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Published: Sunday, 3/23/2003

Storm acquires veteran Taylor for Cup chase

`BY DAN SAEVIG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
36-year-old Rod Taylor has played for five ECHL teams and was named to the league's 15th-anniversary team yesterday. 36-year-old Rod Taylor has played for five ECHL teams and was named to the league's 15th-anniversary team yesterday.
L.TODD SPENCER Enlarge

“Rocket” Rod Taylor joined two teams yesterday.

The Storm signed the East Coast Hockey League's all-time leading points and goals leader just before he was named to the league's 15th anniversary team.

Now in his 12th season, the left winger has scored 368 goals and 689 points. He was a member of ECHL playoff championship teams in Hampton Roads in 1992 and 1998.

“At this juncture, Rod Taylor is a pretty good add for us,” Toledo coach Claude Noel said. “He gives us good depth and the excitement and nervousness of playing playoff hockey at this level will not be an issue for him. Getting a veteran guy rather than a young amateur guy would be more beneficial to us.”

The 5-10, 185-pounder has played in more ECHL games (676) than anyone. His six consecutive 30-goal seasons are the most in history, as are his eight 30-goal seasons.

Taylor, 36, began the 2002-03 campaign in South Carolina, where he had eight goals and 10 assists in 31 starts. Released by the Stingrays, he signed with Peoria on March 7. He was waived by the Rivermen after recording one assist in two games, reportedly because Peoria couldn't guarantee him a spot on its (Kelly Cup) playoff roster because of possible American Hockey League assignees.

“He's going to be with us for the rest of the season,” Noel said.

Joining Taylor on the all-time team is ex-Storm goaltender Nick Vitucci, who played for Toledo from 1993-95 and again during the 1997-98 season when he was the ECHL's goaltender of the year.

He has won five championships - four as a player and one as an assistant coach.

That total is more than any other individual in ECHL history.

The other first-unit members with their most notable teams are: defensemen Tom Nemeth (Dayton) and Chris Valicevic (Louisiana), center Darryl Noren (Charlotte), right wing Phil Berger (Greensboro) and coach John Brophy (Hampton Roads).

The second team consists of goaltender Daniel Berthiaume (Roanoke), defensemen Kurt Seher (Charlotte) and Bob Woods (Mississippi), left wing Darren Schwartz (Wheeling), center John Spoltore (Louisiana), right winger Jay Murphy (Louisiana) and coach John Marks (Greenville).

Pat Kelly, the league's first commissioner, was named president/general manager of the anniversary squad, which was selected by 17 coaches, players, front-office personnel and members of the media who have been involved with the ECHL for most or all of its 15 seasons.



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