Sunday, October 19, 2014

Confession, Allen Americans Update - Scrimmage, Skills Challenge, New Players, & ECHL Opening Weekend


When I started this blog two seasons ago I got plenty of advice from bloggers, writers, and broadcasters to avoid using I, me or we when writing about the Allen Americans. Wanting to be a "pro" I tried to follow this advice but sometimes it is not so easy and today is one of those "violate the rule days." The relationship a writer has with their blog is a love/hate relationship. It is great when things are going well and all the feedback you get is how much readers enjoy reading the blog. This blog has gone from seventeen page views that first day back in 2012 to a point where as of this morning it has accumulated 284,963 page views from all over the world (yes there are Allen fans all over the world). The hate part is when you get a call from the front office, coach, player or fan that didn't like something you said. I always try to be fair and balanced but sometimes mistakes are made or there is just a difference of opinion.  The blog has never been about getting more eyeballs as I always say I am a one trick pony because the blog is just about the Allen Americans. To the extent others around the league find an interest in the blog that is great, however, there is no chance the name will change to incorporate a wider audience. In the early days it was all about getting the information out before anyone else so scooping the team was filled with satisfaction. Scouring social media, talking to others around the league and using any other means to be the first to put out information was the goal. Now that I have almost all of the information before it goes public it is no longer my goal to be the first. I now see my role to supplement the the information the team provides and that makes for a much better relationship with all involved.

It may be hard to believe but it is close to a full time job (I am retired) following the team by attending practices, talking to players, coaches and the front office, researching information and writing the blog. Yesterday was a good example of the love/hate I have with the blog. After the Friday night scrimmage/skills challenge I talked to some players, Steve Martinson and had some good material for a blog post. I got up early Saturday morning and spent three hours writing the post and just as I was ready to publish it somehow it all got deleted. After spending an hour trying several ways to retrieve the information I said "screw it" and the 'I hate doing this blog" came out. I told myself I was not going to redo the post again and headed over to the Allen Event Center to watch practice and pick up my season tickets. As you might have experienced yourself or heard about, the tickets for the full season ticket holders did not show up as there was a snafu with the delivery so only those with half season tickets or partial season tickets received their season tickets. As a bunch of us were milling around commiserating about driving to the AEC only to find out the tickets for the full season ticketholders were not available (one guy had driven 55 miles)  several fans came up to me and shared with me how much they appreciate my blog and the information and insight I provide. All of a sudden I loved the blog again and committed to spending Sunday morning rewriting all of the information that was lost.

I feel better, thanks for letting me vent. I guess you didn't have a choice. Let's get on with it.


- The red versus white scrimmage on Friday evening was fun to watch as it was a bunch of guys who love hockey having fun after a tough week of practice. You really couldn't draw any conclusions from the scrimmage but two things were noticeable that aren't a surprise. The Americans have two top notch goalies in Aaron Dell and Riley Gill and they have a defensive group that should provide a lot of offense.

- The skills challenge was made up of three events which were called something like rapid fire shooting, relay race and breakaway challenge. The teams were the red and white teams from the scrimmage. The first event consisted of four players from each team (one player at a time) taking five shots from the slot (no one timers) in quick succession after taking passes from both sides of the net. Each team could earn a maximum of 20 goals/points (four players x five shots) in the event. Both teams scored five goals so there was a tie after the first event. For the red team Travis Ouellette led the way as he scored three goals with his five shots. For the white team Brian McMillin and Aaron Gens were two for five. The second event was a timed relay made up of three players from each team. The first player had to maneuver through a bunch of cones with the puck, the second player had to make three shots into three different miniature nets and the third player had to score two goals from the far blue line. The red team (Trevor Ludwig, Sy Nutkevitch, Brett Lyon) won the relay with a time of 57 seconds. The final event was the breakaway challenge where all members of both teams attempted to score like they do in a shootout. The goalies (Aaron Dell for the red team and Riley Gill for the white team) dominated the breakaway challenge as only two goals were scored, both by the red team. The goals scorers were two recently signed players, Justin Baker and  Nolan Descoteaux (see below). It was all for fun and maybe bragging rights as the red team (Dell, Nutkevitch, Trevor Ludwig, Baker, Descoteaux, Ouellette, Lyon, Young, Schultz) came out victorious.


