Thursday, March 20, 2014

Martinson Post Game Comments, Lavoie Recalled, Fox & Hanson Attaboys, New Web Site, Awards

Allen beat Wichita last night 6-3 in a game that was much closer than the final score indicates. The Americans had two empty net goals (Hanson & Lavoie) to send the 3422 fans at the Allen Event Center home in a good mood. Jamie Schaafsma had the first two goals of the game including one on the power play, Tyler Ludwig had got his eleventh power play goal of the season and Bruce Graham had the game winner on the prettiest play of the game as he stole the puck in the neutral zone and scored unassisted.


- Our power play has been excellent over the last couple of weeks and we were able to get a couple of power play goals tonight. 

- Bruce Graham continues to do well. I still don't think he is clicking on all cylinders yet but he is getting close. He had a great burst of speed when he stole the puck for that breakaway and he has helped our power play.

- Jamie Schaafsma is playing great hockey no matter where he is playing. We didn't use him at defense tonight but if we get Klotz and Bootland back in the lineup we will move Jamie back to defense since we have three games in three nights. Jamie has been really good on the point on the power play.

- I didn't see the last Wichita goal as I was looking down to set up the next line and when I looked up it was going in the net. I have to look at the video to see what happened but there were two faceoffs where we were not very good and that will hurt you.

- We had a very good first period and then we came out in the second period and thought it was going to be easy. We started turning pucks over and Wichita out shot us something like 9-0 in the first half of the second period. It shows you how if you don't get pucks deep, if you turn the puck over at the blue line trying to do too much it will cost you.

- Alex Lavoie scored an empty net goal there at the end of the game but he struggled during the game a bit. He is going to play for Oklahoma City (AHL) for a couple of games this weekend. They play the Texas Stars in Austin Friday and Saturday. With all of the things going through his mind about playing for Oklahoma City Friday night I think he was trying to do too much on the ice tonight. Alex hadn't had a goal in twelve games so I purposely put him out there when we had a two goal lead hoping Wichita would pull the goalie and Alex could get a goal and kickstart himself. He has a great opportunity with Oklahoma City this weekend and he deserves that opportunity.

- Lavoie will be in Austin with Oklahoma on Friday and Saturday and then we will look at getting him to Wichita for our game on Sunday. Oklahoma has some suspensions and injuries so I think this call up will only be for two games. This all just happened this afternoon so I am not certain how all of the logistic and timing will work out.  Alex's dad is in town so this will be a great opportunity for him to see Alex play.

- Jon Zion tried to play tonight and he probably should not have been playing. He is definitely out for the weekend.

- Darrly Bootland has another injury (lower body) unrelated to what kept him out of the line up before. The problem with having a lot of games in a short time as we have had recently along with playing with a short line up is you have to ask the guys that are playing to do a lot which leads to injuries.

-  Hopefully we will get some players back by Friday. It is difficult to bring in players this time of year as you are either giving up a spot that has been taken by someone that has been here all year or you ask a player to come and fill in for a short period of time. Neither situation is ideal.

- The amateur rules don't allow you to bring in an amateur before the end of the season and have them remain an amateur. Unless I get the right player we might not fill the amateur slots until after the first round of the playoffs.  It is difficult to get the top college guys to come to our league as they prefer to play in the ECHL. So the best approach is to wait until the ECHL sets their playoff roster and then see who is available.

- I wasn't aware that I had my 800th coaching victory until Tommy said something to me about it. I haven't done my resume for a while so I haven't been reminded what my record is.

-  I am still talking to some players returning from Europe  and some ECHL guys but nothing is certain. To sign a player this time of year they have to be a significant player because you have to drop a player that has been here all year. You have to have some irons in the fire at all times because in the CHL there are limited roster spots and injuries can leave you short handed when it comes time to set the playoff roster. Part of winning in the playoffs is having a team that can stay healthy.

- I want to finish second in the final standings and that is our goal. We are at home and Denver is on the road and we play them twice so we need to just take care of what we have in our control. We will play as hard as we can and then see where we end up and who we play in the first round of the playoffs. I used to look at all of the scenarios and who is playing who but all of that stuff doesn't matter. It really comes down to what we do.

- Friday night we can't take St. Charles for granted and hopefully we learned that when we played them in St. Charles. I am hoping that lesson in St. Charles when we lost 5-2 woke us up. We are trying to push with the players it is business this time of year and you have to lead by example whether you are a first year player or a ten year veteran.


