Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Roster Update, Barracuda Call-Ups, What Dads Will Do, SPHL "Pick Your Opponent" Playoffs, Aubin Playoff Record

For general manager Steve Martinson recruiting his team in the off season is paramount to having a successful season. Managing the roster during the season is equally important and takes up much more time than most would realize. The Allen Americans roster is currently comprised of 22 players including two goalies, eight defensemen and 12 forwards. Just as a reminder there are three components to the total number of players on a team. The active roster can be up to 21 players for the first month of the season and then goes to 20 however all of the players on the active roster must fit under the salary cap. In addition to the active roster there can be two players on reserve. They can be moved off and on reserve at the team's discretion, the one exception is if you change a player's salary while on reserve they must sit out one game. The third component of the roster is injured reserve and there can be an unlimited number of players on 21 day injured reserve as long as they are certified by the medical staff as injured. The 21 day IR is a minimum of 21 days, not a maximum.


- With the above in mind here is the current status of the Allen roster based on transaction changes reported by the ECHL yesterday. Jaynen Rissling and Vincent Arseneau have been activated from reserve. Peter MacArthur has been returned from bereavement leave and placed on reserve. Joel Chouinard has been placed on reserve. Finally, Mathieu Aubin and Miles Liberati have been placed on the 21 day injured reserve effective October 15. The players on reserve (MacArthur & Chouinard) can and most likely will change before the game on Saturday. The players on injured reserve will not be eligible to play for three weeks.


-  The other roster change that could happen anytime is loans/call ups to the AHL. San Jose has five contracted players assigned to Allen (Asuchak, Makowski, Moore, Schoenborn, Williams) and the Barracuda are playing with a very lean roster. According to the AHL website the Barracuda have 13 forwards on the roster and remember in the AHL 12 forwards typically dress for each game. There are seven defensemen on the roster with six typically dressing for each game. That means the Barracuda have one extra forward, one extra defenseman and no extra goalies. If there are any injuries in San Jose (Sharks or Barracuda) it is almost certain they would take someone off the Allen roster. After a home game tonight the Barracuda have a five game road trip which includes four games in eight days with stops to play the Cleveland Monsters, San Antonio Rampage and Texas Stars. With a swing through Texas you could easily see one of the Allen players being called up.


-  One of the many pleasures in writing this blog is meeting the families of the players. Yesterday at practice I met Jaynen Rissling's dad, Kelly, who is a real estate broker in Edmonton. Kelly played some professional hockey and shared with me he received a few face washes from Steve Martinson back in the early 1980's when they both played in the International Hockey League. Whenever I do player profiles I often hear about the sacrifices their parents made in time and money so they could pursue their love of hockey. Kelly shared with me what the last week was like for him. He drove Jaynen's truck from Edmonton to Rapid City to watch Jaynen play and hand over the truck. Jaynen did not play in either game in Rapid because of an injury. Kelly then drove to Allen from Rapid City with Jaynen, stayed a couple of days and watched practice but had to fly back to Edmonton yesterday. The tally for the week is 2100 driving miles from Edmonton to Rapid City to Allen and a four hour flight back to Edmonton all without getting to watch Jaynen play. That is a dad who loves his kids. Incidentally one of  Kelly's daughters is on the Canadian women's Olympic bobsled team so he will be in South Korea in February watching her compete.


- If you are on Facebook you may have had the chance to check out the first in a series of ECHL games that will be broadcast via Facebook live this season. The Rapid City vs Allen game last Friday was the first ECHL Showcase game. According to ECHL Director of Communications, Joe Babik, there  will be a showcase game every other Friday, so the next game will be on October 27th. The full schedule probably won't be released until sometime next week. All 27 teams will be featured during the course of the 2017-18 season. A great way to check out teams around the ECHL at no cost.


- The Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) has adopted a playoff format for the upcoming season that is unique where the top teams will pick their opponent in the first round of the playoffs. This concept is not new as it has been used in Austria and Sweden. You never know where this might end up. After all, the SPHL was where 3 on 3 overtime hockey first started. Here is the story with all of the details: http://nhl.nbcsports.com/2017/10/16/sphl-gets-creative-adopts-pick-your-opponent-playoff-format/


- There are some gaudy shooting percentages for a few Allen players which accounts for a lofty team shooting percentage of 19.4%. A team shooting percentage of around 13% will typically lead the league. Check out these percentages after the first two games.

50% - Joel Chouinard has one goal on two shots
50% - Dalton Thrower has one goal on two shots
40% - Jonathan Lessard has two goals on five shots
37.5% - Zach Pochiro has three goals on eight shots
33.3% - Bryan Moore has one goal on three shots
25% - Olivier Archambault has two goals on eight shots
25% - Casey Pierro-Zabotel has one goal on four shots


DID YOU KNOW: Allen forward Mathieu Aubin is third all-time on the ECHL playoff games played list. He has been in the playoffs seven times (five with Cincinnati and two with Utah) and played in 93 playoff games which includes two Kelly Cups in Cincinnati (2008 & 2010). He needs 11 more playoff games to take over the all-time lead. Since joining the ECHL Allen has never played in fewer than 11 playoff games in a season. Good chance Mathieu could be #1 by the end of this season.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Practice Update, Importance of Home Opener, Changing Stats, Asuchak Records, Official Guide & Record Book

With a 72 game ECHL schedule having as many as six days off between games is a rarity. It actually happens just twice all season. This week and the week of Decmeber 3 when the Americans have seven days off between games. Having six days between games early in the season is great timing as it gives coach Steve Martinson time to work on those system things that are difficult to get installed during a short training camp. This week started with a light practice yesterday that consisted mostly of a four on four scrimmage. Coach Martinson wasn't even on the ice. Today and tomorrow there will be a lot of skating drills and then things will slow down on Thursday and Friday with more emphasis on systems and special teams. There always is a recognition that a balance needs to be maintained between working hard, getting in shape and making sure everyone has fresh legs for the weekend.


- The game on Saturday will be the sixth opening night for Steve Martinson with the Allen Americans but for owner Jack Gulati it will be his first. The game will be different for a few reasons. After four years of raising the championship banner, that will be missing. Jack Gulati will be in attendance to show his support, something that rarely happened under the previous ownership group. There will be a new in game host, Kayla McLain, as the face of a new and improved game operations effort. Some things will be the same. The Ice Angels will be performing and are hard at work at what promises to be an amazing performance. The on ice product with a combination of speed, skill, grit and toughness will be as entertaining as ever.

The bottom line is Jack Gulati has taken over the Americans and provided the team with the financial stability that has been needed for several years. It has only been eight months but Jack has signed Steve Martinson to a long term contract, repaired relationships with many stakeholders, leased a new bus for the team, procured great housing for the players, increased staffing in the front office, added managerial oversight both locally and with the hiring of a COO and CFO to oversee operations in Reading and Allen. With Jack's commitment his expectation, as he would say it is, "putting more butts in the seats."

Saturday night will be the first opportunity to see if all of the effort produces the results that are expected. Since joining the ECHL in 2014-15 the opening night crowd has been 5006, 4745 and 5062. If you are an Allen fan you can help. Invite a friend, a neighbor or extended family to join you for opening night. If you are a season ticket holder (half or partial) make sure you attend opening night. Ask people in the community if they have heard of the Allen Americans and make sure they know what a great entertainment value there is in Allen and how family friendly this team has always been.


- If you regularly monitor ECHL stats or your favorite team's stats you may notice a change in the numbers even though the team hasn't played a game. It is an interesting process with many steps that fans may not be aware of. The off ice officials keep track of the stats in real time via computer as a game is in process. If you look at echl.com all of the stats are updated as they happen. The off ice officials are able to communicate with each other and they get information from the on ice officials to make sure all of the goals, assists and plus/minus stats are correct. After the game there is a period of time (around 30 minutes) when each team can correct any information that has been recorded incorrectly. The game is then submitted as final and official. But even after the game is submitted final, changes can be made. As you might imagine players want to get credit for every stat they feel they earn. They may say the next day the puck glanced off their stick, brushed their jersey or touched their skate so they deserve to be credited with a goal or an assist. They may say they had just gotten on the ice when a goal was scored so they should get the plus. This starts a process that usually involves taking a close look at game video to determine exactly what happened. The final arbiter is coach Martinson and if he feels a change is appropriate the team submits the change to the league office and the change is made.

The process above was apparently used after the two games in Rapid City because some of the Allen stats were changed yesterday. Here is the latest from echl.com on the Allen stat leaders:

Points
7- Olivier Archambault
6 - Casey Pierro-Zabotel
5 - Zach Pochiro

Goals
3 - Zach Pochiro
2 - Olivier Archambault
2 - Jonathan Lessard

Assists
5- Olivier Archambault
5 - Casey Pierro-Zabotel
2 - Zach Pochiro
2 - Dalton Thrower

Plus/Minus
+8 - Casey Pierro-Zabotel
+7 - Olivier Archambault
+7 - Zach Pochiro


- I just received my copy of the 2017-18 ECHL Official Guide and Record Book and the amount of information contained in these 476 pages is amazing. Almost every individual and team stat going all the way back to the beginning of the league in 1988. I use this book on almost a daily basis and it is fun to just page through and look at all of the information. You can buy the book ($20) but it is free electronically if you go to the ECHL website (echl.com) and click on the "Multimedia" tab and then on "Official Guide and Record Book" in the drop down menu. Here is a link that takes you directly to the electronic version. Check it out: https://www.echl.com/official-guide-record-book


DID YOU KNOW: Spencer Asuchak is in his fifth season with the Allen Americans and can accomplish some special things this season depending on how much time he spends in the AHL. First and foremost he could win his fourth championship in Allen, a feat no other player has ever accomplished. He could also climb way up the the ladder in most career categories. Here are a few examples:

Games played - Spencer is currently 10th all time with 176 games. He could be as high as second (238) by the end of the season.

