LAFAYETTE, LA — The ECHL announced their 2018 Hall of Fame class in a press release today, and Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs head coach Sam Ftorek, along with goaltender Jason Saal and former Mobile Mysticks/Gwinnett Gladiators general manager Steve Chapman to the ECHL Hall of Fame’s induction class of 2018.
Ftorek, the son of former NHL coach and current coach of the ECHL Norfolk Admirals Robbie Ftorek, appeared in a record 837 ECHL games over 14 seasons during his 17-year professional career, mostly with the Kalamazoo Wings. Ftorek broke into the ECHL with the Augusta Lynx in 1998 after three years at D3 St. Anselm College. After two seasons in Augusta, Ftorek played for the Mobile Mysticks (with Chapman as GM), the Greensboro Generals, reuniting with Chapman for a short time with the Gwinett (now Atlanta) Gladiators, a return to Augusta, and the Cincinnati Cyclones before spending his final six years with the K-Wings. Ftorek also played parts of two seasons with the AHL Manchester Monarchs during the 2003-04 season and the IHL Bloomington Prairie Thunder in the 2007-08 season.
Statistically, Ftorek’s most notable seasons were in 2002-03 with Greensboro where he scored 33 goals with 28 assists, his first season (2009-10) in Kalamazoo when he had 26 goals and 33 assists, and his 2013-14 season with the K-Wings where he led all ECHL defensemen in assists (34) and points (47) – gaining All-ECHL First Team honors.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Ftorek said about his upcoming induction into the ECHL Hall of Fame. “It’s something I never strived for. I never went into a game or a practice thinking of the entirety of my career. It was always a day-to-day thing. But to be included with the guys who are in there; guys like Daniel Berthiaume (2016 ECHL Hall of Fame inductee), who’s basically a native Roanoker, played for the Express and still lives at Smith Mountain Lake, is just incredible.”
After hanging up the skates after the 2014-15 season, Ftorek picked up a whistle and clipboard and served as an assistant coach in Kalamazoo for the 2015-16 season before being named as the Rail Yard Dawgs inaugural coach last season.
In the press release from the Kalamazoo Wings, head coach and former teammate Nick Bootland said, “The longevity Sam Ftorek had to play in the ECHL for over 800 games shows that he’s a true competitor and a gentleman who loves the game. He always has been and always will be student of the game.”
Ftorek, along with Chapman and Saal, 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. This season’s ECHL Hall of Fame ceremony, presented by BFL CANADA and Sutton Special Risk, will take place on January 15th, 2018.