Friday, March 31, 2017

Allen Wins 6-4, Takes Division Lead, I'll have Some Crow & Humble Pie, Coaches Corner, Records Everywhere

It took 167 days of the season and 68 games but the Allen Americans have finally made it to the top of the Mountain, that is the Mountain Division. The Americans beat Missouri 6-4 last night before a crowd of 3936 at the Allen Event Center (AEC) and jumped over idle Colorado to take a one point lead in the division. Allen hasn't won anything yet but is now in position to control their own destiny. It is now Colorado fans doing the scoreboard watching and looking for Tulsa or Wichita (Allen's remaining opponents) to beat the Americans.

- Bryan Moore scored the first goal of the game, his fourth in two games, at the 8:38 mark of the first period but Missouri tied the score six minutes later. The first period ended with a 1-1 tie. The first period gave some huge clues on the eventual outcome of the game and from a statistics standpoint was a guaranteed victory. Allen is 36-2-2-1 when scoring the first goal of a game. The Americans are even more impressive when the score is tied after the first period, they are a perfect 14-0. Despite the favorable stats it was a hard fought game with Allen relinquishing leads of 1-0 and 3-2. The game wasn't decided until Dyson Stevenson put home an empty net goal with two seconds remaining in the game. Bryan Moore could have easily scored the empty net goal but unselfishly passed the puck to Dyson.

- Goal scorers for Allen were Bryan Moore (25), Wade MacLeod (4&5), Greger Hanson (34) and Alex Krushelnyski (7). The video highlights are not posted to ECHL Rewind but hopefully will be later this morning.

- Here is the Allen Americans recap of the game.

- Here is the Missouri Mavericks recap.


- Here is coach Martinson's pregame interview with Tom Manning.

- Here are Steve Martinson's post game comments:

- It wasn't a real pretty win but it puts us in first place. It was different than the win last night. I will have to watch the tape but there were some strange goals tonight including us scoring on our own goalie.

- Missouri was desperate and maybe we underestimated them based on the 7-2 win on Wednesday. We will take tomorrow off and give the guys a little rest and then we just have to keep it going.

- Spencer Asuchak should be cleared to play tomorrow. Since he hasn't skated for eight or nine days I would expect they would send him back to Allen as soon as he is cleared.

- Alex Krushelnyski made another nice shot tonight. Bryan Moore is a pretty unselfish guy for a young player with 25 goals. On one play he was coming down the slot on the power play and passed to Chad for the one timer and the goalie made a good save.  Then he gave up the empty net goal and passed to Stevenson who scored.

- We don't want to play the type of game we played tonight going forward. There are some things we need to shore up defensively. We need to learn from the game tonight. I will break down the video and show how the game tonight was different than Wednesday.

- Josh Brittain will be serving his one game suspension on Saturday against Tulsa. We are getting defenseman Mike Brodzinski from San Jose tomorrow so I will be able to move Stevenson back to forward and put Brodzinski in the lineup on Saturday.

- Jamie Murray will start in goal on Saturday. He has played well his last three starts.


- Allen will have home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs and the first two games of the opening round are now set. They will be on Wednesday April 12 and Friday April 14. The rest of the dates and the opponent still has to be determined.

- Allen finished with a record of 10-1-2-0 against Missouri this season. If the Mavericks don't make the playoffs their inability to to get points against the Americans will add to the many frustrations they have faced at the hands of Allen over the years. The good news for Missouri is despite the loses to Allen the last two nights they are still in the playoff hunt. Who knows, a first round playoff series between Allen and Missouri is in the realm of possibilities.

- It was a tough night for Greger Hanson to get any respect even though he scored his 97th goal as an Allen American and is now tied with Bruce Graham for the franchise record for career goals. Greger accidentally put a puck in his own net and then for some reason the Americans misspelled his name as they live tweeted the game and posted info on Facebook. The Missouri Mavericks followed the Americans lead and misspelled his name in their press release recapping the game. For the record it is Greger not Gregor.

- It was a record night for tying records last night. In addition to Hanson tying Bruce Graham for the all-time goals record (97), Chad Costello tied himself for the single season assist record as he now has 84 assists. Finally, Joel Chouinard was a +2 in the game and is now tied with Chad Costello for the all-time single season plus/minus record at +43.

- Derek Mathers had his 29th fight last night which is by far the all-time record for fights in a season in Allen franchise history. Mathers is now third all-time in single season penalty minutes with 252 trailing only Brett Lyon (256) and Garrett Klotz (257). He will soon own this record.

- A reminder on the tiebreakers should Colorado and Allen end up in a tie at the end of the regular season. The first tie breaker is regular season wins excluding shootout wins. Right now they are tied with 43. The second tiebreaker is goal differential and if it comes down to this tiebreaker Allen is the clear winner. Allen's goal  differential is +80 as they have scored 276 goals and allowed 196. Colorado's has scored 257 goals and allowed 196 for goal differential of +61.

- I stopped by coach Martinson's office after the game and it didn't take him long to chirp me in good fun about my prediction after the overtime loss in Missouri on March 22nd. As if I haven't eaten enough crow on this prediction here what I said after that loss.

"Allen's overtime loss last night was probably the death knell in their quest to win the Mountain Division. Colorado won again last night beating Rapid City 3-2 and now has a seven point lead. If Allen wins their remaining eight games the Eagles could go 4-2-1 in their remaining games and still win the division. That is not going to happen as Colorado has only lost two games in the last two months. The Eagles record since the end of January is 22-1-1-0."

In my defense who would have thought that Colorado would lose three games in a row after losing two games in the past two months. Of all the eating crow memes this one seemed the most appropriate. I saw another one that said, "Why should your apology result in my death? I didn't give you a big mouth." And for desert I will have a slice of humble pie.

- Allen has made quite a push to get to the top spot in the Mountain Division. They are 11-0-1-0 in the last 12 games. Even more impressive is from the end of November when the Americans were 8-11-0-0 and dead last in the Mountain Division their record is 37-6-4-2.

DID YOU KNOW: According to the website here is a list of the player with the most fights each year since the start of the Allen Americans franchise.

2016-17:   Derek Mathers  (29 fights)
2015-16:   Dyson Stevenson  (16 fights)
2014-15:   Garrett Clarks  (16 fights)
2013-14:   Garrett Klotz:  (20 fights)
2012-13:   Garrett Clarke  (12 fights)
2011-12:   Brett Clouthier  (13 fights)
2010-11:   Liam Huculak  (15 fights)
2009-10:   Liam Huculak  (16 fights)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Allen Wins 7-2, Rematch Tonight, Mountain Division Standings Tightening, Aaron Dell Interview

In a must win game for both teams the Allen Americans came out on top beating the Missouri Mavericks 7-2 before a Wednesday night crowd of 3847 at the Allen Event Center (AEC). With the win Allen is now one point behind first place Colorado who lost their third straight game last night. The Americans will have a chance to take over the Mountain Division lead with a win tonight when they have a rematch with Missouri.

- The Allen victory last night was one of the most entertaining of the season and that is without a single roughing or fighting penalty in the entire game. Some nights you have to scratch and claw to get good scoring opportunities and goals only come with grit and ugliness. Last night there were so many "pretty" goals and opportunities it was hard to keep track. The Americans offense was scary good last night and that is without Asuchak, Makowski and Roy in the lineup.

- Goal scorers for Allen were Tyler Barnes (8), Bryan Moore (22,23,24), Miles Liberati (3), Josh Brittain (10) and Alex Krushelnyski (6). The video highlights on ECHL Rewind are a must see with all of the great passes, great finishes and great individual efforts. The Bryan Moore shorthanded goal was a thing of beauty as he undressed a really talented defenseman to score that goal. Also, thanks to Eric Ready and Tommy Daniels for a great set of highlights that were already posted by the time I got home from the game. Job well done.

- There were so many outstanding performances last night led by Bryan Moore's hat trick in his first game back after missing the last four with an injury. Chad Costello and Zach Hall each had three assists and Josh Brittain had a goal and two assists. Travis Brown was a +4 and there were four players at +3 including Joel Chouinard who is now +41 for the season and leads the ECHL in plus/minus. Chouinard also had an assist to extend his scoring streak to seven games.

- Here is the game recap issued by the Allen Americans.

- Here is the game recap issued by the Missouri Mavericks.

- Here is Tom Manning's pregame interview with Steve Martinson.


-  If the Americans play like the did last night it will be another difficult time for the Mavericks. Allen scored seven goals but could have easily been in double digits.

- Allen will have to clean up some breakdowns on the penalty kill. Missouri's two goals came on the power play. Prior to last night the Americans had not allowed more than one power play goal in a game in almost two month (February 4). The two power play goals were offset by the Moore shorthanded goal.

