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Victoria Salmon Kings History

The Victoria Salmon Kings took to the ice in October of 2004. The team’s roots began as a dormant ECHL membership that last resided in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The membership was purchased by RG Properties in 2003.

The name of the league was changed from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL in May of 2003. The name change is reflective of the nationwide presence of the ECHL which continues its role as the leading professional developmental league for the American Hockey League and the National Hockey League.

Players in the ECHL come primarily from the three Major Junior leagues in Canada, US Colleges and other professional teams. Additionally European born players also make up a recognizable component of many team rosters. ECHL players average 24 years of age and the vast majority of players are under the age of 27. Over 60% of the league is made up of Canadian born players.

2004-05

The team’s first game was on October 20, 2004 in Bakersfield, California where the Salmon Kings took on the Condors. Since the membership was dormant, the Salmon Kings were made up entirely of new players as there was not an expansion draft. Trailing 2-0, Victoria native Ryan Wade scored the organization’s first goal at the 6:40 mark of the first period to make it 2-1. The Salmon Kings would get no closer falling 7-2.

Victoria would record their first ever win two days later when the team went into Fresno and earned a 5-0 decision on the Falcons.  Wade led the team in scoring (19g-31a) in 2004-05, and Brad Dexter was voted a starter on the National Conference’s All-Star Team. Wins were tough to come by for the young team and they finished 15-52-3-2 record under the team’s first head coach Bryan Maxwell.

2005-06

The 2005-06 version of the Salmon Kings looked to improve on the previous season’s record. Led by Adam Taylor’s 57 points (19g-38a), Victoria improved its win total by 12 going 26-37-5-4. Defenseman Steve Lingren was a bright spot for the S-Kings blasting 15 power play goals and joined Taylor as starters on the National Conference ECHL All-Star team. Maxwell was replaced halfway through the season by Troy Ward who became the second head coach in Salmon Kings history.

2006-07

Victoria would see its third head coach in as many years when Tony MacAulay took over to start the 2006-07 season. Victoria was headed in a great direction with the signing of players; Wes Goldie, Milan Gajic, Kiel McLeod and Mike Stutzel. The biggest day in the organization’s history, July 18, 2006, occurred when the team’s Vice President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Dan Belisle spearheaded an affiliation agreement with both the Vancouver Canucks (NHL) and Manitoba Moose (AHL).

The affiliation had an immediate impact as goaltender Julien Ellis; forwards Marc Andre-Bernier, F.P. Guenette and defenseman Patrick Coulombe were assigned by the Canucks. Defenseman Matt Kelly and forward Shaun Heshka were assigned by the Moose.  The added fire power did not translate into wins through the first part of the season, and it cost McAulay his job.

Mark Morrison left his post as assistant coach to take over the top spot, and the decision immediately paid dividends. The Salmon Kings beat perennial powerhouse and defending Kelly Cup Champion Alaska for the first time in a three game series immediately following Morrison’s promotion.

Victoria was then bolstered by a mid-season trade that saw brothers Jordan and Derek Krestanovich join the Salmon Kings. The team went on a late season run, including a team record 9-game winning streak to conclude the regular season schedule.  Wes Goldie led the team with a National Conference leading 41 goals and 35 assists for 76 points. For the first time in the organization’s history the Salmon Kings qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs with a winning record of 36-32-1-3. In just two years the Salmon Kings had tripled their win total! The playoffs proved a daunting task with Alaska standing in the way. Despite a valiant effort Victoria fell 4-2 in the best-of-seven first round series.

2007-08

The 2007-08 season was highly anticipated by the Salmon Kings and their fans. With key additions such as Wes Goldie’s younger brother Ash, Kevin Estrada, Gary Gladue and netminder Billy Thompson to compliment the returning Goldie, Gajic, McLeod, Bernier and Wade the team had unparalleled firepower from any Salmon Kings team in the past. The dividends were immediate going 15-5-0-0 through their first 20 games.  The team continued to pile up wins going into the All-Star break.

The annual event was held in Stockton, CA and Ash Goldie shone like no other all-star over the two-day event. Ash was the first player in ECHL history to go 5-5 in the target shooting and then put on an offensive performance for the ages the following night. Goldie scored an All-Star Game record with 6 points (3g-3a) and ended the game with a +5 rating. Goldie was also the front half of the record for two fastest goals by one team in All-Star history. Goldie’s scored at the 16:55 mark of the second period and that was followed up a mere 16 seconds later when Peter Ferraro of the Las Vegas Wranglers put home the record beating goal.

