Friday, December 2, 2016

Allen vs Tulsa Game Preview, Will Makowski Return & More

It is game day for the Allen Americans as they take on Tulsa tonight (7:05 pm) at the Allen Event Center (AEC) in the first of back to back games against the Oilers. It will be three games in five days between Tulsa and Allen as the Americans defeated the Oilers on Wednesday in Tulsa.

- The game tonight will be the fourth against Tulsa who the Americans will play a total of 14 times (7 home 7 away) this season. In their first meeting on October 25, Allen out shot the Oilers 44-26 but lost the game 3-2. In their second meeting Allen came back from a 2-0 first period deficit, out shot Tulsa 42-35 and won the game in overtime on an Eric Roy goal. This past Wednesday it was a 1-0 overtime win for Allen on a great play by Greger Hanson, who got the game winning goal and outstanding goaltending by Riley Gill. All three previous games were played in Tulsa.
  

- Tulsa arrives in Allen leading the Central Division, the Western Conference and the league wide standings with 30 points.

- Allen has fared well against the league leading Oilers though all of the games have been very close. The Americans 2-1 record versus Tulsa includes two overtime wins. In the three previous games Allen has the edge in goals (7-6) and has out shot the Oilers 116-87.

- Here is a match up between Allen and Tulsa:

                                     ALLEN                                TULSA

Team Record               10-11-0-0 (20 points)              14-5-2-0 (30 points)
Division Ranking         4th - Mountain                         1st - Central
Conference Ranking   8th - Western                          1st - Western
League Ranking         14th                                         1st
Last Game                  1-0 Win (Missouri)                   2-1 Loss (Allen)
Goals For                    61                                            66
Goals Against             66                                            57
Power Play                 8.2% (7/85)                              8.9% (7/79)
Penalty Kill                 82.6% (16/92)                          76.0% (18/75)
Leading Scorer          Costello  (6-20-26)                   Pleskach (10-6-16)
Most PIM's                 Mathers (100)                          Clark (57)


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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 2nd (18.24) - Tulsa 11th (14.10)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 19th (2.90) - Tulsa 16th (3.14)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 13th (3.14) - Tulsa 7th (2.71)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 9th (33.67) - Tulsa 5th (34.05)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 20th (33.33) - Tulsa 14th (31.19) 
Power Play Percentage: Allen 26th (8.2%) - Tulsa 25th (8.9%)
Penalty Kill Percentage; Allen 16th (82.6%) - Tulsa 26th (76.0%)


- Special teams should play a big role in the game tonight if either team can score on the power play. It will be a battle of the worst with both teams in single digits in power play percentage. In their first three meetings  neither team scored a power play goal as Allen was 0-11 and Tulsa was 0-13. The Americans had a key power play goal to beat the Missouri Mavericks 1-0 on Wednesday. That may just jump start an under performing power play.

- Riley Gill will be in goal again as the Americans await the return of Jamie Murray who is with the San Jose Barracuda. With Gill's back to back shutouts this week he is climbing up the ECHL goalie stats. Riley is #9 in GAA (2.43), #3 in save percentage (.929), #4 in saves (379) and #1 in shutouts (2).

- Fatigue could be a factor for Allen as they will be playing four games in five days (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday) with 1000 miles of travel thrown in for good measure. They will have to count on the home crowd to help provide energy.

- If you were wondering about the other never ending key to a hockey game which is scoring the first goal these teams are a combined 16-2-1-0 when scoring first. The problem for Allen is they have only scored the first goal in 8 of their 21 games but they have a record of 7-1 in those eight games. The Americans have scored first in their last two games. 

- Allen has had balanced scoring when playing Tulsa. The Americans have seven goals against the Oilers in the three previous games and six different players have scored.

- Adam Pleskach was placed on reserve by Tulsa yesterday and may miss the game tonight because of injury. That would be a big loss for Tulsa as Pleskach is the Oilers leading scorer and always gives the Americans trouble.

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Korey Chipperfield (#5) and linesmen Lucas Bisbee (#72) and Aaron Schacht (#31).


OTHER COMMENTS

- Joel Chouinard scored his first goal of the season in Missouri on Wednesday. It was a power play goal that earned Allen a 1-0 victory. Joel has 10 assist to go along with his one goal. He quietly goes about his business and has proven to be the best defenseman on the team. One stat stands out when looking at Chouinard's season. He is a +12 which places him fifth in the league in plus/minus which is quite an accomplishment for a player on a team with a record below .500.  Another way to state how well Joel has played is he has a +12 in plus/minus and the rest of the team combined is -9.

- You may have seen on social media yesterday that David Makowski has parted ways with his Hungarian team. He was one of the players protected by the Americans so they hold his ECHL rights. The team has not confirmed his return but there is little doubt he will be back in Allen soon. If he returns, David could provide a boost to the power play unit. Last season he was the second leading power play point scorer (3 goal 12 assists) trailing only Chad Costello.

- Allen has only two power play goals at home in 33 opportunities for a home power play percentage of 6.5%. Tulsa has scored only one power play goal on the road in 22 opportunities which is 4.5%. This can't continue for either of these teams. One of them will break out this weekend.