- Coach Martinson mentioned in his post game press conference that the team may be short another defenseman for the game tonight but the injury was still being assessed. He also said he hadn't decided who would be in goal tonight. Riley Gill and Jamie Murray will split the next two games but it is undecided who starts tonight and who starts on Saturday.

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Alex Garon (#8) and linesmen Chase Wilkinson (#68) and Lucas Bisbee (#72). Garon was the referee last night. 


- You get the feeling the Mountain Division playoff seedings will come down to the last games of the season. Last night Colorado lost 2-1 in Idaho, Allen beat Missouri, Fort Wayne beat Alaska 5-2 and Utah beat Rapid City 4-2. The net result is a tightening of the race for first place and for the final playoff spot. The only team that is locked in is Idaho as the #3 seed. All the rest are still up for grabs. Here are the Mountain Division standings with games remaining:

95 points - Colorado (4 games remaining)
94 points - Allen (5 games)
85 points - Idaho (5 games)
72 points - Alaska (5 games)
71 points - Utah (5 games)
70 points - Missouri (6 games)
58 points - Rapid City (4 games)

- The most intriguing of the final games of the season is the matchup between Missouri and Utah. They play each other in Utah the last three games of the season on April 5, 7 and 8. This could very well decide who makes the playoffs. 

- With his three assists last night Chad Costello has 113 points and a 26 point lead in the ECHL scoring race. Chad has 82 assists and needs three more to break the all-time Allen record for assists which he holds at 84. He next goal will tie him with Bruce Graham for the Allen all-time record for goals at 97. Chad has three of the top 12 assist seasons in the history of the league. He is the only player to appear in the top 12 more than once.

- Here is a an interview Tom Manning did with Aaron Dell when the San Jose Sharks were in Dallas last week:

  - With the ECHL season quickly coming to a close average attendance is down 3.8% from last season at 4176. The last time attendance was this low was 10 year ago (2006-07) when average attendance finished at 4174. ECHL average attendance has declined each of the last four seasons. In 2013-14 the average was 4706. 

DID YOU KNOW: Since the 1980's & 1990's when all of the ECHL scoring records were set there have been just three times a player has scored more than 110 points in a season. Chad Costello had 125 points in 2014-15 and has 113 points and counting this season.  The third time was Tyler Donati who had 114 points for Elmira in 2009-10. The common denominator in these three 110+ seasons is that Steve Martinson was the coach. That is why players love playing in his offensive minded system.  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Allen vs Missouri Preview, Hanson & Moore Return, Colorado Loans Goalie to Barracuda & Ticket Trivia Answers

It is game day for the Allen Americans as they will play the Missouri Mavericks tonight (7:05 pm) at the Allen Event Center (AEC). The teams will play again Thursday night. Allen is trying to catch Colorado for the top spot in the division and Missouri is trying to catch Alaska for the final playoff spot in the division so you can expect playoff type hockey tonight.

- Allen has had its way against Missouri with an 8-1-2-0 record in the 11 previous games they have played this season. However, the Mavericks beat the Americans 3-2 in overtime when they met in Missouri one week ago.

- The Americans will field a stronger lineup tonight with the return of their #1 and #4 goal scorers. Greger Hanson (33 goals) is back after missing the last three games because of his stint in the AHL and Bryan Moore (21 goals) is back after missing the last four games with an injury.

- Allen will be without Spencer Asuchak who is still in Providence (AHL) but could be headed back to Allen soon, Tanner Eberle who was is on the 21 day injured reserve and David Makowski who is serving the third game of his six game suspension. 

- Josh Brittain received a one game suspension as a result of a five minute major penalty for spearing in the game against Tulsa on Saturday. Josh will play in both games against Missouri and then serve his suspension against Tulsa on Saturday. You see the ECHL doing this more frequently, delaying suspensions so the player is suspended against the team in which they incurred the suspension.

- If you combine the stats for the 11 games these teams have played this season, Allen leads in goals (38-25) but Missouri has the edge in shots (386-314). Allen has a big advantage on the power play as they have at least one power play goal in eight of the 11 games. The Americans are 9-46 (19.6%) on the power play while Missouri is 6-69 (8.7%).

- Here is how Allen and Missouri match up:

                                    ALLEN                              MISSOURI

Team Record:             43-17-4-2 (92 points)          31-26-3-5 (70 points)
Division Ranking:        2nd Mountain                     5th Mountain
Conference Ranking:  3rd Western                       9th Western
League Ranking:        3rd                                      19th
Last Game:                 4-3 Win (Tulsa   )               3-2 Win (Wichita)
Goals For:                   263                                    209
Goals Against:            190                                     212
Power Play:                23.6% (65/275)                  15.1% (45/298)
Penalty Kill:                85.2% (47/317)                   84.0% (38/237)
Most PIM                    Mathers (245)                     Fox (116)
Leading Scorers:        Costello (31-79-110)           Fox (29-37-66)
                                   Hanson (33-38-71)              Nowick (21-24-45)

-  Here is how Allen and Missouri rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (20.59) - Missouri 14th (13.54)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 2nd (3.98) - Missouri 16th (3.22)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 3rd (2.88) - Missouri 14th (3.26)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 20th (31.58) - Missouri 17th (31.98)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 24th (34.83) - Missouri 21st (34.26)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 4th (23.6%) - Missouri 21st (15.1%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 2nd (85.2%) - Missouri 8th (84.0 %)

- A fast start is always a good predictor of success for the Americans. They have the second best record in the league when scoring first (33-2-2-1). Another key to success is special teams and Allen has the advantage ranking #4 on the power play (23.6%) compared to Missouri at #21 (15.1%). Both teams are good on the penalty kill with Allen ranked #2 and Missouri #8 in the league.

- The Allen power play has been the best in the league since December scoring at close to a 30% clip. While the power play has gotten a lot of attention it has been the penalty kill that has shined recently, climbing to #2 in the league at 85.2%. In the last 13 games the penalty kill unit has given up five goals in 64 chances. The 5-64 translates to a penalty kill percentage of 92.5%.

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Alex Garon (#8) and linesmen Aaron Schacht (#31) and Lucas Bisbee (#72).


- Allen fans will be scoreboard watching tonight as Colorado starts a three game series in Idaho. The Eagles will be playing without their top goalie, Clarke Saunders, who was just loaned to the San Jose Barracuda. I know some Colorado fans question if this was done by the Allen affiliate to help the Americans and at first glance I would think the same thing. But if you take a critical look you can draw a different conclusion. San Jose is in first place in their division and looking to make a deep run in the AHL playoffs. Their top goalie (Troy Groesnick) is #2 in the AHL in GAA (2.08) and save percentage (.927) but their back up goalie (Mantas Armalis) is ranked around #40 with a GAA of 3.08 and save percentage of .885. He has really struggled recently losing his last four starts. Clarke Saunders has the best record in the ECHL this season (28-7-1) and I think the Barracuda see him as a possible backup for their run at the Calder Cup. This isn't a fill-in assignment if you ask me, I don't think he is being loaned because of an injury, this is a tryout as a playoff backup goalie. A great opportunity for Saunders.

- Here are a couple of odd stats I found interesting. Allen is 28-6-3-2 when being outshot by their opponents. Also, the Americans have a better record when tied after the first period than when they lead after the first period. When leading after the first period Allen is 26-2-2-1 but when tied after the first period their record is a perfect 13-0-0-0.

- The top three teams in the ECHL in points and winning percentage come from the Western Conference. #1 is Toledo, #2 Colorado and #3 Allen. The #4 team is Florida.

DID YOU KNOW: Here are the answers to the trivia questions from yesterday. Congrats to Madison Shields who won the tickets.

Q: Tyler Ludwig is the all-time Allen leader in goals scored by a defenseman, who is number two?
A: Tyler is the all-time leader with 51 goals, David Makowski is #2 with 32 goals.

Q: Tyler Ludwig is the all-time Allen leader in assists by a defenseman, who is number two?
A: Tyler is the all-time leader with 121 assists, Aaron Gens is second with 73 assists.

Q: Who were the first three defensemen in team history to score goals for the Allen Americans in 2009-10?
A: After a 1-0 win in Arizona in the first game in team history when forward Christian Gaudet had the only goal the Americans beat Arizona 6-4 the next night. Defensemen Chris Kaufman, Erik Adams and Jordie Benn each had a goal in that game. Jordie Benn had two assists in addition to his goal and was selected as the #1 star of the game. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Practice and Roster Update, Allen & NHL Plus/Minus Records, Free Ticket Trivia, Dell's Latest Blog & More

There seems to be a pattern to the Allen practices in the recent past that includes a day off after weekend games and then a light practice on Monday. That is what practice appeared to be yesterday, not too long, not too hard and a cross ice scrimmage at the end. I did notice some faceoff practice taking place. Winning faceoffs, especially in critical situations, has been a problem the last few games.

