Monday, January 23, 2017

Allen's Second Straight Loss to Wichita in Historical Perspective, Roster & Schedule Update & More

The headline reads the Allen Americans lost to the Wichita Thunder Sunday afternoon by a score of 5-1 before an ecstatic crowd of 5330 at Intrust Bank Arena. It was the first time the Thunder has beaten Allen in a regulation game at home since December 27, 2014. 


- It is hard to overstate the significance of the last two games between these teams. Wichita shutout the Americans 4-0 in Allen Saturday night before the 5-1 drubbing on Sunday. The Thunder came away with two regulation wins, outscored Allen 9-1 and out shot the Americans 76-54. Before these two losses to Wichita, Allen had not lost a game in regulation since December 14.


- Allen has owned Wichita since the teams joined the ECHL in 2014. They played their first ECHL game against each other on October 25, 2014 and Allen beat the Thunder 5-3. Gary Steffes (two goals) and Chad Costello (two assists) were the offensive stars of the game and Aaron Dell was the winning goalie for the Americans. Since that first win in 2014 through the Allen 5-3 win over the Thunder Friday night, 819 days had passed and Wichita had a grand total of two regulation wins. That is two years, two months and 27 days with two regulation wins. The next two regulation wins took a grand total of two days.


- Allen still has an amazing record against Wichita since joining the ECHL (29-4-4-3) including 13-0-0-0 last season and 7-2-1-0 this season, but the decisive Thunder wins the last two days may be an indication of a much closer rivalry in the future.


- Many would point to the fact that Allen is missing 40% of their goal scoring with Hanson, Moore and Marchment in the AHL and Stevenson, Hall, Gens and Brown injured. Allen's #1 goalie, Riley Gill, has been out of the lineup for a month. The reality is all teams go through call ups and injuries and coach Martinson would never use that as an excuse. As he said after the loss to Wichita on Saturday, "We have a good enough team to win even with the missing guys."


- It was disappointing because of budget constraints the team had travel to Wichita on game day and spend all day on the bus. The team should have traveled to Wichita after the game on Saturday but that is not an excuse for losing.


- I say this all of the time and I truly believe it, there is nobody in the Allen Americans organization from ownership, to the front office to the players and the staff that takes a loss worse than Steve Martinson. He has been in over 2000 games as a professional player and coach and it still bothers him a lot when he loses, especially when he feels the team didn't give their best effort.


- I talk to coach Martinson after virtually every game to get his thoughts and comments to share in the blog. Last night was one of those rare occasions I opted to not contact him because I knew there would be nothing he would say that would be fit for print.


- The team will not skate the next two days as they head to Florida for games with the Florida Everblades on Wednesday and Orlando Solar Bears on Thursday and Sunday. Hopefully the roster situation will improve with players listed as day to day (Stevenson, Hall, Gill) back in the lineup. It is also possible one of the players in the AHL (Hanson, Moore, Marchment) could be sent back while the team is in Florida.


- Don't rule out a trade or free agent signing this week. Some players squandered a great opportunity this weekend to step up and show what they could do with so many players out of the lineup. I know coach Martinson thought going into the weekend with a short bench would give some players more minutes in an effort to get them going. That strategy seemed to backfire. Martinson is not very patient when players under perform especially when the team loses like they did the last two games.



OTHER COMMENTS

- Despite losing two games in a row the Americans are still in first place in the Mountain Division. Idaho is the only team in the top four that won their last game. Here are the current standings with the team's record over the last 10 games in parentheses:

53 points - Allen            (7-2-1-0)
53 points - Idaho           (7-1-1-1)
50 points - Colorado     (4-6-0-0)
47 points - Alaska         (5-5-0-0)
38 points - Utah            (6-3-1-0)
37 points - Missouri      (4-4-1-1)
35 points - Rapid City   (4-4-2-0)


- After spending most of January at home the Allen Americans started a stretch of away games yesterday. Eight of ten games on the road including two long road trips. The team will fly to Florida for three games this week before returning home for two games with Tulsa on February 2 & 3. They then travel to Tulsa for a game on February 4. Then it is off to Rapid City on the last long bus trip of the season (1058 miles) where the play the Rush on February 8,10 & 11.


- Terry Ruskowski was fired on Friday as the coach of the Quad City Mallards. I remember doing some research about him for a story I wrote a few years ago and was impressed by the fact he was the captain of three different NHL teams (Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh) and had 237 fights even though he was 5'9" and 168 pounds. Ruskowski has 24 years as a head coach. His team has missed the playoff just one time in the last 16 years. He went to four straight Central Hockey League (CHL) championships between 2004-2007 while head coach of the Laredo Bucks and won two championships. Here is a story about Terry and his impact on the Quad City Mallards. You will notice in the story Ruskowski lives in the Dallas area so it is possible he might show up at the AEC: http://qctimes.com/sports/hockey/professional/minor/metcalf/ruskowski-leaves-lasting-impact-on-mallards-hockey/article_5da48b3e-55f1-54e8-a746-8d053fd4d5bc.html




DID YOU KNOW: Derek Mathers is slowly moving up the single season penalty minutes record list. He has been dealing with a sore hand recently so his penalty minutes/fights have slowed a bit. Here is a list of the top ten players for penalty minutes in a season, with the number of games played in that season in parentheses. The far right shows the number of fights each players had according to dropyourgloves.com.

257: Garrett Klotz - 2013-14 (55 games)                             20 Fights
256: Brett Lyon -2014-15 (47 games)                                  13 Fights
223: Garrett Clarke - 2012-13 (54 games)                           12 Fights
205: Garrett Clarke - 2014-15 (57 games)                           16 Fights
186: Aaron Gens - 2014-15 (72 games)                               8 Fights
185: Brandon Straub - 2009-10 (58 games)                         12 Fights
168: Jim McKenzie - 2011-12 (54 games)                            7 Fights
163: Derek Mathers - 2016-17 (36 games)                          18 Fights
157: Brett Clouthier - 2011-12 (60 games)                           10 Fights
146: Kip Brennan - 2010-11 (31 games)                              11 Fights

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Allen Shutout 4-0 by Wichita, Martinson's Comments, Jersey Auction, When Will Moore and Hanson Return

If you are the superstitious type of Allen fan you had to be weary last night as in the past the Americans don't fare very well on specialty jersey night and whenever there is a huge crowd at a regular season game. Such was the case last night as the Allen Americans were shutout 4-0 by the Wichita Thunder on Star Wars night before a season high crowd of 5804 at the Allen Event Center (AEC).


- Allen was never in the game giving up the first goal at the 3:41 mark of the first period. They were out shot 16-4 in the first period and had just five shots on goal halfway through the game. The score was 4-0 before the second period was completed. When the Americans created good scoring chances they missed the net or were stopped by some great play by the Thunder goaltender.


- Even though Allen was playing with a short bench the lack of scoring was a big surprise. In their last 13 games going back to the beginning of  December the Americans have averaged close to five goals a game. They scored fewer than four goals in just one of the previous 13 games and in that game they scored two goals.


- Since joining the ECHL in 2014-15 Allen has been shutout at home just twice prior to last night. Ironically, the Americans first ECHL home shutout took place on March 18, 2015 when they lost to the Wichita Thunder by the same score as last night, 4-0. The only other home shutout took place a year ago (1/18/16) when Allen lost to Colorado 1-0.


-  If you are looking for excuses for the poor performance last night there are plenty to be found. Allen played two players short and had only seven forwards dressed for the game. Bryan Moore with 16 goals in the last 14 games was loaned to San Jose and Zach Hall was out with an injury. Add Moore and Hall to the rather long list of players out with injuries or playing in the AHL and you can see why the team might struggle. The missing players (Moore, Hall, Hanson, Marchment, Stevenson, Brown, Gens) represent 40% of all goals scored by the team this season and are key special teams players. With Riley Gill out with an injury, Jamie Murray has played in nine straight games without a break.


- Credit should go to Wichita who has been playing much better hockey since making some recent roster changes. The Thunder have won two of their last three games and play hard every night.


- The Americans left early this morning for Wichita where they will play the Thunder for the third time in less than 48 hours with a 4:05 pm puck drop this afternoon. It looks like the team will be playing short again today. After a tough game last night it could be another long day for the Americans. 


COACH'S CORNER

- Here is Steve Martinson's pregame interview with Tom Manning:




MARTINSON'S POST GAME COMMENTS


- We had some good chances tonight but we didn't shoot the puck real great and their goalie made some good saves. We didn't get the puck upstairs when the goalie was down and we served up too many easy chances to them.

- Our line up tonight was good enough to win even with the missing players and being shorthanded. I don't like having to play two defensemen at forward but we need to have the other guys step up. When you are shorthanded it provides opportunity and more minutes to other players and they need to take advantage of the opportunity they are given.

- We will leave at 7:30 in the morning and stop on the way to Wichita for a pregame meal.

- As well as we have played over the last month it is disappointing to have a game like this when we had such a big crowd in the house tonight.



OTHER COMMENTS


- I get asked all the time how long Greger Hanson and Bryan Moore will be in the AHL and the answer is you never know. It is very difficult for free agents like Hanson and Moore to get loaned to the AHL and stay for an extended period of time. Typically free agents get loaned because contracted players are injured. When the injured players return, the loaned players get sent back to their ECHL teams. There are certainly exceptions but unless Hanson and Moore play much better than the contracted players they are replacing they will be back in Allen sooner rather than later.


- General manager Martinson is assuredly looking at roster options as the team heads to Florida this week for three games. He will have to consider when Gill, Stevenson and Hall can get back in the lineup as they are day to day. Martinson will most likely be talking to San Jose and San Diego to determine when he might get Hanson and Moore back. He will be talking to free agents players he could bring in and of course there are players in Europe that might be interested in returning before the February 15 deadline. Trades are also a possibility. There are a lot of moving parts this time of year as injuries at the NHL and AHL level impact ECHL teams. Playing shorthanded is not unique to Allen as all teams deal with these issues at this time of year.



Auctioneer Tom Manning with the Star Wars jersey

- Here are the results of the Star Wars jersey auction. Based on past specialty jersey auctions some bargains were had last night. Not sure if the fans didn't like the jersey or the demand for specialty jerseys is waning because there have been so many of them this season. 