Points - Spencer is #8 all time in points. He is just 16 points from #4 all time (162).

Goals - Spencer is #7 all time in goals. If he matches his goals from last season (26) he would end up #4 all time.

Assists - Spencer is #6 all time in assists (99). If he matches last year's production (40) he will end the season #2 all time.

Penalty Minutes - Spencer is #11 all time but is 61 minutes from moving into #3. 

 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Practice Update, Martinson to Name Four Alternate Captains, The Players' Tribune & Where Are They Now

The Americans arrived safe and sound back in Allen last night after a successful opening weekend to start the 2017-18 ECHL hockey season. It is a long bus ride from Rapid City at 1050 miles and 18 hours of riding the highways. You might think two wins and a day on the bus would warrant a day off from practice but that is not the case. The team will practice today but it will most likely be a "light practice" by normal standards. It actually makes a lot of sense to have a practice today after the team spent most of Sunday on the bus. With five days before the game Saturday night the players will probably get a day off midweek. Coach Martinson often says he gets tired of yelling at the players more than three days in a row and they get tired of listening to him yell at them more than three days in a row so a midweek break is probably in order.


- As Martinson said after the two games in Rapid City the team has some things to clean up before the home opener against Orlando next weekend. He specifically mentioned play in front of their own net, back checking and the power play as areas of emphasis.


- It is only two games into the season but when you look at the league wide stats Allen is in a familiar spot in many categories. Tied for first in points (4), #1 in goals scored (13), #1 in penalty minutes (62),  #1 in goal differential (+7) and #2 in shooting percentage (19.4%).   However there are some stats where Allen is in unfamiliar territory most notably being tied for last in power play percentage (0.0%) going 0-9 in Rapid City. 


- If you watched the two games from Rapid City you undoubtedly noticed that that David Makowski and Spencer Asuchak were wearing the "A's" as alternate captains. I had a chance to ask coach Martinson about this and he shared he plans to name two additional players to be alternate captains. He has used various forms of team leadership over the past five years most notable with the captains (Costello & Steffes) the last two seasons. With so many leaders on this team having four with an "A" makes a lot of sense. You can expect to see two at home and two on the road and then doing a switch at some point in the season. The best way to look at this, however, is Martinson has a pool of four alternate captains and he can mix and match them as necessary given injuries, call ups etc. 


- As the Americans prepare for two games against the Orlando Solar Bears on Saturday and Sunday it won't be quite the homecoming as expected. At one point it looked like four former Allen players would be participating. Allen fans will still see Chris Crane and Orlando's assistant coach, John Snowden. However, Tristan King was recently traded to Quad City and Darryl Bootland was placed on the 21 day injured reserve.


- If you are a hockey fan or sports fan in general there is a website you should be following called "The Players' Tribune." Allen captain Joel Chouinard first mentioned it to me as a place he frequents because the stories on the site are written by professional athletes themselves. Here is how they  describe what they are all about, "Founded by Derek Jeter, 'The Players' Tribune' publishes first-person stories from athletes, providing unique insight into the daily sports conversation. Through impactful and powerful long and short form stories, video series and podcasts, bringing fans closer than ever to the games they love." These stories cover a lot more than just playing the sport. There are stories about life lessons, life after playing professionally and a entire series called, "Letter to My Younger Self." Stories from a diverse group of professional athletes from Marta (soccer) to Chipper Jones to Mike Bossy to Ryan Leaf to David Robinson to Carolyn Wozniacki to Kobe Bryant. Here is recent story from the hockey portion of the website where Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg Jets) writes a piece called, "The 5 Toughest Players I Have Ever Faced" and what a great and insightful read: https://www.theplayerstribune.com/mark-scheifele-top-5-nhl/


- It had to be a disappointing weekend all around for the Rapid City Rush especially with all of the excitement generated with a new coach and a new and improved team.  On the ice the Americans took it to the Rush beating them 8-3 on Friday and 5-3 on Saturday. Just as disappointing was the attendance at the two games. According to the ECHL attendance statistics the Rush averaged only 3078 for the two games and are in last place in average attendance. Only 15 of the 27 ECHL teams have had home games thus far. It is still early and there is plenty of time for Rapid City to turns thing around but most franchises cannot sustain the losses that come with averaging only 3000 per game.


DID YOU KNOW: A reader asked which former Allen players are doing well overseas thus far this season. Here are former Allen players averaging at least a point per game. Stats courtesy of eliteprospects.com.

Austin Smith - Austin has 19 points (6 goals 13 assists) in 12 games playing in Italy
Wade MacLeod - Wade has 17 points (6 goals 11 assists) in 10 games playing in Germany
Spencer Edwards - Spencer has 16 points (8 goals 8 assists) in 13 games playing in France
Colton Yellow Horn - Colton has 14 points (5 goals 9 assists) in 12 games in Czech Republic
Judd Blackwater - Judd has 14 points (4 goals 10 assists) in 13 games playing in Slovakia
Devin DiDiomete - Devin has 13 points (8 goals 5 assists) in nine games playing in Italy
Alex Lavoie - Alex has seven points (3 goals 4 assists) in six games playing in Finland

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Allen Wins 5-3, Game Recap, Martinson & Tetrault Post Game Comments, Allen's Great Start, Pochiro & Gunn

The Allen Americans defeated the Rapid City Rush last night 5-3 to sweep their weekend series by outscoring the Rush 13-6.  It was quite a weekend for the line combination of Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Zach Pochiro and Olivier Archambault who created opportunities every time they were on the ice together and were solid in the defensive zone. Here is how dominant this group was in Rapid City. They collectively scored seven goals, the rest of the team scored six. They had 17 points, the rest of the team had 13 points. They had a plus/minus of +24, the rest of the team was +15.


- Rapid City got off to a good start last night when former Allen Americans forward Alex Guptill scored a power play goal just 3:36 into the game. Allen came right back 87 seconds later on a Zach Pochiro unassisted goal to tie the game 1-1. By the end of the first period the Americans had taken a 3-1 lead and the Rush were never able to get closer than one goal the remainder of the game.


- Goal scorers for Allen were Zach Pochiro (3), Dalton Thrower (1), Olivier Archambault (2&3) and Bryan Moore (1). You can see all the goals on ECHL Rewind. Notice the number of times Allen was able to get behind the Rush defense to score. The Moore 2 on 0 breakaway goal was as wide open as you will ever see two players. https://www.echl.com/


- Here are the game recaps issued by Allen and Rapid City that include goal by goal descriptions.

Allen: https://allenamericans.com/americans-sweep-weekend-games-rapid-city/

Rapid City: http://www.rapidcityrush.com/news/?article_id=916


POST GAME COMMENTS

Here are some post game quotes from both coaches. The Daniel Tetrault quotes are courtesy of the Rapid City Journal.

"It is good to get the four points this weekend but we have some work to do to improve how we play in front of our net.".....Allen coach Steve Martinson

"We handed them everything they got. They are a good team, they know how to put the puck in the net but I thought we out worked them and out played them for most of the game. The effort was there, it is just the mental, costly dangerous mistakes that are costing us, especially tonight."..... Rapid City coach Daniel Tetrault

"We need to do a better job back checking hard all of the way.".....Martinson

"My defense has to play a lot better. They are forcing the issue, they are trying too hard. They are making costly mistakes and we have to clean up on the back end, definitely.".....Tetrault

"It is hard to believe we lead the league in goals but can't score on the power play going 0-9 in these two games.".....Martinson

"This is a top team in the league we are playing. We have only four returning guys. I have all new guys. I have a depleted lineup. We are going to get it together, we are going to clean this thing up and we are going to start winning hockey games. We believe in these guys, the effort is there.".....Tetrault

"We have five days to work on the things we need to fix and I am confident we will do just that.".....Martinson


OTHER COMMENTS

- The team headed back to Allen immediately after the game and will arrive home early this evening. The trip is just over 1000 miles and will take the team 17-18 hours to complete.


- When you outscore your opponent 13-6 in the first two games of the season you create some impressive stats. After two games Allen has a plus/minus of +39. Only 10 teams had a better plus/minus than +39 for the entire year last season. The other off the chart stat is Allen's shooting percentage which stands at 19.4%. Last season the Americans were #2 in the ECHL with a shooting percentage of 12.9%.


- Allen players are all over the ECHL leader board with Archambault #1 in points (7) with Pochiro and Pierro-Zabotel tied for #3 in points (5). However, the most impressive stat is to look at the league plus/minus leaders. Allen players hold the top five spots. Archambault, Pierro-Zabotel and Pochiro occupy the top spot with +8. Joel Chouinard and Eric Roy are right behind in fourth and fifth spot at +5.


- Zach Pochiro was identified early as the type of player that could thrive playing for Steve Martinson. He was the surprise of training camp doing even better than anticipated. He has now gotten off to a great start with five points (3 goals 2 assists) in the two games in Rapid City. Last season playing in Norfolk, Zach had just three goals in 42 games. Keep an eye on #18 when he plays his first games at home next weekend.


- A tip of the hat to Mike Gunn who had an assist in Rapid City but also two fights. Throw in the fight he had in preseason and Mike already has has three fights this season. The rest of the team combined has just three fights. Mike is the type of player that is a team first guy and without a pure enforcer on the team has stepped up to protect his teammates. Mike has never had more than five fights in a season according to dropyourgloves.com but that will probably change this year.


