Friday, February 28, 2014

Possible Line Combos, Adam's B-day, Leap Year & Hockey, Game Preview

- Stopped by practice yesterday and saw the biggest crowd to watch practice since training camp. Unfortunately most of the spectators were injured players. Hobbling and wobbling between the stands and getting treatment in the locker room. I counted 16 players on the ice, 7 in the stands, plus Trevor Hendrikx on bereavement leave for a total of 24 players. There will definitely have to be some roster moves as players get healthy and by roster moves that means players released. And there is still the possibility of players returning from Europe being added to the roster.

- Have had a lot of questions asking who will be paired with Bruce Graham this weekend. I will make the assumption coach Martinson will be switching up lines this weekend  to see how the new players fit in but at practice yesterday Graham was working with Greger Hanson and Anthony Maiani. Alex Lavoie was with Brian McMillin and Jamie Schaafsma. The third line combination was Spencer Asuchak, Garrett Klotz, and Ben Power. In addition to the nine forwards on the ice yesterday you can expect one of the forwards sitting out of practice will also play with my guess being Jonathan Lessard. Have not heard when Trevor Hendrikx will return but if he is not back for the game tonight there will only be five healthy defensemen available.

- Arizona is already in Allen and practiced after the Americans  yesterday. They are also struggling with injuries to some of their key guys. Arizona is a streaky team having had losing streaks of 4, 5, & 7 games this season and winning streaks of 4, 5, & 6 games. The Sundogs have a winning road record (13-10-4) and a losing home record (11-12-2). They always play Allen tough so expect tight, hard fought games this weekend with overtime a distinct possibility.

Here is the team by team comparison:
                                  Allen Americans            Arizona Sundogs   
RESULT OF LAST GAME               WIN  4-1 vs MIZ            OTL  3-4 vs WIC   
GAMES PLAYED                      51                         52                
RECORD                            29-18-4                    24-22-6           
POINTS                            62                         54                
HOME RECORD                       14-8-3                     11-12-2           
AWAY RECORD                       15-10-1                    13-10-4           
SHO RECORD                        4-3                        3-4               
LAST 10 GAMES                     4-6-0                      4-3-3             
LAST 5 GAMES                      3-2-0                      0-2-3             
OCTOBER                           5-0-1                      1-4-1             
NOVEMBER                          7-6-0                      6-6-0             
DECEMBER                          5-4-1                      3-8-0             
JANUARY                           8-1-2                      9-0-2             
FEBRUARY                          4-7-0                      5-4-3                         
SCORING FIRST                     17-6-3                     15-11-4           
LEADING AFTER 1ST                 12-6-0                     11-4-3            
LEADING AFTER 2ND                 18-2-3                     12-0-1            
TIED AFTER 1ST                    10-4-3                     9-7-3             
TIED AFTER 2ND                    9-4-1                      8-4-4             
TRAILING AFTER 1ST                7-8-1                      4-11-0            
TRAILING AFTER 2ND                2-12-0                     4-18-1            
WHEN OUTSHOOTING OPPONENT         14-10-1                    11-16-1           
1 - GOAL GAMES                    13-3-4                     13-9-6            
GOALS FOR PER GAME                3.57                       2.79              
GOALS AGAINST PER GAME            3.24                       3.10              
SHOTS FOR PER GAME                33.27                      31.60             
SHOTS AGAINST PER GAME            32.67                      30.27             
POWER PLAY RECORD                 47 - 254   18.5%           50 - 254   19.7%  
PENALTY KILLING RECORD            49 - 274   82.1%           39 - 244   84.0%  
SH GOALS FOR                      9                          4                 
SH GOALS AGAINST                  7                          9                 
PIM AVERAGE                       23.04                      21.37  

- For those that like to track the referee for the games, as of this morning Tudor Floru is assigned to work both games this weekend. And for those that have become Jake Brenk fans he is scheduled to work what is the best series this weekend when Denver takes on Rapid City in Rapid City.

- Despite being in eighth place in the standings Arizona has higher rated special teams than Allen. The Sundogs power play is #4 while Allen is #6. On the penalty kill Arizona is ranked #3 while Allen is #6. Look for a power play unit of Graham, Lavoie and Maiani upfront with Zion & Ludwig at the points in the game tonight.

- Allen and Arizona have played seven times this year with three of the games going to overtime. Allen leads the series 4-3. Here are the results of the games played this year:
PAST RESULTS                          
     11/27/13    Allen  3 at Arizona 5     
     11/29/13    Allen  5 at Arizona 3     
     11/30/13    Allen  4 at Arizona 1     
     01/17/14    Allen  3 at Arizona 4 SO  
     01/18/14    Allen  4 at Arizona 3 SO  
     01/20/14    Arizona 2 at Allen  3 OT  
     02/13/14    Arizona 4 at Allen  2 

- The top scorers for Allen against Arizona are Alex Lavoie with eleven points (7 goals 4 assists), Jonathan Lessard with eight points (6 goals 2 assists) and Greger Hanson with seven points (4 goals 3 assists).

- Former Allen Americans defenseman Garrett Clarke has had an interesting week. He was forced to miss the Sundogs game against Rapid City on Saturday as he was serving a one game suspension for slew footing a Rush player in the game on Friday. Then this past Tuesday he had a rare shootout opportunity in Wichita as the shootout went extra frames. Garret got his chance in the sixth frame and missed and then Tomas Klempa scored to win the game for the Thunder.

- Happy birthday to former player and go to front office employee Erik Adams who is the only leap year (1980) baby I know but shares the distinction with some other NHL hockey players including Henri "The Pocket Rocket" Richard (1936), Kari Eloranta (1956),  Dan Daoust (1960), Lyndon Byers (1964),  Simon Gagne (1980), Cam Ward (1984), and Bobby Sanguinetti (1988). Make sure to say happy birthday to Erik at the game tonight as he has only had the chance to celebrate his birthday on the right day (February 29) eight times in his life and it won't happen until 2016.

Erik's birthday (February 29, 1980) was a historic day for two famous hockey families, the Howe's and Christian's. In Hartford, Gordie Howe scored the 800th goal of his legendary career during the Whalers' 3-0 victory against St. Louis. The 51-year-old took a feed from Greg Carroll and beat Mike Liut for the milestone goal, the next-to-last of his career. "That was great," he told the media after the game. "I was especially glad it happened at home."

In Winnipeg, "Miracle on Ice" team member Dave Christian from Warroad, Minnesota, made an instant impact in his first NHL game. Christian, whose father and uncle were members of the 1960 gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic team, scored seven seconds into his first NHL game for the Winnipeg Jets -- 34 years later, it's still the fastest goal ever by a player in his NHL debut. It was the first of his 340 goals during an NHL career that saw him play for five NHL teams.

DID YOU KNOW: One year ago today the Allen Americans shut out the Wichita Thunder 4-0 at the Allen Event Center on goals by Jarret Lukin, Brian McMillin and two by Anthony Maiani.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Allen vs Arizona, Graham Interview, CHL Expansion, Maiani Profile

- After a day off yesterday it is back to practice today as the Allen Americans prepare for the two game series with the Arizona Sundogs on Friday & Saturday at the Allen Event Center. Arizona has lost five games in a row but have gone to overtime in their last three losses including twice in Rapid City. They are a motivated team fighting for the last playoff spot with Wichita and they just signed CHL veteran Shawn Limpright who returned from Europe. Limpright was on the 2010-2011 Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs team that knocked the Governor's Cup (most points during the regular season) winning Allen Americans out of the playoffs four games to one and went on to win the championship. Playing for Rapid City in 2011-2012 he had 81 points (28 goals 53 assists) in 65 games.

 - Like the Americans, Arizona has been dealing with injuries as two of their best mid season acquisitions, Brandon  Coccimiglio with 10 goals in 13 games and David Rutherford with 20 points in 16 games are on injured reserve and will not play. Paul McIlveen who was the Sundogs leading scorer when he was injured earlier this month is eligible to come off IR this weekend so he might be back in the lineup.

- Speaking of injuries, Allen is suffering through the worst bout of injuries in club history. It will be like a "MASH" unit role call to see who is healthy enough to play this weekend. Bruce Graham and Anthony Maiani are two healthy players that should be in the line up but it will be a few games before they are at the top of their games.

- I had a chance to briefly speak to Bruce Graham after he spent 20 minutes all by himself skating and doing drills after practice on Monday and asked him why he made the decision to come back to Allen and hockey after sitting out this year. After all he had a phenomenal season last year in winning the championship in Nottingham, England. Here is what Bruce had to say:
     "I was in talks at the beginning of the year with Allen but we have to young girls, and my wife (Whitney) had a good opportunity with a job so we thought it was the time to settle down. That was good for three or four months and I started to get that itch again to play. It was never my plan to sit out the year and then come back for the playoffs. We thought we were home for good, then this opportunity came up and we both love Allen so we decided to come back."
     "Once I get in game shape here and some of the key guys come back from injuries we will be fine. I played in a decent senior league at home so I have been on the ice a bit but I am not in the shape I would like to be in at this point of the season, but it will come."

- Took a look at the Best of The Best Awards which are given out each year in the CHL for the years Bruce Graham played for Allen. It is a good reminder of his talent. He finished in the top three in the league in numerous categories including most underrated player and best player on faceoffs his first year (2009-2010). In 2011-2012 Bruce was in the top three for Best Overall Player, Best Stickehandler, Most Valuable To His Team, Best Player On Faceoffs, and Best Power Forward. Yes, he will make a difference!

- The Americans put on well attended party for full season ticket holders last night at Top Golf. Talking to many of the season ticket holders I have gotten to know over the years it reminded me how fortunate the community is to have such a great hockey franchise in the area. A great facility and a team that has been competitive from day one. The best part of attending the party last night was to witness the players interacting with all of the season ticket holders. We have a great group of guys on the team and the more you get to know them on a personal basis, the more you realize how fortunate we are. Job well done by the front office, the coaches and the team.

