Originally created 10/06/01

Northern conference teams



Northeast Division

1. Roanoke Express

2000-01 record: (second in Northeast)

Playoffs: First round

Coach: Perry Florio, second year

Key returning players: RW Doug Sheppard (30-39-69), LW Adam Dewan (32-36-68), G Daniel Berthiaume (26-17-1, 2.40 GAA)

Key additions: RW Rick Kowalsky (ECHL Trenton), F Bret DeCecco (WHL)

Outlook: The Express will ride former NHL goalie Daniel Berthiaume to a Kelly Cup crown.

2. Trenton Titans

2000-01 record: 50-18-4 (first overall)

Playoffs: Kelly Cup finals

Coach: Peter Horachek, first year

Key returning players: LW Aniket Dhadphale (30-35-65), C Paul Spadafora (14-33-47); LW Scott Bertoli (18-38-56)

Key additions: F Kirk Lamb (Princeton); F Ben Stafford (Yale)

Outlook: A new coach and lots of changes, including the loss of ECHL goalie and rookie of the year Scott Stirling, means the Titans will slip.

3. Charlotte Checkers

2000-01 record: (third in Northeast)

Playoffs:: First round

Coach: Don MacAdam, second year

Key returning players:C Kevin Hilton (19-60-79), RW Mathieu Benoit (43-30-73)

Key additions: F Konrad McKray (WPHL Odessa), F Chad Spurr (University of Prince Edward Island)

Outlook: It is impossible to replace league MVP Scott King, who now is playing in Europe, but Benoit is an MVP candidate in his own right and the Checkers still have enough talent to make the postseason.

4. Richmond Renegades

2000-01 record: (fourth in Northeast)

Playoffs:: First round

Coach: Mark Kaufman, fourth year

Key returning players: LW Rod Taylor (34-22-56), LW Joe Blaznek (13-12-25, 29 games)

Key additions: C Lars Pettersen (24-37-61 in 51 games with ECHL Augusta); D Benoit Cotnoir (ECHL Mobile)

Outlook: Depth and goaltending are huge question marks that even the great Gamsby will have difficulty overcoming.

5. Reading Royals

First year (expansion)

Coach: Al Sims, first year

Key players: F Dan Riva (IHL Milwaukee); D Chris Aldous (3-11-14 with ECHL Pensacola and New Orleans)

Outlook: The expansion club is counting on big-time help from NHL parent club Los Angeles but should be competitive with NHL veteran Sims at the helm.

6. Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies

First year

Coach: Mike Haviland, first year

Key players: C Stefan Rivard (20-30-50 with ECHL Birmingham); G Kenric Exner (28-9-6, 2.61 GAA with ECHL Peoria)

Outlook: Running of the Bullies, the relocated Birmingham Bulls, won't be easy for rookie coach Mike Haviland.

7. Greensboro Generals

2000-01 record: (fifth in Northeast)

Playoffs:: None

Coach: Graeme Townshend (1st year)

Key returning players: RW Sal Manganaro (33-34-67)

Key additions: RW Casey Kesselring (19-47-66); RW Brian Loney (Germany); G Dan Ragusett (Northern Michigan University)

Outlook: Bright new coach, new affiliation with Carolina Hurricanes, new owners, same sorry results for the sorriest franchise in the ECHL.

Northwest Division

1. Dayton Bombers

2000-01 record: (second in Northwest)

Playoffs: Second round

Coach: Greg Ireland, fourth year

Key returning players: C Jamie Ling (26-67-93); D Tom Nemeth (20-48-68); RW Chris Thompson (10-14-24)

Outlook: The pieces all are in place for 50 wins and a run at the Kelly Cup championship.

2. Peoria Rivermen

2000-01 record: (first in Northwest)

Playoffs:: Conference finals

Coach: Jason Christie, second year

Key returning players: G Curtis Sanford (15-7-4, 1.91 GAA); C Joe Rybar (17-44-61)

Key additions: Center Kory Karlander (Germany)

Outlook: League-best goaltending, toughness and great chemistry could get them a second Kelly Cup in three seasons.

3. Wheeling Nailers

2000-01 record: (fifth in Northwest)

Playoffs:: None

Coach: John Brophy, first year

Key returning players: RW Mike Hurley (31-28-59)

Key additions: C Chris Wells (AHL Wilkes-Barre); D Dan Kopec (ECHL Augusta in 1999-2000)

Outlook: Fiery coach Brophy, the winningest coach in ECHL history and owner Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins join forces to nail down a playoff spot.

4. Toledo Storm

2000-01 record: (third in Northwest)

Playoffs:: Second round

Coach: Ken Holland, second year

Key returning players: RW James Patterson (52-45-97); RW Tim Verbeek (23-32-55, 220 PIMs)

Key additions: D Chris Slater (12-25-37, 116 PIMs with ECHL Wheeling)

Outlook: The Storm will need great chemistry to carry marginal talent and some goaltending help from NHL parent club Detroit.

5. Johnstown Chiefs

2000-01 record: (fourth in Northwest)

Playoffs:: First round

Coach: Scott Allen, fourth year

Key returning players: G Frederic Deschenes (21-26-6, 2.98 GAA); F Eric Schneider (33-37-70)

Key additions: LW J.F. Boutin (24-30-54 with ECHL Peoria); F Kevin Baker (AHL Lowell)

Outlook: The Chiefs are solid and will challenge for the final playoff spot in the division but are still a year away from contention.

6. Cincinnati Cyclones

First year

Coach: Ray Edwards, first year

Key players: C Allan Egeland (18-42-60 with ECHL Pensacola); D Matt Eldred (IHL Cincinnati)

Outlook: The Cyclones will be competitive but are not yet ready for prime time, and will rely heavily on NHL parent club Nashville.

Predictions

Kelly Cup Favorites

1. Roanoke Express

2. Dayton Bombers

3. Florida Everblades

4. Peoria Rivermen

5. New Orleans Brass

1. Jamie Ling, Dayton

2. Tom Buckley, Florida

3. James Patterson, Toledo

4. Greg Pankewicz, Pensacola

5. Scott Morrow, Augusta

Top goalies

1. Curtis Sanford, Peoria

2. Ron Vogel, New Orleans

3. Daniel Berthiaume, Roanoke

4. Jeff Salajko, Arkansas

5. Alex Westlund, Macon

Top defensemen

1. Tom Nemeth, Dayton

2. Derek Eberle, Pensacola

3. Duane Harmer, Florida

4. Chris Valicevic, Louisiana

5. Wes Swinson, Augusta

Top rookies

1. Greg Hewitt, Mobile

2. Bret DeCecco, Roanoke

3. Vern Fiddler, Roanoke

4. Josh St. Louis, Augusta

5. Alan Fyfe, South Carolina



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