Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Practice Report, Martinson Comments, Will It Be Quad or Rapid, Schaafsma Story, Playoff Update

Stopped by practice yesterday as the Allen Americans continue preparation for the second round playoff opening game on Friday while still awaiting to see who will be their opponent. More on that later. For the first half of practice coach Martinson observed from the second level of the Allen Event Center (AEC) before joining the team on the ice for the second half. Had the chance to chat with the coach before he went on the ice and this is what he shared.

- After having the weekend off we will practice each day this week. The team will not have a day off during the week.

- It is difficult practicing so many days in a row so we will try and change things up from our normal routine. Today we are doing some drills that are different from what the guys are used to.

- Tomorrow (Wednesday) we will devote the majority of practice to the power play. Everyone will participate in working on the power play. With all of the skill players we have, sometimes we try and make plays when more shots from the point with guys in front of the net would be best. 

- I learned a long time ago not to worry about things that are out of my control and whether we play Rapid City or Quad City falls into that category. They are both good teams and there are pros and cons to playing each of them. We need to play our game and be ready to go after the ten day layoff.

- Depending on what happens on Wednesday in the Worcester vs Hershey series it is possible there could be roster changes before the weekend but it is too early to talk about that at this point.


- Rapid City beat Quad City last night 3-2 to even the series 3-3 with the deciding game seven taking place tonight. This is the exact same script as last year when these teams went back to Rapid City with the Mallards leading 3-2 and the Rush won game six to force a seventh game. Last year Quad City won the seventh game. It should be a dandy of a game in Rapid City tonight.

- Who do Allen fans want as their opponent in round two? Have heard a lot of different opinions about this over the last two weeks and they are not all based on who would be the best match up for the Americans. Here is a sample of what fans have been saying:

"I want Rapid City so we can pay them back for the finals loss in 2009-2010" - (FYI there is not a single player on the team this year that played for Allen in 2009-2010 except for coach Erik Adams)

"I want Quad City because it is closer for travel than Rapid City" (Quad City 790 miles & Rapid City 1058 miles)

"I want Rapid City because Daniel Tetrault is my favorite player"

"I think Rapid City has more depth so I would prefer Quad City"

"Both Quad City goalies are playing lights out so I prefer Rapid City (Quad City goalies are #2 & #3 in the playoffs in GAA, Mosher is at 1.80, Milner is at 1.84)."

"It would be nice to play Rapid City so we can see Kerbashian, Tetrault and Ehrhardt back in Allen."

"I would prefer Quad City so we don't have to deal with Kerbashian, Tetrault, and Ehrhardt who would all come into the series with extra motivation."

- No matter who wins game seven tonight they will head immediately to Allen for the opening game of round two on Friday. You would think Allen would have a big advantage with the long rest while both Quad City and Rapid City will be exhausted from a tough seven game series, with little rest and a long 1000 mile bus trip unless they fly. How will Allen play and what will be the outcome of the ten day layoff. The "rest vs rust" debate won't be answered until Friday night. Just a reminder that the well rested Allen Americans lost to the exhausted Quad City Mallards last year in game one by a score of 4-2.

- It was quite an eventful night around the ECHL last night. There was one game seven and Ontario prevailed over Colorado by a score of 4-2 to advance to the second round to take on Utah. Ontario had to win two games at home to advance after trailing 3-2. It is just the eighth time in ECHL postseason history a team has come back to win a seven game series after trailing 3 games to 2.

- In the other three series in action last night the teams that could have been eliminated all won to force a game seven. It sets up another first for the ECHL as tonight will be the first time in postseason history that there are three game sevens on the same night. Here they are with the seedings in parentheses:
Quad City (#3) at Rapid City (#2)
Wheeling (#4) at Toledo (#1)
Reading (#3) at South Carolina (#2)

- Playoff attendance continues to be disappointing around the ECHL as evidenced last night where three of the four games drew fewer than 3000 fans. Granted they were midweek games but they were all closeout games in the playoffs. The average attendance for 47 first round playoff games is 3372. Here is the  attendance from last night with the teams regular season average attendance in parentheses:
4704 - Toledo (6440)
2727 - Ontario (7802)
2687 - Rapid City (3856)
2069 - South Carolina (3979)

