Monday, September 29, 2014

Allen Americans Weekly Update - 9/29/14


Courtesy CHL Memes

- Nothing new to report regarding what is happening with the ECHL but everyone expects something to break this week. With Thursday being the first day ECHL players can report to training camp and also the day training camp rosters are due (3 pm ET) and Friday being the first day of on ice sessions it makes sense something should be announced by Friday.  It is wait and see at this point.

- Have had lots of questions concerning players that have been signed and not yet announced by Allen. Yes, coach Martinson has several players signed and announcements should be happening this week. Everyone is asking for some hints so here goes. Players signed and not announced include a former NHL draft choice and two players who have been MVP's. Impressive group for sure.

- The march to the upcoming hockey season gets a lot closer this week as American Hockey League (AHL) camps get underway.  The only player from the Allen Americans current roster to attend an AHL camp is forward Brett Lyon who will be in camp with the Chicago Wolves.  Many CHL players will be attending these camps as well as former Allen players including Garrett Klotz (Rockford Ice Hogs), Spencer Asuchak (Providence Bruins), Greger Hanson (Oklahoma City Barons) and Alex Lavoie (Norfolk Admirals).

- Former Allen players have gotten off to a good start in Europe. Bruce Graham leads his team (Nottingham Panthers) is scoring. Bruce has five points (2 goals 3 assists) in five regular season games. His Nottingham teammate, Mike Berube was injured in a game on Saturday and it is uncertain how long Mike will be out of the lineup.

- Anthony Maiani leads his Denmark team (Rungsted) in scoring with three assists in two  regular season games.

- Goalie Bryan Pitton has played in five games thus far for his team in Poland (Sanok) and has a GAA of 2.21 and a save percentage of .930.

- Trevor Hendrikx had a great game against former teammates (Graham & Berube) as his Cardiff Devils beat Nottingham 5-2 on Sunday. Trevor picked up his first goal of the season, delivered some great checks and was named "Man of the Match" the equivalent of the #1 star in the CHL.

- Two former Allen players are playing in the Asian league and off to a fast start. Colton Yellow Horn plays for the Nippon Paper Cranes and has eight points in eight games which is second on the team in scoring and Dave Bonk, who plays for the Nikko Icebucks has five points in five games to lead his team in scoring.

- Cain Franson and his University of Calgary Dinos kicked off their regular season this past weekend by sweeping two games against the University of Manitoba. Cain had three goals and an assist in the two games and leads his team in goals.


DID YOU KNOW: Eventhough he has played professionally for several years Garrett Clarke is still the second youngest player signed by the Allen Americans for the upcoming season. Garrett is twenty one.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Allen Americans Weekly Update - Asuchak, Lavoie & Lessard


Courtesy CHL Memes

- While everyone is waiting for the official word on what will happen between the ECHL and CHL thought it would be good to cover some other issues of interest. My personal view (I have no sources and the team obviously is not talking to a lowly blogger) is that things are going full speed ahead behind the scenes and sometime in the next xx days (fill in the blank) it will be announced the CHL will be playing in the ECHL for the upcoming season. What does it all mean. Check out the last post (September 17) in the archives where some of the details are covered. Enough said about that as everyone is tired of speculation/rumor/ guesses on what will happen and is ready for just the facts. So, let's move on to some other topics.

- One of the big keys in the Allen American's championship last year was the play of the three amigos, the three musketeers, the rooks or whatever else they were called. They were close friends on and off the ice and were always hanging out together. What a magical season for Spencer Asuchak, Alex Lavoie and Jonathan Lessard. Who would have guessed at the beginning of the season the top three scorers on this championship team would be the three young guys who carried the team for much of the season. Success creates opportunity and it sure has for these guys. Here is an update:

- Lessard: After originally signing to return to Allen, Jonathan has signed with Bakersfield (ECHL) to play for a coach he knows from back home. Even if Allen is playing in the ECHL this season the fact that Lessard signed with Allen first and then Bakersfield will have no impact. The only way he could return to Allen would be via a trade with Bakersfield.