DID YOU KNOW: According to the website eliteprospect.com the Allen Americans are one of the younger teams in the ECHL. The average age of the roster is 24.73 years. The oldest team is the Brampton Beast (26.23) and the youngest team is the Wichita Thunder (23.74).

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Allen Wins 1-0 Again, Game Recap, Martinson Comments, Murray Update, Saying Goodbye to a Super Fan

The Allen Americans finished off their six game road trip in Missouri last night with their second 1-0 shutout in as many nights. Two wins do not make a turn around but the victory last night surely gives Allen fans hope. The Americans not only allowed fewer goals than their average (1.00 vs 3.14) and fewer shots (24.00 vs 33.33) but they won the special teams battle scoring the only goal of the game on the power play. Allen was 1-3 on the power play while holding the Mavericks scoreless on their three power play opportunities.

The one thing that did remain the same last night was the stellar goaltending by Riley Gill with a 24 save shutout. Gill has been the catalyst on this six game road trip. He played in every minute of every game, had a .933 save percentage, was the #1 star twice, #3 star once and was the difference maker in three overtime wins. Largely because of Gill's veteran leadership the Americans return home on a two game win streak and a 4-2 record on the longest road trip of the season.

- It was great to see the power play be the difference in the game last night. To say the power play has been disappointing would be a gross understatement. Prior to last night the power play unit had scored six goals all season and allowed six shorthanded goals. What was great about the power play goal last night is it was reminiscent in the way Allen won so many games last season. It was a set play starting with a faceoff win by Spencer Asuchak. In 10 seconds the puck went from Asuchak to Willows to Chouinard to Gens to Willows to Gens to Willows to Costello to Chouinard for the goal. If you get a chance to see the replay it was a thing of beauty with all five players involved and moving in unison.  The final two passes were textbook as Matt Willows passed from the left point to Chad Costello down low. Costello made an amazing pass that went through the slot and Asuchak's legs right on the stick of Chouinard who made no mistake, scoring his first goal of the season. I asked Costello about the goal after the game and in his typical understated way said, "It was a set play coach Martinson called to hit Chouinard back door. The defensemen went to Asuchak so Chouinard was open."

- The team headed back to Allen immediately after the game. The 475 mile trip would have put them back home early this morning. They will have one day to recharge before they take on the Tulsa Oilers tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday.



STEVE MARTINSON'S POST GAME COMMENTS

- We were good defensively again tonight. We have been playing a more physical game recently and I think that is really helping us.

- Riley Gill was great in goal again tonight. He has been on the top of his game and that gives the team confidence. When we do have defensive breakdown he is making the big saves.

- When things aren't going well you need the veteran players to step up and lead by example and that is what we are getting right now.

- I think we are turning the corner. It is time to take advantage of our home games now.



OTHER COMMENTS

- The Americans record is 10-11 with the chance to get back to .500 with a win at home on Friday. Allen has had a couple of chances to get to the .500 mark recently and didn't make it. Maybe this chance will be different.


- It will be a big weekend for Allen fans in addition to seeing two home games. Activities include Fan Club and Ice Angels calendar releases, the annual teddy bear toss, San Jose Sharks specialty jersey auction and post game autographs.


- Fort Wayne Komets captain and player/coach Jamie Schaafsma retweeted the following message the other day and it applies to all walks of life but certainly rings true for hockey locker rooms. It is an excellent message for everyone but especially young people/players. "Successful people build each other up. They motivate, inspire and push each other. Unsuccessful people hate, blame and complain."


- Long time season ticket holder and super fan Richard Henry passed away yesterday after a courageous battle with cancer. Richard and Carol Henry were a group of very few fans that had the time and interest to attend practice on a regular basis. I would often solicit their input on how things looked at practice. They were a big part of the Allen Americans hockey family and Richard surely will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Carol and the entire Henry family.

Richard Henry with Ice Angel Alyssa circa 2011


- The Americans have been playing with an EBUG (emergency backup goalie) ever since Jamie Murray was recalled by San Jose after Barracuda goalie, Troy Groesnick, was injured. It was originally thought Groesnick's injury would keep him out of the line up long term but that is not the case. According to the Gackle Report, Groesnick will be traveling with the Barracuda to Texas this weekend for their two game series with San Antonio but coach Roy Sommer isn't planning to put him into the lineup until the team returns home next week. So it looks like Jamie Murray may be returning to Allen after this weekend.



DID YOU KNOW: The back to back shutouts by Riley Gill the last two games is not the first time he has accomplished that feat as a professional. During the Kelly Cup playoffs in 2013 while playing for Reading, Riley had shutouts in the first two games of the opening round, beating Greenville 1-0 and 4-0. Gill went on to have four shutouts in the playoffs including one in the championship clinching game against Stockton. Reading won the Kelly Cup and Gill was voted the MVP. 


