Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Allen vs Rapid City Game Preview, Hanson Scores First AHL Goal (The Video) & More

Daniel Tetrault and the Rapid City Rush invade the Allen Event Center (AEC) tonight for the first of two games against the Allen Americans as they will also play on Friday. The schedule favors the Americans as they have had a couple of days to rest while the Rush played last night in Tulsa and then had to travel to Allen. Rapid City is in sixth place in the Central Division with just 26 points and are 15 points behind the league leading Americans. Don't let the Rush record (12-15-0-2) fool you as they are definitely a team that is playing great hockey right now. Here are a few of their most recent accomplishments.

- Last night Rapid City was trailing Tulsa 3-0 after the first period and preceded to score five unanswered goals to win the game 5-3.
- The Rush have won their last four road games (Tulsa, Missouri, Wichita, Tulsa) and two of the games have been shutouts.
- Rapid City has won five of their last six games.
- In their last ten games Rapid City has won six games and lost four. In Allen's last ten games they have won six and lost four.
- Rapid City is ranked #21 in average goals per game at 2.72 but in their last six games they have averaged 4.00 goals per game.

If Allen wants to halt their two game losing streak tonight they will have to come out fast and be aggressive but avoid gambling and trying to manufacture plays that are not there. Coach Martinson spent a lot of time at practice yesterday working on gap control and other system related drills in an effort to tighten up some of the defensive lapses that happened last weekend.

Special teams are always a key and it will be important for Allen to stay out of the penalty box. They have given up power play goals in each of their last three games. Rapid City's power play has been outstanding as they have score five power play goals in their last three games going 5-11 for a 45% conversion rate.


- Allen has won two of the three games against Rapid City this year. They split in Rapid City early in the season and the Americans won 3-1 in their only meeting in Allen.

Winning percentage: Allen (.759) - Rapid City (.448)
Average goals scored: Allen (4.33) - Rapid City (2.72)
Average goals allowed: Allen (2.67) - Rapid City (2.76)
Average penalty minutes: Allen (22.81) - (Rapid City 17.79)
Power play percentage: Allen (15.3% at home) - Rapid City (10.9% on the road)
Penalty kill percentage: Allen (86.2% at home) - Rapid City (88.2% on the road)
Goal differential: Allen (+45)  - Rapid City (-1)
Team plus/minus: Allen (+164) - Rapid City (-47)

- Scoring leaders for Allen are Combs (48 points), Costello (44) and Steffes (29). For Rapid City the leading scorers are Jesse Schultz (26), Dylan Clarke (21) and Robin Soudek (20).


- Jessey Astles is no longer with the team and has been placed on team suspension. Did not hear this officially from the team but my understanding is Jessey is returning home to pursue a college education.

- Congrats  to Greger Hanson who scored his first AHL goal last night as his Worcester Sharks beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 6-2. Greger has a point in four of the five games he has played for Worcester. You can see his goal at about the 2:30 mark of these game highlights. Greger is wearing #8. Got a kick out of Greger's wife, Andrea, who posted this on social media, "Greger scored his first career AHL goal and of course I was in the bathroom!" You will always remember where you were for  that goal Andrea. You can enjoy these highlights forever.

- In the battle of the seven former CHL teams against the older ECHL teams it was another loss for the CHL as Toledo beat Brampton 6-3 last night. The former CHL teams are now 2-11 against the older ECHL teams with two more games on tap tonight.

- How is this for an odd statistic. Dallas Ehrhardt played 47 games in Allen last year and did not get a goal. He played his first 13 games in Missouri this year without scoring a goal. He then scored goals in back to back games according press releases even though only one of the goals shows up in the official ECHL stats. Congrats to Dallas on his first (and maybe second) professional goal.

- Make sure to wish Riley Gill happy birthday if you see him at the game tonight as the New Year's baby turns the big 30 tomorrow.

DID YOU KNOW: Found this on a message board and did not fact check it but interesting info if it is true. Everyone says it is still early in the season so there is plenty of time for their team to move up the standings and make the playoffs. However, in the last five years there have been 77 teams make the ECHL playoffs and 70 of those teams were in a playoff spot or tied for a playoff spot at the Christmas break. If your team is not already in the top four in the division the odds are stacked against them making the playoffs.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Practice Makes Perfect, Individual & Team Statistical Leaders, Bobby Orr's Allen Connection

It is a return to practice today for the Allen Americans after experiencing their first back to back losses of the season over the weekend. It should an interesting practice as the Americans prepare for games against Rapid City tomorrow (Wednesday) and Friday. Rapid City is still mired in sixth place in the Central Division, however, over the last ten games they have been one of the hottest teams in the division with a 6-3-0-1 record. They have won their last three road games against Wichita, Missouri & Tulsa. Will have a full game preview tomorrow.


With Allen being the highest scoring team in the league and third in goals allowed they dominate many ECHL statistical categories. Will try to illustrate this below by listing the top three players on the team with their stat and then where they rank in the league in that stat:

Points - Combs 48 (#1), Costello 44 (#2), Steffes 29 (#11)
Goals - Steffes 18 (#1), Combs & Costello 17 (#4)
Assists - Combs 31 (#1), Costello 27 (#2),  Young 16 (#26)
Power Play Goals - Steffes 6 (#1), Schultz 5 (#3), Combs 4 (#13)
Power Play Assists - Combs 10 (#2), Costello & Tyler Ludwig 7 (#11)
Shorthanded Goals - Hanson 3 (#1), Asuchak, Baker, Combs 1 (#11)
Game Winning Goals - Combs 5 (#1), Hanson 4 (#5), Costello 3 (#9)
Penalty Minutes - Lyon 164 (#1), Gens 66 (#23), Clarke 61 (#30)
Plus/Minus - Costello +21 (#2), Trevor Ludwig & Hanson +20 (#3)
Shots On Goal - Combs 114 (#3), Steffes 98 (#8), Costello 88 (#20)
Points By Defenseman - Tyler Ludwig & Young 19 (#5), Baker 18 (#8)
GAA - Gill 2.44 (#9)
Save Percentage - Gill .917 (#7)
Goalie Wins - Gill 14 (#3)


If you somehow combined all team statistics Allen would come out on top but in the most important statistic which is win percentage they trail Florida (.820) and Fort Wayne (.776). The Americans are at .759 which is the best in the Western Conference. Here is how the Americans rank in the 28 team ECHL in some of the statistical categories. The first number is Allen's number and the second number is how they rank in the ECHL.

Win Percentage - .759 (#3)
Points - 41 (#2) 
Average Goals For - 4.33 (#1)
Average Goals Against - 2.67 (#2)
Average Shot For - 34.07 (#1)
Average Shots Against - 29.00 (#10)
Power Play Percentage - 20.3% (#6)
Penalty Kill Percentage - 88.3% (#2)
Average Penalty Minutes - 22.81 (#1)
Win % When Scoring First - .875 (#4)
Season Winning Streak - 8 games (#1)
Home Winning Steak - 7 games (#2)
Team Plus/Minus -  +164 (#1)  *second place is at +121
Goal Differential -  +45 (#1)


- Congrats to the Quad City Mallards for their 7-5 victory over the Fort Wayne Komets last night. A sign of the craziness of the ECHL as the Mallards lost at home on Sunday to Brampton who is the second worst team in the league (according to points) and then beat Fort Wayne who is the best team in the ECHL (according to points) on the road on Monday.

- With the Quad City win last night the record of the seven former CHL teams against the older ECHL teams is now 2-10. There are three more opportunities to improve on the record this week as Brampton takes on Toledo tonight and tomorrow and Quad City plays Evansville tomorrow night. Allen won't get their first chance until January 23 when they have three games in three nights against Indy, Toledo, and Kalamazoo.

- Gary Steffes is just two goals away from 100 goals in his professional career.

- Don't know how many of you experience this problem but Allen is one of few teams in the ECHL that does not have a live stream application for smart phones, at least not for Apple products which I have. So if you are too busy to sit at a computer to listen to Tommy Daniels or you are out and about you have to listen to the opponents broadcaster as they have the smart phone live stream capability. The team is missing out on many more fans listening to the Allen broadcast and Allen sponsor's commercials. COME ON MAN!

- The comers and goers in the Central Division over the last ten games are the Quad City Mallards who are 7-3 and have moved into sole possession of second place and the Tulsa Oilers who are hanging on to a tie for third place despite going 3-7 in their last ten games.

- Both Spencer Asuchak and Greger Hanson will be in action tonight up in the AHL to continue their quest to secure an AHL contract. Spencer has played in nine games for Providence and has five points (2 goals 3 assists) and is a +3. Greger has played four games for Worcester and has three points (0 goals, 3 assists) and is a +2.

DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans are +164 in plus/minus as a team to lead the ECHL and former Allen player Drew Daniels leads the league with a +24. The NHL record for plus/minus in a season is held by Bobby Orr who was an unbelievable +124 in 1970-1971.

DID YOU KNOW BONUS: When former Allen player Adam Pineault was drafted in the second round  (#46 overall) in the 2004 NHL draft his agent was Bobby Orr.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Allen Coughs Up 3-1 Lead, Tulsa Wins 4-3, Martinson's Post Game Comments & More

No matter how avid a fan is they don't expect their team to win every game so the fact that the Allen Americans lost last night to the Tulsa Oilers by a score of 4-3 is not a surprise. After all they were playing their third game in 48 hours against a rested Oilers team. What was a surprise and maybe even shocking is how the Americans lost the game. Allen gave up the first goal of the game at 3:31 of the first period but battled back with three unanswered power play goals, two by Ian Schultz and Jamie Schaafsma with the other to take a 3-1 lead going into the third period. When leading after two periods the Americans were 15-0 going into the game yesterday. Allen gave up three unanswered goals in the third period including two goals 32 seconds apart at the 16:33 and 17:05 mark. For a team with as much talent as Allen it had to be disappointing to the players, coaches and the fans to have so many defensive lapses when they had the game won.

When I caught up with coach Martinson after the game he sounded more disappointed than angry and he was disappointed in himself as well as the team. Here is what he had to say:

- We lost because we were not committed to winning the game, we were committed to scoring.

- Losing this game had nothing to do with playing three games in three days or the fact that Tulsa was rested. We had bad gaps, we did not do a good job back checking, we took stupid penalties and it finally caught up with us.

- Maybe the only way this team can win is by scoring more goals so the score is always 5-4 and they don't have to play good defense.

- It was very embarrassing how we performed in the third period especially after we discussed the only way Tulsa gets back in the game is to let them do exactly what they did.

- To be successful you have to have pride on both sides of the puck.

- It is bad coaching when you have the stronger, more experienced line up with a two goal lead yet you can't get the team to play an intelligent third period.


- With three home games this week Allen will have plenty of opportunity to get back in the win column. They play Rapid City Wednesday and Friday and Wichita on Sunday.

- The game last night was the first game all season that the Americans did not score an even strength goal. All three goals came on the power play as Allen was three for six and raised their overall power play percentage to 20.3% which ranks them #6 in the ECHL. Their power play percentage on the road is 24.3% which is #2 in the league.

- The winning goal for Tulsa was a power play goal as the Allen penalty kill has given up four power play goals in the last three games. The penalty kill percentage was recently at 90%. In the last three games it is at 76.5%.

- It is important to keep everything in the proper perspective as it is easy to focus on the fact Allen got only one of a possible four points in the two road games this weekend. The Americans have only lost two games in regulation since November 9. That is two regulation losses in 21 games.

- Despite losing to Tulsa the Americans maintained their eight point lead in the standings as second place Quad City lost last night to the Brampton Beast.

- The former CHL teams get another crack at the older ECHL teams tonight as Quad City travels to Fort Wayne to play the Komets. It will be a tough task for the Mallards as Fort Wayne is the best team in the league with a record of 22-5-1-0.

- Allen is now done playing Tulsa until the end of February but the next month will have its own challenges. Other than the three game road trip to Indy, Toledo and Kalamazoo which everyone is looking forward to seeing the entire schedule is made up of games against just three teams. Allen will play Rapid City four times, Missouri four times and Wichita three times.

- Other than the three games in three days road trip to Indy, Toledo and Kalamazoo (January 23-25) Allen has only one other road game all month which is a game in Missouri on January 6. Lots of time at home for the team in January.

DID YOU KNOW:  Allen has had 26 different players on the roster thus far this year. The fewest players used is Wichita with 23 and by far the most players used is Missouri at 38.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Shootout Loss Details, Martinson Post Game Comments, Allen vs Tulsa Preview, Allen Signs Kyle Follmer

The final score last night was a 3-2 Wichita win over Allen in a shootout before a crowd of 5019 at Intrust Bank Arena. But how the game played out says more than the final score. For the third straight game between these teams the Thunder were able to control the Americans high powered offense on the way to victory. The top line (Combs, Costello, Schultz) was held scoreless for only the second time all year. This line averages close to 4.5 points per game but has a total of three points in the last three games against Wichita. Despite being outplayed in the first period Allen got on the scoreboard first on a Tyler Ludwig goal which is usually a good sign as the Americans have won 90% of the games where they have scored first. Wichita evened the score on a power play goal late in the period. It was the third power play goal given up by Allen in two nights for what was the best penalty kill unit in the league (they have now dropped to #2). After the Thunder went ahead with a goal in the second period  Allen evened the score at 2-2 midway through the third period on a Jamie Schaafsma power play goal. Allen outplayed Wichita for the remainder of the third period and in the overtime but could not get the game winner. Allen looked to have the advantage when the game ended up in a shootout with all of their high scoring skill players against a Wichita team that was only two for twenty six (7.7%) in four shootout losses this year. After Gary Steffes scored on Allen's first attempt Thunder goalie Tim Boron stopped Costello, Combs, Tyler Ludwig and Jamie Schaafsma and Allen lost the shootout 2-1.

There is no rest for the weary as Allen headed to Tulsa after the game where they take on the Oilers at 4:05 this afternoon (Sunday). The schedule isn't in Allen's favor as they not only have to play three games in 48 hours both Wichita last night and Tulsa this afternoon got the day off prior to playing Allen while Allen had to play. Not an excuse, just a fact for this weekend. Many times the Americans have won on the road when they are tired and the home team is rested. Look for a big effort this afternoon in Tulsa.


- Once again we had a slow start even with that early goal by Ludwig. We were outplayed in the first period as indicated by Wichita's 15-6 shot advantage.

- Aaron Dell was very good in the first period with some great saves on quality shots. His play in that period kept us in the game.

- We got a power play goal tonight but I don't like our power play lately. It is something we will work on in practice next week.

- We had a strong third period and overtime but we need to get more traffic in front of the net. We are not getting enough screens in front of the goalie and when we do have screens we don't shoot.

- It is good to see Jamie Schaafsma scoring again with goals in three straight games.

- We just signed Kyle Follmer who is a tough physical guy that can play both defense and up front. (See details below).


- Allen has only lost seven games all year (4 in regulation, 1 in overtime, 2 in shootouts) with three of the seven losses coming at the hands of Wichita.

- Allen is now 2-3 against Wichita this year. The Americans won the first two games against the Thunder but have lost the last three. In the three losses Allen has a total of four goals. Allen will have plenty of opportunity to solve the lack of scoring against Wichita as the two teams still have to face each other twelve more times this season.

- As a duo Combs and Costello have only been held scoreless twice this year, both against Wichita.

- The one point they earned last night keeps Allen's streak alive as they have points in eleven straight games. Allen has lost in regulation only one time in the last 20 games.

- With 41 points Allen has an eight point lead over second place Quad City (33 points) and a ten point lead over third place Wichita (31 points) with two games in hand.

- Despite not getting a goal last night Steffes, Combs, and Costello remain the top three goal scorers in the ECHL.

- With all of their scoring prowess and great goal tending Allen should have a big advantage in games that go to a shootout. That has not been the case thus far as the Americans are 1-2 in shootouts and have only converted on four of fourteen attempts (28.6%) which ranks them #19 in the ECHL. In shootout goals against Allen has allowed four goals in thirteen attempts (30.8%) with ranks them #18.


- Will make this short and sweet because if you look at the statistics Allen should win the game today as they are clearly the better team. After all, Allen has won seven of the last eight games they have played against Tulsa with the only loss being in a shootout. However, more important than the stats is the fact that after Tulsa lost 5-3 to Allen Friday night in Allen they went home and had Saturday to rest. Meanwhile Allen traveled to Wichita, played an overtime game with a short bench and then had to travel to Tulsa to play an afternoon game today. That is a big advantage for Tulsa and when you combine that with how sick and tired the Oilers are of losing to the Americans you have the formula for an upset. Tulsa draws well so a big home crowd will also help the Oilers. Allen has come through time and time again in situations like they have this afternoon but it will be a tall task.


