NAHL alum Gill named MVP of ECHL's Kelly Cup Playoffs
May 28, 2013
Former NAHL goaltender Riley Gill (right) receives the Playoff MVP trophy from ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna (left). (Photo by Craig Sanders, Reading Eagle)
Former North American Hockey League (NAHL) goaltender Riley Gill of the ECHL’s Reading Royals was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2013 Kelly Cup Playoffs.
In 2012-13, the ECHL celebrated its 25th anniversary and is the third-longest tenured and highest professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
The award is presented annually “to the most valuable player for his team in the playoffs” as selected by members of the media and ECHL League Office staff at the conclusion of the final game of the Kelly Cup Finals.
Gill appeared in 17 games during the postseason, posting a record of 13-4, while finishing second among goaltenders with a 1.91 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage. His four shutouts are tied for the second most in a single postseason in ECHL history and his two shutouts in the Kelly Cup Finals are tied for the most in a Finals series in League history.
The Reading Royals won the first Kelly Cup championship in team history this past Saturday with a 6-0 shutout win over the Stockton Thunder in front of a 4,662 fans at Stockton Arena. Reading won the best of seven series, 4-1. Reading becomes the 17th different team to capture the ECHL title, and are 12th different winner of the Kelly Cup.
Gill is a player that certainly paid his dues with his development in the NAHL, playing in 109 career NAHL regular season games. Gill, who is from Northfield, Minnesota, played three full seasons in the NAHL, all with the Texarkana Bandits from 2003-06. All those years were spent playing under Jon Cooper, who is now the head coach of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.
Gill’s best season in the NAHL was his last in 2005-06 when he led the league with 35 wins, was second best 93.4 save percentage, and had a third best 2.15 GAA. He was named to the All-NAHL 2nd team that season and secured a scholarship to play NCAA Division I hockey at Western Michigan University the next four seasons.
"It was humbling," Gill told the Reading Eagle. "You never really expect to get that trophy. It's the cherry on top of my already crazy year."
Back in February, the Royals were the Eastern Conference's best team but they were searching for a reliable goalie. Fans were fretting that a record-setting regular season could go up in smoke in the playoffs. Royals coach Larry Courville convinced Gill to leave the SPHL’s Louisiana IceGators and come to Reading.
"It just feels great," Gill said. "Ever since that Game 7 with Florida, we were 9-1-1. To do that in the conference finals and finals is incredible. We had a great team and I was happy to contribute."