Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Allen Forces Game Seven, Martinson & Ruskowski Post Game Comments, Back Up Goalie, Chill May Fold

Allen defeats Quad City 6-1 to force game seven - photo by SceneByKimberly.com


Chapter one of "Do or Die" didn't have much suspense as the Allen Americans used goals by six different players (Asuchuk, Graham, Ludwig, Lessard, Hanson, McMillin) to defeat the Quad City Mallards 6-1 before a crowd of 3753 at the Allen Event Center last night. Chapter two of "Do or Die" takes place tonight (Wednesday) in a decisive game seven with the winner heading directly for Denver after the game to take on a well rested Cutthroats team for the Presidents' Cup in a series that starts Friday night.

Steve Martinson Post Game Comments:

- I had a feeling that the offense would break out tonight just because we have had so many chances and haven't been scoring and this team normally does not have a problem scoring goals. I am a big believer in percentages and the percentages were with us tonight.

- We won every period and that is a good sign. We had a couple of ill advised penalties in the third period which gave them some life when they scored their power play goal but we didn't let up and got those two insurance goals late in the period to make it 6-1.

- Special teams were great again tonight as they have been the entire series. Our power play is really clicking at this point.

- The difference tonight was the traffic in front of the net and a lot of buzzing around the net. It is not rocket science as a goalie as good as Heemskerk is going to stop the puck if he can see it. The only way you are going to be successful is to get in front of him and block his vision. You have to make it harder for him to see the puck.

- At this point it is all about the players as they know what to do. If we show up with the same energy tomorrow as we did tonight we will be okay. If we have the net presence we had tonight, go to the tough areas like we did tonight we will score. 

TERRY RUSKOWSKI COMMENTS:

- Here are some Terry Ruskowski post game quotes from various articles. Sounds like coach Ruskowski was already working on getting his team prepared for game seven.

"How's that for a performance?" coach Terry Ruskowski said. "This is a playoff game. This is the sixth game, if they win this we go to a championship. Are you kidding me ... this kind of effort? They stepped it up a notch and we dropped down two."

"I guess all the media coverage and all the fans and all the support we got went to their head and thought we were just superstars," Ruskowski said. "We forgot what got us there and that was hard work and desire."

"It was one of the things we (emphasized) before the game, be disciplined," Ruskowski said. "You can't take unnecessary penalties. You can't take them. You can't because ... our penalty kill is not doing the job and their power play is awesome. So what do we do? We give them six power plays."

"They were taking shots in the slot area in front of our net," Ruskowski said. "They were just peppering our goalies and we just sat around and watched them. We miss (defenseman) Matt Duffy. We do. It screws up all of my defense."


OTHER COMMENTS:

- The special team stats back up what both coaches talked about post game. Quad City was 1-4 on the power play and is now 2-22 (9.1%) for the series while Allen was 3-6 in the game and for the series is now 7-20 (35%).

- With six different guys getting goals and twelve different players getting a point the depth of Allen really showed in the game. It is a big advantage when you can put three lines on the ice and all three can score.

- The three stars of the game were  #1 Bryan Pitton who lowered his GAA to 1.94, #2 Bruce Graham with the game winning goal and #3 Darryl Bootland with two assists and a fight.

- No official word on the referee for game seven tonight but my understanding is the referee will be Tudor Floru.

- I mentioned yesterday the Americans would have a new back up goalie (Marc-Antoine Gelinas) in the line up and that obviously did not happen. Will Yanakeff was the backup goalie. I won't got into the details but nothing is official related to Gelinas at this point. There are paperwork issues that need to be resolved before anything can or will be announced. Until everything gets resolved Will Yanakeff remains the back up goalie and today he celebrates his 22nd birthday so Happy Birthday Will!

- Silly season has already started with rumors of the St. Charles Chill not returning for year two. Apparently employees have been let go and the team is trying to find new ownership in order to keep the team alive.

Courtesy CHL Memes


DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans have never lost a game seven at home and in eighteen years of coaching Steve Martinson has never lost a game seven at home.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Do or Die, New Back Up Goalie Marc-Antoine Gelinas In Tonight, Details On No New Glass for the AEC

- Chapter one of the Allen Americans do or die story takes place tonight. The team has had the final practice to work on everything from bringing the puck out of the defensive zone, pucks in deep, guys to the net, the power play, accuracy of shots, the forecheck and much more. The video review has been accomplished. Now the game is up to the players. Who wants it more. The Quad City Mallards are the self admitted underdogs who have gotten to this position through teamwork and hard work. "It’s been a great run," said Mallard coach Terry Ruskowski . "I’m so proud of the guys and how they stuck together and how they played so hard. I want the best, I want them to win because they deserve it. We may not be the elite team in the league and maybe we’re not supposed to be where we’re at, but we are here." The defending champion Allen Americans also have something to prove and that is they are just as determined, just as hungry and are willing to put forth the effort to win the battle of the "want."

- Coach Martinson will have to decide the two players that will not play tonight. The last game it was Trevor Hendrikx and Kale Kerbashain. The decision will not be made until after the pregame skate this morning. Hendrikx and Daniel Tetrault did not participate in practice yesterday. If everyone is healthy enough to play it makes the decision that much harder. The most likely scenario is one defenseman and one forward are scratched. Amateur Cain Franson has been a healthy scratch in a couple of games but his recent good play should keep him on the ice for tonight's game. Stay tuned.

- Look for special teams to play a big role in the outcome of the game tonight. Allen did give up a power play goal to the Mallards in game five but that is the only one Quad City has scored  in the entire series and they are now 1-18 (5.56%). The Americans have a power play goal in every game thus far with the exception of game two and are 4-14 (28.6%) . If Allen can maintain this special teams advantage they will win the game tonight.

- I have had many questions about a new goalie for the rest of the playoffs and yes there will be a new backup goalie on the bench tonight. There are some details that were still being worked out so nothing was official as of yesterday but both the player and the player's agent put the information on social media and it is posted in one of the hockey data bases (Elite Prospects) so it is in the public domain. The back up goalie tonight will be Marc-Antoine Gelinas who has been in college the last two years but played professionally in 2010-2011 with both the Wichita Thunder (with Daniel Tetrault) where he played in 42 games and the Odessa Jackalopes where he had two games. Here are his stats courtesy of hockeydb:

Marc-Antoine Gelinas

Goalie -- shoots L
Born Feb 13 1989 -- St-Etienne-de-Lauzon, PQ
[25 yrs. ago]
Height 5.10 -- Weight 178
 
Reg Season Scoring Reg. Season Goalie Stats Playoff Scoring
Season Team Lge GP A PIM Min GA EN SO GAA W L T Svs Pct GP A PIM
2006-07 Val d'Or Foreurs QMJHL 2 0 0









2 0 0
2006-07 College St. Lawrence Lions QJAHL 22 1 0












2007-08 Prince Edward Island Rocket QMJHL 43 2 2 2192 134 6 0 3.67 16 18 3 1197 0.899 4 0 0
2008-09 Gatineau Olympiques QMJHL 29 0 4 1443 83 2 1 3.45 13 10 1 644 0.886 10 0 2
2009-10 Saint John Sea Dogs QMJHL 27 2 8 1524 65 1 2 2.56 21 5 0 686 0.913 ---
2009-10 Shawinigan Cataractes QMJHL 20 1 0 1041 46 1 2 2.65 9 10 0 505 0.917 6 0 2
2010-11 Wichita Thunder CHL 42 3 2 2399 116 0 4 2.90 25 11 5 1021 0.898 5 0 19
2010-11 Odessa Jackalopes CHL 2 0 0 119 6 0 0 3.02 1 1 0 43 0.878 ---
2012-13 U. of Quebec Trois Rivieres OUAA 15 0 6 907 42 2 0 2.78 10 5 0 404 0.906


2013-14 U. of Quebec Trois Rivieres OUAA 18 2 10 1000 39 0 1 2.34 13 4 0 574 0.936


- Another issue I have been getting questions about is the new glass for the Allen Event Center. There was some hope that the new glass would be installed for tonight's game but that is not the case. While the new glass has arrived some of the other parts and pieces that make up the entire system were not manufactured correctly and will have to be remanufactured after the manufacturer visits the AEC. So the bottom line is the new glass will not be installed until after the season is over. While a bummer for the playoffs it will be nice to have new glass for the beginning of next season.

- Brad Treliving who was part owner of the CHL for many years before selling out last year to the team owners has been named general manger of the NHL Calgary Flames. He is in the CHL Hall of Fame and this is what was said by the CHL back in 2012 when he was inducted:
Brad Treliving, a native of Penticton, British Columbia, was one of the founders of the WPHL in 1996 and served as Vice-President and Director of Hockey Operations for five years.  He also was key in the combining of the CHL and WPHL in 2001 which began his seven-year tenure as the President of the CHL.  During six of his season as the league’s President, the CHL led all North American ‘AA’ professional hockey leagues in attendance and each year, the league’s top executive is given the Brad Treliving Executive of the Year Award.  Treliving left the CHL to become the Assistant General Manager of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes.