Kyle Follmer

Kyle Follmer made his professional debut last night as he was just signed by coach Martinson after Brian McMillin was put on injured reserve. Follmer was a college teammate of Phil Fox and Greger Hanson at Northern Michigan University (NMU). He played forward as a youngster and in high school but was converted to a defenseman in juniors and that is what he played in college. He has the ability to play both positions. After college Kyle signed with Fort Wayne (ECHL) but hip surgery forced Follmer to miss the entire 2013-2014 season. He was signed by the Indy Fuel this year but was released in training camp. In four college seasons (2009-2013) at NMU Follmer tallied 15 goals, 67 points and 194 penalty minutes in 152 games. The words you see to describe Follmer are tough, physical, rugged and versatile. In his attempt to break into the ECHL he has said, "This is a fresh start for me and a chance to prove to people I can play at this level."

Kyle comes from a famous hockey playing family (Paitich, his mothers maiden name) in the Como Park neighborhood of St. Paul, Mn. In addition to his brothers and sisters there were many cousins that played hockey for Como Park. Kyle has a twin brother and his sisters are also twins.

Here are his stats courtesy of hockeydb.

Kyle Follmer

Defense -- shoots L
Born Sep 9 1987 -- St. Paul, MN
[27 yrs. ago]
Height 5.11 -- Weight 202

Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2005-06 Sioux City Musketeers USHL 54 14 18 32 137 9 ----------
2006-07 North Iowa Outlaws NAHL 1 0 0 0 19

2006-07 Lincoln Stars USHL 58 21 22 43 116 -16 4 0 1 1 17
2007-08 Lincoln Stars USHL 57 6 25 31 117 -9 8 0 4 4 12
2009-10 Northern Michigan University CCHA 41 2 12 14 46

2010-11 Northern Michigan University CCHA 39 6 9 15 69

2011-12 Northern Michigan University CCHA 36 4 22 26 35

2012-13 Northern Michigan University CCHA 36 3 9 12 44

2014-15 Allen Americans ECHL 1 0 0 0 0 0

DID YOU KNOW: The best team in the ECHL when it comes to shootouts is without a doubt the Fort Wayne Komets. They are 5-0 in shootouts, have scored on 42.9% of their shootout attempts and have limited their opponents to 15.4% on their shootout attempts.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Allen Beats Tulsa Again, Martinson's Post Game Comments. Allen vs Wichita Preview

It was a familiar script last night as the Allen Americans defeated Tulsa 5-3 for their seventh win against the Oilers in their last eight meetings. For a second straight game Allen broke open a close contest in the third period to seal the victory. The potent Allen offense scored four unanswered goal in less than seven minutes to take a 5-1 lead to put the game away. Allen had five different goal scorers with Young (3), Costello (17), Schaafsma (5), Schultz (8), and Schwartz (2) getting the goals and ECHL league leading scorer Jack Combs assisting on four of the five. Immediately after the game the team boarded the bus for the 360 mile trip to Wichita where they will take on a well rested Thunder team tonight (Saturday) as Wichita did not play Friday night.


- We had no business being tied after the first period but Riley Gill made some great saves to keep us in the game as we were out shot 15-7. You don't think you will be that sharp after the break but Tulsa didn't have a chance to skate today, traveled four hours to get here and really took it to us in the first period. That is frustrating.

- We may end up playing short players the next two nights as Jessey Astles is out with food poisoning and a defenseman may be out for the game tomorrow as well. I have a new player meeting us in Wichita. He is a tough physical guy from Minnesota who did not play last year because he was hurt. He is a college guy who played with a couple of our players. He has played both defense and center and has some edge to his game.

- It will be hard to replace Brian McMillin as he has so much experience. Since I have been here he has been given a lot of defensive responsibility and those skills are hard to replace so we aren't going to get a player like Brian. Jesse Messier will get more penalty kill time with McMillin out. Brian will go on injured reserve as soon as we get the paperwork to the league office which should be tomorrow. There was no rush getting him to IR as we didn't need the roster spot.

- Our team can score a lot of goals in a hurry and the first half of the third period looked like our team. Giving up the two goals late was unfortunate but it was a good win for us.

- Now we move on to Wichita as we continue our three in three and will play a rested team tomorrow so it will be important to play smart and not give up eight power play opportunities like we did tonight. I am sure Wichita will play a physical game as that has been their approach when we have played them recently. If we end up playing short guys it will be important how we respond to the physical play. We will just have to go out and play hard.

- Rylan Schwartz is looking more comfortable each game. He had a goal but could have had a couple more. It is good to see Jamie Schaafsma scoring (six points in last three games).

- Greger Hanson had another assist tonight  and has an assist in all three games he has played for Worcester. He also has had some good hits.


- With the win last night Allen improved their winning percentage to .800 which is second in the ECHL trailing only the Florida Everblades who are at .848.

- One of the keys to the game mentioned in yesterday's game preview was special teams as the Americans had a big advantage in both penalty kill and power play. The Americans lost the special teams battle for the first time in many games. The Oilers ended a four game power play drought by scoring two power play goals and held Allen scoreless in their four power play chances. Luckily two of the other keys (scoring first and keep the offense rolling) helped Allen to victory. It is not wise to give up the first goal of the game to Allen as their record when scoring first is now 13-1-0-1.

- Jack Combs had four assists last night and Chad Costello had a goal and two assists as they increased their lead over the rest of the pack in the ECHL scoring race. It is fair to say the duo is dominating the ECHL in scoring. Combs now has 46 points (1.84 per game) and Costello has 43 points (1.72 per game). No other player in the league has more than 32 points. It will be a travesty if both of these guys don't make the ECHL All-Star team.

- There should be little doubt who the ECHL player of the month is for December even with five days left in the month. Chad Costello has played in ten games in December, has a point in all ten games and in only two games has he had as few as one point. The totals for ten games are 24 points (11 goals 13 assists) for 2.40 point per game average. Add to that a plus/minus of +14 and the fact he was not minus in any of the ten games and you have quite a month. Chad is now the league leader in plus/minus at +24.

- Speaking of plus/minus the top six in the ECHL in plus/minus are current or former Allen Americans:
+24 - Chad Costello
+21 - Drew Daniels
+20 - Trevor Ludwig
+20 - Greger Hanson
+20 - Jack Combs
+20 - Gary Steffes

- Riley Gill won his fourteenth game of the year last night which ties him for the league lead in wins.

- If you were at the game last night you saw Aaron Dell sporting some new goalie equipment which was pretty easy to see. Saw them referred to as nice, sick and sweet so take your pick. Check it out:

Santa was nice to Aaron Dell

- Other than Allen the top of the Western Conference is dominated by the Pacific Division teams. Here is how the seven former CHL teams rank in the 14 team Western Conference with points in parenthesis.

1. Allen (40)
6. Quad City (31)
7. Wichita (29)
8. Tulsa (29)
9. Missouri (27)
13. Rapid City (22)
14. Brampton (17)

- It was a great goal scoring night around the ECHL for players from last year's Allen Americans championship team. Kale Kerbashian (Evansville), Darryl Bootland (Colorado), Dallas Ehrhardt (Missouri) and Jonathan Lessard (Bakersfield) all had goals and all of their teams won.


- Who is in and who is out? Aaron Dell will be in goal against Wichita, Jessey Astles will not play. The new player mentioned above will be in the lineup. Because the name has not been made public by the Americans can't share it yet. You will obviously know by game time.

- Allen has played Wichita four times this year and each team has won twice. Allen won two games in Wichita early in the season but Wichita has won the last two times the teams have played (11/29 & 12/19). Wichita has found a formula to throttle Allen's high powered offense as the Thunder have only allowed one goal in each of the last two games against the Americans. These are the only games Allen has been held to one goal all season. Wichita plays a very physical style against Allen which seems to be effective, at least in the last two games.

- Wichita has won three of their last four games the only loss being in their last game (12/21) when they lost to Rapid City in a shootout. Allen has won six of their last seven games with the loss being in overtime to Wichita.

- Allen and Wichita match up well together. Allen scores more goals per game (4.48) than Wichita (2.74) but in goals allowed it is much closer with Allen at 2.60 and Wichita at 2.78.

- Allen usually has a sizable special teams advantage against any team they play but that is not the case with Wichita.  Allen has a road penalty kill percentage of 92.1% which is outstanding. However, at home Wichita has a league leading penalty kill percentage of 94.1%. Wichita has only given up three power play goals at home all year. The power play percentages are also close with Allen converting at a rate of  21.9% on the road and Wichita at 20.0% at home. As is almost always the case (last night was an exception) winning the special teams battle will be a key to victory.

- Staying out of the penalty box is crucial in winning special teams battles and Allen has been failing in that regard. Allen has risen to the top of the ECHL in average penalty minutes per game at 23.40. What really has the potential to hurt the Americans are all of the stick/minor penalties they take.  Allen takes more minor penalties (7.2 per game ) than any team in the ECHL. Last night was a prefect example as Allen gave up eight power play opportunities and two power play goals. Luckily the offense was able to overcome this but that might not be the case with Wichita.

