Sunday, December 30, 2012

Post Game Press Conference - 12/29/12

The Americans regained first place in the Central Hockey League (CHL) with a 4-1 victory over the Fort Worth Brahmas before a crowd of 4799 at the Allen Event Center. Special teams are always important and this game sure proved it as the Americans scored all four goals on the power play going 4 for 8 while the penalty kill unit held Ft. Worth scoreless as they were 0 for 8. The three stars of the game were Bootland with his hat trick, Tyler Ludwig with four assists and Trevor Ludwig with a goal and two assists.

Our streak continues! You do an interview with this blog and you will immediately increase your production. Booter Bootland has four goals and two assists in the two games since his interview. With all of his superstitions we may be doing an interview every week.  We will settle for his hat trick last night but Booter will tell you he could have easily had five goals as he had two other great opportunities that the goalie stopped. I talked to him after the game and his injury is not serious. He should be fine. And as coach Martinson said, "I think he is going to be okay, he is pretty tough, and if it slows him down it can't slow him down too much."

The press conference after the game was attended by the Comissioner of the Central Hockey League, Duane Lewis, as well as Coach Martinson and Scotty Howes. The following is a short recap of their comments:

Duane Lewis:
- The CHL is looking at expansion teams for next year in addition to the St. Charles, Missouri franchise (St. Charles Chill) that has already been announced. In the next couple of months they hope to announce two additional teams for next year. We know one of the new locations under consideration is in Casper, Wyoming. The league is also working on two new franchises for the 2014-2015 season.

- They are not worried about teams defecting to the ECHL despite the rumors to the contrary.

- Revenue sharing, which has been talked about in the past, is not on the table for discussion at this point.

- The new Denver franchise is doing better than expected after overcoming some start up issues because of the lack of lead time from when the team was created and the season began.

Coach Martinson:
- Marty introduced his family (wife Michelle, daughter Millie & son Logan) who have been visiting from Chicago over the holidays. I saw the kids skating with coach after practice and you could see their passion for hockey.
- The coach is concerned about the lack of productivity from the second and third lines and it is something he addresses with the players. In a perfect world he would like to get others out on the power play but the Maiani, Howes, Bootland line is doing so well and he needs that line to score so he is going to keep going with it.
- As long as the team keeps winning Coach will be patient and  juggle the 2nd  & 3rd lines to see if he can get some guys going. He may need to look for another play making center like Maiani but he doesn't want to get rid of anyone so he is going to see if the lack of scoring works itself out.
- The team needs to play a little smarter with more puck possession than they have been recently. We have to support the puck. We are not going to always score on the rush, we have to get pucks in deep, get pucks behind people and work the corners.
- There is a possibility, depending on what happens in the next few days with the NHL lockout, to see Alec Martinez in the lineup on Friday. Alec is a member of the NHL Los Angeles Kings  and was on their Stanley Cup team last year. Alec plays defense and his NHL contract last year was $737,500. Alec lives in Dallas in the off season. He can be signed without cutting anyone.
- Coach Martinson talked briefly about players he has talked to so he is ready when our players (such as Howes) get called up to the AHL. He has potential players in the wings from the ECHL, Europe and a center in the SPHL. He also hinted about a former Americans player he has talked to who plays for an ECHL team that is already out of the playoff picture.
- Brett Skinner should be ready to go by the January 4th game with Tulsa

Scotty Howes:
- Scotty was asked about his scoring streak and as usual gave all of the credit to his line mates Maiani & Bootland). As always, a modest, class act!
- Coach Martinson mentioned Scotty had a contract in the works with Springfield Falcons (AHL) earlier this year and then he got hurt. His great start has enabled him to be in position for a good AHL contract if the NHL lockout is lifted.
- Coach also asked Scotty to explain why he uses a different stick in practice than in the game. He actually uses Colton Yellow Horn's stick in practice. It has a big hook and big uplift. Scotty's explanation was very straightforward, "We count practice goals so I feel more comfortable shooting with a bigger hook, that is pretty much it."

Friday, December 28, 2012

Darryl Bootland - Player Profile

Darryl Bootland #27
Birthdate: November 2, 1981
Birthplace: Toronto, ONT.
Hometown: Bradford, ONT.
6' 2" 200 lbs. 

The first impression when meeting Booter (yes, he prefers Booter or Boots to Darryl) is the same impression you get when you see him play hockey. A guy that truly enjoys what he is doing and expresses it whenever he gets the chance. Someone who feels a 100% work ethic and lots of fun can go hand in hand. But what isn't so obvious until you talk to him is his absolute commitment to his team, the organization, the fans and the community.  He is very serious about using his experience (10 years as a pro) which includes 32 NHL games (Detroit Red Wings & New York Islanders) to help provide leadership. He is proud to be wearing an A on his jersey as an alternate captain.

 Booter's early hockey experience is pretty typical for anyone growing up in Ontario. His parents had six acres in Shelburne and behind the barn was a small pond and a field that would freeze over and create a skating rink. "There were all kinds of bumps on the pond, we would find the smoothest spot and that is where we would play." A few years there was enough water they could skate down the ditch to the neighbors. Booter's earliest hockey memory is at the age of three laying on the ice on the pond behind the barn watching his brother and his friends play hockey. He would make his parents put on his skates but he would not stand up but just lay on the ice and watch. If they would try and take his skates off he would start crying. Bootland's bother, Nick, is three years older and has been a big influence on his hockey career. Nick had a 10 year pro career himself which included over 350 games in the AHL. His last three years as a pro (2005-2008) he played for the Kalamazoo Wings and when he retired he was immediately hired as the head coach of the the Wings and has had that position for the last five years. In 2011 Nick took his team to the finals of the ECHL Championship (Kelly Cup) where his team lost to the Alaska Aces who were led by Scotty Howes who was named MVP of the tournament. Ironically, Booter's roommate on the road is Howes. Yes, hockey is a small world.

As Booter got a little older he started playing a lot with his brother and his brothers friends. He loved when his brother would have pond hockey parties. He credits his toughness to all of the time he spent playing against his brother and his friends who were three and four years older than him. "I was basically a tag along and once I got big enough they all beat me up." Even in the summer Booter was playing hockey with his brother so his parents didn't have to drive to two different tournaments. "They knew I was the younger guy so they tried to pick on me." "I was tall and really skinny but looked bigger because I always had to wear my brothers old equipment which was too big for me."

When he was 15 Bootland started his junior career with the Junior B Orangeville Crushers. Again he was following his brother who had played for the Crushers four years earlier. In 1998 he was selected in the first round of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) draft by the Barrie Colts which was his home town team. His excitement of playing for his hometown team was short lived as at the trade deadline (right after Christmas) he was part of the biggest and most famous trade in Canadian Hockey League (CHL) history, a whopping nine player trade which involved some troubled kids including one who had been in jail.

To make matters worse he was traded to the Toronto St. Micheal's Majors who were in last place. Booter played for St Micheal's for four years and the first two years were very difficult. However, a new coach, Dave Cameron, who now is an assistant with the Ottawa Senators, was hired for the 2000-2001 season. He immediately turned the team around and Booter credits Cameron with teaching him a lot about playing hockey. His junior career ended with an amazing year in 2001-2002 as he had 41 goals and 56 assists in 61 games. His plus/minus was a lofty +48 which led the entire CHL. The year ended in disappointment as they won their division and were favored to win the conference but lost in the finals to the Barrie Colts. Bootland is still the career leader for St. Micheals in goals, points and penalty minutes.

