Tuesday, June 10, 2014

News You Can Use or Maybe Not - A Potpourri Of Information

Got back from vacation over the weekend and had lots of odds and ends about the Allen Americans, CHL,  and minor pro hockey that have happened over the last three weeks so thought I would put them all together in case you have missed what has been going on. For you avid fans there may not be much new in the post but hopefully you will find something interesting.

- Steve Martinson is still in town but will be leaving for his summer home (Rockford, Illinois) in the next week. I am going to do a short story on how he goes about building a team which should be finished in the next couple of days. He did share with me he is busy recruiting and has made contract offers already to some players. Not sure when the first announcement will happen but I would put it in the "big splash" category.

- The Missouri Mavericks will announce their new head coach at a press conference Thursday at 10:00 AM and Richard Matvichuk is a finalist for the position and certainly deserves the job. I just have a feeling he might get that job as he is a proven winner with back to back championships in Allen and don't forget that Stanley Cup ring. Good luck Matty!! We will all be anxiously awaiting the announcement Thursday morning.

- Bruce Graham has signed to play in England for the Nottingham Panthers which is the same team he played for in 2012-2013 when they won all three championships that are contested in the EIHL. He is friends with the coach (Cory Nielson) so once Bruce and Whitney made the decision to play hockey next season, after joining Allen for the playoff run this year, he had a great opportunity in England. Panthers head coach Corey Neilson said: "He is in the prime of his life. "Bruce is great in both ends of the ice, he has a great engine and is a great person."  Good luck to Bruce, Whitney, Harper & London on their return to Nottingham. By the way, one of Bruce's teammates will be Steve Ward who played for the Brampton Beast this year.

- There are several other players looking for jobs in Europe but they are sometimes hard to land, especially for married guys.

- Congratulations to Jamie Schaafsma who was nominated for athlete of the month by the Chatham-Kent Sports network back in his hometown. Here is what was said about Jamie, Helped lead the Central Hockey League’s Allen Americans to their second straight Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup. Schaafsma was named the 2014 CHL Playoff Most Valuable Player, leading the Americans with 20 points (10-10-20) in the playoffs and leading his team with nine points in the Finals including the game winning goal in the double overtime during game two.

- Spencer Asuchak got some great publicity in his hometown with the article below in the Kamloops This Week (kamloopsthisweek.com) which was written by Adam Williams. Congrats to Spencer!
Asuchak finds form in Lone Star State

Asuchak finds form in Lone Star State

Photo: Spencer Asuchak of Kamloops won the Central Hockey League championship this season playing in Texas with the Allen Americans. Clarissa Tieksinm√§ki photo
Allen Americans’ coach Steve Martinson thinks Spencer Asuchak was overlooked in his time in the Western Hockey League. Well, the Kamloops kid isn’t being overlooked anymore. Asuchak, 22, recently completed his rookie season in the professional Central Hockey League, amassing 21 goals and 35 assists in 66 games with the Americans. The rookie was third in team and rookie scoring and helped lead Allen to its second consecutive league title. “It was awesome,” Asuchak said. “It was probably the best year I’ve ever had playing hockey. Hockey was pretty fun again. It was just really nice to have a coach believe in you and give you a chance like that.” The forward was a big part of the club’s season, playing on the power play and logging more than 50 per cent of the team’s penalty-kill minutes. Martinson paired him against the top forwards in the league and said Asuchak averaged more than 25 minutes a night. Despite being a rookie, he quickly made himself known to the Americans and their fans. “I would describe him a little bit as kind of a late bloomer” said Martinson, formerly a winger with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens and Minnesota North Stars. “He was a real important player for us and played a big role on our team in the regular season and playoffs.” Asuchak played his midget hockey in Kamloops before suiting up for parts of four seasons in the WHL, totalling 95 points, including 49 goals, in 224 games with the Prince George Cougars and Tri-City Americans. The 6-foot-5 winger, who was moved to the centre ice position with Allen, wasn’t drafted following his final season with the Cougars and went on to play stints with the Ontario Reign of the East Coast Hockey League and the Mount Royal Cougars of the Canada West University Athletics Association before landing in Allen. Martinson said he felt the forward was overlooked in junior and was happy to see him find his game in the CHL. Playing under Martinson seemed to be a good fit for Asuchak, who said the coach was good to him and allowed him to be “a real player.” And, despite football coming first in that part of the world, life in Texas seemed to agree with the forward. The team provided him with an apartment and paid his travel and food costs on top of his weekly salary. The fans were committed and Asuchak said the home barn, which resembled that of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, housed between 4,000 and 6,000 fans every night.
It was a good introduction to what he hopes will be a long professional career. Though the Americans would love to have Asuchak back next season, Martinson isn’t counting on having the Canadian in his lineup next season. Asuchak’s goal is to catch on with an AHL club in the near future — he’s spending his summer in Kamloops, training at Kozoris Acceleration, as a means to that end. “I’m sure he’s getting lots of offers from the ECHL,” the coach said. “I think he can play in the American league. I think he will. I think that he’s got potential to play in the NHL and, whether he comes back and plays any games with us, it’s too early to tell. “I think he’s a prospect, an NHL prospect, and I think he’s got a pretty good future in hockey.” For Asuchak, the points and the recognition — he was twice named the league’s player of the week — the teammates and the fans, were all great, but there’s one moment from his time with the Americans that stands out among the rest. “I would say definitely lifting that trophy over my head with my teammates,” he said. “We went through a lot this year and it’s nice to be around your teammates and do something like that. “Championships are pretty hard to win and I’m pretty happy I got to do it in my first year playing pro.”

