Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Dallas Black Hawks, Lessard Player Of The Week, Playoff Rosters, Martinson's AHL Record

While we wait for the Americans to return from their three day break tomorrow I thought you might enjoy a little background about the Central Hockey League franchise that operated in Dallas in the early days. I know several Allen Americans fans have been following minor pro hockey since the days of the Black Hawks and have shared with me stories about hockey in the old State Fair Coliseum.

The Dallas Black Hawks were a minor league hockey club that played 15 seasons in the Central Hockey League (1963-1984). The team was originally based in St Louis, Missouri where it was known as the Braves from 1963–67. However, the expansion of the National Hockey League into St Louis resulted in the relocation of the team to Dallas for the 1967–68 season. From 1967 to 1978, Dallas was a farm club of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.  During their final four seasons, they provided players for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers. The Black Hawks were a powerhouse in the Central League, appearing in the Adams Cup championship series in ten of their fifteen seasons.  They won the championship four times: 1969, 1972, 1974 and 1979.   The Black Hawks first three Adams Cup victories came under the direction of Head Coach Bobby Kromm, who helmed the club for eight seasons from 1967 to 1975.  Kromm went on to the majors in 1975, coaching the Winnipeg Jets to a World Hockey Association championship in 1976.  He later coached the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL from 1977 to 1980.  Long-time minor league coach John Muckler was behind the bench when the Black Hawks won their fourth and final championship in 1979.  Muckler would later coach the Edmonton Oilers to the Stanley Cup in 1990.
Another notable coach for the ‘Hawks was Roger Neilson.  Neilson coached the team for one season only (1976-77) before moving on to the NHL, where he coached 1,000 games between 1977 and 2002.  He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002.
Throughout their history, the Black Hawks engaged in a heated rivalry with the Central League’s nearby Fort Worth franchise, which was known as the Wings from 1967-1974 and the Texans from 1974 to 1982.  The Black Hawks and the Fort Worth Wings/Texans had a legendary rivalry as they competed in the CHL, complete with bench clearing brawls and fights in the stands, including the legendary 10 cent beer night near-riot in Fort Worth in 1978. The Dallas and Fort Worth clubs both folded in the spring of 1982, ending the CHL’s greatest geographic rivalry and boding ill for the overall health of the league.  The CHL itself folded two years later in May 1984.

- The Central Hockey League announced yesterday that Allen Americans forward Jonathan Lessard has been named the Oakley Central Hockey League Player of the Week for the period ending March 2, 2014. The 23-year-old forward helped the Americans to three wins last week scoring three goals with four assists.  Lessard scored the game winning goal in two of the three victories for his team.  All three contests last week saw the St. Eustache, Quebec native record multiple-point games.  On the season, Lessard has 22 goals and 22 assists. On Tuesday, Lessard scored the game winner and had an assist in the Americans 4-1 win over Missouri.  He followed that up with a pair of assists in his team’s 6-3 win over the Sundogs on Friday and then had two goals (including the game winner) and a helper in Saturday’s 6-4 win over Arizona.
Jonathan Lessard Selected as Oakley Player of the Week - photo by SceneByKimberly.com

- As the season winds down in minor pro hockey each league ends it season at different times and this can have an impact on the playoff rosters. Here are the end of season dates by league:
AHL - April 20
ECHL - April 13
CHL - March 30
SPHL - March 22
The CHL playoff rosters will be due within a day or two of the last games of the season which is March 30. Remember, the playoff roster will have 20 players but one of those players will be on injured reserve and cannot play in the first round of the playoffs. In order to be eligible for the playoff roster a player must play in at least three regular season games. This means Coach Martinson could bring in a player from Europe or another league as late as March 26th and they could still be eligible  to be on the playoff roster. In addition to these 20 players each team can add two amateur players but they do not have to be determined when the playoff roster is submitted.
Coach Martinson has already said he will probably not sign any amateurs (he can sign two) until the ECHL playoff rosters are set. This won't happen until April 14 which will be after the CHL playoffs are underway.

- Here is "Shots From the Point" put out by the CHL yesterday:

1.)  Oilers Keep on Rolling- After a 9-1 month of February, the Tulsa Oilers (29-23-3) looked like there might be a hangover to start March as they fell behind St. Charles 2-0 on Saturday night, but four straight goals later and the Oilers had their fifth straight win and improved to 10-1 in their last 11 games.  Tulsa has moved from out of the playoffs in ninth place all the way up to sixth place, just two points behind Brampton.  Ben Gordon continued his torrid pace with a goal in Friday’s shutout win over Wichita and four assists in the come-from-behind effort on Saturday against the Chill.  Tulsa has just 11 games remaining this season; five against Wichita, two against Rapid City, two against Missouri and one each against St. Charles and Denver.  The Oilers are next in action this weekend with games Friday and Saturday against Rapid City (32-20-1).

