Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Busy Week for Critical Dates, Martinson to Make Big Announcements Saturday, Salary Numbers in New CBA, Player Updates and ECHL Attendance Increase

If you are an Allen Americans fan it has been rather quiet since their first round playoff exit but that is about to change with several critical dates this week. The future considerations deadline was yesterday.  Friday (June 15) the season-ending rosters are due to the league office (3:00 pm EDT) and Saturday (June 16) is the first day to sign players for the 2018-19 season.

- Season-Ending Rosters - This roster can contain up to a maximum of 20 players and cannot include any players who did not sign an ECHL contract for 2017-18.


- Each team is entitled to reserve the rights to a maximum of eight players from the list of 20 by extending a qualifying offer no later than June 30. Of the eight qualified players, no more than four can be veterans (260 regular season professional games played). Players on open qualifying offers cannot be traded. Teams are not required to extend a qualifying offer to players who sign a contract prior to June 30.


- Future Considerations - There was a flurry of activity around the ECHL yesterday as all future consideration trades had to be completed by 3:00 pm EDT. The Americans only outstanding future consideration trade was with Quad City when Allen acquired Tristan King at the end of the season but the Mallards ceased operations so Allen was out of the future considerations activity. One former Allen player was involved yesterday as Rapid City forward Daniel Leavens was sent to Wichita to complete the trade just prior to Christmas when the Thunder sent goalie Shane Owen to Rapid City.


- I have had numerous questions about the release the Allen Americans issued on Tuesday with the title, "Big Announcements Coming from Coach Martinson this Saturday."  Everyone wants to know what will be announced on Saturday. I doubt it is a coincidence that Saturday is the first day players can be signed for the 2018-19 season so a player announcement has to be in the works. As I have reported for the last couple of weeks the hope was the new affiliation would be announced prior to the ECHL summer meetings which will be in Las Vegas next week so maybe that will be one of the big announcements. Whatever the announcements are it will be worth the trip to the Allen Event Center to get the latest information. Announcements scheduled for 12:30. Here is the info issued by the Americans: https://allenamericans.com/big-announcements-coming-from-coach-martinson-this-saturday/  


- The exodus of ECHL players heading overseas continues. Two former Allen Americans made the move in the last few days. Defenseman Garrett Clarke who played for the Indy Fuel last season will play in Romania next season and goalie Joel Rumpel, who started last season in Wichita and finished the season in Utah has signed to play in Scotland.


- Rookie Allen defenseman Gordie Ballhorn has decided to forgo professional hockey and will pursue a college career at the University of Saskatchewan. Ballhorn joins Jared Bethune to go the college route. The other two late season rookie additions (Braylon Shymr & Matt Foget) are expected to return.


- Here is a story about what is next for the Colorado Eagles as they transition from the ECHL to the AHL. The story covers who will be the coach, the schedule, how the roster will be built and affiliation possibilities. https://www.milehighhockey.com/2018/6/13/17457084/whats-next-for-the-colorado-eagles-ahl-avalanche


- A new five year Collective Bargaining Agreement will take effect July 1 and run through June 30, 2023. The weekly salary cap will increase from $12,800 last season to $13,000 per week for the upcoming season. For the duration of the CBA the salary cap will go to $13,300 in 2019-20, $13,600 in 2020-21, $13,900 in 2021-22 and $14,100 in 2022-23. If you figure 20 players on the active roster the average salary over the five years of the CBA will go from $650 per week in 2018-19 to $705 per week in 2022-23.


- Other dollar figures for the 2018-19 season include rookie maximum salary ($550 per week), rookie minimum salary ($470) and minimum salary for non-rookies ($510).


- Last season per diem when the team was on the road was $42 split between breakfast ($9), lunch ($12) and dinner ($21). Next season per diem will rise to $43 and will thereafter increase $2 per year so in the final year of this CBA (2022-23) per diem will be $50 per day. 



DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL reversed a a four year decline in attendance this season which has to be good news for the league. Average attendance was the largest since the 2014-15 season. Here is average regular season attendance over the past five years according to the ECHL website:

2017-18  -  4424
2016-17  -  4252
2015-16  -  4386
2014-15  -  4598
2013-14  -  4764

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Allen Americans Update and Musings of Barry the Blogger

It has been over six weeks since the Allen Americans played their last game (April 25) but today is one to remember because it was two years ago today (June 9, 2016) the American won their second Kelly Cup and fourth consecutive championship. There have been a lot of great moments as the Americans begin their 10th year as a franchise but it is very hard to top winning four straight championships and winning all of them on home ice.


- Two of Allen's four championships (2013 & 2015) were decided in game seven and hockey can't get more exciting than game seven. That will be the case tonight as the Florida Everblades play the Colorado Eagles in game seven of the Kelly Cup finals. It will be the fifth time in ECHL history the title will be decided in game seven. By the way in the four prior Kelly Cup finals that went to game seven the home team is 2-2. However, if you are looking for a home team game seven advantage check out these stats. The game tonight will be the 44th game seven in ECHL post season history. The home team is 31-12 in game sevens and has won 18 of the last 23.


-  There are a lot of stats you could look at to predict the outcome of the game tonight in Florida but two old standbys are pretty powerful. The first goal of the game is so important as combined the Everblades and Eagles are 22-2-1 when scoring first in the playoffs and Florida is 13-0-1. The team leading after the first period stat shows these teams are a combined 14-2 and Florida is 9-0 when leading after the first period. Getting that good start will be the key to victory tonight.


