Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Huculak & Graham Send Good Luck & More

It has been a long time from this picture at the beginning of the season to the championship finals - photo by SceneByKimberly.com

- Had a chance to watch pre-game skates this morning by both teams and if you can tell anything by watching I would say the mood is "let's get this thing going. It is time to get it on."

- I contact a couple of the players from the 2010 team that went to the CHL finals and this is what they had to say:

Liam Huculak -
I've been keeping up with Americans this season and I'm really pulling for them in the finals! I've got a few really good friends on the team. Getting to play in the finals doesn't come around very often so for me the 2010 CHL Finals will be something I will never forget. By this time in the year the team has pulled together and like 2010, would do anything for each other. Playoffs are the best time of the year, especially when you're in the finals. I'm pulling for the Americans and I really hope they bring the cup to Allen. One of my best memories from Allen is the fans and they deserve a championship along with team!

Bruce Graham -
What I remember most about the finals against Rapid City is the excitement surrounding the team. Expansion team that overcame the odds all year and now were in the finals.
We had leads going into the 3rd period every game except game 5 I believe.
Rapid City showed a lot of heart and battle in the series and 3rd periods ended up being our worst nightmare. Big shout out to Luky as I think his 4th year with the team will bring a championship.
With Deitchy leading the way and what I've heard about Dell in net I'm going to predict Allen in 6.  

- The pregame roster for tonight's game on the CHL web site shows Adam Pineault as not playing and since he has not been on the ice I assume he will be the player on injured reserve this round. However, I have not seen the official roster.

- I haven't talked to anyone who thinks the two referees in the finals is a good idea. Bryan Lewis, Referee-in-Chief for the CHL has apparently insisted this is not an experiment. It is hard to think of what you would call it other than an experiment. COME ON, MAN!!

- Saw an interview with Thunder coach Kevin McClelland and he also has some doubts on the wisdom of having two referees in the finals. As many Allen fans have said, why didn't they try this during the season before implementing the two referees in the finals. Kevin has warned his players that slashing, hooking, etc. behind the play will be called in this series where it might not have been with one referee. A couple of other things he mentions in the interview include the importance of coming out fast in the first period after the long layoff and how important it is for the Thunder to stay disciplined especially if Allen starts to get chippy. He specifically talked about not getting involved in what he called Bootland's antics. 

- A big night in the ECHL as all four second round series are 3-2 in games and in action tonight. Remember, there are four rounds to the championship in the ECHL. The series are:
Reading (3) vs Florida (2)
Cincinnati (3) vs Gwinnett (2)
Stockton (3) vs Anchorage (2)
Idaho (3) vs Ontario (2)

- If you haven't seen the new logo of the Iowa Wild, here it is.
Not real popular from what all of the message board posts are saying. The Houston Aeros will no longer exist as a franchise after the conclusion of the AHL Calder Cup playoffs currently in progress. Houston is playing Grand Rapids in the first round and the series is tied 1-1.  They play game three tomorrow (Wednesday). The  Iowa Wild, who are the AHL team of the Minnesota Wild, will play in Des Moines and ownership is saying all of the right things, “Des Moines is an excellent sports market. Wild fan support is excellent not just in Minnesota but throughout the Upper Midwest, including Iowa,” said Wild owner Craig Leipold in a release. “We know fans in Des Moines will enjoy watching tomorrow’s Minnesota Wild stars. Our team will be entrenched in this community, particularly in youth hockey.”

There are doubters however as the AHL didn't last in the last attempt in Des Moines. Des Moines had an AHL team (Iowa Chops) from 2005-2009 and were affiliated with the Dallas Stars for four years and Edmonton Oilers for one year.
 What impact does all of this have on the Americans and their affiliation with the Houston Aeros remains to be seen.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Allen vs Wichita - Finals Preview

I know there have been a lot of previews on the CHL site as well as many others places. At the risk of being repetitive I thought my two cents worth might be a little different. I had a chance to go to practice the last three days and the team has looked good in preparation for this big series. There hasn't been any changes this week on who is practicing so I assume the lineup will not change for the game tomorrow (Tuesday). It seems like the Americans established three balanced lines in the last series against Missouri that worked well at both ends of the rink. My prediction on line combinations is McKenzie, Kerbashian & Lukin - Bootland, Maiani & Robinson - Schaafsma, Deitsch & McMillin. On defense the pairings should be Ludwig-Ludwig, Hendrikx-Berube, & Montgomery-Baldwin.

- We have played Wichita nine times this year and Allen has won five times. Here are the results of the nine head to head games:

PAST RESULTS                          
     12/08/12    Wichita 2 at Allen  3     
     12/22/12    Wichita 2 at Allen  3 OT  
     02/09/13    Allen  3 at Wichita 5     
     02/17/13    Allen  1 at Wichita 4     
     02/19/13    Allen  1 at Wichita 5     
     02/22/13    Wichita 1 at Allen  2     
     03/01/13    Wichita 0 at Allen  4     
     03/19/13    Wichita 4 at Allen  3     
     03/22/13    Allen  6 at Wichita 2  
Can't tell too much from these results other than these are two evenly matched teams.

- The Wichita defense is stronger than what he have seen in the first two rounds of the playoffs and they like to be aggressive in the offensive zone. Kevin Young was voted best defenseman in the league but watch out for Andrew Martens and Dave Inman as all three of them finished in the top six in scoring in the league for defensemen.

- Ian Lowe and Chad Painchaud led the Thunder in scoring in the games played during the season. In the playoffs Wichita has had balanced scoring. In the eight games they have played thus far no player has more than four goals but they have six players with three or four goals.

- Special teams as always will be a key in the series. The playoff stats are very similar with the power play percentage being 21.64% for Wichita and 20.53% for Allen. On the penalty kill Allen is at 85.67% and Wichita is at  85.56%.

- If you want to pick out someone to have a good series it might be Anthony Maiani. Wichita likes to play man coverage which might be an advantage for a guy as slippery as Maiani. He was Allen's leading scorer against Wichita this year with eleven points in seven games played.

- In the nine head to head games the goals scored are very close (Allen 26 & Wichita 25) but shots on goal told a little different story. If you combine total shots on goal for the nine head to head games you get the following results:

First Period -      Allen - 70    Wichita - 74
Second Period -  Allen - 112  Wichita - 77
Third Period -     Allen - 98    Wichita - 83
TOTAL               Allen - 280  Wichita - 234

- If you compare goalies (Aaron Dell and Torrie Jung) Wichita has an edge in the playoff stats:

Dell - 2.56 GAA & 91.0% Save Percentage
Jung - 1.47 GAA & 94.7% Save Percentage

Head to head this year Dell leads with a  2.42 GAA while Jung has a 2.92 GAA. They both have identical 91.0% save percentages in head to head games.

- The leading scorer for Wichita in the playoffs is defenseman Kevin Young who has three goals and nine assists in eight games. For Allen Todd Robinson (3 goals, 11 assists) and Brian McMillin (8 goals, 6 assists) share the points lead with 14 each in 12 games.

- Last year Fort Wayne jumped on Wichita early winning the first two games in Wichita on the way to a 4-1 series win. You know the Thunder are a hungry team after the disappointing loss in the finals last year. That is why the first game is so important. I know Allen lost the first game in both series this year and went on to win the series but I would not count on that if they lose the first game against Wichita. Since Wichita had not lost in the playoffs I think it is important to send a message that this series is going to be different and a first game victory is essential in sending that message.

-What role will scheduling play in the finals? It is unfortunate the "The Peddler Show," which had disappointing crowds from my observation and according to the vendors I talked to, had the Allen Event Center booked all weekend. This scheduling conflict prevented the Americans from having the prime weekend dates that would normally go to the number one seed. Here is an excerpt of an article that appeared in the Wichita Eagle:

They’re supposed to be enemies this week, when they meet in the best-of-seven Central Hockey League finals, but Allen has been friendly to the Thunder recently. Or at least to Wichita’s previously maddening playoffs schedule.
A prior booking at the Allen Events Center prevented the series from beginning this weekend, keeping the Americans from prime Friday and Saturday dates that bring in bigger crowds.
So Wichita gets the weekend dates with Games 3 and 4 scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at Intrust Bank Arena. The Americans also did the Thunder a favor by beating Missouri in the semifinals, creating a nine-day break for Wichita between games after it swept Fort Worth in the semifinals. While such a long layoff isn’t ideal, it gave the Thunder extra time to sell tickets; if Missouri had won, the finals would have begun in Wichita this weekend, giving the front-office staff far less time to prepare and promote.

- I look for Wichita, with more favorable dates, to have larger crowds than Allen.

Finally, I will attend the pregame skate tomorrow and post after that. I have also heard from a couple of former players about their finals experience in 2010 and will post their comments tomorrow.

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2013/04/28/2781177/circumstances-cause-home-headaches.html#storylink=cpy


Full Speed Ahead - Brampton Beast

I know we have heard plenty of comments from all different sources that a Brampton franchise can't possibly work with todays CHL geographical footprint. I also hear rumors everyday about teams such as Rapid City and Allen making the jump to the ECHL with the announcement coming right after the playoffs are over. After all, the ECHL schedule usually comes out the end of May so time will be of the essence. I am careful to say these are all rumors as you hear them second hand and never from front office officials directly. The latest I heard is Rapid City is "dumping" all of their merchandise that includes a CHL logo. And if merchandise is a key indicator of a move, stop by the Allen Team Store as their inventory is down to the bare bones. Looks like they will have nothing to sell after the playoffs. Looks like nothing has been ordered for a while. Hmmm?

Whatever happens will happen but it is obvious the Brampton Beast will be playing hockey as they are going full speed ahead. Unlike the St. Charles Chill who have said nothing about their franchise in a couple of months the Beast are very active. I came across the article below from the Brampton Guardian (bramptonguardian.com) written by Frank Juzenas which includes some information on how traveling teams will play in Brampton. Stay tuned!


Brampton Beast creating a buzz

The Brampton Beast is creating a buzz and is doing its bit to dispute the claims that Brampton is not a hockey town.
It was standing room only on Saturday morning at the council chambers in Brampton City Hall as the Beast, an expansion team in the Central Hockey League, unveiled its logo. The more than 300 people in attendance also got a chance to ask questions of team owner Gregg Rosen, president Cary Kaplan and newly-named head coach and Brampton native Mark DeSantis.
The fans got a sample of the entertainment promised by the team as a spectacular laser light show preceded the unveiling of a fierce creature holding a hockey stick. Many in the audience stood and cheered when the chosen logo, an entrant selected from a contest on a world-wide logo design website was revealed. The winner was conceived by Indonesian designer Andreans Endhi.
Kaplan said team colours would be silver, black and white with a bit of red. He mentioned there would be a similar laser show prior to each Beast home game. In response to a question from the audience Rosen said a red Maple Leaf will be on the uniform shoulder, representing the first Canadian team in the CHL.
The team also held a draw among four entrants who had submitted the name Beast for the Name the Team contest with the first prize a trip for two to the Stanley Cup finals. Joseph Stephen won the contest and will be taking his eight-year old son Alexander, who will be playing AAA hockey next season in Brampton, with him. The other three finalists will receive Beast jerseys.
Next to come is the team mascot and Kaplan said there will be a Name the Mascot contest, with entrants restricted to those under age 18.
Kaplan promised the team will be active in the community.
“We will not miss a significant community event in Brampton,” he said.
He said 50/50 draws will be held each game with a different charity receiving the proceeds.
The Beast will play a 33-home regular season schedule at the Powerade Centre. With visitors travelling from as far away as Texas, Arizona and Colorado the Beast will usually host teams for three games in three days.
Rosen, who shook hands and greeted everyone as they came into the event, said he will be encourage fans to approach and talk to him about the team as the season progresses.
DeSantis, who was recently named the Coach of the Year in the Southern Professional Hockey League with the Fayetteville (NC) FireAntz, said he would be holding a free agent camp at a date to be announced and said his priority is to get players who have character.
Rosen said the team has had discussions about NHL affiliation with a number of teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens.
Kaplan expects the season will likely open around Oct. 18 and the Beast will have the distinction of playing the league’s first game of the new season at home.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Ludwig Brothers - Allen's Brothers in Arms

Found this on the CHLinsider site:

Allen’s Brothers in Arms – The Ludwigs

allen_americans_curved_100x100.pngWhat pedigrees to have brothers not only make it to professional sports together but to get to play for a Championship together?
The Allen Americans are blessed to have a third of their defense covered with the solid defensive genes of the Ludwig family.  Tyler and Trevor Ludwig have been manning the Americans blue line all year and have been doing an outstanding job helping lead one of the top defensive units in the CHL.
The duo come from a great hockey lineage as their father is Craig Ludwig who won two Stanley Cups (Dallas and Montreal) and won two College Championships (University of North Dakota).  Ludwig was one of the top d-men in the NHL during his day playing in 1,256 NHL games over 17 seasons.  He is now a co-owner of the Americans.
The brothers are just the second set of brothers to play in the CHL Finals in the last decade joining Pete and Ross Rouleau who each hoisted the Cup when the Texas Brahmas won the crown in 2009.
The NHL Stanley Cup Finals have had several brother tandems play in the Finals with some of the most notable being the Sedin twins (Vancouver, 2011), Rob and Scott Neidermayer (Anaheim, 2007), Brent and Duane Sutter (New York Islanders, 1982 and 1983), Henri and Maurice Richard (Montreal, 1960) and Don and Nick Metz (Toronto, 1942, 1945, 1947 and 1948)
Tyler Ludwig has been one of the top offensive players all season long in the entire CHL, not just among d-men.  He collected 51 points (11-40=51) in 64 games during the regular season earning recognition on the All-CHL Team.
Trevor Ludwig may be a bit more defensive minded but he too can put the points up ranking 10th among d-men with 29 points (9-20=29) during the regular season.
The pair has combined for six goals and 12 assists with a +17 plus/minus rating in the post-season so far and now they set their sights on Wichita in the Finals that get underway on Tuesday, April 30 in Allen.

Where Are They Now - Tobias Whelan

Tobias Whelan - 2009-2011 photo by chlphotos.com
With the CHL finals coming up next week it is a good time to catch up with one of the players from the 2009-2010 team who played a key role in the Americans first year playoff run. Tobias "Wheels" Whelan was a speedy two way player and a great penalty killer. He holds the all time record for short-handed goals in the playoffs as he had three in the 2011 playoffs.

Tobias grew up in Orillia, Ontario and was drafted by the famous Ontario Hockey League Oshawa Generals when he was 16. He played for Oshawa for four years (2000-2004) and was captain of the team in his last year, a position he would also have with the Allen Americans in 2011. He then went on to play for Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario where he graduated with a degree in Business Administration.

The best way to give you an idea of what Tobias is as a leader and a person is to quote some of those that have played, coached and known him.

As he left Oshawa to head to college at Lakehead his coach, George Burnett said, "Your development as a player, leader, captain, but more importantly, as a young man, have made everyone here in Oshawa very proud," wrote Burnett. "You have represented the Generals on the ice, in our community and around the Ontario Hockey League with class and set an excellent example for all to follow."

A profile written as he was graduating from Lakehead University said: The Orillia, Ontario native is known as a very cerebral hockey player and his intelligence showed in his play.  Strong on the faceoff, able to play tenacious defence, play on both the PK and power play units, and supply the team with offense; Whelan could do it all.
Whelan was a member of the 2005-06 Queen’s Cup championship squad that took silver at the CIS national championships.  He was an OUA First Team All Star in 2007-08.

Tommy Daniels, the voice of the Allen Americans had this to say about Tobias:
Tobias Whelan is a true leader and the type of player every coach wants on his hockey team. Whelan could play on any line for Allen and fit right in. You could use him with the scoring line or  many nights Coach Mullins would have him centering our checking line. He scored many big goals for the Americans  in his two years with the team including his memorable empty net goal to seal Game 4 in Odessa two season ago. He wasn’t a big guy but boy he played with the biggest heart. His speed and grit made him a true two way player.

Bill "Macker" McDonald who is from Thunder Bay and was recently hired as head hockey coach at Lakehead University has recruited many players from the area for the Allen Americans and Tobias was one of them. Bill recalls first hearing about Tobias from Chris Whitley who he also recruited. Tobias and Chris played together at Lakehead.  Here is what Macker had to say:
Tobias was a great player and great leader for this team. You could put him on the ice in any situation and you knew he would be successful. He was a hard worker who led by example. The fact that he was named captain of the team tells you all you need to know about his leadership skills. He was a pleasure to have on the team.

So what has Tobias been up to since leaving Allen. I asked Tobias and his wife, Lindsay to answer a few questions to bring us up to date.

Henry Celebrating His First Birthday With Mom & Dad
1. Bring us up to date on everything that has happened to you since you left the Americans?
Tobias - During the 2010/11 Americans season we bought a house in our home town, Orillia, Ontario and two weeks after the season ended we took possession of our first home. I signed with the Rodovre Mighty Bulls in Copenhagen, Denmark for the 2011/12 season. Playing in Europe was always something I wanted to do and although it was a good experience ultimately the timing wasn’t right. Lindsay and I were expecting a baby and she had decided to stay in Canada. A few months into the season I made the decision to leave Europe and go home to my family. Our son, Henry, turned one earlier this month and is already showing an interest in hockey, carrying his mini stick around the house with him.
Lindsay – We were a little naïve about how hard it would be being so far away from each other while expecting a baby but I am glad Tobias had a chance to experience hockey in Europe before ending his professional hockey career.

2. What are you doing now?
Tobias - I am working as a financial advisor for Freedom 55 Financial.
Lindsay – I work for one of our provincial government’s social services programs.

3. What is your involvement in hockey, if any? (playing/coaching)
I was an assistant coach for our local minor bantam team last season and will continue coaching the same kids this coming season during their major bantam year. It is important to me to give back to the hockey community and it is a great opportunity to remain a part of competitive hockey.
I also play recreational hockey three times a week. It has been great getting a chance to play with my dad and some of the guys I grew up with again.
Last season I played for the Kenora Thistles Senior A team with some friends from university. We won the Ontario championship earning us a spot in the Allan Cup tournament where we were beat out in the semi-finals.

4. I know you are very busy working and being parents. What do you like to do to relax. Any hobbies?
We love getting outside as a family, our pooch Sadie is a big motivator in the winter to go for a walk or a ski on the lake. In the warmer weather we love boating and hiking local trails.

5. What do you miss about the Americans & North Texas?
We miss the fans who were so welcoming, helpful and generous to us and the atmosphere at the Allen Event Centre during a game. We miss the shopping and the weather. Also Pete’s Piano Bar and the availability of Mexican food.

6. Who from the Americans teams do you still keep in contact with?
Tobias - We made some great friends during our time in Allen and have kept in touch with many of them. We catch up through text, e-mail and visit when we find ourselves in the same place at the same time. The Grahams have family in Toronto so we have had a few visits with them and the Wooddisses are just an hour down the highway so we see them often.
Lindsay – My Allen girls hold a special place in my heart and are always just a phone call away.

On a personal note I became a big Tobias Whelan fan because the first year my season tickets were right in front of Angela and BJ Garwood. Angela was a "giant" Tobias fan. If you see a first year Whelan jersey being worn at the AEC these days it is most likely by Angela and BJ. There enthusiasm for how Tobias played the game wore off on me and I am glad it did as he was a pleasure to watch.

I want to thank Tobias and Lindsay for taking the time to bring all of their North Texas fans up to date.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Jason Deitsch - He Knows How to Win

Captain Jason Deitsch Leads The Americans Into The Finals, A Place He Has Been Before - photo by SceneByKimberly.com

I found the article below on the CHLinsider (chlinsider.com) about Jason Deitsch. What isn't mentioned in the article is Jason's phenomenal record in college at St. Norbert College where he was the teams second leading scorer as a freshman and led the team in scoring as a sophmore, junior, and senior, was first team American Collegiate Hockey Association All-American three times, team MVP three times, is the all time leader in career points and is the all time leader in career assists with 120 which is 27 more than second place. And by the way, St. Norbert won their conference championship all four years Jason was there.

Jason Deitsch – The Mayor of the Metroplex

allen_americans_curved_100x100.pngFans of the Allen Americans know what they have in forward and team Captain Jason Deitsch as he is a player that competes at such a high level on every shift.
Fans of the opposing teams know what their clubs have to go against when Deitsch is lined up against them, a player who will do whatever it takes to win hockey games.
Winning is something that the Cincinnati native has done his entire career at nearly every stop at nearly every level.  Now with the Americans advancing to the CHL Finals, Deitsch is just one more series win away from capturing yet another title.
The recently turned 33-year-old has cornered the market in titles in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex winning a junior crown in 2001 with the Texas Tornados and winning a CHL Championship in 2009 with the Texas Brahmas.  If he adds a title with the Americans to the resume then all that would seemingly be left would be to somehow get a spot on the Dallas Stars and get them back into Lord Stanley’s conversation.
In 2009 with the Brahmas, Deitsch truly was the Captain and leader of that club guiding them to the title and winning the Playoff Most Valuable Player Award after scoring 11 goals with 15 assists in 16 games.
Prior to the 2011 season, Deitsch ventured across town to the Americans and later that season was given the ‘C’.  He has scored 27 goals with 73 assists in his time in Allen and in the post-season has seven goals and eight assists in 18 games.
The forward has tasted victory in other leagues as well winning the ECHL’s Kelly Cup with the Cincinnati Cyclones in 2008.  The hometown victory was especially sweet for Deitsch who scored five goals with 13 assists in 22 playoff games.
The Americans and Deitsch begin their quest for the CHL crown on Tuesday night in Allen.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Practice Notes, Rick Gosslein, Away Game Tickets & More

I attended practice today and had a real treat when Tommy Daniels introduced me to Rick Gosslein, sports columnist for the Dallas Morning News. Rick is most known for his many years covering the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL. He serves on the Pro Football Hall Of Fame Selection Committee as well as the Senior Selection Committee. What people may not know is on Rick's bio page he has the following:
I played hockey for a media all-star team in Detroit and once scored a goal against the Detroit Red Wings Old-Timers in a charity game at Olympia. As a high school player, I once scored a hat trick in a game at the Olympia. Love those "Original Six" buildings.

As a rookie blogger and real amateur it was great to have someone of Rick's experience share his insights with me and answer some questions while he was waiting to interview Richard Matvichuk. I know Rick has done a couple stories about the Americans this year and it is greatly appreciated.

- Matvichuk, Ludwig, & Belfour conducted the practice today and put the guys through the paces. I'm not sure but I assume coach Martinson took a trip back to Chicago to visit his family.

- Talked to Adam Pineault and he is still hoping to play in the finals.

- The defensive pairings in practice today were Ludwig-Ludwig, Montgomery-Baldwin, & Berube-Henrikx.

- If anyone has plans to make the trip to Wichita you can get discounted tickets and sit by other Americans fans. Our front office has been in touch with the Thunder front office and they are offering Allen fans a special $25 ticket in section 117 (near the Americans bench) at all our away games. I am told you can get discounts in other sections if you don't want to sit behind the players bench. Please contact their front office and ask for Luke for this special. You can reach Luke at 316-264-4625 or email him at lschuellein@wichitathunder.com

- Ever wonder what the player bonus is for winning the President's Cup. According to the collective bargaining agreement between the CHL and the Professional Hockey Player's Association (PHPA) the champions will get $1300 per player and the second place team will get $700 per player.

- Stadium Journey Magazine (stadiumjourney.com), yes there is a magazine dedicated to ranking and rating stadiums in all sports at all levels,  just came out with their ranking for the CHL. The following is an article written by Paul Swaney. Visit the web site to get detailed rating on each stadium.

Ranking the Arenas of the CHL

By Paul Swaney -- April 23, 2013 6:21 AM EDT

The Central Hockey League (CHL) deserves respect for its perseverance if nothing else. Since 1992, the league has continued on, despite the loss of 31 different teams over a span of two decades. The 2012-2013 season offered 10 teams stretching from Northern Arizona to Central Illinois. Some of the league's members have secured affiliations with NHL teams, which can help to establish stability and help build hockey's minor league system into a model on par with Minor League Baseball. Over the past two seasons, we have seen each of the 10 venues currently home to CHL hockey. Here is our ranking of the best overall experiences in the league:

  1. Despite their short existence, the Rush already have a rich history, winning the President’s Cup in 2010 and a division championship in 2011. The team has a fervent following and they frequently sell out their arena.

  2. The team puts on a show and keeps the fans entertained from the time they enter the arena. If you are in the Dallas area, have a look at the CHL schedule and see if Allen is at home; the trip will be worth it. There are a surprisingly large number of concession stands for this level of hockey, each with something different to offer making this a great place to grab a bite.

