Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Notes From Practice, Power Signs With Rush, Allen's Record in Rapid, Tragic Death, Denver Blog

- Practice yesterday was definitely a good news bad news experience. The good news was who was skating when I arrived midway through the session. Jarret Lukin practicing with the team for the first time in ages was the biggest surprise. It will obviously take some time for Lukin to get game ready even if he has no setbacks. Darryl Bootland was a full participant in practice and looked great. Look for him to play this weekend. Dallas Ehrhardt was also a full participant in practice. The bad news was who was not practicing and it is a long list including Zion, Schaafsma, Lavoie, Kerbashian and Hendrikx. Giving guys a rest this time of year is not unusual as all the players are suffering with some kind of ailments when you get to the end of the season. Won't know until today who goes on the trip and who stays home. Hendrikx is out for 30 days and my observations (no info from the team) tell me that Kerbashian and Lukin definitely stay home, Bootland, Schaafsma, Lavoie definitely go, and Zion & Ehrhardt are in the maybe category. Will get the answers after practice today.

- Speaking of practice it was a spirited practice with lots of what coach Martinson describes as battle drills working on all phases of the game. The lines in practice (which doesn't mean much given who was and wasn't participating) were Graham-Fox-Hanson, McMillin-Lessard-Bootland, Maiani-Lukin-Asuchak.

- Didn't take long for Ben Power to get picked up as the Rapid City Rush claimed him off waivers yesterday. Would assume he will be in the lineup for the Rush when Allen plays in Rapid City this Friday and Saturday. It is nice to see Power, who did such a good job while in Allen, get another opportunity in the CHL with one of the best teams in the league. We wish him luck except when he plays the Americans.

- Have heard over and over again Allen doesn't play well in Rapid City so decided to look at the data over the five years these teams have been in the league together. Here is Allen's record by year for games played in Rapid City:
2009-2010: 1-1
2010-2011: 1-2
2011-2012: 0-0
2012-2013: 1-1
In addition to the regular season Allen played Rapid City in the finals of the 2010 playoffs and were 1-2 in Rapid City. Add it all together and Allen is 4-6 over the life of the franchise and have never gone winless in a series in Rapid City. The odds say Allen will split with the Rush this weekend and I for one would be happy with that result.

- Missouri, Rapid City and Denver have clinched playoff spots. Next up is Allen. Any combination of Allen getting points or Arizona losing points totaling six will clinch a playoff spot for the Americans. Home ice is another story as the top four teams get home ice for the first round of playoffs. Allen is currently in fourth place with a four point lead over fifth place (Brampton & Quad City) and they trail third pace Denver by four points.

- If the playoffs started today the American's opponent would be Quad City but a lot has to be determined before the playoffs start. If you look at the remaining schedule it does look like the most likely opponents for Allen in the first round will be Quad City or Brampton. Everyone associated with the team is hoping beyond hope that it is not Brampton because of the cost and logistics involved when playing Brampton.

- There is a connection between the Allen Americans and Dallas Stars Rich Peverley who collapsed at the Stars game on Monday and is resting comfortably and under going tests to determine the cause of the "cardiac event." Mike Kompon, who played with Allen briefly in 2011-2012 before returning to play in Germany was a teammate with Peverley in 2005-2006 when they both played for the Reading Royals (ECHL).

- The Americans are holding their second "Rink of Dreams" event on March 22 where you can play hockey like a professional with a one hour scrimmage with full audio and video. Cost is $70. Here are the details. You can register at:

Have you ever wondered what it's like to play like a professional, and experience all the excitement, sights and sounds like the pros do? If so, the Allen Americans have an amazing opportunity for you.

Each Player Receives: 
 Use of the Allen Americans auxillary locker room for pre and post game
Custom Jersey with Rink of Dreams logo and number*
 Dinner provided by presenting sponsor Mooyah Burgers & Fries following the game
 15% off total purchase coupon to Hockey Giant
  Rinkside ticket to watch the Allen Americans play the St. Charles Chill at 7:05 pm

- Here is the latest musing from the Denver Cutthroat blog on their current road trip:

It is about 1:30 am ET as we are making our way through Kitchener, about 70 miles from the American border, en route to Quad City. As you probably know by now we won tonight 4-2, sweeping Brampton and widening the gap in the standings.
A few players dress for practice