- There were a lot of great story lines coming out of the Stanley Cup finals with the Capitals finally winning the championship but none better than that of  Washington's forward Jay Beagle who became the first player ever to win the Kelly Cup, Calder Cup and the Stanley Cup. Beagle has played close to 500 NHL games (all for Washington) as a hard working fourth liner. His story is one of inspiration for any young hockey player. When he was 18, Jay tried out for his hometown Western Hockey League (WHL) team, the Calgary Hitmen and was cut. He ended up playing for a tier II junior team and then attended the University of Alaska - Anchorage as a grinding forward for two years where his stat line after 67 games was 30 points (14G 16A), 133 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -18. With his academics failing he left school at the end of his sophomore season and signed with the Idaho Steelheads at the end of the 2006-07 season. He played eight regular season games and 18 playoff games as Idaho went on to win the Kelly Cup. Beagle had one goal and two assists in his 18 playoff games with Idaho. The next season he ended up in Hershey (AHL) where he won two Calder Cups. How he got to the AHL is also an interesting story. Check it out here: https://wtop.com/washington-capitals/2018/06/jay-beagles-journey-comes-full-circle-as-capitals-eye-stanley-cup-in-vegas/


- Blake Sebring of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel did a Q&A with incoming ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin. Here is that interview where Crelin talks about his background, his goals for improving the ECHL, shortening the season or playoffs, the all-star game and balancing the desires of ECHL fans while serving as a developmental league for the AHL. http://www.news-sentinel.com/sports/2018/06/07/qa-with-incoming-echl-commissioner-ryan-crelin/


 - The Allen Americans recently issued their protected but it is not a very meaningful list since you can put an unlimited number of players on the list as long as they meet the criteria which is very broad. Here is a link to the press release with all of the details: https://allenamericans.com/americans-announce-protected-list-2/

Here are the 24 players on the Allen protected list:

Goalies
Jeremy Brodeur

Forwards
Olivier Archambault
Vincent Arseneau
Jared Bethune
JC Campagna
Alex Carrier
Matt Foget
Alex Guptill
Tristan King
Jonathan Lessard
Peter MacArthur
Wade MacLeod
Zach Pochiro
Tyler Poulsen
Braylon Shmyr
Casey Pierro-Zabotel

Defensemen
Gordie Ballhorn
Joel Chouinard
Mike Gunn
Miles Liberati
Eric Roy
Josh Thrower
Dalton Thrower
Micheal Webster

Don't read too much into this list as it represents those players that meet the criteria for being on the list and nothing more.

It is important to note that players on AHL contracts cannot be protected. Here are the players that were on AHL deals so are missing from the protected list.

Spencer Asuchak
Thomas Frazee
David Makowski
Colby McAuley
Bryan Moore
Jake Paterson
Alex Schoenborn


- The next list that will come out is the season ending roster which must be submitted to the league on June 15 (3:00 pm EDT). This list can be no more than 20 players and can only include players that signed an ECHL contract in 2017-18.


- The first day to officially sign players for the 2018-19 season is June 16. You can expect coach Martinson will sign a lot of players between June 16 and June 30 when qualifying offers are made. Only eight players can be given qualifying offers. It doesn't mean players signed will be announced. If you see your favorite player not getting a qualifying offer when the qualifying offer list is released (June 30) it could mean they are already signed.


- It is all speculation at this point but if you attended the get together at the Allen Event Center a couple of weeks ago and listened carefully to what coach Steve Martinson had to say and made a few assumptions it sounds like there is a good chance that the rookies that came in at the end of last season will return (Ballhorn, Shmyr, Foget) with the exception of Jared Bethune who is headed to college (Queen's University). You have to also assume the four veteran spots will go to Chouinard, Pierro-Zabotel, Asuchak and Frazee.


- Until the new affiliation is finalized and it is determined how many players will be assigned to Allen the number of players Martinson will have to re-sign or recruit is an unknown. The last I heard was hope the affiliation would be announced prior to the ECHL summer meetings in Las Vegas which start June 18.


- Congrats to Vincent Arseneau who signed a one way contract with Utica (AHL) this week.


 - If you follow social media you most likely saw recently that former Allen Americans forward Wade MacLeod signed with a new team in Germany (Dresden) back in April after playing for Frankfurt this past season. Wade finished the 2017-18 season with 49 points (25G 24A) in 49 games. Last week it was announced that Wade will not be playing in Dresden because he has had a reoccurrence of a brain tumor that will require surgery. Wade has gone through this surgery two times before. Wade is a fighter and he will come through this battle in the relentless way he plays hockey. Here is the "Google Translate" version of the German press release issued by the team.


"Wade MacLeod has to undergo surgery again

Shattering news for the Dresden Ice Lions: Striker Wade MacLeod, the first newcomer to the Blue-White, can not get into the preparation as planned. The 31-year-old striker will have to undergo surgery again in the weeks following a recurrent tumor. In mutual agreement, a contract was agreed. MacLeod's shirt number 19 will not be awarded this season.

Over the next few weeks fans and supporters will have the opportunity to write down the best wishes for recovery on a special jersey print in the EnergieVerbund Arena, which will then be forwarded to the striker. The start date for the action is in the communicates the next few days.

Wade MacLeod: "Of course the re-operation is a setback for me. I'm extremely disappointed, but I'm not giving up. I can promise everyone that I will fight back again this time."

Thomas Barth, sports manager at the Dresden Ice Lions: "The fate of Wade touches us very much. We wish him all the best for the healing process, we are in close contact with him. His health is the focus and he should be able to focus on that for the next few months alone. In consultation with him and his advisor, we have therefore agreed to dissolve the existing contract. When Wade signals that we want to return to the ice, we are of course his point of contact."