Booter started his pro career in 2002 playing  for the Toledo Storm (ECHL) but was signed by the Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) after playing the majority of the season with the Storm. He played for the Griffins for five seasons. During the 2003-2004 season he was called up by the Detroit Red Wings for 22 games and had one goal, one assist along with 74 penalty minutes. During much of his career the way he was asked to play was to fill the role of enforcer. It was a tough job but it was the role he was asked to play. He has had several seasons with over 300 penalty minutes including 2005-2006 with the Griffins where he had 390 penalty minutes.

The last few years Booter has played for many different teams trying to win what has been an elusive  championship. He has been in many championship tournaments along the way with disappointing losses in the semifinals and finals several times. One of the most disappointing seasons was in 2009-2010 when Bootland signed to play for his brother and the Kalmazoo Wings. It had been a dream come true to play for his brother and they had a good team. However, about a third of the way through the season he received an offer to play in Europe (Austria) and he made a decision that in retrospect he regrets. He admits he was thinking more about himself and the dollars and cents and not enough about his teammates. To make matters worse his Austrian team lost in the finals and he came home to watch Kalamazoo loose in the finals as well. Booter told me, "The hardest thing I have ever had to do in hockey was watch my brother and the teammates I left to go to Europe lose in the playoffs."

Americans fans may remember Booter from his previous Central Hockey League stint with the Oddessa Jackalopes in 2010-2011. A couple of his memories of that year include how jealous he was of the Americans facility and surroundings whenever they traveled to Allen. Extra money was sure to be spent when visiting the Americans. He also remembers Kip Brennan roughing him up including a cut on his head from an elbow.

Last year, after Odessa folded, Bootland returned to play for his brother in Kalamazoo and they had a great season loosing in the semifinals of the Kelly Cup tournament.

So how did Booter get to Allen. The first thing you need to know is both the Kalamazoo Wings and the Chicago Express (coached by Steve Martinson) were in the same ECHL division last year. They played each other 14 times during the season so Coach Martinson got to see Booter play a lot. When Martinson got the Americans coaching job he gave Booter a call to see if he was interested in signing with the Americans but Bootland said no because he was fully expecting return to the Kalamazoo Wings. But the more he thought about it the more it appealed to him. He new what a great coach Martinson was and with the new minority owners he felt his best chance for a championship was with the Allen Americans. He decided he really wanted to play for Martinson so he called back to ask if a slot was still available. The rest is history.

I asked Booter about anyone on the current team that he has played with in the past. He has played against Kip Brennan ever since they were fourteen. "He used to chase me around all of our junior career and then we got to pro he continued to chase me around, throw me around and abuse me all of the time. In 2007-2008 we played together in Bridgeport and that was the best thing for me as he didn't lighten up much after we played together but he lightened up a little bit after that. I also played with Scotty Howes & Trevor Ludwig for the Manitoba Moose in 2008-2009."

I also asked Booter if he his having as much fun as it appears he is when you watch him play. He told me as he has aged he has learned to love hockey even more every day, appreciate what he has, and tries to plays every shift and every game as if it were his last. He had a good friend that lost his helmet when his chin strap broke and was knocked out and in a coma for a month. His best friend was in a bad car accident and is a paraplegic. The tragedies and things he has gone through have made him realize you have to enjoy what you are doing.

Here are some comments from his former coaches and teammates about Booter:
     - He is a throwback from the way the game is supposed to be played
     - He has fun
     - He plays hard
     - He does a lot of different things for your team, he can score and fight
     - He keeps guys loose
     - He is great in the locker room
     - He has been in the league a while, he knows how to play
     - His presence is important when you have a lot of new faces and changes

After spending some time with him I now know why he has so much fun playing hockey. I also have an appreciation for how much he is driven to win a championship before he retires. He knows with all of his experience he has something to contribute as a leader and will go out of his way to help his teammates and bring a championship to Allen. He deserves a championship and I look forward to watching the quest and enjoying the result.

Booter is married to his lovely wife Sarah. They met in Mexico when he and his best friend went on a vacation after his friend got a settlement from his accident and Sarah was there for a wedding. They have a six year old son named Trace and are expecting a little girl in March. Sarah is from Willis, Texas which is a small town just north if Conroe.

His mom (Isis) & dad (Chris) owned a Price Chopper grocery store franchise for over 40 years. They now live in Lagoon City which in known as Ontario's "Little Venice" where every home is on the waterway.

When I asked about pets Booter seemed a little embarrassed to admit that yes they had a pet. It is a cat named by Trace. The official name is Aunt Hot Donna Lord Tubbington Bootland but you can call her Hot Donna.

In order to get to know Booter a littler better we asked him some questions:

Roommate On The Road: Scotty Howes, you have to keep the married guys together.

Nickname: Booter, don't call me Darryl.

Hockey Hero: When I was a kid my hero was Brendan Shanahan but then I played with him and he wasn't my hero anymore.

Favorite Actor: Edward Norton

Favorite Actress: Jennifer Aniston

Favorite Type of Music: Rock

Favorite Group: Tragically Hip (Canadian Rock Band)

If You Could Have Lunch With Anyone Living: Wayne Gretzky

One Thing People Would Be Surprised To Learn About You: That I have a cat. My buddies back home would be shocked that I have a cat.

What Chore Do You Hate To Do: Laundry

What Do You Have That Is Great Value To You But Little Value To Others:  My chew tin (Skoal)

Who do You Admire As A Leader: Kip Brennan, he has taught me to be a pro to my body and train like a pro.

Where is the most interesting place you have visited: Barcelona, Spain

If You Could Live In Another Country For Two Years Where Would You Live: Australia

If You Could Be Anything Besides a Pro Athlete What Would It Be: Rock Star

Any Pregame Superstitions: I eat the same, sleep the same hours, do everything the same, get dressed from right to left, if I haven't scored in a while the stick goes in the garbage can before every game.

Who Is The Funniest Guy On The Team: Drew Daniels with his dry humor.

Favorite Childhood Toy: Ninja Turtle Pizza Thrower

Who Is Your Number One Fan: Uncle Ernie & Papa Jerry

What Do You Like To Do To Kill Time On The Bus: Read baby books. I've just finished my third one.

Favorite Motto or Saying: Before every game I say to the guys "Let's have some F****** fun, this F****** game is supposed to be F****** fun. Then they know I am ready to go.

Favorite TV Show: Modern Family & Duck Dynasty. My teammates call me Uncle Si

Tulsa Makes Big Changes - Waive Matt Register

Found this article from the Tulsa World about big changes the Oilers are making as they are mired in last place with 19 points which is seven fewer than the next lowest team. The changes include the waiving of former Americans defenseman Matt Register (played 22 games in 2011-2012) who was claimed off waivers by Arizona.

Tulsa's Ben Gordon (left) and Arizona's Chad Langlais get tangled up during a game earlier this month at the BOK Center.  CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World
Tulsa's Ben Gordon (left) and Arizona's Chad Langlais get tangled up during a game earlier this month at the BOK Center. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World

By JOHN RITTENOURE World Correspondent

Times are tough for the Tulsa Oilers right now.

Having lost their last eight games, the Oilers (8-18-2) find themselves at the bottom of the Central Hockey League standings and looking for answers.

"This is my ninth year as a professional head coach and the worst record I have had is one game under .500," said Oilers coach Bruce Ramsay. "This is very tough. We are going through some trials and tribulations right now."

For some, it would be hard to be optimistic. But optimism often creates opportunity. Expecting good things to happen can lead to taking actions that will produce positive results.

The proof lies in a review of the 2010-11 Central Hockey League season. After losing eight straight and falling to the league cellar at 3-11-1, the Oilers went 32-14-5 to finish the season at 35-25-6. That was good enough for third place in the Berry conference and a spot in the playoffs.