- The two roster changes that will impact the game tomorrow night are the return of Greger Hanson and the loss of Tanner Eberle. Greger is back from Charlotte (AHL) and Tanner has been placed on the 21 day injured reserve. You will see Tanner with a cast on his hand and he will be out longer than 21 days. Best case scenario is Eberle could be back for the second round of the playoffs.

- Bryan Moore is still day to day so when he returns to the lineup is uncertain. I know coach Martinson wants to make sure he is 100% before he puts him in the lineup. Spencer Asuchak has not played in the last three games in Providence (AHL). He has an injury and will stay in Providence until he is cleared to play again. Then it will be decided if he stays in Providence or gets sent back to Allen. My guess is this should all be decided by the end of the week.

- There will be a complete Allen vs Missouri game preview tomorrow but the Americans can expect a fired up Missouri team as they are fighting for a playoff spot. The Mavericks are on a three game win streak including a 3-2 overtime win over Allen last Wednesday. The game will also be important for Allen as they try to catch Colorado for the top spot in the division. This game may come down to want and will more than skill.

- If you haven't seen Aaron Dell's latest blog post you need to check it out. He talks about his recent visit to Dallas with the Sharks and the tattoo he got while he was in town. He also relives the championship he won with the Allen Americans:

- Here is a story written by my friend Mike Stern about the Allen Americans:

- There is no doubt Chad Costello will win the ECHL scoring title for the third straight year but his former teammate, Casey Pierro-Zabotel has closed the gap recently and is having an outstanding year. Casey had nine assists in a three game span last week. Chad leads the ECHL in scoring with 110 points and Casey is second with 87 points. Chad's lead is down to 23 points after having been in the mid-thirties just a couple of weeks ago. Have to believe Pierro-Zabotel is one player coach Martinson wishes general manager Martinson had re-signed for this season.

-  I have two free tickets for the game on Thursday in section 100, in the fifth row, aisle seats. The tickets are at the end of the rink where the Americans are on offense twice. These tickets are for those that like to do research into the past. The first person that emails me at the correct answer to the following questions gets the tickets. It will require you to go to more than one source to get the answers. I need five different names to answer these questions about Allen defensemen. Here goes:

Tyler Ludwig is the all-time leader in goals scored by a defenseman, who is number two?
Tyler Ludwig is the all-time leader in assists by a defenseman, who is number two?
Who were the first three defensemen that scored goals for the Allen Americans in 2009-10?

DID YOU KNOW: Joel Chouinard leads the ECHL in plus/minus with a +38. He has a chance to set the all-time single season record in Allen which is held by Chad Costello at +43. Did you know Bobby Orr has the NHL single season plus/minus record at +124 (1970-71). Orr has three of the top ten all time in single season plus/minus records. Orr's top four plus/minus seasons were +124, +86, +84 and +80.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Another Big Week for Allen, Hanson Returns, Roster Update, My Link to the Masterton Trophy & More

The Allen Americans head back to practice today to prepare for three home games this week. It will be what I think is a first ever back to back home games on a Wednesday and Thursday night. The Americans will finish the week on Saturday night with a game against Tulsa who they beat twice at home this weekend.

-  The two games against Missouri on Wednesday and Thursday will be absolutely critical for both teams. Allen is three points behind Colorado with a game in hand for first place in the division. Missouri is two points behind Alaska with a game in hand for the fourth and final playoff spot in the division. The Americans and Mavericks both need four points out of these two games if they want to achieve their goals. Midweek games are tough for a lot of fans but these games are worthy of attendance.

- Allen got some good news yesterday and that is Greger Hanson has returned from his stint with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL). Whenever a player gets a chance in the AHL you always hope they don't return but when you hear they are headed back to Allen there is joy involved. Just the way it is. Sorry, not sorry.

- Tanner Eberle will not play on Wednesday as result of an injury he sustained on Saturday and Bryan Moore is listed as day to day. Getting back Hanson is certainly timely given how shorthanded the team could be this week.

- I came across this story written by Blake Sebring of the Fort Wayne News Sentinel and was struck how similar it is to what I have been feeling about the Allen Americans play recently. A couple of sentences really struck home. This is what Blake has to say about Fort Wayne but you could substitute Allen and be right on, "They've been coasting for a few weeks, winning on superior talent despite inferior execution. They've let teams they should have handled quickly hang around or they have gone all out to erase deficits they never should have had. They've been dominating in third periods and usually pretty good in the first, but never in all three."  If you read this entire story, with a couple of exceptions, you would think Blake is writing about Allen. Maybe all good teams are going through the same thing this time of year. You can also tell when you read this story that Blake is a professional writer with a true gift for turning words into thoughts. It is a must read. Here is the link:

- You may have seen the announcement that Aaron Dell is the San Jose Sharks nominee for this year's Bill Masterton Trophy which is awarded each year by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association to the NHL player that best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Bill Masterton is the only NHL player who has died as a direct result of an injury that happened during a game. This is especially meaningful to me because I have written about how Aaron, from when he was a little kid was never "the guy" and had to beat out others that were considered better than him. Over and over and over again at every level he started out as the number two goalie and through hard work, perseverance and performance became the top guy. I have also written in the blog that I grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota and was a big North Stars fan as my mom was the first aid nurse at the Metropolitan Sports Center where the team played. Those were the days before protective netting so there were many more fan related injuries at that time in addition to the routine accidents and illnesses. I knew Bill Masterton only as any 20 year old kid who is a big hockey fan knows the players on his favorite team. I was at the Minnesota North Stars game on January 15, 1968 when Masterton was legally checked by two Oakland Seals defensmen which resulted in the head injury that cost him his life. Needless to say that incident had a big impact on me, a young impressionable college kid who had never experienced being a witness to death before. Little did I know at that time that just nine later months I would be an infantryman in Vietnam and witness death on a routine basis. Sorry for the flash back but the Bill Masterton Trophy has been special to me since it was first awarded following the 1967-68 regular season. Things have come full circle when you find out Aaron Dell is nominated for the award this season. Not sure if Aaron will be one of the finalists for the Bill Masterton Trophy as it has gone most often to players that have overcome illness or family tragedies but to be nominated for the award is a great honor. And Aaron is the epitome of the award with his perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Here is a link to the Sharks press release about Dell's nomination. 

DID YOU KNOW: As the playoffs approach there will be plenty of talk about which division is the best. Thought it would be interesting to see how the Mountain Division has fared against the other divisions during the regular season. Here is the Mountain Division's record against the other three divisions.

North Division - 13-12-1-1
South Division - 23-12-1-3
Central Division - 68-41-4-4

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Allen Beats Tulsa 4-3, Roster Troubles Abound, Playoff Race Tightens, Jersey Auction Results

When I stopped by Steve Martinson's office after Allen's 4-3 win over Tulsa last night the first thing he said was general manager Martinson is feeling pretty good but he has some issues with coach Martinson. He was referring to the fact for the second game in as many nights one of his new acquisitions was the best player on the ice and the #1 star of the game. Friday night it was Tyler Barnes and last night it was Alex Krushelnyski who had two great goals including the game winner.

- It is hard to complain about the team's performance when they are 9-0-1-0 in the last 10 games, but once again last night the Americans took a 2-0 lead and then let Tulsa back in the game. To make matters worse some ill advised penalties in the third period including a five minute major and a five-on-three power play almost cost Allen the game. They were out shot in the third period 20-7 but as happens so often Riley Gill came up with some big saves at crunch time.

- Allen struggled to win both games this weekend against the Oilers and a win is a win but remember, Tulsa has just one road win in the last month and has lost 13 of their last 14 road games.

- Goal scorers for Allen were Zach Hall (11), Josh Brittain (9) and Alex Krushelnyski (4 & 5). Unfortunately the video highlights were not posted to ECHL Rewind after the Friday game and as of this writing have not been posted for the game last night. I am the first to criticize other teams for not posting the video highlights so I will do the same for the Americans. I am sure everyone is extremely busy after the game and posting the highlights is time consuming but that task should be first among equals to get accomplished. There is no league requirement to post the video highlights to ECHL Rewind but the ECHL strongly encourages all teams to do so.

- Here is the press release issued by the Allen Americans  recapping the game:

 - Here is the Tulsa game recap:

- Here is Steve Martinson's pregame interview with Tom Manning:

- Can't remember the last time Allen didn't have a single power play opportunity in a game. Tulsa was called for just one minor penalty in the game and that was for removing the helmet prior to a fight.

- The Josh Brittain major penalty for spearing in the third period was costly in more ways than one. Sticking up for your teammates is an admirable trait but it is much better to drop the gloves in those situations. In the short term the penalty led to a power play goal for Tulsa, cut the score to 4-3 and gave the Oilers hope down the stretch. In the long term it most likely means a suspension for Josh and an already shorthanded Allen team will be even more shorthanded. The ECHL spearing rules dictate that whenever a major penalty for spearing is assessed that a game misconduct is also imposed. There are no automatic fines or suspensions for spearing, however, supplementary discipline can be applied at the Commissioner's discretion. I think there is little doubt the commissioner will be applying his discretion and a suspension is forthcoming for Brittain.