  3. There are plenty of promotions during the game and between periods: coupons floating from the rafters, a binocular giveaway, player trivia contests, pizza giveaway, etc. Be sure to sign up at the fan center table pre-game to participate in these contests. The music, PA, and temperature levels are absolutely perfect. Not too high; not too low. No need to bundle up or bring ear plugs.

  4. The Denver Cutthroats are named after the cutthroat trout where particular subspecies of the trout are the state fish of Colorado and other western states. The team takes the fish theme to the hilt. The merchandise shop is called the Tackle Box, the mascot is named Gil and is dressed in what I presume a cutthroat trout looks like including the red coloration under the jaw. Instead of chuck-a-puck you've got fling-a-fish, and in place of a shout out you've got a trout out. All are very cleverly done.

  5. Downtown Wichita is a great city to visit. It has several museums and many art galleries. There are walking tours including a 6 block sculpture walking tour, an art walking tour, and several others. When visiting for a Thunder game, be sure to take a crisp autumn walk to Old Town, a historic brick-lined neighborhood with many of the old brick warehouses renovated into shops, restaurants, and bars.

  6. The CHL Arizona Sundogs call Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, AZ home. The term “Sundog” comes from an atmospheric condition in which ice crystals in the air creates the appearance of two suns in the sky. While the duel suns are reflected in the team’s S-shaped logo, their mascot is of the four-legged, tail-wagging variety. Originally opened in 2006 as the Prescott Valley Convention and Events center, the arena is located in the town’s “entertainment district.” Along with the arena, the district has a collection of restaurants, a multiplex movie theater and a hotel.

  7. Fans can thank John Deere for the i wireless Center. As part of revitalization efforts started in the 1990s, John Deere demolished its vacant riverfront factories and donated the land to the city of Moline. This area became the John Deere Commons, a collection of a hotel, restaurants, the arena and the John Deere Pavilion, as well as a museum on the agricultural history of the Midwest. Some 400,000 people visit the Commons every year, which has in turn energized the entire Moline downtown.

  8. Outside, the arena is a swirling confluence of shimmering glass and sparkling stainless steel that appear to have more in common with Coruscant than Tulsa. Inside, you are greeted by a spacious, multi level promenade that stretches upwards to the full height of the arena. This vast atrium, bounded by the exterior glass walls, ensures no traffic flow issues even with the largest of crowds. An abundance of natural light combined with a brightly lit interior on white accents further contributes to the space ship feel of the exterior. This is really a world-class, major-league arena in a minor-league town.

  9. The Brahmas are in dire need of a bigger arena as the NYTEX Sports Centre does not accommodate the team well. What truly makes this atmosphere even sadder is that less than an hour away, another member of the CHL, the Allen Americans, have an absolutely beautiful arena. Overall the Brahmas don't do a whole lot to make the NYTEX Sports Centre into a nice hockey arena or atmosphere except for the CHL team banners located in the rafters.

  10. While the U.S. Cellular Coliseum is relatively new being built in 2006, it seems dated on the inside. The main concourse is white painted cinderblocks with a plain concrete floor, lacking much character. Extraneous tables of all sorts severely narrow the hallway, which get quite crowed between periods. The seating in the arena is a U-shaped configuration around the ice with the single bowl of seats topped with a ring of luxury suites. The far end wall contains a large video board and aforementioned club. Like most newer arenas, the seats are made of hard plastic with little leg room

Is The ECHL Better Than The CHL

With rumors becoming more and prevalent (all unsubstantiated) that Allen will be making the switch to the ECHL next season let's look at the difference between the two leagues. I have had many conversations and read many comments comparing the CHL and the ECHL over the years as the rumors surface every season. Justin Bowers, when he left Allen after the first year for Greenville of the ECHL, said he felt the players were just as good in the CHL put he would get scouted more in the ECHL. Colton Yellow Horn who left Allen this year to play for the Ontario Reign is a good example of how great CHL players will be great ECHL players. Yellow Horn finished second in the ECHL in goals scored (36) even though he was called up to the AHL in early February and only played in 48 of 72 games in the ECHL season.  I have heard from several coaches that the top lines in the CHL and ECHL are comparable but the ECHL has more depth. Because of its stronger ties to the NHL, the ECHL is stocked with players typically younger and faster than those in the CHL, though they may be less polished. ECHL teams are allowed only four veteran players of 260 or more games, and goalies can’t be veterans. In the CHL, not including goalies, teams could dress six veterans of 301 or more games.

I came across the article below that was recently published by the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel
 (news-setinel.com) written by Blake Sebring that poses the CHL/ECHL question to the Fort Wayne Komets who just completed their first year in the ECHL after winning the CHL President's Cup last year. It is a unique perspective from players that can actually compare what they went through the last two years. I certainly don't agree with the comments about the ECHL is where you play when you want to go to the next level. Maybe Allen is unique in that we have had many players get opportunities in the AHL but there is obviously a feeling that more promotion opportunities exist in the ECHL than you get with the typical CHL team.

How do Komets compare ECHL to CHL now?

Players believe ECHL had better goaltending, speed

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 8:36 am
Throughout last summer, the Fort Wayne Komets talked about their belief that Class AA minor league hockey was the same caliber and quality no matter which league it was played in.
How do the players feel after their first season in the ECHL? How would this Komets team have fared in the Central Hockey League where Fort Wayne won the championship last spring?
``I believe this league is a little bit better because the goaltending is better and the depth, but I still believe AA is AA,'' center Brett Smith said at the Komets' season-ending party and jersey auction Tuesday night. ``The hockey isn't a whole lot different, but the depth is a little bit better. In the CHL the style of game is a little bit more controlled, while this is quicker.''
Maybe that's because there are more younger players in the ECHL and more veterans in the CHL.
``I think the goaltending is better and guys work a little bit harder every night in the ECHL,'' forward Kaleigh Schrock said. ``When you have the chance to go to the next level, there's more incentive to work harder every night. It's still AA hockey, but the goaltending is better and the players are a little bit hungrier and the speed is better. In the CHL, it was slower and more about controlling the puck, and the ECHL was a lot more like college hockey and run and gun.''
Most of the players said they didn't think this Komets team, which didn't make the ECHL playoffs, would have fared any better in the CHL this season.
``We had a lot of young guys who had a lot to learn,'' center J.M. Rizk said. ``I don't think you can really compare this year to last year's teams with all the veterans we had last year.''
Thomas Beauregard, whose Wichita team the Komets beat in last year's President Cup Finals in the CHL, also didn't think this team would have had a much better record this year in the CHL.
``It was just a bad year in general, just a year you want to forget,'' Beauregard said.
Charlie Effinger also played against the Komets in the playoffs last year with Missouri. He and the Mavericks fought the Komets through seven games in the semifinals.
``I know last year's team that we played against was a good team,'' Effinger said. ``That group really bought in, and you could sense it when we played against them. They were all on the same page.
``There was a lot of good players here this year. Were they healthy? Not always.
Did they get called up and down? We struggled to put it together, and I don't know how that would have translated to the Central League. It just didn't come together like we'd have liked it to.''
Maybe the biggest difference between the leagues is in the definition.
``I think AA hockey is AA hockey, but there's youth and speed in this league and the CHL is more veterans and established players who have played well in this league already and maybe have moved on in their careers,'' defenseman Jamie Milam said. ``I feel like anybody who plays in the CHL can play in this league, but this is just the developmental league so you get younger players. The reason you play in the coast is to go to the next level, and in the CHL you are there to play in one place.''

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Arizona Season Ticket Drive

I had seen reference to this on social media so decided to find the story and here it is. How about we get Matt Canavan, Tommy Daniels, Darryl Bootland & Craig Ludwig to do this for Allen. I think we could guarantee 300 season tickets and it wouldn't take five days. Just kidding guys. I'm sure the publicity this has generated has been the best part of the effort.