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Allen Beats Tulsa 1-0 in OT, Coaches & Player Quotes, Allen vs Missouri Game Preview & More

The Allen Americans got a much needed victory last night beating the first place Tulsa Oilers 1-0 in overtime before a disappointed crowd of 3859 at the BOK Center. It was the first time in franchise history the Americans were involved in a 1-0 overtime game.

- The game ended on the third Allen breakaway of the overtime with 1:20 remaining. Greger Hanson made a great play, first stripping the puck from a Tulsa player who was circling in the neutral zone during a line change. Greger then skated up the left side and scored from his favorite spot in the left face off circle. The game winner was Hanson's team leading 10th goal of the season. You can check out the game winning goal and a few of the many great saves below:



- When you have a 1-0 OT game it is a given both goalies were great. Riley Gill made 26 saves to record his 18th ECHL career shutout (12 regular season 6 playoff). For his effort Gill was named the #1 star of the game. Tulsa goalie, Colin Stevens, had 29 saves and was named the #3 star of the game.

- Three on three overtime was intended to create exciting hockey and avoid shootouts and it certainly lived up to its billing last night. Both teams had great scoring chances. Riley Gill made two point blank saves at the 2:00 mark before Hansen's game winner. The Americans had three breakaways in the overtime. Spencer Asuchak missed the net on a breakaway 30 seconds into overtime. Tulsa goalie Stevens made a great save on a Bryan Moore breakaway with 1:53 remaining before Hanson scored with 1:40 left in overtime.

- One thing Allen has done exceptionally well this season is win games that go beyond regulation. They are one of only two teams (Toledo the other) that have not lost an overtime or shootout game. The Americans are now 4-0 in overtime and 1-0 in shootouts.

- One of the keys to victory in the preview for this game was who could execute on the power play. Allen, ranked #26 (7.4%) and Tulsa, ranked #25 (8.9%) are two of the worst power play units in the ECHL. They both had numerous power play opportunities last night but could not convert. Allen even had a full two minute five on three and didn't come close to scoring. Both teams went 0-4 and neither team has scored a power play goal in the three head to head games they have played this season. They are a combined 0-24.


POST GAME QUOTES

Here are some post game quotes courtesy of the Tulsa World, Allen Americans and coach Martinson:

"Riley Gill was solid in goal and the defense did a great job in front of him. It is time for us to start a streak.".....Allen coach Steve Martinson

"It is three on three, so there is a lot of open ice and Allen has some skilled players that can make plays. Three on three is exciting but that is what you will see, breakaways, odd man rushes, that is what you will see.".....Tulsa goalie Colin Stevens

"Someone had to end it, I'm just happy it was us. We played a solid road game tonight and Riley deserved the win."..... Greger Hanson

"The only negative in the game was the power play as we continue to struggle. I guess we need to work on our breakaways too.".....Martinson

"We had chances and gave up two breakaways when a guy was getting held. The other time it was a turnover. We had three in a row to the net and don't pass the puck. They (Allen) are too good of a team to let hang around like that.".....Tulsa coach Jason Christie

"I thought the officiating was terrible tonight, especially the first five-on-three. We have not seen that in a long time.".....Christie


OTHER COMMENTS

- With the win in Tulsa, the Americans improved their record to 9-11 and moved up in the Mountain Division standings from a tie for last place to all alone in fourth place. However, Allen has played more games (20) than any other team in the division. Here are the Mountain Division standings with games played in parentheses:

24 points - Colorado (19)
24 points - Idaho (18)
23 points - Alaska (16)
18 points - Allen (20)
17 points - Missouri (17)
17 points - Rapid City (19)
16 points - Utah (19)

- Chad Costello is third in the league in points (25) and Hanson is 11th (21 points). Greger is sixth in the league in goals (10). He had 10 shots on goal last night which vaulted him to #1 in the league with 88.



ALLEN VS MISSOURI GAME PREVIEW

- The game today will be the fourth between Allen and Missouri this season. They will play a total of 13 times. The first two games were played in Allen on October 15 &16. Allen handily won both games. Riley Gill won the opening night game 6-3 as the teams recorded a total of 86 shots on goal. The next night Jamie Murray stopped 35 Missouri shots on the way to a 4-0 shutout. The third meeting was in Missouri (November 15) with the Mavericks winning 5-3 while being out shot by Allen 38-25.

- In the three head to head match ups Allen has outscored Missouri 13-8 and out shot them 117-107. Allen was 2-13 on the power play, Missouri was 1-17. 

- Both teams have struggled to win on a consistent basis though Missouri has been playing better recently winning six of their last 10 games. Tonight will be the first home game for the Mavericks since they beat Allen 5-3 on November 15. Missouri's last five games have been on the road.


- Here is how Allen and Missouri match up:

                                    ALLEN                              MISSOURI

Team Record:             9-11-0-0 (18 points)            8-8-0-1 (17 points)
Division Ranking:        4th Mountain                      5th Mountain
Conference Ranking:  8th Western                       10th Western
League Ranking:        15th                                    19th
Last Game:                 1-2 Win (Tulsa)                   2-1 Win (Indy)
Goals For:                   60                                       54
Goals Against:            66                                        61
Power Play:                7.4% (6/81)                         12.9% (11/85)
Penalty Kill:                82.0% (16/89)                      88.3% (7/60)
Most PIM                    Mathers (98)                        Elbrecht (34)
Leading Scorers:        Costello (6-19-25)                Fox (5-8-13)
                                   Hanson (10-11-21)               Carzo (6-7-13)



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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 2nd (18.75) - Missouri 16th (13.18)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 19th (3.00) - Missouri 15th (3.18)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 17th (3.30) - Missouri 24th (3.59)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 9th (33.25) - Missouri 14th (31.88)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 20th (33.80) - Missouri 23rd (34.82)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 26th (7.4%) - Missouri 19th (12.9%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 19th (82.0%) - Missouri 5th (88.3%)


- A couple of things stand out when you look at the stats. Both of these teams have really struggled on their power play. Allen has just six power play goals all season (6-81) and won last night in Tulsa despite going 0-4 on the power play. The Mavericks have 11 power play goals all season (11/85) but are just 1-17 against Allen.


- It sounds like a broken record but the Americans have to get the power play turned around to win consistently. They will have their work cut out for them tonight against one of the better penalty killing units in the league. Missouri is ranked #5 at 88.3%. It will probably take a power play goal by Allen to come away with a victory.


- Missouri seems to struggle against teams that play a physical style so look for Allen to finish their checks and emphasize physical play. Derek Mathers should be back in the line up after serving a two game suspension. Mathers has more major penalties (12) than the entire Missouri team (10).


The referee scheduled for the game is Stephen Reneau (#17) and the linesmen are Russ Coll (#40) and Tony Pizzutelli (#85). Reneau was also the referee last night in Tulsa.





DID YOU KNOW: The 1-0 score last night was just the fifth such score in franchise history but the first 1-0 overtime game. Three of the five 1-0 scores have taken place in 2016. In addition to last night, Allen lost to Colorado 1-0 at home on January 8, 2016 and won 1-0 in Wichita on February 26, 2016. The first two 1-0 games were a little more historic. The very first game in franchise history was a 1-0 win in Arizona on October 16, 2009. The second 1-0 game was a playoff loss to the Brahmas in Allen on April 7, 2012.   

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Allen vs Tulsa Game Preview, Special Teams Compared, Looking For The Right Mix of Players

To say the Allen Americans are in need of points as they head to Tulsa today to play the Oilers would be an understatement. Talk about teams heading in opposite directions, you have Allen in last place in the Mountain Division against Tulsa who is in first place in the Central Division. Another way to describe the divergence between Allen and Tulsa is there are only three teams in the league with a lower winning percentage than the Americans who are at .421 while there is only one team in the ECHL with a higher winning percentage than the Oilers who are at .725.

- The game tonight will be the third against Tulsa who the Americans will play a total of 14 times (7 home 7 away) before seasons end. In their first meeting on October 25, Allen out shot the Oilers 44-26 but lost the game 3-2. In their second meeting Allen came back from a 2-0 first period deficit, out shot Tulsa 42-35 and won the game in overtime on an Eric Roy goal. Both games were played in Tulsa.

- None of the injured players (Kerbashain, Brown, Roy) will make the road trip and the Americans will continue to use an emergency back up goalie (EBUG) so Riley Gill will carry all of the workload.  

- Tulsa has claimed the top spot in the ECHL standings with 29 points largely because of an outstanding home record which stands at 10-2-1-0.

-  After the game in Tulsa tonight the team will travel to Missouri where they will take on the Mavericks tomorrow (Wednesday). It will be the end of the toughest stretch of games all year. Since October 25, Allen has played 14 road games and just three home games. Almost half of their bus miles for the year (just over 10,000) will have taken place in the five week period between October 25 and November 30.

- Here is a match up between Allen and Tulsa:

                                     ALLEN                                TULSA

Team Record               8-11-0-0 (16 points)              14-5-1-0 (29 points)
Division Ranking         7th - Mountain                        1st - Central
Conference Ranking   11th - Western                       1st - Western
League Ranking         20th                                        1st
Last Game                  5-2 Loss (Idaho)                     2-1 Win (Wichita)
Goals For                    59                                           66
Goals Against             66                                           56
Power Play                 7.8% (6/77)                             9.3% (7/75)
Penalty Kill                  81.2% (16/85)                        74.3% (18/70)
Leading Scorer           Costello  (6-19-25)                  Pleskach (10-6-16)
Most PIM's                 Mathers (98)                            Clark (57)


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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 2nd (19.32) - Tulsa 11th (14.30)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 19th (3.11) - Tulsa 13th (3.30)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 21st (3.47) - Tulsa 7th (2.80)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 9th (33.42) - Tulsa 3rd (34.45)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 20th (34.21) - Tulsa 13th (31.25) 
Power Play Percentage: Allen 26th (7.8%) - Tulsa 25th (9.3%)
Penalty Kill Percentage; Allen 21st (81.2%) - Tulsa 26th (74.3%)

-  Given their records it is no surprise Tulsa is better than Allen in almost all statistical categories. They take more shots, allow fewer shots, score more goals, allow fewer goals, take fewer penalties and have a better power play than the Americans. The one exception is penalty kill where Allen is  better.

