Stopped by practice yesterday and it was like black Friday at Target with so many players and coaches on the ice. There are some players still day to day (Ruopp and Mathers) and some just coming back from the flu but it was a full contingent skating other than the guys on injured reserve (Kerbashian & Gens). One thing I have learned over the years is don't judge who will be in and out of the lineup on game day, two days before the game. Whenever it looks like you have it figured out there always seems to be a surprise. Look for a couple of surprises this weekend.
- For some unknown reason while sitting by myself watching practice yesterday I started thinking about a small group of fans I have gotten to know over the years who I call the "practice brigade." Like myself, a group of retired older folks with time on their hands. They love the team and love the players even more. I tend to show up toward the end of practice to get an update from coach Martinson and talk to players but the practice regulars are there from beginning to end. They are like "cub reporters" for me as they always fill me in when I arrive on who is and isn't practicing and why. They also share any other info they have picked up as the players and coaches come out for the start of practice. Most importantly they have become friends who share an interest in the Allen Americans. The first person from the "practice brigade" I got to know was Dan Zalaznik. His wife (Vicki) would come some days but Dan would never miss practice. The Zalazniks moved to Iowa a few years ago but Dan is still a huge fan who reads the blog everyday and watches all the games on ECHL TV. Richard and Carol Henry were also members of the practice brigade from the early years. Richard recently passed away after a long battle with cancer. More recently Steve Blair became a practice regular but he moved to Missouri last year so he is gone as well. Steve is still an Allen fan even though he lives close to Independence where the Mavericks play. Holding down the "practice brigade" moniker these days is Ed Bohnemann who rarely misses practice. Ed and his wife Sheri are super fans that do a lot for the players. I would be remiss if I didn't mention photographer Dianne Webster when talking about practice regulars. She doesn't fit the profile (she is not old and she is very busy) of the practice brigade group but she attends every practice and posts her photos to various outlets each day. Without a doubt Dianne is the hardest working photographer in the ECHL. It is a labor of love for Dianne and the time and effort she puts in is above and beyond the call of duty. The Allen Americans are lucky to have her services.
- You may have noticed Allen Americans athletic trainer, Jaime Garcia, was named yesterday as the athletic trainer for the ECHL All-Star Classic. It is a very deserving honor for Jaime to be recognized by his peers who are the ones that vote. Jaime was a one man show for a long time as he was doing double duty as the trainer and equipment manager for Allen until just last week when newly hired equipment manager, Tim Abbott arrived. I think Jaime's peers saw the heroic effort he was making to keep things afloat in Allen and acknowledged that effort with their vote. Congrats Jaime! Here is the link to the ECHL press release: http://www.echl.com/athletic-trainer-equipment-manager-named-for-2017-echl-all-star-classic
- There is a full slate of games in the ECHL tonight with 24 of 27 teams in action. Games of interest to Allen fans will be Alaska vs Idaho and Orlando vs Colorado. Colorado, Alaska and Idaho are the teams in the Mountain Division with a higher winning percentage than the Americans. The Americans are tied with Colorado atop the division with 42 points but the winning percentage tells another story:
.661 - Alaska
.656 - Colorado
.621 - Idaho
.600 - Allen
.453 - Missouri
.422 - Utah
.419 - Rapid City
- Allen has played almost half of their games (35 of 72) at this point in the season. Most of
the difficult travel is done (they will fly to Florida) and the majority of the remaining games are at home (21 of 37). Today let's look at the current winning
percentage of the teams Allen has to play in the second half. Here is
the list from lowest to highest win percentage with the number of games
to be played in parentheses.
.328 - Indy (5 games - 4 home 1 away)
.411 - Wichita (8 games - 6 home 2 away)
.419 - Rapid City (5 games - 2 home 3 away)
.453 - Missouri (8 games - 4 home 4 away)
.581 - Tulsa (8 games - 5 home 3 away )
.600 - ALLEN
.606 - Orlando (2 games both away)
.726 - Florida (1 game away)
It is a favorable schedule the rest of the way for Allen with 26 of 37 games against opponents currently under .500. If the standings are close at the end of the season it is good to know six of the last seven games are at home against familiar foes in Tulsa (4 games), Missouri (2 games) and Wichita once. The worst thing about the remaining schedule is Allen does not play any of the teams ahead of them in the standings.
DID YOU KNOW: One of the toughest things to do in hockey is go all season without
missing a game and become an "Ironman." Since Steve Martinson became coach in Allen (2012-13) there have been seven players accomplish that feat with two players (Jamie Schaafsma and Chad Costello) accomplishing it twice. Here is the Ironman list for each season along with the five players that still have a chance to become an Ironman this season having played in all 35 games thus far.
2012-13 - Jamie Schaafsma, Jason Deitsch
2013-14 - Spencer Asuchak, Daniel Tetrault, Mike Berube
2014-15 - Chad Costello, Aaron Gens, Jamie Schaafsma
2015-16 - Chad Costello
2016-17 - Chad Costello, Spencer Asuchak, Greger Hanson, Tanner Eberle, Joel Chouinard