- Quad City beat Missouri last night 5-1 in Quad City. It was Missouri's turn to be unhappy with the referee who was the some referee who ejected Quad City coach, Terry Ruskowski, in Allen last Sunday. The referee called four "obscene language" penalties including a game misconduct obscene language penalty on Missouri trainer, Bill Murray.

- How is this for a motivational speech by Ruskowski when the Mallards were losing after the first period. "I told the guys after the first intermission there was a Chicago Wolves (AHL) scout in the stands watching them, and if they ever hoped to get up to Triple-A, they needed to show him something,'' Ruskowski said. In reality, the Wolves scout, though, was there to pick up QC forward Gergo Nagy for a post-game trip to Chicago. Nagy, who will stay at least through the weekend with the Wolves, is the fifth Mallards players promoted to the Triple-A AHL this season.

- I saw an article dated February 16 out of Casper, Wyoming about the potential CHL franchise which in part said, The Central Hockey League has no hard deadline for teams to enter the 2014-15 season, but league officials want a deal solidified by the end of February.
“If we’re going to move forward, we’re hoping in the next 10 days to two weeks there is something in place,” said Bob Hoffman, director of operations. “If it isn’t, then it’s not our decision. Then it means the group is probably not ready to move forward.”
We are now at the end of February and it appears the CHL will not be in Casper next year. There has been little concrete evidence that the CHL will add any teams next year despite their press release saying they will expand by up to two teams. Seems like a bigger issue is making sure the weaker teams in the league from an attendance standpoint (Arizona, Brampton, St. Charles & Denver) remain viable.

- Received a lot of feedback on my double Come On, Man rant about Bryan Pitton not receiving one of the three stars of the game in Missouri on Tuesday. 100% of those that commented from Allen, Missouri and around the league agreed with me and that is a rarity.

-Here is the player profile I wrote about Anthony Maiani in December 2012 that gives you some of his back story which you might find interesting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roommate: Brett Skinner

Nickname: Tony or Miyagi

Hockey Hero: Steve Yzerman

Favorite Actor: George Clooney

Favorite Type of Music: Country

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

Whom do you admire as a leader: Steve Yzerman

Most interesting place you have visited: Las Vegas

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

Any pregame ritual: Always tie left skate first

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

Who is your number one fan: My grandpa

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

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

Favorite childhood toy: Teddy Bear

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

What chore do you hate to do: Vacuum

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

What do you like to do for fun: Golf

Favorite TV show: Family Guy

DID YOU KNOW:  In 2004-2005 Bruce Graham and Adam Pineault were teammates in junior hockey for the Moncton Wildcats in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and were both drafted in the second round of the 2004 NHL draft. Adam was drafted #46 overall by Columbus and Bruce was drafted five players later at #51 overall by the New York Rangers. 



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gutsy Win, Pitton Gets a Come On, Man, The Ironmen, Lavoie Sets Record & Mac The Mascot

You can call it a gutsy performance, a confidence builder or a character game as a shorthanded Allen Americans team beat the league leading Missouri Mavericks by a score of 4-1 before 5126 disappointed fans at the Independence Events Center last night. Playing with a lot of guys out of the lineup and several more who were playing hurt and would normally not play and one player (Anthony Maiani) who just got off a plane and hasn't played hockey in months Allen found a way to win the game against some long odds as the Mavericks have been the best team in the league for some time. As Tommy Daniels said to me after the game, "That was Allen Americans hockey."

A true team effort led by Bryan Pitton in goal (more on that later), goals by Lessard & Power, two goals from Tyler Ludwig, three assists from Alex Lavoie and special teams play that won the special teams battle against the best power play and penalty kill units in the league. The entire team and coaching staff deserves a big stick tap on this one.


- Pitton was really good in goal again for us tonight. He has played very well the last few games. If anything it has helped him knowing he will be in goal for the majority of our games.

- We had a little bit of a slow start at the beginning of the game but picked it up the second half of the first period. I was really pleased with the effort tonight.

- We had several guys playing hurt with injuries that make it painful to skate. They would not have played if we had a full roster. They really did take one for the team and did a good job.

- It will be nice to have a couple of days with this positive feeling before we take on Arizona on the weekend. We need to continue to play like we have the last three games until we get guys back. We should have a lot of guys available in the next week or two.


- Okay, I am calling an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for "goalie bias"  on whoever decides the three stars of the game in Missouri. Back on December 14 Bryan Pitton had a 40 save shutout  in Missouri and couldn't crack the three star list and I gave it a COME ON, MAN. Last night Pitton was again outstanding in goal. Here are just a few quotes I saw about his performance and these are from the Maverick's fans.
     "Mavs lose to the Allen Americans, and more so to Bryan Pitton who was as good as he may ever be, unreal tonight"
     "Mavs had their chances but Pitton has been marvelous"
     " I think it is safe to say Pitton is a much better option between the pipes for Allen"
     " Bryan Pitton just made one of the better saves I have seen all year with an indescribable glove save"
     "Their goalie made some good saves and that made the difference" - Sebastien Thinel
So for the first time ever on this blog, for not giving Bryan Pitton one of the three stars of the game, a double COME ON, MAN, - COME ON, MAN!!!
Bryan Pitton Leads Allen to 4-1 Victory - Photo by

- With Kale Kerbashain missing his first game of the season last night the Americans "Ironmen" are now down to four with only Asuchak, Berube, Lavoie & Tetrault having played in all 51 games. In the interesting stat category is the fact that the youngest (Lavoie at 21) and oldest (Tetrault at 34) players on the team are amongst the four ironmen.

- Happy birthday to Brian McMillin who turns 26 today. Brian had an assist last night and has scored a point in the last four games.

- Jon Zion had an assist on Tyler Ludwig's power play goal in the third period to keep his scoring streak alive. He has scored in all nine games he has played in. Seven of his twelve points have come on the power play.

- Alex Lavoie had three assists for the second game in a row and has extended his rookie scoring lead over Tulsa's Adam Pleskach to 16 points. Lavoie has scored multiple points in 21 games this year. A testament to his consistency is the fact he has not gone more than two games without scoring all year.

- With two goals again last night Tyler Ludwig is on quite a streak having scored eight points (5 goals, 3 assists) in the last four games.

- Jonathan Lessard was one of the guys playing hurt and had a great game with the game winning goal, an assist and was a +3 for the game.

- A good way to end this post is with another Sebastien Thinel quote from last night, "Most of my career, whenever you are expecting a big game, it never ends up being that way. I  think that was the case tonight."

- No, here is even a better way to end the post for today. The Missouri Mavericks are a great franchise and the over 5000 fans that came out on a Tuesday night to see a make up game is certainly proof. But a hats off to the the marketing department and game operations staff for using the tripping incident between Allen's goalie Mark Guggenberger and Mac the Mavericks mascot to make it a fun entertaining part of the game. It even got coach Steve Martinson's attention who texted me the following, "Got a kick out of how "serious" the collision between the mascot and Guggenberger was. They had a skit that reminded me of talent day in high school. Very funny! They should have paid my fine to have that many fans on a rescheduled Tuesday night. We better not have anymore "bad blood" between these teams or they are going to have to get a bigger rink." Who says Martinson doesn't have a sense of humor.
Mac wearing a newly minted Trip Me, I DareYou T-Shirt

DID YOU KNOW: Alex Lavoie has more points (67) than any rookie has scored in the CHL since Allen entered the league in 2009-2010.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Maiani Returns, Kerbashian & Hendrikx Out on Leave, Game Preview

Back in November when the Americans were on top of the CHL standings and had the league's top power play and penalty kill if you were told at the end of February there will be a makeup game against the leagues best team (Missouri) who happens to have the leagues top power play and penalty kill while Allen will be in fourth place in the standings with a power play and penalty kill rated sixth in the league you would say "not going to happen" but it has. And back in November if you were told the Americans will play this makeup game without Trevor Ludwig, Jarret Lukin, Darryl Bootland, Kale Kerbashian, Trevor Hendrikx, and Dallas Ehrhardt,  you would probably say that will be a tough night for the Americans. Welcome to tonight's game between the Missouri Mavericks and the Allen Americans.

Here is a roster update:

- No surprises on Ludwig, Lukin, Bootland or Ehrhardt with their injuries

- Trevor Hendrikx is on bereavement leave and headed home to attend the funeral of his cousin

- Kale Kerbashain was put on a status "granted leave by the league" yesterday and won't play in the game tonight.

- Bruce Graham will not play tonight.

- All teams have beat up players this time of year but the Americans have a couple of players that would not be playing in the game tonight if the roster was not so depleted. In at least one case it will be a game time decision.

- Eric Levine will be dressed and available to play

- Anthony Maiani was flying to Missouri to met the team and will play in the game tonight.

Add to the mix that Missouri has been sitting at home resting since their game on Saturday and the Americans will have a herculean task tonight. Sometimes in these situation where the odds are stacked against them, teams have great games. Let's hope tonight is one of those nights.

Team comparisons:
                                  Missouri Mavericks           Allen Americans   
RESULT OF LAST GAME               WIN  6-3 vs DEN              WIN  6-2 vs QDC   
GAMES PLAYED                      49                           50                
RECORD                            33-14-2                      28-18-4           
POINTS                            68                           60                
HOME RECORD                       15-7-2                       14-8-3            
AWAY RECORD                       18-7-0                       14-10-1           
SHO RECORD                        2-1                          4-3               
LAST 10 GAMES                     8-2-0                        3-7-0             
LAST 5 GAMES                      4-1-0                        2-3-0             
OCTOBER                           4-0-0                        5-0-1             
NOVEMBER                          8-3-1                        7-6-0             
DECEMBER                          8-4-0                        5-4-1             
JANUARY                           5-5-1                        8-1-2             
FEBRUARY                          8-2-0                        3-7-0                         
SCORING FIRST                     19-4-2                       17-6-3            
LEADING AFTER 1ST                 16-3-0                       12-6-0            
LEADING AFTER 2ND                 24-1-1                       17-2-3            
TIED AFTER 1ST                    9-2-2                        10-4-3            
TIED AFTER 2ND                    6-4-1                        9-4-1             
TRAILING AFTER 1ST                8-9-0                        6-8-1             
TRAILING AFTER 2ND                3-9-0                        2-12-0            
WHEN OUTSHOOTING OPPONENT         17-6-0                       14-10-1           
1 - GOAL GAMES                    11-5-2                       13-3-4            
GOALS FOR PER GAME                3.65                         3.56              
GOALS AGAINST PER GAME            2.76                         3.28              
SHOTS FOR PER GAME                30.57                        33.34             
SHOTS AGAINST PER GAME            31.43                        32.56             
POWER PLAY RECORD                 44 - 193   22.8%             46 - 251   18.3%  
PENALTY KILLING RECORD            27 - 207   87.0%             48 - 270   82.2%  
SH GOALS FOR                      9                            9                 
SH GOALS AGAINST                  4                            7                 
PIM AVERAGE                       15.78                        23.26             

Missouri              50   60   67   2   179    
Opponents             41   41   51   2   135    
Allen                 52   67   54   5   178    
Opponents             49   51   60   4   164


2012-2013 Leading Scorer Anthony Maiani Returns To Allen
- Anthony Maiani led the Americans in scoring last year with 55 points (17 goals 38 assists) but has not played hockey this year. My understanding is this is not a short term fill in deal, he will be signed to a contract for the remainder of the season and will return to Allen with the team. It will be a tough slog for Anthony tonight and he probably would not be playing if not for all of the other issues with the roster. He just returned from a vacation and has not been skating and training on a regular basis.

- Special teams are always important but in the game tonight it will almost certainly be the deciding factor. If the Americans continue the trend of giving to their opponent more power plays than they receive it will spell trouble against the #1 power play in the league.

- The referee for the game tonight is Trevor Harding, a familiar name to the Americans, as he had a couple of tough games at the Allen Event Center early in the season. Update: The CHL has changed the pregame line up to show Boone Bruggman is the assigned referee for the game.

- Scoring the first goal is a good predictor of the outcome of the game as both of these teams have excellent records when scoring the first goal.

- And the Americans don't want to be behind after the second period as Missouri is 24-1-1 when leading after two periods.

- Here is how the CHL described the Missouri vs Allen match up in their "shots from the point" release:
The fourth place Allen Americans (28-18-4) and the first place Missouri Mavericks (33-14-3) meet on Tuesday night in the rescheduled game from a snowed-out affair early in the month.  The two teams are increasingly building a rivalry after last season’s conference finals match-up that Allen won in seven games.  This year, the Mavs have dominated the Americans with four wins in five games and outscoring them 21-12.  The games have been much closer when five-on-five with the Mavs a +7 on special teams (seven power play goals to one and one SHG) and Missouri have pitched in three empty-net goals.  In the previous five games, the teams have combined for 275 penalty minutes (55 combined per game).  On the season, the Americans lead the league averaging 23.3 PIM’s per game and the Mavs are eighth with a 15.8 per game average (combined 39 per game).  Missouri leads Allen by eight points in the standings and Tuesday’s game is the second to last meeting of the season between the two teams (Mar. 7 in Missouri).                       

- After getting his first AHL playing time for the Abbotsford Heat and playing very well (GAA 1.39), Aaron Dell has been returned to the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL).

- For those of you on twitter give new goalie Eric Levine a follow @knobsave. He will most likely inherit the #1 for his jersey number.

DID YOU KNOW: With the two goals Tyler Ludwig scored on Sunday he now holds the Americans single season and career scoring records in all offensive categories for defensemen. He has twice as many career goals and points than any other defensemen in Allen franchise history. The records include:
Single season goals: 15 (2013-2014)
Single season assists: 40 (2012-2013)
Single season points: 51 (2012-2013)
Career goals: 30
Career assists: 86
Career points: 116

Monday, February 24, 2014

Martinson Post Game Comments, Goalie Eric Levine Returns to Allen & More

It was "Faith & Family" night at the Allen Americans and for those that kept the faith through the recent tough times the hockey family gave them a reward in a 6-2 victory over the Quad City Mallards  before an enthusiastic crowd of 4329, topped off with a concert by former American Idol contestant, Jason Castro after the game. The Mallards certainly had an excuse for the loss having played four games in five days all on the road, arriving in Allen at 4:00 am for a 4:00 pm start while Allen had a rare Saturday off. It has been six weeks since the Americans have had a four goal victory where they were in control the entire game which made for a fun game to watch.


- It was so nice to be in the third period and know if the Mallards got a bunch of power plays we would still win the game. It was nice to get a couple of power play goals but it is the same old thing where Quad City is given eight power plays (Allen had five) and when you watch the game you wonder how you can get eight power plays out of that. It is really frustrating when you have a game like that and you just hope you have the offense to overcome all the power plays that they had. I am not going to give up in showing the league video when I think the facts show the wrong call was made. I am not going to wear out on this issue and will keep sending things in even if I don't get a response. If I am reading the tapes wrong I wish the league would educate me on how I am reading them wrong.

- Jamie Schaafsma had a great goal on an individual effort and Bryan Pitton had another great game in goal. He has really stepped up and will be the primary goalie going forward.

- Bruce Graham arrived in town tonight and will be at practice on Monday. Kale Kerbashian didn't make it past the first shift and aggravated an injury he has been dealing with and Phil Fox got dinged up so I may have to activate Graham for the game on Tuesday in Missouri. Will have to see how everyone is at practice.

- Bootland's surgery went well and best case scenario is he will be back in a couple of weeks and we would be lucky if he gets back that quickly. He has to be real careful not to get hit in that spot so we will be cautious.

- The penalty kill was better tonight giving up only one goal in eight opportunities.  I was frustrated with the one goal the Mallards got on the power play because we got out muscled in front of the net  which has been our down fall lately.

- Brian McMillin was great on the penalty kill blocking shots. Brian is really playing some strong hockey the last few weeks and we need his leadership by example. On the goal he scored you could hear Brian yell that he was open and Lessard listened. I have been playing Brian with Lavoie & Lessard to give them a veteran guy that can calm things down in the zone and provide  more defensive play.

- I thought we shot the puck well tonight and we got traffic in front of the net which is something we did not do enough of during the losing streak.

- I am bringing in Eric Levine as the second goalie. He is a rookie that has played well in the SPHL (Peoria). He was in camp with us this year and had a great collegiate career (Robert Morris University). We liked what he did in training camp.

- Bruce Graham will be a big help on the power play. I haven't given much thought to who will play with him on his line. At this point I just hope we have enough bodies to play. I think Hansen might work well with Bruce but I have really never seen Graham play so I will have to practice him and see who he has chemistry with. He can pass but he is also a goal scorer so you want guys on his line that can get him the puck. Fox or Bootland may work well with him but we will have to wait and see.

- Mark Guggenberger was released because for what he was making I was not happy with what he was doing. I tell players all of the time you have to pull your weight and he wasn't getting the job done so it was time to make a change.


- Lots of stars in a 6-2 victory but the official stars were Tyler Ludwig #1 with two goals and an assist, Alex Lavoie #2 with three assists, and Jamie Schaafsma #3 with two goals.

- Tyler Ludwig now leads all CHL defensemen with 15 goals.

- The second goal by Jamie Schaafsma was one for the highlight reel and proves what is always said about him that he can create his own offense. After going through two guys at the blue line with some fancy stick handling and drawing a penalty on the way to the net, almost being dragged down from behind, he somehow got the puck past the goalie. Talked to Jamie after the game and he had his hand on the stick backwards when he score the goal. Great effort!

- Brian McMillin had a goal for the third game in a row and has had the game winning goal in the last two games. He is already in playoff form.

- Jon Zion  had a goal and an assist  to continue his scoring streak which now stands at eight games. He has eleven points (3 goals 8 assists).

- Mentioned in the blog yesterday it would be nice if the referee was in the background and not noticeable during the game given the recent games he has had with Allen. Nothing could be farther from the truth as both coaches were unhappy. Mallard coach, Terry Ruskowski received a game misconduct penalty midway through the second period and Allen ended up on the short end of the penalty calls. For the record the last six times we have had this referee he has given more power plays to the opponents than to Allen. The totals for the six games is 42 power plays for the opponents and 23 power plays for Allen.

- Dallas Stars player Antoine Roussel, who is friends with Alex Lavoie and Jonathan Lessard was at the game last night and tweeted, "Great Game, Great Win, Great Team"

- Aaron Dell got his first AHL start last night for the Abbotsford Heat. Aaron recently signed a PTO with the Heat and had his first AHL action on Saturday when he played 27 minutes in relief and did not allow a goal. He got the start last night and played well, giving up only two goals as his team was shutout by the Chicago Wolves 2-0. So in these two games he has a GAA of 1.39 and save percentage of .929 which should get him more playing time. Congrats to Aaron and Kelly.

- Had a chance to meet Quad City super fan "Quacky" at the game yesterday. She has been with the Mallards on this entire road trip and was ready to get home. An active member of the CHLforums message board and defender of all things Mallard's it was good to put a face with a name.