- If the game goes to a shootout tonight advantage Allen. They have scored on 33% (3 of 9) of their shootout attempts while Wichita is at 7.7% (2 of 26).

- Top scorers for Wichita are Danick Gauthier (25 points), Ian Lowe (23) and Kenton Miller (23). Top scorers for Allen are Combs (46), Costello (43) and Steffes (28).

DID YOU KNOW: In the odd stat category Allen is undefeated (5-0) this year when being out shot by their opponent. Maybe it can be attributed to games where Allen has to kill a lot of penalties but outplay the opponent five on five.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Allen vs Tulsa Keys To Victory, Martinson Likely To Coach All-Star Game, CHL vs ECHL Record

Yes, the Christmas break is over and for the second consecutive week the Allen Americans get the lovely three games in three days with some travel. After a home game with Tulsa tonight (Friday) the team travels to Wichita for a Saturday game and then to Tulsa for a Sunday afternoon (4:05) game. It actually works out to be three games in less than 48 hours with over 500 miles of travel.

After the two games this weekend Allen and Tulsa will finally get a break from each other. Allen will have played Tulsa 12 times in the first 27 games of the season. They will only play one time in the next 35 games. Their only meeting between December 29 and March 21 is a home game on February 22.

The series has been good to Allen thus far. After losing two of the first three games against Tulsa at the beginning of the season including the home opener nightmare (9-6 loss) the Americans have won six of the last seven meetings with Tulsa. The only loss was a shootout loss.

So what does Allen need to do to get four points from Tulsa this weekend. Here are the keys to success:

- Tighten up on defense as the team has given up too many odd man rushes the last two games against Tulsa. Allen ranks #3 in the ECHL in goals allowed at 2.58 but allowed an average of 3.50 against the Oilers last weekend.

- Keep the offense rolling. Allen makes up for a lot of defensive mistakes with their league leading offense. They are ranked #1, scoring an average 4.46 goals per game. They averaged 5.50 in the two Tulsa games last weekend.

- Win the special teams battle. Allen has the best penalty kill percentage (90.0%) in the league while Tulsa is #16 at 82.3%. Allen also has the advantage on the power play at 19.3% compared to Tulsa at 11.5%. The Americans scored three power play goals in the two games last weekend and held the Oilers scoreless when they were on the power play. Win the special teams battle and most likely you win the game.

- Tulsa has lost five games in a row and are sick and tired of losing to Allen. Allen has lost in regulation only once since early November. It is important for Allen to come out full of energy in the first period and don't let Tulsa get that first goal which will give them hope. Allen wins 90% of their games when they score first so a fast start will be key.

- Riley Gill will be in goal tonight and Kevin Young will return to the line up. With Brian McMillin out everyone else will play.


- The American Hockey League (AHL) will name the coaches for their All-Star game on December 31. The game itself will take place on January 26. The ECHL will not say what date they will use to determine the All-Star coaches for their game which will take place January 21. The head coach will be the coach of the team with the highest winning percentage in the ECHL. The assistant coach will be the coach with the highest winning percentage in the other conference from the head coach. Here are the best winning percentages for each conference:

Eastern Conference (as of December 26)
.848 Greg Poss, Florida Everblades
.827 Gary Graham, Fort Wayne Komets
.788 Derek Lalonde, Toledo Walleye

Western Conference (as of December 26)
.792 Steve Martinson, Allen Americans
.621 Brad Ralph, Idaho Steelheads

Without knowing the cutoff date for selecting the All-Star coaches it is hard to predict but it looks like the Eastern Conference (either Poss or Graham) will have the head coach and Steve Martinson will be the assistant coach for the All-Star game that will take place in Orlando. A big honor for coach Martinson and great publicity for the Allen Americans.

- The seven former CHL teams have some strange schedules this year but how is this for a schedule. The Greenville Road Warriors have played 28 games thus far but 20 of them have been on the road. Their eight homes games are the fewest in the league. Things are about to change as Greenville starts a 12 game home stand tonight and won't have another road game until January 23. Other than four games on the road (two against Orlando, two against Florida) at the end of January and early February the Road Warriors will be "Home Warriors" with  17 of 21 games at home. Other than those four road games they are at home from December 26 to February 15. Incidentally, Greenville's home record is 7-1 so look for them to make a move up the standings over the next two months.

- Thus far the former seven CHL teams had not fared well against the older ECHL teams as the only victory was the very first game played on October 17 when Rapid City beat Colorado 5-1. Since then the older ECHL teams have won ten in a row. This week the former CHL teams will get four more cracks at beating the older ECHL teams. It will be a tough task as three of the four games are against the best ECHL teams. Quad City plays Fort Wayne and Evansville while Brampton plays Toledo twice. It will take a big effort by Quad City and Brampton to avoid going into next year with a record of 1-14 against the old ECHL teams.

- Both Greger Hanson and Spencer Asuchak have games tonight as Hanson's Worcester Sharks play at home against Manchester and Asuchak and his Providence Bruins are on the road against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Spencer and Greger have been playing great hockey since being promoted to the AHL so keep it up guys!

DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL record for most home wins in a season is 30 which was set by Steve Martinson and the San Diego Gulls in their first year in the ECHL (2003-2004). The Steve Martinson led Allen Americans, who are in their first year in the ECHL are currently on pace to beat the ECHL record for most road wins which is 26.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Special Christmas Thank You To All Allen Players, Past And Present

As I was reflecting on what to write about on Christmas Day I noticed how many messages there were on social media about spending the holidays with friends and families. That is not true for most hockey players as the Christmas break does not allow enough time to get back home. Friends and family all too often are teammates and their families which is great but not the same as friends and family at home. Long before he became team captain, Jamie and Nicole Schaafsma started having those in town for Christmas to their place for Christmas dinner, a tradition that will continue this year. Well done Jamie and Nicole.

So this post is merely a THANK YOU to all players (and their families) past and present for what you have done for all the fans of the Allen Americans both on and off the ice. It has been quite a ride over the last few years. One of the benefits of writing a blog is getting to know many of the players and their families and with social media it is easy to feel connected even when they move on. The following is a small sample of Christmas time with players and their families past and present.

This was posted yesterday by the Allen Americans

London, Whitney, Harper & Bruce Graham - Nottingham, England 2012

London & Harper Graham - 2014

Nicole, Sawyer & Sutter Schaafsma

The Snowden's

Aaron Gens, girlfriend Kellie, and their dog to Kentucky for Christmas

Christmas in Japan courtesy of Colton Yellow Horn
Lynden's first Christmas and skate with dad, Trevor Ludwig
The most famous dog in Allen history, Pearl (@Pearlilicious11), was Phil Fox's "wing dog"

Sydney Ludwig - Tyler & Taylor's daughter

Nino Musitelli and his girlfriend Kendra

- Andrea Hanson (Greger's wife who is attending law school in North Carolina) posted this on social media: 6 hrs, 5 states, and 2 red bulls later and Bella (their dog) and I are halfway to Worcester for Xmas with Greger.

- Kevin Young had this to say to everyone: Merry Christmas to all of my family and friends and to all of those I have met during my travels. Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! Fröhliche Weihnachten. Joyeux Noel. Hyvaa joulua. Feliz Navidad. God Jul.

Once again thank you, thank, you, thank you to all players past and present for the sacrifices you have made to follow your dreams and the joy you have brought to the fans in Allen on and off the ice. Your determination on the ice and kindness off the ice is both noticed and appreciated. May this Christmas day be a joyous one for you and yours!

Happy Holidays from Barry the Blogger

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

All I Want For Christmas Is Some Hockey Humor

It is the day before Christmas and the middle of the break for the ECHL so thought it would be a good day to enjoy some hockey humor for you diehards that read this blog on a daily basis. You may have seen these before but they will hopefully bring a smile to your face or even make you laugh out loud a little bit.

- You are playing worse everyday and right now you are playing like the middle of next week... Herb Brooks

- Street hockey is great for kids. It is energetic, competitive and skillful. And best of all it keeps them off the street... Gus Kyle

- American professional hockey players are bilingual, they speak English and profanity... Gordie Howe

- Why is the puck called a puck? Because dirty little bastard was taken... Martin Brodeur

- The top three worst things I have seen in hockey are the invention of the trap, the invention of the morning skate and the invention of the extremely ugly uniform... Brett Hull

- Half the game is mental; the other half is being mental... Jim McKenny

 - When hell freezes over, I'll play hockey there too.