- It is only two games into the season so drawing any conclusions at this point is a fool's folly but it is interesting to look at the Mountain Division standings. Three teams are at the top with 2-0 records and three are at the bottom with 0-2 records with one team in the middle at 1-1. Is it possible the first two games will predict the outcome of the season? Allen, Colorado and Wichita at the top, Utah, Tulsa and Rapid City at the bottom with Idaho in the middle. This may be closer than you think when game 72 rolls around.


- There are just five teams in the ECHL with a 2-0 record and three of them are in the Mountain Division. There are two teams (South Carolina & Reading) that won't play their first game until next weekend.


DID YOU KNOW: Allen has an impressive regular season point streak dating back to last season that is now at 17-0-1-0. The last time the Americans lost in regulation time in the regular season was a 3-2 loss to Rapid City at the Allen Event Center on February 19th.

    

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Allen Wins Opener Against Rapid City 8-3, Game Recaps, Reliving Opening Nights Past & More

It was an opening night like no other as the Allen Americans went on the road and beat the Rapid City Rush 8-3 last night before a crowd of 3541 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. The eight goals is the most ever scored by the Americans in a season opener, the five goal margin of victory is the largest ever in a season opener and the first goal of the season was a shorthanded goal scored by Jonathan Lessard. A good start for the Americans by any measure. It was just the third time in the nine year history of the Allen franchise the team has started the season on the road and they are a perfect 3-0 in those games.


- Despite the lopsided victory there is plenty of room for improvement, The Rush dominated early, out shooting the Americans 7-1 to start the game and 17-7 in the first period. However, Allen took a 3-2 lead into the first intermission by scoring three goals on those seven first period shots. The Americans need a better start defensively in the rematch against Rapid City tonight.


- Special teams were the best and worst of both worlds last night. The penalty kill was great and is at 100% after killing five Rush power plays including a five minute major. The power play is at 0% after going 0-5. If you recall last season it took a while to get the power play going. At the end of November the power play percentage was 7.8% and ranked 26th in the ECHL. By the end of the season the power play was ranked #3 at 24.4%.


- Goal scorers for Allen were Jonathan Lessard (1&2), Zach Pochiro (1&2), Alex Schoenborn (1), Olivier Archambault (1), Casey Pierro-Zabotel (1) and Joel Chouinard (1). The highlights should be posted at https://www.echl.com/ by the home team but have not been posted yet.


- The following are several game recaps that include goal by goal descriptions and quotes from the coaches.  


- Here is the game recap issued by the Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/americans-score-early-often-8-3-win-rapid-city/


- Here is the game recap issued by Rapid City: http://www.rapidcityrush.com/news/?article_id=915


- Finally here is a game recap from the Rapid City Journal. Not to pick on the Journal as the story contains some great quotes from coach Tetrault but this article shows why editors/proofreaders/fact checkers are essential. I make plenty of mistakes in this blog but try very hard to get names correct which is easy to check from the boxscore. Here are five mistakes related to Allen players in this story. http://rapidcityjournal.com/sports/allen-spoils-rush-s-th-season-opener-with--/article_6e84ca92-7a29-5760-8092-7ab8b544eecc.html

Mike Gunn plays for Allen not Rapid City
The first goal was scored by Jonathan Lessard shorthanded not Jaynen Rissling (did not play)
It is Tanner Eberle, not Tanner Eberie
It is Olivier not Oliver Archambault
It is Joel Chouinard, not Joel Choulnard



- As coach Daniel Tetrault said after the game, when you get beat 8-3 the good thing his team has another opportunity against Allen on Saturday. The rematch tonight (8:05 pm CT) should be a much closer game.


- The officials scheduled for the rematch tonight are the same as last night, referee Jonathan Sitarski (#23) and linesmen Erik Contino (#89) and Micheal Miggans (#46).


OTHER COMMENTS

- The attendance in Rapid City last night (3541) was the smallest by over 700 of the eight opening night games around the ECHL. The eight games averaged 5828 led by Tulsa who had 12845 in attendance to watch the Oilers lose to Missouri 5-3.


- The game last night was live on Facebook as part of a new program called ECHL Showcase where all 27 teams will be showcased at some point during the season. The full schedule is still not available but the Allen vs Rapid city game last night was the first of the series. A way for fans to watch their favorite team free on Facebook in hopes they buy an ECHL TV package. At one point there were close to 700 people watching the ECHL live broadcast last night.


- I know it is only one game, many teams haven't even played their first game yet and Allen scored eight goals last night but it sure looked good to see the league leader stats this morning. Archambault is first in points (4) and assists (3). Pochiro and Pierro-Zabotel are tied for second in points (3). Lessard and Pochiro are tied for the league lead in goals (2). Allen is #1 (Pochiro +5) and #2 (Archambault & Pierro-Zabotel +4) in plus/minus. Moore is #1 in penalty minutes (19) and Eberle is #2 (15 minutes). Mike Gunn and Eric Roy are tied for the league lead in plus/minus for defensemen (+3). It is only one game but a good start for sure.



DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans opening night record now stands at 6-3. They are 3-3 at home and 3-0 on the road. No matter when you started following the Americans these games will bring back some memories. 

2009-10 - In the first game in team history Allen wins 1-0 in Arizona. Christian Gaudet scored the only goal of the game late in the first period assisted by Bruce Graham and Nino Musitelli. Charlie Effinger was in goal for Allen and Chris Whitley was on the bench. Allen started on the road the first season because the Allen Event Center was not completed. The Americans played their first seven games in franchise history on the road. They returned to Allen after those first seven games 5-1-0-1.

2010-11 - Allen opens at home against Texas, scores three goals (Alexandre Quesnel, Dustin Donaghy, Judd Blackwater) in the first four minutes of the game and coasts to a 5-2 win.

2011-12 - Allen opens at home against Tulsa and gets beat 4-1 with Jim McKenzie getting the Americans only goal with just over a minute left in the game. Most notable in that game was a Gordie Howe hat trick by Tulsa's Gary Steffes who had a goal, an assist and a fight with Allen's Scott Langdon.

2012-13 - Allen opens the season at home and shuts out Arizona 4-0. Scott Howes had two goals in the game. The other goal scorers were Adam Pineault and Darryl Bootland. Steve Silverthorn was in goal and the backup was a rookie by the name of Aaron Dell. Dell would play sparingly the first few weeks of the season but eventually take over the starting role and lead the Americans to their first championship. What ever happened to that Dell guy?

2013-14 - Allen opened the season in Wichita and beat the Thunder 4-3 in a shootout. Allen had a 3-0 lead midway in the game on two goals by Darryl Bootland and one by Jonathan Lessard but let Wichita come back. The hero in the shootout was Kale Kerbashian who scored in the fifth round to win the game.

2014-15 - The worst opening night ever for Allen as they opened at home and got beat by Tulsa 9-6. Greger Hanson was the lone bright spot for Allen with a whopping 11 shots on goal, four points and a hat trick. Aaron Dell was in goal for the Americans and gave up seven of the nine goals. Whatever happened to that Dell guy? Actually, it was Dell's only regulation loss in the 12 games he played for Allen that season. By the end of January he was in the AHL on his way to the NHL.

2015-16 - Another opening night loss as the Quad City Mallards came to the Allen Event Center and beat the Americans 2-1. Allen's lone goal was scored by Garrett Clarke with assists going to Justin Courtnall and goalie Joel Rumpel. You didn't see those three in the boxscore very often let alone on the same play.

2016-17 - It was an opening night win last season as Allen was at home and beat Missouri 6-3. Kale Kerbashain had two goals and Riley Gill was peppered with 47 shots.  

Friday, October 13, 2017

Opening Night - Allen vs Rapid City Preview, 29 Former Allen Players on ECHL Teams, Preferred Brand of Skates

Welcome to opening night in the ECHL when every team has reason for optimism. Everyone has had a great off season recruiting an even better team than last season, the time when even the worst teams have a couple of weeks to claim there is plenty of time to turns things around. It is a fun time when "impressive rosters" abound for all 27 teams.

- The Allen Americans kickoff the season tonight (8:05 pm Allen time) against the Rapid City Rush. You could call the game the rookie vs the veteran or the student vs the teacher. Daniel Tetrault, who won his only professional championship playing for Steve Martinson, will be coaching his first game as head coach after being hired in June. It has been quite a rise for Tetrault who was suiting up for Rapid City just two years ago and spent last season as the Rush assistant coach. Daniel was a popular player in Allen and was born to be a head hockey coach. I am sure everyone in Allen wishes him the best of luck, except when the Rush play the Americans.

- On one bench tonight will be Daniel Tetrault coaching game #1. On the other bench will be Steve Martinson coaching game #1484 to go along with 10 championships. The team with the best players will win but the coaching match up provides for an interesting dynamic.

- I am not in the prediction game but based on what both coaches have said leading up to opening night you can expect a hard fought game both figuratively and literally. Martinson has said this team will be the toughest team to play against since he has been in Allen. Tetrault has made it clear his team will play with more speed and grit than in the past and will not back down from anyone. It all makes for an exciting opening night in Rapid City with plenty of hitting and some roughing and fighting penalties thrown in for good measure.


- With the player turnover each season it is hard to look at past results and predict how the game will go tonight but for the record Allen was 3-2-1-0 against Rapid City last season. Since joining the ECHL in 2014, Allen has a record in Rapid City of 8-3-0-0.