$700 - Costello
$550 - Stevenson
$500 - Mathers
$450 - Hall
$450 - Steffes
$400 - Gill
$400 - Moore
$400 - Hanson
$350 - Gens
$350 - Roy
$350 - Di Salvo
$350 - Liberati
$350 - Asuchak
$300 - Brown
$300 - Marchment
$300 - Chouinard
$300 - Kerbashian
$300 - Ruopp
$300 - Cure
$300 - Brittain
$300 - Gunn
$300 - Murray
$300 - Eberle
$250 - Makowski
$250 - Brodzinski


- If you arrived early yesterday you witnessed an entertaining exhibition hockey game between Texas and Texas A&M. Texas was the winner 6-5. Hockey is a club sport at many Texas Universities and to showcase these teams in conjunction with an Allen Americans game was a great idea. Look for more of these games in the future. Here is a story written by Rick Gosselin about college hockey in Texas that provides some background and asks the question of whether NCAA hockey could come the Texas. http://sportsday.dallasnews.com/college-sports/collegesports/2017/01/19/college-club-hockey-flourishing-texas-future-ncaa-sport


- Here are a couple of photos courtesy of Dianne Webster that capture the spirit of kids attending a hockey game.







DID YOU KNOW: Thanks to super fan Mike Stiney for posing the question of the Americans record on Star Wars Night. I promise a more complete answer with the help of others but for now this is all I could find. Since joining the ECHL in 2014-15 the Allen Americans are 2-1 on Star Wars Night. Here are the results:

January 21, 2017 - Lost 4-0 to Wichita
February 6, 2016 - Won 5-3 against Wichita
March 28, 2015 - Beat Tulsa 4-3 in overtime.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Allen Beats Wichita 5-3, Big Red to the Rescue, Coach's Corner, Moore's Big Night, Costello Milestones & More


Big Red to the Rescue

There were two heroes in Allen's 5-3 win over the Wichita Thunder last night before a crowd of 3846 at the Allen Event Center. The first hero was "Big Red" and bus driver Monty Williams who rescued the Wichita Thunder team somewhere around the Texas-Oklahoma border after their bus broke down. A 1995 Prevost bus with over two million miles is an unlikely hero, but Big Red came thorough in the clutch. The puck drop was delayed about 30 minutes because Wichita was late to arrive to the AEC.


- The on ice hero was Bryan Moore who was credited with four goals and in one of the classiest and most unselfish plays you will ever see passed up his fifth goal. With an empty net at the end of the game Chad Costello put the puck right on Moore's stick but instead of putting the puck in the empty net for his fifth goal Bryan surprised everyone in the AEC including Chad and passed the puck back to Costello who was right at the goal mouth. Chad had no choice but to put the puck in the net. Moore had this to say after the game, "I knew that Costello needed one more for his 300th point with the Americans and I wanted to see him score that goal."

Moore with the puck on his stick passes up fifth goal to pass back to Costello (out of frame) - photo by Dianne Webster



- As it turns out Moore didn't get his fifth goal but assisted on Costello's 300th point as an Allen American. Having 300 points in two and a half seasons is remarkable. Chad is the all time points scorer in franchise history and sets a new record every time he gets a point. He is 65 points ahead of second place Bruce Graham who had 235 points in his Allen career.


- The official scoring hasn't been changed but Bryan Moore will not only miss out on a five goal night he will also miss out on a four goal night. On the third Allen goal Moore's shot went off Spencer Asuchak so that goal will be changed and credited to Spencer.


- Bryan Moore has a goal in 12 of his last 14 games and has two hat tricks in the last week. Bryan has averaged over a goal a game (16 goals in last 14 games) for over a month. It is hard to believe an AHL team hasn't already given him a chance. Maybe San Jose will give him a look. You have to think something will happen soon. Moore is not just a goal scorer as he brings toughness and defense as well. He is a +17 over the last 14 games to go along with 44 penalty minutes.


- As usual you can see all of the goals and fights in the highlights package on ECHL Rewind. Pay special attention to the empty net goal as Bryan Moore passes up what he thought would have been his fifth goal and gives the puck back to Costello. http://www.echl.com/


- There will be a big crowd at the AEC tonight with a 7:05 pm puck drop. It is Star Wars night plus there is a college game between Texas and Texas A & M that starts at 4:05 pm. Come early and take in the college game. Two games for the price of one.


- The Wichita Thunder has given Allen all they can handle the last two Friday nights. Despite their record Wichita is playing better hockey. They got down 2-0 last night but didn't give up and had many opportunities to tie the score before Allen got an empty net goal to put the game away. Wichita out shot Allen 36-26, scored a power play goal and a shorthanded goal and had numerous quality scoring chances. The Thunder power play is 6-14 (42.9%) over the last three games.


- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Stephen Thomson (#27) who was the referee last night and linesmen Brian Bull (#49) and Aaron Schacht (#31).


COACH'S CORNER

Here is Steve Martinson's pregame chat with Tom Manning.



Here are coach Martinson's post game comments:

- It is a good thing Moore showed up tonight. Asuchak will get credit for the third goal as Moore's shot went off Spencer's leg.

- I wasn't in love with the game we played tonight. It seemed like we forgot about the jersey reversal and we aren't wearing the white jerseys at home any more. We passed the other team the puck maybe a dozen times tonight. One line after another kept passing Wichita the puck. We are lucky we didn't give up two shorthanded goals on that one shift.

