ECHL announces Hall of Fame Class

Sam Ftorek

From an ECHL press release:

PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL announced on Thursday that the 2018 inductees for the ECHL Hall of Fame are Steve Chapman, Sam Ftorek and Jason Saal.

The three will be formally inducted as the 11th class of the ECHL Hall of Fame at a banquet ceremony that will be held in conjunction with the 2018 CCM/ECHL All Star Classic. The 2018 ECHL Hall of Fame ceremony, presented by BFL CANADA and Sutton Special Risk, will take place on Monday, January 15 at 6:30 p..m. ET at the Hilton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites, the official host hotel of the 2018 CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic. The Keynote Address will be delivered by Chicago Blackhawks Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations, Al MacIsaac, a 2014 inductee into the ECHL Hall of Fame.

“All three inductees are most deserving of this honor for their contributions to the growth and history of the ECHL,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. “Sam was one of the most versatile, consistent and durable performers in League history. Jason was a workhorse goalie who put up impressive numbers during a high-scoring era and Steve has had a long and distinguished career as a team and League executive, and Chairman of the Board of Governors.”

Steve Chapman began his involvement with the ECHL in 1992, when he was hired as a sales executive with the Birmingham Bulls. Three years later, he was offered, and accepted, the General Manger position for the Mobile Mysticks, who brought professional hockey to Mobile, Alabama for the first time. In 2001, he played in integral role in relocating the team to Gwinnett County, Georgia, where the Gladiators began play in the 2003-04 season. The team reached the playoffs in each of their first six seasons in Atlanta, and finished in the top six in League attendance five times in their first six seasons. Chapman served as Chairman of the ECHL Board of Governors for nine seasons from 2005-06 through 2014-15, and is the only person to win the ECHL Executive of the Year award in back-to-back seasons, doing so in 2005-06 and 2006-07. He departed the Gladiators following the 2014-15 season and is in his third season as Group VP, Brand, Community & Partnership Development for the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues.

Sam Ftorek spent 14 seasons of his 17-year professional playing career in the ECHL, culminating in setting the League’s all-time games played record in his final season of 2014-15. He set the record on Dec. 13, 2014, breaking the previous mark of 789 which was held by 2010 ECHL Hall of Fame inductee Cam Brown, and ended his career having appeared in 837 career ECHL games. Ftorek ranks 10th in ECHL history with 360 career assists, 17th with 548 career points and 29th with 188 career goals. He earned a spot on the All-ECHL First Team, and was runner-up for the League’s Defenseman of the Year award in 2013-14, when he posted 47 points (13g-34a) in 70 games with the Kalamazoo Wings. Following his retirement as a player, he served as an assistant with Kalamazoo during the 2015-16 season and is currently in his second season as the head coach of the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs of the Southern Professional Hockey League.

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Jason Saal becomes just the fourth goaltender to be selected for induction into the ECHL Hall of Fame. He ranks second among goaltenders in ECHL history with 455 career games, is fourth with 20 shutouts, and is fifth with 19,858 minutes played and 173 wins. He won 20 or more games five times in his ECHL career, which ranks third all-time in League history and he is one of just six goaltenders to have posted at least four consecutive seasons of at least 20 wins, doing so from 2000-01 through 2003-04. He also holds a record that may never be broken among ECHL goaltenders, as he posted a three-assist game for the Augusta Lynx on Dec. 12, 2003 against Greenville, becoming the first, and to this point only, goaltender in League history to record a three-point game.