CHL’s Arizona Sundogs have spent 5 days in scissor lift to sell season tickets

Like many minor-league teams, the CHL's Arizona Sundogs have to get creative in order to fill their arena. The latest innovation, as the Prescott Valley club strives to sell 800 season tickets this offseason: torture.
On Sunday, April 21, at noon, four members of the organization were hoisted 33 feet into the air on a scissor lift at the corner of the Prescott Highway, with no intention of coming down until they had sold 300 season tickets.
"We hope we can get it done quickly and move on to the next big project," Sundogs co-owner Brad Fain, one of the four brave souls, told the Prescott Valley Tribune before the stunt began.
That's, uh, not what happened.
By sunset on the first day, they'd sold 17 season tickets. Five days later, they're still up there, using a pulley system to raise food and lower waste, fighting off the elements, and praying for an end to their arduous ordeal.
Trapped in the lift since the Sabbath: the aforementioned Fain, General Manager Chris Presson, Sundogs team captain Jason Morgan, and Lew Ree, the team's marketing and public relations director. A word of the wise to Ree: use whatever time you have left trapped in a 5-by-8-foot box above the Arizona desert with your bosses to convince them you deserve to have a job when you next touch the ground.
But Thursday may be the group's final day in that sky prison. According to Sundogs' merchandise operations manager Satish Athelli, who has been providing updates on the four men from the safety of the sweet, sweet earth, they were only 31 season tickets away at noon. They just might be able to pull this off.
Provided the wind doesn't get them.
Weathering the weather has been one of the major challenges of this adventure, be it the blistering heat of the day, the piercing chill of the night, or the blusters of Arizona in the spring.

They're exhausted. But their spirits are up, especially since the support grows the longer they're up there. From the Prescott Valley Tribune:
"People are honking, waving and cheering. They realize this looks like fun for the first three hours, but it is a sacrifice and we're doing this for a very good reason," he said. "When people come here, it encourages us to keep going."
Rees said having managing partner Brad Fain join in shows that unlike many franchises where owners are out of state and out of touch, the Sundogs' ownership is active and concerned.
"It is a good morning," Fain responded. "The sun is up, the wind has died down a bit. I appreciate the support of the community. We wanted to let the community know we're committed to it (keeping the Sundogs in Prescott Valley), but it takes an entire community to make this thing work."
If you're anywhere nearby, I think it's safe to say that these guys have earned your money.

Two Referees in Finals - Details Below

We new this was coming for the finals with two referees on the ice but here is the formal announcement along with other details:

On-Ice Officials for Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup Finals Announced

GLENDALE, AZ (April 25, 2013) – The Central Hockey League (CHL) announced today the four referees and three linesmen that will make up the on-ice officials crew for the 2013 CHL Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup Finals that begins on Tuesday at the Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas when the Americans host the Wichita Thunder.

The referees selected for the Finals are Zac Blazic, Brent Coulombe, Kevin Curtis and Peter Tarnaris and the linesmen are Kevin Cassidy, Brandon Gawryletz and Mike Kehoe. 

A change from the regular season and the post-season to date is that the CHL will implement a two-referee system for all games in the Finals.

“We are excited for the start of the Championship Round and pleased to be implementing the two-referee system for the entire series,” said Jim Wiley, CHL Director of Hockey Operations.  “The seven officials selected for the Finals are very dedicated and deserving.”

Of the seven officials selected, only Peter Tarnaris has previously worked in the CHL Finals as he was assigned to Game 1 and Game 5 of last year’s Finals between Wichita and Fort Wayne.

"The CHL Officiating Department is pleased of the CHL Board of Governor's approval for the two-referee system in the Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup Finals,” said Bryan Lewis, CHL Referee-in-Chief.  “All officials selected to work the Championship Series have earned this opportunity of officiating on the League’s biggest stage."

Finals Memories, Mavs Fans, Stats, & More

As we await game one of the Ray Miron President's Cup finals I have some random thoughts I have been jotting down since that great game on Tuesday so thought today would be a good day to share them so here goes.

- Who is Ray Miron and how did this championship cup get named after him? I knew he was an original owner of the league because Bill McDonald had told me when he was recruited from Thunder Bay to coach in the CHL it was Ray Miron who recruited him. Since the league owned all of the franchises Macker didn't know where he would coach when he was being recruited. Here is some detail on Miron:
Ray Miron (born 1929 in Cornwall, Ontario) is the former owner of the new Central Hockey League, founded in 1992 by Miron and William "Bill" Levins.  Miron was a former National Hockey League executive, serving in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization and as General Manager of the Colorado Rockies (NHL). Miron and Levins founded the league under the concept of central ownership of all the teams. Miron had previously coached in the "old" Central Hockey League (1963-1984). He also was president of the league for three weeks, before leaving to accept the role of GM with the Rockies.
Miron served as the president of the new league after Levin's death. He sold the league in 2000. In recognition of his importance to the league, the championship trophy, formerly known as the Levin's Cup, was renamed to the Ray Miron Cup. After the CHL merged with the competing Western Professional Hockey League, the trophy was renamed to the "Ray Miron President's Cup." In 2004, Miron was awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy by the NHL, a recognition he described as his "greatest hockey accomplishment." Today, Miron is retired and resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

If you look at stories about Miron it certainly is not all positive. He was General Manager of the Colorado Rockies in the 1970's and had five different coaches in five years. One of them, Don Cherry, in his book about hockey tells the story of Miron showing him a book shortly after he arrived in Denver. It was intended to be a joke as the book was titled, "All I Know About Hockey" by Ray Miron. When you opened up the book all of the pages were blank. Cherry ends this story by saying, "Little did I know this was more truth than humor".

- Went back to revisit our last trip to the Ray Miron President's Cup finals (2010) even though it is etched in my mind and I am sure many of yours as well. Allen was the second seed in the Southern Conference as Odessa was the class of the league having scored 101 points and was the odds on favorite to win the cup. Allen played Laredo (number three seed) in the first round and even though we lost the first game (4-3) at home we won the series in six games. In the semi finals, which was the conference championship, we took on the mighty Jackalopes. We started on the road and won the first game in Odessa (4-3). Jarret Lukin had two goals in that game but the game winner was a shorthanded goal scored by Mike Salekin. Game two we lost in overtime so returned to Allen for three games with the series teid 1-1. We won the first two games at home to take a 3-1 series lead  but Odessa won the fifth game of the series 6-3 so Allen headed back to Odessa for the last two games. It looked like Allen was going to win the series in the sixth game when Nino Musitelli scored with less than five minutes remaining in the game to make the score 3-2 but Odessa scored less than two minutes later to tie the game and won in overtime. The seventh game was probably the greatest victory in franchise history for the Americans as they beat the best team in the league, on the road to make it to the finals. Tobias Whelan and Nino Musitelli each had a goal and Colton Yellow Horn had two in the 4-2 win.
In the finals the Americans took on the Rapid City Rush who was the top seed in the Northern Conference and had defeated Missouri (4-0) and Bossier-Shreveport (4-3) to reach the finals. Rapid City had home ice advantage so we started on the road for the first two games.  In game one, four unanswered goals (O'Nabigon, Musitelli, Whelan, Musitelli) in the second period gave the Americans a 4-0 lead and they cruised to a 4-1 victory. The second game in Rapid City was a major disappointment because the Americans were within 39 seconds of taking a 2-0 series lead and heading home for three games. Nino Musitelli had given the Americans a 4-3 lead scoring a goal with just over five minute remaining in the game. Rapid City pulled the goalie and tied the game with the extra attacker with 39 seconds remaining and went on to win in overtime.  Back in Allen the Americans  won the first of three games at home 5-2 with Colton Yellow Horn getting a hat trick but Rapid City won the next two games (4-2 & 7-2) so the series shifted back to Rapid City for the games six & seven with Rapid City leading the series 3-2. The sixth and what ended up being the final game was a game that anyone who was there, watched on TV or listened to remembers as the one that got away. Who knows what would have happened in a seventh game but game six Allen should have won. The Americans took a 3-0 lead in the first period on goals by Nino Musitelli, Bruce Graham and Christian Gaudet but allowed two Rapid City goals late in the third period to tie the game. Scott Wray, who is now the captain of the Rush, scored the championship winning goal with 38 seconds remaining in the second overtime.

While the finals ended up being a major disappointment the year was a tremendous success as the upstart Americans, in their first year, definitely over achieved. Jarret Lukin is the only player still on the team that played in that finals. Erik Adams who is now in the front office also played. If you ever get the chance ask Jarret, Erik or Tommy Daniels about the 2010 finals and you will get an earful. Sorry for that long winded trip down memory lane.

- Brian McMillin and Jamie Schaafsma are at two ends of the spectrum when it comes to championship finals. This will be Brian's first championship final including high school, college and four years as a professional. For Jamie Schaafsma this will be the fifth year in a row he has played in the championship finals. This will however, be his first CHL championship final.

- Speaking of Jamie it was nice to see the following article in his hometown on line paper: Chatham-Kent Sports Network.