- When it was 4-1 I was thinking this might be one of those games we win even though we aren't playing well. It was a frustrating game to watch from the bench because we just turned over the puck too many times.

- It is possible Dyson Stevenson will be back in the lineup tomorrow but bringing in any new players is not happening right now. I am talking to a few people but keep in mind we are not the only team in this position this time of year. It is an opportunity for other guys to step up and capitalize on more playing time.

- We have a lineup that can win every night and we just need to play to our potential. I will show the players a few things on video tomorrow. Sometimes when you are winning some bad habits start to creep in. We can certainly play better but it is time to start playing smarter.

- Our equipment is being bused to Florida after the game on Sunday so we can't practice on Tuesday and we wouldn't practice on Monday after three games in a row. After three games in three days with a short lineup the guys can use the two days off.


OTHER COMMENTS

- Here is the latest on the Columbus Cottonmouth's trying to rebuild their team after the bus crash on Thursday. The plan is to play the game as scheduled tonight in Peoria. http://www.pjstar.com/sports/20170120/sphl-and-rivermen-help-columbus-rebuild-roster-after-bus-crash


- Aaron Dell won another low scoring game for the San Jose Sharks Thursday night making 24 saves as the Sharks defeated Tampa Bay 2-1. Aaron's record is now 5-2 with a GAA of 1.84 and a save percentage of .933. Here is Aaron's latest post from his blog, "World's Okayest Blog" where he talks about his family: https://www.nhl.com/sharks/news/worlds-okayest-blog--family-matters/c-285917714


- The San Diego Gulls beat the San Jose Barracuda last night 5-1. Jake Marchment was not in the lineup for San Jose. Greger Hanson was playing for San Diego and had four shots on goal but no points.


- It was a good night for former Allen Americans last night. J.P. LaFontaine had a goal for his third straight game as Toledo beat Indy 4-1. Tristan King scored for Greenville  as they beat Atlanta 4-3. Kyle Follmer had a goal and Jamie Schaafsma got the game winner as Fort Wayne beat Cincinnati 4-2.


- It was definitely a milestone night for Chad Costello last night. According to the website eliteprospects.com Chad scored his 300th point as an Allen American in his 500th professional game. Chad has been on a scoring tear recently with nine straight multi point games. In those nine games he has 25 points (6 goals 19 assists). Costello is now averaging 1.76 points per game which is higher than the 1.74 points per game in averaged in 2014-15 when he finished with 125 points. Chad has pushed his ECHL scoring lead to 19 points.


- Allen's combined record against Wichita last season and thus far this season is now at an unbelievable 20-0-1-0.


DID YOU KNOW: The one all time offensive record Chad Costello does not own is goals scored. He trails Bruce Graham in that category and has Greger Hanson coming up from behind. Here are the top ten all time goal scorers in franchise history:

97- Bruce Graham
88 - Chad Costello
83 - Greger Hanson
75 - Gary Steffes
74 - Jarret Lukin
67 - Colton Yellow Horn
62 - Jamie Schaafsma
59 - Nino Musitelli
53 - Brian McMillin
52 - Spencer Asuchak

Friday, January 20, 2017

Allen vs Wichita Preview, Roster Update, Columbus (SPHL) Bus Accident, Radio Show Available on Demand

The Allen Americans will play the Wichita Thunder three times in a span of 48 hours starting with a 7:05 pm game tonight at the Allen Event Center (AEC). The teams play again at the AEC Saturday night (7:05 pm) and then travel to Wichita where they will play at 4:05 pm Sunday afternoon.


- The game tonight will be number eight of the 14 games these teams will play against each other this season. Allen has a record of 6-0-1-0 in the first seven games. Despite the lopsided record Wichita gave the Americans all they could handle when they last met, one week ago in Allen. Wichita had leads of 1-0 and 2-1, out shot Allen 41-35 and were 3-7 on the power play. Allen came from behind and won the game 5-3 which included an empty net goal. Wichita acquitted themselves very well. 


- Wichita arrives in Allen with a record of 2-7-1-0 over their last 10 games. They beat Missouri 7-5 in their last game which was last Saturday. Earlier this week it was announced that Alexis Loiseau, who led the Thunder in scoring and was selected to the ECHL All-Star team has left the team and signed to play in Germany.


- Allen hasn't lost a game in regulation since December 14 but will most likely be playing shorthanded tonight. Greger Hanson and Jake Marchment are still on assignments to the AHL.  Dyson Stevenson, Riley Gill and Bryan Moore are all listed as day to day and may not play. It could be another of those games where you will see a defenseman (most likely Miles Liberati) taking shifts up front.


