ECHL Opening Day Is Wheeling At Johnstown October 18

The ECHL
announced that the only game being played on Opening Day for the 20th
Anniversary Season will be a rematch of Game 7 from the first-ever ECHL Finals
when the Johnstown Chiefs host the Wheeling Nailers at Cambria County War
Memorial on Oct. 18.

The
remaining 23 teams will open their seasons the weekend of Oct. 19-21. The
entire 2007-08 schedule for the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League was released on
Tuesday by the ECHL and its member teams.

Despite
having three players suspended for Game 7 by then Commissioner and now
Commissioner Emeritus Patrick J. Kelly,

Carolina
won 7-4 in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Cambria County War Memorial.

Wheeling
and

Johnstown
will wear throwback jerseys for the Opening Day game, which will begin at 7:30
p.m. ET and will be broadcast to an international audience on B2 Networks, the
“Official Broadband Broadcast Provider of the ECHL”.

“This
stand-alone game is a fitting way to being our 20th Anniversary Season and
focus the eyes of the hockey world on the City of

Johnstown,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian
McKenna.

The ECHL
began in 1988-89 with five teams in three states and has grown to be a
coast-to-coast league that will have 25 teams in 17 states and

British Columbia in
2007-08. The 25 teams includes the Mississippi (Biloxi) Sea Wolves, who return
after missing two seasons in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the
expansion Elmira (N.Y.) Jackals.

The Chiefs
and Nailers are the only two teams that have played in all 19 seasons and each
has taken the ice for a record 1,302 regular season games.

Johnstown, however, is the only one of the
five original teams that has played every one of its 19 seasons in the same
town and arena. The Thunderbirds played their first four seasons in

Winston-Salem,

N.C.
before relocating to

Wheeling
where they played four seasons as the Thunderbirds before changing their name
to Nailers in 1996-97.

Johnstown

had its largest attendance since
1997-98 and raising its average by 6.5 percent, the fourth-largest increase in
the league. The Chiefs had a sellout crowd of 4,136 on New Year’s Eve and their
second sellout of the season with 4,021 on Feb. 28.

The other
original teams are all still active with the Victoria Salmon Kings, the Utah
Grizzlies and

Myrtle Beach,
which is scheduled to begin play in 2008-09.

Victoria was the Erie Panthers from 1988-96
and the Baton Rouge Kingfish from 1996-2003.

Utah was the Virginia Lancers from 1988-90
and after several relocations became the Utah Grizzlies in 2005.

Carolina

goaltender Nick Vitucci was named
the Most Valuable Player of the Riley Cup Playoffs after leading the postseason
with eight wins. Vitucci, who coached the last four seasons in

Toledo, was 8-2 with a goals-against average
of 3.55 and a save percentage of .887. He went on to win four more ECHL
championships – three as a player (1990, 1994 and 1996) and one as an assistant
coach (2002) and he has more titles than anyone else in league history. Vitucci
holds the ECHL career goaltender records for games (479), minutes (27,291),
wins (265), 20-win seasons