- How great is it to see Jamie Schaafsma playing with so much confidence, having fun and and leading this team. Moving to defense, which he has never played in his career, seems to have energized him and had a positive effect no matter where he plays. Last night he had four points (2 goals 2 assists) and was named the games #1 star. If you remember, Jamie had only one goal in the first two months of the season. He is now only one point away from being the second leading scorer on the team. Since the middle of December Jamie has averaged over a point a game. And he leads the team in plus minus with a +21 which is a +9 more than anyone else on the team.

- Tyler Ludwig already holds all Allen single season and career scoring records for defensemen. With his goal last night he now has 18 on the season which is five more than David Strathman scored in 2010-2011. Tyler had three points last night and is now within two points of his own record of 51 points set last year.

- Special teams is always a key and Allen won that battle last night scoring two goals in five opportunities while only allowing Wichita one power play goal. The Allen power play, which has been excellent lately, has now climbed above 20%.

- Had a chance to talk to team owner Mark Miller at the game and he informed me a new and improved Allen Americans web site has been developed and tested and will be up and running in the next week. I know many fans have been looking forward to the new and improved site. I am going to miss those old pictures of Colton Yelow Horn, Dave Bonk and Kip Brennan as the face of the Americans when you enter the site. haha

- As the Americans compete with Denver and Rapid City for the #2, #3, and #4 spots in the final standings the schedule favors Allen. The points currently stand at Denver (81), Rapid City (76) and Allen (75). Allen has one game in hand over the other two. Denver plays all five of their remaining games on the road in Arizona this Friday and Saturday, Allen next Friday & Saturday and then finish in Tulsa  on Sunday. Rapid City plays all five of their remaining games against Brampton. They play in Rapid City tomorrow and Saturday and then travel to Brampton to finish the season with games on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Allen plays St. Charles at home Friday and Saturday and then travels to Wichita for their last away game on Sunday and finish up at home next week against Quad City on Wednesday and Denver Friday and Saturday. While the points favor Denver the schedule favors Allen. Should be fun to watch.

- The Best of the Best Awards were announced  yesterday and should not be confused with the year end awards that will be announced over a ten day period beginning on March 21. The Best of the Best poll consists of 50 categories that cover all aspects of the league including on-ice performance, in-game entertainment as well as top venues, concessions, websites, etc.  Each team submits a ballot providing three top choices for each category, with first place votes counting as five points, second place votes counting as three points and third place votes counting as one point. This means the most first place vote you can have in any category is ten. If you look at the results there are many categories where teams didn't vote. Best goaltender, Best fighter, Best rookie, Toughest building to win in, Best locker room and Best cheerleader/dance team were the only categories where all ten teams voted.  In the other 44 categories at least one team didn't vote. Only four teams voted for the most gentlemanly player and best penalty killer.

- The year ends awards which are yet to be annouced include CHL Most Valuable Player, Most Outstanding Goaltender (Scott Brower Award), Most Outstanding Defenseman and Rookie of the Year awards.  After a nomination period by CHL teams, the league front office determined the five finalists for each award.  Balloting took place among CHL Head Coaches, team Communications Departments and select media members in CHL markets. It is these year end awards for which I get a ballot as member of the media.

- Hope that clears up some confusion about the different awards. With that said the Best of the Best Awards announced yesterday may very well be a signal of what is to come with the year end awards. Tyler Ludwig and Alex Lavoie both finished first in the Best of the Best so I sure hope that carries over the the year end awards.

- It is well known how cooperative the Allen players are with spending time with fans, answering questions, taking pictures, making personal appearances and helping promote the team. Had some friends in a suite last night and Phil Fox was kind enough to stop by and talk to them about the Americans, his injury, and growing up in Minnesota. Last night was also a special Heritage Ranch Night as there were 125 residents of Heritage Ranch in attendance at the game. One of the residents had friends from Sweden visiting and they also attended. After the game I asked Greger Hanson if he could take some time to say hello to the folks from Sweden. Before he even had time to take a shower he came out and spent 10 minutes with these visitors talking about home and hockey. They left the rink impressed with the Americans and really impressed with Greger Hanson. Two example of players going out of their way and just want them to know it is both noticed and appreciated.

Courtesy CHL Memes

Courtesy CHL Memes

DID YOU KNOW: The Missouri Mavericks finished first, second or third in 33 of the 50 Best of the Best Awards categories this year, the most by any team since Allen entered the league. Here is a year by year comparison between Allen and Missouri.
                      Missouri     Allen
2013-2014:         33             19
2012-2013:         24             22
2011-2012:         14             21
2010-2011:         15             17
2009-2010:         10             11


  1. I sure wish that Lee would get some recognition. If memory serves me, in 5 years, that has not happened. Maybe you could pull some strings!

  2. Mary, I agree and said so last year when the winners were announced. I will have some additional comments about omissions in my post tomorrow.