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The ECHL is a professional hockey minor league based in the United States and Canada, generally regarded as being a tier below the American Hockey League.

The league, which combined teams from the defunct Atlantic Coast Hockey League and All-American Hockey League, began play as the East Coast Hockey League in 1988 with 5 teams, the Carolina Thunderbirds (now the Wheeling Nailers), the Erie Panthers (now the Victoria Salmon Kings), the Johnstown Chiefs, the Knoxville Cherokees (the franchise, as the Pee Dee Pride, is currently suspended, becoming the Myrtle Beach Thunderboltz in 2006-07), and the Virginia Lancers (the team is currently defunct, last playing as the Lexington Men O' War in 2003).

Since that time, the League has met with great success, reaching its largest size in 2003 of 31 teams before being reduced to 28 teams for the 2004 season. In September 2002, the West Coast Hockey League ceased operations, and the ECHL Board of Governors approved membership applications from the Anchorage (now Alaska) Aces, the Bakersfield Condors, the Fresno Falcons, the Idaho Steelheads, the Las Vegas Wranglers, the Long Beach Ice Dogs and the San Diego Gulls as well as from teams in Ontario, California and Reno, Nevada. Alaska, Bakersfield, Fresno, Idaho, Las Vegas, Long Beach and San Diego began play in 2003-04 as expansion teams in the league. The teams from the defunct WCHL, along with Las Vegas, joined as expansion teams for the ECHL’s 16th season in 2003-04. In a change reflective of the nationwide presence of the ECHL, the East Coast Hockey League changed its name to simply ECHL on May 19, 2003.


Future Expansion Teams


(2005-06 NHL affiliates in parentheses)

National Conference

West Division

Pacific Division

American Conference

North Division

South Division

Defunct teams

Like any minor league, the ECHL has its share of defunct teams. Teams that no longer play within the ECHL are listed below. All of the teams, except for the Greensboro Generals and the Roanoke Express, which were terminated by the ECHL, and the teams which have relocated, are considered to have suspended operations and the franchises placed for sale. Also excepted are the Mississippi Sea Wolves and Texas Wildcatters, which were suspended by request from team ownership and the ECHL because of the impact of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, and will resume play in 2006-07.

See also

External links

2005-06 teams: Alaska Aces | Augusta Lynx | Bakersfield Condors | Charlotte Checkers | Columbia Inferno | Dayton Bombers | Florida Everblades | Fresno Falcons | Greenville Grrrowl | Gwinnett Gladiators | Idaho Steelheads | Johnstown Chiefs | Las Vegas Wranglers | Long Beach Ice Dogs | Pensacola Ice Pilots | Phoenix Roadrunners | Reading Royals | San Diego Gulls | South Carolina Stingrays | Stockton Thunder | Toledo Storm | Trenton Titans | Utah Grizzlies | Victoria Salmon Kings | Wheeling Nailers
Trophies and Awards: Patrick J. Kelly Cup
Related Articles: NHL | AHL | UHL | World Cup
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