    



Embedded image permalink
Courtesy CHL Memes
                        


DID YOU KNOW: Trevor Hendrikx, Jonathan Lessard and Quad City Mallard goalie Thomas Heemskerk as well as former Allen American's players Scott Langdon and Dylan King all played for the San Francisco Bulls last year.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Win Or Go Home, Are You a Pessimist or Optimist, CHL Championship 10 years Ago Today

- To say the team practice today at 10:00 am (open to the public by the way) at the Allen Event Center kicks off the most important week of the season for the Allen Americans would be a gross understatement. After all the Americans have not one, but two win or go home games on Tuesday and Wednesday. If you are a pessimist you might be thinking about the fact that no CHL team has won back to back championships since 2003 when the Mississippi River Kings accomplished the feat. However, if you are an optimist you are thinking about the fact that Allen has never lost a playoff series at home. And as fate would have it the only other time in team history the Americans were down in a series 3-2 and needed to win two games at home it was against Mallard's coach, Terry Ruskowski. The very first playoff series in team history back in 2010 the Americans played the Laredo Bucks who were led by Terry Ruskowski. Current Mallard defenseman Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel was a player on that team. After losing game five to Laredo 5-1 on the road and being down in the series 3-2 the Americans came home with the task of winning two games. Allen won game six 3-2 and in the series deciding game seven goals by a whose who of Allen Americans hockey (Nino Musitelli, Tobias Whelan, Jordie Benn and Bruce Graham) propelled Allen to a 4-1 series victory.

- Whether you are a pessimist or optimist really doesn't matter at this point as it is up to the players to show what they are made of and perform to their potential on the ice. As coach Martinson said on the bus ride home from Quad City, "It's the playoffs, not horseshoes, you don't get any credit for being close and outplaying a team. There are no more mulligans, it is time to play or go home."

- I have gotten to know this team pretty well this year and there is no doubt in my mind with all of the experience and leadership they have in the locker room they will be ready on Tuesday night and will be prepared to "empty the tank" in game six. If you are in the DFW area make plans to attend on Tuesday night as it will be a good one.

- Based on some of the traffic on the message boards and social media the Quad City and Denver fans are already making plans to visit each others arena, asking about places to stay and eat. A little premature at this point. Credit to one Mallard's fan when asked on line about where teams stay, "I'm not going to answer this until we know for sure who is in the finals."

- On Friday I included the story of the 2004 CHL championship in which the Terry Ruskowski coached  Laredo Bucks won the Presidents' Cup on a controversial goal in overtime of the seventh game. The referee in that game was Steve Cruickshank.  As it turns out, today is the tenth anniversary of that famous game and Roy Lang III  (shreveporttimes.com) has just posted an update on that famous game and the impact it had on the losing team, the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs.

April 28, 2004 - It could have been the greatest night in the history of the Central Hockey League. As if Game 7 of the Presidents Cup Final wasn’t enough, the evening provided the league’s first Game 7 overtime. The NHL hasn't had Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final go to overtime in 60 years. Not only were folks hanging from the rafters of the Laredo (Texas) Entertainment Center, thousands were gathered in a parking lot watching on makeshift TV screens. “It was everything you want in a series,” said Brad Treliving, then the president of the CHL. The all-or-nothing affair featured organizations from strangely hockey-crazed markets – the Mudbugs from Shreveport-Bossier City and the host Bucks. “The intensity. The scene there – of all places, Laredo, Texas,” Steve Mears, then the voice of the Mudbugs said. “You can see Mexico from the parking lot. It’s a non-traditional venue, non-traditional area, if I’m not mistaken, an extremely dangerous place right now. And they were playing another team from a non-traditional market – a place where people wouldn’t think hockey existed. And it was thriving at the time.” In the midst of the tension, momentum swings and electrifying moments – everything you’d expect from a Game 7 – the evening suddenly turned chaotic 8:43 into the overtime session exactly 10 years ago. A shot from Laredo’s Dion Hyman from the right circle slipped past Bossier-Shreveport netminder Ken Carroll. The closest person to the Mudbugs’ net beside Carroll, referee Steve Cruickshank, emphatically waved no goal. But after the puck careened back at Hyman and play continued toward the Laredo end, Hyman threw his gloves in the air in celebration and the LEC erupted. The red light had come on. That man at the trigger? Then-Laredo resident Rufus Lopez, a volunteer off-ice official. Although Laredo goaltender David Guerrera could be seen pleading for his teammates to carry on (he’d presumably been watching Cruickshank), play was stopped. There were fireworks. Confetti. Margaritas were thrown onto the ice. “We have a mess on our hands,” Mears told his radio audience. After a brief conversation with his linesmen, Cruickshank followed what the CHL dubbed its “protocol” and conferred with Lopez. “When the confetti started falling from the ceiling, I knew we were done,” Mudbugs captain Forbes MacPherson recalled. “There was just no way under those circumstances there was any type of resolution that league could come up with in that timeframe to make a hard decision, a right decision. We’d gone past the point of no return.” Thirty-three seconds later, and despite the fact not a single paid official saw the puck go in, Cruickshank pointed to the Mudbugs’ net. The game was over. But the story had just begun. The Times has reached out to many of those involved to detail that incredible night. To many, 10 years later, the controversial goal is simply a footnote to what the night produced. Chaos reigned in the immediate aftermath. There was a champagne celebration and expletives the devil couldn’t invent. In one locker room, there was devastation. The other, jubilation. There were heroes and villains. A pair of ring ceremonies and death threats. But the 2003-04 Mudbugs team may have accomplished more in defeat than in victory. The loss highlighted the incredible love affair with the fans and incited support rarely seen in Northwest Louisiana. The evening will forever link a group of more than 20 men that learned, through heartache, how much they were alike. How much they cared about each other. The CHL consequently changed its protocol following the calamity. Did the puck go in? It doesn’t even matter anymore. “If a little bit of disappointment is all it takes to bring out the compassion and thoughtfulness like we were shown year after year I would do it all over again,” said Quade Lightbody, a defenseman for the Mudbugs from (2003-09).

Embedded image permalink
Courtesy CHL Memes

 
 
DID YOU KNOW: The Quad City Mallards have not made it to the championship finals since 2003 when they were part of the United Hockey League (UHL). However, the Mallards franchise is historic in several ways. They never missed the playoffs while playing in the UHL from 1995-2007. The team has won three league championships and became the first hockey team in the minor or major leagues to record 6 straight seasons of 50 or more wins. In the 1997-1998 season the team's average attendance exceeded over 8500.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Quad Takes Series Lead, Martinson Comments, Will Home Ice Advantage Prevail, Sports Quotes For the Occasion

As I sit down to write this morning it is hard not to dwell on how close the Allen Americans came to winning all three games in Quad City. After winning the first game to get back in the drivers seat, two overtime losses now has Allen in a must win situation in games six and seven back in Allen. The 3-2 loss last night was particularly difficult as the Mallards scored both of their regulation goals in the last minute of play in the period. After giving up a goal with 33 seconds left in the opening period the Americans outplayed Quad City in the second period, outshooting the Mallards 19-5, but could not score. In the third period Allen again dominated play outshooting the Mallards 16-7  and were able to score twice on goals by Alex Lavoie and Darryl Bootland to take a 2-1. Quad City came back to tie the score with an empty net, extra attacker with 51 seconds left in the game to send the game to overtime. Mike Stinziani scored the game winning overtime goal at 16:12 of the first overtime period. 

The final tally on the three games in Quad City is one win and two overtime losses. The Mallards only scored five goals in regulation time in the three games and three of the five goals were scored in the last minute of the period. Shoulda, coulda, woulda has now turned into two must win games on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Allen Event Center.


STEVE MARTINSON POST GAME COMMENTS:

- Another tough loss tonight but it could be worse. We are down 3-2 but we are heading home and we are not being outplayed in the games. Our task is pretty straight forward, win at home on Tuesday and set up a game seven for the series win. We were pretty good in game sevens last year.

- We had lots of posts and missed opportunities while out shooting the Mallards 35-12 in the last two periods but this is the playoffs not horseshoes so you don't get any credit for outplaying a team.

- There are no more mulligans at this point. We need to shoot better and get more traffic in front of the net. It is time to play or go home.

-  After reviewing the video I thought there was goalie interference on both their power play goal in the first period and the overtime goal but that is no excuse. We have to do a better job of controlling  what we can control and not put ourselves in a position where one call can influence the outcome of the game. 

- The discussion I had with the referee at the end of the game was about calls during the game and the play being dead.


OTHER COMMENTS:


Half Full or Half Empty?
-  It would be easy to look at the glass half empty but half full is the way the Americans will approach the upcoming games. This team has showed its resiliency time and time again and home ice advantage is the reason you play the regular season. Allen just needs to protect its home ice advantage. This team is full of experience and leaders and they will rise to the occasion. And if all else fails in being confident of the outcome of this series rely on history as Allen has never lost a playoff series on home ice in their five year history.

