Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Martinson Post Game Comments & Other Thoughts 1/29/13

All I Want For Christmas Are My Two Front Teeth
The Fort Worth Brahmas scored the only shoot out goal to defeat the Americans 4-3 before a sparse Tuesday night crowd at the Allen Event Center. Once again the Americans could not hold a lead as the score was 2-1 Allen going into the third period. The picture at the left was posted by Anthony Maiani after the game which shows the damage to his two front teeth after being boarded by Ross Rouleau. While Roleau was given a game misconduct penalty I would expect that will not be the end of this incident. Roleau was also the player who got a game misconduct and one game suspension for an elbow to the head of Garret Clarke that put Clarke out of the line up with a concussion.

Here are a few of the comments  made by coach Martinson after the game:

- I know I sound like a broken record as we once again found a way to give up a lead going into the third period.  Giving up a breakaway and taking some bad penalties cost us.

- We have too many instances where we try what I call hero plays where we try to do too much. We have to avoid high risk plays and use each other. We try to do to much individually.

- On a positive note we scored three power play goals and were 3 for 7 on the power play.

- The covering the puck call on Ludwig was a tough call as it put us in a 4 on 3 situation which is harder to kill. I didn't see the play so I am not sure what happened.

- On the Ft. Worth power play goal the goalie went low to try and see around the traffic in front. He has to stand big and take up space in those situations. Belfour will work on that in practice tomorrow.

- Chris Doyle will be activated for the game on Friday as we need  more offensive fire power.

- You can't argue the penalty against Clarke as you just can't hit the goalie like that.

- Rouleau came from at least eight feet away from Maiani when Maiani had his back turned and Rouleau came and purposely hit him from behind, face first into the glass. I think that is a suspendable hit.

- I expect to make a move before next weeks CHL trade deadline and may also sign someone from Europe.

- My philosophy on shoot outs at home is to have our team go first (it is the home teams option) and put my best shoot out guys out first in order to get an early goal and put pressure on the opponent.

- If we had a completely healthy line up we would not use both Brennan and Penner in most games.

- Brett Skinner will be headed to the Grand Rapids Griffins on an AHL call up this weekend. It is a great opportunity for Brett as the Griffins are in first place in their division.


- With his goal last night Kale Kerbashian has a point in six of the seven game he has played since signing with the Americans.

- Mike Berube with a +10 and Mike Montgomery with a +4 are the leaders among the Americans defensemen.

- How about these stats of former players tearing it up the last few days:
                 * Yellow Horn had two goals Saturday and has 34 on the year
                 * Scotty Howes had goals last Wednesday, Friday & Saturday
                 * Bruce Graham had the first goal Sunday as his Nottingham team beat Cardiff  4-2                         and  by the way the Cardiff goalie was Chris Whitley
                 * Justin Bowers had two goals for Gwinnett (ECHL) on Friday
                 * Nino Musitelli had two assists Sunday and has six points in five games for Toledo
                 * Dave Bonk scored two goals Monday night for the Nikko Icebucks

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Martinson Post Game Comments - 1/26/13

Photo by

The Americans finished with their third loss of the week, all at home, as they went down in flames to the Bloomington Blaze 5-2 last night at the Allen Event Center.  On a positive note the Americans out shot the Blaze 43-22. Here is what coach Martinson had to say after the game:

- I thought the first 17 minutes of the game were outstanding as we were all over them, we were hitting, we were getting pucks at the net and then we take a selfish, needless penalty in the offensive end. This triggered a 4 on 3 power play goal and Bloomington ended up scoring three goals in the last three minutes of the period.

- When you play four on four you cannot leave your guy unless you are getting the puck. We have too many instances where guys leave their guy to help out. Maybe we need to devote a practice just on 4 on 4 play. There is way too much bad decision making and our top players are making the mistakes.

- The Blaze goalie was outstanding tonight as we hammered him over and over but could not get over the hump.

- Jarret Lukin strained his neck and you never know whether it is a one day thing or a one week thing. Right now we can't afford to be with out him but it is out of our control.

- Adam Pineault has a groin injury and was placed on the 14 day injured reserve. The soonest he will be able to play is February 8th against Missouri.

- Brennan did not play because of a one game suspension.

- Chris Doyle will be here Monday but will not be able to play Tuesday as he is on the seven day injured reserve effective 1/25.

- I thought Clarke did a good job given the fact he has not practiced much recently. Both both Clarke and Daniels give us speed up front which we need right now.

- I don't think our current problem is effort as much as it is mental. You can work hard and we are working hard but we need to work and play smarter. Our best players have to be our best players and that is not happening lately.


-  I have said this before but it is worth repeating that it is so refreshing that Coach Martinson is willing to hold his press conference after each game. I often think the last thing he wants to do after a tough loss is talk to fans. He comes in and shares his analysis of the game in an open and honest way, he takes questions from the audience, and it is much appreciated.

- Former players were tearing it up last night as Scotty Howes scored a goal in his third straight game for Springfield and Colton Yellow Horn had two goals and one assist for Ontario.

- Yellow Horn leads the ECHL in points but the stat that really stands out is his 34 goals which are 10 more than any one else in the league.

- Justin Bowers who was recently trade from San Francisco to Gwinnett had two goals Friday night.

- With points again last night Brett Skinner (36 points) and Tyler Ludwig (35 points) are now the top two points scorers in the CHL for defensemen.