- Asuchak:  Spencer went to rookie training camp with the NHL Boston Bruins. Had a chance to exchange messages with him this morning and here is what he had to say. "I am still in Boston practicing as an extra forward. I will be heading to Providence, Rhode Island (Boston's AHL affiliate) on Sunday to start camp with the Providence Bruins on Monday. I have not signed a contract with anyone for the upcoming season. Right now my total focus is playing in the AHL and I won't be making any decisions until after the Providence camp. Allen is definitely an option and somewhere I would return to if it doesn't work out in the AHL. Hope all is well in Allen!" As much as Allen fans would love to see Spencer back with the Americans let's hope we don't see him this year because he deserves to be playing in the AHL.

- Lavoie: Received an update on Alex this morning as well. He has signed with the ECHL Florida Everblades for the upcoming season and will be attending training camp with the AHL Norfolk Admirals. He leaves Sunday for Norfolk. Alex's mom, Christine Gegear, was kind enough to talk to Alex about his experience in Allen and send his thoughts along to be shared with his fans. So here is cub reporter Christine Gegear's interview with Alex Lavoie:

"We had a long talk about his year in Allen and Alex told me that he would never be able to forget the incredible year that he had. He told me that for his first pro year he could not have asked for anything better. He told me that he will always have the best memories and has made friends forever with his teammates, the coaching staff and everyone associated with the team. He said it was a classy organization and the best that he could have asked for.  What Alex found amazing was the support that the team got from the fans. He couldn't believe the time and effort that people put in just to make sure that they were fed on trips and taken care of in their apartments.
And how friendly everyone was. He told me that it will always be something that he is very proud of and will miss many things about Allen. The fans were exceptional and he said he couldn't have asked for a better bunch of guys to win the Presidents' Cup. I am sure that he will miss you guys this winter."
Let's hope Alex gets an opportunity in the AHL this year as he certainly deserves it. And it goes without saying his CHL rookie scoring records will never be broken.

- In the last blog post (September 17) there was a partial list of all the scholar athletes on this years roster which is very impressive. Some other interesting facts about this team that can be pursued during the year include several  musicians/ singers so maybe a concert for the fans at some point, there is a scratch golfer, and some interesting parents to meet including doctors, ministers, engineers, nurse, occupational therapist, educators, and those that work in the automotive, ATV and snowmobile industry to name just a few. This year's team will also have plenty of guys that like to hunt and fish. It should be a fun group and there are additional signings to come.

- Stopped by the Allen Event Center this week and lots of activity preparing for the upcoming training camp. Coach Martinson was busy working the phones to sign those last few players before the start of training camp. New equipment manager Rusty Aldridge was cleaning up the locker room in preparation for players arrival and working with the players to determine number assignments. Head athletic trainer Jaime Garcia was reviewing supply requirements for his area of responsibility. The Ice Angels are busy learning new routines and taking skating lessons and the front office is busy with ticket sales, promotions and corporate sponsors. You can tell it won't be long now. 

 
- There has been a lot of talk about the AHL establishing a division on the west coast next year and the impact that will have on other leagues. Came across the article below written by sports columnist Jim Alexander of "The Press Enterprise" which is online at pe.com. He is based in California. Here is Jim's story.

