Monday, August 17, 2015

Ian Schultz Signs, Jamie Schaafsma Moving On, Ice Angels Team Selected

This past week was a reminder of the roller coaster ride the off season is for minor league hockey fans with all of the ups and downs associated with putting a team together for next season. While I have been reporting in this blog the 2015-2016 Allen Americans team will have more returning players than anytime in the history of the team it also dawned on me that three of the four players that have been in Allen for all three championships will not be on the 2015-2016 team. The certainty of this became apparent when Jamie Schaaafsma put out on social media last night, "I want to thank everyone in Allen for an amazing 3 years! Met a lot of great people and played with a lot of great players!" It is difficult to think about not having a guy that is a proven winner (6 straight trips to the championship finals), didn't miss a single game in the regular season or playoffs in two of his three years in Allen, was the playoff MVP in 2013-2014 and a team leader including wearing the "C" last year. As good as Jamie is on the ice he was even better off the ice as he was a great ambassador for the Allen Americans with fans, sponsors and in the community. A small town kid whose dad was a dairy farmer, Jamie is the youngest of four sons (he has a younger sister) and all he ever wanted to do is play hockey. Hockey has taken him all over the world as he played for the Netherlands national team for several years and played professionally in the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. Wherever Jamie ends up the team will have a great player, a great leader/teammate, a lucky charm and most likely spot in the championship finals and a great guy! Best of luck to Jamie, Nicole, Sawyer and Sutter!

Here are a couple of favorites:

Matching "Owies"

- With Jamie Schaafsma saying goodbye, Tyler Ludwig retiring and Brian McMillin playing in Europe (he left last week for Dijon, France where the season starts in a couple of weeks) the only one of the four players that have been in Allen for all three championships that might return next season is Trevor Ludwig. Trevor has said he wants to continue playing and since he has not signed elsewhere my guess is he is re-signing in Allen to try for that fourth straight championship, however, there has been no official word from the Allen Americans.

- The Americans announced on Saturday that Ian Schultz has signed for next season. Ian, who was injured in the championship finals which required surgery, reported he is still on crutches but everything is progressing well. While he is certainly not going to push it, he thinks there is a possibility he could be ready by the end of October. Here is the press release on his signing courtesy of the Allen Americans:

August 15th, 2015 by Tommy Daniels
Allen, Texas -Allen Americans Head Coach and General Manager Steve Martinson has announced that the club has signed forward Ian Schultz to a new contract for the 2015-2016 season.
Schultz will enter his second season with the Americans, after putting up career numbers in Steve Martinson’s high-powered offense in 2014-2015. He had 38 points in 44 regular season games in last year’s championship run. He also played in 14 games last season in the American Hockey League for the Iowa Wild.
“Schultz had a comeback year last season,” said Americans Head Coach Steve Martinson. “He had great chemistry with Chad Costello and scored big goals for us. Ian is a hard guy to play against.”
Schultz was drafted by the St Louis Blues in the 3rd round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He has played in 245 professional games over his five year professional career.  The native of Calgary, Alberta, played major junior hockey with his hometown Calgary Hitmen.

- The 2015-2016 Allen Ice Angels team was selected Friday night. There will be 16 on the team this year which is the biggest group ever. Congrats to all!

- Here are the up to date player signings for the ECHL Central Division teams. If you are interested in the player signings for all ECHL teams you can find that at under "Transactions."

Allen (7):
Chad Costello (F)
Kevin Young (D)
Riley Gill (G)
Nolan Descoteaux (D)
Aaron Gens (D)
Casey Pierro-Zabotel (F)
Ian Schultz (F)

Missouri (12):
Patch Alber (D)
Andrew Courtney (F)
Tanner Fritz (F)
Chris Owens (D)
Rocco Carzo (F)
Tristan King (F)
Josh Robinson G)
David de Kastrozza (F)
Danick Paquette (F)
Dax Lauwers (D)
Jason Schiavo (F)
Liam Stewart (F)

Tulsa (6):
Phil Brewer (F)
Kevin Carr (G)
Adam Pleskach (F)
Nathan Lutz (D)
Kyle Bochek (F)
Matt Larke (F)

Wichita (10):
Kenton Miller (F)
Todd Hosmer (F)
Anthony De Luca (F)
Tim Boyle (D)
Ryan Ruikka (D)
Andrew Blazek (D)
Danick Gauthier (F)
Ray Macias (D)
David Schantz (G)
Paxton Leroux (F)