Goalie Eric Levine Returns to Allen

- Eric Levine was the last goalie cut in training camp this year and has been playing well for the Peoria Rivermen in the SPHL. After losing seven of his first eight games he has gone 10-5 since. His overall record is 11-8-4 with a GAA of 2.70 and save percentage of .912. A sports psychology major in college he uses what he has learned in the classroom in his approach to playing professional hockey. Here is an article from a couple of weeks ago written by Lindsay Kramer from that talks about Eric's journey this year:

The only thing that Syracuse Crunch fill-in goalie Eric Levine is asking of pro hockey is a chance.
And he's pretty liberal with his definition of that word.
The rookie has tasted pro hockey at every significant level of the sport this season.
He went to training camp with Nashville of the NHL last summer. He stopped in to Allen (Texas) of the Central Hockey League and Louisiana of the SPHL this preseason. He's also visited Toledo of the ECHL, Quad City of the CHL and, last weekend, Syracuse of the AHL.
Levine brought his hockey gear to all of those teams, but for all the use it got he might as well have just dressed in a tuxedo. The only place he's actually played this season is with Peoria of the SPHL, where he is 10-7-4 with a 2.72 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.
Yet instead of seeing himself as the player on the outside with his nose pressed against the glass, Levine relishes the opportunity to sit in a wide range of various classrooms.
"It's a double-edged sword. Sitting on the bench is never fun anywhere,'' said Levine, who was returned from Syracuse to Peoria on Sunday. "As a first-year guy, I'm still learning about the game. Every level I've been in, the style of play is different. I've been trying to watch for what adjustments I have to make.
"When I was watching the game in Syracuse, I was trying to imagine how I would play in those situations. You only have one shot as a callup. When I go up there, I don't want it to be a one-and-done type of thing. When you get called up, you are thrown into the mix. I try to have a very functional callup.''
Levine's longest pro stretch came with Syracuse last year. He joined the Crunch as a practice goalie for two months once his career at Robert Morris University ended, but never got into a game.
"It's not going to be a sprint for me. It's going to be a long process,'' he said of his career. "If you make the most of your opportunities, eventually you will get a chance. The worst thing you can do is not be prepared for something. You are kind of paying your dues right now. That's where I'm at. One of these days I will be in a Crunch game and get to show what I can bring.''
Levine is chronicling his journey on an entertaining Twitter feed, @knobsave. He said he took that handle because of he's been known to frustrate teammates in practice with his knack of deflecting shots with that part of his paddle.
"For me, it always seems to pop up,'' he said. "The forwards hate it. They would lose their mind. They would think they should score on me.''

DID YOU KNOW: In the last five months Eric Levine has been part of every professional league in North America: Nashville (NHL), Syracuse (AHL), Toledo (ECHL), Quad City & Allen (CHL) and Peoria (SPHL).

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Guggenberger Waived, Lineup Changes, Mallard Preview & More

In a move that caught many by surprise the Allen Americans waived goalie Mark Guggenberger yesterday. Although his GAA (3.31) and save percentage (.900) have not been on par with his all star performance the last two years the timing of his release says to me there were some other issues involved. I have not talked to anyone associated with the team but this sounds like "unprofessional behavior" might have been a factor in Guggenberger's release. There have been issues with Guggenberger in the past and we all know if coach Martinson says straighten up or else he means it. With the Jason Castro concert after the game today there may not be a press conference to ask for details however I will have a chance to talk to coach Martison after the game even if there is not a press conference. Back goalie for this afternoon will be a player by the name of Thomas Speer.

- There will definitely be some line up changes for the game this afternoon. Dallas Ehrhardt is out with an upper body injury, Garrett Klotz returns from suspension and it is expected Phil Fox will return to the ice. Bryan Pitton will start in goal and of course there will be a new goalie (Speer) on the bench.

- The Americans take on the Quad City Mallards at 4:05 this afternoon at the Allen Event Center (AEC). While the Allen players did not play yesterday and got to sleep in their own beds Quad City beat Wichita last night in Wichita and had to travel to Allen overnight. The Mallards also played on the road Friday losing to Tulsa 4-3 in Tulsa. So advantage Allen from a rest standpoint as this will be a three in three for Quad City with a 4:05 start to boot.

- This will be the first visit to the AEC for the Mallards this year. The teams have played twice this year in Quad City. On February 5th Quad won 5-2 and on February 7th Allen won 5-2.

- Allen & Quad City are tied in the standings for fourth place with 58 points however, the Mallards have two games in hand over the Americans.

- The referee assigned to this game (Jake Brenk) has been causing the coaches fits the last few times the Americans have had him. It is difficult for the players to know what is and isn't a penalty. I have heard similar complaints about Brenk from other teams around the league regarding consistency of calls. Let's hope the referee is not the focal point of the game and he is in the background and not noticed. But as a reminder the last five times the Americans have had Brenk as the referee he has given 34 power play opportunities to the opponents while giving Allen 18.

- Team by team comparison:
                                  Allen Americans            Quad City Mallards  
RESULT OF LAST GAME               WIN  4-3 vs WIC            WIN  4-1 vs WIC     
GAMES PLAYED                      49                         47                  
RECORD                            27-18-4                    25-14-8             
POINTS                            58                         58                  
HOME RECORD                       13-8-3                     14-6-3              
AWAY RECORD                       14-10-1                    11-8-5              
SHO RECORD                        4-3                        2-5                 
LAST 10 GAMES                     2-8-0                      6-4-0               
LAST 5 GAMES                      1-4-0                      2-3-0               
OCTOBER                           5-0-1                      1-1-1               
NOVEMBER                          7-6-0                      6-2-3               
DECEMBER                          5-4-1                      8-3-1               
JANUARY                           8-1-2                      4-3-3               
FEBRUARY                          2-7-0                      6-5-0                             
SCORING FIRST                     16-6-3                     18-4-4              
LEADING AFTER 1ST                 11-6-0                     9-2-1               
LEADING AFTER 2ND                 16-2-3                     15-2-2              
TIED AFTER 1ST                    10-4-3                     13-8-4              
TIED AFTER 2ND                    9-4-1                      6-3-1               
TRAILING AFTER 1ST                6-8-1                      3-4-3               
TRAILING AFTER 2ND                2-12-0                     4-9-5               
WHEN OUTSHOOTING OPPONENT         14-10-1                    13-7-3              
1 - GOAL GAMES                    13-3-4                     10-6-8              
GOALS FOR PER GAME                3.51                       3.34                
GOALS AGAINST PER GAME            3.31                       2.94                
SHOTS FOR PER GAME                33.43                      32.26               
SHOTS AGAINST PER GAME            32.55                      30.94               
POWER PLAY RECORD                 44 - 246   17.9%           34 - 237   14.3%    
PENALTY KILLING RECORD            47 - 262   82.1%           30 - 183   83.6%    
SH GOALS FOR                      9                          7                   
SH GOALS AGAINST                  7                          7                   
PIM AVERAGE                       23.20                      14.43               

- Special teams as usual will most likely make the difference in the game. Allen is rated #6 in the league on both the power play and the penalty kill. Quad City has difficulty on the power play and is ranked #9 in the league at 14.35% but on the road their power play is only 10.9%. If the Americans hold the Mallards scoreless on the power play they will have a good chance of winning the game.

- There were three games in the CHL last night and in each case the team higher in the standings won the game. Missouri beat Denver 6-3 in Denver before a much improved turnout of 3198. Arizona for the second straight night took their game with Rapid City to overtime only to lose 2-1 and Quad City beat Wichita 4-1.

- The one statistic that always amazes me is the CHL leading goal scorer, Garett Bembridge's shots on goal. He has 284 shots on goal which is 75 more shots than anyone else in the league and almost twice as many shots as Allen's leaders in shots, Jonathan Lessard (150) & Alex Lavoie (145).

DID YOU KNOW: Today's game is only the fourth time Quad City has played in Allen in four years.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Streak Snapped, Martinson Post Game Comments, Ehrhardt Injured, Asuchak Sets Shorty Record

Thanks to a third period, game winning, power play, tip in goal by Brian McMillin off a shot from the point by Jon Zion the Americans snapped their franchise record five game losing streak in Wichita last night. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't easy as the Thunder had a two to one shot margin over the Americans (41-20). The Americans headed home to Allen immediately after the game, have a rare Saturday night off and take on the Quad City Mallards Sunday afternoon at 4:05.


- Bryan Pitton played great in goal and that is what you need to get out of the slump we were in. He really stepped up for us and had some big saves.

-  The Kerbashian, Asuchak, and Power line was our best line. They had eight points (3 goals 5 assists) and were a +7.

- The goal Asuchak scored that was waived off clearly went in off his stick but that was only one of a number of questionable calls during the game. In the second period the referee sent off a pair of players from each team while also giving the Thunder a four-on-three man advantage twice. Wichita scored on both 4 on 3 power plays.

- Dallas Ehrhardt got hurt on a play where the referee called both players for roughing when it was obvious the Thunder player should have had the penalty. We will have to see how bad his injury is when we return home.


- Ben Power had two goals and was named the games #1 star. Power is making the most of his opportunity in the CHL. Since his promotion from the Knoxville Ice Bears (SPHL) on Valentines Day he has four points (3 goals 1 assist) in four games.

- Spencer Asuchak had his fourth shorthanded goal of the season at the end of the second period. He now has the franchise record for most shorthanded goals in a season and he leads the CHL in shorthanded goals.

- Happy Birthday to Jonathan Lessard who celebrates his 23rd birthday today.
Birthday Boy

- With his power play assist against Wichita Jon Zion kept his team leading seven game scoring streak alive. He has scored in every game he has played for the Americans and has nine points (2 goals 7 assists) in seven games.

- Allen didn't gain much ground with the victory last night. Missouri lost but all of the other teams at the top of the standings (Denver, Rapid City, Allen, Tulsa, Brampton) won their games.

- Rapid City beat Arizona in a shootout as the Sundogs learned getting in a shootout with the Rush is not advisable. Rapid City is 6-1 on the season. Last night it only took three shooters for Rapid to win as they all scored while Tim Boron stopped all three Sundogs shooters.

- The Americans have had the same referee who did the Wichita game several times recently and five times since the first of the year. In those five games Allen has had 18 power play opportunities while their opponents have had 34 power play opportunities.

