NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – A pair of former University of North Dakota defensemen tasted championship glory on Monday night, leading the Colorado Eagles to the Patrick J. Kelly Cup as East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) champions.
First-year head coach Aaron Schneekloth and standout defenseman Jake Marto guided the Eagles to a 2-1 victory at South Carolina tonight to put the finishing touches on a four-game sweep and the franchise's first ECHL championship.
Schneekloth punctuated a head-coaching debut that included a 47-20-5 regular season record and a 16-4 playoff mark. He had served as an assistant with Colorado the previous three years after a distinguished playing career with the same franchise. Schneekloth joined John Marks (2001-02 with Greenville, 1995-96 with Charlotte) as the only UND alumni to win an ECHL Championship as a head coach.
Schneekloth, originally from Calgary, Alberta, played at UND from 1998-99 to 2001-02 and collected 19 goals and 72 points in 150 collegiate games. He was a member of UND's 1999-2000 NCAA championship team.
Marto, who hails from Grand Forks, N.D., completed his fourth season with the Eagles and was named to the All-ECHL First Team after racking up 10 goals and 46 assists in 69 games. He added another five goals and 18 points in 20 playoff games.
Marto became the seventh UND product to win an ECHL championship as a player, joining Evan Trupp (2013-14 with Alaska), Adam Calder (2000-01 with South Carolina), Scott Kirton (1995-96 with Charlotte), Darcy Mitani (1995-96 with Charlotte), Kevin Rappana (1995-96 with Charlotte) and Wade Bartley (1991-92 with Hampton Roads).
Marto was a four-year standout at UND from 2007-08 to 2010-11 and had 21 goals and 67 points in 157 career games.
UND's ECHL Champions:
2016-17, Colorado Eagles: Aaron Schneekloth (coach), Jake Marto
2013-14, Alaska Aces: Evan Trupp
2001-02, Greenville Grrrowl: John Marks (coach)
2000-01, South Carolina Stingrays: Adam Calder
1995-96, Charlotte Checkers: John Marks (coach), Scott Kirton, Darcy Mitani, Kevin Rappana
1991-92, Hampton Roads Admirals: Wade Bartley