- There will be a new back up goalie if Gill is not ready to go. The Allen Americans  have signed Peter Di Salvo who played three games in Allen last season and was in training camp this year. Here is a link from a blog post a year ago that provides some information about Di Salvo: http://allenamericansblog.blogspot.com/2016/01/allen-vs-tulsa-game-preview-meet-new.html



- Here are the current stats comparing Allen and Wichita:


                                     ALLEN                               WICHITA

Team Record               24-13-2-1 (51 points)             13-18-1-1 (28 points)
Division Ranking         1st - Mountain                         6th - Central
Conference Ranking   2nd - Western                         13th - Western
League Ranking         3rd                                           24th
Last Game                  5-4 Loss (Missouri)                 7-5 Win (Missouri)
Goals For                    152                                          92
Goals Against             112                                          119
Power Play                 19.3% (34/176)                       16.1% (19-118)
Penalty Kill                  84.6% (30/195)                       82.7% (24/139)
Most PIM                    Mathers (158)                          Tesink (74)
Leading Scorers:        Costello (22-47-69)                  Loiseau (16-13-29)
                                   Asuchak (15-23-38)                  DeBlouw (5-11-16)          



-  Here is how Allen and Wichita rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (20.63) - Wichita 2nd (19.00)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 4th (3.80) - Wichita 23rd (2.79)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 3rd (2.80) - Wichita 22nd (3.61)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 9th (32.90) - Wichita 6th (33.00)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 21st (34.38) - Wichita 27th (37.06)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 8th (19.3%) - Wichita 15th (16.1%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 9th (84.6%) - Wichita 17th (82.7%)




- You can see from the stats above Allen and Wichita are the two most penalized teams in the ECHL. There is no love lost between these teams but they have played games with very few penalty minutes (26) and some with a lot of penalty minutes (136). Special teams will most likely play a big role in this game and the season long stats may not be a good indication of recent success. Wichita has recently added a couple of players (Zach O'Brien and Ryan Rupert) that have helped the power play. The Thunder are 5-12 (41.7%) on the power play in their last two games. If Dyson Stevenson is not in the line up tonight it means the player that logs the most penalty kill minutes is not killing penalties. Allen's power play has also been very good lately. In their three games last weekend the Americans power play was 5-16 (31.3%).


- In the seven head to head games this season Allen has outscored Wichita 36-10,  but the Thunder has out shot the Americans 272 - 244. Each team is averaging just over 30 penalty minutes per game.   

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Stephen Thomson (#27) and linesmen Brian Bull (#49) and Lucas Bisbee (#72).


OTHER COMMENTS

- I have heard that Allen will travel to Wichita Sunday morning rather than after the game on Saturday night due to budget constraints. Typically when there is a stand alone game in Wichita the team travels the day before the game. To make matters worse the Sunday game is a 4:05 pm start. The team will have to stop on the way for their pregame meal so the total travel time will approach six hours. It means an early departure from Allen Sunday morning after playing Saturday night. Certainly not the best way to take care of the team in my opinion.


- You may have seen in the media a charter bus carrying the Columbus Cottonmouths (SPHL) was involved in a rollover crash yesterday afternoon as they were traveling into Peoria to play the Rivermen this weekend. Most every hockey player can share some scary experiences from their time riding the bus including the Allen Americans who had their lives flash before their eyes while traveling through the mountains on Big Red in November. When Steve Martinson was in Elmira the team was in a bus accident where several players were injured and missed the rest of the season. Most of the Columbus players were treated and released from the hospital but a couple had to be extracted by cutting holes in the top of the bus. Everyone will be okay but there were some broken bones for a couple of those on the bus. Here is an article from the Peoria press with pictures and all of the details: http://www.pjstar.com/sports/20170119/rivermen-opponent-columbus-team-bus-in-i-74-rollover-accident


- Thanks to Tommy Daniels for the invite to participate in his " Inside the Allen Americans " radio show yesterday. If you didn't get a chance to listen when the show was broadcast last night you can go to the Allen Americans section at mixlr.com and listen at your leisure. When you go to the Allen Americans page you will see in the very bottom left corner of the page the "Showreel Items" button and if you click on that it will take you to the archived audio files. The top item should say "Inside the Allen Americans 1-19-17". The show is over an hour long so if you don't have the patience to listen to the entire show make sure to fast forward to the 24:20 point as that is the part when we talk to coach Steve Martinson and Spencer Asuchak.


- If you are not on social media you haven't seen some of the recent work photographer Dianne Webster has done by creating a way to install a camera in the net during games. Here is some video footage from the Missouri game.




- Don't forget to continue voting for the Team Sin Bin's Mid-Season Awards. The voting continues through Monday and you can vote more than once. All you need to do is go to thesinbin.net and click on "ECHL Mid-Season Awards Voting" to support the Allen Americans that were nominated. Encourage you friends to vote each day as well. Here are the Allen nominees:

MVP - Chad Costello
Best Goaltender - Riley Gill
Best Defensemen - Joel Chouinard
Coach of the Year - Steve Martinson


-  Congrats to Scott Dyer who was the winner of the drawing for four loge tickets for the game tonight and to Jim Blair who was the first to answer the trivia question and won two tickets.



DID YOU KNOW: To win his tickets Jim Blair answered this trivia question.  Name the player that scored and the date of the first goal in Allen Americans history, the player and date of the first hat trick in Allen history and the goalie and date of the second Allen shutout in history. Here are the correct answers:

Christian Gaudet scored the first goal in franchise history on October 16, 2009
Mike Willemsen scored the first hat trick in franchise history on November 19, 2009
Chris Whitley scored the second shutout in franchise history on November 21, 2009


Thursday, January 19, 2017

All-Stars Win 8-7, Costello's Post Game Comments, Worcester Gets Final Approval, Indy to Host All-Star Game on 2018

The ECHL All-Stars defeated the Adirondack Thunder last night by a score of 8-7 before a crowd of 3767 and a nationwide audience on the NHL TV Network. With two goals and two assists, Matt Garbowsky of the Colorado Eagles was named the game's most valuable player. Garbowsky played his college hockey at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) where he was a teammate of former Allen defensman Nolan Descoteaux. He was also a finalist for the Hobey Baker award (hockey's version of the Heisman award).

