Thursday, October 31, 2013

Martinson Post Game Comments, Ref Issues, Stats & More

- The goblins almost got the Americans last night as they gave up a two goal lead late in the game, were out shot 26-4 in the 3rd period and overtime, and won the game (4-3) as a defenseman (Tyler Ludwig) got the only goal in the shootout as the Tulsa goalie appeared to make the stop but slide into the goal with the puck under his pads. Strange indeed! It is a two point victory in the books and that is what counts as the Americans remain on top of the standings with 11 points.

- My guess is the team will be in for a long practice today both in video review and time on the ice. Tulsa had it highest shot production (45) of the season and at the same time gave up the fewest shots (25) of the year. Some of this disparity is related to penalties late in the game (more on that later) but as coach Martinson has said in the past, it was an ugly win.

- Had a chance to talk to the coaches briefly after the game and as was obvious as they left the ice they were not happy with how the game was officiated. They also felt Tulsa beat us at our own game of winning puck battles down low. Steve Martinson said, "I thought our forwards were weak down low, we didn't win enough battles. Tulsa forwards outplayed our forwards especially the second half of the game. Bryan Pitton made some great saves in regulation and in the shoot out."

- As you all know I don't like to talk about referees as I think calls even out over time and the CHL is a training ground for young referees just like it is the starting point for a lot of young players hoping to move up. However, there are some patterns developing with this particular referee that the league needs to address. First the facts:
* The Americans have had this referee three times this year and in all three games have given up two or more goal leads late in the game to send the game into overtime.
*  There have been more penalties called against Allen than the opponent in the third period and overtime in all three games, 6-2, 11-9, 5-1 for a total of 22 penalties against Allen and 12 against the opponents.
* In the three games this referee has called eight penalties in overtime with six of them against Allen.
* If you look at all games in the CHL that went to a shoot out so far this year the total is seven. This referee has three of them (all with Allen) and the other four have been different referees. This referee has called eight penalties in overtime in his three shootout games while in the other four shoot out games there has been a total of only one penalty called.

My conclusion: The CHL needs to take a hard look at whether this referee is making some rookie mistakes just like young players do and they can be corrected quickly or is it time to tell the referee he needs to develop more at a lower level of hockey just like coaches have to tell young players all of the time when they release them. Players I have talked to feel this referee calls too many penalties on both sides that should not called. This is especially true late in the game and in overtime. Enough said. I feel better now.

- Darryl Bootland with a goal and Alex Lavoie with an assist continued their scoring streaks as Booter has scored in in all six games thus far and Lavoie is on a five game scoring streak.

- The plus/minus differential continues to grow between Allen and the other undefeated teams. Here are the figures:
Allen: -11
Denver: +57
Missouri: +34
Rapid City: +29
This statistic shows how much improvement is need in even strength play. The game against Denver on Friday will be a good test for the Americans against the highest scoring team in the CHL.

- Nice touch by the Americans to present Todd Robinson with his championship ring before the game. And did you notice in the first period he had the exact same shot as the one that won the championship last year. Fortunately he shot this one wide but it was a real flashback to the most famous goal in American's history.

- The standings continue to look like the haves and have-nots as there are four teams that have not lost (Allen, Denver, Rapid City & Missouri) while the other six teams (Brampton, Wichita, Quad City, St. Charles, Arizona, Tulsa) are all under .500. Tulsa is currently in last place with only two points in five games. They are a much better team than their record shows so look for them to get it turned around. Wichita is also under performing but that won't last for long.

- Props to Tyler Ludwig for representing all of the D-men in scoring the game winning goal and the only goal in the shootout. Nine high powered forwards get stoned by the goalies from both sides and the lone defenseman in the shoot out gets the game winner. When asked by Lee Hastings if he was surprised to be called on for the shootout Tyler said, "I've been doing pretty well in practice on shootouts."

- The penalty kill was perfect again last night and has not given up a power play goal in the last four games. For the season they have only given up two goals in 41 opportunities for a unbelievable 95.12%.

- Attendance continues to be an issue around the league. Here are the figures from last night:
Allen -          3956
Arizona -      1719
Denver -       929
St. Charles - 844

I know sales/marketing departments will say it is early and things don't pick up until later in the year. It also should be noted the higher drawing teams (Wichita, Rapid City & Tulsa) have only had two home games and Missouri is yet to have a home game. However, with two teams averaging under 2000 per game (St. Charles 1578 & Denver 1410) the league-wide average after 25 total games is 3171 which is down 535 per game from last year. I know the average will improve but the question is will it exceed last years average attendance?

DID YOU KNOW: The single season record for plus/minus for the Americans took place in 2010-2011 when Dave Bonk was a plus 27 and David Strathman was a minus 13. The NHL single season record is Bobby Orr (1970-1971) on the plus side with a plus 124 and Bill Mikkelson (1974-1975) on the minus side with a minus 82.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Meet Kacee Coberly - Equipment Manager Extraordinaire

Equipment manager Kacee Coberly has many roles on the team
There aren't many jobs in professional hockey less glamorous and yet more important than that of an equipment manager. I first met Allen Americans equipment manager, Kacee Coberly, last spring when I sat down with him to talk about the roles and responsibilities of an equipment manager. Since that time I have had many conversations with Kacee about hockey, his job and his family. Now that the new season is underway and fans are focusing on hockey again I thought it would be a good time to tell the story of this young, experienced and driven equipment manager. Kacee might be young (he is 26) but he already has 16 years of experience working in an equipment room. That's right, he started as an assistant with the Oklahoma City Blazers when he was ten. Kacee's baseball coach worked for the Blazers and asked if he wanted to go to a hockey game and help out and that is how it all started. He quickly became a rink rat and helped out in anyway he could. If he had a day off from school he would spend the entire day at the rink. He progressed to helping out in the visitors locker room and would even go along on road trips. His mom would check him out of school early on Friday and he would go with the team to Tulsa or Wichita. The equipment manager for the Blazers was a guy named Brandon Rose who took Kacee under his wing and taught him everything he knows. He has been a mentor for Kacee for a long time.

After graduating from high school Kacee went to a small college in west Texas (Howard College) to play baseball (left handed pitcher). But his mom was battling some health problems as well as paying for some of his bills and he didn't feel that was right so he called his friend (Brandon Rose) who helped him get his first full time equipment manager job with the Memphis River Kings (CHL). He was 18 years old at the time. He was with the River Kings for a year (2006-2007) and then went to work for former Americans associate coach Bill McDonald who was the head coach of the Dayton Bombers (ECHL) for a year (2007-2008). The following year (2008-2009) Kacee had the opportunity to go to work for the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League who had just won the Memorial Cup the year before. It was a great opportunity to work for a successful hockey operation. Kacee got to work with many players that have gone on to successful careers in the AHL and NHL. After Kacee's third year in Spokane he got a call from Bill McDonald who was working for the Allen Americans. McDonald recruited Kacee hard telling him Allen was a excellent  place to live and the organization was outstanding to work for.  While he had a great situation in Spokane, Kacee and his wife Roxanne, liked the idea of being closer to home so for the 2011-2012 season he accepted the position as the equipment manager for the Allen Americans.

There have been three things that really struck me about Kacee in all of the conversations we have had over the last year. First, is how he has been preparing for what he does almost all of his life. To start doing something as a ten year old that turns out to be you life's work is remarkable. Kacee says he is still learning but he also says there are many parts of his job you can only learn by doing and he has done it all. The second thing that struck me is how many different duties he has that we as fans do not see. I came up with a list of job titles that could apply to Kacee. He might disagree as this is my list not his.

Budget Analyst - Kacee prepares a budget each year for management approval and after it is approved he tracks all line items to make sure he is staying within budget. He can tell you how many pucks have been used, how many sticks each player has used, whether he has had to replace their pant shells, who has requested custom blades for their skates, and the exact dates players qualify for equipment based on the collective bargaining agreement. So when players start throwing pucks into the crowd willy nilly Kacee sees $5 bills coming out of his budget. He wouldn't tell me what his annual equipment budget is but I would estimate it is close to $100,000.

Leathersmith - As players wear holes in the hands of their gloves or have problems with the boots on their skates it is Kacee to the rescue patching, gluing, pounding, and stretching, or replacing eyelets as necessary.

Tailor/seamstress - On of the most prominent pieces of equipment Kacee has in the equipment room is a sewing machine. Hole in your socks, tear in your jersey, ripped your pant shell, or a new player needs a name on their jersey last minute? Kacee to the rescue.

Janitor - We all see Kacee cleaning up the the players bench after practice or a game but that is nothing to keeping the locker room cleaned up. Twenty players with their smelly equipment takes a lot of upkeep. Vacuum, clean, organize and disinfect is a never ending process.

Buyer - A job Kacee takes very seriously is his relationship with all of the vendors he uses to get equipment. Whether it is jerseys, sticks or skates, he manages this relationship to get the best product at the lowest cost. He strikes me as a tough negotiator. If the number of stick blades that are breaking is unusually high the rep gets a call for free replacements and if the vendor makes a mistake on a jersey order or ships late Kacee expects an adjustment to his cost.

Salesman - Kacee gets the best price on equipment if he has all the players using the same brand of sticks or the same brand of skates. This is not a requirement but it holds cost down if he can get most if not all of the players using the same. He has been very successful is getting the players to go along with his recommendation. He also sells some of his extra stuff such has warmups and game used equipment in the team store to offset his costs.

Laundryman - You think you have a lot of laundry, try to keep up with Kacee's workload. On a normal practice day he will have four loads of laundry but on game days when both teams practice in the morning he also has to do laundry for the visiting team. Anywhere from 8 -10 loads on these days.

Confidant/Psychologist - Kacee describes his office and equipment room more like a barbershop. He has a unique position that can prove useful to both the players and the coaches. He does a lot of listening and being a team player he will try and be helpful in anyway he can.

Skate Sharpener - On a practice day the players write their name on a board if they want their skates sharpened. But on a game day he sharpens all the skates. There is a lot of pride in this skill and a lot of different preferences by players on how they want their skates sharpened.

Stickman - Kacee keeps four different kinds of shafts and a dozen different blades in the equipment room. The team uses Easton sticks. Retail price of the sticks would be close to $200. When I said to Kacee the stick budget must be high he said, "You could buy a nice new car for what I spend on sticks each year."  Kacee prepares all new sticks so he can keep an accurate inventory. Unless it is between periods of a game he will leave the knobs for the players to do. Each player gets three sticks and they are then replaced as they break. You will see Kacee before a game bring out the sticks and put them in numerical order on the bench. He takes great pride in how quickly he can get a replacement stick for a player on the ice after they have broken one. And if you watch carefully at the end of the period you might see Kacee head over to the penalty box to retrieve broken sticks so he can see where they broke and enter it in his inventory spreadsheet. They are two piece sticks so if the shaft breaks he can salvage the blade and save a few bucks.

The third thing that has struck me about Kacee is what sets him apart as an equipment manager and that is his passion for his job and dedication to doing the best he can to make the team successful. Kacee refers to this passion as his "OCD" which is his way of saying he is excessively meticulous, a perfectionist who is a stickler for order and detail. There is no better way to demonstrate this than ask some of the people he works with so that is what I did:

Darryl Bootland: "I would call him a perfectionist. There are not many equipment managers in the league that are the first guys at the rink and the last to leave. I've tried to get a ride from him to the Allen Event Center a couple of times in the morning but he leaves at 6:00 am so I don't get too many rides. He is here all summer, he works hard and is excellent at what he does. I have had a lot of equipment managers is my career and he does everything well and on top of all of that he is a great guy."

Tommy Daniels: "I have never met a more organized person in my entire life than Kacee. His locker room is immaculate if I can use those words in hockey terms. He is a perfectionist and one of the top young equipment managers in the game."

Mike Berube: "The most important thing is he works hard. In this league you are on a limited budget but he does whatever he can to get the players what they need. He is one of the equipment  managers who knows everyone on the team and exactly what their preferences are for sticks, how they like their skates sharpened and everything else. His attention to detail is what sets him apart."

Team President Matt Canavan: "Kacee is the most fiscally sound and budget savvy equipment manger I have worked with in 17 years in the business. He is a pleasure to work with."

Jamie Schaafsma: "Kacee takes his job very seriously and is a true professional.  A real perfectionist, he will do whatever it takes to help the players. He is very quick at getting sticks to us from the bench. He is the first guy in the locker room in the morning and the last guy to leave at night. He makes sure we have what we need to play our best. He keeps us on schedule and keeps us in line. He is the go to guy for many different things. Its great to have him around as his personality is appreciated and he is a lot of fun too."

Steve Martinson:  "Kacee is a great equipment manager. He will definitely by moving up. I don't know when but it will happen. Just like with our young players our goal is to have guys like Kacee move to the next level."

Here are a few questions I asked Kacee about his job:

 How do you assign numbers?
 It varies, if you are a young guy coming in we might look up the numbers you have worn in the past and try to get close to an old number but many times the young guys get assigned the numbers on the extra jerseys we have in stock. The young guys don't say much about numbers as they are just happy to be in Allen. If we are bringing in a veteran we try to accommodate them the best we can.

How do you deal with the smell of all the sweaty equipment and clothes?
It really doesn't bother me as I don't notice it. We are constantly cleaning and washing everything and we use an external company called Sani Sport that comes out periodically and puts all of the equipment in a trailer and cleans, disinfects and sanitizes it. They come in and clean the facility as well.

Most disgusting injury you have seen?
When I was in Oklahoma I saw a guy get hit in the face with a puck and his top lip was hanging down lower than his lower lip. That was pretty gruesome.

What is the best practical joke you can think of?
When I was in Spokane I had one of the older guys come and ask if they could borrow my sewing machine. Wasn't sure what they were up to but they sewed the legs shut on one of the young guys jeans so when he went to get dressed he couldn't get his jeans on. That was a good one for sure.

What is the hardest part of your job?
Trying to keep all the players on the team happy by accommodating all of their needs.

What do you have to pack when you go on the road?
Two bags of laundry, two sets of uniforms (game & practice), extra gear bag, extra bag for the goalie, a big trunk. a skate sharpener, a trunk for extra blades and other equipment, 20 player bags, glove dryer, four trunks for the athletic trainer with his stuff, a stationary bike, three sticks for each player plus a dozen extra blades and and a dozen extra shafts.

What was it like for you to win the championship last year?
It was an unbelievable experience winning the championship the way we did in overtime of the seventh game. The boys did a great job of battling back for the victory. You work so hard all year to win the last game and get a ring. We did win a championship in Oklahoma City when I was a stick boy but it was way better this time being the head guy and getting a ring. I didn't get a ring in Oklahoma City.

Kacee & Roxanne With Addison and Noah

Life away from the rink for Kacee revolves around his family. He is married and has two children. He met his wife, Roxanne, back in his home town in Oklahoma. They went to the same school even though she is younger and she was a friend of the family. They have two children. Addison is four and a half and Noah is seven months. Kacee describes Roxanne as unbelievable, "She is the glue in the family and she holds everything together." Transitioning to the lifestyle of an equipment manager was a little difficult for Roxanne when they first lived together in Spokane. Long days at the rink and road trips can be difficult. As Kacee put it, "It was hard for her to understand that there is so much work that you can get to the rink at 6:45 am and not get home until midnight.

Addison loves coming to the hockey games and visiting dad at work on non-game days. She gets to run around the rink and watch cartoons like Dora on his computer.  For games his family sits close to the door where the team goes on and off the ice because Addison likes to give Kacee a hug and kiss as he comes off the ice. Kacee said, "She used to like to work me over for some bubble gum as I was leaving the ice but she almost choked on the gum so Roxanne put the kibosh on that." Addison is definitely a daddy's girl.

The pet in the house is a Yellow Lab/ Golden Retriever mix named Janie who is great with the kids. Janie holds a special place for Roxanne as when she first moved to Spokane to be with Kacee it was her first time living away from home. The were living in the players apartments and Roxanne became best friends with a neighbor. Her friend passed away from brain cancer and Janie was her friends dog. Needless to say Janie is a special member of the Coberly family.

When Kacee does get time away from the rink activities center around the family. Addison likes going to Top Golf so they visit there and will stop by the dog park in Allen Square with Janie. Otherwise, lots of time playing with the kids at home. Noah is in the crawling stage so lots of time spent on the floor playing with him. Kacee has a pair of red sneakers and Noah loves going after them as soon as Kacee takes them off.

Here are some questions to get to know Kacee away from the rink:

Favorite Actor: Will Ferrell

Favorite Type Of Music: Country

Favorite Singer or Group: Zac Brown Band

Where Is The Most Interesting Place You Have Visited: When I was in Dayton we took the train into New York City and and it dropped us off under Madison Square Garden. We got to tour the city for a day.

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

If You Weren't Working As An Equipment Manager What Would You Do: Sports Management

What Do You Like To Do To Kill Time On The Bus: Sleep

Favorite Childhood Toy: Micro Machines

IF You Could Choose Someone As A Mentor Who Would It Be: Brandon Rose who I learned a lot from growing up and Adam Pineault, for all of the adversity he has faced and the positive outlook on life he has everyday.

Favorite TV Show: Duck Dynasty. Addison and I watch it together.

What Is Your Favorite Food: Steak and shrimp.

Favorite Motto or Saying: Once you get comfortable then you start getting yourself in trouble.

As fans we always think about players making it to the NHL such as Jordie Benn did after playing for the Americans. Kacee Coberly has the talent, the drive, the skill,  the experience and the personality to make it to the big show. It will be fun to watch his career progress. If you get the chance say hi to Kacee and thank him for all of his hard work. My prediction is he will soon be in the American Hockey League. 

Daily Dish - 10/30

- Please check back later this morning as I will be posting my first "in depth interview" of the year with Americans equipment manager Kacee Coberly. I think you will find it a great personal story about Kacee but also informative on the role of an equipment manager.

- No, this isn't a fashion blog but for those of you into "Allen Americans Hockey Fashion" the long wait for jerseys to arrive in the team store is over. Stopped by yesterday and the store is jam packed with new merchandise. The jerseys are in red and white and they have both authentic and replica in stock. The store will be open at 10:00 am this morning (Wednesday) so those interested can stop by early to check things out.

- In other fashion news the Americans were wearing their new pant shells yesterday in practice. I grew up in Minnesota where they were called "breezers" but I was schooled by equipment manager Kacee Coberly yesterday when I asked about the new "breezers" that they are called "pant shells." Check out the new red pant shells with the multicolored stars down the side the team will be wearing tonight with the new white jersey.

- The addition of Garrett Klotz and Dallas Ehrhardt to the roster sure gave the team a different look on the ice at practice. Klotz at 6'6" 250 lbs. & Ehrhardt at 6'4" 226 lbs. are easy to spot. And they are roommates!

- Phil Fox was still wearing the green "no contact" jersey in practice yesterday but merely as a precaution. He was a full participant in all of the drills. He should be in the line up this weekend.

- While the Americans have an outstanding power play and penalty kill which are both #1 in the CHL the five on five play has been another story. This is evident as the team total in plus/ minus is -11. There are only six players with a plus. Darryl Bootland leads the team with a +2 and Lavoie, Lessard, Tyler Ludwig, Berube & Hendrikx are a +1. As a frame of reference the other teams at the top of the standings have a +/- of +42 (Denver),+29 (Rapid City) and +14 ( Missouri).

- Aaron Dell (2012-2013) has returned to the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL) after his call up to the Norfolk Admirals (AHL). He did not get into any games during the call up.

- The new CHL suspension rule will be in play for Missouri & Arizona after having two players from each team suspended. The new rule will require the teams to play two players short on the bench for  three games. Here are the details:
 The Central Hockey League (CHL) announced yesterday that Missouri Mavericks' forward, Colt King and defenseman, Dave Pszenyczny, have been suspended for three games as a result of their actions in Saturday's game in Arizona. Sundogs' forward, Sebastian Geoffrion, and defenseman, Justin Pender, have also been suspended for three games. Both organizations have been fined an undisclosed amount of money.
"King was suspended for receiving a fighting aggressor penalty before the start of the third period. He was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct while Pszenyczny received a fighting major penalty and a secondary altercation infraction, also before the start of the third period. The pair will miss Missouri's next three games; Wednesday at St. Charles, Friday at Tulsa and Saturday vs. Denver.
Geoffrion was suspended for a secondary fighting altercation before the start of the third period and Pender was suspended for a cross checking major penalty at the end of the second period and for physical abuse of officials. The two Sundogs players will miss Wednesday, Friday and Saturday's games against Rapid City."