- The pace of ECHL players signing overseas has really picked up over the last two weeks. Here is the list:

Adam Vay (G)                Rapid City to Kazakhstan
Gabriel Desjardins (F)    Fort Wayne to Sweden
Scott Jacklin (F)             Brampton to France
Mason Baptista (F)         Fort Wayne to Germany
Jordan Smotherman (F)  Manchester to Germany
Kyle Bonis (F)                Toledo to Norway
Paul Geiger (D)              South Carolina to Italy
Dylan Olsen (D)             Adirondack to England
Matt Caito (D)                Rapid City to Austria
Colin Sullivan (D)           Atlanta to France
Simon Denis (D)             Toledo to South Korea
Micheal McNicholas (F)  Indy to Norway
Ben Marshall (D)            Atlanta to Slovakia
Garrett Thompson (F)     Fort Wayne to Norway
Nolan Zajac (D)              Reading to Sweden
Josh Pitt (F)                     Kalamazoo to England
Kevin Schulze (D)          Wheeling to Sweden
T.J. Moore (F)                 Norfolk to Denmark
Evan Jasper (F)              Greenville to Denmark
Mark MacMillan (F)        Wichita to Sweden
Scott Tanski (F)               Reading to Scotland



DID YOU KNOW:  There is just one game remaining in the ECHL playoffs and David Makowski is still #3 in goals scored in the playoffs by defensemen. Jake Marto (Colorado) is #1 with seven goals in 23 games and Daniel Maggio (Fort Wayne) is #2 with six goals in 12 games. David is third in goals scored with four goals in seven games. Makowski also leads all defensemen in the playoffs in points per game average at 1.00. In seven games David had seven points (4G 3A).

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Critical June Dates, ECHL Players Heading Overseas, Adam Pineault Update, Affiliation, Summer Meetings, Fort Wayne Media Coverage, Kelly Cup Stats

It has already been more than a month since the Allen Americans played their last hockey game of the season (April 25) and the Kelly Cup may not be decided for another ten days. Florida and Colorado are tied 1-1 with the next three games in Florida tonight, Friday and Saturday. Thought I would cover some of the questions I have gotten over the last 10 days as well as some other random thoughts.


Critical dates in June - The first of a series of critical dates takes place on Friday (June 1st). Teams have to submit a "Protected List" which can be an unlimited number of players for which the team retains the rights as defined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). This list will be published by the ECHL. The next step is the "Season Ending Roster" which is due June 15. Season ending rosters may include up to 20 players from the protected list. After the season ending rosters are submitted (June 15) the next critical date will be on June 30. Until June 30 all of the Allen American player's rights for the ECHL remain with Allen (unless the rights are traded) but on June 30th Martinson has to submit to the league a list of no more than eight players he wants to protect/qualify. These eight names do not include players that have already signed. Because only eight players can be protected/qualified there is incentive to get as many players signed by June 30th as possible. The eight players will be given qualifying offers which for the most part must be 5% above their salary from last season. The qualifying offer period is from June 30th to August 1st. My understanding is the new CBA changes some of the qualifying offer dates as it relates to veterans.


- The first day to officially sign players for the 2018-19 season is June 16. You can expect coach Martinson will sign a lot of players between June 16 and June 30 when qualifying offers can be made but are limited to just eight players. It doesn't mean players signed will be announced. If you see your favorite player not getting a qualifying offer when the qualifying offer list is released (June 30) it could mean they are already signed.


- This doesn't impact the Americans but all future considerations trades must be done by June 13. Allen did owe Quad City future considerations for the Tristan King trade but that disappeared when the Mallards ceased operations at the end of the season.


- The ECHL announced yesterday that they had selected a new commissioner from within their organization. Ryan Crelin who has been with the ECHL since 2005 will replace Brian McKenna. Here is the ECHL press release with the details: https://www.echl.com/crelin-to-succeed-mckenna-as-echl-commissioner 


- There is a new five year CBA which will go into effect on July 1. While I have not seen the new CBA I do know the weekly salary cap for 2018-19 will be $13,000 which is a $200 per week increase from last season. When you figure that over a 20 player roster that is a $10 per week per player increase.


- According to Elite Prospects there have been 18 ECHL players in the last month who have signed to play overseas in 2018-19. It doesn't seem as many high profile ECHL players have signed overseas as last year but it is still early. I have heard some Allen players are looking at overseas options but nobody has signed yet. Here are a few of the players that are headed overseas:

Justin Danforth (F) - Cincinnati Cyclones rookie all-star
Jesse Mychan (F) - Colorado Eagles
Ty Rimmer (G) - Greenville Swamp Rabbits
Gabriel Desjardins - Fort Wayne Komets leading goal scorer
Adam Vay (G) - Rapid City Rush top goalie


- Here is a great story about former Allen Americans forward Adam Pineault: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/unpredictable-journey-craig-eagles


- I get questions daily about the new affiliation for the Allen Americans and unfortunately there is nothing new to report other than I would expect an announcement prior to the ECHL summer meetings which take place June 18-22.


- Speaking of the summer meetings there is always news that breaks that week that could include rule changes, franchise changes and a whole host of other things. Always worthwhile following what is happening in Las Vegas that week. Here are some of the details about the summer meetings:  https://www.echl.com/2018-echl-hockey-summer-meetings-presented-fevo-held-june-18-22-la


-  Whether you are fan or foe of the Fort Wayne Komets it is hard to dispute they have the best local coverage of any team in the ECHL. I have learned so much from their local beat writers Justin Cohn (The Journal Gazette) and Blake Sebring (News-Sentinel). The Allen Americans can only dream of the quantity and quality of coverage these two professionals give the Komets. If you are on Twitter they are a must follow: @SportsiCohn and @blakesebring.