The Morrison led Salmon Kings hit a rough patch with injuries and call ups and saw their comfortable lead atop of the National Conference’s West Division slowly start to disappear. The Salmon Kings went into the last two games of the regular season needing three of a possible four points to win their first ever Division Championship. Standing in the team’s way was no other than the second place Alaska Aces. Led by Wes Goldie and the goaltending of Billy Thompson the Salmon Kings skated away with a 2-0 victory in the first game. The West Division Championship would be decided on the last night of the regular season. Victoria came out and grabbed the West’s top spot with a 4-1 victory!

The Goldie brothers led the way offensively for the Salmon Kings in 2007-08. Ash Goldie finished fourth in the ECHL in scoring with 83 points, second in goals with 40, first in power play goals with 20, and brother Wes led the ECHL’s in goals with 42 and shorthanded markers with 6.

The 2008 Kelly Cup Playoffs saw the Salmon Kings win the team’s first ever playoff series with a 4-2 advantage over the Bakersfield Condors. The first round win was highlighted by an incredible feat by Mr. Salmon King Ryan Wade when he got down to work while the team was shorthanded.  Wade set two ECHL postseason records (fastest two shorthanded goals and shorthanded goals in a game) in the third period of Game 2 of the Salmon Kings’ first round Kelly Cup playoff series versus the Bakersfield Condors when he scored two shorthanded goals 21 seconds apart. The Salmon Kings would eventually bow out in the second round falling 4 games to 1 when they faced the Utah Grizzlies.

The 2008-09 season again brings renewed excitement for this year’s addition. Morrison accepted the reigns as the team’s new general manager in the offseason while still holding onto his coaching reins. He welcomes a familiar face behind the bench in Ryan Wade who retired after four years wearing a Salmon Kings jersey.

2008-09

Following the Salmon Kings’ first ever appearance in the second round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs, the 2008-09 season brought great expectations in the ECHL’s lone Canadian city. Mark Morrison returned for his second full season behind the bench, and was joined by the recently-retired Ryan Wade as Assistant Coach. Wes Goldie was also named the 5th captain in team history. Returning players Patrick Coulombe, Chris St. Jacques, Darryl Lloyd, Matt Kelly, and Julien Ellsi, along with newcomers such as Curtis Billsten, Dan Gendur, Oliver Filion, Olivier Labelle, Sean O’Connor, and Todd Ford injected new life into the Salmon Kings lineup and helped the team get off to a solid start to the campaign. At Christmas, the Salmon Kings held a 19-9-1-1 record, which was tops in the National Conference. December also turned out to be the bulk of a franchise-record 15-game winning streak that stretched between December 6th and January 10th. The streak became the second longest in ECHL history.

The 2009 All-Star game in Reading, PA had a strong Salmon Kings’ flavour. Captain Wes Goldie, along with Dan Gendur and Dylan Yeo were selected to the National Conference team. Goldie was unable to attend due to injury, but Gendur and Yeo made their presence felt. Gendur recorded an assist on the National Conference’s fifth and final goal, while Yeo put five shots on net.

The middle of the 2008-09 campaign also saw its share of player movements. Dan Gendur, Julien Ellis, Jonathan Boutin, Travis Ramsey, and Dylan Yeo all spent time with the Manitoba Moose on AHL-callups. Boutin would eventually be traded to the South Carolina Stingrays on January 27th for future considerations. That same day, Victoria welcomed back Adam Taylor, who signed on for the remainder of the season. Two days later, on January 29th, Jacob Dietrich followed Boutin in a separate trade to the Stingrays. On February 3rd, the Salmon Kings saw the return of a second former player in Milan Gajic. The Burnaby, BC native managed to play only four games in his second stint in Victoria, before being dealt to the Florida Everblades for defenseman Aaron Brocklehurst.

Following the conclusion of their 15-game winning streak, the Salmon Kings stumbled the remainder of the season. After January 10th, Victoria posted a record of 12-18-1-3, and finished third in the West Division behind Alaska and Idaho, and set up a first-round Kelly Cup matchup with the Steelheads starting on the road in Boise. The Salmon Kings won the first two games at Qwest Arena, and followed it with two victories on home ice to secure a 4-0 series sweep. The Game 4 victory came on an overtime marker by Matt Kelly. The second round, however, proved to be a much more difficult task as the Salmon Kings drew rival Alaska, and were defeated in five games.

The 2008-09 season was sprinkled with several team and individual achievements. The Salmon Kings drew 177,244 fans into the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, the highest attendance since the franchise moved to the BC Captial. Aside from the team setting a club-record for a winning streak, the Salmon Kings also set team records for most consecutive games won at home (12), most goals in one game (9), and largest winning margin (9). Captain Wes Goldie set a team record with 48 goals, and became the all-time Salmon Kings’ point-scorer, passing new Assistant Coach Ryan Wade with 201 points. Goldie was also named to the All-ECHL Second Team, while defenseman Dylan Yeo made the All-ECHL First Team, and became the first Salmon Kings’ blueliner to win the ECHL Defenseman of the Year award.