- What was a surprise is that Tulsa has the most points in the ECHL while having the worst specials teams in the league. One barometer of overall special teams success involves combining penalty kill and power play percentages. If a team exceeds 105% that is considered excellent. Anything under 100% is disappointing. Last season Allen led the ECHL with 107.5%. However, this season they are at a woeful 89.0%. Tulsa is even worse this season ranking dead last at 83.6%. 

- Special teams could play a big role in the game tonight if either team can score on the power play. In their first two meetings neither team scored a power play goal as Allen was 0-7 and Tulsa was 0-9.

- If you were wondering about the other never ending key to a hockey game which is scoring the first goal these teams are a combined 14-2-1-0 when scoring first. The problem for Allen is they have only scored the first goal in 6 of their 19 games but they have a record of 5-1 in those six games.

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Stephen Reneau (#17) and linesmen Lucas Bisbee (#72) and Chase Wilkinson (#68).


OTHER COMMENTS

- With 20 years of coaching under his belt coach Martinson is very aware that to be successful it takes more than skill on a team. There is no question this team has enough skill to win every night. The question that remains is whether it is the right mix of players. It has never been easy to play in Allen as there has always been numerous problems because the team has been underfunded. What made the team unique was the players used that adversity as a rallying call to win for themselves and not for others. It takes players with the right attitude who are willing to put the team first. Look for Martinson to continue to make roster changes to find the right mix.


-  You hear about how getting a fresh start can be good and that has certainly been the case for Chris Crane who was recently traded to the Orlando Solar Bears. Chris did not have a goal in his last nine games in Allen and had goals in only two of 14 games this season. Chris has played in two games since arriving in Orlando and had a goal in each to help the Solar Bears to two wins.


- Tulsa ranks #3 in the ECHL in average attendance at 5253. Allen ranks #12 with average attendance of 4212. Fort Wayne is #1 (7681) and Norfolk is last (2313). The league average is 4036. For the entire 2015-16 season the average was 4385.


- In 15 games Derek Mathers has 98 penalty minutes which is 30 more than anyone else. He has 12 major penalties (11 for fighting) which is six more than anyone else. If Mathers keeps up his current pace he would break the all time single season penalty minute record (Garrett Klotz -257) if he plays in just 40 games.



DID YOU KNOW: The very first Tulsa Oilers hockey team was way back in 1928 as part of the American Hockey Association. More recently, Tulsa was one of only two teams (Wichita the other) that played in all 22 seasons of the Central Hockey League (CHL) from 1992-2014. Tulsa's one and only CHL championship came in the inaugural CHL season in 1993.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Trip Down Allen Memory Lane - Who is Playing, Who Is Not, Who is Coaching & More

 The Allen Americans are back home for one day before they head out again tomorrow for games in Tulsa (Tuesday) and Missouri (Wednesday). This will complete the longest stretch of away games (six) all season. With the team now tied for last place in the Mountain Division and a record of 8-11, some Allen fans are beginning to teeter between "they will get this turned around" and "will they get this turned around."

Rather than talk about the trials and tribulations of this year's team I thought today would be good time to talk about some of the teams and players from the past. If you are a long time Allen fan you will have fond memories of the early years and if you are a more recent follower of the team you can see how some of the players from the two Kelly Cup championship teams are doing.



THE EARLY YEARS

2009-10: There are only two players from Allen's first team still playing professional hockey, Colton Yellow Horn and Jordie Benn. It was an exciting first season as the upstart Americans went all the way to the championship final before losing to Rapid City.

Jordie Benn (age 29) - Jordie didn't venture far from Allen as he signed with the Dallas Stars organization after playing in Allen and went back and forth between the Texas Stars (AHL) and Dallas Stars (NHL) for a couple of years but has been with the big club the last four seasons. Jordie is now 29 and has 264 NHL games to his credit.


Colton Yellow Horn (age 29)  -  The best description of Colton is "have skates will travel" as he has played hockey all over the world. He spent three years in Allen (2009-12) and was certainly a crowd favorite with his amazing offensive skills. Colton is top five in almost all offensive categories both all-time and single season for the Americans. Yellow Horn has played in Salzburg Austria, Szekesfehervar Hungary, Kushiro Japan, Plzen Czech Republic and is currently playing in Znojmo, Czech Republic. He only recently joined Znojmo having switched teams mid season. In 8 games he has 6 points (2 goals 4 assists). His team is in eighth place is a 12 team league. Here is an interview with Colton from 2012.





2010-11: Probably the most talented offensive team ever in Allen. They won their conference by 20 points and scored 271 goals in 66 games for an average of 4.11 per game. They had three 30 goals scorers, (Bruce Graham - 34, Nino Musitelli - 34, Colton Yellow Horn - 33) and five players that averaged a point per game (Dave Bonk & Judd Blackwater in addition to those above). Clearly the best team in the league but they disappointed in the playoffs losing to the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs in the conference finals, four games to one. The Mudbugs went on beat Colorado in the finals to win the championship. Bonk and Blackwater are still playing.