- Joel Chouinard was the #3 star of the game as he had two assists and was on the ice for all four Allen goals. Any good team has a lot more leaders than those that wear letters on their jerseys. When you watch an Allen game it is obvious Joel is one of those players. When you hear talk about the best defensemen in the league it is almost always about the defensmen at the top of the scoring list. When you think about Chouinard you think defense first even though he is #13 in scoring by a defenseman with 39 points (10 goals 29 assists). His most impressive statistic is he leads the entire ECHL in plus/minus with a +38. The next highest plus/minus by a defenseman on the Americans is +19 (Makowski). Allen doesn't track ice time for each player but there is no doubt Joel logs more ice time than any other player on the team. Throw in the fact that Joel has not missed a game all season and you could easily make the argument he is the best all around defenseman in the ECHL.

- There were three fights in the game last night. Derek Mathers fought Danick Paquette to what rated a draw. It was the 28th fight of the season for Derek, who now has 246 penalty minutes and is 13 minutes away from setting the Allen all time single season penalty minute record held by Garrett Klotz. Dyson Stevenson also dropped the gloves and won his fight. Tanner Eberle had the most entertaining fight of the night as he traded blows with Dylan Hubbs. It was fast action with lots of punches thrown in one of the longer fights of the season. The fight was rated as a draw but Tanner left the penalty box and headed to the locker room midway through serving his penalty and did not return. You always worry about hand injuries when so many punches are thrown especially with helmets on.

- With the possibility of Eberle being injured  and Brittain being suspended the Americans could be very shorthanded for the game on Wednesday. It is possible Bryan Moore could be ready but he is day to day and has not practiced. Greger Hanson did not play for Charlotte last night so will have to wait and see if he is returned to Allen. Coach Martinson talks about feast or famine with the roster this time of year. It is definitely a famine period right now.


- Colorado lost 4-1 to Utah at home last night. It was the second loss to Utah in as many nights by the Eagles. Colorado had not lost back to back home games since the first of the year. As I contemplate the possibility of a delicious crow dinner I remind you of my wisdom from just four days ago when I said,

"Allen's overtime loss last night (Wednesday) was probably the death knell in their quest to win the Mountain Division. Colorado won again last night beating Rapid City 3-2 and now has a seven point lead. If Allen wins their remaining eight games the Eagles could go 4-2-1 in their remaining games and still win the division. That is not going to happen as Colorado has only lost two games in the last two months. The Eagles record since the end of January is 22-1-1-0."

Allen won twice at home against Tulsa and Colorado lost twice at home against Utah and just that quick the Eagles lead is down to three points and the Americans have six games remaining to just five for Colorado. Another advantage for Allen is four of their last six games are at home. Colorado is done with their home schedule and plays the last five games on the road (three in Idaho and two in Rapid City).

- The last two weeks of the season are going to be exciting not only for Allen fans who are looking to overtake Colorado but for the fans from Missouri, Alaska and Utah as they fight for the last playoff spot. The fight for the final playoff spot couldn't be much closer. Here are the Mountain Division standings with games remaining:

95 points - Colorado (5 games remaining)
92 points - Allen (6 games)
83 points - Idaho (6 games)
70 points - Alaska (7 games)
70 points - Missouri (7 games)
69 points - Utah (6 games)
58 points - Rapid City (6 games)

- If you want to see two high intensity hockey games make sure to attend the games against Missouri on Wednesday and Thursday. How fitting that these two long time rivals will have a lot to say about whether Allen can get the #1 seed and Missouri makes the playoffs. These games will be must wins for both teams.

- A couple of personal notes from last night. Through the blog and with the help of the Allen Americans I was able to distribute over 125 tickets to military veterans and their families for the  game last night. If you attended the game you may have seen one of those veterans recognized. He is a friend that lives where I do at Hertiage Ranch in Fairview.  He is a 93 year old World War II Army Vet who served with the 94th Infantry Division in France and Germany. He loves the game of hockey and attends several Allen games each season. Congrats Dick! I also had a chance to meet Tyler Barnes' mom and dad after the game. Fellow Minnesotans from the same Minneapolis suburb I lived in prior to moving to Texas. I know I am biased but folks from Minnesota and the entire Upper Midwest are great people.

- The Military Appreciation specialty jerseys were auctioned after the game with some of the proceeds going to the military charity "Carry the Load."  Many fans noticed the Texas flag was upside down on the jerseys. Heard an unverified rumor the jerseys were ordered from a company in Oklahoma. C'MON MAN! Here are the results of the auction:

$1100 - Gary Steffes
$1000 - Chad Costello
$800  - Derek Mathers
$750  - Greger Hanson
$750  - Tyler Barnes
$750  - Alex Krushelnyski
$700  - Jamie Murray
$650  - Wade MacLeod
$600  - Dyson Stevenson
$550  - Eric Roy
$550  - Miles Liberati
$550  - Tanner Eberle
$550  - Harrison Ruopp
$500  - Riley Gill
$450  - Team Signed Jersey
$450  - Travis Brown
$450  - David Makowski
$450  - Bryan Moore
$450  - Mike Gunn
$450  - Zach Hall
$450  - Josh Brittain
$400  - Kale Kerbashain
$400  - Joel Chouinard
$400  - Spencer Asuchak
$350  - Randy Cure
$350  - Aaron Gens
$300  - Jonathan Martin
$300  - Mike Brodzinski

DID YOU KNOW: Allen has a chance to finish the season with 100 points for only the second time in franchise history. They had 106 points in 2014-15. The Americans can't beat that record but if they win their last six games they will have 104 points.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Allen Wins in Shootout, Rematch with Tulsa Tonight, Martinson's Comments, Brabham Cup, Military Appreciation Night

There was a lot to like about the Allen Americans 3-2 shootout victory over the Tulsa Oilers last night at the Allen Event Center (AEC). To start with it was the largest Friday night crowd of the season with 5051 in attendance for Faith and Family Night.

- Allen scored the first goal of the game which is always a good sign. The Americans record when scoring first is now 33-2-2-1.

- One of the keys to the game was winning the special teams battle as Allen has a much better power play and penalty kill than Tulsa. The penalty kill unit did give up a power play goal but it was just the fourth in the last 12 games. During the last 12 games the penalty unit is 4-60 or 93.3%. The power play continues to dominate against Tulsa. These teams have played eight times since the beginning of December and in those eight games Allen is 15-35 on the power play which equates to a 42.9% conversion. You are not going to lose many games with that kind of power play success.

- Allen was out shot last night 42-33 but as strange as it might seem that was a good sign. The team that has had the fewest shots has won the last eight games between Tulsa and Allen.

- When the game got to a shootout you had to like Allen's chances with Riley Gill in goal. He has only been in two this season but has not allowed a shootout goal. He is now 0-5 in shootout attempts against him.

- It was great to see the three new players (Wade Macleod, Tyler Barnes, Alex Krushelnyski) contribute. As a team the Americans had 11 points (4 goals 7 assists). The three new players accounted for three of the four goals and three of the six assists.

- With the win last night Allen has the longest current streak in the ECHL (8-0-1-0) and the best 10 game record in the league (8-1-1-0).

- Goal scorers for Allen were Gary Steffes (19), Tyler Barnes (6 & 7) and Alex Krushelnyski (3). Barnes also scored the only goal of the shootout though he doesn't get credit for a goal. Obviously he was selected as the #1 star of the game. There were some great goals so you should make sure to checkout the video highlights at ECHL Rewind. The highlights should be posted sometime this morning:

- Here is the complete recap of the game courtesy of the Allen Americans:

- Here is the press release from the Tulsa Oilers with their game recap:

- Here is Steve Martinson's pregame interview with Tom Manning:



- It is always an exciting game when you win in a shootout. I didn't like the power play goal we gave up when Tulsa tied the score 4-4 but we did a great job killing the penalty in the overtime.

- We have been struggling winning faceoffs. Wade MacLeod has been doing pretty good and he isn't really a center though he is playing center now.

- It was kind of an up and down game for us. I think we can fix a few things for tomorrow night.

- The penalty call on Costello in overtime was a frustrating call. When the referee came over to me and asked if we wanted to go first or second in the shootout I said why don't you decided.

- We scored some beautiful goals tonight. It is unfortunate Tulsa got four goals but two of them were really strange bounces.

- With players out of the lineup it is an opportunity to try some different combinations in preparation for the playoffs as you never know what can happen in the playoffs with injuries. You have to think about having skill guys, corner guys, net front presence and defensive players on each line. I have some things in my mind and am trying to get some balance on each line.