Back checking: When the puck changes hand, the offensive team becomes the defensive team. In order to slow the attack of the offensive team, each player on the defensive team is assigned an attacker and must come close to them and either strip them of the puck or intercept a pass intended for them. This strategy is known as "back-checking" and should be employed by all skaters on the ice. A poem from Floyd Percival’s famous hockey instruction book, the Hockey Handbook explains how hard it is to be effective back-checker:
For players who can’t seem to back-check -
When I was young and in my prime
I used to back check all the time.
But now that I am old and gray
I only back-check once per day.

For players that manage to back-check even when it hurts -
Even though it seems a crime
I keep on going all the time
I‘ll dig in hard each time I play
though it will turn me old and gray.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Daily Dish - October 29

After a successful six point weekend the players had a well deserved day off yesterday. Time to rest the weary bodies, spend time with family, play a little golf or do errands. For newly signed Dallas Ehrhardt it was time to get settled. He tweeted, "A good first day in Allen topped off with a great grocery run with the big man Klotz."

 Not much new for today but here goes:

- Congratulations to Alex Lavoie for being selected the "Oakley CHL Player of the Week." With two game winning goals in three games along with six points you can't say this was a surprise. Great things were predicted for Alex from the moment he was signed and it is good to see he is performing so well. Just as a reminder, this is what Steve Martinson had to say when he signed Lavoie, “Alex Lavoie will be one of the best young players in the league. He’s very skilled, with a great vision of the ice. Alex is the type of center that wingers want to play with.”

-  Traded messages with Garrett Clarke (2012-2013) yesterday and he confirmed he is headed to Arizona to play for the Sundogs. Arizona won't visit the Allen Event Center until January 20th but the Americans will be in Arizona over Thanksgiving, as usual, for three games.

- Minor League Hockey Report puts out what they call CHL Power Rankings and have issued the first report. It is very difficult to know which teams are going to be the best at this point in the season. Some teams haven't even had their home opener yet. Rosters are still in flux as coaches make changes based on what free agents are available and on ice performance. With that said here is the first CHL Power Ranking:
1. Rapid City
2. Denver
3. Allen
4. Missouri
5. Quad City
6. Brampton
7. St. Charles
8. Wichita
9. Tulsa

My thoughts are Denver is ranked too high and Wichita and Tulsa too low. Denver has yet to play on the road. Wichita and Tulsa have too much talent to be 8th & 9th in the league. It will be interesting to see how the power rankings change over time.

- The next three home games all have special promotions attached to them which should make them lots of fun. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the Halloween celebration with trick or treating for the kids in the concourse, a haunted house and costume contest. On Friday (November 1) it will be "Military Appreciation Night" and on Sunday (November 3) it will be "Duck Dynasty Night" with an appearance by "Mountain Man."

- I found the article below about the Tulsa Oilers written by Glenn Hibdon ( which talks about the Oilers past and present. The reason I found the article interesting is because even though the Oilers finished with the worst record in the league last year, coaches I have talked to said Bruce Ramsay should have been considered as coach of the year as he was coaching with "one hand tied behind his back." This year, with new owners and finances, Ramsay is coaching with both hands. While Tulsa is off to a slow start earning only one point in their first four games look for Bruce Ramsay to do what is necessary to get the Oilers back on track.

Tulsa Oilers Have New Look for CHL

GTR Sports Writer

New owners, new players and a new outlook greeted the Tulsa Oilers for the opening of the 2013-14 Central Hockey League season.
Finishing last in the CHL standings and again missing the playoffs last year, coach Bruce Ramsay is counting on that not happening again.
“We need to make the playoffs or I won’t be here,’’ the coach said bluntly. “We need a team that finishes over .500 and is favored to win the first round. Now we have the freedom to do what we need to do and that hasn’t happened in a while.”
Ramsay is referring to the financial input of new owner Steven Brothers Sports Management of Wichita. The group also owns the Wichita Thunder and promised the Oilers the capital they need to acquire players and remain competitive on the ice.
“I haven’t been able to spend up to the salary cap for a number of years, and now we have a chance to field a team that can do as well as the others. It’s a positive feeling.’’ Ramsay says. “Looking at my roster and how it compares to the past, there is a big difference. Of course we might have a lot of talent on paper, but we still have to bring it to the ice.’’
Ramsay has brought back five players who saw action for the Oilers last season. Leading them is 33-year-old veteran Michel Beausoleil. The 5-foot-10 forward piled up 20 goals and 20 assists in 2012-13 for 40 points, tied for second on he team with Drew Fisher. Fisher returns along with leading scorer Ryan Menei (82 points), Ryan Cramer and top goaltender Shane Madolora.
“I’m very high on Shane because he has the potential. He played great for us last year under tough circumstances. He took a team that was way under .500 and we played .500 hockey the last half of the season,” says Ramsey.
“Our scoring could be astonishing and we will score goals, no doubt about it. Beausoleil can score 20 goals on the third line and Menei, (Todd) Robinson, (Thomas) Beauregard and (Tomas) Klempa are all potential 20 goal scorers. Scoring won’t be our problem.’’
Robinson has had five pro seasons with 100 points or more, topped by the 123 he scored with Muskegon of the United Hockey League in 2006-07. He comes to Tulsa following a championship season with the Allen Americans, scoring the title-clinching goal in overtime.
Beauregard is the younger brother of former Oiler great David Alexander Beauregard. Klempa was most recently with the defunct Fort Worth Brahmas.
“I’ve known him (Robinson) for a number of years, and we’ve always had a special relationship. He’s a friend, and we played together,’’ says Ramsay, who noted that Robinson has won five championships. “Right now the only problem I’m having is fitting everyone into the salary cap. I’m trying to make everything fit.’’
Into the cap will go what is expected to be an improved defense. Ramsay says his new blue liners “hate to lose,’’ and 35-year-old vet Nathan Lutz started the season paired with rookie Andrew Himelson from Clarkson University. Lutz comes over from the Wichita Thunder.
“I’m very high on Himelson,’’ says Ramsey. “He was at Oklahoma City (in training camp), and he brought it down to this level. I also think (backup goalie) Ross MacKinnon has huge potential. He was the playoff MVP in the Southern Pro League and also won a Division III championship. He’s turned in outstanding performances and has No. 1 potential.’’
Ramsay wants leaders who have won before, players who are driven to win. He wants that attitude rubbing off on everyone else. He says his roster and his player’s desire to succeed is “night and day’’ from the way last season ended.
“We have grit, scoring, goaltending and great character,’’ says Ramsay. “There is no reason we shouldn’t be a playoff contender. We need to have a team in the playoffs and capable of winning the championship.
“I have all the confidence in the world.
“I’ve been a winning coach for a number of years, and now I’ve got equal footing to other teams. I just want to make Tulsa a place where everybody (players) want to come. I want to prove all the naysayers wrong and I have no choice but to start winning now.’’