- It was fitting that Allen's representative to the All-Star game, Chad Costello, who has 258 assists in the 233 games he has played since joining the Americans had an assist on the game winning goal. Mr. Assist set up Fort Wayne's Shawn Szydlowski for the game winner with under three minutes left in the game.

- Between the two 25 minute halves of the game, three skills events were contested; puck relay, hardest shot and fastest skater. The winning team in each event got one goal added to their score. With all of the talent on the All-Star squad it was Adirondack that won the puck relay and hardest shot (Stepan Falkovsky at 99 mph). South Carolina's Steven McParland posted the fastest skater time (13.62 seconds) to salvage one point/goal for the All-Stars.


- When I saw the official All-Star team photo yesterday the first thing was to look for Chad Costello and Jaime Garcia in the picture. Once I found Chad and Jaime the next thing I noticed was Chad wasn't wearing a leadership letter. Not sure who decides on the "C" and the "A" or why there is only one "A" but I had incorrectly assumed the most dominate player in the ECHL over the last three years would be given the "C". "Without taking anything away from the appointed captains I am not sure how they overlooked the captain of the back to back ECHL champions not to mention his scoring titles and MVP awards and the fact Chad is leading the league in scoring this season by 17 points."

Chad is first row second from left, Jaime second row on the left end



-  Allen super fans and team sponsors Mike and Debbie Holum attending the All-Star game and Mike kindly became a field reporter for the night. Mike talked to Chad and Jaime after the game. Here is what they had to say.

"The game was a lot of fun. It is a little bit of an awkward setup with all of the breaks, the four on four and three on three but it was a fun game.".....Chad Costello

"There were a lot of good players here. You saw the talent and skill of the ECHL".....Costello

"It was even more fun off the ice meeting the guys. You see them and get to compete against them during the season but here you get to meet them and you respect them even more and that was a lot of fun. That is what the game is all about.".....Costello

"Most of my time here was spent getting everything ready for the players. Trying to make it actually like a game day.  I tried to make it like a normal routine for everyone.".....Jaime Garcia

"It was a heck of an accolade for both Chad and Jaime to be selected for the All-Star game. They represented the Americans very well here in Glens Falls."......Mike Holum

Chad (#13) & Jaime chatting after the All-Star game - photo by Mike Holum




 OTHER COMMENTS

- Practice yesterday saw a few players missing with Costello at the All-Star game and others taking a maintenance day. Riley Gill did skate yesterday but did not participate in the full practice. More practice details tomorrow.


- The ECHL Board of Governors (BOG) had a meeting during the All-Star Classic and to no one's surprise gave final approval for the Worcester Railers franchise to begin operation next season. The Railers needed a two-thirds vote of the league's 28 members and the tally was unanimous. Here is a link to the story from the Worcester press: http://www.telegram.com/sports/20170118/worcester-railers-get-full-membership-in-echl


- The BOG also awarded the 2018 All-Star Classic to the Indy Fuel. Here is a link to that press release: http://www.echl.com/indy-fuel-to-host-2018-ccmechl-all-star-classic


- If all goes as planned there will be another Tommy Daniels  "Inside the Allen Americans" radio broadcast tonight on mixlr.com. If you are not on social media to see the announcement, check in at 5:00 pm & 6:00 pm. Just trying to give those interested a heads up.


- Team Sin Bin will be conducting a poll that starts at noon today for some Mid-Season Awards and the Allen Americans are well represented. Fans can vote as often as the want and when the voting is completed (Monday) Team Sin Bin will have articles on all the winners. There will be a link to vote at thesinbin.net that will be active at noon today. Make sure to go thesinbin.net and support the Allen Americans that were nominated and encourage you friends to vote each day as well.

MVP - Chad Costello
Best Goaltender - Riley Gill
Best Defensemen - Joel Chouinard
Coach of the Year - Steve Martinson



DID YOU KNOW:  The game last night was the fifth time the host team was the opponent for the All-Stars. The last four times the ECHL All-Star game has been held (2017, 2015, 2013 & 2011) it was the All-Stars vs the host team. The host teams have not fared well with last night's 8-7 All-Stars win over Adirondack being the closest. In 2015 the All-Stars beat Orlando 8-4, in 2013 the All-Stars beat Colorado 7-3 and in 2011 the All-Stars beat Bakersfield 9-3. Did you know the fifth time the All-Stars vs the host team played was way back in 1997 and the host team, Charlotte Checkers, beat the All-Stars 7-6. After that loss the All-Star game was conference vs conference until 2011 when the game went back to All-Stars vs host team. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Practice Update, All-Star Game Tonight, Bootland's Baby, Free Tickets For Friday & More

It is All-Star game day for the ECHL but it is just another day of practice for the Allen Americans who will take their All-Star break next month. After a day off yesterday the Americans will begin preparation for three games in three in days this weekend against the Wichita Thunder. The teams play in Allen on Friday and Saturday and then head to Wichita for a game Sunday afternoon.