- The rematch with Tulsa take place tonight (7:05 pm) and the keys to victory remain the same. Continue the dominance on special teams, keep up the physical play and improve puck possession. There were way too many turnovers last night and this will be an area of emphasis tonight.

- Look for the same lineup tonight as last night with the team playing short a player. Dyson Stevenson will take shifts at forward and defense and Riley Gill will be in goal.

- Allen had five goals last night and it is a good bet they will get at least that many again tonight if they are going to win. The wining team has had at least five goals in the last six games Allen and Tulsa have played.

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Jonathan Sitarski (#23) and linesmen Chase Wilkinson (#68) and Christopher Williams (#0). This is the same crew that officiated the game last night.



- I have mentioned this many times before but it is worth a mention again. The post game discussion with coach Martinson is a must see event. I recap what he says but it is so much better in person. He is open, honest and entertaining and answers every question that is asked. His stories, anecdotes, and comments are worth the price of admission and most can't be included in the blog. Everyone should plan to come just to see what goes on.

- David Makowski has been suspended for six games after the incidents in Missouri on Wednesday. He was given three games for a cross check that resulted in an injury to a player and three games for abuse of official. David will miss all of the remaining homes games and will return for the last two games of the season in Tulsa and Wichita.

- Had the chance to visit with Jarret Lukin for a few minutes last night. He is in town for a visit to a place he calls his second home. Jarrett is one of the most popular players in franchise history, played in Allen from 2009-2014, was the first captain back in 2009 and had a key goal in the most famous game ever in Allen, game seven of the 2013 CHL championship final. Trailing 2-0 with less than 13 minutes left in the game, Jarret scored the goal that started the comeback. Trevor Hendrikx got the equalizer with less than three minutes remaining and of course Todd Robinson scored the most famous goal in team history in overtime to give Allen their first championship. Jarret is retired and living in Calgary though he grew up in Northeast Alberta in Fort McMurray.  He will be at the game tonight so if you see him make sure to stop him and say hi. He has always enjoyed interacting with fans.

- Colorado lost to Utah 5-2 at home last night to keep Allen's slim hopes of overtaking the Eagles alive. Allen trails Colorado by five points and has a game in hand over the Eagles. Colorado plays Utah again tonight.

- The battle for the final playoff spot in the Mountain Division got even tighter last night as Missouri and Utah won while Alaska lost. Here is where they stand now with games remaining. Only one will make the playoffs.

70 points - Alaska (8 games remaining)
68 points - Missouri (8 games remaining)
67 points - Utah (7 games remaining)

- The game tonight is Military Appreciation Night. It will be a big crowd with a lot of veterans in attendance. The team will be wearing a military specialty jersey that will be auctioned after the game.

DID YOU KNOW: The Brabham Cup goes to the ECHL team that has the most points in the regular season. The winner this season will be either the Toledo Walleye or the Colorado Eagles. Toledo has the lead with 97 points and eight games remaining while Colorado has 95 points with six games remaining. One thing guaranteed is the Western Conference will win the Brabham Cup. It will be the eighth straight year the Brabham Cup has gone to a team currently in the Western Conference. (Toledo won in 2014-15 when they were in the Eastern Conference).

Friday, March 24, 2017

Allen vs Tulsa Game Preview, Makowski Suspension, A Look at the ECHL Standings & Why Road Teams Win More

Allen takes on Tulsa tonight in a game that on its face isn't very meaningful. Allen is pretty much locked in as the #2 seed in the Mountain Division and Tulsa will not make the playoffs. They will be mathematically eliminated the next time they lose a point or Kalamazoo gains a point.

- It is an exaggeration to say one game turned around both of these team's season but you can make the argument that is exactly what happened on November 29, 2016. Tulsa came into that game with the #1 record in the ECHL at 14-5-1-0 while Allen was ranked #20 and in last place in the Mountain Division with a record of 8-11-0-0. The game was in Tulsa and it was a defensive battle that is rarely seen by Allen fans. At the end of regulation the scored was tied 0-0. Both goalies were great but Riley Gill was phenomenal in goal for the Americans. Allen won the game 1-0 on an excellent individual effort by Greger Hanson as he stripped the puck from the defenseman at the red line, skated up the left wing and scored from his favorite spot in the faceoff circle. Just prior to Hanson's unassisted heroics Riley Gill made stops on two point blank shots and Bryan Moore was denied on a breakaway. It was a dramatic and emotional 1-0 win for the Americans.

- Allen and Tulsa headed in opposite directions after that game. Since that time Allen's record is 33-6-3-2 and they have climbed from #20 in the league to #3. Since that 1-0 overtime loss Tulsa's record is 12-27-5-1 and they have gone from the #1 team in the league to #21, well out of the playoffs.

- You might ask what does Allen have to play for this weekend? They are almost assuredly going to be the #2 seed in the playoffs, no better and no worse.  Maybe it is best to rest some players and prepare for the playoffs. I got the answer to that question loud and clear when I stopped by the Allen Event Center (AEC) yesterday morning to drop off over 125 free tickets for veterans and their families as part of the Seats For Soldiers program sponsored by the blog and the Allen Americans. I decided to go by the locker room to see if anyone was around since it was a day off after an all night drive back from Missouri. It was eerily quiet with no activity on either sheet of ice with one set up for football and the other empty. The Americans locker room was dark except the equipment manager's office where Tim Abbott was busy as always preparing for the next game. In the darkness you could see light from under coach Martinson's office door. I knocked on his door and sure enough he was going through video of the Missouri game play by play, frame by frame. When I arrived he was breaking down the Missouri overtime goal.  What was every player doing on that play, how many seconds had they been on the ice, how did they react to the rush.

- After my video lesson was completed I had a chance to ask coach Martinson about whether he will do anything different now that it is almost guaranteed Allen will finish as the #2 seed and play Idaho in the first round of the playoffs. It will come as no surprise that Martinson has no different approach whether he is battling for first place or not. It is not in his DNA to let up and his goal is to get as many points as possible in the remaining eitght games. If he can't catch Colorado or Toledo for the top spot in the Mountain Division or Western Conference he can try and get more points than any team in the Eastern Conference. Right now Allen has one more point than any Eastern Conference team which could mean home ice advantage if Allen makes the Kelly Cup finals. When I asked Martinson about Idaho getting three players assigned by the Texas Stars, who will not make the playoffs, he said what he always says that he doesn't spend any time worrying about things that are out of his control.


- Tulsa arrives in Allen for two games (Friday & Saturday) playing for pride and jobs for next season. Tulsa has lost a lot of players to the AHL including their two best goalies. They have lost their last six games and are 2-6-1-1 in the last 10 games.

- Allen will be playing with a short roster tonight with Greger Hanson and Spencer Asuchak in the AHL, Bryan Moore out with an injury and David Makowski suspended. The ECHL hasn't announced the Makowski suspension but will sometime his morning. As mentioned yesterday the rule under which David received a game misconduct in Missouri comes with a minimum three day suspension. The league could either announce their final decision on the length of the suspension or what happens more often, announce an indefinite suspension with a final determination next week.  Either way Makowski will not be playing this weekend. Look for Dyson Stevenson to take shifts at forward and defense to make up for the loss of Makowski. Allen will have only five defensmen in the lineup.

- Here is a match up between Allen and Tulsa:

                                     ALLEN                                TULSA

Team Record               41-17-4-2 (88 points)              26-32-6-1 (59 points)
Division Ranking         2nd - Mountain                        5th - Central
Conference Ranking   3rd - Western                          11th - Western
League Ranking         3rd                                           21st
Last Game                  3-2 Loss (Missouri   )               3-2 Loss (Toledo)
Goals For                   254                                           178
Goals Against             183                                           215
Power Play                 23.2% (63/271)                        9.9% (25/252)
Penalty Kill                 85.4% (44/309)                         78.4% (58/268)
Most PIM's                 Mathers (238)                           Halabi (172)
Leading Scorer          Costello  (31-78-109)                Ladd (14-17-31)
                                   Hanson (33-38-71)                    Brewer (11-21-31)        

-  Here is how Allen and Tulsa rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (20.55) - Tulsa 6th (17.58)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 2nd (3.97) - Tulsa 24 (2.74)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 2nd (2.86 ) - Tulsa 16th (3.31)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 20th (31.66) - Tulsa 3rd (34.34)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 23rd (34.67) - Tulsa 8th (30.49) 
Power Play Percentage: Allen 4th (23.2%) - Tulsa 27th (9.9%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 2nd (85.4%) - Tulsa 25th (78.4%)

- The stats above that jump out at you are on special teams where Tulsa is the worst in the league on the power play and one of the worst on the penalty kill. Allen's special teams have been outperforming their numbers as they have been close to 30% on the power play and over 95% on the penalty kill.  If Allen is to win tonight they must take advantage of their big advantage on special teams. It may be a tough task ask as four of the five regulars on the power play unit (Asuchak, Hanson, Makowski, Roy) will not be in the lineup.