"That is what we need to do," Ramsay said of the team's need to make a comeback. "That year we had a championship caliber team. There are a lot of similarities for sure. We started to turn it around a lot sooner than we have this year. We have to get our confidence going, and it starts with one win."

To aid in that process two new goaltenders have been brought in, along with some new defensemen. They will make their home debut at the BOK Center on Wednesday when the Oilers host the Fort Worth Brahmas.

Rookie goalie Dan Bakala has rejoined the team after being waived on Nov. 29 and new goalie Shane Madolora played his first Oilers game last weekend. Goaltender Ian Keserich, who has been with the Oilers for three years, was waived. Defensemen Ryan Barlock and Daniel Amesbury were signed, Matt Register was been sent to Arizona and veteran forward David Beauregard was released.

"We are making a lot of changes," said Ramsay. "Nobody likes to lose hockey games. We have lost more than our share this year. But I believe that there is a lot of potential with the core guys that we have. I did not have the right mix early on and I am trying to fix that.

"It has been painful and hard on me. I am not happy with any of the results we have had lately and time to make that change.

"We need consistent goaltending and hopefully one of these two will take advantage of that. That was a big spark for us a couple of years ago when we started playing better. If you don't have goaltending you won't win hockey games."

The good news is the season has yet got reach the halfway point leaving 38 games to be played.

"Time is growing shorter but we have a lot of games left and still have every opportunity to get ourselves in the situation that we need to be," said Ramsay. "I will keep tinkering till I find what I like.

"I think we are heading in the right direction. We had a lot of new players in our lineup last weekend. I thought the guys battled hard and the new players looked very good."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Paired Preferences With Jamie Schaafsma

Here is how forward Jamie Schaafsma answered our paired preferences questions:

Maple Leafs or Canadiens                               Maple Leafs
Playstation or Xbox                                         Xbox
Dog or Cat                                                       Dog
Blonde or Brunette                                          Blonde
Coke or Pepsi                                                  Pepsi
Lady Gaga or Rihanna                                    Rihanna
Ford or Chevrolet                                            Ford
Clean or Messy                                               Messy
Beef or Chicken                                              Beef
Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood                 Carrie Underwood
Beer or Wine                                                   Wine
Sushi or Mexican                                            Sushi
Big Brother or Amazing Race                        Big Brother
Facebook or Twitter                                        Twitter
PF Chang's or Boston's                                   PF Chang's
Ocean or Lake                                                 Lake
Fishing or Hunting                                          Hunting
Kindle or Hardback                                         Kindle
Reese Witherspoon or Angelina Jolie             Angelina Jolie
Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy                        Tiger Woods
Titleist or TaylorMade                                    Titleist
Red Wings or Blackhawks                              Blackhawks
Justin Bieber or Kanye West                           Justin Bieber
Survivor or The Bachelor                                The Bachelor
Texas Stars or Houston Aeros                         Texas Stars
Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil                                            Dr. Oz

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Hockey Christmas Poem

The Quad City Mallards Booster Club sent this out via e-mail. Merry Christmas!!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Random Stats - And I Mean Random

I wasn't going to post today but thought I would pick out some random/obscure stats for any diehard Americans fans coming to the blog on Christmas eve. Here goes:

- Erik Adams ranks third all time in short handed goals with two.

- Aaron Dell is on pace to have the best GAA (2.03) and save percentage (93.0%) in franchise history.

- Bruce Graham dominates almost all career offensive categories being the all time leader in points, goals, assists, power play goals, game winning goals & plus/minus.

- Graham scored 91 goals for the Americans. Second place all time is Colton Yellow Horn with 67.

- Scotty Howes has scored 10 of his 19 goals on the power play.

- Brian McMillin has the fewest penalty minutes this year amongst the skaters having taken one penalty for two minutes.

- In 61 NHL games Kip Brennan averaged 3.64 penalty minutes per game. In 48 games with the Americans he has averaged 4.54 penalty minutes per game. Last year he played 14 games in the Russian league (KHL) and averaged 17.1 penalty minutes per game.

- The power play percentage in the league goes from a low of 9.68% (Arizona) to a high of 25.64% (Bloomington). The Americans are second at 23.08%

- Allen has the second longest win streak in the CHL this year having won six in a row from October 31 to November 13. Only Missouri has a longer winning streak with seven.

- League attendance ranges from Missouri at the top with an average of 5320 per game to Ft. Worth at the bottom with 1545 per game. The Americans are fourth in attendance at 4113 per game.

- Nino Musitelli played in his 200th professional game Friday night.

- Berube, Daniels, & Clarke have a combined 72 shots and have not scored a goal.

- The first hat trick in Americans history was scored by Mike Willemsen. He was waived by the Brahma's, picked up by the Americans and scored a hat trick in his first game. He played four games with the Americans and was waived.

- All time leader in penalty minutes in the playoffs is Mike Salekin with 82 in the 2010 playoffs.

- Tobias Whelan had three short handed goals in the 2011 playoffs.

- The all time leader for penalty minutes in one game is Jim McKenzie with 34 (3/12/12 against the Brahmas).

- Dave Bonk & Judd Blackwater share the single game record for points scored with six.

- The best, shortest and most decisive fight in Americans history was Jim Jorgensen versus Judd Blackwater. A two punch knockout. If you have never seen this one or haven't looked at it in a while check it out on YouTube.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Post Game Notes & Other Comments - 12/22

A great overtime win 3-2 against Wichita. A nice way to go into the break. The boys better rest up as they come out of the break with four games in six days. I have to say what a pleasure it is to watch Scotty Howes do his thing. It is amazing to watch him maneuver the puck and his touch around the net is something to behold. His 19 goals lead the league by two and he has played nine fewer games than those trailing him. Scotty was the first player profile we ever did on the blog (October 12) after he and his brother (Andrew) visited with the our fan club. It was obvious after they spoke to the fan club what nice young men they were. We are still hoping to see Andrew in an Americans uniform. He is currently playing for the Louisana IceGators (what a great name) in the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL).

The last player profile on the blog  (December 19) was with Anthony Maiani who also is a magician with the puck. His three assists against Wichita puts him at 21 for the year which leads the team and places him fifth in the league.

Howes & Maiani prove doing an interview for this blog brings good luck. You would think all of the players would be giving me a call to ask for a player profile interview.

Other comments:

- I talked to Mike Montgomery at the game last night and he told me he is feeling better and hopes to start riding the bike and if everything goes okay start skating over the break. Mike also agreed to read the book I mentioned in the post on Friday (Zamboni Rodeo) and share his thoughts on the league in 2001 versus today.

- Is it me or does it seem all of the jersey auctions have reduced the demand. I left early but it appeared it was hard to get even the starting bid ($150) for some jerseys without throwing in a sweetener such as suite tickets or autographed pucks.

- It was great to see Tyler Ludwig & Mike Berube skating during the open skate with their daughters clutched in their arms.

- Anyone notice the good looking young lady skating with Brian McMillin during the open skate. It was his wife, Wendy.  The reason she looks so comfortable skating in hockey skates is she, as did Brian, grew up in northern Minnesota. Wendy played hockey in high school and college. And by the way, they met as youngsters during an open skating session.

- One of the Americans biggest fans (John) pointed out to me that Coach Martinson was sitting in the stands (Section 115) all by himself watching warmups. He wasn't paying any attention to the Wichita end of the ice but was watching the Americans closely. Wonder what he was looking for?