- CHL attendance figures continue to lag last years attendance figures by a small amount. In 2012-2013 the CHL average attendance was 3706. After 248 of 330 games the 2013-2014 average attendance is 3529 which is 177 less per game.

DID YOU KNOW: The average attendance by league is:
AHL -   5220
ECHL - 4583
CHL  -   3529
SPHL -  3003

Friday, February 21, 2014

Game Preview, Dell to the AHL, Lavoie Gets CHL Props, Denver vs Missouri for 1st

Seems like everytime there is a game preview I say the game is important and that is sure true for the game tonight. After being in first place earlier this month Allen has lost seven of eight games while league leading Missouri has won seven of eight games including three against the Americans. Allen is now closer to 8th place in the standings and the final playoff spot (5 points) than they are to first place (10 points). With a win in Wichita tonight the Americans could end up three points out of second in the standings and with a loss they could end up in seventh place.

- Allen and Wichita have played five times this season with the Thunder winning three times. The teams split shootout victories back in October with Wichita winning the last two times they have met.

- Here is the team by team comparison:
                                  Wichita Thunder            Allen Americans   
RESULT OF LAST GAME               WIN  4-2 vs BRM            LOSS  3-5 vs DEN  
GAMES PLAYED                      48                         48                
RECORD                            22-22-4                    26-18-4           
POINTS                            48                         56                
HOME RECORD                       9-12-2                     13-8-3            
AWAY RECORD                       13-10-2                    13-10-1           
SHO RECORD                        5-1                        4-3               
LAST 10 GAMES                     6-4-0                      2-8-0             
LAST 5 GAMES                      3-2-0                      0-5-0             
OCTOBER                           1-2-2                      5-0-1             
NOVEMBER                          3-9-2                      7-6-0             
DECEMBER                          7-4-0                      5-4-1             
JANUARY                           7-4-0                      8-1-2             
FEBRUARY                          4-3-0                      1-7-0                          
SCORING FIRST                     10-7-1                     15-6-3            
LEADING AFTER 1ST                 9-5-0                      11-6-0            
LEADING AFTER 2ND                 11-4-1                     16-2-3            
TIED AFTER 1ST                    9-10-1                     9-4-3             
TIED AFTER 2ND                    6-7-2                      8-4-1             
TRAILING AFTER 1ST                4-7-3                      6-8-1             
TRAILING AFTER 2ND                5-11-1                     2-12-0            
WHEN OUTSHOOTING OPPONENT         10-14-2                    14-10-1           
1 - GOAL GAMES                    12-5-4                     12-3-4            
GOALS FOR PER GAME                3.06                       3.50              
GOALS AGAINST PER GAME            3.19                       3.31              
SHOTS FOR PER GAME                30.40                      33.71             
SHOTS AGAINST PER GAME            29.67                      32.38             
POWER PLAY RECORD                 43 - 212   20.3%           43 - 243   17.7%  
PENALTY KILLING RECORD            41 - 201   79.6%           45 - 256   82.4%  
SH GOALS FOR                      4                          8                 
SH GOALS AGAINST                  6                          7                 
PIM AVERAGE                       14.85                      23.27             

Wichita               42   51   47   7   147    
Opponents             37   55   57   4   153    
Allen                 49   62   52   5   168    
Opponents             48   48   59   4   159    

- Both teams have given up more goals in the third period than they have scored so having a lead going into the third period will be crucial. When trailing after the second period Allen's record is 2-12. Allen is 15-6-3 when scoring the first goal of the game.

- If you are looking for a player to have a big game tonight based on the first five games against Wichita it would be Kale Kerbashian. In the five games Kale has had nine points (3 goals 6 assists). Jonathan Lessard leads the team in goals against Wichita with four.

- Three of the four leading scorers for Allen in their last five games (all losses) are defensemen. Zion (6 points), Berube (5 points), Lavoie (4 points), & Ludwig (3 points). This will have to change if the Americans are to be successful.

- Wichita has a losing home record (9-12-2) but many of the losses were earlier in the season. They have won five of their last six home games.

- Special teams will be a key in the game tonight. Allen needs to play physical against a Wichita team that is also physical but the Americans need to avoid penalties. Allen has been having trouble lately killing penalties(72.9%) and the Thunder have one of the better power plays in the league (20.3%).


- The CHL had a nice article about the season Alex Lavoie is having. If you haven't seen it here it is:

It has been quite a rookie season for Allen Americans forward Alex Lavoie who began the year with three goals in his first four games and hasn’t looked back since. The Anjou, Quebec native currently sits eighth in the league overall with 61 points (24-37=61 in 48 games) and is running away with the rookie scoring title sitting 14 points ahead of Tulsa’s Adam Pleskach (29-18=47 in 47 games).
Lavoie has been a big part of the Americans power play with five goals and 14 assists on the man advantage this season.  He also has tallied four game winning goals and is a +8. Consistency has been one of the finer points of the first-year player's game with eight points in six games in October and then double-digit point totals in November, December and January.  He currently has seven points in eight games this month. In January, Lavoie was named the CHL Rookie of the Month after totaling six goals and eight assists and recoding a +12 in 11 games. The Americans have had their ups and downs as a team but Lavoie, mixed in with the veteran the team boasts, could be the right combination for a repeat of last year’s CHL title.

- Aaron Dell signed a PTO (Professional Try Out) contract with the Abbotsford Heat (AHL) yesterday. Not sure of the circumstances of the signing (injury or call up of a Abbotsford goalie) but let's hope Aaron, who has been playing great in Utah (ECHL), gets a chance to play in Abbotsford.

- John Snowden had a goal and assist last night and was named the games #3 star as his Chill team lost in Brampton by a score of 5-4.

-The best matchup in the league this weekend takes place in Denver as the Cutthroats take on the Mavericks twice. They are the top two teams in the standings and they are the two hottest teams in the league. Denver has a five game win streak and Missouri has a four game win streak.

DID YOU KNOW: Bruce Graham has had two 30 goal seasons for the Americans in 2009-2010 (31) & 2010-2011 (34). There has not been a 30 goal scorer since the 2010-2011 season though Alex Lavoie is on pace to score 33 goals this year.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Practice Report, Hansen, Fox, Bootland Injury Update, Graham Schedule, Roster Changes?

Stopped by practice yesterday and it was obvious there is a lot of frustration with how things have been going with the team lately. There is always a different atmosphere around the AEC when the team is not doing well. You get the feeling that the same things are emphasized, talked about, discussed, shown on video, and practiced. What has to happen is taking all of that talk to the ice. You keep hearing cliches like everyone needs to look in the mirror, we need to work harder, you have to dig deeper, everyone has a role to play and they need to fulfill that role, and there is no magic and all we have to do is out work the opponent. The best description I heard was, "all we are missing is the want."

There is no question the Americans have the knowledge, skills, abilities and talent to get this turned around even with a short bench because of injuries. Let's hope the "want" returns this weekend. As has been seen many times with Allen and other teams the difference between a losing streak and a winning streak is a very fine line. It is just a matter of time that the winning streak starts.


Bryan Pitton - there was some concern when Bryan came out of the game in Denver that his injury might keep him out of the lineup but he is fine and practiced yesterday.

Darryl Bootland - Booter will have surgery today to repair the injury to his neck he sustained when he was hit by a helmet. While he will be out a few weeks recovering he should be back for the end of the season and the playoffs. The way Bootland plays the game, this time to heal up and be fresh before playoffs might be a blessing in disguise. Hope all goes well!

Greger Hansen - Greger took part in some of the practice yesterday and his situation is day by day. While there is a chance he plays this weekend it is not certain.

Phil Fox - Phil was a full participant in practice but was still wearing the green jersey which means no contact. Phil will play this weekend if he has no setbacks but not until Sunday.

Jarret Lukin - Lukin was not at practice and there is no time table on his return.


- Bruce Graham (and family) will arrive in Allen early next week. While no decisions have been made the most likely scenario is he will play his first game against Arizona at home on February 28.  Bruce has not played professional hockey this year but he has played in a very competitive senior league at home and should be ready to go when he arrives. It will be great to have the Grahams back in Texas.
London, Whitney, Harper & Bruce Graham return to Texas (This pic from last season in England)

- Remember that the coaches and players agreed to delay the "mid season" break that was scheduled January 13-16 because of the schedule and they had just had the Christmas break. The three day break for the Americans will be March 2-4.

- As was the case last year there are several European players that have indicated interest in coming to Allen after the season is over in Europe. As a reminder the CHL rule only requires a player to play in three regular season games to be playoff eligible. Players could be brought in as late as March 26 and still get three games. Coach Martinson has said his preference is to go with the guys that have been here all year but you can be assured if the team is not playing well in March he has some great players in the wings.

- The keys to success this weekend are nothing new as they have been keys all year. Play physical without taking penalties. The team has to make it more difficult for the referee to call penalties on them. When on the penalty kill do a better job of getting sticks in lanes and pressuring the puck in the right places. On the power play make decisions based on what the other team is trying to do. And the one mantra heard all year is do a better job in front of our net.

- Saw several videos yesterday on penalties that were and were not called in the recent games against Missouri. I have generally stayed out of these type discussions in the past as referee calls tend to be looked at from "where you sit is where you stand" point of view. Have seen several comments on social media and in blogs about how Allen  "gooned it up" and referred to the incident at the end of the last Missouri game as a "line brawl." From what I saw on video this description is way overstated.  The only suspension from the incident was given out for returning to the ice and there was not an instigator penalty given to either team. I am not going to do a tit for tat on each of the last three games but if you were a conspiracy theorist you would be asking why it seems the team that controls the league seems to be getting all of the late game power plays and consistently gets more power play opportunities than the Americans. No, I am not suggesting there is a directive from the league to the officials but it does make you wonder how much animosity exists in the league office against the team that wanted to go to the ECHL and has not bought into the "all teams own the league" concept. And how much does the league want the driving force behind the changes, the team most in control, to be successful. I'll just say there are two sides to every story and the videos I saw makes you wonder how the CHL referee in charge lets the on ice officials and CHL office be so inconsistent.

