I never have watched an ECHL game until I decided to watch the 2017 ECHL All Star game that was being shown on the NHL NETWORK. I’m glad I turned this hockey game on for a few reasons. First of all, we all know how big of a Toledo Walleye fan fellow Winged Octopus writer Micheal is and it was fun being a part of his hockey world for a change. (If you don’t already do so please give him a follow at @MC_Scott51). Secondly, this All Star game between the home team of ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder vs a group of current ECHL players was for the most part a real hockey game. There were times I couldn’t tell that I was watching a ‘Just for Fun’ hockey game….something that the NHL constantly showboats around come time when their annual NHL all star game and all star weekend starts. Sure it may have been a high scoring game but that doesn’t mean there were any dull moments, at least for this first time viewer.
The final score was 8-7, ECHL All Stars winning the game over the Thunder. Three of these ‘goals’ however were decided after the first period. The NHL could learn a lot from the ECHL’s All Star game format. They made it slightly more interesting last season introducing the 3 on 3 game one day after the skills competition. But to be honest this all star game is just another day for the NHL to get publicity for their players that get paid millions of dollars. There is no ‘Cinderella Story’ like the amazing story of John Scott last season getting a dream come true wish. The NHL Fans voted John Scott, a notable NHL Enforcer…into the game and the NHL tried to ban him from going, making it an even bigger deal. Last year was the first time in a long time the NHL All star game was taken a bit more seriously. But from here on out its just going to be another high scoring game with hardly any real intensity or huge action. In my opinion, it’s pretty boring.
Watching the ECHL All star game though, wasn’t boring at all. Goals were scored by numerous players from both teams. Adirondack’s goal scorers included Nick Bligh, James Henry, Brett Pollock and Brian Ward. The goal scorers from the All Star Team were from players such as David Vallorani (Brampton), Alex Wideman (Indy), Matt Garbowski (Colorado Eagles) who was named the MVP of the tournement. And last but not least a beautiful goal that sealed the fate of the Thunder by ECHL All Star Captain Shawn Szydlowski that ended the game 8-7.
The defense was a bit lacking…but remember it was an All Star game. But the goaltenders performed amazing for the ECHL all star team. The saves made especially in the second period were some high caliber saves that you would see from players in the NHL. I feel as if this all star game was a fun experience to watch because you could tell there was more than goals on the line….there was pride. Im not saying the NHL players don’t have pride, but it’s much different when you see guys that aren’t getting paid tons of money playing for their pride and wanting to show off their skills in front of the world rather than guys that do this and get a huge paycheck afterwards.
The NHL should look at the format the ECHL developed for their all star game. There were only two periods of hockey played…and both were played with full intensity from players on both teams. It was back and forth hockey and the refs didn’t give a single penalty out during the whole game. That was another plus. Instead of having one day for the skills competition, they had it after the first period. They had Puck handling, Fastest Skater and the Hardest shot. Adirondack Thunder’s Stephan Falkovsky’s hardest shot of 99 mph was something that left me speechless and thats not something I can say happens in an NHL all star game for me. Also, I liked how the ECHL decided to have the second period consist of 10 minutes of 5 on 5 play, and then 5 minutes of 4 on 4 and the final 10 minutes would be 3 on 3. It made the final minutes of the game very action packed on both sides and you could tell neither team wanted to lose this game even if it was just a ‘showcase’.
Overall, the NHL will probably not listen since they always do things their own way. But this ECHL all star game was honestly very fun and exciting to watch…especially since I never have turned an ECHL game on before. The purpose of all star games is to get more fans interested in the game of hockey and in their respective leagues. The ECHL sold me with their all star game. Can the NHL honestly say this year’s all star game will sell anybody that doesn’t watch hockey already? We will see I guess.