County Events Center and that the Inferno plan to return to the ice for the 2010-11 season. The team also announced that it retained the nucleus of its staff and plans to increase its preparation for 2010-11 in October. The Board unanimously approved a request from Reno for a one-year extension to its Home Arena Pending as the ownership group continues its work toward an arena project. The Reno franchise has been on voluntary suspension since the team was granted expansion rights in 2004.

Finally, the league announced the creation of the Playing Schedule Committee. The committee was created to examine the overall scheduling process. The committee will report to the Board at the Preseason Meeting in September regarding the timing and release of the schedule in coming seasons as well as the criteria to be used in creating the schedule.

Regular season

Blue indicates team has clinched division.

Green indicates team has clinched a playoff spot.

Yellow indicates team would earn playoff spot in current position.

Red indicates team is eliminated from playoff contention.

As of November 28, 2009

American Conference

East Division GP W L OTL SOL PTS GF GA
Elmira Jackals (OTT) 17 9 5 2 1 21 69 57
Reading Royals (TOR) 19 10 7 1 1 22 63 68
Trenton Devils (NJD) 19 8 8 1 2 19 50 65
Johnstown Chiefs 17 5 9 3 0 13 56 68

North Division GP W L OTL SOL PTS GF GA
Kalamazoo Wings (PHI/SJS) 17 12 4 1 0 25 75 56
Cincinnati Cyclones (MON/NSH) 18 9 8 0 1 19 62 57
Toledo Walleye (CHI/DET) 17 7 7 1 2 17 58 70
Wheeling Nailers (PIT) 18 7 9 1 1 16 58 67

South Division GP W L OTL SOL PTS GF GA
South Carolina Stingrays (WSH) 22 12 6 1 3 28 69 76
Florida Everblades (CAR/FLA) 20 10 7 1 2 23 72 62
Charlotte Checkers (COL/NYR) 16 10 4 1 1 22 69 55
Gwinnett Gladiators (ATL/CBJ) 16 9 5 1 1 20 62 62

National Conference

Pacific Division GP W L OTL SOL PTS GF GA
Bakersfield Condors (ANA) 20 14 6 0 0 28 69 56
Ontario Reign (LA) 20 8 10 1 1 18 57 57
Las Vegas Wranglers (PHX) 19 6 12 1 0 13 45 73
Stockton Thunder (EDM) 18 5 10 1 2 13 42 59

West Division GP W L OTL SOL PTS GF GA
Idaho Steelheads (DAL) 20 16 3 0 1 33 65 43
Utah Grizzlies (NYI) 18 12 5 0 0 24 69 52
Alaska Aces (STL) 20 10 8 2 0 22 67 64
Victoria Salmon Kings (VAN) 18 6 11 1 0 13 43 51

2009-10 Kelly Cup Playoffs


Statistical leaders

Leading skaters

These are the top ten skaters based on points.

GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; PTS = Points; +/– = Plus/minus; PIM = Penalty minutes; † = Player no longer with listed team

Player Team GP G A PTS +/– PIM
Tyler Donati Elmira Jackals 16 9 21 30 +4 18
Justin Donati Elmira Jackals 14 8 20 28 +5 14
Ryan Kinasewich - † Utah Grizzlies 12 16 11 27 +5 22
Dan Sexton Bakersfield Condors 18 13 13 26 +8 14
Jacob Micflikier Florida Everblades 13 8 16 24 +9 15
Rob Hennigar Florida Everblades 17 8 15 23 +6 10
Colin Hemingway Alaska Aces 17 10 12 22 0 18
Michel Leveille Charlotte Checkers 14 10 11 21 +10 24
James Sixsmith - † Utah Grizzlies 12 7 14 21 +12 11
Tyler Spurgeon Idaho Steelheads 17 4 17 21 +12 4
Statistics current as of: November 24, 2009

Leading goaltenders

These are the top five goaltenders based on both goals against average and save percentage with at least one game played (Note: List is sorted by goals against average).

GP = Games played; W = Wins; L = Losses; SA = Shots against; GA = Goals against; GAA = Goals against average; SV% = Save percentage; SO = Shutouts; TOI = Time on ice (in minutes)

Ryan Nie Kalamazoo Wings 6 5 1 190 11 1.81 .942 1 364
Mitch O'Keefe Utah Grizzlies 9 7 1 204 17 2.03 .917 2 503
Richard Bachman Idaho Steelheads 11 8 3 280 25 2.22 .911 1 674
Curtis Darling Ontario Reign 12 6 5 372 29 2.50 .922 1 695
Jeremy Smith Cincinnati Cyclones 10 5 5 252 26 2.60 .897 1 600
Statistics current as of: November 24, 2009


See also

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