DID YOU KNOW: In 169 regular season games with the Americans Bruce Graham has averaged 1.27 points per game.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Allen Schedule Advantage, Team Stats Leaders, Player Updates & More

Yesterday was the type of day that makes playing hockey in north Texas rewarding as the team had the opportunity to spend time with friends and family and enjoy the outdoors. Saw many pool pictures posted to social media. I will attend practice today and try and get caught up on everything from injuries to roster changes to on ice issues. In the meantime wanted to share some information on team statistical leaders, the schedule for the rest of the year, updates on former players and other thoughts.

Here are the team leaders 48 games into the season. There are still five players who have played in all 48 games, the ironmen. (Asuchak, Berube, Kerbashian, Lavoie, & Tetrault)

Goals: Lavoie (24), Lessard (19), Kerbashian & Bootland (16)
Assists: Lavoie (37), Kerbashian (31), Schaafsma (23)
Points: Lavoie (61), Kerbashian (47), Lessard (36)
Plus/Minus: Schaafsma (+13), Berube (+10), Bootland (+9)
Penalty Minutes: Klotz (176), Bootland (105), Hendrikx (97)
Power Play Goals: Ludwig (8), Lessard (7), Lavoie & Tetrault (5)
Power Play Assists: Lavoie (14), Kerbashian (12), Ludwig (8)
Shorthanded Goals: Asuchak (3), five tied with one
Game Winning Goals: Kerbashian (5), Lavoie (4)
Shots: Lessard (146), Lavoie (145), Kerbashian (127)
Shooting Percentage: Lavoie (16.6%), Fox (15.6%), Bootland (14.3%)
GAA: Pitton (2.84), Guggenberger (3.31)
Save Percentage: Pitton (.913), Guggenberger (.900)

Here are the players in the top ten in the CHL:

Alex Lavoie: Goals (#6), Assists (#8), Points (#8), Power Play Assists (#8), Shooting Percentage (#9), Rookie Goals (#2), Rookie Assists (#1), Rookie Points (#1), Rookie Plus/Minus (#4), Rookie Power Play Goals (#3), Rookie Power Play Assists (#1), Rookie Game Winning Goals (#2), Rookie Shots (#3), Rookie Shooting Percentage (#1)

Tyler Ludwig: Power Play Goals (#6), Defensemen Goals (#2), Defensemen Assists (#6), Defensemen Points (#5), Defensemen Power Play Goals (#1), Defensemen Game Winning Goals (#1), Defensemen Shots (#7), Defensemen Shooting Percentage (#5)

Spencer Asuchak: Shorthanded Goals (#1), Rookie Goals (#5), Rookie Assists (#6), Rookie Points (#5), Rookie Plus/Minus (#10), Rookie Shorthanded Goals (#1), Rookie Penalty Minutes (#8), Rookie Power Play Assists (#8)

Garrett Klotz: Penalty Minutes (#1)

Daniel Tetrault: Defensemen Power Play Goals (#3), Defensemen Shots (#5), Defensemen Game Winning Goals (#1)

Jonathan Lessard: Power Play Goals (#8) 

Kale Kerbashian: Game Winning Goals (#4)

Darryl Bootland: Penalty Minutes (#10)

Trevor Hendrikx: Defensemen Penalty Minutes (#8)

Mike Berube: Defensemen Shooting Percentage (#3)


-There is some interesting information when you look at the schedule for the rest of the regular season. Allen has 19 games remaining (10 away & 9 home). They play 10 of the remaining 19 games in a sixteen day period (March 14-March 29) and 6 of the last 7 games are at home. Here are the 19 games by team:

Missouri - 2 (away)
Tulsa - 1 (away)
Quad City - 2 (home)
Arizona - 2 (home)
Rapid City - 2 (away)
Wichita - 2 (away) 1 (home)
Denver - 1 (away) 2 (home)
St. Charles - 2 (away) 2 (home)

 -Based on the current standings the games at the end of the season will be important for playoff seedings. Remember, the top four teams get home ice advantage for the first round. Here is the schedule for the last 10 days of the season.
March 19 - Wichita (home)
March 21 - St. Charles (home)
March 22 - St. Charles (home)
March 23 - Wichita (away)
March 26 - Quad City (home)
March 28 - Denver (home)
March 29 - Denver (home)


Adam Pineault - Talked to Monique Pineault yesterday and Adam is still recovering from a shattered jaw he suffered when hit by a puck in early December. He had a recent setback as when they removed the wire from his jaw they found five teeth that were cracked at the root just above the nerve so they had to be extracted and a bone graft put in. He has had two surgeries in the last couple of weeks. It will still be a few weeks before he can play.

Aaron Dell - Aaron continues to play well for the Utah Grizzlies. His record is 14-6 with a GAA of 2.06 and save percentage of .922. He has had two shutouts and four one goal games. His GAA ranks him third in the 21 team ECHL.

Charles Lachance - He had an impressive training camp but got caught up in a numbers game and was released after playing only three games for the Americans. After a stint in the SPHL he was signed by St. Charles and has five points (2 goals 3 assists) in 14 games for the Chill.

Corey Tamblyn - Tamblyn was also a player that unexpectedly made the team with a great training camp. He bacame a crowd favorite on the checking line and his work on the penalty kill unit that led the league the first month of the season. Tamblyn was released the end of November and has been playing in the SPHL for the Fayetteville FireAntz.

Bruce Graham - Bruce was signed and placed on the seven day injured reserve effective yesterday (2/18) so he will not be playing in any games this weekend. Bruce will be wearing his familiar #21 so Garrett Klotz switches to #25.

- In other transactions Greger Hansen was activated from injured reserve and Daniel Barnes was waived.

DID YOU KNOW: Mike Berube already has more goals (4) and more points (18) than he has had in any season since becoming a professional hockey player.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Good News (Graham Is Back), Bad News (5th Straight Loss) & Keep The Faith!

Finally have arrived home from a great trip to Easter Island and Patagonia visiting glaciers and seeing whales, penguins, seals & dolphins. Also visited the southern most city in the world (Ushuaia, Argentina) and went to Cape Horn, the southern most point in South America. Thanks to everyone for the kind words welcoming me home on Twitter, Facebook, email, & text messages.

Would have never guessed the Americans would go 1-8 while I was gone as they were 10-0-2 the day I left. The bleeding continued last night with a 5-3 loss in Denver as the Cutthroats scored two first period Jean-Phillip Chabot goals and the Americans could never catch up.

Bruce (with daughter Harper) won the EIHL championship last year in Nottingham, England

The good news of the day was the announcement that Bruce Graham has been signed for the remainder of the season and the playoffs. When you talk Allen Americans all time greats all you have to do is look at career offensive statistics to get your answer. Bruce Graham is the all time leader in goals, assists, points, power play goals, game winning goals and plus/minus. One area Coach Martinson mentioned he is looking for help from Graham is strength on the wall on the power play. Bruce led the Americans in power play points every season he played in Allen (2009-2012). Bruce has not played professional hockey this year and it is still not certain when he will report to the team. Tommy Daniels mentioned on his broadcast last night that Bruce will not be here for the Wichita game on Friday. Last year Bruce played for the Nottingham Panthers in the EIHL which is the top league in Great Britain. The playoffs in Great Britain are a bit confusing as they are quite different than in North America. There are three different championships in the EIHL and Nottingham won all three last year, a feat that is rarely accomplished.

Last year Bruce Graham (center back without the hat) won all three championships the EIHL plays for each season


- Whenever things are not going well special teams usually play a big role. During this 1-8 streak the power play is 5-34 (14.7%) while the penalty kill has given up 13 goals in 48 attempts for a kill percentage of 72.9%.

-  Here is a look at special teams and how they have declined over the season. The numbers in parentheses is the rank in the CHL:
                          Power Play        Penalty Kill
November 1       21.6% (1)           95.1% (1)
December 20     19.2% (3)            85.7% (2)
January 20         18.5% (4)            85.7% (3)
February 18       17.7% (6)            82.4% (6)
Last 9 games      14.6% (8)           72.9% (10)

- The power play has only two goals in the last five games going 2-17 (11.8%). Jon Zion has one of the goals and assisted on the other (Brian McMillin had the goal).

- You often hear coach Martinson say you can be physical without taking penalties. This has not been the case recently.  When your penalty kill unit is struggling penalties are a game changer. In the last seven games Allen has had 24 power play opportunities while their opponents have had 39 opportunites.

- During this 1-8 streak Allen has allowed an average of 4.55 goals per game while scoring only 2.78 goals per game. Compare these numbers to averages for the season where Allen has allowed an average of 3.3 goals per game while scoring 3.5 goals per game.

- Obviously injuries have had a big impact. Early in the season Allen had very few games lost to injury. That has certainly caught up with the team recently. In addition to Trevor Ludwig being out for the season and Jarret Lukin being out since the end of November, Allen has recently lost Darryl Bootland, Greger Hansen, Phil Fox, and Tyler Ludwig (since returned). Add Bryan Pitton to the list as he was injured in the game last night and was replaced by Mark Guggenberger in the third period. Injuries are part of the game and every team has them and as Coach Martinson has said to me many times injuries aren't an excuse, you have to find a way to win with the guys on the ice.

- Not sure if this is good news or bad news but the two leading scorers for Allen in the last five games are both defensemen. John  Zion, who has scored in all six games he has played for Allen, has six points (2 goals 5 assists) and Mike Berube has five points (1 goal 4 assists).

- The team headed home to Allen after the game in Denver and will arrive this morning (Tuesday). They will leave again Thursday for the Friday game in Wichita.

- Rapid City beat St. Charles last night 5-1 to break a six game losing streak. The Rush had lost 9 of 10 games going into last night.