- With a crowd of 5215 last night the Americans rank fifth in the league with an average of 4263 per game. With five Tuesday night games remaining on the schedule we will have to have big weekend attendance to maintain our current average.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Player Profile - Keeping up With Kerbashian

Kale Kerbashian photo by

Kale Kerbashian #18
Birthdate: April 7, 1990
Birthplace: Thunder Bay, ONT
Hometown: Thunder Bay, ONT
5' 11" 200 lbs
Shoots: Left

One of the things I have learned this year as I started this blog and conducted player interviews is how similar the players are in some ways and how totally different they are in other ways. I spent over an hour talking to Kale Kerbashian and came away very impressed with his approach to hockey and how that carries over to his approach to life. I would describe Kale as a quiet, easy going, nose to the grindstone, keep to himself type of guy who practices Tai Chi & Yoga which combines movement with meditation. But I get ahead of myself. Let's start from the beginning.

The Kerbashian's
Kale was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario, the middle of three children of Tim and Janne Kerbashian. Tim was the Director, International Education at Confederation College for many years and is currently the Director, Planning and Development for the college. Kale's mom is a social worker at a local hospital. He has a younger brother Jayce and an older sister, Kendall. Unlike many young Canadians who start hockey because someone in their family was a hockey player Kale's family was not big into organized sports. His earliest hockey memory is his first year of organized hockey as a five year old. Kale's recollection is his parents were advised to put him in hockey because he was a high energy kid and his cousins played. He remembers his dad coming to many of his games waiting for him to score and he didn't score until the last game of the season. His dad started putting a rink in the back yard each winter and hockey became Kale's passion. Keep in mind Thunder Bay has the most professional hockey players per capita in all of Canada. Kale remembers breaking neighbors windows a few times when he would glance a puck off the crossbar of the goal in his back yard rink. He also remembers the many hours he and his dad put in shoveling the snow off the rink. He gets his "laid back" style from his dad who his friends call "laid back Jack." His dad would get up in the middle of the night to put water on the rink or to shovel snow.

Kale also did some speed skating as a youngster which he credits for helping him in hockey with his speed. After that first year where he scored only one goal in the last game, Kale kind of took off and started scoring more goals. He had a six goal game and still has the puck. What really comes across when talking to him about those early years is hockey was fun. He had a natural feel for the game. His dad said he played well whether he did or not.  He played because he wanted to play and it was just plain enjoyment.

 For the 2006-2007 season at the age 16 Kale played for a local Junior A team, Fort William North Stars, who play in the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL). His team was 41-6 and won the regular season but lost in the finals of the league playoff. Kale had a great year with 27 goals, 46 assists for a total of 73 points in 53 games. At the end of the SIJHL season, Kale played a few games including three playoff games for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) who had drafted him in the 4th round (77th overall) in the 2006 OHL draft. He had the opportunity to play with future NHL players Patrick Kane, Sergei Kostitsyn, Sam Gagner and goalie Steve Mason. The coach who was also the owner of team was former NHL great Dale Hunter.

Kale played the entire 2007-2008 and part of the 2008-2009 season with the London Knights scoring 47 point in 97 games. It was a great environment for honing his skills and playing hockey. The team averaged over 9000 fans for each game. In January of 2009 Kale was traded to the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors where he played for the rest of the year. 

During the off season Kale was traded to the Sarnia Sting and got a great opportunity to play there for two years (2009-2011). It was in Sarnia where Kale really started putting up big numbers. His first year he had 26 goals and 30 assists  in 58 games. He was named Sting player of the year, was the team's top scorer  and also won the Ranson Industrial three-star award. He was also rated the second best skater in the league in a poll of coaches. At the end of the first year in Sarnia he got his first taste of pro hockey signing and amateur try out contract with the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL) where he scored two goals in four games.

He returned to Sarnia for his second year (2010-2011) and  had 37 goals and 51 assists in 68 games. He played much of the time on a line with 2012 overall #1 draft choice Nail Yakupov who is now playing for the Edmonton Oilers. Kale became good friends with Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk who both had former NHL great Igor Larionov as their agent. Kale was talking to Larionov about going to Russia to play hockey and came close before signing an American Hockey League (AHL) deal with the Connecticut Whale.

I found the following article by Bruce Berlet talking about Kale's AHL deal. This happened in March of  2011:
Kale Kerbashian joined the New York Rangers organization literally over a cup of coffee and a vanilla milkshake. The quick forward was interviewing with Rangers scout Rich Brown at a Starbucks in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, when he got an offer to play for one of the NHL’s Original Six teams.
“He had watched me all season, and I guess he liked what he saw so they gave me a chance,” Kerbashian recalled. “I loved going down (to Hartford) and staying in the Homewood Suites. It was great.”
Kerbashian got a three-week taste of pro hockey in April after he signed AHL and amateur tryout contracts after completing his junior career with Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League.
Kerbashian celebrated his 21st birthday in Connecticut but was scoreless in four regular-season games and then watched as the Whale were eliminated by the Portland Pirates in six games in the first round of the playoffs.
“It would have been nice to step right in and help the team, but the experience helped me a lot as far as understanding the dedication it takes toward the game,” Kerbashian said. “On the ice, not that much stuff is different (from juniors), but off the ice, there’s the preparation before the game. It’s paying attention to detail. It’s your job, not something you do for fun or for something to do. You’re signing up for it, so it’s your job, and we’re pretty lucky it’s something we love.”

One of the benefits of signing his AHL contract was an invitation to the Prospect Camp to play with other Ranger prospects. Kale played well enough at the prospect camp that he got invited to the Rangers main camp in New York.

“I didn’t have a very good camp in New York,” Kerbashian said. “I was very uptight, thinking way too much, and they told me that in my exit meetings.”