DID YOU KNOW: The first year Jamie Schaafsma was on the Netherlands national team (2007) he played in the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships which took place in China. In subsequent years he played in IIHF World Championships in Austria, Estonia and Poland.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

An Allen Americans Update from A to Z - (Angels to Zabotel)

As the summer heat continues the slow crawl to October 16th and the start of hockey season marches forward for the Allen Americans. You can sense the pace is quickening and activities from the front office, dance team and coaching staff indicates training camp is just around the corner (October 2nd). Had a chance to talk to Matt Canavan (Team President), Stephanie Di Biase-White (Ice Angels Director/Choreographer) and Steve Martinson (Head Coach & General Manager) to get an update on all things Allen Americans.


- Steve Martinson continues to work to put the 2015-2016 team together and is very pleased with the progress thus far. While there have been just six players announced (Chad Costello, Riley Gill, Kevin Young, Aaron Gens, Nolan Descoteaux, and Casey Pierro-Zabotel) many other players have agreed to sign in Allen and are in various stages of getting contracts completed, signed, approved by the league office and announced. There will be player announcements on a regular basis starting as early as today. As stated in prior updates there will be many players from last season returning for the 2015-2016 season. For those fans that don't like all of the turnover from season to season this will be a good year. There will still be plenty of new faces but nothing like past seasons. As is the case every year some fan favorites won't be offered a contract, there will be some surprises, but the Allen fans will be very familiar with this team when opening night arrives at the Allen Event Center on October 16th.

- Coach Martinson and his family will be heading back to Allen next week from their summer home in Rockford, Illinois. With Allen schools starting August 24th that is what dictates the return date to Allen.

- Martinson plans on attending the San Jose training camp which will provide him the opportunity to get more familiar with players in the system and be better equipped to deal with player movement from San Jose to Allen as well as Allen to San Jose during the season.

- You can expect several Allen players without AHL contracts to be invited to the San Jose AHL training camp. A great opportunity for players to be seen by the San Jose coaching staff. Martinson has a reputation of loaning players during the season and with the roster he is putting together you can look for a lot of that to happen this season.

- The one new player signed by Allen is Casey Pierro-Zabotel. He is friends with Spencer Asuchak which may have helped in recruiting the the high powered center to Allen. He was Gwinnett's leading scorer last season with 60 points (23 goals 37 assists) in 54 games before being traded to Florida at the trade deadline. He is a veteran (348 ECHL games) so he could have gone to any ECHL team. Hope to have a more in depth player introduction with Casey in the near future. Here are his stats courtesy of hockeydb:

Casey Pierro-Zabotel

Left Wing -- shoots L
Born Nov 8 1988 -- Ashcroft, BC
[26 yrs. ago]
Height 6.02 -- Weight 205
Drafted by Pittsburgh Penguins
- round 3 #80 overall 2007 NHL Entry Draft
Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2004-05 Merritt Centennials BCHL 58 6 6 12 19   5 0 0 0 0
2005-06 Merritt Centennials BCHL 60 20 35 55 29   9 9 4 13 10
2006-07 Merritt Centennials BCHL 55 51 65 116 42   7 8 3 11 13
2007-08 Merritt Centennials BCHL 17 15 12 27 17   ----------
2007-08 Vancouver Giants WHL 49 19 29 48 8 19 10 2 4 6 4
2008-09 Vancouver Giants WHL 72 36 79 115 52 62 17 4 13 17 16
2009-10 Wheeling Nailers ECHL 49 12 29 41 26 -14 ----------
2009-10 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins AHL 9 0 1 1 0 2 ----------
2010-11 Wheeling Nailers ECHL 42 14 20 34 42 17 ----------
2010-11 Cincinnati Cyclones ECHL 25 4 16 20 8 04 0 0 0 0
2011-12 Bakersfield Condors ECHL 71 8 27 35 50 -7 ----------
2012-13 Gwinnett Gladiators ECHL 66 22 53 75 30 19 10 1 8 9 2
2012-13 Charlotte Checkers AHL 5 1 1 2 0 -3 ----------
2013-14 Lausitzer Foxes DEL-2 33 5 17 22 20  

2013-14 Gwinnett Gladiators ECHL 36 7 21 28 17 -1 ----------
2014-15 Gwinnett Gladiators ECHL 54 23 37 60 32 -11 ----------
2014-15 Norfolk Admirals AHL 3 0 0 0 0 -5 ----------
2014-15 Florida Everblades ECHL 5 0 4 4 2   12 4 2 6 0


- Most would agree the Allen Ice Angels are the best dance team in the ECHL, led by Director/Choreographer Stephanie Di Baise-Wheat. The Ice Angels are a talented group of young ladies that get a lot of publicity for the team. Had a chance to talk to Stephanie about the team for this year and there has been more interest than ever. The finals take place Friday night at the official training facility of the Ice Angels, the Dallas Powerhouse of Dance where 30 dancers (24 first year plus 6 returning veterans) will compete for a spot on the team.

- There will be 10-12 judges ranging from former Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, Dallas Mavericks Cheerleaders, sponsors and the voice of the Allen Americans Tommy Daniels. Tommy will be a judge for the first time as he is usually on vacation when the final tryouts take place. Tommy had this to say, "Stephanie does a great job with the Ice Angels and I am really looking forward to being a judge. They are a big help to the organization being so visible in the community as well as in the media."

- Being a member of the Allen Ice Angels has been a great stepping stone to NFL, NBA and NHL dance teams. According to Stephanie, Ice Angels have gone on to the following teams:
2 - Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders
2 - Houston Texans Cheerleaders
3 - Dallas Stars Ice Girls
1 - San Antonio Spurs Silver Dancers

- Among the many perks the Ice Angels receive is a destination calendar shoot. The destination this year is a secret (last year they went to Cancun) but they will be doing another destination calendar shoot the end of September.

- In case you were wondering the final tryouts are not open to the public. The team will be announced after the tryouts Friday night.

- Everyone will get a chance to see the 2015-2016 edition of the Allen Ice Angels at their first on ice performance on opening night.


- The front office is busy preparing for the upcoming season. The sales staff has been increased so you may be hearing from a new account representative. There will be another open house on Saturday and Robert Fatta will be at the AEC from 10:00-2:00 if anyone is interested in season tickets, changing seats, etc.

- If you ever talk to ticket sales folks about season tickets you might hear the reference to FSE's which I think stands for "full season equivalent" and it is a measure of ticket sales. Since a team like Allen sells full season, half season and partial season tickets it is a way to convert everything to one measure. So two half season tickets sold equals one FSE. The reason I mention this is the Allen Americans are near the top of the ECHL in new FSE for the upcoming season. The Americans have already increased new season ticket holders by 250 FSE for next season.

- The front office is already planning for the opening night (October 16th) celebration of winning the Kelly Cup. It is hard to believe Allen will be raising a championship banner to the rafters on opening night for the third straight year. With many players returning from the Kelly Cup championship team it should be a fun evening.


- The hockey coaching ranks of former Allen Americans increased recently with John Snowden (2013-2014)  being selected as an assistant coach for the Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL). He joins Josh Hepditch (2011-2012) who has been coaching for a few years and is now the head coach of the County Aces which is a junior team in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League. The County Aces are located in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. The County Aces assistant coach is another Allen Americans alum, Bruce Graham (2009-2015). Josh and Bruce played junior hockey together for the Moncton Wildcats.

- Congrats to Bruce and Whitney Graham who welcomed baby number three into the world yesterday. Beckett Lovell Graham (8 lbs 12 oz.) joins his big sisters Harper and London in the Graham household.

- Don't have any details but saw on Facebook this morning Josh and Kathryn Hepditch also just had a baby boy which is their first child. I think he was born this morning. Congrats to them as well!

- Rapid City announced yesterday they have signed an affiliation agreement with the Arizona Coyotes (NHL) and Springfield Falcons (AHL). Of the seven CHL teams that came into the ECHL last season only Wichita is now without an affiliation.

- Aaron Dell recently signed his second NHL contract with  the San Jose Sharks. According to the web site Dell signed a one year, two way contract valued at $575,000 in the NHL and $65,000 with the Sharks AHL team (San Jose Barracuda). Aaron will be attending the Sharks training camp in September.

DID YOU KNOW: Recently signed center Casey Pierro-Zabotel was the leading scorer for Gwinnett last season but was traded to Florida at the trade deadline for two players (Jeff Silengo and Jason Wilson) plus future considerations. The future consideration ended up being the rights to former Allen center, Alex Lavoie.

Monday, August 3, 2015

News You Can Use - A "WAG" On What Is Happening With All Allen Players From Last Season

Have had a lot of questions after the update post the other day about what is happening with specific players in regards to returning to Allen for next season so thought it might be helpful to give the tried and true "WAG" (wild ass guess) for everyone that was on the roster at the end of last season. For those of you that can't wait for the start of hockey season and stay engaged all through the summer this is an exercise you may have been going through yourself. Some are easy to figure out but many are not so here goes.

- Five have already been announced as returning for next season so they are easy. Chad Costello, Nolan Descoteaux, Aaron Gens, Riley Gill & Kevin Young will all be returning.

- Spencer Asuchak (signed one way deal in AHL), Tyler Ludwig (retired), & Brian McMillin (signed in France) won't be back unless something changes during the season.

- Justin Baker, Kyle Follmer, Greger Hanson, Ian Schultz, and Gary Steffes were all given qualifying offers by the Americans so unless they sign in Europe (very unlikely at this point) or get an AHL deal, their only option would be a return to Allen. Would assume they will all return for next season with the possible exception of Follmer. Baker, Hanson, Schultz and Steffes were all major contributors last season during the regular season and playoffs and are most likely still hoping for AHL deals so you can understand their delay in signing with Allen. Kyle Follmer played in 45 regular season games and just four playoff games so you would have to speculate if he was returning he would have signed during the qualifying period which ended August 1st.

- If you recall, the Americans only gave qualifying offers to seven players even though they could have by ECHL rule given eight qualifying offers. It would indicate players like Jesse Messier and Patrik Valcak will not be returning to Allen. Garrett Clarke also falls into this category but he has always been the type of player that coach Martinson appreciates. His agitator role along with his versatility in playing both forward and defense makes me think he might be back even though he is an unrestricted free agent. He may have already been signed and not announced.

- Jamie Schaafsma and Trevor Ludwig were also not given qualifying offers most likely because they are veterans and could eventually become free agents even if protected. It is difficult to see both of them returning given the fact the team is only allowed four veterans on the active roster and it would mean not bringing in any new vets this year. It is possible only one of the two returns and who it is may be decided on need, cost or even age. Two defensemen aren't returning (Tyler Ludwig & Konrad Abeltshauser), Trevor lives in the area and is two years younger than Jamie. Jamie lives in Canada, is older but was the team captain last year, has been the most durable player on the team the last three years and always makes the championship finals. If cost (salary, housing, insurance, travel etc.) becomes a big factor and only one is signed you would have to guess Trevor would be signed, but let's hope some how, some way, both of these guys return.

- The other group of players that are mostly unknowns as to whether they will return are those players that were in Allen for the playoffs but are under AHL contracts. The exception is Konrad Abeltshauser who was traded by San Jose to St. Louis after the season so he will not be returning to Allen. Vincent Arseneau, Chris Crane and Dyson Stevenson should be back in Allen if they don't make their AHL team.

- San Jose will also assign a goalie to Allen and again that will depend on NHL & AHL training camps and goalie play is always a wild card but Joel Rumpel could be the goalie assigned to Allen. This is definitely a wait and see.

- Rylan Schwartz will miss the first part of the season and the best guess is he will sign with Allen once he is ready to play.

- Tanner Eberle is a special case as you recall he signed in Allen, played in five games, was recalled to the AHL and was injured. He is an unrestricted free agent but should be back in Allen if he does not get an AHL deal.

- Finally, you can't do a WAG post without mentioning Jack Combs who is also a free agent at this point. He has not signed in Europe according to and has also not signed with any AHL or ECHL team. While it is still in the unlikely to happen category there is a possibility he could return to Allen. It will take a special set of circumstances for everything to fall the right way but as long as Chad Costello is with Allen there is a chance.

- So there you have some food for thought on everyone from last season. If it all falls as predicted there will only be a few new faces on the team. Some of the new faces will be assigned by San Jose and some will be players Martinson has recruited but the bottom line is for the first time in team history there will be a lot of familiar faces on the opening night roster.

DID YOU KNOW: At this time one year ago the Allen Americans had signed and announced eleven players versus five this year. Here are the eleven players that were signed at this time last year.

Kevin Young (D), Jamie Schaafsma (F), Tyler Ludwig (D), Jonathan Lessard (F), Trevor Ludwig (D), Travis Ouellette (C), Garrett Clarke (D), Jeremy Beaudry (D), Aaron Gens (D), Sy Nutkevitch (C), Raphael Girard (G)