- The only difference between this and Custer's last stand was Custer didn't have to look at the tape afterwards... Terry Crisp after 10-0 defeat.

- St. Peter and Satan were having an argument one day about hockey. Satan proposed a game to be played on neutral ice between a select team from the heavenly host and his own hand-picked boys. "Very well," said the gatekeeper of Heaven. "But you realize, I hope, that we've got all the good players and the best coaches." "I know, and that's all right," Satan answered unperturbed, "We've got all the referees."

Two boys are playing hockey on a pond in the park in Toronto, when one is attacked by a rabid Rottweiler. Thinking quickly, the other boy takes his stick, wedges it down the dog's collar and twists, breaking the dog's neck. A reporter who was strolling by sees the incident, and rushes over to interview the boy. "Young Leafs Fan Saves Friend From Vicious Animal," he starts writing in his notebook. "But I'm not a Leafs fan," the little hero replied. "Sorry, since we are in Toronto, I just assumed you were," said the reporter and starts again. "Little Jays Fan Rescues Friend From Horrific Attack" he continued writing in his notebook. "I'm not a Jays fan either," the boy said. "I assumed everyone in Toronto was either a Leafs or Jays fan. "What team, do you root for?" the reporter asked. "I'm a Boston Bruins fan." the child said. The reporter starts a new sheet in his notebook and writes, "Little Bastard from Boston Kills Beloved Family Pet."

- At one point during a game, the coach called one of his 7 year old hockey players aside and asked, Do you understand what cooperation is? What a team is?" The little boy nodded in the affirmative. Do you understand that what matters is not whether we win or lose, but how we play together as a team?" The little boy nodded yes. So," the coach continued, "I am sure you know, when a penalty is called, you should not argue, curse, attack the referee, or call him a pecker-head. Do you understand all that?" Again the little boy nodded. He continued, "And when I call you off the ice so that another boy gets a chance to play, its not good sportsmanship to call your coach a dumb asshole, is it? Again the little boy nodded. "Good," said the coach. "Now go over there and explain all that to your mother..."

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Nothing To Talk About? There Is Always Silly Season!

Is Silly Season Closer Than You Think?

It is Christmas break for the Allen Americans and while most players will be staying in the area a few of them have scattered to the winds. Quick trips to Kentucky, Minnesota, and the old standby for some of the single guys, Las Vegas, were in the plans. While it is quiet on the Allen Americans front what better topic to talk about than the upcoming "silly season." With the AHL expansion to the West Coast a foregone conclusion it is now just a matter of how teams align and when does it happen. How does it all impact Allen? With the recent announcement that Oklahoma City will not field an AHL team next year, they could very well move to the ECHL. A nice close rival for the Americans. If the San Jose Sharks have their AHL affiliate on the west coast rather than in Worcester it makes it easy for Allen to be the ECHL affiliate with the numerous nonstop flights from Dallas to the west coast.

The article below written by Scott Linesburgh who is a staff writer for talks about another piece of the puzzle that will be part of silly season 2015. If the sentence at the end of this story is true some answers might be forthcoming very soon as ECHL franchises planning to move up to the AHL for the 2015-2016 season must file transfer papers in early January. Silly season may be upon us quicker than you think.

Possible hockey upgrade in Stockton's future

Calgary to buy franchise as part of western division in AHL
By Scott Linesburgh
Record Staff Writer

STOCKTON — A sale of the Stockton Thunder and it becoming part of a West Coast expansion into the American Hockey League could be a step closer toward becoming true.
Two prominent Canadian publications reported recently that the Thunder will be purchased by the Calgary Flames of the NHL and moved up to the AHL within two years as part of a new western division in the league considered the Triple-A of hockey. The Thunder is for sale and currently plays in the ECHL, and has long been part of speculation concerning a series of teams from the lower league to the AHL.
A story in the Edmonton Sun concerning the Edmonton Oilers' decision to drop Oklahoma City as its AHL team to move west said that the Flames are expected to buy the Thunder. The Oilers own Bakersfield, the Los Angeles Kings own the Ontario Reign, and the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks are likely candidates to buy AHL teams that would form a Western division.
Thunder owner Brad Rowbotham, who has owned the Thunder since 2010, put the team up for sale in September but has said little about the process. When asked about the Edmonton Sun’s story, he said he could not respond because of confidentiality agreements with potential buyers.
“I’m not free to comment on the process,” Rowbotham said.
According to the Calgary Herald, Flames president Ken King also declined to comment on the report, saying: “We are looking at a group of options.”
There has long been speculation about the Western NHL teams forming an AHL division closer to their home cities. The Flames, Oilers, Kings, Sharks and Ducks all have AHL affiliates in the eastern United States. The Flames own an affiliate in Adirondack, N.Y.
The move would save the NHL organizations time and money when it comes to transferring personnel to and from their top minor league affiliates. The Sharks' AHL team in Worcester, Massachusetts. is more than 3,000 miles away. For perspective, Honolulu is closer by 600 miles.
In September, ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna told The Record that he expected the AHL to expand to the West Coast.
“The only thing I know for certain is that NHL teams on the West Coast have made it clear they have a desire to have their AHL affiliates in the West,” McKenna said at the time. “We believe it will happen; however, the specific locations and times remain to be seen.”
To move up to the AHL for the 2015-16 season, the ECHL franchises would have to file transfer papers with the league in early January before the annual mid-season meetings on Jan. 20-21 in Orlando, Florida.

DID YOU KNOW: There have been a lot of "silly seasons" since the ECHL was established in 1988. The league is currently made up of 28 teams but there have been 80 different teams in the ECHL since 1988.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Allen Wins 6-3, Martinson's Post Game Comments, McMillin Injured & Out Indefinitely

Fearless shot blocker extraordinaire Brian McMillin broke his knee cap blocking a shot last night - photo by

After a scoreless first period the Allen Americans turned on their offensive firepower with three goals in the second and third periods to beat the Tulsa Oilers 6-3 last night, disappointing a large crowd of 6130 at the BOK Center. It was a big night for the Allen defense as four of them (Gens, Baker and both Ludwigs) had multiple point games led by Aaron Gens with two goals. Besides Gens the goal scorers in the game were Trevor Ludwig, Steffes, Costello, and Schaafsma. Things got a little ugly in the third period after Allen took a 5-2 lead. The Tulsa broadcaster said it best when he said since Tulsa can't win the game they are trying to extract a pound of flesh from the Americans and send a message for next weekend when the teams play two more times. When it was all over the third period accounted for 96 penalty minutes including six misconduct penalties with one of them being a game misconduct penalty. For the game Allen had a season high 56 penalty minutes while Tulsa had 72 minutes which is also a season high.

The Americans suffered a major loss in the game when Brian McMillin broke his knee cap. Brian was doing what he does best as one of the best shot blockers on the team. He blocked a big shot that  hit him in the knee where there is no padding. After a trip to the emergency room in Tulsa where x-rays confirmed the knee cap was broken, Brian returned home with the team. He will have surgery this week and then start the long road to recovery. Knowing Brian who is disciplined, dedicated, and hard working he will do everything in his power to be back in the line up by the end of the season. Aaron Gens posted this on social media last night, "Brian, tons of respect for the heart to block that shot kid. Rest easy, heal fast." I had the chance to talk with coach Martinson after the game and he had this to say, "It is a tough injury and a big loss to the team. Brian is one of our glue guys. He logs lots of minutes for our penalty kill, quietly goes about his business, while providing top defensive play for our team."

 I know it is unprofessional to talk personally in a blog, at least that is what the professionals tell me, but I am not a professional and it is my blog so I can say what I want to. Everyone who is a regular reader of the blog knows Brian and his wife Wendy have become close friends of our family and I always kid them they are the grand kids we have never had. Brian and I were planning a fishing trip this morning. As soon as the injury happened I was texting with Wendy and knew it was a serious injury. But the understated Brian, who I am sure was in plenty of pain and dealing with all of the ramifications of this serious injury took the time to text me and made it short and simple, "Not going to make our fishing trip tomorrow." It made me laugh and cry at the same time. I know all of the Allen fans as well as the fans around the league and the hockey world and especially those in northern Minnesota wish Brian a speedy recovery and know he will come back better than ever.


- We need to manage our puck and positional play decisions better as we are giving up way too many odd man rushes.

- Aaron Dell made some big saves on quality opportunities tonight which really helped out.

- We have so much skill on this team that they can make up for all of our mistakes but after the Christmas break we will need to get refocused on our defensive game.

- While there are things we need to do to get better this team has had a great stretch as we have only lost one game in regulation in the last 18 games. Not bad after losing three of our first six games.

- I am looking forward to a great Christmas and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.


- With the win last night Allen now has 36 points and has opened up a nine point lead in the Central Division over three teams tied for second as Quad City, Wichita, and Tulsa all have 29 points. Allen has games in hand (between two and five) on all of the teams in second place.

- Special teams was a difference maker in the victory over Tulsa as the penalty kill was perfect for the fourth straight game and has raised the penalty kill percentage to 90% which leads the ECHL. A 90% penalty kill percentage is considered outstanding. Only one team in the NHL (Chicago Blackhawks) boast a penalty kill percentage of 90%.

- The power play was two for seven and had a third goal just as a power play ended. The Americans had three power play goals in the sweep of Tulsa this weekend.

- As a team the Americans had eighteen points (6 goals, 12 assists) in the game last night. Nice job by the defense as they had eight of the eighteen points (3 goals, 5 assists).

- With his goal last night Gary Steffes regained the ECHL lead in goals over his teammate, Jack Combs, who was held scoreless for only the second time all season. Steffes is #1 with 18 goals, Combs is tied for #2 with 17 goals, and Costello is tied for #4 with 16 goals.

- Chad Costello really closed the gap over his buddy Jack Combs in the ECHL scoring race this weekend. Chad had quite the weekend against his old team as in the two games against Tulsa, Costello had seven points (3 goals, 4 assists). Combs still leads the ECHL in scoring with 42 points but Costello is now just two points behind.

- Tulsa should be happy when the new year rolls around and they can get away from Allen for a while. In the last month Allen has played Tulsa seven times and got points in all seven games. The Americans have won six times and lost in a shoot out once. After playing in Allen this Friday (12/26) and in Tulsa on Sunday these teams will play only one time until the end of March.

DID YOU KNOW: Hockey players are known for their toughness such as laying down in front of slap shots and guys like Brian McMillin do it all of the time. When they get injured their typical response is injuries are part of hockey and I will be okay. But it has to be particularly difficult to get injured during the holidays. The holiday season has been tough on Allen the last two years with Brian McMillin having a major injury this year just before Christmas and last year Trevor Ludwig getting seriously cut on his arm just after Christmas (January 3rd). 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Allen Wins Ugly, Martinson's Post Game Comments, Dell in Goal Today, Kevin Young Will Not Play

In the books the game last night against the Tulsa Oilers will show a 5-4 Allen victory and a shots on goal advantage for the Americans of 44-24 however the game was much more difficult than that sounds. Any win is great and the win over Tulsa allowed Allen to increase their point lead in the Central Division over the second place Oilers to seven points. Steve Martinson described it as an ugly win and that is what it was. For the second night in a row Allen allowed a goal in the first minute of the game. This time it was at the 30 second mark and to make matters worse Tulsa scored a second goal to take a 2-0 lead before Allen got on the board at the end of the first period. It seemed as if Allen was falling back into some of the bad habits from early in the season where they were thinking score first, trying to manufacture plays that were not there, cheating and taking too many risks which led to way too many odd man rushes for Tulsa. It says a lot about how good this team is that on a night where they did not play their best hockey they were able to find a way to win. It took a five on three power play that the Americans converted with a Chad Costello goal with just 21 seconds left in the game to finally seal the victory. Costello had two goals on the night with the others being scored by Gens, Schwartz and Steffes. The two teams battle again this afternoon (Sunday) in Tulsa with a 4:05 start. The team was scheduled to leave for Tulsa at 10:00 am this morning.


- I would just call that an ugly win. We gave up more odd man rushes tonight than we have given up in probably a month. It looks to me that we have gotten used to winning and now want to score more than we want to win. There is just not enough discipline when we don't have the puck.

- We struggled on the power play other than the five on three at the end of the game. We did a better job of taking shots from the point but we need to be crowding the net to start and then try to make plays.

- Sometimes if we don't get a bunch of goals early and have to play from behind we start pressing and cheating. We need to keep playing our puck possession game.

- Justin Baker made a great play on the Steffes goal.

- Aaron Dell will be in goal on Sunday against Tulsa and Kevin Young, who was hit by a shot, will not play. Nolan Descoteaux will replace Young in the line up.

- Counting the game today seven of Allen's last thirteen games have been against Tulsa. Since November 25 Allen and Tulsa have played six times with Allen winning five of the six games. Tulsa's one victory came in a shootout on December 5.


- Jack Combs was awarded Allen's first penalty shot of the season in the second period when he was hooked on a breakaway. He failed to convert. There have been nineteen penalty shots awarded in the ECHL thus far and six have ended up with goals for a conversion rate of 32%.

- Tulsa coach Bruce Ramsay was given a game misconduct penalty after Allen scored the game winning goal with 21 seconds left in the game. Not sure if he was upset by the referee giving Allen the five on three at the end of the game or he thought the referee missed a penalty on Allen. He was very irate and took his time leaving the ice while telling the referee what he thought. Understand he had more to say to the referee after the game.

- All three members of the top line had multiple point games led by  #1 star Chad Costello with two goals and two assists. Ian Schultz had three assists and Jack Combs had two assists. Combs and Costello continue to widen their lead in the ECHL scoring race. Combs is #1 with 42 points, Costello #2 with 37 points and Tyler Barnes of the Toledo Walleye is third with 33 points. No other players have more than 28 points.

- The attendance last night of 3638 was undoubtedly held down because Allen High School was playing in the state football championship game which they won handily for the third straight year. The last two times the Allen Eagles won the state football title the Allen Americans went on to win their championship. Maybe it is an omen for this year.

- Tommy Daniels was not on the air last night because of equipment problems. It really adds to the experience to listen to Tommy Daniels broadcast the game while watching it live at the Allen Event Center.

- Greger Hanson had another assist last night in a losing cause as Worcester lost to Portland 4-3 in overtime. Greger has an assist in both games he has played for Worcester and is a +2.

DID YOU KNOW: Former Allen defenseman Drew Daniels who now plays for Fort Wayne leads the ECHL in plus/minus with a +25.  Chad Costello is second with +21 and Greger Hanson third with +20.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Wichita Solves Allen's Potent Offense Again, Martinson's Post Game Comments, AHL Update

Only twice this season in twenty two games have the Allen Americans been held to one goal and both times it was at the hands of the Wichita Thunder. Last night it was a 2-1 overtime loss before a crowd of 4235 at the Allen Event Center. Wichita scored just 46 seconds into the game and Chad Costello scored a goal to make it 1-1 midway through the second period and that is how it ended in regulation. Aaron Dell saved numerous quality chances and the penalty kill unit killed off a five minute major penalty including a full two minutes of five on three midway through the third period to give Allen the momentum but they could not find the back of the net for the game winner. The extra session  was a real disappointment for the Americans as Kenton Miller score the game winner after just fifty one seconds of overtime. Allen was called for icing and lost the ensuing face off.  The puck was passed to Miller who was standing all alone in front of the crease. He had time to wait out Aaron Dell take the puck from forehand to backhand and put it in the net. A sad ending for what was a terrific night for Dell as he got no help from the defense on the play.


- It was a frustrating game for sure. I didn't think we played very hard at the start of the game. The very first shift we kept turning the puck over until they scored a goal. I thought as the game progressed we would pick it up but we did not win enough battles down low and we kept cheating too much trying to make long plays instead of playing our usual puck possession game, getting it in the zone and supporting the puck.

- Our power play was kind of brain dead. We didn't shoot the puck from the point as we talk about all the time and then don't do in the game. We maybe had two good chances in our five power play opportunities. Not scoring a power play goal was a big difference.

- Our penalty kill was great and Dell was our best penalty kill guy as he made a couple of great saves on the five on three. When we are killing a five on three and our guy gets a stick to the face it is frustrating when we don't get that call.

- To have the game end with such an easy scoring chance on a four on four face off was also frustrating. We got caught cheating and out of position maybe hoping we could intercept the puck and get an odd man rush. We always say don't gamble, let the other team gamble and we will burn them. It was a crappy end for Dell who has played a couple of strong back to back games. The good thing about the loss is we don't have to wait long to do something about it with two more games this weekend. Riley Gill will start in goal tomorrow night (Saturday) against Tulsa.

-  For his first game I thought Schwartz was okay. He is probably not use to carrying the puck. I just told him to try and make some plays. He didn't arrive until something like 5:00 am this morning so he didn't even have a chance to participate in the morning skate. It is difficult to get thrown in like that. He will be better tomorrow night.

- Wichita plays a lot of man on man defense and pressures you all over including in the offensive zone. If they make a mistake they don't have secondary layers to help defend their net. That is what happened on the one goal we got but we did not take advantage of that enough tonight. 