A meeting with Whale assistant coach Pat Boller, who works with the forwards, immediately helped Kerbashian, though he said it wasn’t anything resembling Einstein’s theory of relativity.

“I just basically told him to just play his game,” Boller said Tuesday. “He was trying to overdo things a little bit, trying to worry about putting the numbers up, and I just told him to do the little things like stopping and starting, going to the net, shoot the puck. I just told him to relax, play hockey and do the little things.”

It might have been simple advice, but Kerbashian knew exactly what Boller was talking about.
“I’m better off when I relax and keep it simple,” Kerbashian said. “And they want me to shoot it more. I know I’ve got a good shot but I wasn’t much of a shooter, and they brought it to my attention. It can be one of my assets if I use it, so I took that as a confidence builder. You don’t have as much time and space as you do in juniors, so if you’ve got a shot, you’ve got to take it.”

Kale started the 2011-2012 season in the AHL but it didn't go well. Kale calls it a huge learning experience. He got sent to the ECHL (Greenville) and that helped him find his game again. The key to his game is not over thinking, relaxing and let his instinct take over. The experience  was tough but it has made him a stronger person today so he wouldn't change anything.

This year (2012-2013) he started in Gwinnet (ECHL) but with the NHL lockout AHL players were being assigned to Gwinnet so Kale wasn't a good fit and was released in October.  Kale went home and skated with a college team and was thinking of enrolling in school. however, he still had something to prove and he didn't want to give up on playing hockey.

Kale and his agent were talking to several CHL teams about a contract but didn't want to pull the trigger on anything as they were waiting for the NHL lockout to end to open up more spots. As it turned out the lock out ended the day after he signed with Allen. He has no regrets and loves the organization and community. It is all about opportunity and he feels he has a great opportunity here in Allen.

I asked Kale about coming to a new team in the middle of the season and the difficulties that presents. His response started to give me some real insight into his approach to hockey and to life. "I'm a pretty quiet guy, I have never struggled to get along with people, I keep to myself and work hard. If you are a good person it goes a long way. Keep an open mind as everyone is different. Take them for what they are. For the most part everyone means well. It is a lot older team and I still feel like a rookie (Kale is the second youngest on the team)."

Kale feels good about his play thus far as he has gotten a point in every game but he feels he still needs to be in better shape.  The toughest thing thus far has been losing games after having the long winning streak. He says he can't help but feel it is partially his fault. 

Kale is devoted to his family. As he has gotten older he realizes how important family is to him. Since he has traveled so much at young age he really enjoys spending time with family. His family will be visiting soon. His girlfriend, Amanda, will also be visiting. When I say family that also includes his chocolate lab named Calli. Kale calls Calli his best friend and he does indeed Skype with Calli.

I was struck throughout  the interview with Kale's approach to hockey and life. I went back through my notes and wanted to share some of the thoughts, ideas, and statements he made to me during his interview that says a lot about himself. He is a smart young man who is wise beyond his years. I admire him in his belief in himself, his dedication to his craft and his willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed. I look forward to watching the journey. Here is just a sample of what he said:

- The harder something is the more satisfying the results
- I try to do all of the little things right and hope they all add up
- I sometimes get in my own way
- The biggest thing for me was to realize hockey is not life
- Tai Chi has helped me get in touch with my senses and live in the moment
- I need to control my emotions
- You work hard in gym today or you have to do it tomorrow. You are going to have to do it anyway
- Everything in life evens out so if you do a good deed for someone it comes back to you so you are really helping your self

In order to get to know Kale better I asked him the following questions:

What is Your Nickname: Kerby

Who Is Your Roomate: I share an apartment with Lukin and roomed with Montgomery on the last road trip.

Hockey Hero: Mike Modano

Favorite Actor: Will Smith

Favorite Actress: Blake Lively

Favorite Type of Music: I listen to everything

Current Favorite Group: Dropkick Murphys

If You Could Have Lunch With Anyone Who Would You Choose: My parents

One Thing People Would Be Surprised to Learn About You: I'm really into Yoga & Tai Chi

Who Do You Admire As A Leader: My grandfather

Most Interesting Place Your Have Visited: Dominican Republic

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

Any Pregame Ritual: After I loosen up I try to relax using some Tai Chi techniques.

What Do You Like To Do To Pass Time On The Bus: I just got an iPhone so I spend time on that, I have a kindle and I play Sudoku.

Favorite Childhood Toy: Hockey Stick

Favorite Motto or Saying: Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.

Who Is The Funniest Guy On The Team: Kip Brennan

Friday, January 25, 2013

Martinson Post Game Comments - 1/25/13

New Signee Chris Doyle

The streak of one goal games is up to eight in a row as the Americans lose to Rapid City 4-3 in overtime. They could not hold on to a 3-2 lead in the third period. Here is what the coach had to say after the game.

- Tonight was more of the same in that we continue to find ways to give away points. When you turn pucks over in your end and give the best player on the other team too much time with the puck you will not get a good result.

- Pineault was a little sore in the third period so we could not use him.

- Clarke is day to day and will probably not play until at least Tuesday. He has been cleared to play and wants to play but caution is the better course of action coming off a head injury.

- A new player will be here on Monday. His name is Chris Doyle and he is a scorer with some speed. He is a 6' 0" 193 lbs center. He has been a point a game type scorer through out his career. He was a 5th round draft pick of the New York Rangers in 2008. He played in the ECHL last year. He won't be eligible to play until next Friday.

- I thought our goalie play was just okay tonight.

