Five NAHL alums lead Allen to ECHL title
June 15, 2015
Former Texarkana Bandits and NAHL goalie Riley Gill.
When the Allen Americans captured the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Championship on Sunday night at the Allen Events Center in Allen, Texas, five of those players that helped the Americans win the title were graduates of the NAHL. All of those players also are highly recognized by local fans because all five not only developed in the NAHL, but also played in the league for South Division teams that played or passed through the local Dallas/Ft. Worth area.
The Americans won their first-ever ECHL Kelly Cup championship on Sunday defeating the South Carolina Stingrays 6-1 at the Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas to win the series 4 games to 3. With the win, Allen becomes the first team since the Idaho Steelheads in 2004 to win the Kelly Cup title in its first season in the ECHL. From 1989-96, the ECHL champion was awarded the Riley Cup. In the 27-year history of the ECHL, 18 different teams have captured the league title. Celebrating its 27th season in 2014-15, the ECHL is the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League and is the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
The five NAHL alumni who helped the Americans to the title were: Chad Costello (Wichita Falls Wildcats, 2004-05), Aaron Gens (Topeka/Santa Fe RoadRunners, 2004-08), Riley Gill (Texarkana Bandits, 2003-06), Trevor Ludwig (Texas Tornado, 2002-04) and Tyler Ludwig (2002-06).
Gill, who played in the NAHL for Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper in Texarkana, recorded four wins in the Kelly Cup Finals, giving him eight career Finals wins, which ties the all-time record for most wins in the Riley/Kelly Cup Finals. Gill went 4-1 in the 2013 Kelly Cup Finals with Reading and was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2013 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Gill’s second championship puts him in elite company, as he is only the fifth goaltender to win multiple championships in ECHL history.
Costello finished fifth in ECHL playoff scoring with 28 points in 25 games played. He also recorded two goals and an assist in Sunday’s 6-1 win in Game 7. Earlier this season, Costello was named the ECHL MVP. The forward posted 125 points on 41
goals and 84 assists, factoring into the scoring of a remarkable 42.8 percent of the Americans league-high 292 goals, and finished the season with a plus-minus of +43 while appearing in all 72 games.
Gens had a great season for the Americans, recording 56 points in 72 regular season games and chipping in nine points during their playoff run. In Game 7, Gens was a +2 and he appeared in all 25 post-season games to the team’s title run.
Trevor and Tyler Ludwig (twins) both were staples on the blueline for the Americans throughout the season. Trevor played in all 25 playoff games and recorded five points, which were in addition to his 15 points during the regular season. Tyler recorded eight points in 20 playoff games and had 37 points during the regular season. Following the game, Tyler announced his retirement from hockey.