- Tulsa is ranked much higher than Allen in shots per game (#3 vs #20) and shots allowed (#8 vs #23). Allen overcomes their low shots per game by having one of the best shooting percentages in the league (12.5%) while Tulsa has one of the worst (7.9%). Allen overcomes their high shots allowed per game by having outstanding goaltending with a GAA of 2.80 and save percentage of .918 compared to Tulsa with a GAA of 3.26 and save percentage of .892.

- The game tonight will be number 11 of 14 these teams play this season. Allen is 7-3-0-0 in the first ten games, have won five of the last six and in the last meeting on February 4 the Americans beat the Oilers in Tulsa 9-1. In the last five games these teams have played the winning team has scored at least five goals (6,5,6,8,9). Look for the possibility of a high scoring affair tonight.

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Jonathan Sitarski (#23) and linesmen Chase Wilkinson (#68) and Christopher Williams (#0). Sitarski is a new name to me. If the ECHL runs short of referees because of needs in the AHL they sometimes have to add referees during the season. Sitarski is shown as a referee in the USHL for this season so not sure how many ECHL games he has officiated.


- I talk about the Mountain Division standings all of the time but took a hard look at the other divisions this morning and noticed some interesting things:

- In the North Division the Brampton Beast are in first place. After their struggles since the franchise began it is great to see them having success. The Wheeling Nailers made the Kelly Cup finals last season but may not make the playoffs. They are in fifth place and four points out of a playoff spot with seven games remaining.

- In the South Division Florida is way ahead and will win the division. South Carolina, who was Allen's opponent in the finals when they won their first Kelly Cup in 2014-15 is struggling to make the playoffs. They are in fifth place and two points behind Orlando for the final spot. There could still be a lot of changes in this division as there are only four points separating second place from fifth place.

- The Central Division is all set for the playoffs. Mathematically things could change but it is unlikely. Toledo is the #1 seed and will play #4 Kalamazoo in the first round of the playoffs and #2 seed Fort Wayne will play #3 Quad City. Tulsa, Indy and Wichita all had very disappointing seasons. You have to wonder if coaching changes will be made for next season.

- Here is a link to a story that is not hockey related but something you will find to be an interesting read and certainly applies to hockey. It is about the NBA and talks about why home teams won 67.9% of the NBA games in 1987-88 but now win only 57% of the homes games. The way players socialize on the road, the impact of taking charter flights and alcohol consumption all play a factor. Check out the story "Inside the 'Tinderization' of today's NBA"

DID YOU KNOW: Allen is on pace to finish the season with the second best win percentage in the five years Steve Martinson has been the coach. Here is the win percentage for each year along with how the team finished in the division standings. Needless to say the first four years all ended with championships.

2012-13:   .659   (1st place)
2013-14:   .629   (3rd place)
2014-15:   .736   (1st place)
2015-16:   .618   (2nd place)
2016-17:   .688   (2nd place) - eight games remaining

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Allen Scores Two Shorties & Lose 3-2 in OT, Destined for #2 Seed, Makowski Suspension, Best Special Teams

Not sure where to start in describing the Allen Americans 3-2 overtime loss to Missouri last night before a crowd of 4432 at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. It was a strange game to say the least, let me count the ways.

- Allen trailed 2-0 in the first period and came back to tie the game before losing in overtime.

- Allen's only two goals were scored shorthanded. In the blog yesterday I talked about how the penalty kill unit was underappreciated and had been almost flawless over the last ten games with a penalty kill percentage of 93.9%. Last night they killed off all seven Missouri power plays including a five minute major to David Makowski that carried over to overtime. To top it off they contributed two shorthanded goals. The penalty kill unit has not allowed a goal in the last five games (0-27) and in the last 11 games are 3-56 for a penalty kill percentage of 94.6%.

- Allen out shot Missouri 35-28 but lost the game. In the last four wins by Allen over the Mavericks the Americans have been out shot. In eight of the 11 games these teams have played this season the team with the most shots has lost the game.

- At the beginning of overtime Allen killed the remaining 2:16 of the five minute major penalty to Makowski. Then they let a player that started the season in the SPHL and had two goals all year skate the length of the ice and score the game winner.

- Allen was assessed 11 penalties for 41 minutes, Missouri four for eight minutes. It was the most penalties (tied) the Americans had been assessed against Missouri in the 11 games this season. The Mavericks four penalties were the fewest (tied) they had been assessed against Allen. Allen was 0-2 on the power play while Missouri was 0-7.

- Goal scorers for Allen were Wade MacLeod (3) and Joel Chouinard (10). Both goals were shorthanded but scored in very different ways. MacLeod's goal was unassisted as he picked up an errant pass at the defensive blue line, skated the length of the ice and beat the goalie from the faceoff circle. Chouinard's shorty included three great plays. Gary Steffes stole the puck in the defensive zone and passed it to Dyson Stevenson who carried up the left side. Dyson took a look over his shoulder and saw Chouniard trailing the play and made a perfect spin around pass and Joel made a great shot high over the goalies glove. Outstanding plays by all three guys on that shorthanded goal. As I write this (4:30 am) Missouri has not posted the video highlights of the game which is par for the course. Maybe the highlights will be posted to ECHL Rewind later today.

- Here is the recap of the game from the Allen Americans:

- Here is the press release from the Missouri Mavericks recapping the game:

- The team headed back to Allen right after the game (475 miles) and arrived home early this morning. They will play Tulsa on Friday and Saturday.


- Allen's overtime loss last night was probably the death knell in their quest to win the Mountain Division. Colorado won again last night beating Rapid City 3-2 and now has a seven point lead. If Allen wins their remaining eight games the Eagles could go 4-2-1 in their remaining games and still win the division. That is not going to happen as Colorado has only lost two games in the last two months. The Eagles record since the end of January is 22-1-1-0.

- The first three seeds in the Mountain Division are not mathematically decided but the are realistically decided. Colorado is the #1 seed and will take on either Alaska, Missouri or Utah in the first round. It was a big win for Missouri over Allen last night as they kept their playoff hopes alive. The Mavericks trail Alaska by four points with nine games remaining.

- In the other division semi-final, #2 seed Allen will take on #3 seed Idaho. Allen is seven points behind Colorado and nine points ahead of Idaho so they will be the #2 seed. Idaho is nine points behind Allen and nine points ahead of Alaska so they are all locked in as the #3 seed.

- So Allen fans can get ready for a first round playoff rematch with the Idaho Steelheads. And it won't be an easy task. Many observers thought Idaho was as good as any team the Americans faced in the playoffs last season. Idaho is affiliated with the Dallas Stars (NHL) and Texas Stars (AHL) and neither team will make the playoffs. That means Idaho will be supplied with all of the AHL talent they want. Just yesterday three players off the Texas Stars roster were assigned to Idaho (goalie Landon Bow, defenseman Justin Hache, and center Mike McMurtry). Would assume they will remain in Idaho for the stretch run and the playoffs. Bow is a rookie goalie that has split time between the Texas Stars and Idaho. He has played 22 games with the Steelheads with a record of 15-5, GAA of 2.24 and save percentage of .929. Hache has 150 AHL games and McMurty 39 AHL games.

- Late in the third period last night David Makowski was given a game misconduct penalty for abuse of officials and if you watch the replay of the incident it is clear he put his hands on the linesman once he entered the penalty box for a boarding penalty. You can see David's arm reach out and make contact with the linesman. The rule cited by the referee (40.4) is titled Automatic Suspension - Category III  and talks about a player physically demeaning or threatening an official and applying physical force. The penalty for this infraction is not less than a three game suspension. The entire process includes a verbal and written report to the league by the referee, the possibility to request a Commissioner review, an expedited hearing process and a final decision by the Commissioner. The Americans should hear this morning about the suspension and will then decide if they want to request a Commissioner's review.

- So the Americans are destined to finish second in the division but that is no reason for concern for the playoffs. Allen won the championship in 2014 after finishing third during the regular season and last year they finished second in the regular season on the way to the Kelly Cup.

DID YOU KNOW: Special teams are critical in the playoffs and one way to measure specials teams is by adding power play and penalty kill percentages together. The magic number teams strive for is greater than 105% combined. Typically around 10% of NHL teams exceed 105% and it is considered exceptional. Here are the four ECHL teams with a combined power play and penalty kill percentage of greater than 105%. Wouldn't be a bad bet to take these four teams against the field for the Kelly Cup.