The concept has been kicked around for years and now seems closer to reality than ever: A division of the American Hockey League based in the West, allowing NHL clubs in this region easier access to their main minor league affiliate. It could happen as early as the 2015-16 season, and it’s apparently serious enough that Kings and Ducks executives, through their team spokesmen, are declining comment for now. And the biggest winner in all of this could be Ontario. Indeed, the Inland Empire — which has embraced ECHL hockey to a degree that was, frankly, unexpected when the Reign set up shop in Citizens Business Bank Arena in 2008 — could have one of minor league hockey’s flagship franchises when all the shuffling ends. “You look at other markets throughout the country, and sometimes they wonder if their hockey team is going to be around,” Reign president Justin Kemp said. “In this one, more than one league wants you. It’s a good situation to be in.”
The Reign has been a ticket-selling machine in its seven ECHL seasons, while fielding rosters largely composed of free agents trying to play their way up the developmental ladder. It has not only outdrawn almost everybody in its own league (finishing first in attendance in five seasons and second in the other two) but has outdrawn the majority of the teams in the AHL, hockey’s version of Triple-A. In seven seasons, the only time the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Manchester, N.H., outdrew Ontario was 2008-09, the Reign’s first year, and that was by a grand total of 36 customers.
Last season it wasn’t close. Ontario averaged 8,158 tickets distributed per home game to Manchester’s 5,608. The Reign outdrew 29 of the AHL’s 30 teams, with only perennial AHL attendance champ Hershey, Pa., drawing more: 9,664. But while tickets sold create a pretty hefty business model, it’s not the reason NHL teams want their main affiliates closer to them. A player called up from the AHL by the Kings, Ducks, or their Pacific or Mountain time zone counterparts faces a full day’s travel in order to join the team at home. A more conveniently located affiliate would enable the team’s executives and scouts to see their prospects in person more often, and would also allow the local fans greater identification with future major leaguers. It’s really such a simple and logical idea that it should have happened years ago. But it has taken a combination of desire on the part of NHL clubs and expiring affiliation contracts to make the idea of a true AHL Western Division tantalizingly close. The Ducks, whose AHL franchise is currently based in Norfolk, Va., are said to be looking at San Diego, where a new AHL team — which hopefully would use the old Gulls nickname — would play in the Valley View Casino Center, the former San Diego Sports Arena. The San Jose Sharks would reportedly move from Worcester, Mass., to Stockton or Fresno. The Edmonton Oilers purchased Bakersfield’s ECHL franchise last January, and the Arizona (formerly Phoenix) Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche purchased Central Hockey League franchises in Prescott Valley, Ariz., and Denver respectively. Both CHL teams subsequently suspended operations as that league merged with the ECHL, raising speculation that those might ultimately be AHL landing spots. The most likely move, and the biggest no-brainer? The Kings to Ontario. The Reign and Manchester Monarchs are both owned by Anschutz Entertainment Group, as is the Kings, and it will be simple to swap one for the other. Would having a team fully identified with the Kings, as opposed to its current working agreements with LA and the Winnipeg Jets, make the Ontario franchise’s fan base bigger? Kemp said he’s not sure it necessarily would make a difference.




DID YOU KNOW:  124 different players have played regular season games for the Allen Americans in their first five years of existence and there has been at least one player whose last name starts with every letter of the alphabet except for the letters U & X.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Allen Americans and CHL Update - A Blogger's View

- Not much else being discussed about hockey other than what is about to happen with the CHL & ECHL. Have been getting a lot of questions since tweeting on Monday that something was in the works about what I think will happen.  Now that it is a forgone conclusion that the two leagues will become one as soon as today thought it is time to exercise the blogger prerogative to speculate on some of the details. Most readers of this blog realize there is no connection between the blog and the Allen Americans but want to emphasize how tight lipped the front office of the Americans has been around this issue as they will not confirm or deny anything related to the ECHL. However, the avid fans and bloggers around the league are an industrious group who share a lot of information with one another. So put this in the rumor, speculate, guess, conjecture, assumption category with educated in front of each word.

- The deal was supposedly done yesterday and just the final details are being worked out. Kind of like when you close on a new house and you are just waiting on the money to get transferred. You can only imagine all of the details related to an action like this. The business side/off ice issues are the biggies though most are talking about the on ice issues which are of more interest to fans. Best case scenario is an announcement is made today but that is not certain.

- Best guess is all of the current CHL teams go to the ECHL and maybe even one of the teams that suspended operations. 