Dave Bonk (age 34): After his one season in Allen when he had 58 points (20 goals 38 assists) in 49 games and led the team in plus/minus (+27) he signed to play in Japan for the Nikko Icebucks. He has been there ever since and is now in his sixth year with the team. Always one of the top scorers in the league, Dave has averaged 1.48 points per game in his 234 games in Japan (143 goals 204 assists). This season he has played 27 games and has 36 points (18 goals 18 assists). His team is in sixth place in a nine team league.

Judd Blackwater (age 29): Probably most known for what is called the best fight in team history, Judd was an accomplished fighter but did not fight often. He only had two fights in 2010-11. He is a gifted offensive player and terrific with the puck. Judd has spent the last few years playing in Europe and is currently playing in Nitra, Slovakia. In 25 games he has 23 points (7 goals 16 assists). His team is in third place in a league that has 11 teams. You can check out that fight at this link. https://youtu.be/4iBh9IJYNP0


FORMER PLAYERS UPDATE

Here is an update on players from last season's Kelly Cup team who are playing in Europe this season along with a few favorites from the past. Stats courtesy of eliteprospects.com.

David Makowski - David is playing for a team in Hungary (Szekesfehervar) and has nine points (2 goal, 7 assists) in 18 games. He is the second leading scorer among defenseman on his team. His team is currently in 10th place in a 12 team league.

Jordan Rowley - Jordan is playing in Sweden (HC Vita Hasten) and has 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) in 21 games. He is the top scoring defenseman on his team and is fourth in scoring overall. His team is in 11th place in a 14 team league.

Thomas Carr - Carr is playing in France (Gap) and has 8 points (1 goal, 7 assists) in 22 games. His team is in fourth place in a 12 team league.

Alex Lavoie - Alex is playing in Sweden (BIK Karlskoga) and has 21 points (7 goals, 14 assists) in 22 games. He is second on the team in scoring. His team is in second place in the 14 team league.

Jack Combs - Jack is playing in Germany (Fischtown Pinguins) and has 14 points (8 goals, 6 assists) in 21 games. He leads the team in scoring. His team is in 9th place in a 14 team league.

Ian Schultz - Ian is playing in Scotland (Edinburgh Capitals) and has two points (1 goal, 1 assist) in 12 games. His team is tied for last place in a 10 team league.

Jonathan Lessard - Jonathan is playing in France (Angers) and has 13 points (7 goals 6 assists) in 21 games. He is third on his team in scoring and third on his team with 28 penalty minutes. His team is in fifth place in a 12 team league.

Trevor Hendrikx - Trevor is playing in Scotland (Braehead Clan) and has 3 points (1 goal 3 assists) in 13 games along with 38 penalty minutes. His team is in 8th place in a 10 team league.


NO LONGER PLAYING

Here is a list of former Allen players that played last season but are not playing this season. Not sure all of them have officially retired but they aren't playing. Lot's of great memories and championships among this group. The years they were with Allen are included:

Jarret Lukin - 2009-14
Brian McMillin - 2010-15
Scott Howes - 2012-13
Kevin Young - 2014-16
Justin Courtnall - 2015-16
Kyle Follmer - 2014-16
Jonathan Parker - 2015-16


FORMER PLAYERS STILL WORKING IN HOCKEY

Josh Hepditch - Head Coach, St Stephen Aces, Maritime Hockey League (Junior A)
Daniel Tetrault - Assistant Coach, Rapid City Rush (ECHL)
John Snowden - Assistant Coach, Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL)
Phil Fox - Hockey Operations Manager, Northern Michigan University
Steve Silverthorn - Assistant Coach, Bentley University
Liam Huculak - Director Business Development, Bakersfield Condors (AHL)



 DID YOU KNOW: There are only four players in the history of the Allen Americans that have played in over 200 games. Tyler Ludwig (247), Jarret Lukin (238), Mike Berube (229) and Brian McMillin (215). It is possible four more players could hit the 200 mark this season. With 53 regular season games remaining Chad Costello (163), Greger Hanson (156), Gary Steffes (149) and Aaron Gens (149) could all make the 200 game milestone.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Allen Loses 5-2, It's the Same Script, Special Teams Futility Continues, Possible Help & More

This season has certainly been a case of one step forward and two steps back. After a win in Utah on Wednesday the Americans had won four of five road games and were headed to Idaho for two games and a chance to climb to second place in the division standings. Instead, Allen was swept by the Steelheads and are now just one point out of last place in the standings.

- Allen lost last night by a score of 5-2 and the script was all too familiar. A poor start by being outplayed, out shot and out scored in the first period. The Americans were out shot in the first period 17-9 and gave up the first goal for the 13th time in 19 games. The score at the end of the first period was 1-0.

- Act two of the all too familiar script was losing the special teams battle. The penalty kill unit allowed two power play goals in four Idaho opportunities. Meanwhile the Americans were 0-4 on the power play. Allen's power play percentage is now at 7.8% and the penalty kill is at 81.2%.

