PRINCETON, N.J. – The National Hockey League has announced the promotion of former ECHL referee Justin St. Pierre to full-time status as a referee in the NHL and the hiring of former ECHL referee Chris Ciamaga to a full-time AHL/NHL contract.
The 34-year-old St. Pierre worked his first NHL game on Nov. 9, 2005 and ended up being on the ice for 27 games in the NHL in 2005-06. St. Pierre worked six years in the ECHL from 1997-2003 and was selected to work the Kelly Cup Finals in 1999, 2002 and 2003 and the ECHL All-Star Game in 2001. His last game in the ECHL was Game 5 of the 2003 Kelly Cup Finals. He has been under contract to the NHL since 2003-04, working in the American Hockey League as well as in the NHL.
Ciamaga began as a referee in the ECHL in 2003-04 and began working in the AHL the following season. He has worked the Kelly Cup Playoffs each of the past three years, including the conference finals in 2006, and has worked the Calder Cup Playoffs the past two years, including the conference finals in 2006.
St. Pierre was one of 13 former ECHL officials working as referees in the NHL in 2005-06 joining Harry Dumas, Bob Langdon, Mike Leggo, Wes McCauley, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Chris Rooney, Jeff Smith, Ian Walsh and Dean Warren.
Former ECHL officials who worked as linesmen in the NHL in 2005-06 were Steve Barton, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak, Jay Sharrers and Mark Wheler. Nowak began his officiating career in the ECHL and in 2003 became the first ECHL official to work in the Stanley Cup Finals.
About The ECHL The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL had affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League in 2005-06.
There have been 303 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including a record 47 who have made their NHL debut in 2005-06.
The ECHL had affiliations with 21 of the 27 teams in the American Hockey League in 2005-06 and for the past 17 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup Champion.
The ECHL raised its average attendance for the third straight year in 2005-06 drawing 3,934,794 for 900 games which is an average of 4,372 per game, an increase of more than nine percent from 2004-05 and the largest per-game average since 1999-2000.
Six teams surpassed 200,000 and nine teams averaged 5,000 per game for the first time since 1999-2000 as the league welcomed 39 sellout crowds and 13 of the 22 returning teams raised their average attendance.