2009-10

After a second straight appearance in the second round of the playoffs, Victoria’s expectations for the sixth-year Salmon Kings grew in anticipation of making the jump to becoming a contender for the National Conference title and 2010 Kelly Cup.  General Manager and Head coach Mark Morrison returned for his third full season as bench boss, while former Salmon King Ryan Wade returned for his second year as the Assistant Coach.  

Wes Goldie, Tim Wedderburn, Olivier Filion, Patrick Coulombe, Scott Howes and Adam Taylor returned for another season in Victoria to join key off-season signings such as Olivier Latendresse, Chad Painchaud, Yannick Tifu, Andy Brandt, and Dirk Southern.  The Salmon Kings’ goaltending situation began with Glenn Fisher and Manitoba-contract John Murray tending the net.

The Salmon Kings stumbled out of the gate to a 1-9-0-0 start which quickly put them at the bottom of the conference standings and brought change in the roster.  Beginning on November 11th, the Salmon Kings turned their season around and went 22-6-3-0 record in their next 31 games to the ECHL All-Star break, a stretch of 67 days where Victoria accumulated the most wins and points in the ECHL, while pulling within two points back of the conference-leading Idaho Steelheads.  This also included a 12-game overall winning streak, and for the second straight season, an all-time club tying 12-game home winning streak.  The goaltending in the middle of season saw Fisher, along with three Abbotsford-Heat netminders – David Shantz, Matt Keetley, and Leland Irving – rotate duties, while Painchaud, Latendresse and Goldie led the offensive-attack during the stretch.

The 2010 ECHL All-Star Game and Skills Competition were featured in Ontario, CA.  Representing the Salmon Kings were Vancouver Canucks-contracted defenseman, and Victoria native, Taylor Ellington, along with goaltender David Shantz, who was named the starting goaltender for the National Conference in the annual league showcase event.

After the All-Star break, the Salmon Kings encountered several impactful injuries and call-ups which progressively slowed down their momentum in the second half.  The Salmon Kings completed the season with a 10-17-0-2 record to finish at 34-32-4-2.  Victoria crept into the 2010 Kelly Cup Playoff picture by winning one of their final three games at home in a series versus Utah to clinch the seventh and final berth in a tight playoff race that came down to the final weekend.

In the best-of-five opening round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs, the Salmon Kings drew the National Conference second-seed in the Bakersfield Condors. Victoria rode wins in games 1 and 3 to take a 2-1 series lead but was unable to finish the Condors off, losing in the fifth-and-deciding contest with the game-winning goal coming in the final minute of regulation.

The 2009-10 season produced many highlight moments and individual accomplishments.  The trio of Taylor, Howes, and Southern combined for a highlight-reel tally on January 16th versus Bakersfield – becoming known as “The Goal” –  that became TSN’s Highlight of the Night while garnering international attention.  A night before, on January 15th, the Salmon Kings played in their 400th game in club history.  In addition to matching the all-time club record for home winning streak (12), the Salmon Kings tied the team mark for consecutive victories on the road with four.  The team also set franchise records such for most goals in a game (9) and fastest two goals (eight seconds apart).

Individual achievements were also spread throughout the campaign.  Most notably, on February 11th 2010, Wes Goldie surpassed Ryan Wade as the club’s all-time leader in games played with 266.  Goldie added the feat to his list of previous club-records in goals, points, power play goals, shorthanded goals, and game winning goals.  Chad Painchaud and Jimmy Sharrow both broke a five-year old club record by scoring points in 14 and 12 games respectively, while Painchaud also matched a club record by scoring in five straight contests.  Sharrow meanwhile took home ECHL All-Second Team honors. Veteran Olivier Filion broke the all-time club record in 2009-10 for most consecutive games registering an assist, doing so in seven straight games.

At present, the Salmon Kings are the only Canadian based team in the ECHL. The Salmon Kings play their 72 league games against west coast and area opponents such as the Alaska Aces, Bakersfield Condors, Idaho Steelheads, Las Vegas Wranglers, Ontario Reign, Stockton Thunder, and Utah Grizzlies. The regular season begins on Friday, October 15th with two road games in Boise, ID versus the Steelheads.  The Salmon Kings return home to the Save-On-Foods-Memorial Centre to open the home portion of the 2010-11 regular season with a three game set versus the Ontario Reign beginning Wednesday, October 27. The 2011 ECHL All Star Game will be hosted by the Bakersfield Condors and Rabobank Arena on January 26, 2011, while the 14th Annual All-Star Skills Competition takes place one day earlier on January 25, 2011.
 

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