- The CHL teams will be playing in the ECHL for the upcoming season inspite of the short time frames. And short time frames are right around the corner. Everything will be moved up by a week or more. Here are the ECHL critical dates:
October 2 - Players may report to training camp (training camp rosters due 3 pm ET)
October 3 - First day of on ice sessions
October 15 - Opening day rosters due (3 pm ET)
October 17 - ECHL regular season begins

- While many are speculating how the schedule will look the best guess is there will be many more changes than people are anticipating. The new schedule will look much more like a redone schedule than merely inserting the CHL schedule into the ECHL schedule. Might be some new places for the Allen Americans to visit.

- The rules that will be followed will be the ECHL rules so not a lot of  interim/transition rules. The ECHL has gone through this process in the past with other leagues and the general rule in the past has been you will follow ECHL rules with no exceptions. It might be different this time but probably not. Remember the CHL allows six vets and define a vet as over 300 professional games while the ECHL is four veterans and 260 games. This will most likely cause some roster changes and some veteran players that are being recruited under the CHL rules will not be signed.

- In all likelihood the rights to CHL players from the team's protected list will be lost. The only way to get these players back (if they have signed in the ECHL) would be through trade or waivers. Would assume those that are in Europe will become free agents but not sure on this. As a reminder, those on the protected list for Allen are:
Spencer Asuchak
Greger Hanson
Trevor Hendrikx
Kale Kerbashian
Garrett Klotz
Alex Lavoie
Bryan Pitton
Ross Rouleau

- Roster size and salary caps are very similar between the leagues especially with the changes the CHL was planning for the upcoming season but there are differences. The ECHL active roster can be 21 for the first 30 days of the season and then drops to 20. This compares to the CHL which this year was going to have an active roster size of 19. These numbers do not include injured reserve players.

- The CHL salary cap was going to be $12,000 per week this year while the ECHL salary cap for 2014-2015 is $12,615 for the first 30 days of the season (because of the one extra roster spot) and then drops to $12,200.

- Not positive on this one but the rookie salary cap (maximum you can pay a rookie) is $550 in the CHL and only $510 in the ECHL so all of the rookies already signed in the CHL will be taking a small salary cut.

- As for season ticket holders the best solution for what will be three additional home games (the CHL has a 66 game schedule while the ECHL plays 72 games) is to allow them to buy those games on a game by game basis at their season ticket price. This may be a team by team decision.

- Many other logistics will have to be accelerated. First and foremost will be notifying the players about the new schedule but think of the reworked travel schedules, new insurance, apartments need to be ready earlier, immigration papers for Canadian residents will have to be filed just to name a few. It can all get done but will take a lot of extra work by front offices, coaches, and fan clubs to make the transition happen smoothly.

- The ECHL has had an agreement with CCM (a subsidiary of Reebok)  for many years to provide all on ice equipment (sticks, visors, helmets, gloves and trousers) and last year became the exclusive provider of home and away jerseys for the ECHL. If this agreement continues this is another area of change for the CHL teams.

- The Allen Americans are so fortunate they have Steve Martinson as their coach through this transition as his eighteen years of head coaching experience (which  includes eight championships) will be put to the test. Martinson has coached in the CHL and ECHL and was also the head coach of the San Diego Gulls back in 2003 when the West Coast Hockey League (WCHL) was absorbed by the ECHL. The first year in the ECHL Martinson coached the Gulls to a record of 49-13-0-10 which may still be a record for first year teams in the ECHL. Bottom line is there is not a better coach in the country with the experience to deal with what the Americans are about to go through.   
 

- Was talking with a corporate sponsor yesterday and they are excited about a potential move to the ECHL as they feel their sponsorship dollars will become more valuable in a league that is more visible and prestigious. When this deal is announced they feel their sponsorship deal will be worth more money without having to spend an extra dollar.