- Wichita has definitely figured out a way to play against Allen to slow down their high powered offense. Allen averages more shots on goal than any team in the league and scores more goals on average than any team in the the league. After allowing five goals the first time they played Allen back in October the Thunder have allowed the Americans a total five goals in three games. Allen averages just under 34 shots on goal for the season but against Wichita they average just 26 shots on goal.

- Tim Boron was great in goal for the Thunder who now have a three game win streak. Boron has been in goal for all three games and has given up only two goals in the three games.

- It was nice to see the standing ovation for the penalty kill unit after they killed off a five minute major and a full two minutes of five on three in the third period. The league leading group is now at 89.4%.

- Chad Costello had the only goal for the Americans assisted by Combs and Schultz. The last time these two teams played (November 29) was the only time this line has been held scoreless all year. Both Combs and Costello have a seven game scoring streak and remain #1 (Combs with 40 points) and #2 (Costello with 33 points) in the ECHL scoring race.

- Even though they lost in overtime Allen gained a point in the standings as second place Tulsa lost to Rapid City 4-0. With the win over Allen, Wichita has moved into third place. Allen has a five point lead over Tulsa with five games in hand and a six point lead over Wichita with four games in hand.

- With a crowd of 4235 at the game last night the average attendance is once again close to 4000 (3991). This is below the ECHL average of 4181 and below last year's average of  4157. With Allen High School playing for the state football championship tonight the crowd will certainly be affected but the average attendance should improve from this point forward. Allen's current attendance average of 3991 ranks them #17 of the 28  teams in the ECHL.

- Greger Hanson's debut in Worcester (AHL) last night was spoiled by a 4-1 loss to Manchester but wearing the #8 was luck individually. Greger got his first AHL point as he assisted on Worcester's only goal and he had a good game defensively. He was a +1 for the game and one of only three players on the team in the plus category. Worcester plays again tonight in Portland, Maine.

- Spencer Asuchak played his sixth game for the Providence Bruins last night as they beat the Portland 3-2 in overtime. Spencer's line score was all zero's but the most important stat is a victory. Since Asuchak joined the team six games ago they have not lost and they have the second longest  current win streak in the AHL. Providence plays at Manchester tonight.

- Here is a post game interview with Tyler Ludwig courtesy of Tommy Daniels:

DID YOU KNOW:  Rylan Schwartz wore the #11 last night and joins some pretty impressive college graduates that have had that number for the Americans. Rylan is a graduate of Colorado College, an academic all American and was the NCAA leading scorer in 2012-2013. Phil Fox had the #11 last year and had an excellent career at Northern Michigan University (NMU) where he was the captain of the hockey team. He is now back at NMU as the Director, Hockey Operations. And of course the original #11, Nino Musitelli,  played his college hockey at Miami of Ohio and still holds Allen's single season record for most goals at 34 (tied with Bruce Graham).

Friday, December 19, 2014

Allen vs Wichita Game Preview, Hanson To Worcester, Schwartz to Allen Player Profile

Worcester assigns Rylan Schwartz to Allen - will be in lineup  tonight

With five days off between home games the Allen Americans are just finishing one of their longest breaks of the season and will start an all too familiar Steven Brothers round robin this weekend and next weekend. This weekend it is Wichita (H), Tulsa (H) and Tulsa (A). Next weekend it is Tulsa (H), Wichita (A), Tulsa (A). Tonight's meeting with Wichita will the be the first time the Thunder have been to the Allen Event Center (AEC) this year and they are the last of the Central Division teams to visit Allen. The two teams have meet three times this season, all in Wichita, with Allen winning on October 25 (5-3) and November 15 (3-2) while Wichita came out on top in their last meeting on November 29 (3-1). The 3-1 loss to the Thunder was significant as it is the only time all year Allen has been held to fewer than two goals, the top line did not have a point and it is the only game all year Jack Combs has not had at least one point as he has a point in 20 of 21 games. If you want a prediction look for the top line to have a good night tonight as they should be motivated.


- As with most teams they play Allen has a distinct advantage in many statistical categories from overall record (Allen 16-4-0-1, Wichita 11-10-1-3) to record in last ten games (Allen 8-1-0-1, Wichita (5-4-0-1) to goal differential (Allen +42, Wichita -1). Here are some of the other statistical comparisons between the Americans and the Thunder.
Goals Scored - Allen 95, Wichita 68
Goals Allowed - Allen 53, Wichita 69
Average Goals Per Game - Allen 4.52, Wichita 2.72
Average Goals Allowed - Allen 2.52, Wichita 2.76
Power Play Percentage - Allen 19.4%, Wichita 18.6%
Penalty Kill Percentage - Allen 88.9%, Wichita 86.5%
Average Penalty Minutes - Allen 21.86, Wichita 20.08
Plus/Minus - Allen  +158, Wichita -27

- Allen wins close to 90% of their games when they score the first goal and have outscored their opponents 26-14 in the first period. Combine this with the fact that the first period is by far the worst for Wichita as the have been outscored by their opponents 24-16 in the first period and you may have a key to the game. If Allen doesn't score the first goal no need to worry as their best scoring period is the second. The Americans have scored more goals in the second period (40) than any other team in the league while only allowing 21 goals in the second period.

- The top three goal scorers for Allen are Combs (17), Steffes (16) and Costello (12). The top three goal scorers for Wichita are Danick Gauthier (12), Ian Lowe (7), and Kenton Miller (7).

- Allen has four defensemen that have scored more points than the top scoring Wichita defenseman who is Mike Wilson with eleven points. The four are Young (15 points), Tyler Ludwig (14), Aaron Gens (14), and Justin Baker (13).

- Allen will be without Greger Hanson who was loaned to Worcester (AHL) yesterday and should be in the line up when they play at Manchester tonight. Greger has been assigned #8. In return, Worcester sent Rylan Schwartz to Allen, (see details below). Schwartz will be in the line up tonight and play on on the Steffes, Schaafsma line. If that happens look for Tommy Daniels to come up with a creative name for a line with three guys whose last name begins with "S" like the triple S line. I know, not too creative. Tommy will have something better or maybe you can send along some suggestions.

- Brett Lyon will not play tonight as this will be the last game he will miss because of his three game suspension. He will be eligible to be back in the line up tomorrow night against Tulsa.

- Wichita has won their last two games led by goaltender Tim Boron who allowed only one goal in the two games. Wichita beat Tulsa 2-1 on Wednesday and Rapid City 5-0 last Saturday.


Rylan is the middle child of Rick and Carol Schwartz and is from a hockey playing family who hails from the very small community of Wilcox, Saskatchewan (population just over 300) which is best known for being the home of Athol Murray College of Notre Dame, a well respected private, coeducational college prep school with an outstanding hockey program. Rylan and his siblings all went to high school at Notre Dame and played college hockey.  Rylan and his younger brother Jaden, both attended Colorado College and were stars on the hockey team. Jaden, who was a first round draft choice (#14 overall) of the St. Louis Blues in 2010 left college after two years to play in the NHL. He is the third leading scorer for the St. Louis Blues this year with twenty seven points (11 goals, 16 assists) in thirty one games. Rylan's older sister, Mandi, played hockey at Yale University but in December 2008, her junior year at Yale she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. After a long battle with cancer Mandi died in April, 2011 at the age of 23. (See story at the bottom of the page).

Rylan finished his collegiate career in 2013 and signed a two year, two way (NHL/AHL) free agent contract with the San Jose Sharks. He was assigned to the Sharks AHL affiliate in Worcester and has been playing there until he was assigned to Allen yesterday.  Without a doubt Rylan will probably  arrive in Allen against his wishes, disappointed at being assigned to an ECHL team, and not wanting to be here. But hopefully, all of that disappointment and frustration will be turned into positive energy and he will get things going playing with a great team on a great line. If all goes well, he will be back in Worcester chasing his dream. He can be sure he will get a warm welcome from the Allen fans while he is with the Americans. Rylan has been successful wherever he has played. His resume is littered with accolades from all-rookie teams to league MVP's, to all academic teams. In the 2012-2013 season with Colorado College he led the NCAA in points with 53.