Had a chance to sit down with Steve Martinson after the scrimmage and get updated on a few items:

- Martinson is really happy about the affiliation that was just announced with San Jose (NHL) and Worcester (AHL). It is something he started working on as soon as he knew about the move to the ECHL. He does not anticipate getting many players assigned other than Aaron Dell who is already here. Because the affiliation happened so late several other players were assigned to other ECHL teams.

- Martinson has signed three new players that made their debut in the red versus white scrimmage. Two of the players (Justin Baker and Ian Schultz) have signed contracts while the third (Nolan Descoteaux) is on an amateur tryout agreement. See their hockeydb stats at the end of this post.

- There will be additional roster changes before opening night. If he gets a couple of the players he is pursuing it will really improve the roster.

- The players are suffering through the typical aches and pains of training camp. Several players did not participate in the scrimmage and have missed practice, however, they should be ready to go for the opener on the 24th.


- It was a good weekend for several of the players from last year's championship team that have signed with other ECHL teams. Jonathan Lessard scored a goal in both games as his Bakersfield team split with Stockton over the weekend.. Bakersfield won Friday night 3-1 with Lessard getting the game winner. Former Allen player Jim McKenzie also had a goal for Bakersfield. Greger Hanson had the game winning goal last night in Cincinnati's season opener as they beat Toledo 4-1. It was Allen alumni night as Evansville beat Gwinnett 3-1 in their season opener. Coached by Dwight Mullins all three Evansville goals were scored by Allen alums. Kale Kerbashian scored the first two goals of the game 26 seconds apart and was named the games #1 star. The third Evansville goal was scored by Jarrett Lukin.

- The rivalry that existed between Colorado and Rapid City when they were both in the Central Hockey League didn't take long to be rekindled as they played the first two games between one of the seven new teams in the ECHL and one of the older teams. The Rush handled the Eagles easily on Friday night with a 5-1 victory. All you have to say about the rivalry being rekindled is there were 14 fighting majors in the game and 112 total penalty minutes. Colorado came back last night (Saturday) and beat Rapid City 3-2. Too bad these two teams don't get to play each other a few more times during the season.

- Average attendance for the first 18  ECHL games has been great with an average of 5451 per game. Four teams had 8000 plus (Fort Wayne, Evansville, Orlando, Toledo) while Elmira is only averaging 2628 after two home games.

- A testament to the quality of players Allen had on their championship team last year is the fact that four of them have been selected to leadership roles for their new ECHL teams. Garrett Klotz (Indianapolis), Jarret Lukin (Evansville), Darryl Bootland (Colorado) and Daniel Tetrault (Rapid City) are all alternate captains. Bruce Graham is also wearing an "A" for his Nottingham Panthers and there may be more. Congrats to all!

-  Many people are predicting the seven new ECHL teams will struggle when going up against the other ECHL teams. Have to say Rapid City acquitted itself very well against Colorado this weekend though the record will show 1-1. The next opportunity to see how this works out comes on Friday when Missouri plays Indianapolis (and their old coach Scott Hillman) and Brampton plays Toledo.


-  Many of you may have seen the tweet Jamie Schaafsma put out after the scrimmage on Friday, "FYI Garrett Clarke is an Allen American now, he's not the enemy anymore! Let's stay classy, he was just doing his job last year." Apparently some fans were heckling Garrett based on some of his actions last year when he played for Arizona. Certainly fans who buy tickets have a right to heckle the players but I have to agree with Jamie on this one. Keep in mind Garrett's style of play has always been one of an agitator, a real get-under-your-skin type and in that role he has been very effective. There has never been any question about his skill, however when your style of play is on the edge it is easy to go over the edge. Garrett would be the first to admit that he has made some mistakes, took some stupid penalties and caused some problems. Remember, he is still a 21 year old kid. Who of us would want to be judged  forever by actions we took as a 20 year old. And if you respect Steve Martinson as a coach you have to support his decision to bring Clarke back to Allen. So my hope is fans can encourage Garrett to be the best he can be, judge him by what he does on this team not what he has done in the past and if all else fails cheer for the name on the front of the jersey not the name on the back. I am sure there will be bumps in the road but I for one am looking forward to watching his progress.