- Can't help but think about the last five years and all of the effort owner Doug Miller put into getting the team to the ECHL. This blog was a big advocate of that move in the early years. But it is time to think about what was wished for now that it is about to become a realty. The CHL has been very good to the fans in Allen as the team has won two championships the last two years and lost in the finals in their first year in the league. Add two Governor's Cups as regular season champions and it has been quite a ride. It is going to be much more difficult going into a league with close to 30 teams. Some of the CHL fans are going to be longing for the good old days of the CHL when their teams are mired in the bottom part of the ECHL standings in out of the playoffs spots. Expectations may have to be lowered, however, Steve Martinson will not be one of those lowering expectations.





OTHER ITEMS:

- It is now official that Phil Fox has been selected for a job at Northern Michigan University. Talked to him recently and he has been back in Michigan for a couple of weeks. In addition to his job he will also be working on his masters degree. Here is the press release announcing his hiring:
"A former NMU hockey captain is returning to Marquette to work as the program’s hockey operations manager. Phil Fox played for the Wildcats from 2007 to 2011 and served as a captain for three of his four years. He’s 21st all-time in career games played for NMU with 155. Fox was a forward and notched 40 goals and 20 assists in his college career. After graduating from NMU, he played professionally in the Central Hockey League for three seasons and also played one game with the Houston Aeros of the AHL."

- Former Allen Americans player Jim McKenzie has signed with the Bakersfield Condors (ECHL) and will go to camp with Oklahoma City (AHL). Jim split last season with the Quad City Mallards and the Iowa Wild (AHL). Jim joins Jonathan Lessard who has also signed with Bakersfield.

- The Americans have a new equipment manager and trainer on board and the names will be familiar to fans in the area. A news release from the team with all of the details will be issued soon.

- Noticed while doing the "30 Questions Series" the current roster of Allen American's players has some talented individuals. Haven't gone through the entire roster yet but some top notch students are on the team. Aaron Gens graduated with honors, Brian McMillin, Andrew Hamburg, and John Ryder were all on the NCAA (WCHA) all-academic team for multiple years in college, and Raphael Girard is a Harvard grad. And I am sure there are more.

- Heard that Knight Furniture will again be sponsoring a replica Presidents' Cup banner give away as they did last year on banner raising night. Unless the date changes the banner raising is scheduled for October 24th.




Sunday, September 14, 2014

30 Questions With Andrew Hamburg - A Player Profile


Andrew Hamburg

Today the Allen Americans Blog continues the 30 Questions series with recently signed forward Andrew Hamburg. Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona the first question you ask is how and why does a youngster get involved in hockey? Andrew and his brother, Anthony, who is two years younger actually got involved in hockey because of their mother. Here is how Anthony explained it in an interview,  "It's a funny story, actually. Our dad, is not a winter athlete at all. Can't ski, can't skate, nothing. So, my mother went to Denver University as an under graduate, and she hung out with all the hockey guys, because she was in a sorority and, of course, they were in a fraternity. So, she just took us skating one day when I was two and a half and Andrew was about four, and ever since then we've been in love with hockey. So, we skated all the time, moving around to play hockey, but we're having a great time. We are blessed with great parents, a great situation with them. They've helped lead us every day and have instilled a great work ethic and views and morals and all of that. They're great people, and we love them to death, and we will do everything for them, and that's what they've done for us so far. So, we will appreciate that forever."

Andrew has spent time in Dallas in the past as he played midget hockey (2005-2007) for the Dallas Stars Midget AAA team and also played briefly for the NAHL Texas Tornado (2007-2008) before being traded to the St. Louis Bandits where he won back to back championships (Robertson Cups). Andrew had 103 points in 93 games playing for the Bandits. Andrew spent the next four years 2009-2013 playing Division 1 hockey at Colorado College (WCHA). 

In addition to being an outstanding hockey player at Colorado College, Hamburg excelled in the classroom as he was selected to the NCAA (WCHA) all-academic team his sophomore, junior and senior years and graduated with a degree in economics.

Last year (2013-2014) Andrew played professional hockey in Norway and Slovakia.