- Act three was typical as the Americans dominated play in the third period, out shot Idaho 16-5 and scored a couple of goals but it was too little and too late. Allen's first goal was scored by Greger Hanson (9) who took an errant pass just as he was coming out of the penalty box and scored on a breakaway. The Americans cut the score to 4-2 late in the third period on a goal by Spencer Asuchak (7). Joel Chouinard took a shot from the left point, Chad Costello was in front of the net for the rebound but his shot went off the post. Asuchak picked up the shot off the post and put it in the net. Idaho got an empty net goal to make the final score 5-2.

- Most of the team headed home to Allen right after the game on a 1605 mile trip that will take close to 30 hours if all goes as planned. Big Red has been repaired so hopefully the trip home will be uneventful. Tommy Daniels mentioned on his broadcast last night that some, including himself, were staying in Boise overnight and flying home to Dallas. You would assume those that choose the flying option would do so at their own expense unless there is more going on than meets the eye.

- The Americans close out November with two more road games in Tulsa on Tuesday and Missouri on Wednesday.



OTHER COMMENTS

-  Unless and until the Americans improve their special teams play they are destined to toil at the bottom of the Mountian Division standings. How they have fallen so far in one year is unexplainable. How can you go from first to worst with the same core group of players? Last season Allen was ranked #1 on the power play at 21.1% and #3 on the penalty kill at 86.4%. This season they are ranked #26 on the power play at 7.8% and #20 on the penalty kill at 81.2%.


- This stat tells you all you want to know about the power play. Allen has now played 19 games (26% of the season) and scored just six power play goals. However, the power play unit has allowed six shorthanded goals. When you give up as many goals on the power play as you score you have a serious problem. C'MON MAN!


- If coach Martinson wants to make some roster changes to help improve the anemic power play, one place to look is at the list of players that were given qualifying offers at the end of June. Qualifying offers were given to five players (Matt Register, David Makowski, Eric Roy, Greger Hanson, Ian Schultz). Of that group Makowski and Schultz signed in Europe. Allen has their ECHL rights and they could sign with Allen as long as they do so by February 15. Makowski was the Americans' second leading power play scorer last season trailing only Chad Costello in power play points. Ian Schultz was great at screening the goalie and making his presence known in front of the net on the power play. A big factor in luring either of these guys back to Allen is they both play on teams that will not make the playoffs. Makowski's team is in 10th place in a 12 team league and Schultz's team is in ninth place in a 10 team league. Makowski in particular would help as he is a right shot who could help at the left point. It may be wishful thinking but it is at least a possibility. 


- Chad Costello had an assist last night to continue his point streak. Chad has a least one point in nine straight games. He has failed to get a point in just three of the Americans first 19 games. Costello is third in the ECHL scoring race with 25 points (6 goals 19 assists).


- Greger Hanson had a goal in both losses in Idaho and leads the team with nine goals.


- The gap between Allen and the top of the Mountian Division standings continues to widen. There are now two teams (Colorado & Idaho) that are eight points ahead of Allen. Here are the current standings:

24 points - Colorado
24 points - Idaho
21 points - Alaska
17 points - Rapid City
16 points - Allen
16 points - Utah
15 points - Missouri


- Chris Crane played in his first game last night since being traded. It was a great beginning for Chris as he scored the first goal of the game and was named the #3 star as his Orlando Solar Bears defeated the Brampton Beast.


- In other ECHL action last night, Rick Pinkston and J.P. LaFontaine, who were teammates just a couple of weeks ago faced off against each other. Each had an assist in the game as LaFontaine's team (Elmira) came out on top of Pinkston's team (Manchester) 5-3.



DID YOU KNOW:  How bad is the Allen power play this year? Giving up as many shorthanded goals (6) as they have power play goals (6) says it all but here is Allen's power play percentage for each year in franchise history. With 26% of the season already in the books the Americans will have to really pick up the power play to avoid having it be the all time worst in franchise history.

2016-17:     7.8%
2015-16:     21.1%
2014-15:     21.9%
2013-14:     20.7%
2012-13:     20.5%
2011-12:     18.9%
2010-11:     23.9%
2009-10:     16.9%


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Allen Falls 3-2 To Idaho, Rematch Tonight, Martinson Comments, Dell Wins Again & More

The Allen Americans lost to the Idaho Steelheads 3-2 last night before a crowd of 4730 at CenturyLink Arena. If you would like a goal by goal description check out this link that is the official press release from the Allen Americans (https://allenamericans.com/americans-fall-to-idaho-in-a-close-one-3-2/). What I want to do this morning is share some random thoughts about the game and the team.

- Idaho scored the first goal of the game on one of the flukiest (definition = obtained or achieved more by chance than skill) goals you will ever see. The Idaho player was just trying to rim the puck along the side boards and behind the net. He blasted the puck from just inside the red line down the side boards, the puck hit a glass support and took a crazy hop past Riley Gill. The goal was described by the Idaho broadcaster as "an absolutely insane ricochet off the glass that skips by the blocker of Gill. There is nothing he could have done about that."  When things are going badly the bounces don't go your way.