- It is possible that Dyson Stevenson and Riley Gill will be skating today and if all goes well could be back in the lineup by the weekend. I will have an update tomorrow.

- It was announced yesterday that Alexis Loiseau, who leads the Thunder in scoring and was selected for the ECHL All-Star team has left Wichita and signed to play in Germany. If you recall, when Vincent Arseneau signed in Wichita this season rather than returning to Allen he said it was because he wanted to play with Loiseau as they are good friends who grew up together.


ALL-STAR CLASSIC

- There hasn't been a lot of publicity surrounding the ECHL All-Star game which takes place tonight (7:00 PM CST). For the first time the game will be carried live on the NHL Network.  If you are not a hockey purist and don't mind the gimmickry of the game, tuning in tonight should be entertaining and an opportunity to become familiar with some of the best players in the ECHL. Chad Costello and trainer Jaime Garcia are representing Allen.

- The game will be played in a non-traditional format and could best be described as an exhibition rather than a game. The format will be the host team (Adirondack) taking on the All-Stars selected from the other ECHL teams. There are some unique rules.

-The first portion of the event will be a 25-minute half, played entirely as 5-on-5 hockey between the All-Stars and the Thunder. Following the completion of the first half of play, the scores will carry over into the Skills Competition, which will be played during the intermission.

- The Skills Competition will feature three events: Fastest Skater, Hardest Shot and Skills Relay. Each Skills Competition event will feature competitors from both the All-Stars and the Thunder and the winning team in each event will receive one goal (point) towards their overall score, with a total of three goals (points) available from the Skills Competition.

- The second half will again feature a 25-minute stanza, but will incorporate some of the new  situations typically featured during ECHL overtime. The half will begin with 10 minutes of 5-on-5 play but the first whistle after the 15-minute mark will see the teams switch to 4-on-4. At the first whistle following the 10-minute mark, the teams will switch again, this time to a 3-on-3 format, which will be carried out through the remainder of the game. At the end of the second half, the team with the most goals (points) from the first half, skills competition and second half combined will be the winner of the 2017 All-Star Classic. In the event that the score is tied, a sudden death, five-minute, 3-on-3 overtime period will be played to determine the winner. If the event is still tied, a three-player shootout will commence to determine the winner.


OTHER COMMENTS

- Congratulations to Darryl and Sarah Bootland who welcomed their new daughter, Loxley Belle, into the world yesterday. Loxley joins sister Havyn, who was born when the Bootland's played in Allen, and older brother Trace to make up the Bootland clan. One of the first in depth player profiles I ever wrote was about Darryl "Booter" Bootland. If you have never read it here is the link. Booter talks about how he and Sarah (a Texan) met, how his toughness started at an early age and how he came to Allen in pursuit of his first professional championship. Bootland was part of two championships with the Americans in addition to being the most popular player. Here is the link: http://allenamericansblog.blogspot.com/2012/12/darryl-bootland-player-profile.html


- Wanted to give everyone a heads up to look for another edition of Tommy Daniels' Allen Americans Inside Hockey which will be recorded and played this week. I heard from several of you that you missed the program because you didn't hear about it. I will keep you posted when it will air.


FREE TICKETS

- I periodically have free tickets available and am never sure the best way to give them away. It is fun for me to ask some obscure question that requires research into the Allen Americans archives but many fans don't have the time, knowledge or interest in that. A simpler way is to just have a drawing for tickets but that typically takes more time than a contest that says the first person to respond gets the tickets. I would be interested in any ideas you have for distributing free tickets through the blog. For today you can enter a drawing for free tickets or win tickets by being the first to answer a question. Feel free to participate in both. Here are the details:


- I have four loge (second level) tickets for the game this Friday, January 20th at 7:05 PM.  I will have a drawing for the tickets tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon, notify the winners and leave the tickets at will call. If you are interested let me know via Twitter, Facebook, the Blog, text, in person or by email (janssenfamily@msn.com). All I need is your name and if you want two or four tickets. The tickets are in the end of the rink where the Zamboni enters the ice, close by where the players that aren't playing sit. I will list the winner or winners in the blog Friday morning. Good luck!


- I also have two tickets in the fifth row off the ice on the aisle in section 100. The tickets are at the end of the rink where the Americans are on offense twice. These tickets are for those that like to do  research into the past. The first person that emails me at janssenfamily@msn.com the correct answer to the following question gets the tickets. Name the player that scored and the date of the first goal in Allen Americans history, the player and date of the first hat trick in Allen history and the goalie and date of the second Allen shutout in history. Your answer must have three names and three dates. Good Luck!




DID YOU KNOW: I saw this on social media and thought it was interesting. Professional hockey's current active career penalty minute leader is Darryl "Booter" Bootland at 3100 and counting. I looked his totals up on eliteprospects.com and he now has 3199 penalty minutes. According to the website dropyourgloves.com Booter has had 267 hockey fights going all the way back to 1998-1999 when he played junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Allen Loses to Missouri, Coach's Corner, Hanson Video Interview, Playoff MVP's & More

The Allen Americans lost in overtime Monday afternoon dropping a 5-4 decision to the Missouri Mavericks before a crowd of 3808 at the Allen Event Center. The loss snapped the Americans seven game winning streak. Allen forward Zach Hall said it best, "We have to feel a little fortunate to pick up a point today. We didn't have a great weekend despite the fact we picked up three points in the two games. If you keep getting down early in games eventually it is going to catch up to you and today it did."