-  Want to offer my belated congratulations to the Minor League Hockey Report for winning the 2013-2014 CHL Media Services Award. They do a great job covering the CHL with their game analysis, articles and interviews and should be a go to site for any CHL fan. Outstanding job by Matthew Harding, Zachary Courter, Jason Schawe and Rich Lohman. If you don't know where to find them you can see their work at minorleaguehockeyreport.com, on Twitter at @ML_HockeyReport or on Facebook at Minor League Hockey Report.

- Nice to see Texas so well represented in the hockey playoffs this year with the Dallas Stars making the NHL playoffs, Allen winning the CHL championship, and the Texas Stars in the finals of the AHL Calder Cup championship.

- Some great players from the CHL have already signed to play in Europe next season. In addition to Bruce Graham and Steve Ward mentioned above Matt Larke (F) from Tulsa will play in England, Andrew Engelage (G) will play in Norway, Thomas Heemkerk (G) from Quad City will play in Hungary, Mathieu Gagnon (D) from Missouri will play in France, and Eric Castonguay (F) from Missouri will play in Norway. All of these are reported on Elite Prospects. While not reported on Elite Prospects I have heard David Rutherford from Arizona and Scott Howes from Brampton will also play in Europe.

- Former Allen Americans coach Dwight Mullins,  who coached Allen from 2009-2012, has been named head coach of the Evansville Icemen (ECHL). Here is the press release announcing his selection.
Evansville IceMen Owner Ron Geary has announced that Dwight Mullins has been hired as the team’s head coach and director of hockey operations. Mullins, 47 years old from Calgary, Alberta, becomes the ECHL team’s third head coach.
“We are excited to have Dwight Mullins directing our hockey operations,” Ron Geary said. “Dwight brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to Evansville. Our search committee reviewed close to forty applicants and felt confident in the direction Mr. Mullins would lead the IceMen.”
Dwight coached the ECHL Elmira Jackals the past two seasons, posting an overall record of 64-65-15. His 2012-13 Jackals qualified for the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs. Interestingly enough, Elmira defeated Evansville seven of nine times the past two years. Prior to his time in Elmira, Mullins coached three years with the Allen (Texas) Americans in the Central Hockey League, from 2009-10 to 2011-12, where his record was an impressive 128-51-17. In the CHL Playoffs, he qualified the team all three years, losing in the Finals in the 2009-10 season. Mr. Mullins was also twice named the head coach of the CHL All-Star Team.
He also brings NHL experience to Evansville. From 2004 to 2008, he was a coach at the Dallas Stars player development camp, and served as the head coach in charge of pre-camp conditioning. He has also been an assistant coach with the WPHL Fort Worth Brahmas and WHL Medicine Hat Tigers.
As a player, Dwight played junior hockey in the Western Hockey League before turning pro. He was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars in the fifth round (90th overall) in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. The highlight of his playing career was captaining the Fort Worth Fire to the Central Hockey League Championship in 1997, winning in seven games over the Memphis RiverKings.
“Mr. Geary has established a first-class organization that is committed to the Evansville community,” Dwight Mullins said. “I am thrilled to have been entrusted with guiding the hockey operations to a successful and exciting future. My family and I are privileged to have the opportunity to be a part of the Evansville IceMen organization.”

- Cain Franson got some props from his junior team for winning the championship:

Congratulations to Cain Franson and the Allen Americans!

The Vancouver Giants would like to congratulate alumnus Cain Franson on winning the Central Hockey League's President's Cup. Franson joined the Allen Americans after the conclusion of the Giants' 2013/14 season.
Franson played 246 Western Hockey League games over four seasons with the Giants. In those games, he registered 181 points (89 goals, 92 assists) and 135 penalty minutes.

- The CHL’s 2014-15 season will begin on Friday, October 24, 2014 and will conclude on Sunday, April 5, 2015.  The upcoming season will begin one week later than in previous seasons and will end one week later moving into the first week of April.  The season will once again consist of 23.5 weeks.
The number of games for the 2014-15 season will remain at 66 with each team playing 33 home games and each team playing 33 road games.

DID YOU KNOW:  With only nine teams in the league next season (unless something changes real fast which in unlikely) there will be one team not playing hockey every weekend.


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