DID YOU KNOW: Here are a few stats to consider as Florida plays the next three games at home against Colorado. The series tied 1-1.

- Scoring first: Florida is 11-0 in the playoffs when scoring first. Colorado is 8-2.

- Home vs road record: Florida's home record in the playoffs is 5-0-1 but they shouldn't feel too comfortable because Colorado's road record is 7-1-0.

- Overtime: Florida is 1-1 in overtime in the playoffs. Colorado is 6-1.

- Special teams: Florida's playoff power play percentage is 21.5%  compared to Colorado's 14.8%. Florida's penalty kill percentage is 86.8% compared to 83.9% for Colorado. Florida leads the playoffs in shorthanded goals (4) and shorthanded goals allowed (0).  

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Steve Martinson's Thoughts on Last Season & Next Season, Kelly Cup Playoff Update, Olivier Archambault's Exit Interview, Military Jersey for Sale, Beckett Dougherty Heads Home

On Saturday at the Allen Americans open house coach Steve Martinson addressed Allen fans on a variety of topics. Here are some of his comments from that meeting and from a conversation I had with Martinson prior to the open house.


"We can't sign players until June 16 so nothing can happen officially until then. I have talked to the rookies about attending AHL camps and I think we will have all of them back except Bethune who is going to college."

"I would expect we will have more training camp spots next season than we have in the past which will be a big help."

"When we played Idaho I thought their team got better for the playoffs and we didn't. Some of our go to guys struggled the last month of the season and into the playoffs. It was a painful end over those last four games. 

"For a couple of months of the season (January & February) we had the worst roster we have ever had. Between injuries, call ups and suspensions we were without Arseneau, Archambault, Gill, Pochiro, MacArthur, Asuchak, McAuley, Hall, Dalton Thrower, Makowski and Gunn.

"We had close to a .650 win percentage from October to the end of December and from March to the end of the season. A .650 win percentage is good enough to win in the playoffs if you add players. If we had 90% of our roster at playoff time and then added two or three players we would have been a really good team."

"I have to learn how to deal with the referees in a different way. I just have to let it go and not point out when I think they make mistakes."

"I intend our veteran spots to go to guys that don't want to go to the AHL."

"We have to make sure the players we get from the American League are top guys that can log top minute time and deserve top minute time."

"The most important thing about a power play is to have five guys playing for each other that don't care who scores. I think we struggled with that when we lost some of the "team first" guys. When you have players that want to score more than they want the power play unit to score it can be a problem."

"I didn't change the model that I have always had of having top end guys that would be here for playoffs. I gambled on some guys that I thought would be here more than they were."

"We have to be careful who we sign because we want the guys getting first line minutes to be here for the playoffs. That has always been the case in the past. This year we had guys getting first line minutes that ended up in the AHL and not available for the playoffs."

"We will be back and forth between our home in Rockford and Allen this off season more than in the past. I might get involved in some camps which I haven't done in the past."

"I am contemplating having shoulder replacement surgery in August."

"Our son, Logan, will be heading to Langley, British Columbia at the end of the summer to play junior hockey so I will be making a trip to British Columbia in August.

"I just got a pontoon boat and will be working on that this summer and may bring it to Texas since we will be back and forth."



- The Americans unveiled their 10th Anniversary logo on Saturday along with merchandise already available in the team store with the new logo.




- Speaking of the team store, because they have had a lot of requests for the military appreciation specialty jersey the team wore this past season, the Allen Americans and OrthoTexas are offering fans the opportunity to purchase one of their own. Cost is $299 and season ticket holder discounts are available. Here are all of the details and the online form to order the jersey. Email Michelle Martinson (mmartinson@allenamericans.com) with any questions. https://allenamericans.com/militaryjersey/
  

- Here is Olivier Archambault's exit interview with the Syracuse Crunch (AHL). He talks about his season including why he was able to be successful at the AHL level. I know coach Martinson played a role in making sure Archambault realized he is a special player offensively but his key to success at the next level was how he performed on the defensive end of the ice. If you watch this interview you can hear Olivier talk about why things went well in Syracuse. Archambault played 19 games in Allen and had 31 points (13G 18A) and was +12. He played 29 games in Syracuse and had 18 points (10G 8A) and was +4. Archambault is already signed with Syracuse for the 2018-19 season.





- The Colorado Eagles defeated the Fort Wayne Komets 4-3 in overtime last night in game seven of their series to advance to the Kelly Cup finals where they will take on the Florida Everblades. It was quite the comeback for the Eagles as they were trailing 3-1 with 12 minutes remaining in the game. Here are two game recaps from different perspectives:

From the local paper in Colorado: http://www.reporterherald.com/sports/ci_31898828/colorado-eagles-beat-fort-wayne-overtime-game-7-echl-kelly-cup-playoffs

From the local paper in Fort Wayne: http://www.journalgazette.net/sports/professional/komets/20180524/Ks-squander-lead-lose-Game-7


-  It may not be true in other leagues but in the ECHL the Kelly Cup champion is almost always a team that is #1 or #2 in their division during the regular season. Only once in the last 10 years has the Kelly Cup champion finished lower than #2 in their division. The Kelly Cup this season will be won by a division champion since Florida won the South Division and Colorado was the Mountain Division champion. During the regular season Florida was #1 with 112 points and Colorado was #4 with 102 points.