DID YOU KNOW: Darryl Bootland and Jamie Schaafsma share a birthday (November 2) and it is coming up on Saturday. They will have to celebrate on the road as the Americans play in Tulsa on Saturday. Jamie will be turning the big 30 and Booter will be 32.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Martinson Comments, Allen in 1st Place, Chill Win, & Stats

Call it second verse same as the first, or a repeat performance, or here we go again, the game yesterday in Tulsa was almost identical to the game on Saturday. The score was the same (3-2), soft first period play allowed Tulsa to jump out to a 2-0 lead, Allen then scored three unanswered goals (Lessard, Kerbashian, Lukin), and the winning goal came from special teams. The big difference was on Saturday the game winner game from the power play (Lavoie) and Sunday from the penalty kill (Jarret Lukin shorthanded). A great end to a tough three games in three days road trip where the Americans took all six points.
Americans Celebrate Sunday's 3-2 Victory Over Tulsa - photo by

Had the chance to talk to coach Steve Martinson after the game last night and asked him to assess the weekend and he said, "It was great to get six points on the road. Friday was a very ugly win but we improved in each game. The two games in Tulsa were great comebacks. A couple of soft plays/turnovers in the first period put us down two but then we played really strong hockey. Special teams really paid off. We were counting on the young forwards to produce and they are coming through."

- The Americans are now in first place in the CHL with nine points. Allen has games in hand over the three teams that are still undefeated (Denver, Rapid City & Missouri).

- The Americans are one point better (9 points) this year after five games than they were last year after five games (8 points).

- The French Connection (Lavoie & Lessard) plus the beard (Bootland) line showed the way over the weekend as they each had two goals. Lavoie led the team with six points closely followed by Bootland with five points.

- Bootland has scored in all five games this year (4 goals, 4 assists) and Lavoie is on a four game scoring streak (3 goals, 4 assists).

- Martinson mentioned the play of special teams over the weekend and the numbers back him up. Allen scored four power play goals in thirteen opportunities in addition to the Lukin shorty. On the penalty kill the Americans were perfect, killing all 13 man advantages. The Americans continue to lead the league in power play (27.59%) and penalty kill (93.94%).

- Jarret Lukin was the #1 star of the game for his game winning shorthanded goal. For the second game in a row the goalie was the #2 star. It was Bryan Pitton on Saturday and on Sunday it was David Brown, who stopped 22 of 24 shots.

- Congratulations to the St. Charles Chill for getting their first victory in franchise history last night after coming close on Saturday. A couple of unique games with Quad City for St. Charles  over the weekend. On Saturday the Chill were out shot 46-29 and came back from a 5-0 deficit to tie the game only to loose 7-5. On Sunday they were out shot 47-29, had Quad City tie the game in the last minute of play with an extra attacker and then won in a shoot out 6-5.

DID YOU KNOW: The shorthanded goal by Jarret Lukin on Sunday was his sixth with Allen and added to his all time record for the Americans.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lavoie Shines, Pitton Shines, Special Teams Shine, Allen Shines & More

Allen Wins 3-2 - photo by SceneByKimberly

The Allen Americans extended their road regular season winning streak to six games last night with a 3-2 victory over the Tulsa Oilers before a great opening night crowd of 7667 at the BOK Center. Unlike the first three games this year where Allen gave up two and three goals leads late in the game the Americans got behind 2-0 last night and then scored three straight goals (Bootland, Snowden & Lavoie) for the victory. The teams are back at it this afternoon at 4:05 pm.

- Alex Lavoie continues to show he is going to be a special player as he was in on all three Allen goals with two assists and for the second night in a row scored the game winning goal. He was also selected the #1 star of the game for the second straight night.

- Lavoie is tied for second in the CHL for goals scored (3) trailing teammate Darryl Bootland who stands alone at the top with four goals. He leads all CHL rookies in goals, assists and points. Alex also leads in the Oakley 3 Star contest with 10 points.

- Ross Rouleau is second in the league among defenseman in both assists (4) and total points (6).

- Don't mean to talk special teams everyday but it is such a key statistic and the Americans are doing an outstanding job on both the power play and the penalty kill, leading the CHL in both categories. Last night they were 3 for 6 on the power play to raise the season record to 8 for 25 which is 32%. Last year they were 3rd in the league at 20.53 %. And on the penalty kill they gave up no goals last night on Tulsa's four opportunities and are now at 92.59% (2 for 27). Last year they led the league at 85.67%.

- Bryan Pitton played great in goal and made some outstanding saves late in the game to preserve the victory. Pitton was named the games #2 star for his effort.

- Another indication of the balance on the team in addition to everyone having a point in the first four games (excluding newcomers Ehrhardt & Klotz)  is seen in the shots statistics. Allen has no players in the top fifteen in the league in shots taken. However, they have 10 players in the top 40 in the league in shots all bunched between 10-14 shots.

- It is way to early to draw any conclusions concerning parity in the league this year but you can already see some separation between the top teams and bottom teams. Arizona, Tulsa, and St. Charles all need to get things turned around. Tulsa (against Allen) and St. Charles (against Quad City) both have home games today with a chance to get in the win column for the first time this season.

- Denver is off to a fast start with a 4-0 record and could be the most improved team in the league based on early results. Remember, last year they finished 8th in the ten team league. All four of Denver's wins this year have come at home so it is yet to be seen how things go when they play on the road.

- With the success of Denver on the ice there has to be a real concern by the team and the league about the attendance figures thus far. Even with all of the other sports teams (football and hockey both college and pro) competing for dollars in the Denver market you would think the Cutthroats are not meeting expectations. Here are the attendance figures for the first four home games (two Fridays & two Saturdays).
- 2152
- 1741
- 1357
- 874
Last year Denver averaged 2981 while this year the average attendance is only 1531. With the costs of running a CHL franchise Denver cannot survive long term without a significant increase in attendance. With the team playing well let's hope they can get this turned around.

- Three teams are still undefeated (Denver, Rapid City & Missouri) but of particular note is Missouri who starts the season with five road games. Thus far they are 3-0.  The Mavericks have nine of their first eleven games on the road. If they come through that stretch playing as well as they are now watch out.

- Found this article about the "Brahmas" lawsuit written by Elizabeth Campbell of the Fort Worth Star Telegram that has some additional information.

