Thursday, March 13, 2014

Big Road Trip Begins, Bootland & Ehrhardt Activated, Tulsa's Ben Gordon Story & More

- The Allen Americans left yesterday afternoon on the long trip to Rapid City where the will play the Rush on Friday and Saturday. They will arrive this morning (Thursday) around 9:00 am after the over 1000 mile, 18 hour bus ride. Saturday night after the game the team will travel to Denver where they will play their third game in three days Sunday afternoon (4:00 MDT). When they head home to Allen after the Sunday game a lot will be known whether this team has a legitimate shot at finishing second in the CHL standings or whether they will be fighting to stay in fourth place and have home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. 

- Allen (68 points) currently trails Rapid City and Denver (74 points), who are tied for second place in the standings, by six points. Allen currently has a four point lead over Brampton and Quad City (64 points) who are tied for fifth place in the standings. If Allen doesn't get at least four points this weekend the battle for second place will turn into a battle for fourth place.

- Darryl Bootland and Dallas Ehrhardt are traveling with the team and will be activated for the game Friday night. Jon Zion is also on the trip and his status is day to day. Those players not on the trip include Trevor Hendrikx, Kale Kerbashian, Garrett Klotz, and Jarret Lukin. Other than Hendrikx who was placed on the 30 day IR effective March 1st the others should be ready to play when the Americans start their next homestand on March 19.

- The probable lines for Friday night are Graham-Fox-Hanson, Lavoie-Lessard-McMillin and Asuchak-Maiani-Bootland. 

- There were some rumors on the message boards that Ben Power, who was claimed off waivers by Rapid City, was hitching a ride to Rapid City on the Allen team bus. Not true as Power flew to Rapid City yesterday and should be in the line up for the Rush Friday night.

- Noticed defenseman, Erik Spady, was waived by the Brampton Beast yesterday. Spady played for the Brahmas with Ross Rouleau and  Phil Fox. He was also teammates with Fox and Greger Hanson for four years when the all played for Northern Michigan University. Wonder if the Americans would have any interest in Spady to help a banged up defense? Coach Martinson has been talking for some time at the season ticket holder's press conferences after home games that he has some defensemen in Europe that might come to Allen after their playoffs are completed. Wonder if any help might be coming from Europe?

- Allen and Rapid City have played four times this year with all game being played in Allen. The Rush won twice in early December and the Americans won twice in early January.

- The Americans head into the weekend against two teams that are playing great hockey. Rapid City has won four of their last five games with the only loss a shootout loss against Missouri on Tuesday. Denver has a six game win streak including their last four games on the road. Denver has been the best team in the league since the return of AJ Gale from a long term AHL assignment.

- Found the article below written by Charlie Hannema of about Tulsa Oiler forward Ben Gordon. It is interesting to me for several reasons as Gordon is Tulsa's leading scorer and a candidate for the CHL MVP this year, he is an example of how teammates help recruit players, he is from International Falls, Minnesota which is a town I visit each spring on my way to Canada fishing, and his roommate on the road is his brother in law.

TULSA, Oklahoma -
As the Tulsa Oilers push for the playoffs, Ben Gordon is leading the way.
"He can think the game a lot better than most guys," Oilers forward Drew Fisher said. "He's so shifty and deceptive, he just knows how to make those D-men miss."
Gordon is the Central Hockey League's player of the month, and is third in the league in scoring. He learned to skate about the same time he learned to walk.
"I think right around my first birthday my parents put me on skates," explained Gordon. "I don't think I skated necessarily, just kind of walked on them, but I think I started playing organized hockey around 3? Somewhere around there."
Gordon grew up in International Falls, Minnesota--a slap shot south of the Canadian border, where hockey season is the only thing longer than winter.
"Football's the big thing down here, kids start pretty early, back home, we start playing hockey pretty early," Gordon said.
If it weren't for Gordon's roots in International Falls, he might not be here in Tulsa. Oilers players Drew Fisher and Ryan Cramer grew up with Gordon, and helped recruit him to join the team.
"They just kind of contacted me and Coach Ramsay contacted me and kind of got the ball rolling, and it seemed like a good fit," Gordon said.
Teammates aren't the only International Falls connection to Tulsa.
Gordon's sister, Jena Fisher, is married to teammate Drew Fisher.
"He didn't ask me, he doesn't have to ask for my permission, anyway," Gordon said. "As you can see, he's a lot bigger than me, so there's not much I could really do about it anyway."
"They go back before Drew and I were dating, they played hockey at the University of Minnesota, they were road roommates before he became my husband," said Jena Fisher. "To this day they're still road roommates, and Drew has to put up with him whether he likes it or not."
After a standout college career, Gordon chased his dream of playing in the National Hockey League. Now 29 years old, he's focused on finishing his career surrounded by family.
"I wanted to find a place where I could be happy, I could be stable, I knew that I wasn't going to go anywhere," Gordon explained. "Tulsa seemed like the place to do that, so I'm very happy."
Happy playing hockey, even if it's 1,000 miles from home.

DID YOU KNOW: Rapid City Rush Head Coach Joe Ferras became just the fourth person to coach in 700 CHL games on Tuesday night in his team’s 5-4 shootout loss in Missouri.  Ferras joins Doug Sauter (918 games), Terry Ruskowski (760 games) and Scott Muscutt (729 games) in the 700-game club. Ferras is from Brantford, Ontario the same hometown as Wayne Gretzky.

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