- Trevor Ludwig was reassigned tonight and will be back and in the line up tomorrow (Saturday).

- We are going to stay positive and work our way through this one way or another. I thought the effort was good tonight.

Other Comments:

- If you didn't read my earlier post, "Toronto Mail & Globe critical of CHL Expansion" make sure to take a look as from what I hear the article is pretty accurate.

- With Tyler Ludwig & Brett Skinner both getting assists they have extended their lead in assists among defensemen. Tyler leads the league with 29 and Brett (with 9 fewer games played) is second in the league with 27. To show you how far ahead they are third place has 20 assists.

- It was great to hear Darryl Bootland's dad, Chris, talk hockey with Tommy Daniels and Maurice Fitzgerald during the second period break last night on the radio. If you are not bringing a radio to the game to listen to the broadcast you are missing out.

- Bootland's fight last night with Jordan Behler had to be pay back from the last time Rapid City was in Allen. If you recall,  Behler instigated a fight with Anthony Maiani in that game. Another example of leadership from Bootland and reinforcement of the "teams are not going to like to play the Americans" mantra.

- If you want to find a silver lining in the recent losing streak it is that we still have a six point lead with three games in hand.

- Tommy Daniels continues to give me crap about taking credit for goals but I have to point out our "do an interview, score a goal" streak continues as I interviewed Kale Kerbashian on Thursday and what a pretty goal he had against Rapid City. Look for more scoring from Kale  Saturday. Hope to have his article up before the game tonight.

Toronto Globe and Mail critical of CHL expansion

The Toronto Globe and Mail has a very interesting article (see below) written by David Shoalts on the announcement made by the Central Hockey League announcing a team will be established in Brampton for the 2013-14 season. I can't vouch for the truth to some of these points but I have heard them before. Here is my broken record again. Please find a way for us to get to the ECHL next year.

On behalf of the sporting community in the Greater Toronto Area, I would like to thank the Brampton city council and mayor Susan Fennell for bringing some much-needed hilarity to the hockey scene this week. In the wake of the NHL lockout it was sorely needed.
Mayor Fennell and the council had our sides aching with their credulous and gushing response to the dubious honour of being awarded a Central Hockey League franchise. This was a dream come true, they said, now that Scott Abbott of Trivial Pursuit fame grew tired of losing money with his Ontario Hockey League team, the Brampton Battalion, and plans to decamp for North Bay next season.
Not to worry, CHL commissioner Duane Lewis and along with prospective owners Gregg Rosen, who was billed as a former owner of a Tier 2 junior team called the Kingston Voyageurs, and Cary and Amelia Kaplan, who run a sports management company, said they would be more than happy to fill the void with a CHL team. They even signed a letter of intent on a 15-year lease at the Powerade Centre.
Mayor Fennell rushed out of the meeting to say, “Having Canada’s first Central Hockey League team shows Brampton is Canada’s greatest hockey town. The league and owners had choices and they chose Brampton. I know fans from across Brampton, Peel Region and the Greater Toronto Area will rally around this new team with unrivalled enthusiasm.”
Yes, she really said that. Somehow, those hockey fans who failed to fill the Powerade Centre’s 5,000 seats to watch Battalion players like Matt Duchene over years or opposing stars like John Tavares or Steven Stamkos will no doubt embrace immortals Sebastien Thinel, A.J. Gael and Jon Booras. Who are they, you ask? Why the top three scorers in the CHL, which rests on the bottom rung of professional hockey’s ladder.
Rosen went on Bob McCown’s Primetime Sports radio show on The Fan 590 to proclaim there is no way a CHL team can be anything less than a roaring success. Mayor Fennell said much the same when a disbelieving McCown had her on the next night.
It would appear, then, that the mayor and the Brampton councillors failed to do anything approaching due diligence. Forget the abundant evidence hockey fans in the GTA are not interested in anything that is not the Toronto Maple Leafs. Not even the Leafs’ American Hockey League farm team, the Toronto Marlies, which is a few miles above the CHL in the hockey world, can pack them in.
And does anyone remember the Marlies’ predecessors as AHL tenants at the Ricoh Centre, the unlamented Toronto Roadrunners? They lasted one season, 2003-04, as the Edmonton Oilers’ farm team and couldn’t even draw friends and relatives.
Mayor Fennell and her colleagues would have been well-advised to Google the CHL before its bandwagon showed up in the council chambers. They might have discovered the league is no stranger to financial calamity.
We also hope, for the sake of Brampton taxpayers, the local politicians did not promise to hand over any cash to the CHL team.
As a public service, then, we offer a series of questions the mayor could have asked the CHL folks and should ask if she ever gets the chance:
1. Did six of the 10 CHL team owners tell the league hierarchy last summer they planned to find other leagues to play in by this fall? And might this be related to talk from the CHL crowd at the Brampton council meeting about expansion to Canada?
2. Is the Brampton franchise an expansion team or a team that will need to be relocated? If it’s a relocated team, would it be the Quad City Mallards, which had to be bought by the CHL as this season started thanks to severe financial troubles? And just how many CHL teams have folded or fled for leagues like the ECHL in recent years?
3. Are there any unpaid medical insurance, salaries, worker’s compensation remittances or other taxes by CHL teams, thereby leaving some athletes without medical coverage? Would this amount be anywhere near $140,000 (all currency U.S.)?
4. Was there a distressing incident for a CHL player recently when his wife, who had just given birth prematurely, was sent home from the hospital along with their baby because the player had no medical insurance because his team failed to pay it?
5. Just how do the prospective Brampton CHL owners expect to make a go of it when the closest teams to them are in Illinois and six teams are spread around Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arizona?
There was also this howler in the City of Brampton’s press release: [The] new Brampton team will compete against teams from the United States travelling from as far away as Arizona and Texas to play in Brampton. This will generate a significant sports tourism impact for local accommodation, restaurants, retailers and transportation companies.
Gee, all those players whose salaries are capped at $11,000 per week per team, which averages out to $550 each, are going to make those companies rich, especially when you throw in their $31 per-diem. Then again, we’re sure each team brings along a huge travelling party of fans.
Finally, we wonder if Mayor Fennell noticed something else about the CHL – it’s head office is in Glendale, Ariz., which just happens to be home of the biggest sinkhole in hockey, the Phoenix Coyotes. Not to mention the whackiest city council this side of Brampton.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