 
- Again, not very relevant to the upcoming season but here are the 2016-17 end of season stats comparing Allen and Rapid City:


                                     ALLEN                                  RAPID CITY

Team Record               49-17-4-2 (104 points)            26-38-8-0 (60 points)
Division Ranking         1st - Mountain                         7th -Mountain
Conference Ranking   2nd - Western                         12th - Western
League Ranking         2nd                                           23rd
Goals For                    294                                          215
Goals Against             203                                          256
Power Play                 24.4%                                      15.4%
Penalty Kill                  84.4%                                      83.3%
Penalty Minutes          1432                                        917


-  Allen starts the season with with a roster of 22 players including 12 forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies. The four veterans (over 260 games) on the team are Joel Chouinard, Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Peter MacArthur and Mathieu Aubin. Josh Thrower is the only rookie on the team. Five players, Spencer Asuchak, David Makowski, Bryan Moore, Alex Schoenborn and Stephon Williams are under contract with San Jose and assigned to Allen. Three players, Vincent Arseneau, Jonathan Lessard and Casey Pierro-Zabotel return to Allen after playing elsewhere. Speed, skill, toughness, grit and experienced have been words used to describe this team during training camp. Now it is time to see if this excellence on paper transfers to the ice. 

- The official opening day roster was submitted to the league on Wednesday and that roster had 20 players active and two (Joel Chouinard & Peter MacArthur) on reserve. Rosters can be changed each day after the offical roster is submitted and that is exactly what coach Martinson did on Thursday. Joel Chouinard was activated from reserve, Peter MacArthur was placed on family leave, Vincent Arseneau and Jaynen Rissling were placed on reserve. What does it all mean? MacArthur, Arseneau and Rissling will not play tonight. That leaves 19 players on the active roster so there will be one healthy scratch since only 18 dress for the game.

- Coach Martinson hasn't announced who will get the start in goal so don't be surprised if he goes with Stephon Williams, the San Jose contracted goalie that was recently assigned to Allen.

- Coach Martinson has forewarned the players to expect a lot of changes in the line combinations early in the season. If you watch the game tonight that is something to look for. By the way, if you are on Facebook you can watch the game live for free. The ECHL is going to show all 27 teams on Facebook Live at some point in the season. Just so happens the first game will be the Allen vs Rapid City game tonight. All you have to do is visit the ECHL Facebook page (7:05 MT, 8:05 CT) and you can watch the game live for free.  

- The officials scheduled for the game are referee Jonathan Sitarski (#23) and linesmen Erik Contino (#89) and Micheal Miggans (#46).


OTHER COMMENTS

- Looking through the ECHL opening day rosters I found many former Allen Americans. There are 29 players on 18 different ECHL teams. Here is the list.

Reggie Traccito - Brampton
Matt Register - Colorado
Jake Marchment - Colorado
Jamie Schaafsma - Fort Wayne
Corbin Baldwin - Idaho
Reid Halabi - Idaho
Nolan Descoteaux - Indy
Garrett Clarke - Indy
Ben Wilson - Kalamazoo
Bryce Aneloski - Kansas City
Tony Turgeon - Manchester
Jamie Murray - Norfolk
Rick Pinkston - Norfolk
Chris Crane - Orlando
Darryl Bootland - Orlando
Kyle Follmer - Quad City
Garrett Klotz - Quad City
Tristan King - Quad City
Alex Guptill - Rapid City
Alex Krushelnyski - Reading
Matt Willows - Reading
Danny Federico - South Carolina
Tyler Barnes - Toledo
Jake Hildebrand - Tulsa
Steven Kaunisto - Tulsa
Greger Hanson - Utah
Joel Rumpel - Wichita
Travis Brown - Wichita
Dyson Stevenson - Wichita


- Check out this video of the Wichita Thunder media day as the local television station interviews Thunder captain Dyson Stevenson who has a message for his former Allen teammates. Since Allen plays Wichita 12 times this season it will be interesting to see if Dyson's prediction is correct. http://ksn.com/2017/10/11/wichita-thunder-host-media-day/




DID YOU KNOW: A regular reader of the blog, Kevin, asked recently what brand of skates do the Allen Americans wear and do the players have a choice of  brand. The Americans equipment manger, Tim Abbott provided the answer. Yes, the players can choose the brand of skates they wear. The vast majority of the players wear Bauer with only a few (two or three) opting for CCM and VH. If you have a question about the Americans send it to me and if I don't know the answer I will track it down.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Allen Americans 2017-18 Season Preview

When you have a successful franchise and a successful coach the expectations for the Allen Americans are always very high. You often hear players, coaches and fans around the league talk about this season will be a push for the playoffs. The expectations in Allen never change, anything less than a championship is considered an unsuccessful season.


THE FRANCHISE:  This will be the ninth season since the Allen Americans franchise was founded. The team has never missed the playoffs, made it to the championship finals in the very first year and has won championships in four of the last five years. Allen's record since joining the ECHL (2014) is 138-55-13-10.


THE COACH: Steve Martinson starts his sixth season as the head coach of the Americans. He is a coaching legend in AA hockey winning 10 championships in 21 years. In his first five years as the coach in Allen he has four championships and a loss in the division finals to the eventual Kelly Cup champion (Colorado). That translates to a playoff series record of 14-1. It is mathematically possible, although unlikely, Martinson could reach 1000 regular season career wins by the end of this season. He current sits at 943.


LAST SEASON: Allen got off to a terrible start last season. At the end of November the Americans were in last place in the Mountain Division with an 8-11 record. A few trades and the return of David Makowski from overseas turned the season around. Allen finished as the Mountain Division Champion and runner up to the Toledo Walleye for the Brabham Cup, which is given to the regular season point champion. Allen's record last season was 49-17-4-2. After the bad start they finished the last five months of the season going 41-6-4-2 and ended the year on a streak of 15-0-1-0. Going into the playoffs many picked Allen to win it all again. Coach Martinson acquired several AHL caliber players for the playoff run and felt (and still does) it was the team with the most depth of any he has had in Allen. Needless to say it was a very disappointing loss to the Colorado Eagles in the second round.


OVERVIEW: As this off season progressed, each week brought another announcement of bad news from an Allen fan's perspective though great opportunities for players. Chad Costello to Germany, Spencer Asuchak to Slovakia, Bryan Moore and David Makowski to San Jose (AHL), Greger Hanson to San Diego (AHL), Josh Brittain to Slovakia and Wade MacLeod to Germany to name just a few.  Gary Steffes and Derek Mathers retired. Dyson Stevenson and  Harrison Ruopp were traded in what ended up being an unsuccessful attempt to win a third Kelly Cup. It may not have led to panic from the fans but certainly concern when they contemplated the top six scorers from the regular season and 10 of the top 11 scorers from the playoffs (Joel Chouinard the exception) would not be returning.

Steve Martinson is as good a recruiter as there is in the ECHL. You don't win in AA hockey if you can't recruit. There isn't a single player that was part of all four championships Martinson has won in Allen. Turnover is part of the game and even more so when you win championships. Martinson did what he does every off season and that is to find a new crop of players he can win with.  Based on my conversations with coach Martinson he was looking for the type players that he always recruits, those with a team first attitude that work hard, follow the system, stay in shape and finish their checks. Two traits that were maybe emphasized even more this off season was to find players with a combination of skill and toughness. Finding that right combination of speed and grit. I think Martinson wanted a team that was tougher to play against than the team from last season.


THE RESULTS: Everything has fallen into place much better than coach Martinson could have ever imagined a month ago. To start with three of the top six scores from last year, who signed elsewhere, are back in Allen. David Makowski and Bryan Moore have been assigned to Allen by San Jose. Spencer Asuchak has returned from overseas, signed an AHL deal with San Jose and also been assigned to Allen. You never know how much time these three players will spend in Allen but while they are with the Americans they are all go to players. Makowski was the best defenseman in the ECHL last season in points per game at 1.19. There wasn't another defenseman in the league (minimum 40 games) higher than .89 points per game. David finished runner up as the ECHL Defenseman of the Year even though he only played in 42 games after starting the season in Europe. Bryan Moore didn't play his first game in Allen last season until the end of  November. He carried the team for over a month in December and January at one point scoring at least one goal in 10 of 11 games. He played in only 44 games for the Americans but averaged .61 goals per game, the highest average on the team. If you project that out over a full season he would score 45 goals. Spencer Asuchak's return was the biggest surprise and it is a significant one for Allen. He had the best season of his pro career in 2016-17 with 66 points (26 goals 40 assists) in 64 games. He is so important to the team because he plays in all situations, is great on faceoffs, and his net front presence is invaluable.



WHO IS MISSING: It goes without saying you can't replace a player like Chad Costello. He spent just three seasons in Allen and already owns almost every career scoring record for the Americans. Three MVP awards, three straight seasons of over 100 points and three straight scoring championships can't and won't be replaced by any one player. Greger Hanson led Allen in goals (35), shots (243) and was second to Costello in points, points per game and game winning goals. Dyson Stevenson didn't lead the team in any category that is tracked by the ECHL (they don't track blocked shots) but his presence will surely be missed. The ultimate in a team first player that will do whatever is asked, stick up for his teammates and be a leader on and off the ice. Stevenson joins a long list of players who go to new teams and are selected as captain. Dyson was just selected as team captain for the Wichita Thunder.


OLD IS NEW: Coach Martinson has many times brought back players that left to play elsewhere. He did it again this season with two great acquisitions in Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Jonathan Lessard. Few Allen fans doubt if Casey had been in Allen last season instead of Colorado the Americans would have a third Kelly Cup. Not signing Casey after the 2015-16 season is something I think coach Martinson what like a chance to redo. To Martinson's credit, if you lose the ECHL's MVP and top scorer (Chad Costello) nothing like signing the ECHL's runner up MVP and runner up top scorer (Casey Pierro-Zabotel). Jonathan Lessard led the Americans in goals (28) the one season he played in Allen and was part of the 2013-14 championship team. Jonathan has the combination of speed, skill and toughness that Martinson admires.


