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Idaho Steelheads Win ECHL Kelly Cup

by Staff Writer / Dallas Stars
Francis Wathier
The Idaho Steelheads, the Dallas Stars' development affiliate in the ECHL, defeated the Dayton Bombers 4-1 Thursday in Game Five of the ECHL Finals to capture the 2007 Kelly Cup Championship. It is the second ECHL championship won by the Idaho Steelheads as a Dallas affiliate, with the other Kelly Cup crown coming in 2003-04.

The Idaho Steelheads roster features six Dallas Stars prospects, highlighted by forwards B.J. Crombeen, John Lammers, Tuomas Mikkonen, Alexander Naurov, and Francis Wathier, and goaltender Steve Silverthorn, who was named Kelly Cup Finals MVP.

"On behalf of the Dallas Stars organization, I'd like to congratulate the Idaho Steelheads and Head Coach Derek Laxdal on winning the 2007 Kelly Cup," said Dallas Stars General Manager Doug Armstrong. "The Steelheads organization has done an excellent job as our development affiliate in the ECHL, and we are certainly proud of the Stars prospects who were involved in Idaho's ECHL championship run. I had the pleasure of attending a handful of Idaho's playoff games this spring, and I offer my congratulations on a job well done."

Lammers, Dallas' third-round selection (No. 86 overall) in the 2004 Entry Draft, netted two goals in Idaho's championship-clinching victory, after splitting the season between the Steelheads and the AHL Iowa Stars. Crombeen, Dallas' second-round draft choice (No. 54 overall) in 2003, notched an assist in Idaho's 4-1 victory in Game Five, after skating in 55 games for Assat Pori in the Finnish Elite League in 2006-07.

Wathier, chosen in the sixth round by Dallas in 2003 (No. 185 overall), joined the Steelheads for the ECHL Playoffs after skating in all 12 of the Iowa Stars' 2007 AHL Playoff games. Naurov was chosen by Dallas in the fourth round (No. 134 overall) in the 2003 Entry Draft, while Mikkonen was an eighth-round selection (No. 243 overall) by the Stars in 2002.

Signed to a minor league contract by the Iowa Stars after a stellar collegiate career at Colgate University, Silverthorn was named the ECHL Goaltender of the Month in November 2006 and was named Idaho's Rookie of the Year last season.

Led by Head Coach Derek Laxdal, Idaho posted a regular season record of 42-24-6 and entered the ECHL Playoffs as the National Conference's fourth-seed. Idaho defeated the Stockton Thunder in the first round and the Las Vegas Wranglers in the second round, each in six games, before ousting the defending Kelly Cup champion Alaska Aces in five games to win the National Conference.

Dayton, the ECHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets, claimed the regular season North Division title with a 37-26-9 record and entered the American Conference Playoffs as the second seed. Dayton defeated the Trenton Devils and Cincinnati Cyclones en route to the American Conference Finals, where it topped the Florida Everblades in seven games to reach the ECHL Finals.

Idaho lost Game One of the Kelly Cup Finals at their 5,006-seat Qwest Arena, but proceeded to win four consecutive games to clinch the series and their second Kelly Cup in just four seasons. The Steelheads are just the fourth team to win multiple ECHL crowns in the league's 19 seasons.

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