Twenty-two NCAA alumni have helped propel the Colorado Eagles and South Carolina Stingrays into the Kelly Cup Finals as the ECHL championship series begins Friday night in Loveland, Colo.
The former college players represent 21 schools – more than one-third of all Division I programs – as Northern Michigan is the only program with multiple alumni in the finals. Andrew Cherniwchan and Wade Epp are Stingrays teammates representing the Wildcats.
South Carolina has featured 16 former college players in its lineup during the playoffs, while Colorado has countered with six.
Six of the Stingrays’ top eight scorers in the playoffs have been former college players, led by Dominic Monardo (Lake Superior State) and Kelly Zajac (Union). Parker Milner, a two-time NCAA champion at Boston College, has played every game in goal for South Carolina.
Although fewer in number, the NCAA alums on Colorado have played large roles in the Eagles’ success. Jake Marto (North Dakota) ranks third on the team in playoff scoring as a defenseman and carries a five-game point streak in the final. The team’s top two goal scorers in the regular season were Matt Garbowsky (RIT) and Luke Salazar (Denver).
Lukas Hafner (Western Michigan) has a 10-2 playoff record in goal for the Eagles.
The Kelly Cup Finals begin Friday and Sunday in Colorado before shifting to South Carolina for Games 3-5 on June 4, 5 and 7 (if necessary). Games 6 and 7, if necessary, would move back to Colorado on June 9 and 10, respectively.
|NCAA Alumni in the Kelly Cup Finals|
|Colorado Eagles (6)|
|Lukas Hafner||Western Michigan|
|Sam Jardine||Ohio State|
|Jake Marto||North Dakota|
South Carolina Stingrays (16)
|Derek Arnold||UMass Lowell|
|Andrew Cherniwchan||Northern Michigan|
|Kevin Dufour||Bowling Green|
|Wade Epp||Northern Michigan|
|Patrick Gaul||Notre Dame|
|Parker Milner||Boston College|
|Domenic Monardo||Lake Superior State|
|Max Nicastro||Boston University|
|Mitch Nylen||Sacred Heart|
|John Parker||Bemidji State|
|Includes all players who have appeared in the ECHL playoffs|