- Decided Friday to do a story about the Allen Americans bus. It will take a while as I am going to talk to several players to hopefully get some good stories. I talked to Erik Adams and he gave me lots of background information. I would like to hear from you, the readers, if there is any aspect of this story that would interest you. Please post something in the comments section.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Update on Former Players & Coaches

Thought I would take a look at how some of our past players and coaches are doing and bring those of you that don't follow them up to date:

- The biggest success story is Colton Yellow Horn (2009-2012) and his team (Ontario Reign - ECHL). They lead their division and are second in the conference in points. They are second (there are 23 teams in the league) in the ECHL in attendance with an average of 6760 per game. Colton leads the league with 19 goals in 27 games. And if you haven't seen his shootout goal you have to see it. Check out YouTube: Colton Yellow Horn Shootout Goal 12-22-12.

- At the other end of the spectrum the San Francisco Bulls, home of Americans alumni Justin Bowers (2009-2010), Scott Langdon (2010-2012), & Dylan King (2010-2012) are in eighth place in the nine team conference having garnered just 25 points in 31 games played. Bowers is second on the team in points with 7 goals and 19 assists and Langdon leads the team in plus/minus with a +8.

- Jordie Benn, the only player who has had NHL games (3) after playing for the Americans is having a good year with the Texas Stars (AHL) with four goals and seven assists. His plus/minus is a +6. The Stars are second in their division and fifth in the conference. Eight teams from the conference make the playoffs so it is looking good at this point.

- Bruce Graham (2009-2012) is having a typical season (a point a game guy) for the Nottingham Panthers (EIHL) with 15 goals and 16 assists in 29 games. The Panthers lead the league with a 19-5 record. When looking at Bruce's stats I noticed 41 penalty minutes (PIM) which seemed high. Upon further review I found out 29 of his 41 PIM came in one game against the Hull Stingrays who ironically are captained by another Americans alum Kurt Dulle (2009-2010). At 9:06 of the first period Bruce got two roughing penalties, a five minute boarding penalty, and a 20 minute game misconduct for a total of 29 minutes. Go Bruce!! By the way his team won the game 3-1.

- Dave Bonk (2010-2011) leads his team in goals with 15 and assists with 25. His 40 points rank him fifth in the league in scoring. His team, Nikko Ice Bucks (Asia League), are in fifth place in the seven team league.

- Coach Mullins (2009-2012) has had an up and down season thus far with the Elmira Jackals (ECHL). After a great start in which they won six out of their first seven games the team has fallen on tough times as they have lost five of their last seven games. They are in last place in the division and are 11th in the 14 team conference. They are also having trouble drawing a crowd as they are in 22nd place in the 23 team league with an average attendance of 2610. Still plenty of time to turn things around as the season has not even reached the half way point.

- Justin Decosta (2010-2011) who was playing in Europe returned to the US and signed a contract November 2nd to play for Coach Mullins and the Elmira Jackals. He has five assists and has a plus/minus of -3 in 18 games with the Jackals.

- Judd Blackwater (2010-2011) started off real fast scoring goals in the first three games for the Las Vegas Wranglers (ECHL) but has only three goals in the last 23 games and has not scored a goal since November 29th.

- Chris Whitley (2009-2011) who plays for the Williamsport Outlaws of the Federal Hockey League (FHL) is the second ranked goalie in the league with a 3.34 goals against average and a save percentage of 91.8%. His team is in second place in the six team league. They rank second in the league in attendance with an average of 1183.

- Liam Huculak (2009-2011) who started the year playing in Zagreb, Croatia which is in the Austrian League came back to the US and signed a contract November 29th to play for the Bakersfield  Condors (ECHL). Unfortunately the Condors are the worse team in the ECHL  with a 7-19 record.

- Jim McKenzie (2011-2012) was traded by the Trenton Titans (ECHL) to the Evansville IceMen (ECHL) on November 24th. He has no goals and four assists in seven games with the IceMen. He has 33 PIM which is 4.71 per game.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Zamboni Rodeo - A story of Minor League Hockey

I came across this article in Gelf magazine written by David Roth, which is an interview with Jason Cohen who wrote a book, "Zamboni Rodeo" in 2001 about minor league hockey in Texas. He followed the Austin Ice Bats of the Western Professional Hockey League (which became the Central Hockey League). The article below was published in 2009. I found it an interesting read and I'm looking forward to reading the book. It would be informative to get the perspective of some of the current Allen Americans players on how the league is the same and different from 2001. Maybe we can get one of the players to volunteer to read the book and give us a report. Finally, try to make it to the end of this article as some of the best discussion about hockey is contained in the questions towards the end of the interview.

The Cowboys of the Zamboni Rodeo

Jason Cohen tells Gelf about his six months touring with the Austin Ice Bats of the Western Professional Hockey League.