This & That

I wasn't going to post anything today as I went to practice and there wasn't much to report. As the day went on I saw a couple of things that might interest those that don't follow twitter and monitor daily news. Here goes:

- Going to do a player profile interview with  Kale Kerbashian tomorrow and will post his story on Friday.

- Former Americans goalie Chris Whitley who was playing for Williamsport of the Federal Hockey League is on his way to Wales where he has signed with the Cardiff Devils.

- Garrett Clarke participated in drills at practice today and stayed on the ice after practice working with Craig Ludwig.

- Everyone I have asked about the player that Martinson said would be signed after the game on Monday had no new information.

- Seemed to me the team spent a lot of time working on special team drills at practice today.

- Coach Martinson was not at practice today as the practice was run by Matvichuk & Ludwig. This is the second week in a row the coach has been gone during the week.

- Tommy Daniels had a great radio broadcast last night at Heritage Ranch with Jerrt Lukin & Garrett Clarke as guests. A good time was had by all. Thanks to super fans Dan, Vicki, Carol, Richard, John & Kim for coming out to the Ranch.

- Happy birthday to Tommy Daniels who is 43 today (Wednesday) and Jarret Lukin who is 29 tomorrow.

- I am sure many of you have seen the news release today about the CHL expanding to Brampton. I am not an expert on logistics but this sounds like a nightmare. I know I sound like a broken record but I sure hope the Americans find a way to get into the ECHL.

Central Hockey League Reaches Agreement with Brampton, Ontario 
League Looks to Add Canadian Expansion Franchise for 2013-14

GLENDALE, AZ (January 23, 2013) – The Central Hockey League announced today that it has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with a group that will bring a Central Hockey League expansion franchise to Brampton, Ontario for the 2013-14 season. 

The Brampton franchise would mark the 12th team slated to play in the League in the 2013-14 season joining the St. Charles Chill as expansion clubs.

“It is very exciting to make this announcement,” said Duane Lewis, Central Hockey League Commissioner.  “I grew up in this area and know firsthand what a positive addition this market will be to our current roster of teams.  Our hope is to expand further in the future in the Southern Ontario area.”

The Brampton Franchise will be in strong hands both from a hockey and business perspective.

The team will be led by Kingston entrepreneur, owner of Kimco Steel, and former owner of the Kingston Voyageurs, Gregg Rosen, who will be Owner of the Team; and Cary Kaplan, president of the sports marketing firm, Cosmos Sports and former president of the Hamilton Bulldogs, who will assume the role of President & Governor of the team.

"I am very excited and honored to be working with the Central Hockey League, to bring professional hockey to the City and the people of Brampton; as the first Canadian team in league history,” said Rosen.  “We believe that Brampton is a great hockey market. Cary and I are committed to providing great entertainment, winning hockey and community leadership to the City and being a successful and vibrant Central Hockey League franchise for many years."

Both the Central Hockey League and the potential ownership group have been working towards finalizing the agreement and completing all legal documents.  The team name, the ownership group and other important team details will be announced in the near future.

“As you can imagine, there is much that has to be completed and finalized to make this historic step to Canada for the Central Hockey League,” said Lewis.  “We have been working diligently to complete everything and the LOI is the next step to putting the new franchise on the Central Hockey League map.”

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Martinson Post Game Comments & Other Thoughts 1/21/13

Photo by
Another disappointing result for the Americans as they lose to the Arizona Sundogs 3-2 on a late third period goal before a crowd of 4335 which included lots kids for the traditional MLK kids day game. The Americans have now lost four out of their last five games. Cause for concern yes, but all teams go through stretches like this and the team still has a five point lead in the CHL standings, their seven losses are half as many as any other team, and they have four games in hand over second place Wichita and three games in hand over third place Ft. Worth.

Here are some of the comments Coach Martinson made in his post game press conference:

- The biggest issue I have over the last four or five games is our secondary scoring. We are not generating enough offense and scoring chances.

- We are 36 games into the season and we still  have the same line scoring most of our goals so it is time to look at some options.

- I have been on the phone and should sign a new forward in the next 24 hours.

- Our power play has not been scoring goals lately (5 for 32 in the last five games) so we need to find somewhere to get more goals. We need to score goals one way or another.

- We have some good defensive forwards and penalty killers but we have some forwards that we need to score that aren't scoring.

- I don't want to get caught up with the idea we are in first place so we need to stand pat. With 80% of our goals coming from a few players you have to find a way to get secondary goals. We have guys that can do it but it just isn't happening.

My other random thoughts:

- I have heard the new forward to be signed is coming from Canada, is a development player, but is not coming from junior hockey.  We might have the name today. Maybe Tommy Daniels will be able to talk about him on the radio broadcast tonight. (See below on the radio broadcast)

- Nobody asked the coach about this in the press conference but did you notice Nino Muistelli had two goals and two assists in his first two games with his new team, the Toledo Walleye (ECHL).