We got out of the arena around 10:00 pm and stopped to get a quick bite soon after. The guys picked from Wendy’s, Subway, and Tim Horton’s to refuel. One of the tough parts of being on the road is eating healthy. It is especially difficult when we leave after games, because when it’s late there usually aren’t many places open. But, it’s still better than nothing at all. We were able to have some Canadian poutine, which was a nice treat (even if it wasn’t authentic).
Chabby helps Stevo get the perfect cut
We will once again stop in Chicago to pick up our other driver at approximately 6:00 am. Then, we will continue on, hoping to arrive in Quad City at approximately 8:45 am. It is still undetermined if we will be practicing tomorrow. Normally, we don’t practice when arriving somewhere after a game night before. But, Army said we may practice since this is one of our last “off” days. We will find out in the morning!
The guys stretching before the game
As for the game day, pretty normal for the second of back-to-back games, although week day games always feel a bit different. Anyway, it was an optional morning skate, meaning players could take the practice off if they so choose. Many of the vets and a few younger guys “took the option.” After that it was back to the hotel for another team pregame meal. I am also supposed to let you all know that all of the players were there and ate pasta. Other than that, what can I say? There were a few rocky moments in the game, but when it mattered we shut the door. On to Quad! 

The story about missing OHL player Terry Trafford has ended in the worst possible way when the forward for the Saginaw Spirit was found dead on Tuesday. I received a copy of the article below from Christine Gegear who is a loving mother of a professional hockey player, Alex Lavoie. This article provides a perspective that as fans we may not always think about. Thanks to Christine for sharing and thought and prayers for Terry Trafford's friends and family.

As shocking as it was to hear of police finally finding Terry Trafford’s body; I think all of us were hoping that the outcome of this dilemma would not be on the tragic. However when reports came out of Terry’s girlfriend saying that he had threatened to commit suicide, I knew right then that this story would not have a peaceful ending.
While at the time of writing this suicide has not been confirmed but obviously rather speculated, I am drawing the conclusion that Trafford did indeed take his own life. As he was in the public eye as a hockey player with the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit, his story is getting a little more attention. The fact is, this happens every day.

There are two things I’d like to talk about in this article. The first being depression. The teenage and early 20 years of one’s life is an internal struggle. More so now than ever before. There is an overwhelming societal desire to be the best in one’s life. While that is great to look at on paper and to think the fact is, not everybody is going to be the best. And you know what? That’s perfectly okay.
Society in this day and age throws things at you from every corner. You’re not good enough unless you have a college or university education. You have to be married and have kids by this age. You have to know exactly what you’re doing in life. If you don’t follow these things, you’re looked at as useless. It’s a broad spectrum that most of the media puts out there and after a while, it start to become a normal way to think.
Well, it’s not normal. It’s OKAY to not have a college degree, it’s OKAY if you’re not married, it’s OKAY if you don’t know what you’re doing with your life, it’s OKAY if you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, WHATEVER. Everyone has the right to feel normal without prejudice and live life at whatever pace you feel comfortable.
When it comes to hockey (and this is the second point of this article), we tend to put players on a pedestal. We tend to think “Oh wow, look at how great of a player he is, look at how much muscle he has, he’s a millionaire, he’s probably raking in all the women”, when in reality we don’t know the demons they’re going through personally. (See: Bob Probert.) And that’s more or less society’s fault. I don’t know Terry Trafford’s real story but from reports I’ve read, he seemed to have taken his life because he was afraid of never making the NHL. That’s sad.
We want our hockey players to be manmade machines. Hockey players are some of the fittest and stronger individuals on the planet. Are they mentally? Not by a long shot. They have a lot to live up to and in this day and age at a lot younger age than their predecessors. Team combines are just weeks and months of rigorous testing. That has to put a lot on the stress of a player mentally. (And maybe even physically, case in point Richard Peverley but that’s a whole other topic).
Not only on the ice but off the ice as well. Do you go to major junior? Do you go to school or turn pro? What school should I pick? What workouts should I do? 25 years ago, players didn’t have to worry about this. (Mind you it was a whole different time).
This has pretty much turned into a rant but I’m tired of watching the way we put hockey players (and athletes in general) on such a high pedestal and think everything must be peachy with them because they are living the dream and we aren’t. I’ll bet you good money that there players out there who would PAY to be the little man once again.
We need to throw more into mental health initiates. It’s getting better but it’s not over by a long shot. Not until society as a whole changes its outlook.


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