David Roth

It's tempting to write that Jason Cohen is the only hockey writer to have penned a Rolling Stone cover story (about Hole, in 1995), been recognized by the Sex Positive Magazine Awards—in 2008, for his Portland Monthly piece about Mary's, a strip-club institution in the Rose City—and written an appreciation of goetta, Cincinnati's peculiar indigenous porky breakfast treat, in Cincinnati magazine. But it'd be wrong, since Cohen's not a hockey writer; he's a freelance writer who happens to be a hockey fan.
Jason Cohen. Photo by A.P. Heller.
"There were certainly a few guys on the Ice Bats with NHL skills, an AHL head, and a WPHL heart."
Jason Cohen. Photo by A.P. Heller.
If the freelancer part of his brain knew that following the minor league Austin Ice Bats in their adventures around the Texas-centric Western Professional Hockey League a dozen years ago was a perfect story for Texas Monthly, it was a combination of freelance-honed instincts and old-fashioned hockey-love that led him to spend six months touring with the Bats. Those journeys resulted in 2001's Zamboni Rodeo, a book that is—as much as I'd hoped to avoid using this word—rollicking in all the ways one expects a book about the boozy, brawly, wild world of minor-league hockey to be, as well as illuminating and moving in some less-expected ways.
Cohen is my colleague at the sports blog Can't Stop the Bleeding, and while I knew of his career as a freelancer—I didn't know about Zamboni Rodeo until I was offered the opportunity to interview him for Gelf. I'm glad to have found out about the book, even eight years late. The Ice Bats and the WPHL are no more—a common fate in the flux-intensive world of minor-league hockey (the WPHL was merged into the Central Hockey League)—but what makes Zamboni Rodeo so endearing is what makes it enduring: It's about people and jobs and aspirations, but also has fights and people periodically throwing crawfish onto the ice when one of the teams scores a goal.
I was most interested to find out what Jason—a nice Jewish boy from the suburbs, like myself—was doing riding a bus between Austin and San Angelo with a bunch of hockey players. That question is answered in the interview below—conducted via email and edited for clarity and length—as are ones on fighting and the possible relationship between the demise of the creative sports nickname and that of rough-and-tumble minor-league hockey.
Gelf Magazine: So much of what got me into sports as a kid was a kind of hopeful mirroring—I saw baseball players, basketball players, even football players and kind of always wanted do that, at least until the undeniabilities of my physiognomy and athleticism shut those dreams down. But a lot of it was a sort of emotional note-taking, my trying to figure out how to be like Strawberry or Mookie Blaylock or whoever. That never connected for me with hockey, and one of the things I most wanted to ask was how you—someone who never really played organized hockey, who hasn't even played much pickup hockey—wound up so taken with the game.
Jason Cohen: Well, there's no doubt that the Big Three sports remain more popular than hockey because anyone can throw a football, shoot some hoops or have a game of catch—and that hockey is so popular in Canada because the kids there grow up playing it. What initially grabbed me, of course, was that the Flyers won two Cups. I remember almost nothing about those actual games, but do remember playing street hockey in my garage, pretending to take on the Sabres.
But I don't really feel like watching sports has much to do with playing sports—for me it's as much about the mass hysteria/emotion/sense of community you get by being at a game or rooting for a team as it is the actual displays of talent or the final score. Unlike Chuck Klosterman (but like Bill Simmons) I am for its tribal aspects too—being a sports fans is part of my Philly-ness in the same way bagels or Manhattan is part of my Jewishness.
And of course I don't believe you have to play the game—or even understand it at a higher level—to write it about. Before I started Zamboni Rodeo I attended one of the late Roger Neilson's coaching clinics, which was cool, but what I learned about how a d-man is supposed to play the two-on-one didn't make me a better storyteller. It also didn't prevent me from saying a "flamingo" is when you don't keep your head up—a gaffe that's in the book and got past lots of Canadian editors, too. (It's when you bend your legs to avoid blocking a shot.)
Gelf Magazine: Was there ever anything about hockey that struck your literary tastes as a kid, or now? I know for me, reading about baseball and basketball was part of what made the game seem cool. Jason Cohen: As a kid I loved to read those youth biographies of Christy Mathewson and Bob Feller and so forth, as well as active players like Brooks Robinson. But if I ever read one about Gordie Howe or Bobby Orr, I don't remember. And Dan Jenkins never wrote a hockey book (though my Texas Monthly colleague Gary Cartwright did).
By the time I was 15 I was more interested in fanzines and detective fiction and eventually, "serious" novels, plus music and cultural studies in my college/grad school/rock crit years, so it's possible I'd never read a hockey book before I started working on Zamboni Rodeo. I consumed a bunch of them in preparation for reporting (and then none at all while writing). There is certainly a deep tradition of Canadian hockey literature that comes from the same place as baseball books. Even though hockey is not a ruminative game by comparison, there is something equally pastoral and deliberate and nostalgic about its place in the Canadian identity, which makes it an endlessly ripe subject whether you are celebrating that or debunking it. Jeff Lemire's Essex County comics trilogy is a great recent hockey book. Ken Dryden's The Game is justly revered. George Plimpton's Open Net would probably be more famous if Paper Lion hadn't come first. It's just hard to find hockey books on the shelves of an American Barnes & Noble.
Gelf Magazine: Can you describe at all what it was that, after working on the initial Texas Monthly article, led you to believe that you were not yet done telling this story, and that you needed to do Zamboni Rodeo? As a writer, I'm always interested in this creative tipping point, the moment when it becomes impossible to stop pulling a story's threads once the piece itself is filed. It must've been obvious that you had a lot of work—a metric shit-ton of bus travel and time away from home, a lot of note-taking, a lot of hanging around stinky locker rooms and eating in Dairy Queen—ahead of you.
Jason Cohen: Yeah, mostly it all just seemed like fun to me. I was actually willing to go do that for six months, without making enough money to justify it, and there hasn't been anything I can say that about since (a couple of weeks of reporting and a month of writing is more than enough). It just seemed like a story people didn't know about—that this bush-league, Slap Shot-is-a-documentary world actually (still) existed, and that it was so prevalent in Texas. A fish-in-frozen-water story, if you will. Until the Ice Bats started up I didn't know about the teams that were already in Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio myself.
The other thing that made it seem like a new story to me was the fact that all the players weren't moving up the hockey ladder (even if a few of them still didn't know it). Most people's interest in or knowledge of the minors is inextricable from The Show—like, I followed the Hershey Bears because I cared about the Flyers prospects. Conversely, a big part of the satisfaction of being a Hershey fan is seeing your guys "graduate" (these days, to the Caps).
Gelf Magazine: The minor leagueness of the WPHL is very much in the forefront in Zamboni Rodeo—the cattle-show arenas, the sparse n' boozy crowds, the ridiculous bus trips and cheap owners and general shoddiness of the athletes' quality of life. How important was it to you to capture the minor league vibe, without falling back on the clichés—earned and true though they might be—that kind of define the bush-league picaresque?
Jason Cohen: I guess I felt like the fact that it was never going to get any better for most of these players is what gave the tropes new life. I remember a few years ago I was covering Astros spring training and had to reschedule a short interview with Craig Biggio because he wasn't going to be at the next game due to the "long bus ride." Which was two hours. You ride those buses in the minors hoping you will end up being that guy. But when the grind just never stops, as a writer you keep describing it, because the endlessness is kind of the whole point.
Gelf Magazine: Hockey is probably unique among the major sports in the US in having a bunch of minor-league teams that don't have any obvious player-development focus. There are a few of these in baseball, but even something like the Atlantic League gets veteran pros involved because they know people have been called up from there. There's some discussion of the informal networks in these unaligned hockey leagues, but what kind of sense did you get of that network's shape and size? And who's making money on this underground hockey economy, exactly? Besides, you know, not-the-players.
Jason Cohen: It's pretty much a free-for-all. All these leagues have salary caps, but there's always a ton of skepticism about who follows them, as well as weak sisters who stay far below it. The best players know where they want to play—where the money is, where the bus doesn't suck, where they might be provided with a car, etc. With the really good teams, it reminds me most of college football—recruiting wars, perks, under the table whispers, facilities escalation. My standard line is that "every top-notch minor-league hockey player has been paid under the table, except by his current team."
Sadly, I didn't know as much about this stuff at the time I wrote the book (a lot has also happened in the league since then). And I have mixed feelings about it, because I don't begrudge individual players the chance to get theirs. But the CHL today is as unbalanced as Major League Baseball, if not because of shady stuff than simply because certain teams have significantly better buildings, revenue streams, fan bases or just an owner with more money—the owner who will get the sleeper bus and team logo track suits that the Ice Bats of my book did not. So there are CHL equivalents of both the Yankees/Red Sox and the Royals/Twins.
The CHL was unionized for the first time last year, though. And as bad as the players were treated back then, literally scores of minor-league hockey teams have gone out of business in the past 12 years, with more to come, so I'm not sure it would have been possible for that many people to have jobs playing hockey in the southern US without them also being shitty jobs.
Gelf Magazine: To the extent that the book has villains, they would have to be the Ice Bats' owners, most notably the ex-NHL players Blaine Stoughton and Paul Lawless. They come across as venal, meddlesome, silly, and superior in the book, but the small-timeness and third-class-all-the-way cheapness really made me wonder what they were even doing running a hockey team. Jason Cohen: Well, I assume those guys made some money in the first two years, both by paying themselves salaries, and also potential profits. But then they poured a bunch of money into the [WPHL's] Little Rock [Glacier Cats] franchise, which failed (as did the ECHL Little Rock franchise that started one year later), and I expect they're all working for a living now. Meanwhile, the Ice Bats franchise, which they sold in 1999, was never profitable again. The second owner tried to run a successful franchise for as long as his backer would allow it, and had a great coach, a largely happy team, and two trips to the finals. Then there were two more owners after him before the franchise folded.
I've always assumed a lot of people got into the hockey business because a) they just loved hockey and could afford to lose some dough; or b) they wanted to lose money. And then there's the people who started the WPHL: They got into the arena building business and have generated revenue for themselves that way. A massive conflict of interest, certainly.
I should say, I still think the book has that "for the love of the game" thing in a way that's really genuine, but overall, the lesson was probably not that minor-league hockey is where people aren't in it for the money, but rather, that minor-league owners often make it seem like it's about the money just as much as in the bigs. Right down to the Steinbrenneresque interference.
I think the main problem there, as in all sports, is that the owner should stay out of the way and let his coach and general manager (at this level, usually the same person) do their job. But when the owners are hockey people, how could they resist? I think the players felt that Blaine (who coached in Season 1) simply had no interest in living the WPHL lifestyle for a second year. And I seem to recall (maybe it's even in the book) that Paul Lawless simply couldn't fathom why Bats players couldn't make a pass as well as he could. There's always that question, in every sport, of whether a skilled player can successfully teach and relate to a less-skilled player (let alone bush leaguers).
