Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Ol' Girl Makes It, Brampton Guarantees Victory, Quad City $2 Tickets, Trevor Ludwig Update

- The good news is "The Ol' Girl" made it to Brampton without a hitch as neither the bus or the Canadian border presented any problems on the trip to Brampton. The team will practice today at the Powerade Centre in preparation for the game tomorrow night. One decision that will have to be made especially if Trevor Hendrikx is ready to play is who will be the healthy scratches. That has not been much of an issue this year with all of the injuries but two guys will have to sit tomorrow night. Logic would say one defenseman and one forward would be the healthy scratches with Hendrikx and Lavoie back in the line up but another option coach Martinson has is to play with seven defensemen and nine forwards and work Hendrikx back into the lineup by only taking a few shifts. Will have to wait and see on this one.

- Brampton is feeling awfully confident as they are "guaranteeing a win tomorrow night" and if they don't win everyone gets a free ticket for the game on Friday. With all of the friends and family in attendance the Americans can save them a lot of money if they win on Thursday. Or better yet they can save themselves a lot of money if the players are buying tickets for friends and family. Motivation boys!

- Speaking of cheap tickets how about the Quad City Mallards for their game tonight (Wednesday) against Rapid City. Every seat in the iWireless Arena (with the exception of glass seats) is only $2. Hope they give the season ticket holders a rebate on their full priced tickets. I am all for incentives and creative marketing and having fans in the arena for playoff games is great but selling the entire arena at $2 cheapens the product in my view. The Friday night promotion for Quad City is $1 hot dogs and $1 beer which Allen fans would like to see at the Allen Event Center.

- Found the story below written by Steve Tappa of Quad-Cities Online ( which talks about how Quad City missed Jim McKenzie's leadership during his three month call up to the Iowa Wild of the AHL. Jim was such a fan favorite in Allen and his departure when it appeared the team would have too many veterans at the beginning of the season is a move that everyone regrets in hindsight. Jim has had a great season both in Quad City and Iowa and ceretainly deserves the kind words expressed in this story. Jim is from Minnesota and I always remember him telling me the story about how the University of Minnesota did not recruit him out of high school so he ended up at Michigan State. In 2007 Minnesota didn't even make it out of their regional tournament while Michigan State won the national championship. Here is Steve Tappa's story:

Jim McKenzie has yet to score a postseason point for the Quad City Mallards. In fact, the seventh-year pro is a QC-worst minus-5 so far in a pair of first-round CHL playoff games against Rapid City. However, McKenzie's teammates swear the veteran locker-room leader's mere presence is a big reason the Flock are tied 1-1 with the best-of-7 series shifting to Moline's iWireless Center for the next three games starting Wednesday. A title winner in the Double-A circuit last season at Allen, and a college national champ in 2007 at Michigan State, McKenzie's voice returned to the Mallards locker room only last week after a nearly three month call-up to QC's Triple-A affiliate Iowa in nearby Des Moines. "He's the kind of guy you hope to have on your team," said Jeff Lee, QC's regular-season scoring leader and McKenzie's replacement as assistant captain. "Besides all of the great things he does on the ice, he's such a great leader. He can have back that 'A' on my chest, even though he doesn't need it. All he has to do is flash those (title) rings for guys to listen. He's somebody we've all looked up to right from the start." That continued last week when McKenzie walked back into the Mallards locker room, with players hanging on the NHL-drafted veteran's words of wisdom. Among the gems: McKenzie preaching about the importance of having short memories, with mistakes part of the game and the playoffs a roller coaster of emotions. The Mallards took that talk to heart, rebounding from a 5-1 blowout in last weekend's opener to win Game 2 in overtime, 3-2. "It didn't feel weird at all coming back into the room. It's almost like I never left," McKenzie said. "There are some new faces here, and guys have grown as players, but they welcomed me back with open arms." McKenzie led the Mallards in scoring (11 goals, 24 points) when Iowa promoted him Jan. 8. The Flock finished the regular season 17-16-5 without McKenzie, the longest and most-significant among a franchise-record 12 call-ups this season. "This team struggled a bit when me and (top defender Nicholas Rioux) first left," said McKenzie, with the twin call-ups triggering a four-game losing streak. "But it was good to see them come out of that, figure it out and grow as a team. We're better for that now." During the Triple-A stay, McKenzie remained in touch with his teammates and QC head coach Terry Ruskowski, hoping to return some day despite having his best of six Triple-A tours of duty. "They kept us on the string with a couple of (Professional Tryout Agreements)," McKenzie said. "We didn't really know when, or if, I was coming back. "But once (Iowa) fell out of playoff contention, they were bringing in amateurs for a look, so I probably would have been out of the lineup quite a bit. So it was better for me, and better for the organizations, for them to send me back." In 26 games with Iowa, McKenzie registered 3 goals, 8 points and finished with 103 penalty minutes between the two teams. "No disappointments. It was a great experience for me," said McKenzie, who has played 103 career Triple-A games. "The game has changed a lot. When I first broke in, there were a lot of old, tough guys, but now there are a lot younger, more skilled guys, and on any mistake you make, they can score. "So it was good for me to work out some of those bad habits I'd picked up over the years playing in the CHL or ECHL. It was good for me to pull my game together a bit, and hopefully get better." After bouncing between 11 pro teams in three leagues, McKenzie also hopes to have found a home with the Mallards and their Triple-A affiliate with his 30th birthday looming in June. "It starts with Minnesota," McKenzie said of the NHL parent club. "What do they want in Iowa? Then it's a trickle down. "After not making the playoffs, I know they are going to be making some changes. So a lot of things have to get figured out before I get thrown in the mix. So I just have to be patient this summer, but I'll obviously be in contact with them and Terry to figure out where I'll be next year." Right now, though, McKenzie has more pressing matters on his mind. "Winning a championship," McKenzie said. "That helps everybody in the room find that next job. Everybody benefits because every team wants a winner, and a championship makes everyone look good."

- Had a chance to talk to Trevor Ludwig after practice on Monday to see how his rehab was progressing. He obviously doesn't take part in any drills but he is on the ice skating, stick handling, passing and doing some light shooting. Here is what Trevor had to say, "It is getting better but I still have a long way to go. I can take wrist shots but no slap shots yet. There is no rush in getting to 100% like there would have been if this happened earlier in the season and I was trying to get back in the line up. If I try to do too much and give it a big jolt there is a risk of tearing scar tissue which can lead to tendonitis and a bunch of other things. I will not take any slap shots or one timers for a while yet. I may try and play summer hockey but will take it easy if I do."

Courtesy CHL Memes

DID YOU KNOW: Allen and Brampton have played eight times this season including two playoff games. In those eight games Allen has outshot Brampton by 91 shots (311-220).

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