- Many teams have been in the situation of being down 3-2 going home for the final two games. The best thing you can have going for you is being the better team and most impartial observers would admit Allen has the better team in this series and the Mallards have been the underdogs. However, being the better team doesn't win squat unless you go out and prove you are the better team. The Americans have the opportunity to do just that on Tuesday and Wednesday. Here are a few sports quotes that capture this moment:
 "Continuous effort... not strength or intelligence or being the better team... is the key to unlocking your potential"
 "The five S's of sports are stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit, but the greatest of these is spirit"
 "Winning means you are willing to go longer, work harder and give more than anyone else"
 "Sports don't build character, they reveal it"
 "Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement"
 "To win the game you need to win the battle of the WANT"
And if all else fails remember the old philosopher Yogi Berra, who perfectly captures the situation Allen finds themselves in, "It ain't over, 'til it's over"

- Thomas Heemskerk continued his outstanding play in goal for the Mallards stopping 45 of 47 Allen shots and now has a playoff leading 1.56 GAA and .949 SV%. Here is what Bobby Metcalf (qctimes.com) had to say about Heemskerk and Jordan Mayer, who has four of the eleven goals the Mallards have scored in the series.
It took another dominant performance from Mallards goaltender Thomas Heemskerk and another great performance from playoff-blooming Jordan Mayer to get the Mallards to the extra period. Trailing 2-1 after giving up two third-period goals, the Mallards pulled Heemskerk with 1:28 remaining in the third period for an extra attacker. Mayer scored his team-leading seventh goal of the playoffs, putting the puck through Pitton's five-hole with 50.6 seconds left to tie the game. "It was very nerve-wracking being down 2-1," Mayer said. "It was pretty scrambled (in front of the net). I just decided to keep it low because there were bodies everywhere and it worked out." The Mallards were fortunate to be able to tie the game after suffering through an American offensive onslaught in the second and third periods. The Americans outshot the Mallards 43-26 in regulation and 47-32 in the game, but Heemskerk made save after save — 45 in total — to keep the game close. "That was a busy one tonight," Heemskerk said. "The majority in the second and quite a few in the third, but pretty busy tonight." Heemskerk couldn't make every save, though as the Americans scored twice in the third period to take the one-goal lead. On an Allen power play, rookie of the year Alex Lavoie scored on a rebound to tie the game at 1:42 and Darryl Bootland gave Allen the lead seven minutes later, capitalizing on a turnover by Jim McKenzie that gave Allen a 2-on-1 rush. Spencer Asuchak's shot rebounded off Heemskerk and with no one to clear the puck, Bootland scored. "I was really kind of distraught that we had a (one-goal) lead and we blew it and it wasn't a good situation," coach Terry Ruskowski said. "We made an undisciplined penalty and they took advantage of it and then they go up." After Mayer scored the equalizer, Heemskerk shut the door in overtime, making four saves.



- What began as a promising post season for the Arizona Sundogs when they upset top seeded Missouri ended abruptly last night in Denver as the Sundogs were trounced by the Cutthroats 7-0. The Cutthroats won the series 4-1 and now advance to the CHL's Presidents' Cup finals where they await the winner of the Allen vs Quad City series.

Courtesy CHL Memes


 DID YOU KNOW:  In the last five years the Allen Americans have 37 playoff wins, nine more than any other team.             

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Quad Wins 2-1 on McKenzie OT Goal, Martinson Post Game Comments, Allen Special Teams Advantage

Any loss in the playoffs is a tough loss but last night's 2-1 overtime loss to Quad City was particularly difficult to take as the Mallards evened the best of seven series 2-2.  Jim McKenzie, who was released by Allen just before training camp this year and had not had a point in the first nine Quad City playoff games made the first one count as he got the game winning goal at 6:47 of the first overtime period. Allen scored the first goal of the game on an Alex Lavoie power play goal at 3:26 of the first period and despite numerous great opportunists could never get the puck in the net again. The best thing about a difficult defeat like last night is you don't have to wait long to do something about it as the two teams meet again tonight (Saturday) with a 7:05 puck drop. With the series tied 2-2 the teams will be back in Allen for game six regardless of the outcome tonight. Games six will be at the Allen Event Center Tuesday (4/29) at 7:05 pm. If a seventh game is needed it will be at the AEC on Wednesday.

STEVE MARTINSON POST GAME COMMENTS:

- On both of the Quad City goals tonight we allowed their players in front of the net without getting sticks on them. On the replay of McKenzie's game winner it looks like he hits it in through Pitton's pad. Pitton turned to the referee immediately but the referee was not in great position to see what happened. With only one referee it is hard to see both sides of the net.

- It is frustrating as we had numerous chances in the first period to extend our lead after the early Lavoie power play goal. We could have easily been up by three goals after the first and by not capitalizing early in the game it came back to bite us.

- I thought the team played a pretty sound defensive game and Bryan Pitton certainly deserved a better fate.

- We will really have to bear down tomorrow (Saturday) night. Almost is not good enough this time of year.


OTHER COMMENTS:

- Here is part of how Bobby Metcalf (qctimes.com) described the game winner by Jim McKenzie:
Exactly 606 minutes, 47 seconds.
That's how long Quad-City Mallards forward Jim McKenzie had to endure without a point in the playoffs since returning to the team with high expectations after his lengthy stint in the American Hockey League. Finally, in Game 4 of the Central Hockey League semifinals at the iWireless Center, McKenzie broke through. He netted the game-winning, overtime goal to give the Mallards a 2-1 win over the Allen Americans, with whom McKenzie won the league championship last year. The series is tied 2-2 with Game 5 tonight at 7:05 p.m. in Moline. "It feels good, absolutely," McKenzie said. "Just keep working hard, go to the net like Terry said. The floodgates are open now, right?" The Mallards certainly hope so after McKenzie scored six goals during the Americans' run to the cup last season. "That's an encouraging situation for us," coach Terry Ruskowski said. "I'm really hoping (the monkey is off his back)." McKenzie scored at 6:47 in the overtime, burying a centering pass from Jordan Mayer past Allen goalie Bryan Pitton to cause the entire Mallards bench to storm the ice in celebration. "I just saw (Mayer) walking out of the corner to the corner of the net and I just put my big butt in front," McKenzie said. "He threw it short side and I jammed it under (Pitton's) pad. It was one of those greasy garbage goals. They win overtimes."

-  Special teams usually win games especially in playoffs but it wasn't the case last night. Allen continued to dominate the special teams play as they held Quad City scoreless on three power play opportunities while the Americans scored on one of their two power play opportunities. Quad City has not scored a power play goal the entire series and are 0-14. Allen has three power play goals in eleven tries (27.3%). If Allen can continue to win the special team battle you have to like their chances tonight and in the series.

- You expect great goaltending in the playoffs and Thomas Heemskerk and Bryan Pitton are certainly delivering that for their respective teams. They are the top two rated goalies in the playoffs with great numbers:
Thomas Heemskerk - 1.55 (GAA) & .947 (SV%)
Bryan Pitton - 1.98 (GAA) & .935 (SV%)

- It is always easy to find fault with the referee in any game but it was nice to have a game where the referee let the guys play and settle the game on the ice. Steve Cruickshank only called five minor penalties and none in the third period or overtime. The referee for the game tonight is Tudor Floru who has one of the higher penalties called per game averages among the referee corp. It may be a totally different out come tonight.

- Denver can advance to their first ever Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup Final with just one more win over Arizona.  Their first chance is tonight at the Denver Coliseum and so far this season, they are 1-0 in series-clinching games.

- Playoff attendance continues to lag far behind the figures from last year. The average thus far this year is 3091 compared to last year when the average was 3629. Much of this difference can be attributed to who made the semifinals this year as the four teams were ranked #5 (Allen), #6 (Quad City), #8 (Arizona) & #10 (Denver) in attendance during the regular season.

Courtesy CHL Memes


DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans do not have any player in the top 20 in penalty minutes for the playoffs this year.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Day Off in QC - The Details, Allen's Case for Best Playoff Team, Series Notes, Cruickshank/Ruskowski History

It is game day for the Allen Americans and what always seems to be the case, a very important game indeed. Will Allen take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series with two of the last three games at home or will Quad City tie the series 2-2 and make it a dogfight all the way to game seven. Allen still has not played their best hockey according to coach Martinson and he has another dilemma on his hands for this game as all the players are now healthy enough to play so healthy scratches are required. Here are his exact words, "We are the healthiest we have been all year. Staying healthy in the playoffs is critical to success. We only get 17 skaters and sitting out healthy players is not fun for anyone."

An unusual happening yesterday as the team had the entire day off on the road with no practice and no team meal so they had the entire day to themselves. They could hang out at the hotel and utilize the fitness center, pool and game room, head to one of the casinos, head to the local mall for food and a movie or find a local sports bar to take in some NHL action. A day for rest and relaxation before the two big games this weekend. For the movie buffs I heard some of the guys went to see Draft Day with Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner while another group took in Captain America starring Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson.

- With the 2014 playoffs at the midway point it is a good time to do some comparisons between the four teams in the semifinals on how they have performed in the playoffs. So here are a few statistics:

Winning Percentage:
1. Allen:        .750
2. Denver      .700
3. Arizona     .500
4. Quad City .500

Goals Scored (average per game):
1. Allen        3.75
2. Denver     3.20
3. Arizona    2.90
4. Quad City 2.30

Goals Allowed (average per game)
1. Allen         2.13
2. Quad City 2.30
3. Denver      2.80
4. Arizona     3.20

Penalty Minutes (average per game):
1. Allen         12.6
2. Quad City 14.4
3. Denver      17.9
4. Arizona     18.1

Plus/Minus (total for playoffs)     
1. Allen         +42
2. Arizona      +8
3. Denver       +4
4. Arizona      -8

Save Percentage (total for playoffs):
1. Allen          .931
2. Denver       .928
3. Quad City  .928
4. Arizona      .906

Power Play (total for playoffs):
1. Allen          25.93%
2. Arizona      15.91%
3. Denver       15.56%
4. Quad City  12.20%

Penalty Kill (total for playoffs)
1. Allen          91.43%
2. Denver       91.30%
3. Quad City  87.50%
4. Arizona      77.08%

Attendance (per game average for playoffs):
1. Allen           3833
2. Quad City   3483
3. Arizona       2769
4. Denver        2154

Based on the stats above it is hard to argue anything other than Allen has been the best playoff team thus far. Unfortunately, the first half of the playoffs doesn't mean squat unless you can match the performance in the second half of the playoffs.