Rylan's scouting reports include the following comments:
- Rylan is adept at both setting up plays and finishing plays
- He is a top face off man, play maker and clutch scorer
- He possesses great vision, hands, and can make some of the nicest tape to tape passes you will see
- He is remarkably strong on his skates for his size and uses his stick effectively in all three zones
- An effective penalty killer

Here is Rylan's information courtesy of hockeydb:

Rylan Schwartz

Center -- shoots L
Born Jan 8 1990 -- Wilcox, SASK
[24 yrs. ago]
Height 5.10 -- Weight 205
Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2006-07 Notre Dame Hounds SJHL 9 6 4 10 0

2007-08 Notre Dame Hounds SJHL 56 29 34 63 83

2008-09 Notre Dame Hounds SJHL 48 39 49 88 54

2009-10 Colorado College WCHA 39 6 22 28 24

2010-11 Colorado College WCHA 41 10 28 38 61

2011-12 Colorado College WCHA 35 23 17 40 47

2012-13 Colorado College WCHA 41 20 33 53 35

2012-13 Worcester Sharks AHL 7 1 3 4 6 1 ----------
2013-14 Worcester Sharks AHL 73 5 13 18 25 -16 ----------
2014-15 Worcester Sharks* AHL 19 0 5 5 4 -1

2014-15 Allen Americans ECHL Statistics Unavailable

DID YOU KNOW: Rylan Schwartz and Brian McMillin were teammates in college at Colorado College. Rylan was a freshman when Brian was a senior.

While researching information about Rylan Schwartz it was interesting to find out about his younger brother who is a star with the St. Louis Blues but the more compelling story was to read about his sister Mandi. I read many articles about her story and most would make a tear well up in your eye but this one really got to me. It was written by David Whitley of Fox Sports and published January 21, 2014. If you are on Facebook you are invited to like "The Mandi Schwartz Foundation" page.

NHL team's special tribute honors memory of Mandi Schwartz

David Whitley

FOX Sports

JAN 21, 2014 1:31p ET

Yale Athletics
The St. Louis Blues will travel to New Haven to honor the memory of Jaden Schwartz's sister, Mandi.
The St. Louis Blues could be spending their off-day in New York City on Friday. It's not as if there's nothing to do around there.
Instead, they'll board a bus and make a 160-mile round trip to New Haven, Conn. It's for a woman they'll never meet and a teammate who never thought he'd have so much company.
“I was pretty shocked,” Jaden Schwartz said.
He's a 21-year-old left wing with a great future and a lasting ache in his heart. Schwartz's sister, Mandi, died of leukemia three years ago. She was a hockey player at Yale, where it's safe to say she lives on in ways she never imagined.
There's a foundation in her name and an Upper Deck trading card with her face on it. About 20 people probably wouldn't be alive today if not for her. And on Friday, there's the annual “White Out For Mandi.”
The Bulldogs' goal is to beat Brown and raise awareness for an old teammate's cause. Yale has been staging White Outs since Mandi died. The games have been relatively successful, but the 3,500 seats at Ingalls Rink have never been filled.
“Girls hockey doesn't have a big fan base,” said Carol Schwartz, Mandi's mother. “When we're planning (the game), we're always wondering how to get more people involved and what we can do better.”
Enter the Blues.
They play the Rangers Thursday night and the Islanders on Saturday. Friday would normally be a practice day, then players would be free to relax and enjoy the city.
Jaden noticed the dates and asked if he could make a side trip to Yale. The Blues were amenable, though the thought of Jaden making the trip alone bothered his mother.
“We were going to invite one of his friends to help him through the day,” Carol said. “It's not easy for him. It might stir emotions, so we wanted a buddy to come with him.”
Their son has that classic hockey stoicism and didn't want to be a disruption. He mentioned his plans to a couple of teammates. They mentioned it to a few more.
General Manager Doug Armstrong figured why not send everybody? He bounced the idea off a couple of team leaders.
“That's an automatic,” they told him.
Now the Blues will bus to New Haven and hold a 3 p.m. practice that will be open to the public. They'll go out for a team dinner, then return to Ingalls for the first part of the White Out before heading back to New York City.
“It's such a wholesome, family thing to do,” said Aleca Hughes, a former Yale captain who started the Mandi Schwartz Foundation. “In pro sports, that isn't always the first thing people think about. We're all just wowed.”
The goal is to help the cause, though the experience might also help the Blues.
“We lead, I don't want to say sheltered lives, but the life of a pro athlete is different,” Armstrong said. “We go around in chartered planes and stay at Ritz-Carltons. This just reinforces how fortunate we all are. What the Schwartz family had to go through is unthinkable.”
When St. Louis drafted Schwartz in the first round of the 2010 draft, it should have been one of the happiest days of his life. He was four years younger than Mandi, which made her the family's best hockey player for longer than he'd like to admit.
They were usually joined by the middle kid, Rylan, who now plays for Worcester in the American Hockey League. They'd fire shots at each other on the ice behind their home in Wilcox, Saskatchewan, a speck of a town on the Canadian Plains.
Mandi was as good at academics as she was at hockey. Yale was 2,000 miles away, but it was Yale.
“Everybody knows that Yale is pretty prestigious school,” Jaden said. “She spent a lot of time doing homework and had her ups and downs, but she loved it. She loved hockey and was always excited to play there.”
She was two years older than Hughes, who became one of her line-mates and best friends. Hughes had a couple of brothers who played high school hockey.
Mandi mentioned her brothers did the same, but she didn't go into great detail. Hughes didn't know how good Jaden and Rylan were until she stumbled across their names in a hockey scouting magazine.
“Holy crap!” she said.
Mandi wasn't much for bragging. She was good at being the first player in the weight room in the morning and the last off the ice in the afternoon.
She became unusually fatigued a couple of months into her junior year. One test led to another, and she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

She had to leave school for treatment. Her teammates gathered in her dorm room to help her pack.
“She was the one smiling and confident,” Hughes said. “She was always so positive and had such conviction.”
Mandi spent 130 days in various hospitals, and they thought the cancer was licked. She returned to Yale too weak to play, but she would still beat everybody into the weight room and cheer louder than anyone.
Then the cancer returned. Her best chance of survival was a stem-cell transplant. Failing with that, doctors hoped to find suitable stem cells from umbilical-cord donors.
Mandi's German/Russian/Ukrainian bloodline made a match difficult. The search became a crusade at Yale and the hockey community. Students organized donor drives. Thousands of people got their cheeks swabbed for DNA samples and put into the donor registry. If they didn't match Mandi, maybe they'd match somebody else.
“I never thought I was all that popular,” she said of all the hubbub.
A direct stem-cell match was never found. Doctors eventually transplanted the cells from a donor cord in September of 2010.
After months of hope and suspense in a Seattle hospital, the cancer flared again. There was nothing to do except drive back to Wilcox and hope for a miracle.
Meanwhile, Jaden's career was blossoming, but the good times were never as happy as they should have been. He played for the Canadian team in the World Junior Championship until he broke his ankle. That's one reason the Canadians finished second to the U.S.
Jaden flew home and draped his silver medal around Mandi's neck. Whatever pain he felt was usually kept inside.
“They're a very stoic family,” Armstrong said. “They're prairie people. They put their heads down and forge ahead. Life shows them something good and something bad and they deal with them the same.”
Mandi died April 3, 2011. As trite as it is to say she lives on, that's obvious at Yale. Now, her brother will experience that firsthand.
“It’ll be mixed emotions,” Jaden said. “It’ll be hard, to be honest. But I’m excited to see Yale and the rink where she spent a lot of time.”
He's never been to Yale, which was founded in 1701. One permanent feature was added a couple of years ago in the women's hockey locker room. It's Mandi's locker, with her No. 17 jersey still hanging there.
Jaden will get a look at that. He'll see the public unveiling of her trading card. It's part of Upper Deck's “Heroic Inspirations” series, and some feature a swatch from one of her game-worn uniforms.
“People loved her and cared so much,” Carol said. “The card people said when they were looking for an inspirational female, her name just kept coming up. It's amazing.”
What's amazing is the Mandi Ripple Effect. Somewhere in Europe, there's a 42-year-old man who has probably never heard of Mandi Schwartz or White Outs or even Yale University. But three years ago, a field hockey player named Lexi Adams had a conversation with a freshman football player named John Oppenheimer.
She'd registered as a donor during the previous year's Mandi drive. A match was found, and she donated her stem cells.
Adams talked Oppenheimer into getting his cheek swabbed. Last year, a match was found and Oppenheimer twice donated stem cells.
Due to privacy laws, all Oppenheimer knows is the man lives in Europe and had leukemia. The reason he's alive today is easy enough to trace.
Yale officials said 21 such matches have been found since the drives began. All because of a girl who never knew she was so popular. Keeping that alive is why people around New Haven will put on white shirts this Friday and head to Ingalls Rink.
It's why Mandi's brother will drive up from New York to help put on a show. And it's why his hockey brothers will be at his side.
Said Jaden: “It means more to me than they'll ever know.”