- Several fans mentioned to me on Friday that the leadership group (captain and alternate captains) has already been determined and announced. This was based on somebody seeing this on the official lineup card for the preseason game with the "C" & "A's" designated. This is required for each game but that should not be interpreted as some decision. No final decision has been made nor has anything been announced about who will have the leadership roles.

Here is some statistical information on the three new players that were in the red vs white scrimmage on Friday. Information courtesy of hockeydb:

Justin Baker

Defense -- shoots R
Born Jul 9 1991 -- Toronto, ONT
[23 yrs. ago]
Height 6.02 -- Weight 190

Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2007-08 Streetsville Derbys OPJHL 24 2 19 21 22  

2008-09 Streetsville Derbys OJHL 48 17 60 77 40  

2009-10 Streetsville Derbys OJHL 47 24 56 80 70 30

2010-11 St. Lawrence University ECAC 36 2 10 12 22  

2011-12 St. Lawrence University ECAC 31 3 8 11 29  

2012-13 St. Lawrence University ECAC 38 5 21 26 22  

2013-14 St. Lawrence University ECAC 38 9 24 33 32  

2013-14 Hartford Wolf Pack AHL 1 0 0 0 0   ----------

Ian Schultz

Right Wing -- shoots R
Born Feb 4 1990 -- Calgary, ALTA
[24 yrs. ago]
Height 6.02 -- Weight 216 [188 cm/98 kg]
Drafted by St. Louis Blues
- round 3 #87 overall 2008 NHL Entry Draft
Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2006-07 Calgary Hitmen WHL 1 1 0 1 0 1 ----------
2007-08 Calgary Hitmen WHL 67 15 15 30 128 10 16 2 7 9 19
2008-09 Calgary Hitmen WHL 58 15 26 41 127 19 18 5 7 12 24
2009-10 Calgary Hitmen WHL 70 24 31 55 150 6 23 8 7 15 26
2010-11 Hamilton Bulldogs AHL 45 3 1 4 49 -5 15 2 0 2 15
2011-12 Hamilton Bulldogs AHL 60 6 17 23 104 -3 ----------
2012-13 Wheeling Nailers ECHL 13 0 2 2 17 -1 ----------
2012-13 Utah Grizzlies ECHL 27 7 8 15 139 -2 ----------
2012-13 Hamilton Bulldogs AHL 2 0 0 0 2 -1 ----------
2012-13 San Francisco Bulls ECHL 7 0 1 1 15 1 ----------
2013-14 Arizona Sundogs CHL 33 8 6 14 72 -2 ----------

Nolan Descoteaux

Defense -- shoots L
Born Oct 16 1989 -- Dallas, TX
[25 yrs. ago]
Height 6.00 -- Weight 215 

Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2008-09 South Shore Kings EJHL 45 10 25 35 54  

2009-10 South Shore Kings EJHL 39 13 26 39 35  

2010-11 R.I.T. AHA 35 2 2 4 36  

2011-12 R.I.T. AHA 31 2 3 5 43  

2012-13 R.I.T. AHA 37 3 5 8 62  

2013-14 R.I.T. AHA 36 5 13 18 46  

2013-14 Gwinnett Gladiators ECHL 11 1 2 3 2 -3 ----------

DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans are 4-1 in opening season games in their five years of existence. Their only loss game to the Tulsa Oilers at home in 2011-2012 by a score of 4-1. Allen opens  the season on Friday at home against the Tulsa Oilers.


  1. I, for 1, thank you for keeping us up to speed. I know that is not easy sometimes when everything is happening at once, and you do have a life (well, maybe not during hockey season). So keep the love part of the love/hate relationship going strong. We need you. If you ever need some help, I am just a phone call away.

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  3. Barry,
    I have said more than once that I appreciate your work on this blog. It is very informative and I love it. I would also understand if you were to scale it back a little. An entry a day during the season (like you did last year) may be too much. I would certainly understand if you did slow down a little. I would miss it miss it but would also understand.