FEMALE RECRUITERS:  There are many tools in the Steve Martinson recruiting tool box that allows him to attract great players to Allen but an under appreciated recruiting tool is the careers of player's wives/girlfriends. Players like Daniel Tetrault and Joel Chouinard ended up in Allen because of their wife's career. Two players on the roster arrived in Allen this season that way. Mathieu Aubin is a veteran of 544 ECHL games with two Kelly Cups to his credit along with 83 AHL games. He has averaged .86 points per game over his ECHL career. Aubin has played for the Utah Grizzlies since 2013-14. He ended up in Allen because his fiance moved from Utah to the DFW area with her company. Peter MacArthur is the other player on the roster because of his wife's career. She is a television personality in San Antonio. If not for that fact MacArthur would still be in Adirondack where he was the leading scorer and captain of the team the past two seasons. He is a 10 year pro who has spent four season in Europe, has 190 AHL games and 150 ECHL games. He has averaged over a point a game in his 150 ECHL games.


THE NEW GUYS: In addition to the players mentioned above two forwards that could have great seasons for Allen are Zach Pochiro and Olivier Archambault. Both have speed, skill, and great hands. Pochiro was the surprise of training camp and looks like a player that will thrive in Martinson's system. It could be a breakout year for him. In addition to an abundance of skill he also plays with an edge. Archambault is speed and skill personified. He was selected in the first round as the #1 overall pick in the QMJHL in 2009. He will be starting his fourth pro season and has averaged close to a half a goal per per game over his 123 ECHL games. If he can continue to improve on both ends of the ice under Martinson's tutelage he will also have a breakout season. On defense keep an eye on the Thrower brothers, Josh and Dalton. Both are solid defensmen who will bring plenty of additional toughness to the team.


THE GOALIES:  A team is always as good as their goaltenders and Allen has had the best in the business in Riley Gill over the past three seasons. If Riley can stay healthy and perform as he has in the past it will go along way to another successful year for the Americans. It is worth noting Gill is now the oldest player on the team and will turn 33 in January. If you look at age curve studies on goalies, which don't apply to an individual goalie, they generally conclude that goalie's don't improve as they get into their late 20's and their performance goes down as they enter their 30's. Of course health, conditioning, workload, etc. are all a factor. Riley had one of the best regular seasons of his career last season with a record of 32-7-2-0, a GAA of 2.22, save percentage of .935 and seven shutouts. He will be counted on to deliver the same level of play this season.

Stephon Williams will share goaltending duties this season. Unlike the recent past, San Jose assigned a goalie to Allen that has previous pro experience. Williams has played in 15 ECHL games with a GAA of 2.80 and save percentage of .905. The third year pro also has played in 58 AHL games (all for Bridgeport) with a GAA of 2.84 and save percentage of .899. His performance will be key for Allen this season. Last season the backup goalies under performed with a combined record of 17-12-2-2 and a GAA of close to 3.50.


BOTTOM LINE: Offense should not be a problem for this team. The Americans scored 294 goals last season and the current roster scored 241 goals last season. The team has more speed than last season and will be tougher to play against than last season. It all makes for a high octane entertaining style of hockey. I heard coach Martinson share his key to success after practice at the end of training camp and I couldn't agree more. If the team makes a commitment to getting back on defense and uses their speed at both ends of the rink it will lead to success.   

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

ECHL News You Can Use: Rosters, Salaries, CBA, Critical Dates, Rule Changes, Playoffs & More

With the official start of the hockey season upon us, I  thought it would be a good idea to go over some of the ECHL roster rules, Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) rules and other changes for the upcoming season as well as a few items of general interest. There is nothing new in this post as you can find this information elsewhere, but I get many questions about these topics so I have tried to put a lot of information in one place. You can bookmark this post and have a reference for use throughout the season.


- During the off-season, each team can sign up to 30 players for training camp. Training camp rosters were due to the league office on September 29 (3:00 p.m. ET).  The training camp rosters must be trimmed down and officially submitted to the league office for the start of the regular season by the opening day roster deadline, which is today, Wednesday, October 11th (3:00 p.m. ET).

- During the season, each team can maintain an active roster of 20 players, with 18 (16 skaters and two goalies) dressing for each game. (The active roster maximum is 21 for the first 30 days of the regular season). Teams can place up to two additional players on a reserve list, and an unlimited number of players on 21-day injured reserve. Players can be moved back and forth from the active roster to the two person reserve at the team's discretion but if a player's salary is changed when they are put on reserve the player must sit out at least one game.

- Each team is limited to a total of 52 salary changes during the season. Salary changes are one way to manage the salary cap. If a player is signed for $800 per week they may be willing to take $1000 for a week when the team has extra salary cap money and $600 another week if the team is short salary cap money. A few years ago when the ECHL allowed unlimited salary changes this tool was used a lot by some teams. Now with just 52 salary changes teams have to be much more judicious. 

- The "veteran limit" is four skaters on the active roster at any time, with goaltenders exempted. A "veteran" is defined as a player who has played 260 or more regular season professional games at the start of the season. Any AA or above league in North America counts toward the 260 games along with top leagues in Europe from the following countries:   Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden & Switzerland. Note the limit is four veterans on the "active" roster so a team could carry more than four veterans and rotate them on and off the reserve list.


Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)

- The salary cap and player salary rules are outlined in the ECHL's  CBA with the Professional Hockey Players' Association (PHPA), which is a 5-year contract that began with the 2013-14 season and is valid through the end of the 2017-18 season. Note this will be the last year of the current CBA so a new CBA will have to be negotiated prior to the start of next season. 

- The 2017-18 salary cap is $12,800 per week per team. That is $200 more per week than last season. For the first 30 days of the season, due to the added roster spot explained above, the cap is $13,260 per week. So if a team has a full roster of 20 players the average player salary is $640 per week with a few elite veteran players making over $1000 per week.
 
- The CBA also has a minimum weekly salary cap which this season is $9,700. This is a nonissue for  teams as they all are well above the minimum and most are at the maximum salary cap. 

- Here is some of the weekly salary information from the CBA.
$540 - Maximum rookie salary (rookie is a player with fewer than 25 professional games)
$460 - Minimum rookie salary
$500 - Minimum salary for all other players


- Housing and health insurance are provided by the teams. Married players get their own apartment while single players share. If you were wondering what must be provided with the apartments, here is the wording from the CBA. "Furnished apartments shall include paid electricity, water, sewer, gas, trash, and, at the Member’s (Team's) option, may include basic cable, local phone service, and/or internet service. At a minimum, furnishings shall include: in the bedroom, bed and dresser; in the living room, couch and chair; in the kitchen, table and chairs, refrigerator and stove; and adequate lighting in all rooms, and may include, at the Member’s option, a television."


- Some meals are provided by the teams, and players are also paid a daily meal allowance while on the road. The 2017-18 road trip "per diem" allowance is $42 per day the same as last season. This is broken down with $9 for breakfast, $12 for lunch and $21 for dinner if the team is not in travel status for a full day.


- When a player is sent to the ECHL by an NHL or AHL team, the player is still paid his NHL/AHL contracted salary while assigned to the ECHL. Whatever the salary, it is paid by the team to whom the player is contracted. The ECHL team then reimburses the NHL/AHL team $525 per week and all the player is charged against the salary cap is the $525. This is why getting a player assigned from the NHL/AHL is a great help from a salary cap standpoint.


RULE CHANGES

- There are no major rule changes this season. Because the ECHL is a development league for the AHL & NHL the ECHL tries to follow the lead of the NHL on changes. Here is the video put out by the NHL going through changes and areas of emphasis. The first rule change is there will be no time out allowed for the defensive team following an icing. The ECHL has already implemented this rule so no change here. The second rule change is related to high sticking the puck and the location of the faceoff. The ECHL will be adopting this new interpretation. The third NHL rule change relates to coach's challenge and that will obviously not be adopted by the ECHL as they just started to experiment with instant replay in some preseason games. The part of this video that will have the biggest impact on the ECHL is a stricter enforcement of the slashing rule. Each year teams lose players with broken fingers as a result of  slashes and an injury of this type can be 4-6 weeks on the injured reserve. This video has several examples of what will be called a slash this season that may have been let go in the past. This isn't a rule change but an emphasis of an existing rule. It may cause some defensemen in particular to change how they play. Another area that will be more strictly enforced this season is on faceoffs, specifically the markings inside the faceoff circle. In the past, players were allowed to have their skates over or touching the ice markings. That won't be allowed this season. This will definitely impact the centers on the team and their approach to faceoffs. Finally, a couple of equipment reminders in the video including the prohibition of tucking the jersey into the pants and a reminder on visors. So take a look at this video as it does a great job of going through all of the rule changes and areas of emphasis. The coaches have been told the ECHL will be following the NHL lead on these changes and areas of emphasis. 




TEAM CHANGES

There are several team changes for the 2017-18 season. The Alaska Aces and Elmira Jackals ceased operations. The Jacksonville Icemen, who were the Evansville Icemen, rejoined the league after a one year hiatus. The Worcester Railers were added to the ECHL as an expansion team. Finally, the Missouri Mavericks were renamed the Kansas City Mavericks. These changes required a divisional realignment.


NEW DIVISION ALIGNMENTS

Eastern Conference


North Division:
 Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Manchester Monarchs, Reading Royals, Wheeling Nailers, Worcester Railers

South Division: 

Atlanta Gladiators, Florida Everblades, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, Jacksonville Icemen, Norfolk Admirals, Orlando Solar Bears, South Carolina Stingrays
Western Conference

Central Division
: Cincinnati Cyclones, Fort Wayne Komets, Indy Fuel, Kalamazoo Wings, Kansas City Mavericks, Quad City Mallards, Toledo Walleye
Mountain Division
: Allen Americans, Colorado Eagles, Idaho Steelheads, Rapid City Rush, Tulsa Oilers, Utah Grizzlies, Wichita Thunder


PLAYOFFS

The qualification rules for the playoffs remain the same as last season. The first two rounds of the Kelly Cup playoffs will be played entirely within the division. The division regular season winner plays the fourth place finisher and the second place team plays the third place team in the first round (Division Semifinals). The winner of each series meet in the division finals, leading to the conference finals and the Kelly Cup Finals. All playoff series will be best of seven. 

It is a long way off but the tiebreakers if teams are tied for playoff positions at the end of the season are long and complicated with eight possible steps. The eighth step is a coin toss. The first two tiebreakers are the most important. The first tiebreaker is regular season wins (excluding shootout wins) and the second is goal differential. 



ECHL CRITICAL DATES 

OCTOBER 2017
11 – Opening-Day Rosters due to League Office (3 p.m. ET)
13 – 30th ECHL regular season begins

NOVEMBER 2017
1 – Deadline for submission of ECHL Hall of Fame candidates
12 – Active Rosters cut down from 21 to 20 (3 p.m. ET)

DECEMBER 2017
22 – Christmas Waiver/Trade Freeze begins (5 p.m. ET)
24-26 – Christmas Break (no games or practices)
27 – Christmas Waiver/Trade Freeze ends (Noon ET)

JANUARY 2018
15 – CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic (Indianapolis, Ind.)
19 – Jersey Reversal Date

FEBRUARY 2018
15 – Overseas Deadline (3 p.m. ET)

MARCH 2018
7 – Recall/Reassignment Deadline (11:59 p.m. local time)
8 – ECHL Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET)

APRIL 2018
6 – Last day to place a Player on Waivers (5 p.m. ET)
8 – Last day of 2017-18 ECHL regular season
9 – Kelly Cup Playoffs rosters due (3 p.m. ET)
11 – 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs begin

JUNE 2018
1 – Protected Lists due (3 p.m. ET)
13 – Future Considerations Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET)
15 – Season-Ending Rosters due (3 p.m. ET)
16 – First day to sign Players for the 2018-19 season
30 – Qualifying Offers due to Players for the 2018-19 season (11:59 p.m. ET)


DID YOU KNOW: Teams are required to provide equipment to the players and the CBA spells out when players get new skates. Here is the exact wording from the CBA about equipment:

"It is the responsibility of the Member to provide each Player with all equipment, including skates, necessary and appropriate for professional hockey. Equipment must be fit for its intended use at a professional level and provide for the safety and well being of each Player. Equipment must be timely replaced as necessary so as to insure this provision is fully implemented.
Notwithstanding the above, Players who have been on an Active Roster or Injured Reserve for sixty (60) or more days during the Season, with the majority of time being spent on the Active Roster, who have not yet received a pair of skates, are entitled to at least one pair of skates provided by the Member."



Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Allen Trades Two Rookies, Roster Update, Costello Update, Who Will Wear the "A's" and More

Coach Steve Martinson trimmed the training camp roster by two yesterday, trading rookies Marcus Basara and Tyler Coulter to the Jacksonville IceMen for the famous future considerations. The roster is now at 22 players including 12 forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies. I would expect this ends up being the opening day roster for the Allen Americans. It is not due in the league office until 2:00 pm (Allen time) on Wednesday so some changes could still take place.


- Just as a reminder there are three components to the total number of players on a team. The active roster can be 21 players for the first month of the season and then goes to 20, in addition you can have two players on reserve plus you can have an unlimited number of players on a 21 day injured reserve as long as they are certified by the medical staff as injured. The 21 day IR is a minimum of 21 days, not a maximum.


- The catch on the active roster is they all have to fit under the weekly salary cap ($13,260 for the first month and $12,800 for the rest of the season). If you have a lot of rookies and AHL contracted players it is possible to carry 21 players on the active roster. Remember, AHL contracted players only count $525 toward the salary cap. After trading the two rookies yesterday Allen has just one rookie on the roster (Josh Thrower) and four AHL contracted players (Makowski, Moore, Schoenborn & Williams). With the rest of the roster made up of ECHL contracted players with a lot of experience you can be assured coach Martinson will not have an active roster of 21 players. Martinson is a master of salary "capology" so it will be interesting to see how many players are on the active roster for the games this weekend. In past years the active roster has typically been 18 or fewer because of the salary cap so it remains to be seen what that number will be this weekend.


- Another to do item for coach Martinson is to pick the players that will wear an "A" this season to round out the on ice leadership team. He has already named two of the leaders in captain Joel Chouinard and player/assistant coach Casey Pierro-Zabotel. There are so many leaders on this team it will be a tough decision for Martinson. He could go with the senior players in their first year in Allen like Peter MacArthur who was the captain of his ECHL team (Adirondack) the past two seasons or Mathieu Aubin who wore an "A" in Utah and was captain in Cincinnati in the past. Vincent Arseneau wore an "A" in Wichita last season and returns to Allen for his third season. Maybe it is time to give David Makowski, who was captain of his college team, (University of Denver) and Spencer Asuchak, who has won three championship in Allen, an "A" for all they have done for the Americans. Any way you slice it there are many good candidates and as Joel Chouinard told me recently it doesn't matter who wears the letters, leadership comes in all forms and the Americans have a lot of players that will lead on and off the ice. The Dallas Stars recently named their alternate captains and went with four instead of the usual two. They will have two different players wear the "A" at home than on the road. The plan is to then switch at the midway point of the season.  With so many experienced leaders on the Americans if Martinson wants to give a leadership role to more impact players this would be one way to accomplish that. Whatever he decides it will happen in the next few of days.


- Tommy Daniels hosted the annual media kickoff luncheon yesterday and the media got to hear from coach Martinson, captain Joel Chouinard, player/assistant coach Casey Pierro-Zabotel and player Zach Hall. Two messages came across from everyone. First, they were impressed with the talent of the players in camp with the combination of speed, skill and toughness and second the expectations in Allen are very high. Unlike many other franchises in Allen anything less than a championship will be considered an unsuccessful season.


- Chad Costello had his knee surgery on Monday. Ashley Costello posted the picture below on Facebook yesterday along with the caption, "Home resting from a long day. Surgery went well, now hoping for a fast recovery. Thank you for all the love and well wishes." Several readers have asked for an address where they can send a note or card to Chad. Here it is.

COSTELLO, CHAD
C/O ISERLOHN ROOSTERS
SEEUFERSTR. 25
ISERLOHN, D-58636 GERMANY




- A couple of followups to the blog post from yesterday about the bus the Allen Americans will be using this season. Several readers let me know that Big Red had problems on the maiden trip for the Tulsa Oilers which made the team late for their preseason game in Wichita. I was aware of that when I wrote the story but decided to give Big Red a break. The cat is out of the bag now. The other bus question I received was how much will Allen use the bus as opposed to fly to road games. The decision to bus or fly is based on cost. Some places like Rapid City are expensive to fly to. If the team is on a multi city road trip that makes flying much more expensive. The bottom line is the team will be taking the new bus on most road trips. If there is a long trip to one city such as Idaho where the team plays two or three games and then returns to Allen, you will see them fly in that situation. Where you have a road trip to multiple cities like the Atlanta, Florida, Jacksonville trip in February they will take the bus.

Finally, I heard from several Rapid City fans what a great guy and bus driver Tim Acheson is and how lucky Allen is to have him. They also referred to Tim as Slice. Thought is was an interesting nickname so asked Tim how that came about. Here is his answer, "It all started my first year in Rapid City when our player/assistant coach, Mark DeSantis started it. My name morphed from Tim to Timbo to Kimbo Slice (MMA fighter) to just Slice, although it goes quite well with my golf game. Welcome to Allen, Slice.


DID YOU KNOW: Steve Martinson has always had fewer players than allowed on the opening day roster because he opts to have more experienced players on his team. Here are the opening day roster numbers for each season Allen has been in the ECHL. The information is from echl.com. The maximum would be 21 active, two on reserve and unlimited on 21 day injured reserve.

2017-18: ?? Active, ?? Reserve, ?? IR
2016-17: 18 Active, 2 Reserve, 0 IR
2015-16: 18 Active, 2 Reserve, 1 IR
2014-15: 16 Active, 2 Reserve, 1 IR      

Monday, October 9, 2017

From Big Red to Luxury - The Story of the Allen Americans New Bus Ride

If you attended the press conference last February when Jack Gulati was announced as the new owner of the Allen Americans you may recall the loudest cheer of the entire event was when Jack informed everyone that Big Red was not part of the deal. The Americans owned the team bus which was bought used out of Nashville when the franchise started in 2009. The bus is 22 years old and I was told by long time bus driver Scott Alexander, who passed away in 2014, that Big Red had close to 2,000,000 miles on it.


Big Red


- As much as Big Red was the subject of ridicule the fact of the matter was the players and coaches really liked the set up on the bus. The problem was Big Red became more and more unreliable as the years past with mechanical breakdowns ranging from engine issues to brake problems to no air conditioning. The trips through the Rocky Mountains the last few years became nightmares.


- If you miss Big Red and want to visit, you will have your chance as it didn't go to the bus junkyard in the sky. It wasn't part of the sale of the Allen Americans because the previous owners (Steven brothers) had a plan. Big Red would become the pride and joy of the Tulsa Oilers, which the Steven brothers also own. The Oilers visit Allen on October 29th so you can see Big Red parked in back of the building that night. The plan is to have the bus "rewrapped" but it is unclear if that has been completed.


- To understand the story of the new Allen bus you need to know a little about the owner/operator, Tim Acheson. The first point is the Allen Americans are no longer in the bus business, they don't own the bus, they lease the bus from Tim when they have road trips.


- Tim has spent a lifetime in and around hockey. He grew up in Edmonton and played hockey but most of his professional career was officiating hockey which he did for many years where he worked in the CHL, ECHL and the IHL before it merged with the AHL. Tim also has experience as a general manager in minor pro hockey and also as a color commentator for hockey broadcasts for several teams over 20 years. I first met Tim when he was the bus driver and color commentator for the Rapid City Rush. He worked in Rapid City for nine years. The team owned the bus but Tim had a deal where he bought the bus from the team over a six year period. That is how he became a bus owner.


- Here is how Tim described his venture from hockey general manager to bus driver, "When I was a general manager one of the hardest things to do was to find a sleeper bus to haul my hockey team around. I found this company in Louisiana that would lease us a sleeper bus and we would hire our own driver to do each trip. So I thought I can do this, I am on the road with the team anyway and I love driving so that was the start of my bus driver career. That was back in the 1990's. I soon realized I loved driving the bus but disliked the other parts of being a general manager having to deal with owners in nontraditional hockey markets. After owning a hockey team for a year they think they are experts. Driving allows me to still be part of the game without all of those other hassles. Since I started bus driving I have been to every state except three (Hawaii, Alaska & Maine) and several Canadian provinces and I just love it. I am sitting on my job but I am not sitting at a desk."


- Tim now has a partner, Kevin St. Pierre, who was a long time goaltender who had a 14 year professional career with stops in Wichita, Nashville, Shreveport, Bakersfield, Fort Wayne and Tulsa. They currently have two buses and are looking to purchase a third. They call their company KTE LLC. The KTE stands for Kevin and Tim's Express. One bus is based out of Wichita and the other out of Texas (Dallas & Houston).


- With that background about the bus company here is the background on the bus Allen will be using this season. I mentioned in an earlier blog post that the bus was white in color and asked for name suggestions. Thanks for those of you that sent along some ideas including Gleam Machine, White Lightning, Moby Dick, Duece, White Knight, and Shark Tank. I am sure some name will rise to the top once everyone gets a look at the bus in person. May even get some ideas from the players and their wives and girlfriends.


- Per Tim the bus was built in 2000 as a luxury motorhome at a cost of over $800,000 by a couple in California. The brand is MCI (Motor Coach Industries) which was founded in 1933. It's headquarters is in Des Plaines, Illinois with plants in Winnipeg and Pembina, North Dakota. When he bought the bus it hadn't yet turned over 30,000 miles and it had always been parked inside. As Tim said, "To us it is brand new and has not even been broken in. The important thing to us is the engine, undercarriage, transmission and all of that is basically brand new and we are getting a sleeper bus for 25% of the cost of a new bus.

The Allen Americans New Ride


- The bus was equipped with a jacuzzi, double shower, master bedroom, washer and dryer, double fridge with ice maker, dishwasher, trash compactor and everything else you can think of. Tim and Kevin flew out to California to drive the bus back to Minnesota. Tim has a friend in Minnesota that owns a RV manufacturing company and that is where they stripped it down to convert it to a sleeper bus. Tim was able to work out a deal where the RV company got all of the interior stuff for the cost of the removal. As Tim said, "The cost of removal was no more than the cost of gas and hotel while I was in Minnesota. The only way to get some of the interior stuff out of the bus was to remove the windshield." The whole process worked so well we are planning to purchase another bus in the near future and do the same thing."


- The bus will eventually have 31 beds but right now the number is 29. This bus is five feet longer than Big Red. There is an area where coach Martinson will stay that makes into a table. Each bunk has its own electricity and USB port. The bus has a satellite dish thta is in the process of being hooked up.


- The maiden trip for the Americans on the new bus will be on Wednesday when the team travels to Rapid City. Tim has hired Monty Williams, who drove Big Red, as a part time driver so Monty will be the back up driver on those long trips that require two drivers. Everyone loves Monty (in spite of him being an ardent Oklahoma Sooner fan) and it is great he will be part of the team again this season. Tim told me even on trips where he isn't working Monty will be along most of the time just because he is such a big part of the Allen Americans.


- The Americans will be in good hands with Tim and Monty driving them around the country in this newly outfitted bus. Finally, no more coach Martinson as the back up driver.


DID YOU KNOW:  You can't say goodbye to Big Red without taking one last look at the Jarret Lukin breakdown video from 2012. I think the team was headed to Arizona and broke down on Highway 121 in McKinney just 10 minutes into the 18 hour bus ride. This will bring a few smiles to your face and you may recognize many of those in the video. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Allen Wins Preseason Rematch with KC, Asuchak's Transportation Hell, Aubin Engaged, Opening on the Road

The Allen Americans won their final preseason game last night with a 3-2 victory in a rematch with the Kansas City Mavericks. The game was very different from Friday night which had a lot of hitting, fisticuffs and power play goals.  On Friday night there were 28 penalites and three of the four goals came on the power play. Last night there were just eight penalties called in the game with none in the third period. Each team went 0-4 on the power play.


- Goal scorers for the Americans were Olivier Archambault, Alex Schoenborn and Bryan Moore.


- I had a chance to check in with coach Steve Martinson after the game and just like after the game on Friday night he said he liked a lot more of what he saw in the game than he didn't like. He specifically mentioned the play of Riley Gill who looked sharp in stopping 35 of 37 shots. Coach Martinson also talked about the line combination of Lessard, Pochiro, and Archambault and how they used their speed coming into the offensive zone and created numerous opportunities. Martinson also liked the play of captain Joel Chouinard who was playing in his first preseason game and led the team with two assists and a plus/minus of +2.


 - Allen scored first in both preseason games but could not hold onto those leads. Last night the Americans had a 2-0 lead until midway through the third period. Kansas City scored two goals to draw even with just over two minutes remaining in the game. To their credit the Americans came back with the game winner just 47 seconds after the Mavericks tied the score 2-2 when Bryan Moore deflected a shot from the point by Mike Gunn.


- Here is the game recap from the Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/americans-beat-kc-end-preseason/


- Here is the game recap from the Kansas City Mavericks perspective: http://kcmavericks.com/news/?article_id=923


OTHER COMMENTS


- It will be an important week for the Americans as training camp comes to a close and coach Martinson determines what the final roster looks like. The opening day roster is due to the league office Wednesday afternoon and the team will leave on Wednesday for Rapid City where they open the season on Friday and Saturday. Some tough decisions to be made by Martinson in the next couple of days.


- It has been transportation hell for Spencer Asuchak on his journey to Allen. He started out on Wednesday in Zvolen, Slovakia and traveled to Vienna, Austria then to Frankfurt Germany, then to Vancouver then to Kamloops, British Columbia to pack up his truck and head to Allen in time for practice on Monday. According to Spencer the total would be 16 hours of flight time and 46 hours of driving time in five days. So he arrived home Wednesday night, spent Thursday with his family and friends and then left for Allen on Friday. When I asked why he didn't stay at home a little longer he said, "I thought about staying longer but I don't want to miss practice on Monday."  Unbeknownst to Spencer his transportation hell was just beginning when left home Friday afternoon headed for Allen. Here is the next chapter in his own words, "I was about an hour past Spokane, Washington at around 10:00 pm and a deer jumped right in front of my truck. I was going 60-70 miles per hour. It felt like what I would imagine getting hit by Arseneau would be like (haha). It completely blew up the right front of my truck. I pulled over and the guy behind me stopped to see if I was okay. We couldn't get the truck to start and the nearest tow truck was a two hour wait. So I looked up the closest motel and there was one two miles away. So the guy that stopped to help me pushed me on the side of the road until we got to the motel. Pretty awesome of him to help me like that. Then on Saturday morning I called the tow truck and he towed me back to Spokane. I took an Uber from the body shop to the airport, rented a car, drove back to my truck to grab all my stuff and got back on the road to Allen. I am completely fine and still plan on being at practice on Monday." 

Talk about above and beyond the call of duty, it amazing what Spencer has put himself through the last five days and why he is so loved in Allen by fans and teammates alike. He will arrive in Allen just in time to get on the bus on Wednesday for the 17 hour trip to Rapid City. At least he doesn't have to drive.



The aftermath of the deer encounter



- Chad Costello has his knee surgery tomorrow (Monday). I know his many fans in Allen are sending their thoughts and prayers that all goes well and he will be on the road to a quick recovery.


- Congratulations to Mathieu Aubin and his fiance Natalie who just recently got engaged. Natalie is the one who is responsible for Mathieu playing in Allen. She took a job in the the DFW area and that gave the Americans the chance to recruit Aubin which I am sure was not a tough sell. 


DID YOU KNOW: This will be the first time since joining the ECHL that the Allen Americans will open the season on the road. Opening at home the last three season has not been that productive so maybe opening on the road, where the guys spend a lot of time together, will be a good omen. Here are the results of the last three season openers which were all played at the Allen Event Center. All of these opening night games are memorable for different reasons.

2014-15 - a 9-6 loss to Tulsa, Greger Hanson had a hat trick and Aaron Dell gave up seven goals. It was Dell's only regulation loss in the 12 games he played for Allen that season. By the end of January he was in the AHL on his way the NHL.

2015-16 - a 2-1 loss to Quad City, Allen's lone goal was scored by Garrett Clark with assists to Justin Courtnall and Joel Rumpel.

2016-17 - a 6-3 win over Missouri, Kale Kerbashain had two goals and Riley Gill was peppered with 47 shots.  

