WICHITA, Kan. – With the 2017-18 ECHL regular season coming to a close, we have watched many bright-eyed players come through the league, but a few first-year players have caught our eye.
Recently, we polled our ECHL writing team and you the fans, on who you think is the Rookie of the Year. Additionally, our writing team had the task of putting together their All-Rookie team for 2017-18.
With 70% of the fan ballot and 40% of our writing team’s votes, we are proud to name Idaho Steelheads forward Justin Parizek The Sin Bin’s ECHL Rookie of the Year! Parizek beats out Grant Besse from Norfolk and Justin Danforth of Cincinnati.
In 64 games this season, the rookie from University Nebraska-Omaha posted 62 points (27G, 33A) for an Idaho team that finished the regular-season having won nine of their last ten games. Looking closer at the numbers, the 2018 ECHL All-Star selection posted a pair of game-winning goals, 10 goals via special teams (power-play and shorthanded).
Joining Parizek on the All-Rookie Team, as voted on by our writing team, are the following players:
Grant Besse (F – Norfolk Admirals) – 30G, 32A = 62 pts in 62 games
Justin Danforth (F – Cincinnati Cyclones) – 28G, 31A = 59 pts in 44 games
Aaron Irving (D – Kalamazoo Wings) – 15G, 33A = 48 pts in 60 games
TJ Melancon (D – Norfolk Admirals) – 15G, 28A = 43 pts in 58 games
Mitch Gillam (G – Worcester Railers) – 23-14-0-2, 2.15 GAA, .925 sv%, 5 SO
The head coach of our All-Rookie Team is Kirk MacDonald of the Reading Royals. In his first full season behind the Royals bench, he led the Royals to a 39-24-9-0 record and a berth in the Kelly Cup Playoffs for a ninth consecutive season. MacDonald has been able to manage the constant wave of call-ups and send-downs from the American Hockey League, thanks to his 70-point star, Matt Willows.
On Monday, we’ll announce our Defenseman of the Year and reveal our first-team All-ECHL, as selected on by our ECHL writing team.