OTHER COMMENTS:

- Here is the "Series Notes" from the CHL:
Series Notes:
-Jonathan Lessard’s shorthanded goal in Game 3 was the first post-season shorty for Allen since last season’s playoff MVP Brian McMillin scored a man down in Game 2 of the finals.
-With Jordan Mayer’s third period goal in Game 3, the Americans scoreless minute streak came to an end with goalie Bryan Pitton shutting the Flock down for 134:21. 
-Thomas Frazee’s assist in Game 3 extended his point streak to seven games seeing him score five goals with six assists over that stretch.
-Allen’s Bruce Graham has scored goals in four straight games tying him for the longest goal scoring streak of the post-season.
-The Americans have killed 32 of 35 power plays against so far in the post-season stopping all 11 Quad City man advantages in the series.  Allen’s 91.4% success rate is tops among all post-season teams.
-Allen is a +13 in the playoffs, best among all teams, outscoring the opposition 30-17.  Of the remaining four teams, Denver is a +4 (32-28), Quad City is even (23-23) and Arizona is a -3 (29-32).
 

- The referee for the game tonight is Steve Cruickshank who is thought of by many as the best referee in the CHL. He is certainly the most experienced as he officiated over 1000 games. The CHL used to include a referee category in the "Best of the Best" awards and he was the recipient of that award and has also been given many other awards for officiating. He is from Paris, Ontario which is an hour west of Toronto. 


- Could the NHL be coming to the Kansas City area, home of the Missouri Mavericks? Saw this in a recent news article.
It’s been rumored for some time and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman admitted that he’s heard multiple inquiries about bringing hockey to the city.
Bettman says, "The NHL has heard from several parties in last year about hockey in KC. Those calls have come from both in and outside of KC."
So again, nothing official here other than the NHL is aware that there are parties who are interested in bringing professional hockey to Kansas City. We've seen a glimpse of what hockey fandom could be like in KC with the Independence (sic Missouri) Mavericks, a semi professional hockey team that's been around since 2009. The small local team has won best fans of the Central Hockey League and has sold out the small arena consistently over the last 4 years.
The popularity of the sport has taken on strong with Kansas City's youth, as the new Independence Events Center, where the Mavericks play, has two full sheets of ice where kids can take on the sport in an organized manner. The increase of young players has increased significantly from year to year which again, helps to prove that there is a market for hockey in Kansas City.
Not sure on what is more likely to happen, an NBA team or an NHL team first. Either way, the Sprint Center is built for a team and deserves to house one soon.



Courtesy CHL Memes


DID YOU KNOW: Referee Steve Cruickshank and Quad City coach Terry Ruskowski are forever linked in one of the most exciting and controversial championships in CHL history. Ruskowski was the coach of the Laredo Bucks back in 2003-2004 when they won the championship defeating Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs in the finals. Here is an account of the final game written at the time.
The Laredo Bucks are the new Central Hockey League champions and they rewrote league history in the process. Coming back from a 3-1 game deficit in a best-of-seven the Bucks battled back and won three consecutive games to win the Ray Miron Presidents' Cup in dramatic fashion. The Bucks are the first team in CHL/WPHL history to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals. With a packed, standing room only crowd inside and 2,000 more people outside watching on a few big screens that were set up in front of the LEC's main entrance, the second-year Laredo Bucks claimed the 2003-2004 CHL title. Thanks to a dramatic, disputed goal off the stick of Dion Hyman 8:43 in overtime from the top of the left circle, the Bucks capped off their amazing season with a come-from-behind 3-2 win. Hyman fired a shot and it went in past Mudbugs goalie Ken Carroll's left side. With the red light going off signaling a goal, referee Steve Cruickshank went over to goal judge Rufus Lopez. If a referee is less than 100 percent certain the puck went in he has the option of consulting with the goal judge. After both talked it over Hyman's goal was ruled the game winner sending the crowd into pandemonium as the Mudbugs watched in disbelief. The Mudbugs' Carroll and Quade Lightbody skated over to Lopez and tried to dispute the goal but the ruling stood. The fans began throwing things on the ice towards both players who were upset at the ruling. An emotional, teary eyed coach Ruskowski said, "I can't describe what I'm feeling right now. These guys have worked so hard all year long. I prayed all last night to our Lord Jesus Christ and he was on our side tonight. I am so proud of the guys."

Two years later (2006) Laredo and Bossier-Shreveport met in the finals once again and this is what the CHL had to say in the series preview:
Game 1 of the 2005-2006 Ray Miron President’s Cup Finals is slated for this Friday, April 28th at the Laredo Entertainment Center as the Laredo Bucks host the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs in a rematch of perhaps the most competitive and emotional Central Hockey League Finals ever played. Exactly two years ago, Laredo defenseman Dion Hyman ripped a controversial slapshot 8:43 into overtime that beat goaltender Ken Carroll to give the Bucks a 3-2 overtime win in Game 7. After a review by both on and off ice officials, the goal was counted as official, giving the Bucks the championship while infuriating 'Mudbug Nation', who felt the goal did not enter the net and should not have counted. Nearly two years later, still no clear video evidence exists to support either a goal or no goal call. The clubs will have another chance to battle for the CHL’s top prize this year, with the series guaranteed to be packed with emotion.

PS: The Bucks and Ruskowski also won the rematch and claimed the championship in 2006.



Thursday, April 24, 2014

Allen Wins, Takes 2-1 Series Lead, Martinson Post Game Comments, Denver Leads Arizona 3-1

In a game full of surprises the Allen Americans defeated the Quad City Mallards last night by a score of 4-2 before a crowd of 3724 at the I-wireless Center to take a 2-1 series lead. One of the surprises was the size of the crowd for a midweek game in Quad City but then again they sold tickets for three dollars to try and fill up the arena. Other surprises included the Mallards starting Ty Rimmer in goal with playoff leading goaltender Thomas Heemskirk (GAA 1.67) watching from the bench, Allen getting off to a 8-0 lead in shots on goal, holding Quad City without a shot on goal for the first twelve minutes of the game and Allen scoring two goals on breakaways in a playoff game.

The Americans jumped off to a two goal lead in the first period and special teams played a role in both goals. Bruce Graham scored a power play goal just 16 seconds into the only Allen power play of the night. Less than two minutes later the Mallards looked poised to tie the game when the Americans took two quick penalties, giving Quad City a lengthy 5-on-3 power play. Just as the first penalty was expiring Tyler Ludwig found Jonathan Lessard coming out of the penalty box for a breakaway. Lessard had an easy path to the net after Mallards goalie Ty Rimmer stumbled trying to get into position to make the save. "It was late in the period and the guy came out of the box and I was banging my stick," Rimmer said. "I looked up, went to push out and set my feet. I just caught a rut and went down and the rest is history."

There was no scoring in the second period. Allen's third goal was also a breakaway as a turnover at center ice gave Bruce Graham a breakaway and while Rimmer made the initial save, the trailing Jamie Schaafsma scored on the rebound at 14:12 of the third period. The American's fourth goal was an empty netter by Gregor Hanson with 18 seconds remaining in the game.

The Mallards host game four Friday evening and game five Saturday night.  Each of those contests will face off at 7:05 p.m.  Should a sixth game be required, the series would move back to Allen on Tuesday night, April 29.  If the series goes the distance, the Americans would host the seventh and deciding game on Wednesday evening, April 30.


STEVE MARTINSON POST GAME COMMENTS:

- It was great to get a win in the first of the three games here in Quad City. We are pleased with the outcome but still have something to build on for the next two games. We have been missing a lot of good scoring opportunities in this series and we need to capitalize on all of the odd man rushes we are being given.

- Bryan Pitton played another excellent game for us in goal. I think the goalie play on both teams has been great in this series.

- All of the roughing power plays for the Mallards is frustrating. The referee said they would take the first player on a scrum but that is not what is happening in my opinion. They did this in the last round and are continuing it in this round. Our team has been willing to drop the gloves all year and not hide behind scrums and referees.

- Special teams were big as in the first period alone we scored on a power play, scored shorthanded and killed a 5 on 3 power play.

- All three of our lines having been making plays and creating scoring opportunities and our depth is making a difference.

- The guys will have the day off tomorrow (Thursday) to rest and heal before the two big games this weekend.

- We are being cautious with Kale Kerbashian but the plan is if all goes well he will be back in the line up on Friday.



OTHER COMMENTS:

- Mallard coach Terry Ruskowski was not happy with the defensive breakdowns that led to two breakaway goals. "I'm very disappointed," coach Ruskowski said. "I guess it shows you how much we miss (defenseman Matt) Duffy. This is playoff hockey, are you kidding me. You've got to work details, you've got to know what to do, when to do it and how to do it. It's too late for me to tell them now."

- Special teams have made a big difference in this series and the playoffs. Allen's specials teams are now rated #1 (penalty kill) and #2 (power play) in the league. Quad City is yet to score a power play goal and are 0-11 in the first three games. Allen is 2-9 (22%) on the power play against the Mallards.

- Coach Martinson always talks about how important it is to keep improving your team during the season. Not sure he envisioned the impact the late season addition of Anthony Maiani and Bruce Graham would have being as neither of them played hockey professionally this year. They both have been big contributors during the playoffs and are the teams #1 (Graham 12 points) and #2 (Maiani 11 points) scorers.

- The three stars of the game were #1 Jamie Schaafsma who had the game winning goal. He didn't quit on the Graham breakaway, which allowed him to put home the rebound. The #2 star was Bruce Graham with a goal and an assist and some great work along the boards. The #3 star was Bryan Pitton who had many key saves as he stopped 33 of 35 shots. Pitton has been one of the three stars in five of the eight games he has played in the playoffs.

