Saturday, July 30, 2016

Weekly Update - From Babies to Angels to Roster to Ownership

Gary Steffes returns, has 92 goals in the last two seasons - photo by Dianne Webster

It is time for another weekly update for all things Allen Americans. It seems like everything moves slowly in the off season but it is now just two months before players report to training camp. The Americans have announced seven player signings thus far (Chad Costello, Riley Gill, JP LaFontaine, Dyson Stevenson, Kale Kerbashian, Kyle Neuber, Gary Steffes). This is on the high end of player announcements around the ECHL. There are only four teams that have announced more player signings than Allen. Fort Wayne, who does not have an AHL affiliation for the upcoming season has already signed 17 players. Reading has announced nine, Quad City eight and Greenville eight.

- I had a chance to check in with coach Martinson this week and he is very pleased with how recruitment is going for next season. When all is said and done there will be a lot of familiar faces on the final roster but there will also be some new and exciting players. At this point it is safe to say coach Martinson is spending more time working on the defensive group. As one player said to me recently, "if everyone comes back that I think will return we will be a better team next season than we were last season. And this is before we find out who will be assigned to Allen by San Jose."

- There is nothing new on when there might be an announcement regarding new ownership of the Allen Americans. As I have mentioned in the last few weekly updates there was a purchase agreement in place to buy the team and the two sides were working on the financial details including pending lawsuits and outstanding debts. One thing to keep in mind is even if these financial details cannot be resolved and become a road block to the deal, there was another group interested in buying the team. However, the longer this lingers the more concern there is in my mind that a deal can be done. It goes without saying that any new owners will want to be protected from financial liabilities from the past whether they are known or not. Keep your fingers crossed that somehow a deal gets done and it gets done soon.

- Coach Martinson sees the opportunity to be part of something special in Allen this season as the Americans go for their fifth straight championship and third straight Kelly Cup. For this reason, he did not pursue other coaching opportunities during the off season.  However, there have been many obstacles put in his way over the last couple of years. Unless there are major changes, I would expect he will pursue other opportunities after the upcoming season.

- There were several former Allen players in the news recently. Trevor Ludwig has signed to play for the Orlando Solar Bears after playing in Missouri last season. David Makowski is headed to Europe (Hungary) for next season. There was some talk he might be considering an AHL deal that would keep him in North America but that is not going to happen. Allen has his rights for this season so if things don't work out for David in Hungary and he returns before the February 15 deadline, you could see him back in Allen. Daniel Doremus, who started last season with Allen and then spent the remainder of the season with the San Jose Barracuda has signed to play next season for the Manchester Monarchs (ECHL). Dallas Ehrhardt, who played in France last season has signed to play in Great Britain this season for the Manchester (England) Storm.

- Check this out for some Allen Americans connections. Longtime coach Tony Curtale, who was an assistant last season with the Americans, was recently selected as the head coach of the Wichita Falls Wildcats which play in a tier II junior league (North American Hockey League - NAHL). Tony replaced John LaFontaine.  John LaFontaine is JP LaFontaine's dad, who took the head coaching job for the Muskegon Lumberjacks that play in a tier I junior league (United States Hockey League - USHL). LaFontaine's assistant coach in Muskegon is none other than Todd Robinson, who scored the most famous goal in Allen history in the game seven overtime victory in the Americans first championship.  If you don't know the coaching background of Tony Curtale this story will fill you in.

- Daniel Tetrault was named as the assistant coach for the Rapid City Rush this week. It is no surprise that he wanted to be a coach and he was selected as a coach. When I first met Daniel in 2013 and interviewed him for the blog one question asked was, if you weren't a pro hockey player what would you like to do and he said be a hockey coach. It also struck me in that interview that he has been a leader on every team he ever played on. Here are a few facts from that interview back in 2013.
- He was drafted by Montreal in the 4th round of the 1997 NHL draft.
     - In 1996 he was a member of the Team Canada under 18 team that won the world championship defeating the US in the finals.
     - He played junior hockey in the Western Hockey League (WHL) for the Brandon Wheat Kings from 1995-2000 and was captain of the team in 1998-1999. They won the WHL title in 1995.
     - In 2001-2002, playing for the Austin Ice Bats he was selected as the most outstanding defenseman in the CHL.
     - He is the all time points leader for defensemen for the Wichita Thunder.
     - He was the captain of the Thunder for two years including 2011-2012 when they were conference champions and finals runner up.
     - His coach in Wichita (Kevin McClelland) describes him as follows:  "He gives his heart and soul. Some guys are leaders in the dressing room, some guys are leaders on the ice. Tetrault's both."
     - Tetrault's favorite player growing up was Chris Chelios and the numbers he has chosen to wear recently are #7 which Chelios wore in Chicago and #24 which he wore in Detroit & Montreal.
     - His favorite NHL team growing up was the Winnipeg Jets.
     - What many people don't know is Daniel's first language is French.
 Congrats to Daniel on becoming the assistant coach in Rapid City. Look forward to seeing him on the bench when the Rush visit Allen on November 19. He will return to the Allen Event Center where he won his one and only professional championship. Here is a link to the story about Tetrault's selection:

- The ECHL has still not issued a press release concerning decisions that were made at the Board of Governors (BOG) Meeting in Las Vegas in June. The meeting is still considered "open" so with the exception of the already announced divisional alignment, any other news from that meeting cannot be announced until the meeting is "closed." The ECHL Preseason Meeting takes place in September so you would hope they will close the June meeting prior to that meeting but there is no guarantee.  You would have to think one issue being discussed is the rule changes recently passed by the AHL and whether the ECHL will adopt them. If you haven't seen the rule changes adopted by the AHL for next season here is a summary:

Rule 46 (“Fighting”)/Rule 23 (“Game Misconducts”) 
  • Players who enter into a fight prior to, at, or immediately following the drop of the puck for a face-off will be assessed an automatic game misconduct in addition to other penalties assessed. 
  • During the regular season, any player who incurs his 10th fighting major shall be suspended automatically for one (1) game. For each subsequent fighting major up to 13, the player shall also be suspended automatically for one (1) game. 
  • During the regular season, any player who incurs his 14th fighting major shall be suspended automatically for two (2) games. For each subsequent fighting major, the player shall also be suspended automatically for two (2) games. 
  • In any instance where the opposing player was assessed an instigator penalty, the fighting major shall not count towards the player’s total for this rule. 
Rule 82 (“Icing”) 
  • In addition to not being permitted to make player substitutions, the offending team on an icing violation also may not use its team time-out. 

Rule 1.10 (“Ice Cleaning”) 
  • The ice cleaning procedures used during promotional timeouts will also be used prior to overtime during the regular season, replacing the “dry scrape.”

-  Stephanie Di Biase is busy planning for the 2016-17 Ice Angels season. Tryouts will take place this weekend. In addition to picking the new team another big decision is deciding where the team will go for their calendar photo shoot which takes place in October. Stephanie won't tell me where the team will be going for their calendar shoot as that is always a surprise but I got the feeling she might switch things up a bit this year.

- Two Ice Angels, Kelsey and Kelli, will have to be replaced as they were recently selected as Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. That is quite an honor and reinforces the talented young ladies Stephanie is able to attract to the Ice Angel team. Congrats to Kelsey and Kelly.

- Jamie and Nicole Schaafsma welcomed their third child into the world on Tuesday. The bouncing baby boy, Sullivan Jett Schaafsma, was born at 3:23 pm and weighed in at 8 lbs 12 oz. Sullivan joins older sister Sawyer and older brother Sutter in the Schaafsma clan. Didn't think hospitals had drive through windows but that may be what Nicole used. I exchanged messages with her and she told me, "We have a small hospital with small rooms so we prefer to sleep at home. I went to the hospital at 12:30 pm, had Sullivan at 3:30 pm and went home at 7:00 pm." I know hockey players are a tough lot but that is one tough lady. Congrats to Jamie and Nicole. Here are a few pictures.

In and out in six hours - WOW!

DID YOU KNOW: Did you make the connection with the Schaafsma's two boys names? Jamie is known as the hockey player that always makes the finals even though Allen spoiled the streak this past season. This is what Nicole shared about their names. "Sutter was from Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter when they won the Stanley Cup in 2012, when we were trying to come up with a name. Then ironically, we confirmed in our minds that the new baby boy would be named Sullivan when Pittsburgh head coach, Mike Sullivan's team won the Stanley cup this year. Jamie was on the fence with the name until the irony happened with the two coaches and winning the cup.


  1. Congrats to Tony C - hope he enjoys the same success in Wichita as he did with the Tornado. Unfortunately he leaves a rather large void - will he be replace and, if so, by whom? Was hoping for Tetrault but that is obviously not going to happen.