110.0% - Toledo Walleye
109.8% - Colorado Eagles
108.6% - Allen Americans
106.0% - Idaho Steelheads

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Allen vs Missouri Preview, Who's In, Who's Out, Reading President Resigns, McDonald's Jersey & Playoff Primer

The Allen Americans are in Missouri tonight to take on the Mavericks in a game that is very important for both teams for different reasons. Allen is battling Colorado for the top spot in the division. The Americans and Eagles are playing great hockey, tied for the best record in the league over the last ten games (8-1-1-0) and the Americans can't afford to lose. Meanwhile Missouri is battling with Utah and Alaska just to make the playoffs and can't afford to lose.

- In the battle for the top, Allen and Colorado have a combined streak 11-0-1-0. In the battle for the playoffs Missouri, Utah and Alaska have a combined streak of 0-7-2-1. Allen is six points behind Colorado in the race for #1. Missouri is six points behind Alaska in the race for a playoff spot.

- The bottom line is if Allen loses tonight their hopes of overtaking the Eagles will be pretty much gone. Since Colorado holds the tiebreaker over the Americans the Eagles could go 5-3 over their last eight games and still win the division.

- The task at hand for Allen is to concentrate on the game tonight rather than the playoff implications and that is exactly what they will do. A roster that was overflowing with players left Allen yesterday with no extra players available. Spencer Asuchak, Greger Hanson and Alex Schoenborn are all playing in the AHL and Bryan Moore was left home because of an injury. That is a lot of firepower that will not be in the lineup tonight.

- The good news for the Americans is there will be plenty of new firepower available to fill the void and eat up more ice time. Wade MacLeod will be starting his fifth game, Tyler Barnes his third and Alex Krushelnyski his first for Allen. Combined they have over 200 games of AHL experience and all three average around a point a game over their ECHL careers.

The game tonight will be the 11th of 13 meetings between Allen and Missouri during the regular season. The final two games will be at the Allen Event Center on March 29 & 30.

- Allen is 8-1-1-0 in the first 10 games these team have played this season but that dominance doesn't mean much at this point. Missouri has lost three games in a row and got embarrassed 5-0 by Quad City in their last outing. The question that remains for tonight is whether the Mavericks will play with the desperation needed to make the playoffs or like a team that already believes they will not make the playoffs.

- Here is how Allen and Missouri match up:

                                    ALLEN                              MISSOURI

Team Record:             41-17-3-2 (87 points)          28-26-3-5 (61 points)
Division Ranking:        2nd Mountain                     6th Mountain
Conference Ranking:  3rd Western                       10th Western
League Ranking:        3rd                                      20th
Last Game:                 4-2 Win (Wichita)               5-0 Loss (Quad City)
Goals For:                   252                                    199
Goals Against:            180                                     206
Power Play:                23.4% (63/269)                  14.9% (42/282)
Penalty Kill:                85.1% (45/302)                   83.8% (37/228)
Most PIM                    Mathers (238)                     Fox (109)
Leading Scorers:        Costello (31-78-109)           Fox (28-35-63)
                                   Hanson (33-38-71)              Nowick (21-24-45)

-  Here is how Allen and Missouri rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (20.22) - Missouri 14th (13.66)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 2nd (4.00) - Missouri 16th (3.21)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 2nd (2.86) - Missouri 16th (3.32)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 20th (31.60) - Missouri 15th (32.10)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 23rd (34.78) - Missouri 21st (34.00)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 4th (23.4%) - Missouri 22nd (14.9%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 2nd (85.1%) - Missouri 8th (83.8%)

- A fast start is always a good predictor of success for the Americans. They have the second best record in the league when scoring first (32-2-2-1). Another key to success is special teams and Allen has the advantage ranking #4 on the power play (23.4%) compared to Missouri at #22 (14.9%). Both teams are good on the penalty kill with Allen ranked #2 and Missouri #8 in the league.

- The Allen power play has been the best in the league since December scoring at close to a 30% clip. While the power play has gotten a lot of attention it has been the penalty kill that has shined recently, climbing to #2 in the league at 85.1%. In the last ten games the penalty kill unit has given up just three goals in 49 chances. The 3-49 translates to a penalty kill percentage of 93.9%. Every bit as impressive as a 30% power play. Job well done by the underappreciated penalty killers. 

- If you combine the stats for the ten games these teams have played this season, Allen leads in goals (36-22) but Missouri has the edge in shots (358-279). Allen has a big advantage on the power play as they have at least one power play goal in eight of the 10 games. The Americans are 9-44 (20.5%) on the power play while Missouri is 6-62 (9.7%).

- Allen and Missouri had some low penalty minute games earlier in the season but the recent games have seen 40, 60, 52 and 54 penalty minutes with lots of fisticuffs. Jake Doty has had fights with Mathers (2), Stevenson, Gunn and Brittain in the last three games. All three games were in Missouri and were entertaining for the home crowd but you have to question the tactic as that style of play works to Allen's advantage. Allen won all three games. It will be interesting to see if Missouri changes their approach tonight but if they want dance partners they will have plenty of choices. Would have to think a Mathers vs Doty rematch is likely.

- The referee scheduled for the game is Corey Chipperfield (#5) and the linesmen are Russ Coll (#40) and John Tallieu (#0).


- Late last night the Reading Royals issued a press release announcing their team president, Drew Bell, has resigned effective immediately. This follows the recent announcement that Reading coach, Larry Courville, could not come to an agreement with the team even though he wanted to return. Courville will be leaving after the end of the season. Not sure what this all means but it is concerning if for no other reason than the team is doing very well on the ice and will make the playoffs for the eighth straight year. Reading won the Kelly Cup as recently as 2013. Having all of this turmoil during the season for a successful team is disheartening and rumors abound that others are leaving the front office as well. Not sure if whatever is going on in Reading will have any impact on re-signing Steve Martinson or front office changes in Allen but it does make you wonder. Stay tuned.

- When new Allen owner Jack Gulati met with season ticket holders before the game on Saturday he asked for help putting "butts in the seat" and at least one fan took him up on his request. Many of you know Mary Betz who I would describe as a super fan and that is an understatement. Mary posted the following on her Facebook page in an effort to reach out. Good job Mary!

Just a reminder - if you live in Allen, Frisco, Plano, McKinney, Fairview, or reasonably close to Allen, you have Championship Hockey in Allen. The Allen Americans are ECHL, just 2 levels away from NHL. We are affiliated with the San Jose Sharks (because someone a long time ago in the Dallas Stars franchise chose not to support Allen). We have won the championship the past consecutive 4 years. The Allen Event Center is easy to get to, free parking, and a whole lot of places to eat before and after the games. We are down to our final 6 home games before we officially start the "DRIVE FOR FIVE", as we pursue our 5th consecutive championship. Come be a part of history being made.....we are the winningest franchise in the DFW metroplex. See ya'll Friday at the game!

- Heard yesterday that April 1st will be McDonald's night at the Allen Americans as they take on the Tulsa Oilers. It will be a fitting day to bring back the famous McDonald's specialty jersey. The final design is not available yet but you can be assured it will look similar to this blast from the past as modeled by NHL goalie Aaron Dell.

Aaron Dell and the famous McDonald's specialty jersey

- First place Colorado is in action tonight at home against the last place Rapid City Rush. It is not as bleak as it might sound as Rapid City has won three of the last five game these teams have played including two in Colorado.

DID YOU KNOW: The first two rounds of the Kelly Cup playoffs will be played entirely within the division, with the division winner playing the fourth place finisher and the second place team meeting the third place team in the division semifinals. The winner of each series will meet in the division finals, leading to the conference finals and Kelly Cup finals. All series will be best of seven and there will be two referees for all playoff games.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Roster Changes, Hanson Loaned, Affiliate Playoff Assignments, Critical Dates, Year-End Awards

It is get away day for the Allen Americans which means practice this morning and a 475 mile ride on Big Red this afternoon, as the team heads for Missouri to take on the Mavericks Wednesday night (7:05 pm).

- The roster has been undergoing a lot of change over the last week. One day coach Martinson has too many players and the next not enough. The additions were Tyler Barnes and Alex Krushelnyski who had their first full practice with the team yesterday. Krushelnyski will be wearing #27. The subtractions were Spencer Asuchak who is on loan to the Providence Bruins (AHL) and Alex Schoenborn who was recalled by San Jose. Incidentally, someone asked if Alex's great play on Saurday (2 goals, 1 fight, #1 Star) was the reason he was recalled. He was actually aware prior to the game he was headed back to the Barracuda after the game.

-  Coach Martinson received a call yesterday afternoon and Greger Hanson is on his way to the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) on loan. Charlotte has several forwards out with injuries and needed some help. Not sure why they didn't call up a player from their affiliate (Florida Everblades) but it is another opportunity for Greger to play at the next level. Hanson is having a great year in Allen, leading the team in goals with 33. He is #4 in the ECHL in goals even though he has missed 11 games due to loans to the AHL. Here is the press release from Charlotte announcing Hanson's signing.