Hamburg scores a goal for his Norwegian team,  Tonsberg Vikings

Andrew was kind enough to answer some get to know you questions:

Can you tell us a little about your family?
- I have an extremely supportive family here in Phoenix. My mom and dad are both physicians, my mom is a Neonatologist  and my dad is a Cardiologist. I have a younger brother, Anthony, who recently graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), where he played hockey. Anthony plans on playing in Europe this upcoming season.

Did you have a pet growing up?
- I did not have a pet growing up. I used to be petrified of dogs when I was young but my attitude towards them has changed as I have gotten older.

Where are you spending the summer? Are you working?
- I am spending my summer in Phoenix where I grew up. I am helping with skill development with some youth teams in the area.

Describe your training regimen during the summer?
- I train at Exos Athletes Performance, which is known for its NFL combine training, with some professional players that live in the area including some Coyotes players.

What is your favorite number? Do you know what number you will be wearing in Allen?
- My favorite number is #15. It was my number in juniors and college. My brother was #15 when we were growing up and I idolized his play so it became my favorite number. I have not picked my number for the season but am open to any number.

What is your nickname?
- My nickname is a variation of my last name. I have gotten it all from Hammy to Hammer to Cheeseburger. In juniors they used to say I got a hamburger helper when I assisted on a goal.

Who is your hockey hero?
- My hockey hero is Joe Sakic. Fans might not like to hear this but when I was growing up I was a huge  Colorado Avalanche fan and the way Joe played was something I tried to model my game after when I was little.

At what age did you start skating?
- My mom got my brother and I into hockey when I was four or five years old. My mom went to the University of Denver for her undergraduate degree and became a hockey fan while she was there.

Can you describe your style of play?
- I am good with the puck and see the ice well.

Who is your favorite actor and actress?
- My favorite actor is Vince Vaughn as I think he is hilarious. My favorite actress is Alice Eve.

What is your favorite type of music?
- I like all types of music, especially 90's alternative music.

What is a song or artist you hope your teammates don't catch you listening to?
- "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus.

If you could have lunch with anyone living or dead who would you  pick?
- Alexander the Great because he came the closest to conquering the world at the time and never lost a battle.

What chore do you absolutely hate to do?
- I hate folding laundry. I am okay when it comes to putting clothes in the washer and dryer but hate the folding.

What do you have that is of great value to you but little value to anyone else?
- My St. Anthony's pendant. I pray to him before I go on the ice for every game.

Who do you admire as a leader?
- John Wooden as he is one of the most successful coaches of all time. He brought his teams together through teaching fundamentals.

Where is the most interesting place you have ever visited?
- The most interesting place I have ever visited would have to be Athens, Greece. I am a huge history buff and the ancient history in that city is unbelievable.

If you could live in another country for  two years where would you pick?
- I would love to live in Australia. It seems like a beautiful place that would fit my personality very well.

If you could be anything beside a pro hockey player what would it be?
- I have entertained the thought of going to law school and becoming a lawyer which is something I will probably pursue once I have finished playing hockey.

Do you have any pre-game routines, rituals or superstitions?
- I do not have many routines or rituals in the pre-game but I do like to put on my equipment the same way before I go on the ice.

Who is your number one fan?
- That would be my family as they have always supported me no matter what endeavor I have pursued.

What do you like to do to kill time on the bus?
- I like to watch TV shows on the bus and sleeping a lot.

What was your favorite childhood toy?
 - I had a mini basketball hoop that I used to love to shoot on.

Do you have a favorite motto or saying?
- WTD! Win the Day.

What is your favorite TV show?
- Currently. I would have to say Suits.

If you could choose someone as a mentor who would you choose?
- My father, he is extremely dedicated to his profession and his family.

Do you know anyone on the Allen team?
- I went to college and played hockey with Brian McMillin for a year. He was a senior when I was a freshman. I even went to his wedding a couple of years back. I also know the Ludwig brothers a little bit having met them a couple of times while playing with their younger brother CJ, in midgets.