- I will go a step further than Zach and say the Americans were lucky to get five of six points over the last three games going back to Friday night against Wichita. Against two teams (Missouri & Wichita) with records well below .500 the Americans didn't score first in any of the games, were out shot in all three games and had to come from behind 3-0 yesterday, 2-0 Sunday and 1-0 & 2-1 on Friday. To come away with two wins and an overtime loss is indeed fortunate.


- Allen followed a familiar script yesterday with a poor first period as they were out shot 15-5 and outscored 3-0. The Americans showed their explosiveness in the second period with two Eric Roy goals in a span of 22 seconds to close the gap to 3-2 going into the second intermission. When Allen tied the score 3-3 on a Gary Steffes goal early in the third period it appeared the Americans were on their way to another comeback win. However, Missouri responded with a goal of their own at the 11:41 mark to take a 4-3 lead. Allen came back again with a David Makowski goal with less then four minutes remaining in the game to force the overtime. Missouri scored the game winner 82 seconds into the overtime period. Gary Steffes described the outcome this way, "Unfortunately we got caught out on the ice in overtime for a long shift and it cost us the game."


- It is easy to grouse about poor play and losing to Missouri yesterday but the fact remains Allen has not lost a regulation game in over a month dating back to December 14. The Americans record since then is the best in the league at 11-0-1-1. And all of this has been accomplished with some key components out of the line up for many of the games. Harrison Ruopp, Dyson Stevenson, Aaron Gens, Riley Gill, Travis Brown, Kale Kerbashian, Greger Hanson and Jake Marchment have all missed games during this winning streak.


- Here is the link to the highlight package including the goals by Eric Roy (7 & 8), Gary Steffes (9) and David Makowski (4). It may be more instructive to focus on the defensive breakdowns on the five Missouri goals. http://www.echl.com/


- The ECHL is now on a three day All-Star game break.  Chad Costello and trainer Jaime Garcia will fly to Glen Falls, NY this morning for all of the festivities including the All-Star game which will start at 7:00 pm (CST) tomorrow (Wednesday) night and will be televised on the NHL Network.  Allen is an exception to the rule as they don't take a break at this time. The team is off today but will practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Because the All-Star break comes so close to the Christmas break coach Martinson and the players agreed to take the break later. The Americans will take three days of the last week of February when they can have the weekend off and still get in a couple of days of practice before their next game.



COACH'S CORNER

- Here is the pregame interview with coach Martinson and Tom Manning:





Steve Martinson's post game comments:

- It is disappointing and frustrating to play the way we did today. We are fortunate we came out of that game with one point.

- We will take a day off tomorrow and and get back to practice on Wednesday.

-  I am hoping Riley Gill and Dyson Stevenson will be back by the weekend. We will see how it goes the next couple of days.

- I am headed to the gym for a long workout as I need to work off the frustrations from that game!




OTHER COMMENTS

- Here is the San Diego Gulls morning report video from yesterday which includes an interview with Greger Hanson. He has played in three games for the Gulls (all wins) and has one goal, two assists, is a +1 and has 12 shots on goal. In this interview Greger talks about the great opportunity he has been given in San Diego and how this experience in the AHL is different from those in the past.





- With the Texas Rangers disappointment after a great season and the Dallas Cowboys disappointment after a great season it looks like the DFW metroplex will be relying once again on the four time champion Allen Americans to bring home a championship. I sure wish more sports fans in the DFW area were aware of diamond that exists in Allen in the form of the Allen Americans hockey team. Great entertainment at a reasonable price that is fan and family friendly.


- Allen remains atop the Mountain Division standings with 51 points. Here are the current standings with winning percentage in parentheses:

51 points - Allen (.638)
49 points - Idaho (.628)
48 points - Colorado (.632)
45 points - Alaska (.625)
36 points - Utah (.474)
34 points - Missouri (.459)
31 points - Rapid City (.431)




PICTURE PERFECT

- Photographer Dianne Webster always talks to me about how important it is to have photos that capture the emotion of the moment. For a change of pace here are a few of my favorites from yesterday's game that capture all types of emotion.










DID YOU KNOW: Getting selected as a playoff MVP at any level of hockey is an amazing feat. Here is a list of players that have played or coached in Allen that were playoff MVP's in the CHL or ECHL at some point in their career. The league and team they played for when they won the playoff MVP award is in parentheses:

2016 - Chad Costello ( ECHL Allen Americans)
2015 - Greger Hanson (ECHL Allen Americans)
2014 - Jamie Schaafsma (CHL Allen Americans)
2013 - Brian McMillin (CHL Allen Americans)
2013 - Riley Gill (ECHL Reading Royals)
2011 - Scott Howes (ECHL Alaska Aces)
2009 - Jason Deitsch (CHL Texas Brahmas
2007 - Steve Silverthorn (ECHL Idaho Steelheads)
2003 - Kevin Colley (ECHL Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies)