Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Allen Americans Sign Defenseman Harrison Ruopp


Allen defenseman Harrison Ruopp

The Allen Americans have signed defenseman Harrison Ruopp to a contract for the upcoming season. Ruopp is a 23 year old, 6'3" and 205 pound defenseman from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan who was drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in the third round of the 2011 NHL draft. A year later he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Harrison signed a three year entry level NHL contract with Pittsburgh in 2013.

- Ruopp is a fourth year professional having spent the last three years in the Pittsburgh organization where he split time between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL) playing in 40 games and the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL) where he played in 80 games. In case you are wondering he was not with the Nailers when Allen played them in the Kelly Cup finals. Harrison was in the AHL during the playoffs.

- Prior to beginning his professional career, Ruopp played in 214 games over four seasons (2009-13) with the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League, totaling 34 points (3 goals 31 assists) and 395 penalty minutes. He was an alternate captain for the Raiders in 2012-13.

- Coach Martinson was looking for a right shot, physical, stay at home, in your face defenseman and Harrison Ruopp fits that description perfectly. Martinson describes Ruopp this way, "A big, tough, physical, defensive defenseman who is solid in the zone and not a lot of fun to play against." He has a defensive first attitude and a tough as nails disposition.

- Ruopp describes himself as being more defensive, is gritty and takes pride in his compete level, making a good first pass and being solid in the defensive zone. He enjoys the physical side of the game and getting into battles. He is not afraid to drop the gloves.

- Ruopp will be joining several other Allen players heading to San Jose on Saturday to attend training camp with the San Jose Barracuda (AHL).

- Harrison has a younger brother (Sam) who plays defense and is the captain for the Prince George Cougars (WHL) where his coach is former Allen assistant coach, Richard Matvichuk. Sam is a 2015 fifth round draft choice of the Columbus Blue Jackets and is currently attending the Columbus training camp.



Here are the statistics for Harrison Ruopp courtesy of Hockeydb:

Harrison Ruopp

Defense -- shoots R
Born Mar 17 1993 -- Zehner, SASK
[23 yrs. ago]
Height 6.03 -- Weight 205


Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2009-10 Prince Albert Raiders WHL 33 0 0 0 38 -15 ----------
2010-11 Prince Albert Raiders WHL 54 0 9 9 98 8 6 0 0 0 9
2011-12 Prince Albert Raiders WHL 62 2 7 9 127 -23 ----------
2012-13 Prince Albert Raiders WHL 65 1 15 16 132 11 4 0 0 0 4
2013-14 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins AHL 21 0 0 0 34 -5 1 0 0 0 2
2013-14 Wheeling Nailers ECHL 19 0 3 3 42 5 ----------
2014-15 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins AHL 7 0 0 0 9 0----------
2014-15 Wheeling Nailers ECHL 30 0 1 1 58 1 4 0 0 0 2
2015-16 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins AHL 12 0 1 1 11 -5 4 0 0 0 2
2015-16 Wheeling Nailers ECHL 31 2 3 5 79 3 ----------




DID YOU KNOW: Harrison Ruopp was recommended to coach Martinson by Dyson Stevenson. They are both from Saskatchewan and played against each other in junior hockey. Here is one of their meetings from 2013.





Monday, September 26, 2016

ECHL News You Can Use: Rosters, Salaries, Critical Dates, Rule Changes, CBA & Divisions

With the official start of the hockey season upon us, I  thought it would be a good idea to go over some of the ECHL roster rules, Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) rules and other changes for the upcoming season as well as a few items of general interest. There is nothing new in this post as you can find this information elsewhere, but I get many questions about these topics so I have tried to put a lot of information in one place.


- During the off-season, each team can sign up to 30 players for training camp. Training camp rosters are due to the league office this Thursday, September 29 (3:00 p.m. ET).  The training camp rosters must be trimmed down and officially submitted for the start of the regular season by the opening day roster deadline, which is Wednesday, October 12th (3:00 p.m. ET).

- During the season, each team can maintain an active roster of 20 players, with 18 (16 skaters and two goalies) dressing for each game. (The active roster maximum is 21 for the first 30 days of the regular season.) Teams can place up to two additional players on a reserve list, and an unlimited number of players on 21-day injured reserve.

- The "veteran limit" is four skaters on the active roster at any time, with goaltenders exempted. A "veteran" is defined as a player who has played 260 or more regular season professional games at the start of the season. Any AA or above league in North America counts toward the 260 games along with top leagues in Europe from the following countries: Russia, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia & Switzerland. Note the limit is four veterans on the "active" roster so a team could carry more than four veterans and rotate them on and off the reserve list.


Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)

- The salary cap and player salary rules are outlined in the ECHL's  CBA with the Professional Hockey Players' Association (PHPA), which is a 5-year contract that began with the 2013-14 season and is valid through the end of the 2017-18 season.

- The 2016-17 salary cap is $12,600 per week per team. That is $200 more per week than last season. For the first 30 days of the season, due to the added roster spot explained above, the cap is $13,045 per week. So if a team has a full roster of 20 players the average player salary is $630 per week with a few elite veteran players making over $1000 per week.

- The CBA also has a minimum weekly salary which this season is $9,500. 


- Here is some of the weekly salary information from the CBA.
$530 - Maximum rookie salary (rookie is a player with fewer than 25 professional games)
$445 - Minimum rookie salary
$500 - Minimum salary for all other players


- Housing and health insurance are provided by the teams. Married players get their own apartment while single players share. If you were wondering what must be provided with the apartments, here is the wording from the CBA. "Furnished apartments shall include paid electricity, water, sewer, gas, trash, and, at the Member’s (Team's) option, may include basic cable, local phone service, and/or internet service. At a minimum, furnishings shall include: in the bedroom, bed and dresser; in the living room, couch and chair; in the kitchen, table and chairs, refrigerator and stove; and adequate lighting in all rooms, and may include, at the Member’s option, a television."


- Some meals are provided by the teams, and players are also paid a daily meal allowance while on the road. The 2016-17 road trip "per diem" allowance is $42 per day, up from $40 last season.


- When a player is sent to the ECHL by an NHL or AHL team, the player is still paid his NHL/AHL contracted salary while assigned to the ECHL. Whatever the salary, it is paid by the team to whom the player is contracted. The ECHL team then reimburses the NHL/AHL team $525 per week and all the player is charged against the salary cap is the $525. This is why getting a player assigned from the NHL/AHL is a great help from a salary cap standpoint.


RULE CHANGES

- The major rule change for the upcoming season relates to icing. A team is no longer permitted to call a time-out after being whistled for an icing violation. Along with this rule change a point of emphasis will be teams trying to delay/stall after an icing call. Look for delay of game penalties being called when this happens.



NEW DIVISION ALIGNMENTS

Eastern Conference


North Division:
 Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Elmira Jackals, Manchester Monarchs, Reading Royals, Wheeling Nailers

South Division: 

Atlanta Gladiators, Cincinnati Cyclones, Florida Everblades, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, Norfolk Admirals, Orlando Solar Bears, South Carolina Stingrays
Western Conference

Central Division
: Fort Wayne Komets, Indy Fuel, Kalamazoo Wings, Quad City Mallards, Toledo Walleye, Tulsa Oilers, Wichita Thunder
Mountain Division
: Alaska Aces, Allen Americans, Colorado Eagles, Idaho Steelheads, Missouri Mavericks, Rapid City Rush, Utah Grizzlies



ECHL CRITICAL DATES 


SEPTEMBER 2016
29 – Training Camp Rosters due to League Office (3 p.m. ET)
30 – Training Camp opens (Members may begin on-ice sessions)

OCTOBER 2016
12 – Opening-Day Rosters due to League Office (3 p.m. ET)
14 – 29th ECHL regular season begins

NOVEMBER 2016
1 – Deadline for submission of ECHL Hall of Fame candidates
13 – Active Rosters cut down from 21 to 20 (3 p.m. ET)

DECEMBER 2016
22 – Christmas Waiver/Trade Freeze begins (5 p.m. ET)
24-26 – Christmas Break (no games or practices)
27 – Christmas Waiver/Trade Freeze ends (Noon ET)

JANUARY 2017
18 – CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic (Glens Falls, N.Y.)
20 – Jersey Reversal Date

FEBRUARY 2017
15 – Overseas Deadline (3 p.m. ET)

MARCH 2017
8 – Recall/Reassignment Deadline (11:59 p.m. local time)
9 – ECHL Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET)

APRIL 2017
7 – Last day to place a Player on Waivers (5 p.m. ET)
8 – Last day of 2016-17 ECHL regular season
10 – Kelly Cup Playoffs rosters due (3 p.m. ET)
12 – 2017 Kelly Cup Playoffs begin

JUNE 2017
1 – Protected Lists due (3 p.m. ET)
13 – Future Considerations Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET)
15 – Season-Ending Rosters due (3 p.m. ET)
16 – First day to sign Players for the 2017-18 season
30 – Qualifying Offers due to Players for the 2017-18 season (11:59 p.m. ET)


DID YOU KNOW: Teams are required to provide equipment to the players and the CBA spells out when players get new skates. Here is the exact wording from the CBA about equipment:

"It is the responsibility of the Member to provide each Player with all equipment, including skates, necessary and appropriate for professional hockey. Equipment must be fit for its intended use at a professional level and provide for the safety and well being of each Player. Equipment must be timely replaced as necessary so as to insure this provision is fully implemented.
Notwithstanding the above, Players who have been on an Active Roster or Injured Reserve for sixty (60) or more days during the Season, with the majority of time being spent on the Active Roster, who have not yet received a pair of skates, are entitled to at least one pair of skates provided by the Member".



Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Martinson Approach To Doing Something Special - A 3rd Straight Kelly Cup

With 10 championships on his coaching resume including the last four years in Allen and two straight Kelly Cups, you would think Steve Martinson would approach the upcoming season very relaxed, but that is not how Martinson works. He is a guy that eats, breathes and sleeps hockey and if he isn't talking about the Allen Americans the topic is usually youth hockey and how his kids teams are doing. Here is a guy that has been involved in professional hockey for 35 years as a player and head coach. Yet, as anyone who attends his post game chats with season ticket holders can attest, he takes a loss harder than anyone involved in the organization.

Having talked to coach Martinson many times over the summer recruiting period it is obvious that he sees the opportunity to do something very special in Allen this season. Putting a third straight Kelly Cup championship feather in his coaching hat that is already loaded with feathers is what drives Martinson these days. After all, three straight championships has never been accomplished in the history of the ECHL.

You often hear Martinson say his teams are the same each year, the only difference is the names on the back of the jersey. He wants teams that have a mix of skill, speed and grit that finish their checks and play physical. While the 2016-17 team will have all of the same traits as teams from the past, Martinson has built this team for the playoffs. As he said at a recent fan gathering, "With the players we have signed and those I expect to get from San Jose, I wish we could go right to the playoffs. You never know what the team will look like when the playoffs arrive but I really like the team we have assembled."

So you ask what has Martinson done differently in putting together this team and why do they have a chance to win a third straight Kelly Cup. Here are a few reasons.

- Martinson has not signed a single rookie and even with some young guys expected to be assigned by San Jose, it is possible that the opening day roster will not have any rookie skaters on the ice.

- All 11 forwards that have signed played on one of Martinson's championships teams in Allen. They know what is expected, they know the system, and they know they have a great chance for a deep playoff run.

- Because of the past success, players are willing to sign in Allen at reasonable salaries. They could get higher pay elsewhere but the combination of playing in the DFW area and the extra money to be made in the playoffs that goes along with winning is the reason they want to play in Allen. The value of winning a championship can be $15,000 when you consider the the extra weeks of pay, housing and playoff bonuses.

- Among the returning players are three of the last four Kelly Cup MVP's. Riley Gill (2013), Greger Hanson (2015) and Chad Costello (2016). Riley Gill is the ECHL all-time leader in playoff wins (48) and wins in the finals (11). Costello led all players in the playoffs last season with 36 points and set an ECHL all-time record with 29 playoff assists. Hanson has been outstanding in the playoffs all three years he has been in Allen.  He has a total of 70 points (27 goals 25 assists) in 65 playoff games.

- While there are still some player signings to be announced and the assignments from San Jose have not been finalized, if all goes as planned, the opening day roster will include the following by the numbers:
18 - players with AHL experience
16 - players that have played on a championship team in Allen
9 - players that have won two championships in Allen
2 - players that have won three championships in Allen (Asuchak & Hanson)

- The return of Kale Kerbashian and Tanner Eberle along with a healthy Chris Crane, who was the best all around player (offense, defense, special teams) when he was hurt in early March, makes for a group of forwards that will have three lines all capable of scoring. Most of the forwards would be top line guys on any team.

- Special teams are always a key to success and have been a hallmark of Steve Martinson teams. Anytime you have Chad Costello on your team you will have an outstanding power play and Allen led the ECHL last season with 21.1%. The power play was the difference maker in the playoffs last season where the Americans far outpaced their opponents scoring on 27.1% of their power plays. The penalty kill was also outstanding finishing #3 in the ECHL at 86.4%.

- With the defensemen that are signed and those expected from San Jose, the group should be bigger, but mobile with the abilty to move the puck and jump in on the play in the offensive zone. Joel Chouinard is one of the few new players already announced and he will log a lot of minutes. Chouinard has 214 AHL games under his belt.

So Martinson has built a team of experienced players most of which have playoff success. They are players that want to be in Allen because of the winning tradition. They know what it takes to win and have great leadership on the ice and in the locker room. You never know what the season will hold in terms of injuries and call ups and winning three straight Kelly Cups is certainly unprecedented. With that said, coach Martinson has put together a team that any coach would love to take into the playoffs. Throw in the fact that Allen is 14-0 in playoff series under coach Martinson and you have the possibility of a third Kelly Cup this season. Allen Americans fans have great trust in Steve Martinson. If he says there is a chance to do something special this season they are more than willing to go along for the ride no matter what the outcome.


DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans final roster will be full of experienced players but they are still youthful. While there are four players 29 or older (Gill, Costello, Steffes, Gens) there will be 14 players 25 or younger.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Weekly Update - The Pace Quickens - It Is Almost Show Time

If you hang around the Allen Americans locker room or front office you can sense the increased activity as the season approaches. Training camp rosters are due to the ECHL office on Thursday, camp will start for the Americans the following Monday (October 3), the lone preseason game will be in Wichita on October 8 and the season opener is October 15.

- There were two player announcements this week as the team formally announced that Greger Hanson and Tristan King would be returning. Since they were both living in the area, have been skating at the informal skates with the players and have been signed for a long time, these announcements were certainly not a surprise. This completes all of the forwards that coach Martinson will sign and a talented group they are. There are 11 forwards and they have all played in Allen in the past.
 
Chad Costello
J.P. LaFontaine
Dyson Stevenson
Kale Kerbashain
Kyle Neuber
Gary Steffes
Chris Crane
Tanner Eberle
Spencer Asuchak
Greger Hanson
Tristan King

- The only additions to this group will be forwards assigned by San Jose. Barring injuries you could expect two young forwards being assigned to Allen but that is always a wait and see.

- While there are just three defensmen announced (Aaron Gens, Joel Chouinard, Mike Gunn) coach Martinson has a total of seven that are signed or will be assigned by San Jose. Eric Roy, who signed with San Jose over the summer was just assigned to Allen and is already in town. My understanding is he will return to San Jose in a week for the Barracuda's training camp.


- There was a get together at the Allen Event Center on Wednesday evening and coach Martinson had a chance to share his thoughts about the upcoming season:

"I am pretty excited about the team we have on paper right now and with some of the guys we could get from San Jose it would put us at the top of the charts as far as what you have seen here in Allen the last four years."

"We have six or seven guys that will be going to the Barracuda's training camp plus Spencer Asuchak going to Toronto and Chris Crane going to Chicago."

"The players will go to San Jose on Saturday (October 1st), they will play a preseason game on Thursday (October 6th) and then return to Allen on Friday (unless they do well and San Jose wants to keep them) so they can play for us when we go to Wichita for our preseason game on Saturday (October 8th)."

"It will be a strange training camp the first week because we will have so many guys at AHL camps. I will bring in a few tryout guys but we will be short that first week of training camp."

"We have a new housing deal in place that will be much better for our players."


OTHER COMMENTS

The ECHL released their critical dates this week and there are a few key dates to keep in mind. Opening day rosters are due October 12, there will be an All-Star game in Glen Falls, NY on January 18, the date for players to return from overseas to play in the ECHL is February 15 and the Kelly Cup playoffs begin on April 12. Here is the complete list of critical dates: http://www.echl.com/echl-critical-dates-2016-17-season


- You probably saw that Jamie Schaafsma has added assistant coach as a new title in addition to being a player and team captain for the Fort Wayne Komets. Here is the story about his new role that appeared in his hometown newspaper. A post playing career as a coach may be in the future for Jamie but he also has all of the certifications to be a firefighter so he will have more than one option when he decides to hang up the skates. http://www.chathamdailynews.ca/2016/09/21/schaafsma-to-be-player-assistant-coach


- Had a chance to get to know three of the new Ice Angels at the event on Wednesday. Audrey, Jenny and Ashlynn are really excited to be members of this year's team. They talked about preparing for the opening night dance, skating practice and their upcoming calendar photo shoot in the Dominican Republic. Welcome aboard ladies.

Ice Angels Audrey, Jenny, Ashlynn


- For those interested in watching your favorite team on ECHL TV it is early bird special time so you can save a few bucks. The early bird specials are good through October 23. The one team "away pass" is $89.99 and the "team pass" which gets you both home and away games is $149.99. If you are the ultimate ECHL fan you can get the "all access" pass for $249.99 and  watch every regular season ECHL game for all 27 teams. One of the nice features about buying one of the TV packages is you can watch archived games for your team in addition to watching the game live. Here is the link to get details or to sign up: https://echl.neulion.com/echl/secure/registerform




DID YOU KNOW: Tom Manning, who has been the Allen Americans Director of Game Operations in the past is returning to the front office for the upcoming season. Tom has contacted some former Allen players to get details about what they are up to now and graciously allowed me to publish some of these in a series called "where are they now." Goalie Marco Cousineau played in Allen during the 2011-12 season. Today Marco is back home in Quebec working in the family business. Marco and his girlfriend are awaiting the birth of their first child, a little boy named Leo. He is still playing hockey in a professional league in Quebec known as the LNAH. The LNAH has been called the toughest league in the world. While the NHL averages about .3 fights per game the LNAH averages 2.6 per game. There are just seven teams in the league and last season there were 517 fights.

Marco Cousineau (2012) - photo courtesy of Chip Crail






Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Reflections of Barry The Blogger

I promise this post will be about the Allen Americans but it will take a couple of paragraphs to get there. I spent the past week dove hunting in west Texas. The first part of the week on a 33,000 acre cattle ranch where you can normally sit around one of the sparse watering holes, nobody within 10 miles, and have excellent hunting. However, with rain everyday last week there was water everywhere so there was very poor hunting to go along with very muddy ranch roads. With many hours sitting on a pail watching for doves that rarely appeared, there was plenty of time to enjoy nature and reflect. The most constant sounds were the continuous whistling of what appears to be an outstanding quail hatch, cows bellering, blue-winged teal doing a flyby and many flickertails, woodpeckers and mockingbirds. Then there was the deer, wild hog, rattlesnake, coyote, box turtle and red tailed hawk that came by. It was a great trip even though the hunting was not good.

Then on the weekend another type of dove hunt took place as I joined a group of hunters that participated in a charity hunt for wounded warriors. We were able to hunt and share stories with 10 of these brave young men and women who have served our country. Being a Vietnam veteran, I found myself reflecting back and seeing similarities between how the public reacted to the war in Vietnam and in Iraq and Afghanistan. Again, with all the rain, hunting proved to be a challenge but it didn't impede the camaraderie at all.

With a week of reflection time you cover a lot of ground. Hunting brings back great memories of my dad who bought me my first shotgun when we lived in the small town of Flandreau, South Dakota. It was pheasant country and you started young. I got my first shotgun when I was nine. It was a used 20 gauge bolt action my dad bought from the local hardware store for $30. That started a love affair with hunting that has lasted 60 years. 

So there is the backdrop, lots of time sitting on a pail with time to think. At one point I started to think about what a wonderful experience it has been to be a fan of the Allen Americans. It seemed simple enough when my wife noticed there was a new hockey team coming to Allen and maybe we should get season tickets. We were hockey fans having gone to high school and college in Minnesota and attending University of Minnesota and Minnesota North Stars games. Little did we know when we became one of the first Allen Americans full season ticket holders the joy it would bring.

It would be easy to just focus on the success of the team as that has been absolutely amazing. From going to the championship finals in the very first year (2009-10) to winning four consecutive championships starting with the 2012-13 season. The Americans have never missed the playoffs, they have opened the playoffs at home all seven years and won all four of their championships on home ice. Allen's all time regular season record is 295-128-20-28. No fan could ask for more.

Team success is just part of the great fan experience in Allen. Most fans would agree what makes minor pro hockey unique and more enjoyable is the relationship between the players and the fans. Always accessible, willing to take time with the fans, sign whatever the fans wish to have signed. The players aren't just players but become friends with the fans. You never get tired of watching the players interacting with the young ones who attend practice, games or team events. It is special.

Many fans not only become friends with the players but with their families. It is like keeping track of relatives once the players retire or move on. Luckily, social media plays a big role in updates as those babies from a few years ago start to grow up. Harper and London Graham are now in school and have a little brother. Aiden Snowden has already won a golf tournament and been interviewed by the Golf Channel and both he and his little brother (Keegan) love hockey. The oldest of the four Ludwig girls, (Tyler & Taylor have three and Trevor & Holly have one) Sydney, is now playing soccer. The Schaafsma family grew by one this summer (Sullivan) and he has already watched his dad, big brother (Sutter) and sister (Sawyer) on the ice. Bottom line is Allen fans will be watching as all these kids grow up for many years. The current team has a new crop of children (Costello & Gill) for fans to watch grow up.

It was also fun to reflect on some of the "characters" that have played in Allen over the years. You know, those players the opposing fans don't like until they play on their team. Kip Brennan, Darryl Bootland and Garrett Clarke are great examples. Totally different on the ice than off the ice. Engaging, introspective and articulate guys who always had time for the fans.

The last four years have been unprecedented in minor pro hockey as the Americans have won four straight championships. You certainly can't reflect on the history of the Allen Americans without talking about Steve Martinson. His coaching prowess speaks for itself with 10 championships in 20 years as a head coach. He is a throw back coach who knows what works and is a great recruiter. I have spent many hours with coach Martinson over the last four years and it is clear he sees his job as winning hockey games and that drives his decisions. He has been a player, coach, general manager and owner and uses that experience each and everyday to help him win. He knows all the rules and how to use them to the team's advantage. A good example is managing the salary cap. In Allen's first year in the ECHL, coach Martinson submitted more than 250 salary changes to the league, all within the rules. The following year the league changed the rule to limit salary changes to 52. Contrary to popular belief, under Steve Martinson, Allen is not a team that breaks the compensation rules. If the truth be known, Martinson has won four championship under some unbelievable budget constraints that would have had most teams fail. He has dealt with serious problems related to travel, housing, insurance, medical care, equipment, benefits, and salary. All teams have budget issues but the issues in Allen were much more serious than elsewhere. It is a tribute to Martinson that he has been successful while dealing with the numerous budget/ownership issues over the last four seasons. 

I also reflected on the many other Allen Americans fans I have gotten to know over the years. It is a tight knit group who truly enjoys everything the team has to offer. It is like a big hockey family. It makes you look forward to attending each and every game.

So there you have some of my reflections about the Americans. Maybe you have had some of the same reflections or maybe not. I just know for my family the Americans have been a wonderful addition to the community and have brought more enjoyment and success than anyone could have imagined. Looking forward to the start of season eight. 



DID YOU KNOW: Tommy Daniels, Vice President of Broadcasting & Media Relations, is the only  employee of the Allen Americans that has been with the team since its inception.





Monday, September 5, 2016

Weekly Update - Roster, Schedule Changes, Player Updates, Costello Records

 The Allen Americans are now less than a month away from training camp and just 40 days from opening night. The past week has been kind of quiet but you can look for things to pick up after the Labor Day holiday. Coach Martinson is back in Allen, the players that live in the DFW area are getting together informally to skate, and the number of player signing announcements should increase. 

- The Allen Americans roster remains at 12 players officially announced. - The 12 players include eight forwards (Chad Costello, JP LaFontaine, Dyson Stevenson, Kale Kerbashian, Kyle Neuber, Gary Steffes, Chris Crane, Tanner Eberle), three defensemen (Joel Chouinard, Aaron Gens, Mike Gunn) and one goalie (Riley Gill).  There are many more players waiting in the wings to be announced and that should start this week. 

- Coach Martinson always tries to get as many players as possible to attend AHL training camps as it is great exposure and experience. With the talent Martinson has recruited for the upcoming season (both officially announced and yet to be announced) you can anticipate a lot of players going to AHL camps this year. The majority will attend the San Jose Barracuda training camp but there will be players attending other AHL camps as well.

- Heard the ice will be installed at the Allen Event Center starting October 1st.

- The Americans promotion schedule including specialty jersey nights should be out sometime this  week. One area of emphasis for the upcoming season will be improving the game night experience for fans.

-  The December 31st New Year's Eve game against Utah has a changed start time and will now start at 5:05 pm rather than the earlier announced 6:05 pm.  Plenty of time to attend the hockey game and still get your party on.  The January 16th home game against Missouri, which is the annual MLK game, will start at 1:05 pm. Times for all other home games remain the same with a 7:05 pm start except on Sunday's when start time is 4:05 pm.

- If you were planning on making the road trip to Florida in January the dates have been changed for the two games with the Orlando Solar Bears. The games were scheduled for Friday, January 27th and Saturday, January 28th. The games will now take place Thursday, January 26th and Sunday, January 29th. The Solar Bears play at the Amway Center which is also the home of the NBA Orlando Magic and from what I understand a scheduling conflict necessitated the change. In case you were wondering, the Amway Center has a capacity of 17,353 for hockey. The new schedule will give everyone a couple of days in Orlando between games to see the sites.

- The Allen Americans had 46 different players play at least one game last season. Here is a list of where some of them will be playing for the upcoming season.

Joel Rumpel - Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL)
Reid Halabi - Rapid City Rush (ECHL)
Ian Schultz - Edinburgh Capitals (Scotland)
Casey Pierro-Zabotel - Colorado Eagles (ECHL)
Vincent Arseneau - Wichita Thunder (ECHL)
Danny Federico - South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL)
David Makowski - Szekesfehervar  (Hungary)
Thomas Carr - Gap (France)
Daniel Doremus - Manchester Monarchs (ECHL)
Nikita Jevpalovs - San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
Jake Hildebrand - Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Jordan Rowley - HC Vita Hasten (Sweden)
Ayrton Nikkel - Lethbridge Pronghorns (CIS - Canadian Inter-university Sport)
Alex Schoenborn - San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
Kyle Follmer - Fife Flyers - (Scotland)
Mike DiPaolo - University of Western Ontario (CIS)
Chance Braid - Acadia University (CIS)
Jamie Murray - San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
Garrett Clarke - Orlik Opole (Poland)

-  Here is another story, written by Kevin Kurz, about Aaron Dell being the back up goalie for the San Jose Sharks this season. As training camp approaches for the Sharks, Allen fans will be eagerly watching and cheering for Aaron to make the NHL roster. http://www.csnbayarea.com/sharks/dell-penciled-sharks-backup-now


DID YOU KNOW: Chad Costello holds the Allen Americans single season scoring record at 125 points which he accomplished in 2014-15. Chad also holds second place in single season scoring with 103 points which he had last season. Third place all time is held by Colton Yellow Horn with 88 points which he accomplished in 2010-11. Chad is no stranger to single season scoring records as he  still holds that record for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL. The RoughRiders are a Tier I junior team that has been in Cedar Rapids since 1999 and have had 15 players go on to play in the NHL. Chad played one season in Cedar Rapids (2005-06) when he was 19 and had 76 points (31 goals 45 assists) in 59 games. His 76 points is still the all time single season scoring record for the RoughRiders. Incidentally, future Allen Americans Gary Steffes, David Strathman, Steve Kaunisto, and Phil Fox were also on that team.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Weekly Update - The Roster, Gary Steffes Story, Combs & Lavoie Head Overseas

Have had a lot of questions about what is happening with specific players in regards to returning to Allen for next season, so thought it might be helpful to give the tried and true "WAG" (wild ass guess) for everyone that was on the season ending roster. For those of you who can't wait for the start of hockey season and stay engaged all through the summer this is an exercise you may have been going through yourself. Some are easy to figure out but some are not, so here goes.

- The season ending roster included 20 players. It did not include Jordan Rowley, Thomas Carr and Jake Hildebrand.  Why weren't Rowley, Carr and Hildebrand added to the season ending roster? Many times when players are signed late in the season after they finish their collegiate eligibility (like these three) their agents negotiate into their contracts that they not be protected. This gives them maximum flexibility on where they can sign for their first full year of professional hockey. That is what happened and they have all signed elsewhere. Hildebrand in Rockford (AHL), Rowley in Sweden and Carr in France.

- Eight from the season ending roster have already been announced as returning for next season so they are easy. Chad Costello, Gary Steffes, JP LaFontaine, Dyson Stevenson, Kyle Neuber, Chris Crane, Aaron Gens and Riley Gill.  To this you can add three other players (Kale Kerbashian, Tanner Eberle and Mike Gunn) who have played for Allen in the past but were not on the roster at the end of the season. Finally, the one new player to the team is Joel Chouinard which makes a total of 12 players announced thus far.


- If you recall, the Americans only gave qualifying offers to five players even though they could have by ECHL rule given eight qualifying offers. Eric Roy, David Makowski, Greger Hanson, Ian Schultz, and Matt Register were given qualifying offers by the Americans so unless they sign in Europe or get an AHL deal, their only option would be a return to Allen. Register is an exception to this rule as he is a veteran and can become a free agent if he doesn't sign with Allen. Makowski (Hungary) and Schultz (Scotland) have already signed to play in Europe. Eric Roy is the youngest of this group at 21 and has the greatest potential of making it to the next level for the upcoming season. He has most likely already signed an AHL deal and the hope for Allen fans is he has signed with San Jose. That way, if he doesn't make the AHL roster out of training camp he would be assigned to Allen. Greger Hanson is living in Allen so my guess is he signed his qualifying offer and will be back with the Americans next season. That leaves Register and it would appear he will be moving on but that is not a certainty. 



- The other group of players that were not on the season ending roster are those players that were in Allen for the playoffs but were under AHL contracts.  That is why Rumpel, Crane, Pinkston, Arseneau, Federico, Asuchak, and Jevpalovs aren't on the list. If these players don't have AHL deals for next season they can sign ECHL contracts with any team. Jevepalovs is under contract with San Jose for next season but the rest of the guys are free agents. Arseneau (Wichita), Federico (South Carolina) and Crane (Allen) have already been signed and announced. There are rumors that Rumpel has signed with an Eastern Conference team. That leaves Asuchak and Pinkston as the only two unsigned players. You have to believe it is highly likely they return to the Americans for next season. 

- Veterans on a team are always a special case because there can only be four veterans (more than 260 professional games) on the roster. The Americans have already signed three (Costello, Steffes, Chouinard). Casey Pierro-Zabotel was a veteran last season but he has signed with Colorado. Matt Register and Tristan King were not veterans last season but will be this season. My guess is Tristan King is the more likely player to get that last veteran spot based on performance last season. 

- That is everyone from the playoff roster with the exception of Justin Courtnall. Justin was traded to Brampton to complete a future considerations deal so he will not be returning this season. Thus far Courtnall has not signed with Brampton.


- Finally, you can't do a WAG post without mentioning Jack Combs who is also a free agent in the ECHL at this point. He has signed to play in Europe (Germany) and has already reported. While you want to put this in the highly unlikely to happen category there is always a possibility he could return to Allen. It will take a special set of circumstances but as long as his best friend, Chad Costello, is with Allen you never want to count out a Christmas surprise.  Here is an interview Jack did a couple of days ago with his German team:


- So there you have some food for thought on everyone from last season. If it all falls as predicted there will only be a few new faces on the team. Some of the new faces will be assigned by San Jose and some will be players Martinson has recruited but the bottom line is there will be a lot of familiar faces on the opening night roster.


OTHER COMMENTS

- Check out this story about Gary Steffes and his journey through hockey. It is a great read: https://blogofbrotherhood.com/


- As the 2016-17 season approaches, coach Steve Martinson is on his way back to Allen from his summer home in Illinois. He will be putting the final touches on the roster before heading to San Jose next month to attend the Barracuda training camp. There will be somewhere between 4-6 players from San Jose assigned to Allen so attending the Barracuda training camp gives Martinson the opportunity to observe all of the players first hand. 

- One of the players San Jose will assign to Allen is a goalie and that will depend on NHL & AHL training camps. Goalie play is always a wild card so you never know who will be assigned. Jamie Murray, who played in four games with Allen last season with a GAA of 1.44 and save percentage of .963, could be the goalie assigned to the Americans. This is definitely a wait and see.

- It looks like at least half of the defensmen on the roster will be new this season but that was also the case last season. And coach Martinson is very pleased with the new defensemen he has coming in.

- A special thanks to Aaron Gens and Chad Costello for taking time last week to visit all of the Allen Americans fans at Heritage Ranch (where I live). They relived the run the the Kelly Cup, the celebrations that followed and also shared their thoughts on the 2016-17 roster. They were both informative and humorous.

Aaron Gens explains the Kelly Cup celebrations - photo by Dianne Webster



DID YOU KNOW: Alex Lavoie played in Allen his first professional season (2013-14) and set the Americans' all time rookie record with 76 points (25 goals 51 assists) in just 60 games. For his effort he was named 2013-14 Central Hockey League Rookie of the Year. After spending a season with Florida and Indy, Alex has signed to play in Sweden for the upcoming season. The more open ice in Europe should mesh well with Lavoie's style of play.