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Allen Loses Preseason Opener to KC, Rematch Tonight, Must Read Mike Heika Story, The Bus & More

The Allen Americans lost their first preseason game to the Kansas City Mavericks last night by a score of 3-1. As predicted the players on both teams were ready to hit someone after a week of practice. After the smoke had settled there were 26 penalties called in the game for a total of 110 minutes (Allen 49, Missouri 61). A fracas at the end of the second period resulted in three fighting majors for each team and two game misconducts for each team. Bryan Moore, Mike Gunn and Jonathan Lessard were the players involved for Allen with Gunn and Lessard given game misconducts for secondary altercations.

- Here is the game recap issued by the Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/americans-drop-preseason-opener/


- Here is the press release from the Missouri Mavericks: http://kcmavericks.com/news/?article_id=921


- Three of the four goals in the game came on the power play (two by the Mavericks) and each team had a five-on-three power play goal. Allen is always at or near the top of the ECHL in special teams ratings but have spent just one practice on special teams. Coach Steve Martinson said after the game he liked a lot more of what he saw in the game than what he didn't like and the penalty kill was something he indicated as an area that needs improvement. He also mentioned the speed of the team as a strength and talked specifically about Olivier Archambault and Zach Pochiro.


- Something to keep in mind is a lot of players that will be counted on during the season were not in the game. Coach Martinson wants to get everyone some game action but also needs to make roster decisions so that factors into who gets the most ice time.


- If you add Riley Gill, David Makowski, Joel Chouinard, Vincent Arseneau, Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Spencer Asuchak to the lineup (none of them played last night) you are adding a lot of firepower. If all goes as planned you could see all six of these players in the opening night lineup.


- Another comment coach Martinson mentioned after the game was how good Goalie Stephon Williams looked giving up just one goal in 40 minutes of play, stopping 26 of 27 shots including 15 in the first period when Allen was out shot 15-9.


- After the game coach Martinson released the three tryout players that were in training camp, (Max Cook, Charlie Finn & Matt Zenzola). They will head back to their SPHL teams. It is certainly possible you might see one or more of these players back in Allen if the team is shorthanded during the season because of injuries and call ups. The roster is now at 21 players. With San Jose assigning forward Alex Schoenborn to Allen (just announced) and Spencer Asuchak on his way the roster will grow to 23 players.


- You can expect to see some of the players that didn't play last night in the line up tonight. I would expect with only two goalies now in camp and the fact Stephon Williams played 40 minutes last night you will see Riley Gill get most of the playing time tonight. The team is a little short on forwards so you might see one of the defenseman move up to play forward and it is likely one defensman will not play. There are eight defensemen in camp and based on past seasons I would expect coach Martinson to carry eight defensemen when the opening day roster is finalized. Incidentally,  the roster is due to the ECHL office next Wednesday (October 11) at 3:00 pm EDT.




OTHER COMMENTS

- If you didn't read this article that was written by Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning news it is a must read for a couple of reasons. The article is about Stars coach, Ken Hitchcock and his approach to coaching. As I read the story I couldn't help but notice the similarities, not all but some, with coach Martinson. It is hard to play for coaches like Hitchcock and Martinson but the results speak for themselves. Coach Martinson has talked in the past about the difference in coaching in the NHL where players have multi year contracts versus in the ECHL where all players are on one year contracts and the contracts are not guaranteed. By the way, Mike Heika has been a big supporter of this blog. He retweets the blog to his Twitter followers virtually every day. It is hard to get publicity for the Allen Americans and to have Mike share the blog each day with his over 22,000 followers who you know are all hockey fans is both noticed and appreciated. Here is Mike's story, "With Shades of Bill Belichick and John Wooden, Ken Hitchcock is trying to build the Stars the right way"  https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-stars/stars/2017/10/05/shades-bill-belichick-john-wooden-ken-hitchcok-trying-build-stars-right-way?f=r


- If you have tickets to pick up today the Americans staff will be at the South Entrance of the Allen Event Center (next to the community rink) starting at 1:00 pm. until 5:00 pm. All season ticket holders can pick up there tickets and if you have tickets for the preseason game tonight you can also pick them up between 1:00 and 5:00.


- I am working on a story about the new bus the Americans will be using this season. It is a fascinating story about the bus, the company that owns the bus and a fond farewell to Big Red. I plan to post the story on Monday. The only thing missing is a name for the new bus. Any suggestions would be appreciated. With the new bus being leased and used for many other purposes there will be no Allen Americans identifier on the bus and the bus is white in color. So all of you creative folks, and I know there are plenty of Allen fans that are creative, give me some suggestions for a name I can use in the blog.   




DID YOU KNOW: If you read the Mike Heika story above about Ken Hitchcock you noticed at the end of the story an all-time NHL coaching wins list on which Ken Hitchcock is #4 with 781 wins. Scotty Bowman is #1 (1244 wins), Joel Queneville is #2 (851 wins) and Al Arbour is #3 (782 wins). Did you know Steve Martinson has spent his entire coaching career in AA hockey winning 10 championships in 21 seasons. In those 21 seasons he has won 943 regular season games.  

Friday, October 6, 2017

Preseason Game Details, Bryan Moore Assigned to Allen, All-Star Game Changes, UHL Returns, Mountain Division Experience Stats

The road to the Allen Americans hockey season takes another step forward tonight as the Americans take on Kansas City at 8:00 pm at the Allen Event Center in the first of two preseason games against the Mavericks. The teams will play again tomorrow night (5:30 pm).

- It has been a long time since Allen fans have seen the Americans play at home. Not to bring up any bad memories but it was five months ago, May 9th to be exact. It was an elimination game against the Colorado Eagles. Allen had a 3-2 lead after the second period and surrendered two third period goals including the game winner with 69 seconds remaining in the game. To make matters worse the game winner was scored by former Allen defenseman, Matt Register, who terrorized the Americans all season. The other memorable thing about that game was how the angels, I mean Eagles, who averaged almost 20 penalty minutes per game during the regular season were not called for a single penalty in that game. Sorry for all of the detail, I guess I was having a writing flashback. It is all water under the bridge at this point. To tell you how things change in five months, when Allen takes the ice tonight (depending on lineup) there will only be three or four players that participated in that game on May 9.


- In preseason games you can have up to 20 players so you can expect to see all of the forwards who are healthy in the lineup. You may see one or two defensemen not playing in the game. Most likely the most experienced of the defenseman will sit. You may start to see some line combinations and defensive pairings that give you an idea of coach Steve Martinson's thinking after a week of practice but there will still be plenty of experimentation going on.


- A few players to keep an eye on tonight would be forwards #18 Zach Pochiro who has shown great skill in practice, #44 Olivier Archambault who is a speedy winger and #11 Tyler Coulter who you can count on for a few big hits in the game. On defense keep an eye on #2 Josh Thrower, who coach Martinson called the toughest player in the toughest junior league in Canada (WHL). Josh's older brother Dalton wears #47.


- After spending the last week at practice not being able to hit anybody there will be plenty of Allen players looking for someone to hit tonight.


OTHER COMMENTS

- Bryan Moore, who is under contract with the San Jose Barracuda was assigned to Allen yesterday and as coach Martinson mentioned at Fan Fest he expects Spencer Asuchak to be in Allen sometime early next week. Talk about making a strong team even stronger, these are two key pieces that coach Martinson was not counting on when Spencer signed in Europe and Bryan signed in San Jose. Moore had 27 goals in just 50 games with Allen last season, played both ends of the ice and was second on the team in penalty minutes (140 minutes). Asuchak was third on the team in points (66), is a great defensive player, plays in all situations and is outstanding at faceoffs. Both of these players will see time in the AHL this season but having them in Allen at the start should help the Americans get off to a good start.


- If you are attending the game tonight and are picking up your tickets at the AEC my understanding is they will be at will call until the ticket office closes at 5:30 pm. After 5:30 you will pick up your tickets by the south entrance to the AEC (not the community rink entrance).


- Fans that have full, half or partial season ticket plans can pick up their tickets on Saturday from 1 to 5 PM. The tickets will be inside the south entrance to the AEC. (next to the community rink). 


- The ECHL announced a big change to the All-Star game that will take place in Indy on January 15, 2018. Adopting a format similar to the AHL and NHL the All-Star game will feature four teams, one from each division, that will compete in a three-on-three tournament. Here are all of the details: https://www.echl.com/format-revealed-for-2018-ccm-echl-all-star-classic


- You have to put this in the I will believe it when I see it category but apparently there is an attempt underway to bring back the United Hockey League (UHL) for the 2018-19 season. Quad City, Fort Wayne and Kalamazoo all played in the UHL. Here is the press release with a few details: https://www.unitedhockeyleague.com/blog/2017/7/7/uhl-returns-for-2018-2019-season



DID YOU KNOW: One way to look at the experience of a team is how many games the complete roster has played for their team in the past, how many AHL games does the roster have and how many NHL games does the roster have. Not a perfect measure by any means as games played for the team is a measure of how many returning players there are and none of this measures experience in Europe. I thought it would be interesting to compare the Mountain Division teams using games played (GP) for the team, AHL, and NHL with data from eliteprospects.com. These games played are cumulative for the team's roster as it exists today. Some interesting results:

ALLEN
780 GP: Allen Americans
676 GP: AHL
000 GP: NHL

COLORADO
804 GP: Colorado Eagles
565 GP: AHL
180 GP: NHL

IDAHO
757 GP: Idaho Steelheads
745 GP: AHL
   3 GP: NHL

RAPID CITY
676 GP: Rapid City Rush
320 GP: AHL
000 GP: NHL

TULSA
675 GP: Tulsa Oilers
106 GP: AHL
000 GP: NHL

UTAH
545 GP: Utah Grizzlies
296 GP: AHL
000 GP: NHL

WICHITA
283 GP: Wichita Thunder
1432 GP: AHL
136 GP: NHL