-  Something that can have a big impact at playoff time is players being assigned by a team's NHL/AHL affiliates. In 2014 Reading was the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference and lost in the first round to the #8 seed (Fort Wayne) in five games because of the players the Komets got assigned for the playoffs. Riley Gill and Aaron Gens were on that Reading team. If an ECHL team's NHL or AHL affiliate doesn't make the playoffs it is more likely good players will be assigned. In order to be assigned, a player must have played at least five games in the ECHL during the regular season. I decided to take a look at the top four teams in the Mountain Division to see how this might play out for the playoffs. It is not good news for Allen Americans. As of today we know the San Jose Sharks and Barracuda will both make the playoffs and most likely have a deep run which is great. However Colorado, Idaho and Alaska all have NHL and AHL affiliates that are out of the playoffs at this time. Look for all of them to get players assigned for the playoffs. This may be one reason coach Martinson made deals to get Tyler Barnes and Alex Krushelnyski loaned to Allen.

- As the playoffs approach here are the critical dates to keep in mind. April 7 is the last day to place a player on waivers, April 10 (3:00 pm EDT) is the date playoff rosters are due and the playoffs start on April 12. The official end of the season for the ECHL is April 8 but Allen has to play a rescheduled game in Wichita on April 9.

- Colorado sure isn't making it easy for Allen to catch them in the standings. They won 5-3 in Utah last night to expand their lead over the Americans to six points. You have to give the Eagles credit as they played the last three games in Utah and won all of them. Colorado now heads home for three games, Rapid City on Wednesday and Utah on Friday and Saturday. The Eagles finish the season with five road games, three in Idaho and two in Rapid City.

- The balloting for the ECHL year end awards is currently underway and ballots are due back to the league office next week. The league will begin announcing the recipients the first week of April. You never know how the voting will go but you would expect the odds on favorite for MVP is Chad Costello. He will end the season with more points than any other player than himself (125 in 2014-15) in the last 20 years. He will win the scoring title by over 30 points which will be one of the top margins in league history. He certainly deserves the MVP again this season.

- I hope David Makowski gets consideration for Defenseman of the Year. He has clearly been the best defenseman in the league since joining the Americans in early December. David's average points per game (1.26) is far superior to any other defenseman. He is fourth in points (49), fourth in goals (15), first in power play assists (24), first in power play points (31) and fourth in power play goals (7) even though he has played 20 fewer games than the other top defensemen. If Makowski had started the season with Allen, based on his average points per game, he would have over 80 points and be second or third in the scoring race among all players. He certainly has my vote and hopefully others will take a hard look at the numbers and agree.

- I was struck by the number of Allen fans that attended the Stars vs Sharks game last night to support Aaron Dell. The Sharks lost 1-0 but Dell was great in goal and had a couple of highlight reel saves. Aaron's GAA is now 1.85 and his save percentage is .936. The sense of pride in Aaron's success is something that exudes from most Allen fans. 

DID YOU KNOW:  Players must play a minimum of five (5) regular season ECHL games to be eligible for inclusion on the playoff roster. Furthermore, players on two way AHL contracts must have appeared in five (5) AHL regular season games, however, at the discretion of the ECHL team, up to two (2) AHL two-way contracted players may be exempt from this requirement. Veteran players on a two-way AHL contract must have appeared in at least 10 AHL regular season games. There are no exemptions permitted for these players. 


Monday, March 20, 2017

Practice Update, Recapping the Changes in Allen, Schoenborn Recalled & Allen's Goal Scorers Club

After a day off to spend with the family, play golf, go fishing, run errands, play video games, take in March Madness or playoff hockey it is back to practice today for the Allen Americans as they prepare for a game against Missouri on Wednesday.

- So much has happened to this team in the last month on and off the ice I thought today would be a good day to do a bit of a recap of some of the changes and accomplishments. In my conversations with fans they have very different perceptions of change whether it is related to ownership, player roster, customer service, sales, marketing, promotions, team name and a myriad of other topics related to the Allen Americans. Change can be difficult even if it is positive change as reminded by some of these famous quotes about change:

"Any change, even change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts".....Arnold Bennett

"When you are finished changing, you are finished".....Benjamin Franklin

"The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress".....Charles Kettering

"Change before you have to".....Jack Welch

"Change is the law of life. And those that look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future".....John F. Kennedy

"Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to stay the same but get better".....Sydney J. Harris

"To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often".....

And on a lighter note - "Change is inevitable; except from a vending machine"..... Robert Gallagher

- The biggest change in several years for Allen fans took place less than one month ago when Jack Gulati, owner of the Reading Royals, bought the Allen Americans. Jack is a self made man that can best be described by the title of his book, "Serial Entrepreneur." Jack has taken Allen by storm with his enthusiasm and style. He is a hero for taking the risk and saving the franchise from tough times on many fronts. As with any change there are discomforts most notably concerning the coach and front office staff.

- Talk about potential for monumental change, Steve Martinson made it clear after the game on Friday he is not under contract after this season, is a free agent, and plans on testing the market by talking to other teams before he makes a decision on his future. Talk about resistance to change, fans rallied around Martinson and made their feelings known to Jack Gulati as he was greeting fans on the concourse or meeting with season ticket holders. The message was loud and clear, if you want to succeed you must find a way to retain Steve Martinson.

- Whenever roster changes take place there are always mixed feelings as fans see players they like leave and new ones arrive. Some of the change quotes above such as "to improve is to change" and "change before you have to" certainly apply to the moves coach Martinson has made in the last two weeks. Kale Kerbashian, Randy Cure and  Jake Marchment are gone and Wade MacLeod, Tyler Barnes and Alex Krushelnyski have arrived. Adding three ECHL all-stars to an already potent roster for the stretch run and playoffs is something only a Steve Martinson could pull off.

- Another change over the last month has been the quality of play by the Americans. They have won seven straight games including five road games in a row. Allen has been able to stay in the race for the top spot in the Mountain Division despite Colorado winning 17 straight games recently. Allen remains four points back of the Eagles as both teams have identical records over the last 10 games (8-1-1-0).

- One thing that hasn't changed is the leadership provided by the two oldest players on the team, Riley Gill and Chad Costello. Riley is having his best year since joining the Americans and arguable the best season in his pro career. Riley leads the league in GAA (2.15) and save percentage (.938). Riley has lost just one game in the last three months and that one loss was in overtime. Chad is doing what he does every year, leading the ECHL in scoring by some ridiculous amount. He has 109 points and a 30 point lead in the scoring race. Winning the scoring race by 20 points has only been done five times in ECHL history. Chad is about to make that six times in ECHL history and he will own three of the six. Chad won the scoring title by a record 45 points in 2014-15 and by 23 points last season.


- Today will be the first full practice for newcomers Tyler Barnes and Alex Krushelnyski. The other roster change for today is that Alex Schoenborn has been recalled by San Jose and is headed back to the Barracuda. Allen has had a very light schedule over the last month but that is about to change. Practice days are important this time of year and they will become a premium because of the schedule. Allen will play three games each week for the remainder of the season.

- If you are on Colorado watch the Eagles have four games this week. They play in Utah tonight and then head home to play Rapid City on Wednesday and Utah on Friday and Saturday.

- It is always good to see former players do well. Jake Marchment is playing on the top line in Indy and has a goal in the last three games. Jake has five points in six games with the Fuel. Kale Kerbashian has eight points (2 goals 6 assists) in the four games he has played since joining the Wheeling Nailers. Two examples of how embracing change can lead to success. 

- If you are a veteran or know a veteran a reminder that I have free tickets available for the game on Saturday. Here is what you need to do if you are a veteran and are interested in free tickets for Military Appreciation Night which is Saturday March 25 (7:05 pm.) Send me an email at with the following information:

1. Your name
2. Branch of Service - (in my case Army)
3. Dates of service - (in my case 1968-1970)
4. Where you Served - (in my case Vietnam)
5. How many tickets you need - (I can provide tickets for you, your spouse and children)
6. Let me know if you need wheelchair accessible seating

I will put your tickets at will call and you will have to provide photo id to pick them up. Let me know if you have any questions.

DID YOU KNOW: Most observers (players, fans, media) would agree the current Allen roster is the most skilled and has the most depth of any Steve Martinson team in Allen. Here is a list of players on the current roster in the 20, 30 and 40 goal club in a single season in the ECHL.

40 Goal Club: Chad Costello, Gary Steffes
30 Goal Club: Greger Hanson, Wade MacLeod, Tyler Barnes
20 Goal Club: Spencer Asuchak, Bryan Moore, Alex Krushelnyski

Zach Hall and David Makowski don't have a 20 goal season in the ECHL but both are scoring at a pace that would exceed 20 goals if they had played a full season in Allen this year. Makowski has 15 goals in 39 games and Hall has 10 goals in only 25 games.