-  Another streak that will be kept alive in the finals is a team with toughness will win the Kelly Cup. Does toughness help win in the playoffs where you play teams in best of seven series? The last three Kelly Cup champions have finished the regular season ranked #3, #5 and #1 in penalty minutes. Colorado and Florida were not only division champions they were also two of only five teams that had over 1300 penalty minutes during the regular season.


- You have to feel bad for former Allen captain Jamie Schaafsma who scored again last night in a losing cause. After seven straight years making it to to the championship finals (four different teams) including three straight championships in Allen, Jamie has been disappointed the last three seasons in Fort Wayne by not making the finals. The game last night may have been the toughest to take since the Komets had the game well in hand (3-1 lead) with 12 minutes left. Jamie is 35 and battled injuries all season so you wonder how long he will keep going.


- A couple of stats that stand out in the Colorado vs Fort Wayne series. It is ironic the series winning overtime goal by the Eagles was scored on the power play since prior to that goal they were 1-28 (3.6%) on the power play. The Komets were 8-31 (25.8%) on the power play in the series.  The other stat that is telling and says a lot about the reigning champs is their success in overtime. Colorado won all three overtime games in this series and in the playoffs are now 6-1 in overtime games. Fort Wayne ended the playoffs 1-4 in overtimes.


- Now all of the focus will be on Florida vs Colorado for the Kelly Cup. Even though they have home ice advantage the Everblades will start the series in Colorado (Friday) because the Eagles have building availability issues. The series will be 2-3-1-1.


- Florida enters the championship final as the favorite and is the much fresher team. Florida has played only 14 games (12-1-1) through the first three rounds and have not played since May 19. The Everblades have played in only two overtime periods. Colorado has played in 17 games (12-4-1) through the first three rounds and has also played eight overtime periods.


- Another key statistic which differentiates these teams is special teams. For the 16 teams that made the playoffs Florida is #2 (21.4%) and Colorado is #10 (12.5%) on the power play. Florida is #3 (89.6%) and Colorado is #7 (84.6%) on the penalty kill.



- I know many of you have followed the Beckett Dougherty story. Beckett is the young son of Kelley and Britt Dougherty. Kelley worked in the front office for the Americans and Britt played for Allen in their first season. Beckett was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia when he was three months old and has spent the last nine months in Toronto (20 hours from their home in Swift Current). If you followed his progress you know there were a lot of ups and downs and the updates were hard to read without crying many times. The good news is the Dougherty family is heading home today after nine grueling month of treatment with many set backs along the way. Best of luck!



DID YOU KNOW:  The last two times the regular season champion went on to win the Kelly Cup it was accomplished by the Alaska Aces, in 2014 and 2011.


 

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Chat With Steve Martinson, 2018-19 Allen Schedule, Kelly Cup Update, Bus Driver Monty Williams Retires, Special Teams Cost Allen in Playoffs



-  There is going to be an open house at the Allen Event Center (AEC) tomorrow (Saturday) from noon until 2:00 pm. The team will be unveiling their 10th Anniversary logo and coach Steve Martinson will be having a question and answer session with fans from 1:00 - 2:00. It will be worth the trip to the AEC to hear what Martinson has to say about the just completed season and his plans for next season including what I would describe as a shift in philosophy. Come loaded with your questions and plan on being both better informed and also entertained. For those that can't make it I will share his comments in my next blog post. Here is the news release issued by the Americans on the 2018-19 schedule and the open house on Saturday. https://allenamericans.com/americans-announce-full-2018-2019-schedule/


- If you had a chance to take a look at the schedule for next season or read the "deep dive on the schedule" I posted the other day you have to be excited for what is in store for Allen Americans fans in 2018-19. There are many factors to consider when putting together a schedule and in my opinion this year is the best ever. It is well balanced, the games against Tulsa and Wichita are spread out, the schedule is travel friendly, there are fewer games at home during football season and there is a  heavy dose of home games late in the season. For the first time there will be the battle for the "Jack Gulati Cup" with five games (2 home, 3 away) against Reading. Here is the "deep dive" post if you haven't seen it: http://allenamericansblog.blogspot.com/2018/05/a-deep-dive-on-allen-americans-2018-19.html



- If you have been tracking the Kelly Cup playoffs you know that the final four consist of three division champs (Florida, Adirondack, Colorado) and one second place team in Fort Wayne. It may not be true in other leagues but in the ECHL the champion is almost always a team that is #1 or #2 in their division during the regular season. Only once in the last 10 years has the Kelly Cup champion finished lower than #2 in their division.


- Fort Wayne leads Colorado 2-1 with a chance to close out the series at home with games tonight and Saturday. The Komets playoff power play is ranked #1 at 25.5% which is 6.5% higher than second place. Colorado has been involved in the most overtime games in the playoffs (5) and is 4-1 in those games. Fort Wayne is 1-2 in overtime games.


- Florida has a 2-1 lead in their series against Adirondack with games four (Friday) and five (Saturday) in Adirondack. The key stat in this series might be who scores first. During the playoffs Adirondack is 8-0 when scoring first while Florida is 9-0.


- One group at the Allen Event Center that doesn't get the recognition they deserve is the staff that takes care of the ice in the main rink and the community rink. They take a lot of pride in their work and operate under trying circumstances many times. They are as big a part of the Allen Americans team as anyone and are greatly appreciated by the team and the coaches. Job well done!


- You may have seen on social media that bus driver Monty Williams has decided to hang up his "driving skates" and retire. Monty spent the last six years on the hockey bus first as the secondary driver on long trips and then as the primary driver after Scott Alexander passed away. Monty had to deal with all of the problems with Big Red and went above and beyond the call of duty many times. You won't find anyone more loved in the organization than Monty. Dyson Stevenson captured it best when I asked him for a statement after he was traded to Wichita last season, "I made a real close friend that I will miss everyday especially when I am on the bus and that is Monty Williams. He kept us safe on that shitty bus and still had time to be the most generous guy in the world!"