Gelf Magazine: The upside of the WPHL's relative lawlessness is the fact that it seems to be able to play a hockey that's been more or less regulated out of existence in the contemporary NHL. I'm bullshitting, kind of, and working off some old stereotypes, but do you think the brawly tenor of the league had anything to do with the WPHL being so heavily North American—this being the indigenous hockey style of the continent and all, relative, as the cliché goes, to the slicker European style? As someone who grew up with the Broad Street Bullies, was it bracing or fun to see this sort of brawling, wild, '70s-style hockey again, or did you have a different perspective seeing it happen in, say, Monroe, Louisiana, in front of 1200 people?
Jason Cohen: Let's not get all Don Cherry here about the Europeans. But yeah, I like the fighting. I like a bunch of crazy Texans going crazy for the fighting. Like they say, nobody sits down for a fight. And I've never understood the argument that fighting needs to be toned down for "American TV." Who, NASCAR and MMA fans? People who watch The Hills?
At the same time, I could be totally OK with the NHL getting rid of fighting since it's already been so neutered. What's great about the minors is that even though there's still a designated goon—and one who's certainly more colorful than his NHL equivalent—you can also see some fights between guys who can really play. Some even happen spontaneously. All the arguments about fighting being part of the game and a way to shift momentum and a way to hold players accountable for cheap stuff makes a lot more sense if all the players are actually accountable. The fight in last week's Pittsburgh-Philly Game 6 wasn't exactly between two all-star choirboys (Daniel Carcillo and Maxime Talbot) but at least they were good enough to play in the series, which was not true of their two designated fighters (Philly's was injured, though).
Gelf Magazine: There's a great bit in there in which you mention in passing that you sometimes got called "Cozy," and seem kind of proud of that nickname, but then lament the passing of really interesting nicknames from the hockey scene in favor of the duller "-sy" or "-er" constructions. Is this just a reflection of jock culture in general, or do you have a grander theory on the decline of the great hockey nickname?
Jason Cohen: If I'd been a working beat writer, I'd have to be ashamed of that! (I did eventually cover the team for the Austin paper; fortunately most of the characters from the book were long gone by then.)
It's not just hockey, certainly. We lament this about baseball all the time on the Phillies listserv I belong to. I'm sure we could come up with some kind of theory that's related to the professionalization and specialization of youth sports. Probably it's just that the culture is so insistent on having a diminutive to use that there's no time to wait for the player to do something stupid or interesting to actually earn a nickname. I mean, if every kid who joined the Army or a frat house was just "Cozy" or "Roth-er" from Day 1, we'd never have a "Brooklyn" or a "Pinto," right?
Two other pet peeves here—nicknames that are other people's names (Bats player Ken Ruddick was "Razor" like the boxer, Keith Tkachuk has always been "Walt" after another NHLer, Walt Tkaczuk) and every athlete named Campbell who is known as "Soupy."
Gelf Magazine: Nicknames aside, to what degree do you think that leagues like the WPHL and teams like the Ice Bats have escaped the flattening, corporate mildness of the new, brand-managed NHL? Maybe it's just that you described him so vividly, but I got the sense that Bruce Shoebottom—the old Bruins goon who shows up at the end of the season—was someone who couldn't really have gotten a job (playing hockey or maybe doing anything else) anywhere else. There are obviously still goons in the NHL, but Shoebottom basically sounds like Bigfoot, while an NHL assassin like Donald Brashear has the polish of a fancy nightclub bouncer in comparison. There's a sense with all the players that, beyond their individuated size/speed/skill/toughness issues, their personalities may have a lot to do with them being in Austin as opposed to a more prestigious outpost.
Jason Cohen: Times have changed, even in Texas. Over the years the CHL has become a better league but also a less entertaining league. Higher quality of play equals fewer mistakes and less anarchy. And almost every current team plays in a gleaming new building. My favorite old places (El Paso, San Angelo, Shreveport, New Mexico, and Austin itself) to watch hockey back then either don't have a team or have given way to a new arena, while every city that has joined the league over the past eight years has done so with its own brand new facility. In some of these places, long-term viability remains in doubt, even with the new arena (the Simpsons episode with Mark Cuban was completely on the money).
I definitely think that many Ice Bats players became Ice Bats players not because they didn't have the size or speed or skill to make it at higher level, but because they didn't have the obsessiveness or work ethic that might have allowed them to make up for that. And there were certainly a few guys with—this must be in the book—NHL skills, an AHL head, and a WPHL heart. Which usually meant some great player who simply couldn't figure out the concept of team play or defense. Those things were more common than a player being a little too crazy or unpolished. It's true that you can't imagine the Shoe of 1992 playing in the NHL of 2009 (by the way, he's still beloved by Boston hockey nuts). And it all seems kind of pointless that the NHL doesn't have the fun part of the Broad Street Bullies days, but it never seems to be lacking in suspendable hits, to say nothing of the McSorley and Bertuzzi incidents.
"I like a bunch of crazy Texans going crazy for the fighting. Like they say, nobody sits down for a fight. And I've never understood the argument that fighting needs to be toned down for 'American TV.' Who, NASCAR and MMA fans? People who watch The Hills?"
Gelf Magazine: Not to focus too much on the goonery, but the designated fighter/knock-down guy struck me, again, as a unique job in sports—even in football, there isn't any player whose job is to go out and deliver such routinized, personalized violence. You talk a bit about how some of these guys—Kyle Haviland, notably, and Shoebottom later reveals himself as kind of a violent drunk—maybe have some anger issues. Jason Cohen: I actually think if we were to generalize, the goons and fighters tend to be more easygoing/steady than the other guys. Jeremy Thompson, from the book, for example, is now a father of two and Medicine Hat city councilman. And if I painted Havs as something of a raging bull, that just seems like mythmaking to me now, the same way all goalies are supposedly crazy. There are plenty of dysfunctional hockey players, and I tend to think the whole sport is something of an alcoholic culture (with documented instances of domestic violence and sexual abuses, as one of the other authors at Varsity Letters will discuss), but those things can manifest themselves in a 50-goal scorer just as easily as a fighter. The fighters may be more likely to be hooked on Vicodin or have a The Wrestler-like movie made about them, granted. But the mundane backstage friendliness we saw in that film is what you find among the designated fighters, too.
Gelf Magazine: The Ice Bats are an interesting study in class contrasts, in part because of the different roles of hockey in Canada and the US. The Americans generally seem to have come from middle-class families and played in college at places like Holy Cross, Brown, St. Lawrence; the Canadians, in many cases, dropped out of high school for juniors.
Jason Cohen: Hockey's expensive, especially if you can't just skate on a pond. I guess it's just a given that all Canadian kids will play it if they can, and all parents will sacrifice the money, time, and miles for their kids. It does seem like more of a privileged sport in the US. But plenty of American kids and even more Canadians also use hockey as their ticket to an education—the two players who went to Brown and St. Lawrence were actually both from Saskatchewan.
I think there are various hockey caste systems that are not quite as specific—Western kids vs. Ontario kids, Canada vs. America, Major junior vs. college (which is a variation on Canada vs. America). But overall, at best, the room is merit-based—maybe the tough players look down on the soft players, but it doesn't mean the tough guy didn't go to Holy Cross—that particular player, Keith Moran, was almost the team's "Rudy," and totally lunch bucket.
Gelf Magazine: A lot of the off-ice stuff in the book seems pretty well unchanged since Slap Shot: boozing, partying, skirt-chasing, the overt non-intellectualism and emotionalism. At any point did all that remind you of your days of writing about rock musicians? There seems to be a point at which the stereotypical road-blind, half-rote hedonism of both clichés kind of collapse into each other.
Jason Cohen: Well, most interesting rock musicians are a lot more self-conscious and intellectual (or self-consciously intellectual). Really the handiest thing for me was back at the beginning: When these guys didn't know from Texas Monthly or believed there'd be a book, they were still impressed that I'd hung out with Courtney Love and Sandra Bullock. Silly, but useful.
I dunno, I once wrote about Candlebox, and the scene at the Kansas City Marriott (actually I don't really recall which hotel chain) was about the same as being in a West Texas bar with Odessa puck bunnies. I've also written about strippers and decided there that many of the stereotypical hedonistic things that we associate with strippers are basically true of any drunk, sexually active 23-year-old, regardless of profession or gender. And I suspect that's true of both rock bands and hockey players and, most recently, young hedge-fund managers. Extended adolescence is extended adolescence.
For me the parallels are more positive—it comes back to the crowds—everybody sort of experiencing the same rush. Being in the moment of a song, a shot, a great save, a guitar solo.
Gelf Magazine: You've moved away from Austin, and from writing about hockey—even at Can't Stop the Bleeding, you're as likely to write about the Phils or college football or some current-event-in-sports thing that strikes your fancy. Your old blog—hockeyblog-dot-com, which is so OG that you actually got that name, which to me is like being asmith or bjones@gmail—has been asleep for years. Where would you peg your interest in the sport, now?
Jason Cohen: Yes, I'm proud to have been an early hockey blogger, but despite its universal URL, it was very much about the CHL, and was mostly based on reporting (and informed speculation), so I couldn't really keep it going once I wasn't covering the league. I left Austin the same year as the NHL lockout season, and also got a full-time job (otherwise I've only ever been a freelancer since 1992) so that sort of killed off any chance that the blog might evolve into a platform for more general NHL stuff. And after, probably, two or three hundred Ice Bats games (and another 50 in Dallas, despite the three-hour drive), I didn't mind a break.
Following the Bats had also stopped me from following the NHL regular season, and that's kind of where I am now, more your typical post-Christmas fan who turns obsessive when the playoffs hit. This year was extra-weird, though, because the Phillies won the World Series, so by the time November rolled around I felt like I'd already used up all my fan energy (and not a little bit of money) and it was all I could do to enjoy the last few months of college football. Living on the West Coast doesn't help either—it's one thing to hole up for the playoffs, but to plan your whole afternoon around getting home by 4 p.m. for a mid-February Flyers-Islanders game is a little much.
Meanwhile, at this very moment, I'm not sure what my interest is, because I'm trying to figure out who I'm going to pull for in the absence of the Flyers (and the Stars). I'm a "fan of the game," as they say, but I can't just sit back and admire pretty plays and a close contest. I've got to have a rooting interest.
Gelf Magazine: The internet, I have to assume, is where a lot of the next wave of writing is going to be. I feel like we're doing some good work at CSTB, but I'm sometimes kind of disheartened to think that the sports blogosphere seems so thoroughly dominated by these here's-a-tennis-player's-camel-toe bro-sites. Do you think the boom in this particular part of the sports discourse means anything, in terms of the future of the way we'll read about sports?
Jason Cohen: Hey, I like scantily clad women as much as the next guy (I even married one). I can honestly say I don't go to the sports blogs that focus on them all that much, but I'm not above clicking on Extra Mustard or looking at a picture of that pole vaulter. I dunno. I don't read a ton of sports blogs, hockey or otherwise, and while I tried (and try) to have a high blogging standard when appropriate (I've got nothing against the odd rushed breaking-news clip job either), I guess I never saw any reason to expect anything more from them than the verbal equivalent of sports-talk radio, which is something I am completely ignorant of, rather than the virtual equivalent of Inside Sports or The National (both considered highbrow in their time, I believe). It's enough to be grateful for the good blogs. Maybe this comes back to my music background—I never really sat around wondering why Candlebox were more popular than Pavement, either.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Anthony Maiani - Player Profile

16 Anthony Maiani - Allen Americans Official WebsiteAnthony Maiani Desktop Wallpaper

Anthony Maiani #16
Birthdate: February 24, 1989
Birthplace: Shelby Township, MI
5' 8" 160 lbs.

The first impression when you meet Anthony Maiani is his stature. The Americans roster shows him at 5' 8" 160 lbs. and hockeydb shows him at 5' 7" 155 lbs. He didn't grow up being the smallest kid on the team as he was one of the taller kids when he was first starting out in organized hockey. But as he put it, "I stopped growing and everyone passed me by." And yes he takes a lot of grief in the dressing room about his size.

Anthony was destined to be a hockey player as his brother Domenic, who is three years older, was involved in hockey. Domenic played collegiate hockey at Ohio State and had a brief career in the CHL (Amarillo Gorillas, Rocky Mountain Rage, & Tulsa Oilers). Following in his brothers footsteps started very young for Anthony.

He grew up in Shelby Township, Michigan which is 45 minutes north of Detroit. The most famous hockey player from his area is Derian Hatcher, captain of the 1998 Dallas Stars Stanley Cup team. Hatcher still owns a bar called Hatchy's which is a couple of minutes from Anthony's boyhood home.

His earliest hockey memory is that of his dad taking him to open skate at the local rink when he was three or four. But he really honed his skills on the backyard rink his dad put in every winter. All the neighbor kids would gather at the Maiani back yard rink.  At age 16 he moved to Sioux City, Iowa to play junior hockey. Maiani played with the Sioux City Musketeers in the United States Hockey League for two seasons before beginning his college career at the University of Denver in 2007-08. He played college hockey for the next four seasons, accumulating 126 points (34 goals, 92 assists) in 158 games. His team went to the NCAA tournament all four years. They won their conference (WCHA) tournament (Broadmoor Cup) in 2008 and the regular season championship (McNaughton cup) in 2010. As a freshman in 2008 he scored a spectacular game winning goal in the semi final game of the conference championship against North Dakota. You have to take a look at this goal on youtube, "Anthony Maiani's Magnificent Goal"

Anthony didn't start thinking about a professional hockey career until his senior year in college. After finishing college he signed an amateur tryout contract with the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL. He played in four games including three playoff games and decided he wanted to make hockey a career. Last year he spent the first part of the season with the South Carolina Stingrays and was then traded to the Chicago Express where he played for Steve Martinson. Soon after Martinson was named head coach of the Allen Americans he gave Maiani a call and the rest is history. Anthony had heard great things about Allen from Liam Huculak & Nino Musitelli.

In doing research for this article something I saw repeatedly mentioned was that Anthony flies under the radar (no joke intended) and I think that moniker applies to this year as well. He works hard every shift, he is the kind of player the big guys call slippery the way he handles himself in the corners, and he never gives up. No wonder Coach Martinson wanted him on the team. He is one of only eight players that have played in every game (23), he leads the team in assists (18), he is fourth in goals (8), first in plus/minus with a +11 and second in points (26). With that type of consistency and production he won't be under the radar for long.

A few other things that came up during our conversation I wanted to share:
- Anthony graduated from the University of Denver with a Business Management degree
- His brother just visited him and his parents will visit him in January
- Becasue of the schedule (the Americans play a home game against Wichita on the 22nd & an away game against Wichita on the 26th) most players will not be going home for Christmas
- CHL hockey is a grind with long bus rides and more frequent games compared to college hockey (WCHA) where you fly everywhere and only play Friday & Saturday.

In order to get to know him better we asked Anthony some questions:

Dad (Paul) - Owns a catering business
Mom (Marina) - Hair Stylist
Brother (Domenic) - Works with Paul
Sister (Julia) - She is 13 and a cheerleader

Roomate: Brett Skinner

Nickname: Tony or Miyagi

Hockey Hero: Steve Yzerman

Favorite Actor: George Clooney

Favorite Type of Music: Country

If you could have lunch with anyone living who would it be: President

Whom do you admire as a leader: Steve Yzerman

Most interesting place you have visited: Las Vegas

If you could do anything besides being a pro athlete what would it be: Coach

Any pregame ritual: Always tie left skate first

Who is the funniest guy on the team: Brett Skinner with his sarcastic humor

Who is your number one fan: My grandpa

When was the last time you lost something: My debit card when I first got to Allen

What is your favorite thing to do on the bus: Play a card game called Schnarps

Favorite childhood toy: Teddy Bear

Something people would be surprised to learn about you: I have a Teddy Bear collection

What chore do you hate to do: Vacuum

If you could live in another country for two years where would it be: Italy

What do you like to do for fun: Golf

Favorite TV show: Family Guy


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Practice Notes - 12/18

I attended practice this morning to discover a small group on the ice. Whether it is giving some players a rest because of nagging injuries, some sickness (too much time on the cold bus) or too much fun at the Christmas party last night there were several players not skating in addition to those on IR.
- At the last post game press conference it was mentioned some additional players would be signed because of all of the injuries. As of noon today no additional players have been signed.

- The team continues to deliver teddy bears from the "Teddy Bear Toss"

- I had a chance to interview Anthony Maiani today. His player profile will be posted tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Last Post Until December 18th

I wanted to let  everyone know there won't be any new posts until December 18th as I am heading out for a late season hunting trip to North Dakota. I also wanted to say thanks for all of your support and encouragement. We just passed 3000 page views for the site and we are not yet two months old. We have regular viewers from the US & Canada as you would expect but also have regular viewers from the United Kingdom, Russia, Sweden & Germany to name a few. Allen Americans fans span the globe.

If you haven't been coming to the site since the beginning, I invite you to go into the October & November archives and take a look at some of the player profiles, where they are now articles & paired preferences lists.

Finally, please help me get more Allen American fans to visit the site by letting your friends know where they can find us. If you are on twitter please ask your followers to give @allenamericans1 a follow.

Twitter: @allenamericans1
Facebook: Allen Americans Blog

There is also a link on the Allen Americans web site ( under the "Links" tab.

                                                     Thanks, Barry Janssen

Paired Preferences With Brian McMillin

Here is how Brian McMillin answered our paired preference questions:

Playstation or Xbox                                                               Xbox
Dog or Cat                                                                            Dog
Blonde or Brunette                                                                Brunette
Lady Gaga or Rihanna                                                           Lady Gaga
Ford or Chevrolet                                                                 Ford
Coke or Pepsi                                                                      Dr. Pepper
Clean or Messy                                                                    Clean
Beer or Wine                                                                        Beer
Sushi or Mexican                                                                  Both
Big Brother or Amazing Race                                                Big Brother
Facebook or Twitter                                                             Twitter
Ocean or Lake                                                                      Lake
Fishing or Hunting                                                                  Hunting
Kindle or Hardback                                                               Hardback
Reese Witherspoon or Angelina Jolie                                      Reese Witherspoon
Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy                                                Tiger Woods
Boxers or Briefs                                                                     Briefs
Titleist or Taylormade                                                             Titleist
Red Wings or Blackhawks                                                      Red Wings
Justin Bieber or Kanye West                                                   Justin Bieber
Survivor or The Bachelor                                                        The Bachelor
Dancing With the Stars or So You Think You Can Dance         So You Think You Can Dance
Texas Stars or Houston Aeros                                                 Houston Aeros
Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil                                                                    Dr. Phil

Monday, December 10, 2012

Stats Day & Other Comments

Not much new this morning so thought I would post some stats. I did hear Brian McMillin was feeling okay after going down with a head injury Saturday night. Saw a picture on Twitter which shows his rehab includes chowing down at Freebirds.

Talked to Garrett Clarke's mom (Janet) who traveled from Maine to watch him play for the first time as a professional. A proud mom indeed.

- Scotty Howes is still tied for the lead league in goals (13) with seven fewer games played.
- Three Americans (McMillin,Howes,& Maiani) are among the top six in the CHL in scoring percentage. McMillin is second at 30%, Howes is fourth at 25% and Maiani is sixth at 21%.
-  The Americans have 27 power play goals. The only other team in the league with over 20 is Wichita with 22.
- The Americans still have the number one power play (24.32%) & the number one penalty kill (88.79%) in the CHL.
- The Americans have given up the fewest goals (52) in the league
- Despite each missing several games Brett Skinner (16) & Tyler Ludwig (13) are first and third in the league for assists by defensemen.
- Aaron Dell continues to lead the league in goals against average at 2.03 and save percentage at 93.1%.
- Anthony Maiani leads the team and is 8th in the league with a +10 in plus minus.
- The Americans lead the league in penalty minutes at 395.
- Scotty Howes is 3 for 4 and Brett Skinner is 4 for 5 to lead the Americans in shootout efficiency this year.
- Allen has the longest winning streak in the league this year at 6 which took place from 10/31 to 11/13.
- Allen ranks fourth in the CHL in attendance at 4033. Missouri leads at 5339 while Ft. Worth is last at 1557.
- Darryl Bootland has taken over the team lead in points (25) which places him in a tie for sixth in the CHL.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Matvichuk Post Game Comments - 12/8

  Coach Matvichuk conducted the post game press conference after the Americans 3-2 victory over Wichita last night. Here are some of his comments:

- The game was a character win for the team. Everyone played well after the Friday loss.
- These are the type of games you build a team around
- Our guys got in trouble from us as coaches this morning and then had a team meeting by themselves
- Before we hit the ice the coaches told the players the ball was in their court and they responded very well

Other thoughts:

- There were 22 penalties called in the game. I thought Matvichuk had an interesting perspective when asked about all of the penalties. The biggest issue the coaches have is inconsistency in calling penalties but you have to keep in mind the referees are young guys and are in a learning process themselves. Like the players they are trying to improve and move up to other leagues. The coaches would much rather have young guys making mistakes but trying hard than old, part time referees who don't care.
- Being from Minnesota myself I always take a special interest in the players from the land of 10,000 lakes. It was tough to see both of our Minnesota players go down with head injuries. With the CHL policy of mandatory seven day injured reserve for concussion syndrome Brian McMillin will be out for sure. I would expect Mike Montgomery might also go on the mandatory seven day IR after taking a hard head whiplash.
- With all of the injuries new players will have to be signed. Expect Scotty Howes younger brother Andrew to be one of the new players signed. Andrew was the last player cut in training camp and really impressed the coaches. He is a high energy guy that just keeps on going. He has been playing for the Louisiana IceGators (Lafayette, LA) in the Southern Professional Hockey League. If you look in the October archives of the blog you can find a "paired preferences" post that the brothers completed.
- Coach Matvichuk singled out several players during his comments. Jamie Schaafsma played hurt, Garrett Clarke moved up to forward, and Drew Daniels had his best two games of the year this weekend. Matvichuk gave Drew a lot of credit for coming in the coaches office, asking what he needed to do to get more ice time and going out and doing it on the ice 100%.