- Remember both Rapid City and Allen are great teams going through a bad stretch but they have plenty of opportunity to get back on the winning track. While a team is highly unlikely to merely "turn it on" come playoff time it will be the teams playing well in March that will be the most dangerous in the playoffs. With the addition of Jon Zion and Bruce Graham to improve the power play, if Jarret Lukin can get back in the lineup to help on the penalty kill and defensively, if Darryl Bootland can be Darryl Bootland again, and if Phil Fox and Greger Hansen can be healthy and the scoring weapons they can be, Allen will be ready for a run in the playoffs. Add a hot goalie to the mix and you have a recipe for another championship run. Keep the Faith!

- Remember it was just over a year ago from mid January to mid February the eventual Presidents' Cup winners won only two games while losing eleven. Keep the Faith!

- Remember the big signing last year (Todd Robinson) didn't happen until March 17th. We have Bruce Graham a month earlier. Keep the Faith!

- Steve Martinson has won seven championships and has failed to make the playoffs only once in his coaching career. The year he missed the playoffs he had six players called up to the AHL and six players had season ending injuries. In addition the team was going out of business at the end of the season. Keep the Faith!

- Knowing Steve Martinson, additional roster changes are still in the works. Another big name signing from Europe could still happen. Keep the Faith!

DID YOU KNOW: The Americans have given up an empty net goal in their last six losses.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Allen Wins - You Will Walk Together Forever

While I am on vacation (will return February 18) posting some of what I call "Best Of Allen Americans Blog" that maybe you missed when first posted or might enjoy rereading. This was originally posted May 12, 2013, the morning after the championship game, and was the most fun post I have ever written. Probably doesn't do a good job of capturing the excitement and emotion of the evening but if you were there it will bring back memories for sure.

THE CHAMPS - photo by

As I was leaving the Allen Event Center (AEC) last night I ran into Americans owner, Doug Miller, walking all by himself towards the parking ramp and of course congratulated him and thanked him for bringing hockey to Allen. He said to me what I heard all over the AEC after the game, "you couldn't write a script any better than this." So the script for our fictional hockey movie would go something like this: the team (Allen Americans has a nice ring) loses game six on the road to force a game seven at home, then let's have the visiting team (let's call them Wichita Thunder) take a 2-0 lead into the third period. We will have the only player remaining from the last time the Americans went to the finals in 2010 (Jarret Lukin) score a goal around the seven minute mark of the third period, then when the crowd is starting to think the home team is going to lose we will have a late season replacement who played for the team last year but left for a rival league (ECHL) but came back (Trevor Hendrikx) score a goal to tie the game 2-2 with around two minutes left. And then for more drama we will have the game go into overtime. In overtime we will have one of the top 20 scorers in minor league hockey history (Todd Robinson) who has gotten permission to leave his last place team (Evansville Icemen of the rival ECHL), where he was the captain,  to join the first place Americans for the playoff run, score the winning goal. And then let's have the hero and Playoff MVP (Brian McMillin) be a kid from hockey crazy Minnesota, who could have gone to Yale but chose the powerful Western Collegiate Hockey Association (Colorado College) where he earns a 3.74 GPA, has a beautiful wife who also played division one hockey, has to fight for ice time early in the year and then has something magic happen in the playoffs. This McMillin character will score 12 goals in the playoffs after scoring only 15 goals in 58 games in the regular season.

Our script probably gets rejected as being unrealistic but we know dreams do come true and they did last night as the Americans won the Central Hockey League championship in dramatic fashion, 3-2 in overtime, before a sell out crowd of 6125 at the AEC.

I have so many thoughts about the game, the team, the coach, the fans and the season that this will be a long rambling post so I ask for forgiveness up front. I will save all of my thanks yous for another post I will do tomorrow. Here goes:

- To the Thunder team a heartfelt congratulations on an outstanding year. To be so close to the championship this year after losing in the finals last year must be difficult but as you are able to reflect on the year it was a great one. I also want to give a shout out to all of the Wichita fans who came to Allen for the game last night. Wichita is a great franchise with a great fan base.

- In the odd stat category the best thing that happened last night was for Wichita to score the first goal as the team that scored the first goal lost the last four games of the series.

- It was such an unreal feeling in the AEC as the game ended with all of the excitement but I also sensed the pride that was running through the fans. I think everyone felt part of the team at that moment. It was quite special.

- As much as I enjoyed watching the players celebrate on the ice it was also great to see how excited the rest of the staff was, like equipment manager Kacee Coberly, trainer Jason Wallace, bus driver Scott Alexander, front office staff  Tom, Rob, Robert, Drew,  Samantha, and Sean to name a few.

- It was also great to see all of the wives, girlfriends, friends and particularly family celebrate with the guys. I saw tears of joy 30 minutes after the game was over. How special for all of them!

- Jarret Lukin who won his first championship had this to say, "This is just insane,"I've never won a championship before ... and man ... it's just amazing."

- Brian McMillin also won his first championship. "Obviously this is something special," McMillin said. "I don't ... I don't even know if I can really explain it."

- And what a nice end of career for captain Jason Deitsch to go out with another championship.

- "It's so great that we could do this at home and give that extra something special to the fans," said Trevor Hendrikx.

- Even for veterans like Nicole & Jamie Schaafsma who have made it to the championship game for the last five years you could see the excitement. They had a babysitter for the kids so they could celebrate the victory.

-Mike Montgomery and his girlfriend (Ashley) are anxious to get back home to Minnesota. They met in college and celebrated together in 2011 when Mike, as captain, led the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs to their first NCAA hockey championship after 50 years of hockey. I guess the four year wait for the CHL championship isn't so bad. Mike now has the trifecta as he scored the only goal as his high school team won the Minnesota state championship in 2004, he won the NCAA collegiate championship in 2011 and now has his first pro championship in 2013.

- How great was it for Bill "Macker" McDonald to be given the honor of dropping the ceremonial puck last night. Macker had as much to do with the success of this team over the past four years as anyone as his fingerprints are all over this team. And what a great send off to Macker to win yet another championship as he heads back home to Thunder Bay as head coach of the Lakehead University hockey team. Macker, you will be missed.

- How about the story of Brian McMillin and his selection as MVP of the 2013 CHL playoffs. I know I write a lot about Brian on this blog as some have even suggested we must be related. Though we are both from Minnesota we are not related even though I tell him I am his Texas Grandpa. I have had a chance to meet all of his relatives and they are all salt of the earth great folks from northern Minnesota. His dad, Harley and I have become friends but we talk hunting and fishing as much as hockey.  And all you have to do to appreciate what a great support his wife Wendy is to him is read the story I did about her (check the archives for Wendy McMillin - Hockey Wife - Sports Star dated 1/20/13).

For the record Brian had 12 goals in the playoffs while the next closest competitor had 9, he ranked second in points with 20, fourth in +/- with +8, first in game winning goals with 3 including the game winning goal in games 2 and 4 of the finals. Deserving recognition for a young man who is respected by his teammates, the coaching staff, the front office and the fans.

Playoff MVP Brian McMillin photo by
Coach Martinson was kind enough to take some time from the celebration to come into the season ticket holder lounge after the game and share his thoughts. It was great to see this old school, nose to the grindstone, grizzled veteran of many battles both as a player and a coach with a big smile on his face. He knows what works as a coach and he lives and dies with his approach which is definitely old school. As he has said many times I stay out of the players locker room,  I expect them to do the right thing, I am not a babysitter, I don't spend time with the players on the bus, I don't eat with the players, I have enough friends so I don't need the players to be my friend. I'm sure the championship means a lot to Steve and it should also answer any of the skeptics as well. This guy is a winner and he knows how to coach. Here are a few of the comments from Martinson:

- What a third period and OT. I was thinking going into overtime I was going to see a goal that hit the net. I had that vision in my head I was going to see the net move. And when I saw the net blow out on that slap shot it was unbelievable. Richard (Matvichuk) who weighs about 230 pounds began shaking me and my neck was flopping around and I had to tell him to stop shaking me.

- I hated the first period as we had another crappy first. However, our players were so positive in the locker room even after the second period, nobody had their heads down, the just kept saying we have to get pucks to the net.

- Percentages paid off for us tonight as we had lots of shots in the second period even though we didn't score. Traffic, deep pucks, and pucks to the net will eventually pay off and it did on both goals in the third period.

- A great comeback for the guys. We talked about how we have come back from behind before and the guys just believed in themselves.

- What a great crowd and it really helped us tonight. Momentum is such a big part of hockey and the crowd helped the guys keep going.

- Wichita lost a forward to a broken jaw (Hanson) in game 6 and moved a defenseman up to forward so they were playing with only five defensemen. We were not waiting for last change, we told our guys to get up to the faceoff quickly and don't give the Thunder any time to rest. When you play at such a high level and fast pace it is difficult to go with five defensemen.

- I have never had a team that has lost a game seven in the finals. This is the first to go to overtime. Our approach in overtime was to keep a guy high and emphasize we don't need to gamble. We don't need to have a hero mentality in overtime. Just do all the little things and that will make something happen.

- Everyone on this team, including the injured guys, contributed to this championship. Different guys throughout the series made plays, young guys, veterans, those that had lots of ice time and those that didn't. Drew Daniels has played great the last few games and his speed opened some things up in the second period. Montgomery stepped up and rushed the puck as well.

- I talked to Scott Howes on the ice right after the game and all of his goals early in the year helped us be in first place and have a winning attitude which helped us attract good players who wanted to come to a first place team. It was nice to see Ryley Grantham come back for the game tonight and Brett Skinner (who is still playing in the AHL playoffs) sent me a message.

- I am happy for Brian McMillin being selected MVP. His perseverance and work ethic has really paid off for him.  He doesn't complain, he works hard and quietly goes about his business. He is a great example for others.