By Elizabeth Campbell

Owners of the Texas Brahmas and the Central Hockey League are suing an amateur team that they say is horning in on their logo, an important element of branding and marketing the team.
The federal trademark infringement suit was filed last week in the Northern District of Texas. The suit also names the NYTEX Sports Center — former home of the Texas Brahmas — and the North American Hockey League.
The suit alleges that the Lone Star Brahmas, an amateur team where youth prepare for professional or college hockey, knowingly began using the team’s “marks,” including a logo depicting a stylized bull with a hockey stick over the word Brahmas. The suit also describes another logo showing a stylized bull with the T in Texas in the shape of a bull’s horns.
The Texas Brahmas are not playing this season, but the owners say there are plans to revive the team for the 2014 or 2015 season when they find a suitable place to play in Tarrant County.
“We are vigorously defending our trademarks along with the Central Hockey League in this market,” said Mike Barack, president of the Texas Brahmas franchise.
But Frank Trazzera, president of the NYTEX Sports Center, and owner of the Lone Star Brahmas, called the lawsuit “frivolous.”
Trazzera, who also is part owner of the Texas Brahmas, said the version of the bull used by his amateur team is gray and not purple. He added that it is “ridiculous to sue over a bull.”
In fact, the amateur team’s slogan is “It’s not the same old bull.”
Trazzera said the suit is an attempt by the Texas Brahmas to take money from a team that helps young hockey players advance to professional or college teams..
“It’s kind of sad. At the end of the day, you are saying take these jerseys off of the kids,”
Trazerra said that the North American Hockey League as one of the most successful amateur leagues and that his team is preparing young people ages 20 and under for professional venues.
Trazzera said he and his brother Salvatore have had a lifelong involvement in the sport.

Barack said he would not respond to any comments from the Lone Star Brahmas.
David Pels, an attorney representing the Texas Brahmas said: “The facts are pretty well spelled out in the lawsuit and that the Texas Brahmas and Central Hockey League are jointly pursuing the litigation to protect its marks.”
The suit describes how in July, the Texas Brahmas and the Central Hockey League, ordered the Trazzeras to stop using the logo and all other trademarks to promote the junior hockey team.
The suit also alleges that confidential and proprietary information remain on a server and on several laptop computers owned and controlled by NYTEX sports.
The suit accuses the Lone Star Brahmas of promoting and advertising its goods and services in Tarrant County using the stylized logo belonging to the Texas Brahmas and of using the Brahmas’ registered marks on various websites, Twitter and Facebook pages.
“Multiple demands have been made upon Defendants to cease and desist from using the Brahmas’ Marks and/or confusingly similar marks in any manner,” the lawsuit stated.
The Texas Brahmas are seeking damages from $3,000 to $300,000 for registration and use of the domain names, and The plaintiffs are also seeking attorneys’ fees.
According to the lawsuit, in 2001, the professional team gave permission to amateur hockey associations to use the logo and other materials in connection with the Junior Brahmas’ programs.
The agreement for the amateur teams to use the logo continued when the professional team moved to the NYTEX Sports Center in North Richland Hills in 2007. At that time, Frank and Salvatore Trazzera managed and had an ownership stake in the pro team.
The Texas Brahmas continued playing at NYTEX, and won the Central Hockey League championship in 2009.

Different owners — Mike Atkinson and Michael Levitz — then bought the team in 2012 and renamed it the Fort Worth Brahmas. That team played most of its games at NYTEX but also played two of four scheduled games at the Fort Worth Convention Center.
Former owners Atkinson and Levitz still owe Fort Worth $5,000 for two canceled games at the convention center and owe a food and beverage vendor at the center $3,230.
“We would like to be able to collect that at some point,” said Kirk Slaughter, Fort Worth’s public events director. He said that the city and the vendor still haven’t gotten paid.
Trazzera said Atkinson and Levitz also owe NYTEX more than $80,000 in rent and added that several employees have not gotten paid.
Several vendors that do business with NYTEX also haven’t received money they are owed, but Trazzera did not say how much Atkinson and Levitz owe those companies.
Ownership reverted to Stuart Fraser earlier this year when the team defaulted on the money it owed. The Texas Brahmas say they are not responsible for those debts.
The Texas Brahmas team has asked Fort Worth to build an arena, but the city has said there are no plans for doing that.
There is interest in building a new arena at Will Rogers Memorial Center, but Fort Worth isn’t considering building it for 4 or 5 years and even then that facility would be used for horse shows and other events and for hockey when it is available, Slaughter said.

DID YOU KNOW: Todd Robinson who played in his 900th game last night is ranked 10th all time in minor pro hockey in assists. He has 917 and with a typical Todd Robinson year will be in the top five by the end of this season. And in case you are wondering the all time record for assists as well as games played is held by Guyle Fielder who played in 1487 minor pro games between 1951-1973 and had 1491 assists. Fielder is a legend in minor pro hockey and ranks third all time for points in professional hockey behind Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe.

Read more here:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Americans Sign Defenseman Dallas Ehrhardt

Dallas Ehrhardt

The Allen Americans have signed defenseman Dallas Ehrhardt who was released by the Evansville IceMen (ECHL) on October 24th. He had signed with Evansville in August and played in one regular season game before being released. The 21 year old blue-liner played four seasons in the Western Hockey League, most recently with the Prince George Cougars in 2012-2013. He played in in 62 games with the Cougars and recorded 23 points (6 goals & 17 assists). The 6' 4" 226 pound defensemen also spent three seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors from 2009-2012 where he appeared in 135 games and notched 45 points (5 goals & 40 assists).

During his junior career Ehrhardt played with three former Allen Americans (Justin Kirsch, Spencer Edwards, & Ben Wilson). He has an older brother, Travis, who is a defenseman for the St. John's IceCaps (AHL).

Even though, as I read in a scouting report, this is a big dude who plays a physical game, Dallas has had only about four fights per year in his junior career. I took a look at many of his fights and in everyone one of them he was defending a teammate. I'd say you can add his name to the Americans pack of wolves if you know what I mean.

A self proclaimed movie buff, he also utilizes social media. He is on Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to follow him his twitter handle is @Dheart6.

Look for Ehrhardt to be on the ice tonight against Tulsa.