- Bruce Graham not only leads the team in scoring during the playoffs he has a point in all eight of the playoff games played thus far. He has scored a goal in the last four games.

- The Denver Cutthroats took advantage of a depleted Arizona Sundogs roster winning Game 4 on Wednesday night by a 4-1 count.  The Cutthroats now move to within just one win from moving on to the Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup Finals leading the series three games to one. Adam Brown stopped 20 shots for Arizona as he was forced into action due to an injury to top goalie Andrew Engelage. The series now moves back to Denver for Game 5 on Saturday night as the Cutthroats will have the chance to advance to their first Presidents’ Cup Finals.



Courtesy CHL Memes


DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans have yet to be in a one goal game during the playoffs. They have either won or lost by at least two goals in all eight playoff games.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Game Three Preview, Allen Playoff Scoring Leaders, Surprise Coming at the AEC

- It is another game day on the long road to the Presidents' Cup as the Allen Americans take on the Quad City Mallards tonight at  7:05 pm with the series tied 1-1. You can find all kinds of data relating to seven game series in sports and most of it says game three is a very important game in deciding which team will win the series. In their five year history, Allen has been in seven games series on nine different occasions and their record in game three of those nine series is 6-3. The six times they have won game three Allen went on to win the series five times. The exception was in 2010 in the championship finals when the Americans won game three against Rapid City but still lost the series. Conversely, the three times Allen has lost game three they have lost the series twice. The exception was last year against Wichita in the finals as Allen lost game three but still won the series. So based on past history as well as data from other sports the game tonight is really important.

- The team leaders now that Allen has played seven playoff games this year are as follows:
Goals - Graham, Hanson, Bootland (4),  Maiani, Schaafsma (3)
Assists - Maiani (7), Graham, Schaafsma,  Ludwig (6)
Points - Graham, Maiani (10), Hanson, Schaafsma (9)
Plus/Minus - Schaafsma (+9), Ludwig (+8), Tetrault (+7)

- Gregor Hanson leads the entire CHL with three game winning goals and Jamie Schaaafsma leads the league in plus/minus with his +9.

- The two best goalies thus far in the playoffs have been Quad City goalie Thomas Heemskirk (GAA 1.67 & SV% .943) and Allen's Bryan Pitton (GAA 2.01 & SV% .933). It is interesting that Quad City coach Terry Ruskowski was quoted as saying Ty Rimmer will start in goal for the Mallards tonight.

- The Americans and Mallards are very close when it come to killing penalties. Allen is #1 at 90.3% and Quad City is #2 at 90.0%. On the power play Allen is #2 at 24% and Quad City is #5 at 13.5%.

- Whether Kale Kerbashian is in the line up tonight has still not been decided. A decision will be made after the pregame skate this morning.

- Here are the team comparisons as provided by the CHL:
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  Quad City Mallards           Allen Americans  
RESULT OF LAST GAME               LOSS  0-2 vs ALN             WIN  2-0 vs QDC  
GAMES PLAYED                      9                            7                
RECORD                            5-4                          5-2              
POINTS                            10                           10               
HOME RECORD                       2-1                          3-1              
AWAY RECORD                       3-3                          2-1              
LAST 10 GAMES                     5-4                          5-2              
LAST 5 GAMES                      3-2                          3-2              
SCORING FIRST                     4-0                          3-1              
LEADING AFTER 1ST                 3-0                          2-1              
LEADING AFTER 2ND                 4-0                          3-0              
TIED AFTER 1ST                    2-1                          2-0              
TIED AFTER 2ND                    0-1                          2-1              
TRAILING AFTER 1ST                0-3                          1-1              
TRAILING AFTER 2ND                1-3                          0-1              
WHEN OUTSHOOTING OPPONENT         1-1                          5-2              
1 - GOAL GAMES                    1-1                          0-0              
GOALS FOR PER GAME                2.33                         3.71             
GOALS AGAINST PER GAME            2.11                         2.14             
SHOTS FOR PER GAME                25.22                        38.86            
SHOTS AGAINST PER GAME            28.67                        30.00            
POWER PLAY RECORD                 5 - 37   13.5%               6 - 25   24.0%   
PENALTY KILLING RECORD            3 - 30   90.0%               3 - 31   90.3%   
SH GOALS FOR                      1                            0                
SH GOALS AGAINST                  0                            1                
PIM AVERAGE                       14.89                        12.43            


SCORING BY PERIODS    1ST  2ND  3RD  OT  TOTAL  
Quad City             6    5    9    1   21     
Opponents             6    7    6    0   19     
                      
Allen                 10   9    7    0   26     
Opponents             7    5    3    0   15 


- Here are the "series notes" published by the CHL:
Series Notes:
-Allen goaltender Bryan Pitton joined Denver’s Kent Patterson as the only netminders in this post-season to record shutouts thanks to his 23 save performance in Game 2’s 2-0 win over the Mallards.  Patterson’s shutout came in Game 5 of the Opening Round in Denver’s win over Tulsa.
-Quad City has been outshot 65-49 in the series so far and in the playoffs have outshot their opponent only twice in nine games.  Allen leads the post-season clubs by outshooting their opponent in all of their games thus far (5-2 in those contests).
-Mallards forward Jordan Mayer saw his goal streak come to an end in Game 2 of the series (three straight games) but he still is having a solid post-season with four goals and three assists (+3) in seven games.  During the regular season, Mayer scored two goals with six assists in 13 games.
-Allen forward Bruce Graham netted the game winning goal in Sunday’s 2-0 win over the Mallards and in the post-season has recorded at least a point in all seven Americans games.  The veteran has totaled four goals and six assists with his four strikes coming over the team’s last five games.
-The Flock were without their leading post-season scorer, Thomas Frazee, on Sunday.  Frazee has scored points in six straight games totaling five goals with five assists during that stretch.
-Allen has been a great finisher in this year’s post-season holding teams to just three third period goals so far.  The Americans are a +4 in the final period scoring seven goals of their own including a pair in Sunday’s win.



- The Arizona Sundogs lost, in their third overtime game of the post-season being narrowly edged out by the Denver Cutthroats 5-4 last night (Tuesday) at Tim’s Toyota Center in Arizona in front of 3,326 fans. The Sundogs trail the Cutthroats in the series, 2-1. Game four is tonight in Arizona and then the teams travel back to Denver for game five on Saturday.



Courtesy CHL Memes



 DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Event Center received a new shipment. Can you guess what this is? You will be pleased!
What could This be?


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Ol' Girl Heads for Quad City, The Haunted Hotel, Injury Report, Left Shooters Dominate


- The Allen Americans departed the Allen Event Center shortly after 9:00 pm last night headed for Quad City where they will play the Mallards tomorrow (Wednesday), Friday and Saturday in the best of seven semifinals. The teams are tied at one game a piece. Everyone was on the bus with the exception of Garrett Klotz who is on injured reserve for this round of the playoffs. Kale Kerbashian boarded the bus without the cast he has been wearing the last few weeks. The team will arrive in Quad City this morning and will have a full practice since they did not practice on Monday.

- I have been asked numerous times what and where is "Quad City" so here is the short answer: The cities that make up the Quad Cities are in Illinois and Iowa and they all border the Mississippi River. The four cities that have been called the Quad Cities since the early 1960s are Davenport, Iowa and the Illinois cities of Moline, Rock Island, and East Moline. Bettendorf, Iowa grew large enough in the 1970s to be included, but the name change to the Quint Cities never caught on. The hockey games are played at the iWireless Center which is in Moline but the team stays across the river at a hotel in Bettendorf that is well worn and supposedly haunted.

The Lodge Hotel

After 12 -14 hours on the road, no matter how creepy or quirky the Lodge Hotel might seem to players, it is a welcome sight. On the other side of the Mississippi River in Bettendorf, Iowa, the Lodge was built in the early 1970s but feels a century older. From the outside it appears modeled on the Disney Tower of Terror ride. Inside, the decor looks like it is from the mind of a manic German hunter, replete with mounted animal heads, carved wooden bears, huge fireplaces, dark wood paneling and countless large oil portraits; the type with eyes that follow a visitor around the room.
I have heard  some of the players, so unnerved at being watched,  cover the paintings in their rooms with bathroom towels. Broadcaster Tommy Daniels is convinced the place is haunted. I've heard one player say, “I’ve got the Mona Lisa in my room,” of some anonymous framed baroness on his wall. “She’s got one eye looking at you and one eye looking for you.” UPDATE: Heard from a Quad City fan (thanks Quacky) who shared this information, This will be the last year for visiting teams to be spooked by The Lodge! It's undergoing a renovation over the summer and will be a Doubletree by Hilton. Going to keep some of the character, but betting the modernization will get rid of the creepiness!!!

-  Here is part of what writer Bobby Metcalf reported in the Quad City Times (qctimes.com). The Mallards resume practice today after having Monday off, looking to recover from a 2-0 loss to the Americans on Easter Sunday. Quad-City was shorthanded in that loss, losing leading goal-scorer Thomas Frazee before the game to dehydration and defenseman Matt Duffy in the second period with an upper body injury. Frazee said he felt better Monday after receiving treatment during Game 2 and expects to be ready to go in Game 3. "I didn't get to see the game but I heard the boys played really well," Frazee said. "We just couldn't capitalize on our chances. Hopefully Wednesday we have a lot of fan support and it will be a good game." Duffy's availability for Game 3 is less certain after he suffered a hard check that sent him to the ice for several moments before finally skating off under his own power. He did not return in the game. "He says his shoulder is feeling fine. That's not a problem but he's still got a bit of a headache," Ruskowski said. "I think he got his bell rung. He got hit and he tried to get up but he was pretty wobbly." The Mallards still have an open roster spot they can fill with another amateur forward if they so choose, but if Frazee can return with no problems, Ruskowski said he was hesitant to make another addition unless the injury to Duffy was serious or they lost another defenseman.



- The Arizona Sundogs will host Game 3 of their semifinals against the Denver Cutthroats tonight (Tuesday) and Game 4 on Wednesday in Prescott Valley. The best of seven series is tied 1-1. Remember, this series is a 2-2-1-1-1 so after these two games in Arizona the teams return to Denver for game five.


Courtesy CHL Memes



DID YOU KNOW: About 62% (423 of 683) of NHL skaters are left shooters. The Allen Americans have 63% (12 of 19 ) left shooters and the Dallas Stars have 77% (17 of 22) left shooters.




Monday, April 21, 2014

Allen Ties series 1-1, Martinson & Matvichuk Post Game Comments, Coach's Bunny Sweater Picture

Allen beat Quad City last night 2-0 in a game that wasn't decided until Brian McMillin bounced a pass off the boards to Spencer Asuchak who scored an empty net goal with 17 seconds left in the game. After a scoreless first two periods Allen finally got on the scoreboard at 7:43 of the third period as Bruce Graham was parked in front of the net and a shot from the point by Tyler Ludwig bounced off Graham and into the net. Bryan Pitton stopped all 23 Mallard shots to record a shutout and send an Easter day crowd of 3742 home happy. The series continues with game three in Quad City on Wednesday.

Greger Hanson goes airborne trying to reach the puck - photo by SceneByKimberly.com


Coaches Post Game Comments:

- Bryan Pitton played great tonight and that was a big boost for the team. We have become accustomed to his playing that way in the playoffs. Quad City is a hard working team and they don't give you much in their end of the ice.

- Our power play was not effective again tonight going 0-3 so we will have to improve in that area going forward. We are not doing the things we need to do to be successful on the power play.

- The defense played much better in moving the puck and they didn't pinch when they weren't supposed to. We had a couple of problems on the penalty kill but overall it was a good effort.

- We played better tonight than we did on Friday but we need to play even better in Quad City. We can still shoot the puck better than we have in the first two games. We have some guys on the mend and we will be healthier on Wednesday.

- I felt we had the better chances in the game tonight but their goalie played really well. Overall, we outplayed them and deserved to win the game tonight.

- Kale Kerbashian gets his cast off tomorrow (Monday) and will make the trip to Quad City. Not sure if he will be ready on Wednesday but he should play soon.

- We will not practice tomorrow. We will leave tomorrow night (around 9:00 pm) and then practice Tuesday in Quad City.

OTHER COMMENTS:

- Steve Martinson made his pregame speech all decked out in his Easter sweater complete with bunnies and flowers. He now will have to wear that sweater on the road to keep the winning streak alive. Who says the coach doesn't have a sense of humor. He could not however, make himself wear the sweater during the game.




- The three stars of the game were #1 Bruce Graham, #2 Bryan Pitton, & #3 Quad City goalie Thomas Heemskerk.

- Allen's power play ranks #2 in the playoffs at 24.00% and the Americans are also #2 on the penalty kill at 90.32%.

Courtesy CHL Memes


DID YOU KNOW: Bryan Pitton's shutout was just the third playoff shutout in team history. Last year Aaron Dell shutout Denver 4-0 in game four of a series they won in five games. In 2012 Rejean Beauchemin shut out the Texas Brahmas 5-0 in the first game of the playoffs only to have the Brahmas come back and win the series in six games.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

'83 - '84 Tulsa Oilers & The Real Road Warriors Story, Why Allen Should Win Tonight, Arizona Wins

- It is game day in Allen and if past is prologue you don't want to miss this game. In the five year history of the Allen Americans they have lost the opening game of a playoff series on six occasions and in five of those series they won game two. The one time they lost game two was against Odessa in 2011 when the Americans came back and won three straight games to win the five game series 3-2. So the point being is good things tend to happen after Allen loses the first game of a playoff series. Let's hope that is the case today.



- Keys to the game will be a good start, lots of energy, pucks and players to the net, don't take chances which lead to odd man rushes, play physical without taking penalties and capitalize on special teams. Easier said than done.



-  Arizona beat Denver last night 4-3 to tie that series at one game a piece. The next two games will be played in Arizona on Tuesday and Wednesday as this series is a 2-2-1-1-1 unlike Allen vs Quad City which is 2-3-2. Not sure if it is the building/rink availability that decides this or some other factor but it is not distance as the distance between Denver and Arizona (Prescott Valley) is almost identical to the distance from Allen to Quad City. They are both about 12 hour trips.



- At playoff time it is always interesting to read inspiring playoff stories. I recently mentioned in the "Did You Know" section of the the blog the 1983-1984 Tulsa Oilers who had to overcome some real adversity when the team went broke during the season and they no longer had a home rink. Despite having to play all their games on the road during the playoffs they won the championship. Steve Martinson was a member of that team. I asked Steve what he remembers about the 83-84 Oilers and here are some of his memories:

- I remember we had a big party we called the "folding party" and the next day we were meeting to see where we would be reassigned as they were going to ship us all out to different places. There were only five teams in the league and I guess the CHL didn't want the league to go to just four teams so at the last minute they agreed to take us over rather than disperse the team.

- The CHL moved us all to Denver as it was more centrally located and we stayed at a Residence Inn. The first game we played against Denver, who wasn't happy the Oilers were living in their town, we had a bench clearing brawl. We played every playoff game on the road and only lost one game.

- That team had some great players on it. Both NHL veterans and those that would go on to NHL careers. Of the 31 guys that played at least one game with Tulsa that year 23 of them played some games in the NHL. We were affiliated with the New York Rangers and Herb Brooks was the Rangers coach that year. Olympians Bill Baker and Rob McClanahan were on that team. Others included current Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee, former NHL player and head coach Robbie Ftorek, Dave Barr who played with many NHL teams including the Dallas Stars, Grant Ledyard who had a long NHL career and also played several years for Dallas, and goalie John Vanbiesbrouck who had a twenty year career in the NHL.

- Tulsa had a nice rink downtown but they wanted too much for the lease so the owners decided to play at an old rink at the fairgrounds. I remember coming to that rink the first week and the ice plant wasn't working. It was a horrible place to play and also to watch a game. There were a few times we had to go to Oklahoma City to practice.

Here is a story written 2008 by Corey Erdman that was published in "The Hockey News" about the 1983-1984 Tulsa Oilers. The title of the article is, "The Tulsa Oilers Were True Road Warriors."

In 2008, the sports world marveled at the New York Giants, winning 11 consecutive road games, coining them the 'ultimate underdog.'  But what if they didn't have a home stadium at all? Or a $110 million payroll? And what if Tom Coughlin’s office was in the laundry room beneath the bleachers?
Such was the fate of the Tulsa Oilers during the 1983-1984 season. Despite a rabid fan following, Oilers ownership was unable to sustain the team. By February 1984, the ownership group had disintegrated, leaving the team in the hands of the Central League. The Oilers were bankrupt, which also voided the lease on their home rink, the Tulsa County Fairgrounds Pavilion. "I don't know if (ownership) just left town, or what," said former NHLer John Vanbiesbrouck, the Tulsa netminder in 1983-84. "As a young player, you're not really aware of ownership issues. All I knew was that if the team folded, we all had to go somewhere. The Rangers asked all of us where we wanted to go, and of course we all answered 'New York.' But, they suggested I go back to my junior team, instead."

One of the calming influences on the Tulsa roster was defenseman Bill Baker, a member of the Miracle on Ice 1980 U.S. Olympic team. Baker was winding down his career, planning on returning to the University of Minnesota for a degree in dentistry - one he eventually earned. "That's the kind of strange, typical thing you encounter when you're in the minor leagues," Baker said. "I was never one to panic – I was never flashy, either. I always liked to lead by example. I guess in the (dressing) room I'd be vocal, trying to be a positive influence on the younger players."

A meeting was set for February 14th, which included commissioner Bud Poile and current Maple Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher. A dispersal draft was discussed, but Tulsa coach Tom Webster and New York GM Craig Patrick negotiated an agreement calling for the CHL and the Rangers to split the cost of keeping the team alive. Oilers players moved into a Residence Inn in Denver and the team began to practice at the University of Denver. “(Ownership) was at one point arguing over a hundred dollars – whether to stop in three cities, or for an extra hundred dollars, to fly direct,” recalled Webster of the crisis. “But the situation ended up being better for us in Denver, because we all had to stay together. Every other night one of the wives would cook dinner, and so a lot of the single guys actually got some good grub in them.”

The Oilers – who began to be known as the CHL Oilers – fed off Webster and veterans such as Robbie Ftorek, who would become captain of the Quebec Nordiques and eventually an NHL coach. “I learned not to kick a water bottle next to a bench support, because he (Webster) almost broke his foot,” joked Ftorek, when asked what he’d learned from Webster. “He stayed focused on demanding good play, and if you believe in what you’ve got in front of you, you can do wonders.”  Added Baker: “Tom had such an air of maturity about him, always keeping things together instead of letting them fall apart.”

But not everyone’s reaction was positive. While the accommodations at the Residence Inn were top-notch, the facilities at the University of Denver were not. Webster's 'office' was in the laundry room beneath the bleachers. The shower in the Oilers dressing room was little more than a glorified garden hose. And the rink’s Zamboni was numbered 003, leaving Webster to believe that it was “the third one ever made.”  To top it all off, Colorado Flames fans were none too happy with the vagabond Oilers invading their territory. When ice time wasn’t available at the university, the Oilers practiced at a rink in a local shopping mall. Mall rules prohibited the use of pucks, so Coach Webster would use Nerf balls. “Webster really went the extra mile with myself and Ron Scott (the Oilers’ backup),” Vanbiesbrouck said. “He knew we were two young goalies that needed a lot of work, by whatever means necessary – he’d use tennis racquets or shoot tennis balls in the parking lot.”

The Oilers finished their season with a six-week road trip. In true storybook style, they won nearly every one of those games by the skin of their teeth, finishing the season dead-last in goals-for, but first in goals-against. Vanbiesbrouck took home the league’s Most Valuable Player award, as well as the Terry Sawchuck award for top goaltender.  Dave Barr and George McPhee provided most of the offense, while Bill Baker’s no-nonsense style rubbed off on young roommate Grant Ledyard, who was out to prove a point to himself and the Rangers during the playoffs. “I kind of had to make a leap,” Ledyard said, “I had never thought of hockey as a way to make a living before.”

The Oilers beat the Salt Lake Eagles in a five-game semi-final series, riding the momentum of a Cam Connor fight with Eagles hot prospect Gerald Diduck. “Boy, did (Connor) ever do a number on him,” recalled Baker.

The Oilers then played the Indianapolis Checkers in what turned out to be a short, unceremonious end to the season – a victorious four game sweep with all four games in Indianapolis, of course. Ledyard was named series MVP, launching a career that would see him play more than 1,000 NHL games.

“I remember being stunned that I was even considered for MVP,” Ledyard said. “But they brought out this trophy and this thing was as tall as I was. It was the biggest trophy I’ve ever seen, and I haven’t seen it since. I know I didn’t carry it out of there, because I couldn’t – it took two people to carry the darn thing!” And then it was over.  “Can you imagine that? We won a championship in a practice facility in Indianapolis, in front of maybe 500 people,” Webster said.  “It was a magical season. We set out to prove that you didn’t need a home rink to win a championship, and we did it.”


Courtesy CHL Memes

DID YOU KNOW: In addition to all of the great players he played with in his 50 games in the NHL Steve Martinson played with some future NHL coaches when playing in the minors. Steve Martinson played with the following NHL head coaches:
Lindy Ruff (Buffalo & Dallas) - 1992-1993 San Diego Gulls
Claude Noel (Columbus &Winnipeg) - 1984-1985 Toledo Goaldiggers
Craig Berube (Phildelphia Flyers) - 1986-1987 Hershey Bears
Dave Tippett (Dallas & Phoenix ) - 1994-1995 Houston Aeros
Robbie Ftorek (Los Angles, New Jersey, Boston) - 1983-1984 Tulsa Oilers




Saturday, April 19, 2014

Coaches Post Game Comments, Duck Humor Goes To Mallards, Game Recap

About all you can say about the Allen Americans 4-2 loss to the Quad City Mallards last night is if you live by the "duck" humor you die by the "duck" humor. Saw everything from "flock flying high" to "the bird got the best of the cook tonight" to "the road to the cup passes through the marsh" to "the duck stops here" to "shut the duck up" to "flock you Allen."

Quad City dismissed all of the talk about they were too tired to beat a well rested Americans team on their home ice. They let all of the talk roll off of them like water off a ducks back. Okay, enough of the duck references. Quad City played like they were the team that had time off and were well rested as they jumped on the Americans 2-0 before Allen tied the score 2-2 halfway through the second period on goals by Bruce Graham and Anthony Maiani. It was the last time Allen would score as less than 48 hours after scoring the series-winning goal against Rapid City, Mallard rookie Thomas Frazee scored the game-winning goal at the 13-minute, 24-second mark of the second period, less than five minutes after the Americans had overcome a two-goal deficit to tie the game. Jordan Mayer scored a third period goal to secure the victory for the Mallards with a tip in. "The team played well and we got timely goals," coach Terry Ruskowski said. "That fourth goal, that tip in by Mayer was awesome and then Allen put the pressure on us and we hung on."

 Game two of the series is tomorrow (Sunday) with puck drop at 5:05 pm. Allen will have to have a much better effort all the way around to come out of the weekend with a split. You can be assured the motivation will be there for this Americans team that is known for bending but not breaking.

COACHES POST GAME COMMENTS:

- Obviously it was not a good start. We turned the puck over way too many times and our forecheck was not effective at all. When we made mistakes the puck ended up in our net.

- On offense we didn't capitalize on our opportunities. We had several odd man rushes where we failed to score. We shot the puck wide or over the top of the net too much.

- Faceoffs cost us on two of their goals as we got beat to the puck on one of them and the other we got out muscled.

- I just felt we did not have enough guys in the fight tonight. Quad City wanted the game more than we did.

- Richard Matvichuk had this to say about the defense, "The defense did not play good enough tonight. It is not what we are used to seeing. We had too many turnovers, got beat to loose pucks and puck movement wasn't good."


OTHER COMMENTS:

- Allen out shot Quad City 34-26 and had the advantage on special teams scoring one power play goal while not allowing the Mallards to score on the power play so despite the outcome there were some positives. It did seem like the bounces were going Quad City's way. 

- Amateur Cain Franson had several nice plays where he set up teammates for scoring opportunities or put the puck on net himself. He does a good job of moving his feet and skates well. He just needs to get that first goal to take the pressure off of himself.

- Gregor Hanson was held scoreless for the first time in the playoffs despite having five shots on goal. He is now tied for the team lead in scoring with Anthony Maiani and Bruce Graham as they all have nine points.

- In the other series Denver beat Arizona at home by a score of 2-1 as both goals came on the power play. Denver had nine power play opportunities in the game compared to four for Arizona. Certainly a low scoring game for these two high powered offenses. They play game two of their series tonight (Saturday).

- Darryl Bootland never seems to catch a break from the referee. He took a stick to the face late in the game right in front of the referee and despite a bloody nose there was no call. It happened a couple of time to Bootland where what seemed to be a high stick was not called.

- The attendance at the games last night was 3879 in Allen and 1793 in Denver. Average playoff attendance thus far this year is 3055 which is almost 600 per game lower than last year. With the CHL's top four teams (Missouri, Wichita, Tulsa & Rapid City) when it comes to average attendance out of the playoffs don't look for much improvement as the playoffs move forward.


Courtesy CHL Memes


DID YOU KNOW: Allen lost the first game of every series on the way to the championship last year. This year all of the teams that have advanced to the second round lost the first game of their first round series with the exception of Allen. And all four of the teams that advanced to the second round (Allen, Quad City, Arizona, & Denver) won their first round series on the road.



Friday, April 18, 2014

Get Ready for "Duck" Humor, Series Preview, Tarasuk & Kerbashian Out for Weekend, Allen Playoff Success

- It is game day in Allen as the Americans start the second round of the playoffs against the Quad City Mallards tonight with a 7:05 puck drop. With both the Dallas Stars and Allen Americans playing "duck" teams get used to lots of references to "DUCK HUNTING" and duck related humor in the next couple of weeks.

- As the second round of the playoffs gets underway thought it would be a good time to reflect on how successful the Americans have been in their five years of existence. Most points of any team in the league, most playoff wins, two Governor's Cups, Presidents' Cup, championship final in first year, and making the playoffs all five years. Allen fans should consider themselves fortunate to have a a great facility to watch hockey, great ownership, great front office, great coaches and great players.

- Found the article below written by Bobby Metcalf (@bobbymetcalf88)of the Quad City Times which is an excellent preview of this series. You might want to bookmark this site (qctimes.com) to follow their coverage during the playoffs as they do some great work. If you are on twitter you can get their hockey coverage by following them (@QCThockey). Here is their Allen vs Quad City playoff preview:

No. 5 Quad-City (33-23-10, 76 pts) vs. No. 3 Allen (39-22-5, 83 pts)

Game Schedule

all times local
Game 1 — Fri., Apr. 18 — Quad-City at Allen, 7:05 PM
Game 2 — Sun., Apr. 20 — Quad-City at Allen, 5:05 PM
Game 3 — Wed., Apr. 23 — Allen at Quad-City, 7:05 PM
Game 4 — Fri., Apr. 25 — Allen at Quad-City, 7:05 PM
*Game 5 — Sat., Apr. 26 — Allen at Quad-City, 7:05 PM
*Game 6 — Tue., Apr. 29 — Quad-City at Allen, 7:05 PM
*Game 7 — Wed., Apr. 30 — Quad-City at Allen, 7:05 PM
* — if necessary

Season series

The two teams didn't play until the second half of the season and only played four times, splitting the series 2-2-0, with both teams winning a game at home and on the road.
The Americans outscored the Mallards 14-11 in the series thanks to a 6-2 win over Quad-City on Feb. 23, the "Terry Ruskowski ejection game" that snowballed out of control for the Mallards. The closest game of the series was a 2-1 victory for the Mallards on March 26, the first of their final four regular-season victories.
Matt Duffy and Vladimir Nikiforov led the Mallards in the series with 4 points each while Jamie Schaafsma and Alex Lavoie had 6 points each.
In net, Heemskerk and Rimmer split time again but were both with the team at the same time only once as callups took both players to the AHL. The one time they were with the Mallards, they both saw the ice in the 6-2 loss.
Rimmer went 1-1-0 and had a 3.60 goals against average and a .873 save percentage. Heemskerk also went 1-1-0 with a 3.33 GAA and a .896 sv%.
The Americans used three goaltenders, Bryan Pitton, Mark Guggenberger and Willie Yanakeff. Pitton went 1-1-0 with a 3.00 GAA and a .906 sv%.. Guggenberger went 1-0-0 with a 2.00 GAA and a .952 sv%. Yanakeff, a rookie making his first start, went 0-1-0 with a 2.00 GAA and a .917 sv%.

Team breakdown

Offense -- The Americans finished the regular season with significantly better offensive stats. Allen finished with 249 goals and 696 points to the Mallards' 219 goals and 600 points. The playoffs haven't been much different with the Americans scoring 22 goals and 60 points in just five games compared to the Mallards' 17 goals and 46 points in seven.
In the regular season, rookie of the year Alex Lavoie carried much of the offensive load, scoring 25 goals and finishing with 76 points, but he definitely had help. seven Americans finished with over 50 points. Comparatively, the Mallards had just two players finish with 50+ points.
In the playoffs, Greger Hanson (4 goals, 5 assists) has led the way for Allen but again, he has had help as six players have at least 5 points in the playoffs. Again, keep in mind, that's only through five games.
The Mallards didn't have a top-line scoring threat in the regular season. Their top rookie, Thomas Frazee (24 goals, 23 assists) had a great season, but nothing like what Lavoie did. As I've noted before, the Mallards have relied on their balance as 10 players finished the season with over 30 points.
In the playoffs, the Mallards have seemed to move away from their balanced attack slightly. Frazee and Vladimir Nikiforov have carried the offensive load, combining for 16 points. Frazee leads the team with 4 goals and rookie Jordan Mayer has been a pleasant surprise, scoring 3. Nikiforov has emerged as the team's playmaker, notching 6 assists. But again, those stats are through seven games.
There's no way around it, the Americans boast a much more dangerous offense. They destroyed Brampton with relative ease while the Mallards struggled for every goal in their series with Rapid City. Allen's balanced attack is like the Mallards, only more experienced. The Mallards will need every line to step up and score this series if they want to advance.
Defense -- The Americans allowed 214 goals this season and have a +/- rating of +98. They have the defensive player of the year in Tyler Ludwig, who finished with 20 goals and was third on the team with a +13 rating. The Mallards allowed 198 goals and were a +101 on the season. Their defensive player of the year finalist, Nicholas Rioux, finished with 5 goals and was +16.
In the playoffs, the Americans allowed 11 goals and are +44 while the Mallards allowed 15 goals and are -7.
Defensive-zone coverage has been a problem with the Mallards all year and it reared it's ugly head again in the playoffs, yielding breakaways, odd-man rushes and backdoor passing lanes against the Rush, who capitalized quite often. When the defense played poorly, the Mallards struggled. When the defense played well, they dominated. Allen's stats are courtesy of beating a team in five games, outscoring the Beast by 11.
As I said, when the Mallards defense comes to play, they are capable of helping pitch shutouts every night. When they don't, it's very noticeable and usually doesn't end well. That said, I give the edge to the Mallards. They did not match up well with Rapid City, hence the terrible rating in the playoffs. But with Allen, they have shown they can be capable of shutting down the attack. That said, the Mallards CANNOT come out to play like they did in Games 1, 4 and 6, or they will be toast.
Goaltending -- Pitton has won 27 games, allowed 110 goals and has a 2.75 GAA and .916 sv%. Yanakeff, who was added late after finishing at Michigan State University, went 0-1-0 with a 1.88 GAA and .920 sv%. American goalies as a whole have allowed 214 goals with a 3.24 GAA and .900 sv%.
In the playoffs, Pitton has played all five games, going 4-1 with a 2.01 GAA and .938 sv%.
The Mallards split time between Rimmer and Heemskerk all year. Rimmer won 18 games, allowed 106 goals and has a 2.84 GAA and .906 sv%. Heemskerk won 15 games, allowed 79 goals and has a 2.73 GAA and .907 sv%. As a whole, Mallard goalies allowed 198 goals with a 3.00 GAA and a .901 sv%.
In the playoffs Rimmer and Heemskerk again split time, operating under the "win and stay in" philosophy. Rimmer went 1-2 with a 2.69 GAA and .902 sv%. Heemskerk went 3-1 with a 1.76 GAA and .937 sv%.
While the regular season stats might have suggested a slight edge to Allen, the postseason stats clearly favor Quad-City. Rimmer played well despite just the one win, undone by poor team efforts in Games 1 and 6. If not for a missed goaltender interference penalty he would have had a shutout in Game 5.
Heemskerk has been nothing short of spectacular in net. Games 2 and 7 he carried the team on his back and was rewarded with good performances in Game 3. Again, his lone loss was more because of a poor team effort than anything he did wrong in net.
Pitton allowed 11 goals in 5 games. The Mallards unit allowed 15 in seven. That's the telling stat right there. If the Mallards goaltending continues to play at this playoff-caliber level, the team has a chance to win every night, provided they help out their goalies with some offense.
Special teams -- Allen boasted the second-best power play unit on the regular season, scoring a league-high 70 goals on the man advantage at a 20.65% success rate. They also drew the most penalties with a league-high 339 opportunities. On the penalty kill, the Americans were seventh, killing of 82.06% of the league-high 340 shorthanded opportunities they faced, adding 11 shorthanded goals.
In the playoffs, Allen has the best power play unit, scoring five goals at a 27.78% success rate. On the penalty kill they rank third, killing off 87.50 percent of their league-high 24 opportunities.
The Mallards, as we all know (and believe me, I'm sick of typing) had trouble on the power play all year with a 14.29% success rate and scoring 45 goals. On the penalty kill, they ranked fourth at 83.73% and had a league-high 12 shorthanded goals.
In the playoffs, the Mallards scored five goals at a 16.67 percent success rate, fourth-best in the playoffs. They also had the most opportunities with 30. The penalty kill was fantastic, killing off 91.30% of shorthanded opportunities, tied with Denver for the league-best. They also scored a shorthanded goal in Game 2.
There's no denying the Mallards' special teams won their series with Rapid City. Every game they won, they scored a power play goal and they kept the Rush from scoring a power play goal until Game 5. Nagy's shorthanded goal in Game 2 may have been the pivotal goal of the series as it tied the game and allowed the Mallards to win to even up the series.
There are still things to work on as far as the power play is concerned. At times it looked terrible and Quad-City had trouble getting the puck in the zone, much less get a shot on net. While the penalty kill seems to be working just fine, the Mallards need to shore up their power play, because it clearly is going to be what gives them an edge in the playoffs.
Coach -- This matchup again features two good coaches. Allen coach Steve Martinson has 814 career wins in 18 years, 78 in two years in the CHL and a championship last year with the Americans, as well as six other championships in the WCHL and UH. Terry Ruskowski has 718 wins in 21 years, 442 in 12 years in the CHL and two championships.
These two coaches are the cream of the crop of the CHL but the edge goes to Martinson. Defending champion and has six other titles in other leagues. That's impressive.

Series outlook

There's an old saying, "if you want to be the champs you've got to beat the champs." Well, the Mallards now have that opportunity. The key to this series will be emotions. The Americans have been here before, they know how to win. The Mallards are young and for many, this is the biggest stage so far in their professional careers. If the Mallards fall behind early, in the game or the series, they have to keep their emotions in check or the series will snowball out of control, like it did for Brampton. That's where Jim McKenzie comes in. Darren McMillan is a great captain but this is the first time he has seen the second round with the Mallards. McKenzie went through all of this last year and knows how to deal with the heightened emotions. He'll have to try to pass that experience onto his teammates. If the Mallards want to win, they have to find their balanced attack again. Their goaltenders are clearly locked in, so they don't need to score four or five goals. If they can average three goals a game, that should be enough for Heemskerk or Rimmer to keep the door shut, but they need everyone to pitch in, because the Lee/Frazee/whoever line should expect to be taken away. This is where the Boyd/Nagy/whoever line or the McKenzie/Stinziani/whoever line needs to step up.
The Mallards will also have to try and play more consistent hockey. Last series, they dominated Games 3 and 5 only to look terrible in Games 4 and 6. As one fan pointed out to me, they are like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Well it's time to stop taking the potion and see what team emerges on the other end. If a fatigued Mallards team can grab game one or two on the road, they will give themselves a good chance, but I feel, just like the Rapid City series, that the Mallards will have to win two games at some point in Allen if they want to advance in a series that I believe could either be done in five games, or again go the distance.



- One issue that needs to be resolved today is which player will be put on injured reserve for the second round playoff series. Coach Martinson told the audience at his radio show yesterday (their was an equipment breakdown if you tried to tune in on line) that neither Kale Kerbashain or Steve Tarasuk would play in the games this weekend. Doesn't mean Kale or Steve will be placed in the IR slot as that would mean they would be lost for the entire series. UPDATE: Per coach Steve Martinson, "Garrett Klotz placed on IR and will not play in the second round playoffs as he has been dealing with a groin injury."

- For those interested, according to the the CHL pregame information the referee scheduled to work the game tonight is Tudor Floru. Linesmen are Kevin Cassidy and Mitch MacPherson.





Courtesy CHL Memes

Courtesy CHL Memes



DID YOU KNOW: Since Allen joined the CHL five years ago they have more playoff wins than any other team. Here are the total playoff game wins for the teams in the CHL the last five years.
35 - Allen
28 - Rapid City
22 - Wichita
22 - Missouri
8  - Arizona
7  - Tulsa