Schaafsma Heading For Central League Finals

Jamie Schaafsma – Photo by Chip Crail
Blenheim’s Jamie Schaafsma will be playing for a Central Hockey League championship after his Allen Americans eliminated the Missouri Mavericks and advanced to the Ray Miron Presidents Cup finals. After losing their opener to Missouri in the Central League semi-finals, Schaafsma got his team rolling in game two as his Allen Americans picked up a 4-1 win, with Schaafsma scoring twice and finishing a plus three in the game. Schaafsma scored the first two goals of the game for Allen, with his marker at 3:15 of the second period standing as the game winner.
In game four, a high scoring 8-4 win, Schaafsma had another two point performance, scoring the first goal of the game, only 29 seconds into the contest, and assisting on the last goal of the game, a Chris Doyle goal with less than a minute to play.
Schaafsma was held pointless in games five and six, before putting in yet another solid offensive effort in game seven, chipping in with two assists as the Allen Americans rolled to a 7-3 win to send them to the finals.
After finishing with 24 goals and 23 assists in the regular season, and getting his first career recall to the American Hockey League, Schaafsma has put together an impressive playoff performance, with four goals and four assists in twelve games thus far.
The Allen Americans and Schaafsma will now take on the Wichita Thunder for the Central Hockey League title.

- I bet it has been nice to have a couple of days off for the team following the grueling series with Missouri even though it hasn't been the best golfing weather. Back to the rink for practice on Friday to get ready for the Thunder.

- The team leaders thus far in the playoffs are:
Goals - Brian McMillin (8)
Assists - Todd Robinson ( 11)
Points - McMillin & Robinson (14)
Plus/Minus - Tyler Ludwig (+12)
Penalty Minutes - Booter Bootland (41)
Game Winning Goals - Eight different players have had the game winning goal in our eight victories.

- Finally, I want to had my congratulations to the Missouri Mavericks for a great year. I have gotten to know some front office folks, fans, and blogger The Sin Bin (@sinbinmavs for you twitter followers) and they have all been class acts. I have also heard from many Americans fans who visited with Mavericks fans who attended the games at the Allen Event Center and those that went to Independence for games how nice the Missouri fan base is. The Missouri fans and front office represent the franchise very well and I wanted to publicly acknowledge it was both noticed and appreciated. I want to personally thank Patrick Armstrong, Vice President of Communications for the Mavericks for spending time with me and sharing his knowledge about the team and the league.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Allen Wins - Martinson and McMillin Post Game Comments

Two Handshakes Down, One To Go As Allen Is Victorious In Winner Take All Game Against Missouri 7-3 - photo by chlphotos.com

The Allen Americans defeated the Missouri Mavericks last night 7-3 in a winner take all game to advance to the CHL finals for the second time in their four years as a franchise. A disappointing loss for Missouri as they came up one game short of a finals appearance for the second straight year. There is nothing like attending a game seven at home and last night was no exception as an enthusiastic crowd of 4847 saw the Americans get off to an early lead when Brian McMillin scored less than two minutes into the game. Allen would never relinquish the lead. After a hiatus thus far in  the playoffs there was a press conference after the game. Here are some of the comments from coach Martinson and Brian McMillin.

Coach Martinson:
-   Tonight was a great outcome after a tough couple of losses the last two games. I thought we outplayed Missouri in the overtime game on Saturday and did a good job defensively but the goal at the end of regulation had seeing eyes, got through traffic and got to their hot scorer who one timed it and then 30 seconds into overtime you go from playing in the championship to coming back home for game six. Since we played such a good game five, even though we lost, the last thing I expected was for us to come out flat on Monday. Needless to say the loss on Monday was painful for everyone.

-  We went over the goals from the loss on Monday with the team this morning as I wanted the guys to see we weren't being outplayed and while our goalie play wasn't great it was okay. We just gave up too many gifts that led to goals. We emphasized what has become our motto and that is "don't beat ourselves."

- Tonight everything was positive. Even when that goal was disallowed, which I am sure was a goal, the guys on the bench were saying stay calm and move on. It was disappointing that the referee would not check with the other officials or the goal judge on what they saw.

- We missed a couple of great chances to extend the lead after the Mavericks closed to within one goal (3-2) and then Robinson hammered that power play goal at the end of the second period and then followed that up with a steal, slip slide, five hole goal early in the third period. There is nothing like a game seven in the third period and you are up by three goals.

- Tonight was a great effort by the entire team. We did a much better job possessing the puck down low. We were holding the puck and not giving it up which will lead to the other team making a mistake or taking a penalty. Schaafsma did a great job on the first goal by holding the puck down low until Deitsch came open and then Jason got the puck to McMillin for the goal.

- We will give the players a couple of days off and then get ready for Wichita. We look forward to the next series.

- It was great having the fan support tonight. You battle all year to be able to play a critical seventh game at home at that certainly helped. Getting last change helped and I thought we had the lines right as we were balanced and did a good job defending.

- Bootland left the ice early because the stitches he took earlier in the game were opening up but he will be okay.

- As Martinson was leaving the press conference to turn it over to Brian McMillin he took the time to comment on Brian's contribution to the team. Brian is the unsung hero of this team. He had to battle himself into the line up early this year. That won't happen next year!  He is the leading goal scorer (8) for our team and second in the league during the playoffs. He had a great season, and after having an injury earlier in the year really found his groove in the last month. Not only is he a great penalty killer, he is a solid two way player you can put out in any situation and he will make the right decisions and battle hard to give you everything he has got on every shift. He is now being rewarded by being the top scorer left in the playoffs. I could not be more proud of this young man from Minnesota. Some guys could have gone through what Brian did at the beginning of the season where he was fighting for ice time and pouted and been disruptive. What Brian did was keep working and said I'll be ready when needed. When he got his chance he made it impossible to take him out of the lineup.

Brian McMillin Comments:
- When asked about what it was like in the locker room before game seven Brian said if you can't get up for a game seven you probably don't need to be playing. While we didn't want to be in a game seven as we should have closed out the series earlier we were excited and ready to go. To seal it in the third and not make the game a barn burner and pull away was a good feeling for us.

- While the first goal was big we talked about sticking with our game no matter what happened in the first period. We felt if we played they way we wanted we would win.

- Last night (Monday) we only gave up 15 shots but they made them count and we didn't. Tonight we got everything to the net, we got people to the net, we got pucks to the net and we were able to capitalize.

- The series with Wichita will be a battle. They are a good team and we had some great games with them this year. This series with Missouri will help us in the finals. We have learned to play our best hockey in the most important games. If you recall we had a big points lead early in the season and then had that slump. If we had played half decent during that slump we would have won the league by a big margin. As it was we had to win a couple of crucial games just win the league. Living through this adversity and being successful in the end has made us stronger and will helped us in the long run.

- I feel we have the most depth in the league and if we have our full team and we all play like I know we can we should by okay.

Here is the news release about the championship series along with the schedule:
This is the second time in franchise history the Americans have advanced to the League Championship Series. Allen lost in six games to the Rapid City Rush in 2010.
The Wichita Thunder began play in the CHL during the 1992-93 season and are looking to add a third President's Cup Championship, after winning back to back titles in 1994 and 1995.

Allen advances to the CHL Finals after eliminating the Missouri Mavericks in seven games, while the Wichita Thunder swept the Fort Worth Brahmas to close out their Semi-Final series.
Call 972-912-1000 for ticket information or log on to www.allenamericans.com. Allen Americans Playoff Hockey, “Rock Your Red”
Below is the entire schedule of the Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup Finals.

CHL Finals (best-of-7) - - Allen Americans vs. Wichita Thunder
Game 1 – Tue., Apr. 30 – Wichita at Allen, 7:05
Game 2 – Thur., May. 2 – Wichita at Allen, 7:05
Game 3 – Sat., May. 4 – Allen at Wichita, 7:05
Game 4 – Sun., May. 5 – Allen at Wichita, 5:05
*Game 5 – Tue., May. 7 – Wichita at Allen, 7:05
*Game 6 – Fri., May. 10 – Allen at Wichita, 7:05
*Game 7 – Sat., May. 11 – Wichita at Allen, 7:05

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Thunder Press Release On Finals Schedule

Below is a press release issued by the Wichita Thunder today. The reason for the later dates if Allen wins in addition to starting the series at home if Missouri wins and on the road if Allen wins is the Allen Event Center (AEC) is tied up with "The Peddler Show" this weekend. With a three day event (Friday, Saturday & Sunday) along with set up and break down the two games in Allen will be midweek.
What is the "Peddler Show" you ask. Here is the description fromt he web page:

The Peddler Show: The shopping experience custom built just for YOU!For the past 36 years, The Peddler Show has offered Texas shoppers a truly remarkable and one-of-a-kind shopping experience. Currently operating over 25 shows annually, The Peddler Show Staff is committed to maintaining a contemporary and unique marketplace – offering repeat shoppers something new with each visit. Shoppers will find a vast selection of exclusive items including personalized designs, home décor, hand crafted jewelry, fashionable clothing, gourmet treats, creative gifts and so much more!

Kind of sad if Allen does manage to win tonight that they will miss out on weekend games once again. They have been plagued by low attendance which can partially be blamed on having to play games during the week because of AEC scheduling conflicts. This has been the case in the semi finals and it appears if Allen makes it to the finals it will happen again.

Here is the Wichita press release:

Thunder Prepares for Ray Miron President's Cup Finals

Wichita, KS (April 23rd) -  As the Wichita Thunder awaits its opponent in the 2012-13 Ray Miron President’s Cup Finals, the team announced today the scenarios for its first home game pending the outcome of tonight’s Game 7 in Allen between the Americans and the Missouri Mavericks.
If Missouri wins tonight, the Thunder would open the Finals at home this Friday, April 26th at 7:05 p.m. If Allen wins, the Thunder would open on the road and host Game 3 on Saturday, May 4th. The President’s Cup Finals schedule is expected to be announced tonight after the Mavericks and Americans conclude their series.

Shocker!! Here Comes Game Seven

Allen Has Been Great In Must Have Games This Year, Will The Streak Continue?  - photo by ScenesByKimberly.com
A disappointing game for the Allen faithful last night as the Americans were never in the game and lost to Missouri 6-2 before a small crowd (3127) at the Allen Event Center to set up a decisive game seven which will take place tonight (Tuesday) at 7:05. Here are my thoughts and ramblings:

- Last night was a rare exception when the Allen goalies didn't find a way to keep us in the game when we got off to a slow start. If you only allow 15 shots on goal while getting 27 shots yourself that should be good enough to win the game. Unfortunately for the Americans those 15 shots resulted in 6 goals.

- Aaron Dell who has been rock solid all year allowed three goals on six shots and was pulled after just 12 minutes of the first period. Steve Silverthorn played the rest of the way and gave up three goals on nine shots.

- As bad as the start was the killer goal in my opinion was the one Missouri scored with four seconds remaining in the first period. Anthony Maiani had made the score 3-1 with 42 seconds left in the period and you sensed a momentum shift happening. The defense got caught too deep in our offensive zone and a two on one resulted in an easy goal for the Mavs Andrew Courtney who has been a one man wrecking crew the last two games scoring five goals. The first period ended with a Mavericks lead of 4-1.

- The rule of thumb is special teams play will decide the winner of a game. Not the case in this weird game as both Allen goals came on the power play as they went two for three. The penalty kill was flawless as Missouri was 0-4 with a man advantage.

- Chris Doyle needed help getting of the ice in the third period after taking what appeared to be a deliberate elbow from Colt King who received a game misconduct penalty. Doyle was wobbly as he left the ice. The way it looked we may not see Doyle in the line up tonight. Jim Wiley, CHL Director of Hockey Operations and the person responsible for all league discipline was at the game and I am sure he will review the incident.

- I can't remember the last time there were so many minuses on the +/- scoring chart. Allen was a collective -30 for the night with several players at -4 or worse.

- The fact that this series has gone to seven games is not a surprise as many people predicted it. What is a surprise is that four of the first six games have been won by the road team. The other surprise is the fact that two games were very close as they went to overtime but the other four games were  lopsided wins (6-2, 8-4, 5-1 & 4-1).

- It may be grasping at straws but the Americans performed well all year when they were faced with important games and there isn't a more important game than a game seven in the playoffs. I predict they will come out flying tonight and bring home a victory.

- There are free tickets available for the game tonight to all military (both active duty and veterans) as well as those folks in public service such as law enforcement and firefighters. Help get the word out so we can have a big crowd to cheer on the guys. All you have to do is show ID at the box office for the free tickets. And as I understand it each person with their ID can get two tickets. Call 972-912-1000 if you have any questions.

- Former Rapid City Rush player and assistant coach,  Mark Desantis, has been named head coach of the Brampton Beast. The article below (edited) was written by Thomas Pope of the Fayetteville Observer which you can find at fayobserver.com.

Fayetteville FireAntz lose head coach Mark DeSantis to hometown CHL franchise

A 180-degree turn by the Fayetteville FireAntz resulted in the first regular-season championship for the Southern Professional Hockey League team.
Success, though, has come at a price.
Coach Mark DeSantis, who guided the last-to-first transformation of the FireAntz in one season, is leaving to become the head coach of a Central Hockey League expansion team in his hometown of Brampton, Ontario.
"He did a great job this year winning the league title, which is probably harder to win" than the President's Cup playoffs, said Kevin MacNaught, the FireAntz's president and general manager. "I'm not saying it wouldn't have been nice to have won the Cup, but Mark came in and did what he was asked and more."
Under DeSantis, a 16-year minor-league defenseman with three years as an assistant at Rapid City, S.D., in the CHL, Fayetteville set franchise records for points earned (73) and wins in posting a 35-18-3 mark. Fayetteville beat Louisiana for the regular-season crown on a tiebreaker.
DeSantis was selected the SPHL Coach of the Year. DeSantis interviewed for the Brampton job more than a week ago, and he said he had received interest from teams in other cities and leagues as well.
"I had a good feeling after the interview in Brampton that I had a good shot at it," DeSantis said.
"I love Fayetteville, and I thank Kevin and (assistant GM) Dean (Russell) for the opportunity they gave me, and (league president) Jim Combs and the SPHL. But at the end of the day, to be able to play or coach in your hometown, it's a home run."
When asked why DeSantis was so successful in his first head coaching job, MacNaught said, "He's very driven, it's as simple as that. He wants to be a hockey coach."
In his native Brampton - a place he hasn't lived in 20 years - DeSantis will coach a Double-A team whose home ice will be the 5,000-seat Powerade Center. The Beast will be one of two expansion teams in the CHL next season, with an ownership group in St. Charles, Mo., also fielding a team. The league's other franchises are located in: Denver; Allen, Texas; Prescott Valley, Ariz.; Bloomington, Ill.; Independence, Mo.; Moline, Ill.; the Fort Worth of North Richland Hills, Texas; Tulsa, Okla.; and Wichita, Kan. The FireAntz's predecessor, the Fayetteville Force, played in the CHL for four seasons from 1997-2001.
"It just happens that it fell in place for Mark that it was his hometown," MacNaught said. "When you're hiring a coach, you wish for a guy that's good enough to win your league championship, but then other teams are going to look at him."

Monday, April 22, 2013

UPDATE - How Are Former Allen Americans Doing?

While we await game six tonight at the AEC I thought I would give a quick update on how some of our former players are doing. Many are already home and enjoying the off season. At one end of the spectrum you have Bruce Graham who won everything in Nottingham, England and has made it home (New Brunswick) and at the other end of the spectrum is Dave Bonk who has been home a while (working on his house) as his team never made the playoffs in the Asia League.

- Former coach Dwight Mullins and the Elmira Jackals made it to the playoffs but lost in the first round to the Florida Everblades four games to two.

- Nino Musitelli and the Toledo Walleye also lost in the first round of the playoffs. Nino only played in two games and did not score as the Walleye were defeated by the Cincinnati Cyclones four games to two.

- Cincinnati is playing Gwinnett in the second round and the series in tied 1-1. Playing for Gwinnett is Justin Bowers who has a goal and two assists in six games in the playoffs.

- Scott Langdon & Dylan King were the last seed in the playoffs with the San Francisco Bulls and played the top seed Alaska Aces and lost the series 4-1.

- The Ontario Reign, where Colton Yellow Horn played until he was called up to the AHL in early February and where Matt Register has played since the end of February, has made it to the second round of the playoffs. They are playing the Idaho Steelheads and the series is tied 1-1.

- Judd Blackwater and his Las Vegas Wranglers lost in the first round to the Stockton Thunder in a seven game series where the home team won all seven games. Judd had three goals and 2 assists in the seven games.

- The battle for the ECHL championship (Kelly Cup) is in the semifinal round and all four series are tied 1-1. In the Eastern Conference Florida is playing Reading and Gwinnett is playing Cincinnati. In the Western Conference Alaska is playing Stockton and Idaho is playing Ontario. The top seeds are Reading in the Eastern Conference and Alaska in the Western Conference.

The AHL has just announced the schedule for the first round of their Calder Cup playoffs. The most fascinating thing about the playoffs is our former players are matched up against one another in the first round. Scott Howes and his Springfield Falcons will play Colton Yellow Horn and his Manchester Monarchs. Brett Skinner and his Grand Rapid Griffins will play Ryley Grantham and his Houston Aeros. Scott Howes has not played since March 15 so I assume he will not play in the playoffs. The complete bracket is below where you can see all of the match ups. Note the Texas Stars are the number one seed in the Western Conference.

First-round playoff schedules announced

April 21, 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League has released the following schedules for the conference quarterfinal round of the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs. The best-of-five first-round series are in either a 2-2-1 format or a 2-3 format; in the 2-3 format, the higher seed has the option of playing the first two games or the last three games at home.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “A” (best-of-5)
1-Providence Bruins vs. 8-Hershey Bears

Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 26 – Hershey at Providence, 7:05
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 28 – Hershey at Providence, 3:05
Game 3 – Sat., May 4 – Providence at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 4 – Sun., May 5 – Providence at Hershey, 5:00
*Game 5 – Wed., May 8 – Hershey at Providence, 7:05

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “B” (best-of-5)
2-Springfield Falcons vs. 7-Manchester Monarchs

Game 1 – Sat., Apr. 27 – Manchester at Springfield, 7:00
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 28 – Manchester at Springfield, 4:00
Game 3 – Thurs., May 2 – Springfield at Manchester, 7:00
*Game 4 – Sat., May 4 – Springfield at Manchester, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sun., May 5 – Manchester at Springfield, 4:00

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “C” (best-of-5)
3-Syracuse Crunch vs. 6-Portland Pirates

Game 1 – Sat., Apr. 27 – Portland at Syracuse, 7:30
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 28 – Portland at Syracuse, 7:30
Game 3 – Thurs., May 2 – Syracuse at Portland, 7:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 3 – Syracuse at Portland, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sun., May 5 – Portland at Syracuse, 7:30

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “D” (best-of-5)
4-Binghamton Senators vs. 5-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

Game 1 – Sat., Apr. 27 – W-B/Scranton at Binghamton, 7:05
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 28 – W-B/Scranton at Binghamton, 5:05
Game 3 – Thurs., May 2 – Binghamton at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 4 – Sat., May 4 – Binghamton at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Mon., May 6 – W-B/Scranton at Binghamton, 7:05

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Series “E” (best-of-5)
1-Texas Stars vs. 8-Milwaukee Admirals

Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 26 – Texas at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 27 – Texas at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 3 – Wed., May 1 – Milwaukee at Texas, 8:30
*Game 4 – Fri., May 3 – Milwaukee at Texas, 8:30
*Game 5 – Sat., May 4 – Milwaukee at Texas, 8:00

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Series “F” (best-of-5)
2-Toronto Marlies vs. 7-Rochester Americans

Game 1 – Sat., Apr. 27 – Rochester at Toronto, 3:00
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 28 – Rochester at Toronto, 3:00
Game 3 – Wed., May 1 – Toronto at Rochester, 7:00
*Game 4 – Thurs., May 2 – Toronto at Rochester, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., May 4 – Rochester at Toronto, 3:00

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Series “G” (best-of-5)
3-Grand Rapids Griffins vs. 6-Houston Aeros

Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 26 – Grand Rapids at Houston, 8:05
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 28 – Grand Rapids at Houston, 6:05
Game 3 – Wed., May 1 – Houston at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 3 – Houston at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., May 4 – Houston at Grand Rapids, 7:00

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Series “H” (best-of-5)
4-Charlotte Checkers vs. 5-Oklahoma City Barons

Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 26 – Charlotte at Oklahoma City, 8:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 27 – Charlotte at Oklahoma City, 8:00
Game 3 – Wed., May 1 – Oklahoma City at Charlotte, 7:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 3 – Oklahoma City at Charlotte, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., May 4 – Oklahoma City at Charlotte, 7:00

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mavs Win, Brahmas Lose, & More

Mike Clemente stopped 27 of 29 shots - photo by Scott Thomas

The Americans saw a series victory slip away last night as Andrew Courtney scored with 30 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and then again 34 seconds into overtime to lead the Missouri Mavericks to a 3-2 win over Allen. Allen now takes a 3-2 series lead back to Allen for game six and game seven (if necessary).

- The Americans could have used one of those extra goals from the eight goal outburst on Friday. They had several great chances to add to the 2-1 lead in the third period and put the game out of hand including a couple of chances at an empty net goal after Missouri pulled Clemente.

- Speaking of pulling the goalie it seems like we have had trouble with the extra attacker during the playoffs. If I remember correctly we have given up three extra attacker goals.

- Missouri out shot Allen 39-29 for the game and really put the pressure on in the third period outshooting the Americans 13-6.

- Brian McMillin continued his great play and had what looked like the game winning goal until the last second Mavericks heroics. Brian won a battle in the offensive zone and put a snap shot by Clemente unassisted. Brian continues to lead the team in goals (6) and points (12).

- The attendance last night was 4518 which gives the Mavericks an average for the playoffs of 4360 which is the best average in the league. The 4360 average is 1162 below their regular season average.

- Allen is averaging 3732 in the playoffs which is second in the league. The playoff average is 425 below the regular season average of 4157. Allen has been hampered by not having very good dates for their home games despite being the number one seed. Scheduling problems at the AEC is the major culprit. It is going to be tough getting tickets sold for games 6 and 7 (if necessary) with the short turnaround time and Monday & Tuesday dates.

- Despite the disappointing loss it will be great if we can win the series in game six at home.

- The Whichita Thunder defeated the Fort Worth Brahmas 3-1 Saturday night, and swept the Brahmas four games to none. Whichta also swept Arizona in the first round. This is the second time in the WPHL/CHL era that a team has won two consecutive series by way of a sweep. The last time such a feat was accomplished, was in the 2001 playoffs by the Lubbock Cotton Kings. It is worthy to note that the 2001 Cotton Kings were coached by none other than Bill McDonald. It is also worth noting that after sweeping the first two series the Cotton Kings lost in the finals to the  Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs four games to one.

- Here is another piece of information in the ongoing saga of the future of the CHL. This is an excerpt from an article written by Joe Deacon at pantagraph.com

BLOOMINGTON — Bloomington Blaze team president David Holt envisions “a perfect situation” where the U.S. Cellular Coliseum-based hockey franchise has local ownership and a Peoria rival in the same league.
The status of the Peoria Rivermen is in limbo after the St. Louis Blues sold the American Hockey League franchise to the Vancouver Canucks’ ownership group on Thursday. The AHL’s statement on the sale said “no determination has been made on the operation of the franchise” for next season.
“I know that Peoria and that market, they want hockey,” Holt said Friday. “Every league in hockey other than the NHL is talking about getting into that market.”
The Vancouver group still could keep the Rivermen as an AHL team for one year. If not, Holt said “anything is possible,” such as a franchise relocating or a league expanding to Peoria.
“My hope is that we would be able to have Peoria in whatever league we play in,” he said. “To be able to have a natural rival and have them 40 minutes away, there’s just no telling how much that would benefit Bloomington hockey.”
But the Rivermen situation isn’t the only one that must be resolved ahead of any such scenario. Holt said he and the Central Hockey League are actively seeking Illinois investors to take over the Blaze from New Jersey-based owner Sandra Hunnewell and Hockey Sensations, LLC.
“I think it’s really important for us to have a local presence in whatever we do,” said Holt. “Somebody from Central Illinois has got to be invested in this, because having an out-of-state owner, as you can tell from this last year, is just not going to work.

- Happy Birthday to Jason Deitsch who turns 33 today. I hope he remembers growing old is mandatory but growing up is optional.

- Want to close today with a shout out to super fans John Weithman and Mike Stiney who made the long trek to Independence just to see game five and the possible series win. Despite the frustrating loss Mike tweeted it was not the outcome they were looking for but they had a good time, the facility was nice and the Missouri fans were great.