DID YOU KNOW:  If there is one stat that helps explain Allen's first round playoff loss to Idaho it would be special teams. Of the 16 teams that made the playoffs, Allen's power play was ranked #15 at 8.3% and the penalty kill was ranked #13 at 81.3%. The Americans power play in the four games in Idaho was 0-13.

In 2017 Allen lost to the eventual Kelly Cup champion Colorado Eagles in the second round but their special teams were outstanding. The power play was ranked #3 at 24.4% and the penalty kill was ranked #2 at 90.0%.

The last time Allen won the Kelly Cup (2016) they had the #1 ranked power play in the playoffs (27.2%).

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Deep Dive On the Allen Americans 2018-19 Schedule

The Allen Americans schedule for the 2018-19 season was issued by the ECHL today.  I thought it would be a good time to do the annual "deep dive" on the Americans schedule. It is probably more information than you would ever want to know about the schedule but it will give you many different views of what coach Martinson and the team will be dealing with. The schedule looks improved from a travel standpoint with only one trip to Rapid City, one trip to Idaho and two trips to Utah. The only road trip outside the Mountain Division is a trip to Reading for three games and then on to Wheeling for one game.


- One of the goals of the ECHL when preparing the schedule is to balance cost along with having a schedule that avoids teams playing each other too many times. Allen will be playing 11 different teams this season compared to 13 last season.  Five of the 13 teams (Atlanta, Florida,  Fort Wayne, Jacksonville, Indy) Allen played last season they only played on the road. Next season only one team (Wheeling) will be on the road only. 

- Below is a complete list of Allen's 72 games by opponent comparing last season and the upcoming season. Teams with an asterisk are Mountain Division foes.

                     2017-18                                                    2018-19
13 games - Tulsa (7 home 6 away)*                  14 games - Wichita (5 home, eight away)*
12 games - Wichita (6 home 6 away)*              13 games - Tulsa (5 home, eight away)*
10 games - Idaho (4 home 6 away)*                  11 games - Utah (6 home 5 away)*
8 games - Kansas City (4 home 4 away)            10 games - KC (5 home, 5 away)*          
8 games   - Rapid City (5 home 3 away)*          6 games - Rapid City (3 home, 3 away)*
6 games - Colorado (4 home 2 away)*               6 games - Idaho (3 home, 3 away)*
6 games - Utah (4 home 2 away)*                      5 games - Reading (2 home, 3 away)
2 games - Fort Wayne (0 home 2 away)             3 games - Cincinnati (3 home, 0 away)
2 games - Orlando (2 home 0 away)                   2 games - South Carolina (2 home, 0 away)
2 games - Florida (0 home 2 away)                    1 game - Wheeling (0 home, 1 away)
1 game   - Indy (0 home 1 away)                        1 games - Worcester (1 home, 0 away)
1 game - Atlanta (0 home 1 away)
1 game - Jacksonville (0 home 1 away)

Note there is much more emphasis on divisional play this season as Allen will play 60 of their 72 (83%) games against Mountain Division foes.


- Here is a breakdown of the schedule by day of the week. This is a very similar breakdown as last season.

              2017-18                                                    2018-19
Sunday - 10 (5 home, 5 away)                      8 - (4 home, 4 away)
Monday - 2 (1 home, 1 away)                       1 - (1 home)
Tuesday -  3 (1 home, 2 away)                      6 - (4 home, 2 away)
Wednesday - 10 (7 home, 3 away)                9 - (5 home, 4 away)
Thursday - 1 (1 home 0 away)                      1 - (1 away)
Friday - 21 (10 home, 11 away)                    24 - (13 home, 11 away)
Saturday - 25 (11 home, 14 away)                23 - (11 home, 12 away)



 Allen has always tried to get more road games early in the season to avoid conflicts with football plus early season road trips help bring the team together. The following lists the games by month.

                          2017-18                                             2018-19
October - 7 games (3 home 4 away)                 8 games (1 home 7 away)
November - 12 games (6 home 6 away)           13 games (6 home, 7 away)
December - 13 games (8 home 5 away)            15 games (7 home, 8 away
January - 12 games (5 home 7 away)                11 games (3 home, 8 away)
February - 11 games (4 home 7 away)              11 games (8 home, 3 away)
March - 14 games (8 home 6 away)                  12 games (11 home, 1 away)
April- 3 games (2 home 1 away)                        2 games (0 home, 2 away)
  

- One of the many things the team looks at when the schedule comes out is how many times they have to play three games back to back to back. Three games in three days is stressful especially if there is travel involved. Players are more prone to injuries in these situations. In 2017-18 that happened six times. In 2018-19 Allen will play three games in three days eight times and four of them will come in consecutive weeks. Notice that in only three of the three games in three days travel is involved.

October 26, 27, 28 - Rapid City (A), Rapid City (A), Rapid City (A)
November 9, 10, 11 - Kansas City (H), Kansas City (H), Wichita (A)
January 11, 12, 13 - Wichita (H), Wichita (A), Wichita (A)
December 14, 15, 16 - Reading (A), Reading (A), Reading (A)
February 5, 6, 7 - Wichita (A), Kansas City (A), Tulsa (A)
February 15, 16, 17 - Worcester (H), Reading (H), Reading (H)
February 22, 23, 24 - Utah (H), Utah (H), Utah (H)
March 1, 2, 3 -  Tulsa (H), Tulsa (A), Rapid City (H)


-  Four games in five days is really brutal and that happened three times last season. This season the Americans will play four games in five days three times but notice two of them take place in consecutive weeks. Allen will play eight games in 13 days between December 4th and 16th.   Here is the list of four games in five days.

November 9, 10, 11, 13 - Kansas City (H), Kansas City (H), Wichita (A), Kansas City (A)
December 4, 5, 7, 8 - Rapid City (H), Rapid City (H), Kansas City (A), Kansas City (A)
December 12, 14, 15, 16 -  Wheeling (A) Reading (A), Reading (A), Reading (A) 


- Five of the 11 teams on Allen's schedule this season didn't make the playoffs last season. Of Allen's 72 regular season games 41 (57%) will be against the five teams that did not make the playoffs.


- Allen will play six teams with a winning percentage higher than the Americans winning percentage last season (.542) including three teams (South Carolina, Idaho, Reading) with a winning percentage above .600. However, 54 of Allen's 72 games (75%) are against teams with a lower winning percentage than the Americans. Note that only two teams on the schedule next season (Utah & Rapid City) had a winning percentage below .500 last season.  Here is a complete list in winning percentage order with the number of games Allen will play each team this season in parentheses:

.722 - South Carolina (2)
.667 - Idaho (6).
.604 - Reading (5)
.569 - Worcester (1)
.563 - Cincinnati (3)
.549 - Wheeling (1)
.542 - ALLEN
.528 - Wichita (14) 
.514 - Kansas City (10)
.514 - Tulsa (13)
.493 - Utah (11) 
.389 - Rapid City (6)


- The easiest part of the schedule for Allen will be a period between February 8 and April 4. Allen will spend 56 days at home, play 18 games with 17 at home and the one away game a same day trip to Tulsa.


- The schedule is much more balanced this season than in the past when the Americans seemed to play Tulsa a lot early in the season and Wichita later. The Americans play Tulsa and Wichita at least once every month of the season. Allen's last two games of the season will be on the road against Wichita.


- Here is the complete 2018-19 Allen Americans schedule if you don't already have it: http://allenamericans.com/schedule/



DID YOU KNOW:  Allen will open the 2018-19 season against their long time rival Wichita. When you consider how good the Allen Americans have been since their inception the home opener record is a mediocre 4-5 but the good news is they have won two in a row.  No matter when you started following the Americans these home opener games from the last nine years will bring back some memories good and bad.

2009-10 -  Allen started on the road the first season because the Allen Event Center was not completed. The Americans played their first seven games in franchise history on the road. They returned to Allen after those first seven games 5-1-0-1. The home opener was memorable even though the Americans laid an egg, losing to Corpus Christi by a score of 4-1. Two of the goal scorers for Corpus were Chad Costello and future NHLer Ryan Garbutt. That game is mostly remembered for a melee that broke out after the game was over that ended up with 72 penalty minutes being called. A crowd of 5808 witnessed the first home game in team history. 

2010-11 - Allen opened at home against Texas, scored three goals (Alexandre Quesnel, Dustin Donaghy, Judd Blackwater) in the first four minutes of the game and coasted to a 5-2 win. Similar to the year before there were 66 minutes worth of penalties called at the 18:29 mark of the third period including four fighting majors and four game misconducts. Allen got the last laugh as Erik Adams scored an unassisted, shorthanded, empty net goal with under a minute remaining to seal the victory for the Americans. 

2011-12 - Allen's home opener was against Tulsa and the Americans got beat 4-1. Jim McKenzie scored the Americans only goal with just over a minute left in the game. Most notable in that game was a Gordie Howe hat trick by Tulsa's Gary Steffes who had a goal, an assist and a fight with Allen's Scott Langdon.

2012-13 - Allen's home opener was against Arizona and they shut out Sundogs 4-0. Scott Howes had two goals in the game. The other goal scorers were Adam Pineault and Darryl Bootland. Steve Silverthorn was in goal and the backup was a rookie by the name of Aaron Dell. Dell would play sparingly the first few weeks of the season but eventually take over the starting role and lead the Americans to their first championship.

2013-14 -The home opener was an exciting game but the Americans lost to Wichita 4-3 in a shootout. Ironically the two teams had played the season opener the night before in Wichita and Allen had won by an identical score of 4-3 in a shootout. The home opener was a Sunday afternoon game and Allen took a 2-0 lead into the third period only to allow the Thunder to score three unanswered goals to take a 3-2 lead. Tyler Ludwig got the equalizer with less that three minutes remaining n the game. The game would go to a shootout and Allen could manage just one goal (Kale Kerbashain) in seven rounds before Wichita got the game winner.

2014-15 - The worst home opener ever for Allen as they got beat by Tulsa 9-6. Greger Hanson was the lone bright spot for Allen with a whopping 11 shots on goal, four points and a hat trick. Aaron Dell was in goal for the Americans and gave up seven of the nine goals. It was Dell's only regulation loss in the 12 games he played for Allen that season. By the end of January he was in the AHL on his way to the NHL.

2015-16 - Another home opener loss as the Quad City Mallards came to the Allen Event Center and beat the Americans 2-1. Allen's lone goal was scored by Garrett Clarke with assists going to Justin Courtnall and goalie Joel Rumpel. You didn't see those three in the boxscore very often let alone on the same play.

2016-17 - It was a home opener win as Allen beat Missouri 6-3. Kale Kerbashain had two goals and Riley Gill was peppered with 47 shots.

2017-18 -  After two big wins on the road in Rapid City the Americans opened at home against Orlando and beat the Solar Bears 6-2. Zach Pochiro had two goals, David Makowski and Casey Pierro-Zabotel each had three points (1G 2A). This game will always be remembered as the game with less than seven minutes remaining goalie Riley Gill was injured and would be out for the season.




Thursday, May 3, 2018

Allen Americans Update - A Look Ahead, ECHL Schedule Release, Playoff Update and More

It has been a week since the disastrous ending to the Allen Americans season and slowly everyone is moving on and the focus has started to switch to next season. I still plan to talk to coach Martinson  (scheduled next week) about the just completed season and plans for the future. For today here are a few topics of interest.

Affiliation - It was apparent to anyone observing that the affiliation with San Jose seemed to be different this season. My reporting is coach Martinson and the Allen Americans will move on from San Jose and affiliate with a different team next season. Stay tuned.


Rookies -  Everyone wants to know if the four players Martinson brought in at the end of the season will return. Gordie Ballhorn, Jared Bethune, Matt Foget and Braylon Shmyr all have a decision to make whether they will attend college or play pro hockey. It was reported yesterday (eliteprospects.com) that Jared Bethune has committed to Queens University (Kingston, Ontario) so he will not be returning but there is a chance the others could be on the roster again.


Veterans - Seven different veterans played for Allen in the just completed season (Chouinard, Pierro-Zabotel, MacArthur, Frazee, Steffes, Aubin and King). In addition Spencer Asuchak crossed over the 260 pro games played threshold and will be a vet next season. Alex Guptill is just under 260 (252) so will not be a vet next season. The roster is limited to four veterans and coach Martinson always seems to hold one slot for recruiting purposes so there will definitely have to be decisions made regarding veterans.


2018-19 Schedule - You may have noticed some teams have already released their home schedule for next season. The Americans are putting the final touches on the schedule and should release it soon. What is known is the Americans will open on the road in Kansas City on October 12. This is known because Kansas City has released their home schedule. Allen will play in Kansas City six times next season. Tulsa has also released their home schedule and the Americans will play in Tulsa eight times.

It is possible depending on the outcome of the playoffs games this week the entire ECHL schedule could be released next week. If there is a day with no playoff games the league could release the schedule. If it doesn't happen next week the full schedule will be released the week of May 14.


Vincent Arseneau - I ran into Arseneau in the locker room on Tuesday as he was back in town gathering his belongings before heading home. He had a great experience in Utica and received excellent feed back in his exit interview. Arseneau is a player everyone agrees should be playing in the AHL. Remember he was fourth in goals (18) on the Americans and only played in 38 games. He brought his game every night and is the heaviest hitter in the league. The time has come for Arseneau to get an AHL deal and be in that league all year.


Steve Martinson - Next season Martinson will hit a major milestone. He doesn't pay much attention to his coaching stats but has said this upcoming one will be noteworthy. Martinson will begin the 2018-19 season with 978 regular season wins and should hit the 1000 win mark some time between the end of December and the beginning of February. Hope it happens at home.



OTHER COMMENTS

-  If you have been tracking the ECHL playoffs things are going according to Hoyle. All four division finals have the #1 seed leading in the series. The old adage of once you make the playoffs anything can happen is not based in historical fact and definitely not in the current playoffs. With the exception of Orlando who is the #3 seed the other seven teams in the division finals are #1 and #2 seeds. Here is the playoff update:

North Division - It is #1 seed Adirondack (89 regular season points) against #2 seed Manchester (88 regular season points). Adirondack leads the series 2-1 with game four tonight in Adirondack. This is the series where because of scheduling issues Manchester has only two home games (five and six). Adirondack is at home for games 1-4 and than again if the series goes seven games.

South Division - #1 seed Florida (112 regular season points) is playing #3 seed Orlando (75 regular season points). The Everblades lead the series 2-0 winning the first two games 4-1 and 5-1. The teams play in Orlando tonight (Thursday) and tomorrow. 

Central Division - It is #1 seed Toledo (105 regular season points) against #2 seed Fort Wayne (98 regular season points) with Toledo leading the series 2-1. Game four is Friday in Fort Wayne and game five is in Toledo on Saturday. This is a great series with great crowds and a great rivalry. This one looks like it could go seven games.

Mountain Division - #1 seed Colorado (102 regular season points) leads #2 seed Idaho (96 regular season points) 3-0 in the series. Idaho pulled off a miracle against Allen but it is not going to happen again. This series could end tonight when the teams play in Idaho.


- This story was in the Calgary paper last week about Aaron Dell's dad offering help to one of the Humbodlt Broncos players who was paralyzed in their bus crash. It is a nice story of offering help to modify the player's home which is in the same community as Dell's. http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/airdrie-dad-of-san-jose-sharks-goalie-hopes-to-aid-straschnitzki-home-renos


- Here is another story you might enjoy if you haven't seen it already. It is a week or so old and was written by Cris Tiller with the title, "Matt Register proved everybody wrong in journey to becoming ECHL's best defenseman."   http://www.reporterherald.com/sports/ci_31839769/matt-register-colorado-eagles-prove-everybody-wrong-journey-echl-best-kelly-cup-playoffs
 


DID YOU KNOW: David Makowski is no longer playing in the playoffs but did you know he has twice as many goals (4) than any other defenseman in the playoffs. He is still second in points (7). Makowski was also Allen's leading scorer (goals and points) in the playoffs.


In 2016-17 Allen had eight players that averaged one point per game or more. This season (2017-18) Allen had just two and they were Gary Steffes who only played in five games and Olivier Archambault who played in just 19 games.