- Scoring the first goal of the game is so critical to success but the Americans have only been able to accomplish that six times in 18 games. Allen's record when scoring first is 5-1. When the opponent scores first their record is 3-9.

- The Americans did an excellent job on the penalty kill last night as they successfully killed off all six Idaho power play opportunities. The Steelheads came into the game with a home power play percentage of 31% so holding them to 0-6 was great.

- Allen's power play looked like it had come to life on their second power play of the game. Coach Martinson had four forwards out with Greger Hanson on the right point. The goal was one of those beautiful feeds by Chad Costello from the left side of the net, through the slot to Hanson who was sneaking in from the point. Greger was at the faceoff dot and one timed the puck back door for the goal. At that point the power play was 1-2 but things went downhill after that. The Americans had five more power plays and went 0-5 and to make matter worse, gave up another shorthanded goal. The Americans were again playing four forwards on the power play with Matt Willows at the left point. Willows turned over the puck at the point and Idaho's Kyle Jean skated the length of the ice to score shorthanded. It was the sixth shorthanded goal allowed by Allen this season, the most of any team in the ECHL.

- Allen was out shot in the game 26-22 but did a great job of limiting shots especially considering Idaho had six power play opportunities. Allen is ranked #21 in the ECHL giving up an average of 34.44 shots per game.

- Defenseman Jason Fram, who was just assigned to Allen by San Jose, scored his first professional goal last night, deflecting in a shot by Joel Chouinard. Chouinard went right into the net after the goal to retrieve the puck for Fram. Jason was a big time scoring defenseman in the Western Hockey League. In his last three junior seasons, playing for Spokane, Fram had 165 points in 197 games.

- The teams meet again tonight with an 8:10 pm (Allen time) puck drop. Just as last night the referee will be Kenny Anderson. The Americans have had Anderson as their referee more than any other referee this season. Tonight will be the fifth time Anderson has been the referee for an Allen game. The Americans are 0-4 when he is the referee. Anderson likes to call a lot of penalties so the Americans need to adapt accordingly. In the 18 games Allen has played this season there have been 10 or more penalties called five times. Three of the five were games refereed by Anderson. 



STEVE MARTINSON'S POST GAME COMMENTS

- We played a more physical game tonight as some of the guys stepped up physically. We need to finish checks and be hard to play against if we want to be successful.

- Our power play is costing us games. We are not getting good shots. We got that one power play goal but then turned around and gave up another shorthanded goal.

-  I played five defensemen and 11 forwards tonight. I will go back to six defensemen tomorrow night.

- Watching the replay of the Mathers hit it appeared to be a clean hit that the Idaho player turned away from to avoid. Getting called for a five minute major at that point in the game was unfortunate.


OTHER COMMENTS:

- The 3-2 loss to Idaho created a bunch of ties in the Mountain Division. Idaho is tied for the top spot and Allen is now in a three way tie for fourth place. Here are the current standings:

22 points - Colorado
22 points - Idaho
19 points - Alaska
16 points - Allen
16 points - Rapid City
16 points - Utah
13 points - Missouri


- Rapid City beat division leading Colorado last night (in Colorado) 4-3 in a shootout. Rapid City was recently in last place in the division but has been on quite a streak recently. They have won five of their last six games with the only loss being in overtime.


- Aaron Dell was in goal for San Jose yesterday as the Sharks beat the Islanders 3-2. It was Dells's fourth NHL appearance (three as a starter and one in relief).  His won loss record is now 2-1, his GAA is 1.93 and his save percentage is .931. Some pretty impressive work by the former Allen American.


- In closing I wanted to share my opinion on where the team is at now that 25% of the season is complete. The team has certainly under performed for a team that coach Martinson said was as talented as he has had in Allen. Bringing back so many players (15) from last year's Kelly Cup championship team may in retrospect not have been the best strategy. I know other coaches have been quoted as saying bringing back too many players after winning a championship can work against the team sometimes. After the poor start Martinson wasn't about to let more time pass without making changes and that is what he has done in the last two weeks with the departure of Rick Pinkston, J.P. LaFontaine, Chris Crane and Tristan King. To be clear, these players weren't moved because they were the problem. When you make trades you have to give up someone the other team wants so good players get traded. With the recent roster changes (Alex Guptill, Harrison Ruopp, Bryan Moore, Jason Fram) hopefully the team can maintain their skill, become a little tougher to play against and improve their puck possession time. Make no mistake Martinson will continue to make roster moves. My opinion is this team is playing better and will only improve as they get a few more games with the new group. When Kale Kerbashain, Eric Roy and Travis Brown return to the line up and the guys get a lot of home cooking in December and most of January, you could see them go on a run.

- The only away games the Americans have from December 1st until January 25th are with Missouri (1), Tulsa (1) and Wichita (5). During this same period they will have 15 home games. 




DID YOU KNOW: The Americans have been outscored in the first period 25-13. The most goals any other team in the league has given up in the first period is 19. Allen's first period goal differential (-12) is also the largest in the ECHL. The next closest is Norfolk at -8.