Sunday, June 12, 2016

Thank Yous All Around & Recruitment For Next Season Is Underway

While we are all still basking in the glory of a hockey season that ended with a second straight Kelly Cup championship for the Allen Americans it is time for me to say my thanks to all involved. While I will still be posting blogs during the summer when there is news to report, it will no longer be each day.

I sure consider myself lucky to have started this blog four seasons ago and have all of them end with championships. Who would have imagined a blog started for the Heritage Ranch Allen Americans fan club now reaches people all over the US and Canada as well as the hockey hotbeds in Europe on a daily basis and is about to pass 700,000 pages views.  It proves fans of the Allen Americans are all over the world.

I want to start out by thanking all of the fans that frequent this blog. It has been my pleasure to meet many of you and your words of encouragement in person, comments at the end of each blog, posts on Twitter, Facebook, message boards, and email have been very satisfying and inspiring. A special thanks to Mary Betz and Ted Hosterman for filling in for me when I go on a trip (or two) during the hockey season. They do a great job.

Thanks to the many fans, bloggers, and media from all over the league that have promoted the blog as fair and balanced and also have shared information with me about their teams. One of the unexpected benefits of writing the blog has been getting to know all of the broadcasters, writers, bloggers and passionate fans from other teams.

Joe Babik, Director of Communication for the ECHL has once again spent more time with me this season than I deserved to help educate me about the policies, rules, and procedures of the ECHL. Joe has gone above and beyond the call of duty and seems to respond to questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thanks also to Joe Ernst, Vice President of Hockey Operations, for his willingness to answer all of my questions when he is attending games in Allen and also for compiling information when requested.

Thank you to the players who have never said no to a single request I have made of them for a chat, an interview or a question.  I have gotten to know most of these young men both professionally and personally and they have represented the Americans in an outstanding manner.

One of my goals when I started the blog was to share the personal stories of the players. The wives/girlfriends, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and friends I have met have been great about sharing family stories which I have then been able to share in the blog. Thanks to all of you.

Thanks to Steve Martinson and his staff (Tony Curtale, Jason Deitsch, Thomas Speer, Luke Chilcott, Nolan Bowker, Jaime Garcia) for always being willing to talk to me and help educate me. A special thanks to coach Martinson, for allowing me to stop by his office after every game and every practice to ask questions and talk about the team. It is his openness and trust that has allowed the blog to have information you can't find anywhere else.

A special thank you to Tommy Daniels, Director of Communications & Broadcasting for the Allen Americans, who has been a tremendous help to me for four years. He is the one who encouraged me to start the blog, made me feel like part of the media team, answered many questions, let me stop by his office on an almost daily basis to get current information, publicized the blog to attract new readership, and invited me to be part of the between periods conversation on his radio broadcast to talk hockey and promote the blog.  Tommy is the best in the business and is always willing to share his knowledge with others.

Thanks to Tommy's radio sidekick, Maurice Fitzgerald, for all the between periods chats on the radio broadcast. I always describe myself as the between periods fill-in guest when nobody else is available. There are plenty of people around during the playoffs but for those midweek games in October and November I am in high demand. It was a special thrill to be asked to do a Wichita radio broadcast this year with Maurice as we filled in for the voice of the Wichita Thunder, Jason Mals, who was accompanying his daughter to her first father-daughter dance. Maurice did all the heavy lifting as the play by play guy while I did the color commentary. We both became big Wichita fans for just one night. 

Thanks to photographers Lauren Lyssy, Kimberly Sauer and Dianne Webster who work tirelessly to provide pictures for the blog. You may know I write the blog in the morning and get up at 4:00 am. Many nights after a game, Dianne, Kimberly and Lauren are up until 2:00 am to process all of their pictures and send me their best ones. It sure makes for a better game recap with their pictures included.

Thanks also to the entire Team Sin Bin which has welcomed me into their group for the second year and made it very easy for me to get my stories on their site ( A special thanks to Matt Harding (SinBinThunder) and Joe Rozycki (SinBinMavs) who work their magic every day to post my stories.

Unlike most writers, bloggers, and other media types that cover the Americans I have a dual role as in addition to being a blogger I also coordinate the activities of the fan club (over 200 members) at Heritage Ranch where I live. In this capacity I spend a lot of time in the front office of the Americans arranging for season tickets, suites, individual game tickets, seats for soldiers tickets, and other promotions. I want to thank the entire sales and marketing staff and especially Mike Martin and Robert Fatta who have gone out of their way to help me and the residents of Heritage Ranch. This group is understaffed and overworked and do a great job given the circumstances they are dealing with, if you know what I mean.

Thanks also to the Ice Angels for all they do to promote the team off the ice and entertain the fans at games. They are the best in the business, led by Ice Angels Director (and mamma bear), Stephanie Di Biase-Wheat.

So a fourth consecutive magical season has come to an end. I have been a season ticket holder since the beginning so I have been following the team since its inception but these last four seasons have been different. I have been able to see the team from a different perspective and the access given by the entire organization helped me bring the Allen Americans story to the blog.

With the official celebrations of winning the Kelly Cup complete and the guys already heading out of town, the uncertainty about next year commences. Wendy Ellis, who works for the company that developed the Villages at Allen and Villages at Fairview (MGHerring) does a lot for the team, is a super fan and is the closest thing to a "team mother"  says this every year and it captures the sentiment perfectly.  "The day after winning the championship is always so bittersweet. Winning is awesome - so happy for the guys! Saying goodbye is the hardest day of the season! We will miss these guys and their families so much. Such a wonderful group. So proud and so grateful we get to share it with them. We have come to realize how fortunate we are to get to know the players and their families the way we do and to have access the way we do."

This will be the last daily blog post for the season. I am having knee replacement surgery in a week so will be laid up for a while. Like so many of the players, I will be rehabbing this summer and hope to come back next season in much better shape. I will still blog on an as needed basis as new information becomes available. If you are on Facebook or Twitter you can see whenever there is a new post on the blog by liking my page on Facebook at "Allen Americans Blog" or following me on Twitter at @allenamericans1. I will also put any new post up at which is a great place to get information about all teams in the ECHL during the off season. Maybe the easiest way to stay in touch is by making one of your favorites and checking in once and a while. Remember, it is only 125 days to opening night!

DID YOU KNOW: For coach Steve Martinson there is an off season but for General Manager Steve Martinson there is never time to relax. Recruitment is something he spends time doing everyday all year around. Talked to GM Martinson yesterday and his first signing for next season will happen next week. June 16 is the first signing day for next season. Another critical date is coming up on June 30. Until June 30 all of the Allen American player's rights for the ECHL remain with Allen (unless the rights are traded) but on June 30th Martinson has to submit to the league a list of no more than eight players he wants to protect. These eight names do not include players that have already signed. Because only eight players can be protected there is incentive to get as many players signed by June 30th as possible. The eight players will be given qualifying offers which for the most part must be 5% above their salary from last season. The qualifying offer period is from June 30th to August 1st. The rules are a little different for players with 39 or fewer games, 40 or more games and veterans (over 260 games) but in almost all cases the offer must include a 5% salary increase.


  1. Another amazing season with an amazing organization (minus the owners, sorry cannot bite my tongue). I agree with all that you have written about everyone's willingness to contribute to this blog. We (Ted and I) have had experiences we would otherwise never have and we understand how you feel like you are a small part of this operation. I am sure I speak for Ted when I say we, too, thank everyone so very much. It is such a great feeling when someone tells you they have read the blog and add, "great job". Wishing everyone a great and safe summer. Looking forward to the "Drive for Five". See ya'll somewhere this summer, if not, at the AEC next season.

  2. Grat season. Thanks Barry, Mary and Ted.
    Incridble job by coaches, players and goalies. Started of rough but a fantastic turn around.
    I Need an Allen Americans yard flag!

    1. I asked Matt Canavan awhile ago for yard stuff. I suggested their logo with "Ask me about the Allen Americans". Best entertainment value in DFW area!

  3. I started reading your blog when Judy and I were Brahma fans. When I found your blog I told her she should read it that it was really good writing. She may have glanced at it but was a Brahma fan through and through. When the Brahma's folded I told her we had to move over. We are both all Red and most often she reads the blog before I do. The Allen American experience has been great and you make a great contribution. We wish you a speedy recovery and a great summer.

  4. Thanks every for the kind words about the blog. They mean a lot.

  5. I have loved your blog. So informative! Best to you with the surgery! I had my knee replaced (well technically a partial but not that different) 3 years ago and it changed my life for the better! I love my knee! You probably have heard this already but it is true, faithfully do the exercises they give you. Also, I was pretty scared going into my surgery not knowing what to expect. I thought it would be terribly painful. I was very surprised at how well the pain we controlled and how much easier it was than I expected so I hope that encourages you. It is a wonderful thing to be able to have that surgery!

  6. Thanks Barry for all you have done for the fans each season!
    Hope your knee surgery goes well. Also thanks for Ted and Mary for their stand in effort when you are away. Of course, Mary is the brains of the operation and WAY better looking than Ted ;-) (Just kidding, Ted)

    1. You have some amazing insight Mike - always great to see you and your wife at the games. Of course Beverly is the brains of the team and WAY better looking than you - best of luck to both of you during the off season!

    2. Ted, you too have amazing insight! I agree that Bev is better looking than me. I married up!

  7. Thanks Barry for educating the beginning hockey fan, we have a better understanding of the game and the Allen Americans because of what you do. Thanks.

  8. Cheers Barry for all you do. Your blog is the best way I have been able to keep up with the team since moving to Indonesia.

  9. Barry, your dedication and contribution to the team is beyond what anyone realizes - both Mary and I realize and appreciate that fact through our own experience as guest bloggers. Thanks for all you have done.

  10. I just read that NHL 17 will have the ECHL teams next year! While I don't play the XBOX ONE my son does and we have been wanting to have the ECHL teams available.

    1. My son wants to be Gregor Hanson, he is excited.

  11. (let me try again)

    THANKS for ALL your hard work Barry, you and your "team" do an OUTSTANDING job and make the Allen American hockey experience just that much richer!!

    Heal up over the summer and get ready for the DRIVE FOR FIVE!!