- It is always nice to see all of the publicity the Americans get this time of year. In a major market like DFW it takes a lot of work by Tommy Daniels and the entire staff to get publicity even though Allen is the most successful professional team in the Metroplex in any sport. It is also nice when players get recognized back home. Jamie Schaafsma has always received support from back home. Jamie is from a very small Ontario community (Blenheim population around 4500) which is part of a municipality called Chatham-Kent which was created in 1998 by the merger of Kent County and all of its small towns. If you are on social media you have probable seen the story below that was posted earlier this week by Ian Kennedy of Chatham-Kent Sports Network (  It is a great read if you haven't seen it.

Jamie Schaafsma Allen Americans
Jamie Schaafsma has embraced the role of captain for the ECHL’s Allen Americans this season – Photo by Kimberly Sauer

When you’re born and raised in small town Ontario, and have represented the Netherlands internationally, the moniker “Captain America” might not fit. That is unless you’re Blenheim’s Jamie Schaafsma, who has had the honour of captaining the ECHL’s Allen Americans this season.
“It is a great honor to be chosen as captain of the Americans and I am proud to be the captain of such a great group of guys and a talented hockey team,” said Schaafsma, who is now in his ninth season of professional hockey.
Schaafsma joined the Allen Americans in 2013 when the team was still part of the Central Hockey League. Since then, his role with the team, and community, which is a Northern suburb of Dallas, Texas, has grown exponentially.
“On the ice I just try to go out and lead by example,” says Schaafsma, who was the CHL’s playoff MVP last season while leading Allen to a championship.
“Work hard, finish hits, and do all the little things that add up and help the team win. On ice it’s pretty much business as usual for me, other than I am forced to talk to referees quite often,” added Schaafsma as his new responsibilities as captain in the team’s first season after moving to the ECHL.
“Off ice it’s just making sure our group stays focused and that we grow together as a group, so everyone wants to win for each other and have one another’s back.”
For Schaafsma, he not only has the backs of his teammates, he’s also supporting his entire community, as he was one of four Allen American players to participate in an internship with the Allen Fire Department this season.
“Right now I’m definitely starting to work toward a career after hockey,” explained Schaafsma, who also participated in a month long fire and emergency services course in Toronto last summer with close to 20 other minor professional hockey players.
”I’ve been working towards a career in Firefighting for the last year and a half.”
Giving back to the community of Allen, both on and off the ice has become the norm for the Americans captain, which comes natural to Schaafsma when thinking about the city and team he loves.
“Allen is a great place to play hockey and the organization is committed to winning,” says Schaafsma.
“Aside from hockey, Allen is a great place to live for many reasons. My family and I have some great friends here and it has been a pleasure living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. There is so much to do and the people here have really gone out of their way to take care of us.”
While he’s still busy taking care of his teammates, in search of a Kelly Cup title in the ECHL, Schaafsma knows a time will come when his role as “Captain America” will be done, and he’ll have to hang up his skates. For now however, it’s all hockey, and Schaafsma, who turned 32 in February, is soaking up every second of his on ice experience.
“Right now I’m just trying to keep enjoying playing the game,” says Schaafsma.
“Eventually my family and I will have some tough decisions to make in what we will do when my playing days come to an end.”
“You can’t play forever but it’s definitely going to be hard to walk away from playing the game. It’s a great lifestyle and an amazing career that my family and I really enjoy.”

DID YOU KNOW: Jamie Schaafsma has played in the championship finals for the last six years playing for four different teams. When you look at Jamie's hockey resume it reads like a world traveler. His first stop as a professional hockey player in 2004 was in Geleen, The Netherlands. Over the next eight years he played for teams in Amsterdam, Canazei, Italy, Bremerhaven, Germany, Bolzano, Italy & Val Gardena, Italy. During this time he also played in four World Hockey Championships for The Netherlands national hockey team which took him to China, Austria, Estonia & Poland.

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