Here are the details on Dallas from hockeydb:

Dallas Ehrhardt

Defense -- shoots L
Born -- Calgary, ALTA
[21 yrs. ago]
Height 6.04 -- Weight 226 

Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2008-09 Olds Grizzlys AJHL 1 0 0 0 0 ----------
2009-10 Brandon Wheat Kings WHL 12 0 1 1 11 -2 ----------
2009-10 Moose Jaw Warriors WHL 13 0 3 3 13 3 ----------
2010-11 Moose Jaw Warriors WHL 55 1 19 20 74 4 2 0 0 0 2
2011-12 Moose Jaw Warriors WHL 67 4 18 22 78 -3 14 0 3 3 2
2012-13 Prince George Cougars WHL 62 6 17 23 78 -24 ----------
2013-14 Evansville Icemen* ECHL 1 0 0 0 0 0

Daily Dish - October 26

The Allen Americans kept their unbeaten streak alive (they have won five straight regular  season away games going back to last year) with a 6-4 win over the St.Charles Chill last night as Alex Lavoie scored the game winner with 1:35 left in the game after the Chill came back from a two goal deficit tying the score at the 16:38 mark of the third period. Coach Martinson described the game as an ugly win and acknowledged the team has lots of work to do but a win is a win and the two points allowed Allen to keep pace with Denver and Rapid City who both won and are on top of the CHL standings with perfect 3-0 records.

Alex Lavoie Scored The Game Winning Goal & Was Named The #1 Star Against St. Charles Chill - photo by

- The Americans boarded the bus after the game and drove all night to Tulsa for games tonight and Sunday. Arrival time at the hotel in Tulsa was around 5:00 am. Three games in three nights along with 17 hours on the bus (not counting the trip home after the game Sunday). Welcome to life in the CHL.

- Darryl "Booter" Bootland is tied for the league lead in goals (3) and second in points (6). He is off to another fast start similar to last season. He leads the team in goals, assists, points and plus/minus. His three goals have come on only seven shots for an impressive 42.9% shooting percentage.

- Before Lessard and Lavoie each scored their second goal of the season in the third period there was a point in the middle of the game when the score was 3-2 where the Americans had scored ten goals on the season and they had been scored by nine different players. Now that is balanced scoring.

- Another indication of balanced scoring is after only three games, 15 of 16 skaters have scored points. After Bootland's six points are four players with three points, five players with two points and five players with one point. John Snowden is the only skater without a point in the first three games and you know his points will come as he can score in bunches.

- Special teams is always a key and with the style of play the Americans employ the penalty kill is extremely important. The Americans continue to excel in the penalty kill as St. Charles was 0-3 last night which puts the Americans at 91.3% (2-23) for the season.

- The power play has also been excellent so far as Allen leads the league with a lofty power play success rate of 26.32% (5-19).

- Congrats to Alex Lavoie for being named the #1 star of the game for his game winning goal as well as a great assist on Bootland's goal. But how can Bootland not be named one of the three stars with a goal, two assists, and a +3. C'MON MAN

- The Americans radio partner is now front and center after some delay in working out all of the details. Welcome Hot 107.3 FM to the Americans family. KQDR 107.3 is out of Sherman, Texas. You can go to their web site to listen to the games, just look for the Americans logo. I have not been able to listen to the Americans broadcast through the TuneIn radio app on my smartphone so hope that can get activated soon.

- Four players that were in camp with the Americans are now playing for the Louisana Ice Gators (SPHL). Matt Robertson, Chris Wilson, Kirk Byczynski, and Peter Cintala. Cintala, who was a fan favorite in training camp played well in the Ice Gators opening game victory with an assist and was a +1.

- The Americans will announce the signing of a defenseman today. Check back at noon for information about the new player.

DID YOU KNOW: Darryl Bootland and St. Charles Chill coach Jamie Rivers were teammates during the 2003-2004 season with the Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) and the Detroit Red Wings (NHL).

Friday, October 25, 2013

Daily Dish - October 25th

- After posting a couple of championship ring pictures yesterday (side views) that were taken by Chip Crail (  I had a couple of requests to include a top view picture. Here it is:

- The CHL is in full swing this weekend with 11 games scheduled. Scheduling for the CHL must be difficult at best with teams so widely scattered but it does make one wonder how some things happen. Brampton plays in Rapid City for two games this weekend and will play 16 of their next 19 games on the road. With the exception of three games at home against Allen (November 7, 8, & 10) Brampton has no home games from October 21 to December 12.

- Allen plays Tulsa 11 times this season but 8 of those games are between today and November 24. Eight of Allen's next thirteen games are against Tulsa including five out of the next six. They then play just three times from December through March.

- The team made the trek from Allen to St. Charles yesterday afternoon. A long ten hour bus trip. After the game tonight the team will get back on the bus and travel to Tulsa (7 hours) for games Saturday & Sunday.

- Phil Fox was on the ice with the team at practice yesterday and participated in some of the drills. His rehab seems to be going very well. He did not travel with the team on this road trip. 

- Based on practice yesterday Americans lines versus the Chill: Schaafsma-Kerbashian-Snowden, Bootland-Lavoie-Lessard, Tamblyn-Lukin-Asuchak with defensive pairings: Tetrault-Tyler Ludwig, Berube-Hendrikx, Rouleau-Trevor Ludwig.

- Keep in mind it is typical for roster moves to continue to take place this time of year as current players are seen in game action and players get released from other teams and leagues. Recruitment is a big part of being a coach and general manager in the CHL. The roster currently only has six defensemen and teams most often carry seven. Wouldn't be surprised if the next roster move would be to add a seventh defensemen. 

- The CHL will honor its second hall of fame class and the Americans will get to witness these festivities as it will take place at the Allen/Tulsa game in Tulsa on November 2. Here is a little information on the CHL Hall of Fame:

The Central Hockey League Hall of Fame welcomed its first class on January 10, 2012.

The creation of a CHL Hall of Fame allows for recognition and to celebrate individuals for their outstanding achievements and contributions specifically in the CHL.  There are three categories that a person can go into the Hall of Fame; Player, Official or Builder.  A person must be a unanimous selection by the CHL Hall of Fame Selection Committee in order to gain entrance.  No more than five people can enter during an individual year (no more than three players).

The first class of inductees honored were Joe Burton, the top scorer in Central Hockey League history; Rick Kozuback, co-founder and former President of the Western Professional Hockey League and a key member in the combining of the WPHL and CHL in 2001; and Brad Treliving, key person in the joining of the WPHL and CHL in 2001 and the CHL's President from 2001-2007.

On January 18, 2013, the second class of inductees were announced with Doug Lawrence (Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Shreveport) and Hardy Sauter (Oklahoma City) going in as 'Players' and Doug Sauter (Oklahoma City), Brad Lund (Oklahoma City) and N. Thomas Berry (Commissioner Emeritus) going in as 'Builders'.

- Jersey Update: Stopped by the team store yesterday and the expectation is some jerseys will be delivered late today (Friday). Team store staff will be in early Saturday morning to check for the shipment, unpack and mark the merchandise.

- The Ice Angels have a busy weekend planned as they have a couple of photo shoots and are also preparing for the game on October 30th which is the Halloween celebration. It is all very secretive but I am told to look for special costumes and performances.

- The Bloomington Thunder, formerly the Bloomington Blaze, who left the CHL for the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) this year play their first SPHL game tonight.

