Thursday, March 6, 2014

Practice Observations, Hendrikx Out, Thinel Gets 900th, $100,000 Shot, New Player


- It was the first day back (for most guys) after three days off  so there was certainly a little rust to shake off as Richard Matvichuk conducted practice yesterday with help from Erik Adams. It was a long practice, the kind where the ice gets resurfaced at the halfway point.

- Trevor Hendrikx was noticeably absent from practice. He has an injury that will require surgery and keep him out of the line up for quite a while. He has been placed on the 30 day injured reserve effective March 1.

- Dallas Ehrhardt did participate in some of the practice but is a ways from being ready and with his injury there will be an abundance of caution before he plays.

- With only five healthy defensemen Jamie Schaafsma was playing defense during part of practice and will be the back up if needed on the upcoming road trip. Teams play with five defensemen all the time so this should not be a problem unless something crazy happens with injuries or penalties.

- The lines in practice were Graham-Fox-Hanson, Lavoie-Lessard-Asuchak, &  Maiani-McMillin-Klotz. These could easily change before the game on Friday in Missouri.

- Ben Power will be wearing #17 this weekend. He has had three numbers in his eight games with the Americans. He has gone from #16 to #13 to #17. He currently has a seven game scoring streak going (6 goals 3 assists) so numbers aren't an issue with him. The switch to #17 was related to a problem with the away (red) #13 jersey.

- Phil Fox was a full participant in practice and looks ready to go.

- Trevor Ludwig was officially place on season ending injured reserve yesterday.


- With the injuries on defense look for coach Martinson to bring in one of the European players he has targeted ASAP. May have more specifics tomorrow.

- If the Americans have any chance at defending the Governor's Cup (regular season champion) they need to beat Missouri tomorrow night. Missouri beat Quad City 5-2 last night and is now seven points ahead of second place Rapid City and eight points ahead of Allen. It is a long shot at this point but if Allen loses to the Missouri on Friday they will not catch the Mavericks.

- With the win last night Missouri becomes the first team to clinch a spot in the playoffs.

- In 2009-2010 when CHL hockey was new in Allen, one of the first visiting players I took notice of was Odessa Jackalopes Sebastien Thinel who during warmups and the game would stand just on the other side of the glass from my seats and make passes to his teammates.  A magician with the puck, he led the league with 75 assists that year to go along with 22 goals.  I have always enjoyed watching him play. Last night Thinel, who now plays for Missouri, scored his 900 CHL point, fittingly with an assist. Congrats to the guy they call Sebby. Here is the CHL news release on his accomplishment:

Missouri Mavericks forward Sebastien Thinel reached a historic milestone on Wednesday night becoming just the third player to record 900 CHL points.  The historic moment came in the Mavs 5-2 win over the Quad City Mallards. Thinel’s 900th point came via an assist in the game’s first goal scored by Andrew Courtney at the 11:22 mark of the first period. Only Joe Burton (985 points) and Travis Clayton (982 points), both members of the Central Hockey League Hall of Fame, have recorded more points than Thinel.  Burton’s came in 708 games and Clayton’s came in 880 games. Thinel is seventh on the CHL’s all-time games played list with 687 games and he ranks tied for fifth with 305 goals and third with 595 assists. The St. Jerome, Quebec native has won two CHL Most Valuable Player Awards (2009 and 2013) and has won three Joe Burton Scoring Championships (2008-09, 2010-11 and 2012-13). The six-time all-star is currently playing in his third season with the Mavericks and prior to that, played eight seasons with the Odessa Jackalopes.
-  Former Allen player Jim McKenzie has signed a second PTO (professional try out) contract with the Iowa Wild (AHL). His first PTO was about to expire as a PTO is limited to 25 games. A player can sign two PTOs and after that would have to be signed to a SPC (standard players contract). What this means for Jim is he will most likely remain with Iowa for the rest of the season. Congrat to Jim!

- In other CHL action last night Arizona beat St. Charles 7-1 to take a seven point lead over Wichita for the eight and final playoff spot. It is looking more and more likely that Wichita will join St. Charles as the only two teams in the league that do not make the playoffs. A real fall from grace for the Thunder who reached the CHL championship finals the last two years. Don't know anyone who saw this coming and even when Wichita got off to a poor start early in the season most predicted they would get it turned around. 

- If you want proof of the importance of on ice performance to attendance all you have to do is look at the Wichita experience over the last two years. While they still have the second highest average attendance in the CHL the Thunder average this year (4847) is 752 per game lower than last year (5599).

- Some interesting matchups this weekend in addition to Allen vs Missouri include Denver at Brampton for three games and Rapid City in Tulsa against a hot Oilers team for two games.

- Have to give the Denver Cutthroats marketing folks an "A" for effort as the team with the league's worst average attendance (1631) is giving one fan a chance to win $100,000. The Denver Cutthroats are inviting fans to enter a drawing for the chance to be selected to take a shot to win $100,000. Anyone who purchases a ticket online to the Denver Cutthroats game on Saturday, March 15 will be entered into the drawing. The winner will be announced on March 15, the eligible contestant will shoot the puck from the far blue line and it must pass through a slot shot attached to the goal at the opposite end.

-  Had some requests to keep posting these so here is the second blog post from Denver equipment manger, Trevor Heinzerling, on their current road trip to Brampton:

Greetings from Port Huron, Michigan! We are only a few miles from Canadian border, where we will cross tomorrow morning. It was a long day, as we went through five states before our final stop...1,327 miles Northeast of Denver.

Our day started off to the sounds of the guys rustling in their beds around 9:00 am. We stopped in Peru, Illinois for breakfast at IHOP. To our surprise, it was National Pancake Day, so we all treated ourselves to free pancakes (I don't think there was any left for the rest of Peru by the time we were finished)! Before we left, everyone made a quick stop in the restroom to brush their teeth and do some other grooming after the long night on the road and the even longer day ahead of us. 

Phil reading his newest book in his "spacious" bunk

From there, we headed back on the road. Once again, the boys did what they could to stay busy, but many went in and out of sleep. There were some who read books, such as Philly who was catching up on the Resident Evil series, or Red, who was reading the newest edition of the fly-fishing magazine, Drake.
We stopped around 2:30 pm for a brief lunch at a travel stop after dropping off one of our bus drivers in Chicago. Most guys had Wendy’s, while a few found healthier options elsewhere. After our brief stop, it was back on the road.
Army taking some time for a little R & R

Although it was only a few more hours, the last leg of the trip seemed the longest. We finally arrived at the Best Western in Port Huron, Michigan at 7:00 pm ET Tuesday night. Everyone took a long, warm shower and had a relaxing dinner. 
A few of the guys grabbing some grub
We are scheduled to leave Port Huron at 9:00 am ET for the Canadian border. Hopefully all goes well, and I will be reporting from Brampton, Ontario tomorrow evening!
The phones never stop for Shooter

DID YOU KNOW: Daniel Tetrault is #15 all time in games played in the CHL (570). By the end of the season he should be at #10.

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