Monday, December 4, 2017

Reflecting on the Allen Americans Family Through Stories, Photos and Videos

It's 4:30 am and as usual I am sitting in my office trying to figure out what to write about in the blog this morning. With the Americans taking a couple of days off since they don't play again until Sunday I am having one of those days where nothing comes to mind. When you are 70 years old like I am and nothing comes to mind your thoughts usually drift to the past. I was reminded of a saying I used many times when speaking to groups before I retired, "Since most of us live in the past a description of the present sounds like the future to us."

- Unlike most other days when I resist talking exclusively about the past I decided to embrace it today because it will be fun for me and just maybe for some of the long time Allen fans, CHL fans and even ECHL fans that read the blog. I hope just one of these stories, photos or videos piques your interest enough to read or watch and reflect on how lucky Allen fans are to have the Americans as part of the community. Some of these will make you smile and some may bring a tear to your eye but they will all make you reflect on the entire Allen Americans family from fans, to players to staff.

- My blog career happened to coincide with the arrival of Steve Martinson as head coach and general manager of the Allen Americans. Those first blogs were brutal and were primarily written for the  Allen fans where I live. The first blog post mentioning coach Martinson was10 days after I started the blog in October, 2012. In six years it has had a total of 55 views and most of them have probably been by me. I would put the link here to the story but can you do one better as this was the entire blog for October 18, 2012.

"Had heard Coach Martinson was a tough, hard-nosed player so thought I would take a look at his fighting statistics at Close to 200 fights in his career including 41 in 1985-1986 while playing for the Hershey Bears for a total of 432 penalty minutes. Average over his career is close to 5 PIM's per game. Yes, he was a tough guy and when he says we are going to be big, strong, tough, and hard to play against there is no doubt he is correct. DREAD THE RED!!!"

It wasn't much but maybe a slight improvement from blog post #1  - "10/8/12 - Welcome to the Heritage Ranch Allen Americans Fan Club blog. This is a work in progress and hopefully both the content and design will improve over time. I wanted to get the site going as training camp gets underway. It was great to see all of the returning and new players at camp today along with Stars players Ericksson, Fistric, Daley, Robidas, & Bachman. Nice to see Jarret Lukin finally wearing his favorite number #32, so long #40 & #7."

- One of my favorite stories ever about coach Martinson was written by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News in 2014. Rick was the first person I ever talked to who made their living writing about sports. I still remember walking up to Rick for the first time as he was watching the Americans practice in the community rink. I was extremely nervous to approach this nationally acclaimed sports writer but I knew he could help me with some of the rules of the road when covering a team. Rick went out of his way to answer every question I had and more importantly reassured me that there will always be a certain amount of tension between a beat writer and the team's media department. He shared many of his experiences dealing with major league sports over the years. Rick has been a big supporter of the Allen Americans over the years and has become a mentor and friend who I can bounce things off of when necessary. This story Rick wrote about Steve Martinson was right on point and to prove the premise of the story Martinson has added two more championships since this story was published in 2014. Pretty high praise when you are called the best coach in the Dallas area: 

- Here is a story that appeared in The Hockey News in 2016 after Allen won their second Kelly Cup and their fourth consecutive championship. Pretty nice when The Hockey News is singing your praises:

-  There are have been many fan favorites over the years I have been writing the blog but none more enjoyable than Darryl Bootland. I was thinking about the guy who prefers to be called Booter because he played his first games of the season over the weekend for the Orlando Solar Bears. He signed with Orlando in the off season but was out with an injury. In Booter style, the 36 year old scored his first goal of the season Saturday night in his second game back. One of the very first in depth player profile stories I ever wrote was about Bootland in 2012. He could not have been any nicer in sharing his story. Here is a link:

If you want to read a story about Booter that will bring a tear to your eye check this one out. The genesis for this story was from a blog reader who read the player profile on Bootland and wanted to share what she had observed. I have read this story many times and it still gets to me: t 

- Some of the most popular stories in the blog over the years have not been about the team. Here is a good example, A story about the drummers who have been a great addition to the game night atmosphere. 

- One of the best things about writing the blog is getting to know the player's friends and family. Here is one of the most popular stories ever and it is about a player's wife who also happened to play hockey in college. It was called, "Wendy McMillin, Hockey Wife & Sports Star: 

- It is hard to talk about former Allen and current Fort Wayne Captain Jamie Schaafsma without talking about his wife Nicole and their children. If you happen to be on social media keeping track of the Schaafsma family is like a Netflix series. Here is the player profile with Jamie from early 2014. FYI they now have three children with number four on the way:     

- I have been an Allen fan from day one and there have been many heartaches along the way as members of the Allen Americans family that I have become friendly with have passed away. Usher Bill Mazzeo is the most recent example, Richard Henry, who came to most practices along with his wife Carol is another, photographer Chip Crail another and of course bus driver Scott Alexander another. Here are tributes I wrote about Chip and Scott who both passed away in 2014.

Chip was a great photographer and friend who went out of his way to help me when I first started the blog. We would talk at every game about so much more than hockey. Here is the story I wrote about Chip after he lost his battle against cancer. It also includes some of my favorite photos from Chip's portfolio. 

Bus drivers are such a key component of a hockey team as they are beloved by all. Here is the tribute to Scott Alexander from December 2014. These type of stories are the toughest to write but when they come from the heart they are the most satisfying. Scott was so much more than a bus driver to the Allen Americans:


 Since I am talking about the past today here are a few photos from the blog. You could call some of these "way back throwback" photos.

Gary Steffes

The Ludwigs

Riley Gill

Costello Christmas

The 1st championship

1st Kelly Cup

Jarret Lukin

Brian & Wendy McMillin

The best championship season highlight video ever. Whenever you are down this will lift you up. Championships are are like your kids in that you love them all but 2013 was my favorite. I dare you to watch this 10 minute recap of the 2012-2013 championship season without making your day better.

You can't have a throwback video without the most famous fight in Americans history. You never get tired of seeing this one between Allen's Judd Blackwater and Jim Jorgensen. No matter how many times you watch this video it is impressive.

DID YOU KNOW: Since today's post is about the past here is the very first DID YOU KNOW which debuted on October 16, 2013.  

- I am starting a daily feature on the blog called "DID YOU KNOW" which will be little known facts about the team, the players, and the staff. Going to need some help to come up with something every day so please help me out by sharing some "DID YOU KNOWS" with me.

DID YOU KNOW: Garrett Clarke set the single season record last year for most penalty minutes (PIM) with 223 but Steve Martinson exceeded that number seven times in his career including 432 PIMs in 1985-1986 for the Hershey Bears (AHL).


  1. Thanks for the trip down memory lane Barry. Did you ever imagine that your blog would evolve from a few paragraphs with 55 views to the creative work it now represents with thousands of followers? Glad you stuck with it!

  2. Barry, This was a perfect history lesson. Having only discovered our amazing Allen Americans during the 2014-15 playoff run, I am unschooled on most of the fun history of our team. I loved reading about our drummers. I had always wondered how they came to be...

    Seeing the picture of Ludwig and his 'baby boys' was great. It is hard to believe they were ever that tiny.

    I learned more about Marty's background than I knew before.

    My vote is to get these walks down memory lane frequently...I also LOVE the in depth player profile/interviews.

    Thanks for giving us this blog every day...