I want to end this post with something I did over the last couple of weeks. I interviewed every player and asked them what they were planning to do over the summer. I am sure some plans might have changed based on injuries and winning the championship but it will give you an idea of how the guys will be spending their summer. As fun and exciting it is to win the Presidents' Cup it comes with the realization that the makeup of the team will be different next year and many of these players will not return which has a sad component to it, but that is a story for another day.

Thanks to all of the players who shared their plans with me:

Anthony Maiani - I will be heading home to Shelby Township, Michigan to spend time with my friends and family. I will help out with the family catering business. Around mid July I will head over to the University of Denver where I live with and train with some other Denver alums including Tyler Bozak who plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Patrick Mullen who was with the Manchester Monarchs and is now with the Chicago Wolves (AHL). We will train with some other guys at the University and will take a trip to Las Vegas and have a golfing trip somewhere as well.

Mike Montgomery - I will head back to Minnesota to spend some time with my family. My family has a cabin in Wisconsin so we spend time at the cabin on weekends. I will be working this summer but don't know where yet. My girlfriend (Ashley) will be working at a golf course so hope I can play a lot of free golf. I will take some time off from training but will hook up with some friends from college to train in Minneapolis and will also go to the University of Minnesota Duluth (alma mater) to train.

Jamie Schaafsma - We will head back home to Chatham, Ontario as we just bought a house last summer. It is close to my parents as well as Nicole's parents so lots of time for our two little ones to spend time with grandparents. I work part time at a group home for 13-17 years old kids who can't find a foster home and are in the custody of the state. My brother just started a security business installing security alarms and security cameras so I might help him out. I will play some softball and will work out at Athletes' Fuel Strength & Conditioning which is a relatively new company where a lot of hockey players train. They really know their stuff and the training is very intense. We will rent a cottage for a week with some friends and that will be our vacation for the year.

Drew Daniels - I will be heading to Boston (Northeastern University) along with my brother to attend summer school. I am 24 credits short of graduating since we left school a year early so I will be working on my degree. I will only have class three days a week so I will try and find something to do for work on a part time basis. I had an internship on Wall Street so would like to find something in the financial district. I will train with my brother as well as other former teammates from Northeastern. I might take a vacation at the end of summer but nothing definite at this point.

Darryl Bootland - I have grown to love the Allen/McKinney area so much I am sticking around for the summer. My wife (Sarah) is from a small town north of Conroe and we will spend some vacation time down there. I will be working for Mike Holum at Other Side Landscaping. As for working out and training when I was younger I would take of a month or two after the season ended but now I take a couple of weeks off and then I will be right back at it working out at Cooper Clinic. I will play summer league hockey and will also play softball.

Garrett Clarke - I will be staying in the area for the summer so I can be with my girlfriend, former Ice Angel, Danielle,  and hope to work for Mike Holum at Other Side Landscaping. I will work out at Cooper Fitness with the other guys staying for the summer and will also play summer league hockey as well as some softball. My sister is having a baby in June so I will go home for a visit then. I also hope to work on my golf game this summer.

Corbin Baldwin - I plan on going home to Winnipeg and get a job. The last four years I have worked for a cemetery but I am hoping to get a job at a golf course. I love to play golf so that would be ideal. I have a buddy getting married so I might go to Northern Alberta (Peace River) for that. I usually work out on my own but had an opportunity to work out with a trainer thru the Minnesota/Houston organizations but I am not sure if I will have that opportunity this year. I will play in a hockey league just for fun with my buddies, I play some pick up basketball, and I also play in a softball league. I love to fish and go almost every night.

Aaron Dell - Kelly and I will spend some time visiting her parents in Clearwater, MN relaxing and recuperating from the long season. We will then head up to my hometown (Airdrie) just north of Calgary, Alberta where we will stay the summer. I train with with some friends from back home. My brother has a summer hockey team and I sometimes fill in. I like to play golf and fish so hope to do plenty of both this summer.

Todd Robinson - This summer will be a little different than normal as I usually work for a hockey team. Not knowing what is going to happen next year I will be living this summer in Muskegon, MI where we have a home even though we haven't been there for five years. I have a few opportunities for work but not sure yet what I will be doing but I will definitely be working. Having played for so long I know what works best for me and I will take a month off and then start training. I won't skate until the end of August. After fourteen years it is important to give my body plenty of time to heal. With small children it is also an opportunity to spend time with them during the summer. I coached my seven year old daughter's soccer team last year and may do that again. My four year old son may also be involved in some sport.  As for vacations we have nothing planned but may make a visit to British Colombia. I enjoy golf and hope to play some this summer.

Jarret Lukin - I will head make home to Calgary, Alberta for the summer. I have worked the past few summers coaching and helping out at hockey camps and will continue that this year. I will probably work out with Sean Hope-Ross who has been working with me for twelve years. He is at a new gym this summer so not exactly sure how it will work out. I don't like to play too much hockey in the summer so I am usually a fill in. I will definitely play some golf especially with my dad and will also play some tennis. I will see Colton Yellow Horn as I did last year and do a little ranch work and play in a golf tournament with him. I will also attend the Calgary Stampede.

Mike Berube - We will be heading home to Edmonton, Alberta and I will work with my brother and dad who own a kitchen cabinet company. I have done this for the last five years. I'll take off a couple of weeks to rest my body. My brother is getting married the end of May in Palm Springs so we will go there and enjoy some time off and then come home and get to work. I will work out with a long time friend.  I do play some summer hockey just for fun with my brothers in law, brother and dad and I play in a charity softball game every summer. I also play a lot of golf. We plan on visiting Adam and Monique Pineault in Florida and spend some time with them.

Jim McKenzie - Usually I head back to Minnesota (Woodbury) and spend the summer with family and friends. I am still waiting to see what is going to happen. I may stay around Texas a while after the season. I usually work in landscaping so may do that again for a summer job. I have a buddy getting married and will be going to a bachelor party in Las Vegas in mid June but no other vacation plans at this time. I love to fish so will be going fishing (walleye & crappie) as much as possible when I am in Minnesota. I will also play some golf. I work out with a group of friends in Minnesota.

Kale Kerbashian - Hopefully we will be celebrating a championship here in Allen and I will stick around for that but I will head back to Thunder Bay for the summer. I will only take a week off and will do my cardio work but I won't do any heavy lifting for a month or so. I am not sure if I will work this summer or not. If an opportunity comes along I will work. We have a cabin so I will spend some time at the cabin doing some wake boarding and will also play some golf. I usually train with some NHL guys (Staal brothers) who work with a trainer named Steve Bailot who does a great job.

Trevor Ludwig - We live in McKinney in the off season so we will be staying in the area. I'll take two weeks off to give my body a rest and will start working out at Cooper Fitness taking it easy at first and then getting more into it. I do play in a summer hockey league with a couple of buddies as well as some junior league guys, some college guys. I also play on a slow pitch softball team in the summer as well as play lots of golf. With more guys sticking around this summer our hockey and softball team will have me, Tyler, McMillin, Clarke, Deitsch, Bootland, and we are trying to get my dad and Matvichuk to come out and play some softball with us. The whole family will spend some time in Wisconsin (Rhinelander & Eagle River)) for a vacation visiting with relatives, spending time at the lake on a pontoon boat relaxing and fishing.

Steve Silverthorn - I will be staying in the area as my wife works here and we are also expecting a baby this summer. I might take a week off but I love being in the gym so I will get back at it quickly. I do like to get away from the rink in terms of playing so will not do any of that until later in the summer. I will help with some youth hockey programs at the AEC during the summer. I will play a little golf and we might take a trip home (Owen Sound, Ontario) before the baby arrives and I will do some fishing. I love fishing.

Jason Deitsch - Everything is on hold for me until I hear about a position with the Fort Worth Fire Department I have applied for. The training has been delayed a couple of times and no new date for the class has been announced. After taking some time off I will train as if I am playing hockey again in the fall. I will play hockey in a summer league with the Ludwig's and will also play some golf. A friend of mine who plays for the Toronto Maple leafs is getting married in Colorado and I hope to go to his wedding if our schedule works out.

Adam Pineault - We will be at our home in New Smyrna, Florida enjoying the summer. My mother will be visiting for three weeks the end of May so we look forward to spending some time with her. I have two trainers that I will start working out with the first of June. I spend Monday, Wednesday & Friday in the gym. On Tuesday and Thursday I do a beach workout. Mike & Chantal Berube will be coming down for a visit the middle of June so we look forward to a little trip with them. Monique still has to go to her doctor appointments in Tampa every month so we will be staying close to home for the summer. I will hopefully be playing plenty of golf.

Brian McMillin - I'm not sure where I will be spending the summer for sure as plans are still up in the air. I will start light workouts at Cooper Clinic after taking a week or so off. We have no specific vacation plans yet but I am sure I will spend some time back home in Roseau, Minnesota. If I am in the area I will play summer league hockey with the Ludwig's team or with Belfour's team. I might also play some softball and as always lots of golf.

Chris Doyle - I will spend some time in the area before heading home to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island for the summer. I will take a short amount of time off and then start working out. I may take a couple of trips to visit friend in Western Canada but nothing is firmed up yet. I will play some hockey and softball and hopefully get in a lot of golf.

Trevor Hendrikx - I will be spending the summer with my girlfriend (Cassie) in Los Angeles, I'll give my body some time to heal and then start working out but take it slow at first. My golf game is not very good so I don't play much golf. We might take a vacation but nothing planned yet. Anywhere warm with sand and beaches will do.

Tyler Ludwig - I need to find a job but don't have anything lined up yet. I will take some time off and then start working out at Cooper Fitness but not too much too fast. I will play hockey with my brother and some other players that stay for the summer and we will also play in a softball league. Matvichuk is going to play and we are trying to get my dad out but he has not committed yet. We will take a vacation to Wisconsin to visit family and spend time at the lake. The most important thing is to spend time with our six month old daughter (Sydney).