- I talked to Garrett Clarke before the game and he skated for the first time Monday morning since his injury. If all goes well this week he is hoping to be back in the line up for the weekend.

- Brett Skinner had an assist in the game to extend his scoring streak to eight games. He is now second in the CHL in scoring for defensemen with 33 points. The league leader has 34 points but has played 15 more games than Brett.

- Our famous fighting 7's (Clarke #7, Grantham #17, Bootland #27, & Brennan #37) rank 4,5,6,7 in the league in penalty minutes.

- Maiani & Bootland are tied for the league lead in plus/minus at +18.

- I had a chance to talk to Nicole Schaafsma briefly yesterday before the game. It is always interesting to talk to the wives after I do a player profile and get to know them through their husband first. Nicole loves North Texas. She did point out one thing to me that I had not thought about before and it had to do with CHL road trips. Jamie, who has played most of his career in Europe, was never gone on road trips for more than a night or two.  In the CHL there are many long road trips (7-10 days). Keep in mind Jamie and Nicole have two children under 18 months.

- Thanks to Tommy Daniels and Maurice Fitzgerald for allowing me to spend the third period with them in the broadcast booth yesterday talking hockey.

- For those of you in the Allen area don't forget there is a live radio broadcast tonight (Tuesday) from 6:00 - 7:00 originating from Heritage Ranch, where I live. Our fan club here at Heritage Ranch is sponsoring this event and we invite everyone to stop by and talk hockey with Tommy Daniels and his guests. We will have a drawing for some great free Americans tickets at the end of the broadcast. Heritage Ranch is about four miles east of the Allen Event Center on Stacy Rd. The broadcast will take place in the clubhouse ballroom. Please try to arrive by 5:45 so we are ready to go live at 6:00. If you can't join us you can listen online at KLAK 97.5 (there is a link on the Americans web site).

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wendy McMillin - Hockey Wife and Sports Star

For quite a while I have been curious about what it is like to be the wife/girlfriend of an Allen Americans player living a long way from home in North Texas. Pro hockey is a vagabond existence for most hockey players and I was sure it presented some challenges for their significant others.   
Wendy McMillin played youth, high school & college hockey
Because they are from Minnesota like myself and I had met them a couple of times I asked Brian McMillin to run interference for me and ask his wife, Wendy, if she would sit down for an interview to answer a few questions. Wendy graciously agreed and it didn't take two questions for me to realize I had to tell her story and not just the story of being a hockey wife.

Wendy posing with the Stanley Cup
Wendy grew up in the small town of Hallock, Minnesota (population 973) which is in the very northwest corner of the state.  Hallock is   15 miles south of the Canadian border and 10 miles east of the North Dakota border. The 1996 film, Fargo, was partially filmed in Hallock. Wendy is the middle of three children of Heidi & Tracy Bergh.  Her dad is a third generation small grain farmer in Hallock. They have raised sunflowers, barley, canola, sugar beets, wheat, and soybeans over the years. He has a degree in civil engineering and does some substitute teaching in the winter. Her mom works for Digi-Key Corp in Thief River Falls which is over an hour away from Hallock. Her mom and dad met in college while attending North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.  Wendy's older sister Jennifer did some figure skating when she was younger and her younger brother, Jeff, is playing Junior A hockey in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) for the Johnstown, PA Tomahawks.  Wendy started out figure skating but she yearned to play hockey. In third grade, the self professed tomboy asked her dad, who was the coach of the boys team in town, if she could play hockey. There was no girls team so as a third grader she started playing hockey with the boys. It was a little intimidating at first as the boys were bigger than her but it was also cool to be the only girl on the team. Because she had started out as a figure skater she always had good skating skills. An all-around athlete, Wendy also played basketball, volleyball, and softball. Hockey and basketball coincide so she actually played them at the same time. After seventh grade the hockey sanctioning body made a decision that disallowed Wendy from playing with the boys and she had to find a girls team. She ended up commuting to Roseau, which is 60 miles from Hallock, to continue her love of hockey. It was at this time, 8th grade, she gave up basketball as there just wasn't enough time to play both sports. However, she continued with volleyball and softball. So for the next two years (8th & 9th grades) she was playing hockey in Roseau and went to school and played the other sports in Hallock. As with many hockey players, the time and money commitment made by her parents was what allowed her to play.

Another big decision came as Wendy started high school (10th grade) because she could not play varsity hockey in Roseau without attending school in Roseau.  She and her family made the decision that she would move in with a host family (the goalie on her team's family) in Roseau as it would allow her to continue to play hockey and Roseau also had a great education system.

I want to take a moment to talk a little about hockey in northern Minnesota and Roseau in particular.  High school hockey in Minnesota is like football in Texas or basketball in Indiana. I found the following on the "Vintage Minnesota Hockey" web site:

-        To summarize Roseau hockey in one word: TRADITION
-        In the hockey-frenzied town of Roseau, Minn., 10 miles
-        south of the Canadian border, septuagenarian
-        grandmas can give you a 10-minute lecture on the
-        technique of a face-off in the defensive end. 
-        Roseau thrives on its image as the team of the north. How far north? So far that the huge, ice-sheathed Lake of the Woods, 20 miles away, is a certified remnant of the last glacial age of North America. It is what's left of the prehistoric Lake Agassiz that was created by the receding ice flow.
-        Sometime a little more recently in Roseau – something like 100 years ago – they discovered hockey. And the community of predominately second- and third-generation Scandinavians created its own history. Thirty one times it has advanced to the Minnesota state tournament, which among most hockey clans is regarded as the blue-ribbon event in American high school hockey. It has given to world hockey the brothers Neal, Aaron, and Paul Broten, all of whom played in the National Hockey League among nearly a dozen Roseau graduates who made it to the pros. Neal Broten starred on the "Miracle on Ice" American team that won the 1980 Olympics. 

Brian and Wendy circa 2006
     Roseau had its first indoor ice in the early 1940's and has three sheets of indoor ice all for a population of 2600. Kids always have ice time and it is free. One of the three rinks in town is called the north rink and it is primarily used as a place to skate & play hockey for fun. Wendy spent a lot of time skating at the north rink and as Wendy put it, Brian lived at the north rink. He ate there, did his homework there, & of course skated there constantly. She doesn't remember when they actually met but they became friends while skating at the north rink. They had plans to go to prom but hockey got in the way as Brian was trying out for a statewide select hockey team and the tryouts were on prom weekend. Soon after that they began dating.

      Wendy thrived in Roseau both athletically and scholastically. She made the varsity team in hockey, volleyball and softball her first year. By the time she completed high school she had been selected all conference in hockey and softball, she was captain of the hockey team as a Junior and Senior, was selected as an academic all American by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, won the Hobey Baker Character Award which is presented to a player on each high school hockey team in Minnesota that most exemplifies the values and traits of Hobey Baker himself. These values include character, commitment, teamwork, persistence, selflessness, academic excellence, and sportsmanship. She also won the Terrence Fogarty Hockey scholarship which is sponsored by Mr. Fogarty who is a world famous sports artist from Minnesota. It addition to the scholarship she received a limited edition print of one of his hockey paintings.  She is a member of the Roseau High School Hockey Hall of Fame.

      When it came time for college Wendy wanted to attend an Ivy League school and was looking at Cornell. Her hockey hero as a youngster was Angela  Ruggiero, a four time Olympic hockey player who won a gold medal in the 1998 Nagano Japan Olympics when she was still a senior in high school. Angela played college hockey at Harvard and that influenced Wendy to aspire to play at an Ivy league school. Cornell's hockey team was full so Wendy accepted an offer from Bemidji State Univeristy which is a division one program in the famed Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). She received both athletic and academic scholarships while at Bemidji State. It allowed Wendy to be play close to home as it was only two hours away. She was a year ahead of Brian in school so he was still back in Roseau as a senior.  Hockey in college was a full time job with practice, off ice training, tape review, and weekend travel. She rarely had time off during the season and if she did it was usually only one day so it was difficult to see her family in Hallock and Brian in Roseau. On the positive side she got to play the game she loved, played with and against people from all over the world including many Olympians.. Her team had players from Canada, Sweden and Germany. 

      When Brian graduated he accepted a scholarship to Colorado College which is in Colorado Springs. Wendy and Brian knew it was going to be difficult on their relationship being so far a part but they are goal driven and that helped them  understand each others situation and support each other. To make matters worse Colorado College was also in the WCHA so their respective schools were conference rivals. As a matter of fact, Brian's first collegiate goal proved to be the game-winner in a 5-3 triumph over Bemidji State the week after Christmas of his freshman year. 

      Both Wendy and Brian graduated from college in 2010. Wendy with a double major in mathematics and economics and a physics minor and Brian with a degree in Mathematical Economics. 

      After Brian finished his college season in 2010 he signed with the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL). He played in three games for the Wings late in the 2010 season and then  signed a contract to play in Kalamazoo for the 2010-2011 season. So after the summer at home where Wendy managed the community pool (she had worked there every summer since 10th grade) and Brian worked for the county,  Brian headed to Kalamazoo for training camp. Wendy stayed in Hallock to help her dad with the fall harvest and then joined Brian in Kalamazoo. As soon as she arrived in Kalamazoo she started looking for a job but it took over a month to find one.

      This is the part of the story where being the wife/girlfriend of a pro hockey players starts. In November, 2010, the very day Wendy found a job in Kalamazoo and only fourteen games into the season Brian was released. Wendy describes this time as scary and saddening as they almost felt homeless. They didn't want to drive all the way back to northern Minnesota as they were hoping to get picked up be another team and figured that would happen quickly.  When nothing happened they ended up driving to Minneapolis and staying with Brian's family at a hotel for a few days as his little brother was in town playing in a hockey tournament. They were hoping to get a call while in Minneapolis but no call came. So they headed home to Roseau. A day after they got home Brian got a call from Dwight Mullins. The connection between Mullins and Brian was through one of his college coaches, Joe Bonnett.  Brian, an avid hunter, was in a deer stand when he got the call from the Mullins.
      Wendy's first thought when hearing they were coming to Allen was cowboy hats and cowboys boots but when she found out Allen was a Dallas suburb she was excited to get here. For those that are not aware, in the CHL lodging is provided for the players in the form of a furnished apartment. If you are single you share an apartment but if you are married you get your own apartment. Since Wendy and Brian were not married at the time they had a roommate. Mitch McColm and Scott Campbell were their roommates at various times.

     Wendy remembers being very impressed with the apartment (Fairways of Wilson Creek), the surrounding area, and the Allen Event Center. She was able to get a job very quickly and has continued to work at First National Bank Southwest in Frisco. She has been promoted several times and is currently working in business and commercial lending. Her current position is  "Business Specialist" and it is a trainee position to be a Business Banker Commercial Lender which is her long term goal.

      Wendy describes her role as a hockey wife as amazing. They are living a dream making a living at something they love so much. Wendy spends a lot of time with the other wives/girlfriends and they get along very well. With so many young children among this years team they do less going out but they hang out at each others apartments on the weekends. 
      A typical game day for a home game is very structured for Brian. He is very precise on when he does everything during the day, timing things almost to the minute. When Brian heads for the rink in the morning for the game day skate Wendy takes the opportunity to work out. When Brian comes home after the team lunch he takes a nap and as Wendy told me, "I try not to be a bum and take a nap but I usually end up taking a nap too." After Brian leaves for the rink for the game Wendy gets ready and likes to arrive so she can watch warm ups. Wendy usually sits in a suite on the second level of the Allen Event Center with the other wives/girlfriends but she also likes to sit close to the ice as she like seeing the game up close so on occasion she will watch the game from the lower level. Having played hockey most of her life she watches the game with more intensity than most and she really appreciates what they have and all that has gone into where Brian is today. As I saw tears well up in her eyes she said, "I do get emotional about it as it is a dream for him I know. To get paid to play something you love, to have all of the opportunities we have, to meet the people we have met, things like having Eddie Belfour's number in your cell phone, that's unbelievable so I will do anything for him right now so he can keep it up."

      Game day when the team is on the road is time for Wendy to do things for herself that she doesn't do when Brian is in town. She normally does not talk to him unless he texts her first. The wives/girlfriends have a group on Facebook that helps them coordinate get togethers. They will get together in someones apartment and watch the game or at least have the game on. Wendy admits it is tough to pay close attention to the game but the wives and girlfriends have a great time. 

e    Wendy typically attends the away games in Ft. Worth and has traveled to Tulsa as well. The ultimate hockey fan she often goes to the away games by herself.

      When I asked Wendy about what she likes to do when she isn't working  the overachieving athlete in her came out. After not playing hockey since college she has recently started playing hockey again on a women's team and will be playing in a tournament in Louisiana next month. She is training to do a marathon and hopes to compete in the White Rock marathon this year.

Brian and Wendy were married last June
      During the past off season Brain and Wendy were married back home in Roseau. They spent the summer in Allen because of Wendy's job. 

      I thought it would be interesting to ask Wendy some of the questions I usually ask the players when I do a player profile.
      Here are her answers:

     Hockey Hero: Angela Ruggiero

     Favorite Actress: Sandra Bullock

     Favorite Type Of Music: I listen to everything

     Favorite Group: Nickelback

     Something That Has Great Value to You But Little Value To Anyone Else: I have a hockey puck collection from everywhere I have played or visited. My mom has helped me put this together.

     What Chore Do You Hate Doing: Cleaning the apartment

     Something People Would be Surprised to learn About You: I can play six different instruments (trumpet, trombone, french horn, guitar, pipe organ with pedals (she played at church for many years) and the piano.

     Who Do You Admire As a Leader:  The two bosses I have had at work. They are mentors for me and I have learned a lot from them.

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

     If You Could Do Something Other Than What You Do Now What Would it Be: Pilot

     Who Is The Funniest Wife or Girlfriend: Taylor Ludwig

     Favorite Childhood Toy: McDonald's Drive Thru Playset. My sister and I used to play with it constantly.

     Favorite TV Show: Sons of Anarchy

 Surfing in Hawaii last year and yes, Wendy is a better surfer

What a treat it was to get to know Wendy McMillin. If she is typical of most hockey wives our players have a great support system at home. Wendy and Brian are living the dream and enjoying the ride. And if you notice one of the wives in the family suite on second floor very focused on the game and watching with intensity that is probably Wendy. If you see her walking the corridors of the AEC make sure to stop her and introduce yourself as she can talk hockey with the best of them.



Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ryley Grantham - Paired Preferences

Photo by
While the Americans are on their road trip to Arizona I thought I would share this paired preferences exercise I did with Ryley Grantham as a quick way to get to know him a little bit. I hope to do a full player profile interview with Ryley in the next few weeks. Speaking of the road trip the team left last night early evening and should arrive in Arizona if all goes well early this morning. As I understand it, they will get into town, eat breakfast, unload all of their equipment, get the locker room set up, practice at 11:00, and then check into the hotel. Talk about a tough grind. Let's hope they can all sleep well on the bus!!

Here are Ryley's preferences:

Maple Leafs or Canadiens                                              Maple Leafs
Playstation or Xbox                                                        Xbox
Dog or Cat                                                                     Dog
Coke or Pepsi                                                                Pepsi
Lady Gaga or Rihanna                                                   Rihanna
Ford or Chevrolet                                                          Chevrolet
Clean or Messy                                                              Clean
Beef or Chicken                                                              Beef
Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood                                 Carrie Underwood
Beer or Wine                                                                  Beer
Sushi or Mexican                                                           Mexican
Big Brother or Amazing Race                                       Amazing Race
Facebook or Twitter                                                      Facebook
PF Chang's or Boston's                                                 PF Chang's
Ocean or Lake                                                               Lake
Fishing or Hunting                                                         Hunting
Kindle or Hardback                                                        Hardback
Reese Witherspoon or Angelina Jolie                            Angelina Jolie
Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy                                       Tiger Woods
Boxers or Briefs                                                            Boxers
Titleist or TaylorMade                                                    Titleist
Red Wings or Blackhawks                                           Red Wings
Justin Bieber or Kanye West                                       Justin Bieber
Survivor or The Bachelor                                              The Bachelor
Texas Stars or Houston Aeros                                       Texas Stars
Dr. Phil or Dr. Oz                                                           Neither