2.)  Allen Getting Ready for Defense- The Allen Americans (31-18-4), the defending CHL Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup Champions, appear to be getting hot at the right time as the post-season is less than a month away.  Allen has won five straight games and are coming off two impressive wins this past weekend against Arizona (25-24-6).  The Americans offense has erupted for 26 goals over their five-game win streak while the defense has allowed just 13 goals.  Jonathan Lessard had three goals (two game winners) and four assists in last week’s three wins earning the second-year pro the Oakley Player of the Week award.  The Americans swing through the state of Missouri this weekend for their final regular season meeting with the first place Mavericks (35-16-2) on Friday and then back-to-back showdowns on Saturday/Sunday with St. Charles (10-38-6).                        

3.)  Beast Turning the Corner- After falling to .500 in their last game of 2013, the Brampton Beast (29-21-5) have turned the corner and are now alone in fifth place in the standings and are just two points behind Rapid City for fourth place and three points behind both Allen and Denver for second place.  The Beast are coming off back-to-back wins in Quad City (26-17-8) and overall have won five straight games.  In 2014, the expansion club has gone 15-7-3 with eight of their 15 wins coming by one goal showing they can take the close ones.  Brampton is 16-6-5 on the season in one-goal games with only Arizona playing in more (Sundogs are 13-9-6 in one-goal contests).  Forward Tylor Michel had his goal scoring streak snapped on Saturday after striking in five straight contests (tied for the third longest goal streak this season in the CHL).                    

By the Numbers
69: The number of saves on 70 shots that Denver goaltender John Griggs made in his two wins this past weekend.  The youngster was summoned as an emergency back-up after Kent Patterson was re-called to Lake Erie (AHL).  In his first start for the Cutthroats, Griggs made 35 saves shutting out the Rapid City Rush.  He followed that up less than 24 hours later with a 34 save effort in his team’s 7-1 win over the Rush.  Griggs’ two wins have pushed the Cutthroats past the Rush in the standings and into a tie for second place with Allen.

-Missouri forward Sebastien Thinel is just one point from becoming just the third player to record 900 CHL points.  Thinel will join Hall of Famers Joe Burton (985) and Travis Clayton (982) in the 900-point club.  The veteran currently had 305 goals and 594 assists.  He will go for the milestone on Wednesday in Quad City.
-St. Charles forward Martin Hlinka has goals in four straight games and is second on the Chill with 13 goals on the season (Kyle O’Kane has 22 goals).
-Denver forward A.J. Gale has scored in every game since his return from the AHL and dating back prior to his call-up is riding an 11-game point streak.  In his five games since his return, Gale has scored five goals (two GWG’s) and has added five helpers.  On the season, Gale has 27 points (10-17=27) in 18 games.
-Quad City forward Jim McKenzie is having a very productive run in the AHL with the Iowa Wild scoring three goals with five assists in 24 games.  In 28 games with the Flock this season, McKenzie scored 11 goals with 13 assists.
-Rapid City forward Winston Day Chief has scored just one goal in his last 16 games after striking for 13 goals in his previous 13 games.  It is not just a coincidence that the Rush are 5-10-1 over that 16 game stretch as on the season they are 11-5-0 when Day Chief scores a goal.
-The Arizona Sundogs (25-24-6) picked the perfect time to end their seven-game slide (0-4-3) defeating the Wichita Thunder (23-27-4) on Sunday by a 3-1 count.  The win cushioned the Sundogs lead for the final playoff spot extending it to six points over the Thunder.  Arizona has three games remaining (one in STC and two in QDC) on their final road trip of the season before ending the campaign with eight straight home games.
-The Wichita Thunder (23-27-4) have scored just four goals during their current three-game slide and on the season are averaging just 2.94 goals per game (eighth in the CHL).

- I always get questions around playoff time about the red lights you see flashing in the AEC after Allen scores a goal. Some of these lights are available at the AEC but the most visible ones are commercial led lights that can be ordered from coolsafetyproducts.com. They are called "Rotating LED Beacon Light, Battery Operated and the model number is FT-PL-300RJ. The cost is $37.45 plus shipping. They always seem to run out of the red color at hockey playoff time so place your order now so you have your light before the playoffs start.

DID YOU KNOW: Steve Martinson racked up more than 3000 penalty minutes in his pro career and still holds the American Hockey League record for most major penalties in a season. In 1985-1986 Martinson had 488 penalty minutes playing for the Hershey Bears which included 49 major penalties. According to dropyourgloves.com Martinson had 42 fights that season.

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