What do you like to do away from the rink?
- I like to be active when away from the rink, whether it is playing golf or tennis (neither of which I am any good at).

What have you been told about the Allen fans?
- I have heard Allen fans are unbelievable and that they are extremely supportive of the team and the players.

How did you get to Allen?
- Coach Martinson reached out to me this summer. After discussing it with him it took very little time to decide to play in Allen. The winning tradition and my love for the Dallas area made it an easy decision for me. I look forward to coming to Allen and competing for the Americans organization and the fans.

Steve Martinson had this to say about Andrew, "Hamburg is a big strong versatile kid with a lot of skill. He comes highly recommended by his college coach."

Here are Andrew's statistics:

Forward -- shoots R
Born Jun 17 1989 -- Phoenix, AZ
[25 yrs. ago]
Height 6.03 -- Weight 203

Season Team League GP G A TP PIM
 2006-2007 Dallas Stars U18Midget- - -- -
 2007-2008 Texas TornadoNAHL2 1 12 2
St. Louis BanditsNAHL43 11 3243 33
 2008-2009 St. Louis BanditsNAHL50 12 4860 51
 2009-2010 Colorado CollegeNCAA26 8 614 8
 2010-2011 Colorado CollegeNCAA35 5 611 12
 2011-2012 Colorado CollegeNCAA29 4 59 6
 2012-2013 Colorado CollegeNCAA41 6 1218 27
San Francisco BullsECHL1 0 00 0
 2013-2014 HC Banska BystricaSlovakia3 0 00 2
T√łnsberg VikingsNorway12 1 34 8
Skien IHKNorway21 1 01 4






Thursday, September 11, 2014

30 Questions With Allen Defenseman John Ryder - A Player Profile


Allen Defenseman John Ryder




The Allen Americans recently signed third year professional John Ryder for the upcoming season. Ryder, who is from Colorado Springs, Colorado played college hockey at the University of Denver. Last year he split time between the Colorado Eagles and Ontario Reign of the ECHL.

Ryder is a stay at home defenseman who has been described as a big time check waiting to happen, who has perfected unpenalized checks on the puck carrier in the neutral zone or inside the blue line to the point you pay attention to him as if he was the best offensive player on the ice. He led the University of Denver in each of his last three seasons, racking up 802 hits in 102 games from 2009-2012. He recorded over 1000 hits in his college career.

The 25 year old, who majored in fiance and management, was named to the All-WCHA Academic Team for four consecutive years (2008-2012) while at the University of Denver.

John was kind enough to answer some get to know you questions.

Can you tell us a little about your family? 
- My parents names are Rick and Paula, my father is an engineer and my mother was a nurse. I have one sister named Melissa. She is a special education teacher that specializes in autism. Melissa got all the good qualities in the family. She's married to a guy named Mike and they have a two year old son named Logan who is just a little stud, and have a little girl on the way.
 
John with his nephew Logan from April 2013


Did you have a pet growing up?
- I had a Shelty named Lady growing up, and also had a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever named Ollie.


Where are you spending the summer?
- I spent most of the summer in Ohio, working out and enjoying the weather with my billet family from junior hockey.

Describe your training regimen?
- I've been working out 5-6 days a week most of the summer, skating a few times a week.

 What is your favorite number?  Do you know what number you will have with Allen?
- My favorite number is 24. I received it when I came to Denver University my freshman year and it just grew on me. Then I was able to have that last year in Colorado and its always kind of been my number since college. I'm not sure what number I will be wearing in Allen.

 What is your nickname?
- Either Rydes or Gurwell which is my mom's maiden name. I actually have a hyphenated last name with Gurwell in it.

Who is your hockey hero?
- Even though he was a goalie I was always a fan of Patrick Roy. The passion and fire that he played every game with and now its the same way when he coaches. It always drew me to him.
 
