Nashville, Tenn. – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has renewed its affiliation with the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones. Fresh off an appearance in the 2014 Kelly Cup Final, the Cyclones have served as Nashville’s secondary developmental affiliate since the 2007-08 season, winning a pair of Kelly Cup titles (2008 and 2010), claiming three North Division titles (2008, 2009, 2013) and making the ECHL postseason all seven seasons they’ve been affiliated with the Predators.
The Cyclones will function as a developmental affiliate for both Nashville, and its primary developmental affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League. Cincinnati plays its home games at the 14,453-seat U.S. Bank Arena, located downtown next to the Cincinnati Reds’ Great American Ballpark.
“We look forward to continuing to work with such a class organization that creates a winning environment for our players to develop,” Predators Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton said. “Led by President Ray Harris, the Cyclones have been a model of consistency the past seven seasons and have been critical to the success of the Milwaukee Admirals and the Nashville Predators.”
In 2013-14, the Cyclones posted a 41-23-8 record, the fifth time in the last seven seasons they’ve surpassed the 40-win mark, Simon’s first at behind the bench. In the postseason, they proceeded to knock off Orlando, Fort Wayne and Greenville – all in six games – to advance to the league final where they fell in six games to the Alaska Aces.
Forward Josh Shalla, a fourth-round selection of the Predators in the 2011 Entry Draft and ECHL All-Star a year ago, tied for the 2014 Kelly Cup Playoff lead in goals (11) and ranked sixth in points (17), while Zach Budish, a second-round pick in 2009, tied for third among rookies in goals (6), and for fifth among first-year players in points (11) during the 2014 ECHL playoffs. Taylor Aronson, a third-round pick by Nashville in the 2010 Draft, ranked among the Top 10 defensemen in both points (7a) and assists during the 2014 postseason run after tying for third among ECHL defensemen in assists (32), ranking seventh among league blueliners in points (38), and tying for fourth among all ECHL skaters in plus/minus rating (+28) during the 2013-14 regular season. Nashville prospect Magnus Hellberg (second round, 2011) was also part of the Cyclones postseason roster.
Seven ECHL graduates, including Victor Bartley, Rich Clune, Hellberg, Carter Hutton and Mark Van Guilder, suited up for the Predators in 2013-14, with both Hellberg (2012-14) and Van Guilder (2008-10) being Cyclones alumni.
Founded in 1990 as an ECHL franchise, the Cyclones competed in the International Hockey League (IHL) from 1992-2001. The Cyclones went 23-17-4 (.568 winning percentage) in games versus Milwaukee during that nine-year stretch. After the IHL ceased operations in 2001, the Cyclones returned to the ECHL for three more seasons.
After two seasons of inactivity – including one without professional hockey in Cincinnati – the Cyclones rejoined the ECHL in time for 2006-07, and quickly captured two Kelly Cup championships (2008 and 2010), two North Division titles (2008 and 2009), a Brabham Cup (league’s best record) and made three consecutive trips to the American Conference Finals (2008, 2009 and 2010).
The ECHL is the leading professional developmental league for the American Hockey League and the National Hockey League. The league began in 1988-89 with five teams in three states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast circuit that saw 21 teams playing in 15 states in 2013-14, its 27th season. There have been more than 540 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL.