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.


- 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.


  1. I, I believe, I believe that we, I believe that we will win!

  2. With the Cruickshank/Ruskowski "love" maybe we stand a chance of coming out on the better end of calls.