 What is your earliest hockey memory?
- My earliest hockey memory is of when we had a small rink in our backyard the winter of 1991 (it was unusually cold in Colorado) I remember going out the back door early without my parents in the morning to go skate.

 At what age did you started skating?
- I was 2. The Summer of 1991

 Can you describe your style of play?
- I'm a stay at home defenseman who plays an extremely physical game. I like to shut down the other team and stick up for my teammates.

 Who is your favorite actor and actress?
- I'm a big fan of Russell Crowe and Jennifer Aniston.

What is your favorite type of music?
- My favorite type of music is country music. I also have been listening to a little alternative music lately, like Mumford and Sons.

What is your current favorite singer or group?
- Right now I would have to say I've been listening to a lot of Jake Owen.

What is a song or artist you hope your teammates don't catch you listening to?
- Brave by Sara Bareilles. Kevin Ulanski caught me listening to that song last year and it became kind of a running joke in Colorado.

What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
- I'm a big reader. I read a book about every 2-3 days.

What chore do you absolutely hate to do?
- My least favorite thing to do is empty the dishwasher.

What do you have that is of great value to you but little value to anyone else?
- My grandfather's US Navy manual from when he entered the service in the Korean War in 1950.

Who do you admire as a leader?
- Peyton Manning, his ability to stay calm in any situation as well as his intense preparation for a  game is something that is contagious and magnetic to anyone who hears about it.

Where is the most interesting place you have ever visited?
- Lake Louise, just north of Banff, Alberta. It is beautiful during the summer and I was amazed by the clarity of water along with the mountains in the backdrop.

If you could live in another country for two years where would you pick?
- It would probably have to be Italy. There is 5,000 years of history that is still visible. Along with the Vatican and Ancient Rome. I could spend the whole time exploring all of Italy's history.

If you could be anything besides a pro hockey player what would it be?
- It would probably have to be either a country singer or an investment banker.

Do you have any pre-game routines, rituals or superstitions?
- No, I just try to stay as loose as I can and not think too much about the game.

Who is your number one fan?
- My father is my number one fan. He has taken me everywhere and has always been willing to listen to me about hockey or give me advice on anything from hockey to life.

What do you like to do to kill time on the bus?
- I mostly read on the bus.

What was your favorite childhood toy?
- A metal toy dump truck

What is your favorite TV show?
- How I Met Your Mother

 If you could choose someone as a mentor who would you choose?
- Honestly I would have to say that I have my mentor in my father. He's a great man. He raised me with honor and integrity in every facet of life and I am truly lucky to grow up around such a great man.

Do you know anyone on the Allen team?
- I played with Kevin Young last year in Colorado.

When will you arrive in Allen?
- Sometime in the first week of October.

What do you like to do away from the rink?
- I like outdoors activities such as hiking, fishing, golf, and tennis and I have already mentioned how much I like to read.

 What have you been told or know about the Allen fans?
- I've heard they are some of the best in pro hockey. I'm excited to play in front of them.

How did you get to Allen?
- I had spoken to coach Martinson in the past few years and he approached me this summer and after talking to him and my agent I really felt that this was the place that I am supposed to be.

Here are John's statistics courtesy of Hockeydb:

Defense -- shoots L
Born Mar 6 1989 -- Colorado Springs, CO
[25 yrs. ago]
Height 6.00 -- Weight 200 






Regular Season
Playoffs
G
A
G
A
2006-07
USHL
50
4
2
6
92
-22
4
0
1
1
2
2007-08
WCHA
8
1
0
1
2






2008-09
WCHA
32
0
6
6
48






2009-10
WCHA
30
0
3
3
38






2010-11
WCHA
42
0
8
8
62






2011-12
WCHA
30
0
4
4
32






2012-13
ECHL
28
0
5
5
36
7
17
0
1
1
8
2013-14
ECHL
52
0
6
6
65
5
--
--
--
--
--
2013-14
ECHL
16
1
1
2
33

3
0
1
1
0