DID YOU KNOW: The Oklahoma City Blazers, who were part of the CHL from its inception in 1992 until 2009, led the CHL in average attendance for 16 consecutive seasons and on five occasions ranked number one in all of minor pro hockey.  During both the 1993-94 and 1994-95 campaigns, the Blazers averaged more than 10,000 fans per game. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thunder Penalties, Klotz To IR, Ring Pics, Schaafsma Story, Brahmas Lawsuit

- I know by now everyone has seen pictures of the championship ring but wanted to share a couple of side view shots that Chip Crail ( was kind enough to take for me which shows the detail on each side of the ring. One side has the Governor's Cup with "Americans" on the top and the year (2013) on the bottom and the other side which has the Presidents' Cup with the player's name on the top and the player's number on the bottom.

- Newly signed forward, Garrett Klotz, was placed on seven day injured reserve effective October 19th so he will not be available for the game with St. Charles tomorrow night.

- Had an opportunity to view slow motion video of two infractions from the game on Sunday which were reviewed by the league. The first was the slash against Charles Lachance when he went down  along the boards. You can see the Thunder player (Matt Robinson) appear to look up to see where the officials are and then deliver a vicious slash to the knee that looked like a deliberate intent to injure. The referee and the linesman all told the coaches they did not see the slash so no penalty was called and this is understandable since it was behind the play. It is also what triggered the brawl early in the third period and the hit Daniel Tetrault put on Robinson later in the period. If the league took action on this incident it would be a fine, not a suspension. Not sure of the outcome.
The other video was a slow motion view of RG Flath elbowing Tyler Ludwig in the head. It was a closeup shot and you can see Flath clearly lift his elbow and catch Tyler in the head. Again, a deliberate intent to injure and one the league takes seriously as hits to the head can put players out of action for a long period of time. I'm sure the Americans are not happy with the fact that Flath only got a two game suspension as the NHL rule would have called for a minimum of five games. Hockey is a game of emotion and all teams end up with incidents like these which they probably regret after the fact. The Americans will have their share as well.  If the rivalry with Wichita wasn't already amped up from the championship series last year these two incidents will make future games with the Thunder interesting. My guess is Flath and Robinson haven't seen the end of this yet.

- Found this article from Jamie Schaafsma's hometown newspaper:

Schaafsma back to defend CHL crown 
By Mark Malone, Chatham Daily News
Allen Americans forward Jamie Schaafsma of Blenheim holds his daughter, Sawyer. (Contributed Photo)
Allen Americans forward Jamie Schaafsma of Blenheim holds his daughter, Sawyer. (Contributed Photo)

Jamie Schaafsma is going to have a hard time topping last season.
He began it cradling his son Sutter, who was born four days before training camp.
He ended it hoisting the Ray Miron Presidents' Cup as a Central Hockey League champion.
“I put everything into hockey,” the 30-year-old forward from Blenheim said. “You train all summer and work all winter and go on road trips away from your family. You do it all to win a championship and achieve that final goal. It's rewarding.”
Schaafsma is back with the Allen Americans to challenge for another CHL title.
Contract negotiations took longer than he wanted, but he's excited to return. The team gave his family a Texas-sized helping of hospitality during his first season in Allen.
“We love it down there,” he said. “We know tons of people. We get treated well.”
He's joined there by his wife Nicole, their two-year-old daughter Sawyer and Sutter, whose first birthday was Oct. 4.
Schaafsma kept an enviable streak going last season by playing in a league final for the fifth consecutive year.
However, he'd lost the previous three – one IHL final with the Flint Generals and two Italian A2 finals with Gardena.
“I don't know if I could have taken another year of losing in the final,” he said. “I think I would have lost my mind.”
The Americans won Game 7 in overtime after rallying from two goals down in the third period.
“You can't really beat that kind of win,” Schaafsma said. “That was thrilling and super-exciting for me.”
The Americans handed out rings to their eight returning players and raised a championship banner at Sunday's home opener.
Schaafsma is ready to be one of their top players again. He was fourth on the team last season with 24-23-47 totals in 66 games after being signed as a secondary scorer.
“I knew I could give the team more help than they were expecting from me,” he said.
The lower expectations were a nice change, though. He played seven of his first eight pro seasons in Europe where, as an import player, he was under pressure to fill the net.
“It was just nice to go down and play my game and not have the added pressure of producing in Europe,” he said. “Play my game and do what I do best and do what I have to to help the team win.”
CHL teams can sign a limited number of veterans. However, European games don't count towards a player's career total, so Schaafsma isn't considered a veteran even though he plays like one.
He hasn't ruled out returning to Europe. The money is better and living overseas would a good experience for his children before starting school.
For now, though, he's happy in Texas. His family's apartment is on a golf course where he can play for free.
“Most of all, I'm excited because we have such a good team down there and we're competitive,” Schaafsma said. “We have a good core coming back and hopefully we can compete for another championship this year.”

- And finally a Brahmas story about a lawsuit written by Robert Wilonsky ( where the Texas Brahmas (CHL) have filed a lawsuit against the Lone Star Brahmas (NAHL) 

In federal court, hockey’s Texas Brahmas square off against the Lone Star Brahmas

The Texas Brahmas' logo ...

The Texas Brahmas of the Central Hockey League, formerly known as the Fort Worth Brahmas of the Central Hockey League, are no more — for now, at least. Franchise president Stuart Fraser told the Star-Telegram in June that the team’s suspending operations until it can find a suitable venue. “Our plan is to maintain the franchise in Tarrant County and hopefully have a new arena to play in down the road,” he told the paper. A lawsuit filed yesterday in Fort Worth federal court says the Brahmas will return either next year or in 2015.
Which is why the team filed that lawsuit — because someone else is using the Brahmas name and a very similar mascot, which the Texas Brahmas’ owners claim is infringing upon their hard-earned trademark.
... and the Lone Star Brahmas' logo.

That team is the Lone Star Brahmas of the North American Hockey League, which plays its home games at the NYTEX Sports Centre in North Richland Hills. So happens the teams were once connected: Per the suit filed yesterday, the Fort Worth or Texas Brahmas let junior teams use the moniker and branding, but “when it became apparent” that Frank Trazerra and Salvatore Trazerra “were planning on and intending to own and operate a team in Defendant North American Hockey League,” the Texas Brahams told them to cut it out.
Apparently they didn’t. Which is why the Texas Brahmas filed the $300,000-plus suit.

DID YOU KNOW: The Tulsa Oilers and Wichita Thunder have been in the CHL since its inception in 1992 but there have been 34 different teams come and go since that time. 21 of the 34 teams lasted five year or less. The most interesting name was the franchise in Macon, Georgia from 1996-2001. They were called the Macon Whoopee and their logo featured a bird and a bee.