Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day - Injuries, Callups, Sickness and Now Suspensions for the Allen Americans

When our kids were young back in the early 1980's before computers, smart phones and iPads the house was full of children's books, but when it came to story time there were just a few favorites. One of them was "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day" which tells the story of everything going wrong the entire day for Alexander. It has been many years since I have read that book but I do remember from the time he woke up to the time he went to bed nothing went right for Alexander. As he woke up the gum that was in his mouth the night before was in his hair. His two brothers found prizes in their breakfast cereal and he didn't. He didn't get a window seat in the car pool going to school. His mom forgot to put dessert in his lunch bag. He went to the dentist after school and had a cavity. He visited his dad at his office and accidentally dialed Australia while playing with the phone. He had lima beans for dinner (which he hated). There was kissing on TV (which he hated). His mom made him wear his train pajamas (which he hated). And in the final incident of the night the cat chooses to sleep with his brother.

- I share the Alexander story because the book actually popped into my head last night as I was thinking about what to write in the blog this morning after a long day covering the Allen Americans. It started out in the early morning yesterday when I calculated how many games players had missed this season for any reason. I only included 11 players and the games missed was over 150. Here it is again in case you missed it yesterday, a list of how many games key players have missed of the 32 Allen has played thus far.

30 games - Riley Gill (still on injured reserve)
22 games - Olivier Archambault
21 games - Zach Pochiro (still on injured reserve)
13 games - Vincent Arseneau (still on loan to Utica)
13 games -  Bryan Moore
12 games - Zach Hall (out with an injury)
10 games - Spencer Asuchak (still recalled to San Jose)
10 games - Peter MacArthur (season ending injury)
8   games - Mathieu Aubin
8  games - Dalton Thrower
4  games - David Makowski

- As I headed to practice I was thinking that you could have the nucleus of a really good team just with the guys that won't be at practice (Gill, Asuchak, Arseneau, MacArthur, Pochiro, Hall) but at least the defense is intact.

- It was a really light practice conducted by the players themselves and when I arrived they were playing three on three cross ice from the blue line to the end boards, just having fun. The first player off the ice greeted me with, I'm sick, I have to get to the locker room. The next player I talked to shared they were starting to feel better but got sick in Wichita. At that I point I decided to not ask anymore players how the were doing. At this time of year when the players are tired and energy depleted after playing so many games in a short period of time they are susceptible to getting sick and once it starts it spreads because the players are in such close quarters all of the time. The hope is the worst of it is behind the team before the weekend.

- The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day ended with the announcement that three Allen players would be suspended for the warmup incident on Sunday. Mike Gunn was given a seven game suspension, Dalton Thrower a three game suspension and David Makowski a two game suspension. Wichita players suspended were Guillaume Lepine (7 games), Dyson Stevenson (2 games) and Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin one game.

- Allen fans were obviously upset, especially those that come early to  each game to watch warmups. Everyone I talked to felt the the incident was initiated by Wichita and the fact the entire Thunder team ended up inside the Allen blue line, when both teams are supposed to stay on their side of the red line, would mean the league would treat Wichita more harshly than Allen. The ECHL clearly didn't see the incident the same way.

- I contacted coach Martinson to get his reaction to the suspensions and he was as surprised as the fans that witnessed the altercation. He had this to day, "I was shocked at the suspensions. My only conversation allowed by the league was a statement that it was started by Dyson Stevenson and it was all on our side of the red line. I wasn't expecting any suspensions. We had a fight in warmups two years ago after which I sent the video to the league and they didn't do anything. In a game, if another player is the aggressor, you are allowed to defend yourself without being thrown out of the game. Common sense says it would apply to warmups as well."

- Having covered many disciplinary incidents over the years there are two things I have never been able to understand and both of them would make it more understandable/acceptable when the league hands out suspensions and fines. The first is the fact that players get no opportunity to give their side of the story before the league makes a decision. I realize there are too many disciplinary cases to do this on everyone but when you are going to suspend a player for multiple games it would be nice if the player had a few minutes to tell what happened from their perspective. Maybe the PHPA should try and address this in the upcoming CBA negotiations. Secondly, it would be helpful if the league would explain why they make the decisions to suspend. There is some reason the ECHL decided two Allen players should be suspended longer than two Wichita players. Why not an explanation? When it appears discipline is being handed down by a dictator and the league is judge, jury and executioner some transparency for those that support the ECHL (the fans) would be helpful.

- Because the three Allen players suspended were all defensemen it really puts coach Martinson in a bind. With only seven defensemen on the roster he now has just four available for the games this weekend in Idaho (Chouinard, Roy, Josh Thrower, Liberati). The solution is not as simple as bringing in a couple of defensemen temporarily to replace the players that are suspended. You can't take players off the active roster when they are suspended so the three suspended defensemen still take up an active roster slot and their salary still counts toward the salary cap. It is possible Martinson may not be able to add any players for the weekend. He may have to move an injured player to the 21 day injured reserve. There are no easy solutions and it is pretty certain unless Martinson can pull a rabbit out of the hat (he is the best in the business at doing that) the Americans will be playing shorthanded in Idaho.

- Maybe the most pressing question in the Allen locker room this morning will be who has played defense in the past? It will be interesting to see if any of the forwards are in the defense line during drills at practice.


- Through all of the ups and downs of the season with the injuries, callups, loans, sickness, healthy scratches and suspensions the Americans are down to three "Iron Men" and the value of these players cannot be overstated. The three players to have played in all 32 Allen games are Joel Chouinard, Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Eric Roy. A stick tap to all of them!

- Last night was a special night for Allen fans as they had the opportunity to watch the two players that started their professional careers with the Americans and make it to the NHL go head to head. Aaron Dell stopped 30 of 31 shots to lead the San Jose Sharks to a 4-1 win in Montreal over Jordie Benn and the Canadiens.

- An under reported and under appreciated stat speaks highly of the Allen goalie group. When Riley Gill was injured on October 21 and has yet to return, who would have thought the Allen Americans would have the best team save percentage in the ECHL on January 1. Allen's #1 ranked save percentage of .920 not only leads the ECHL but is better than the Kelly Cup championship teams in 2016 (.909) and 2015 (.906). Rookie goalie Jeremy Brodeur leads the way with a .933 save percentage which is the second best in the ECHL.  

DID YOU KNOW: Jordie Benn played in Allen in their first season (2009-10) after playing for the Victoria Salmon Kings (ECHL) in his first professional season. In 45 regular season games Jordie had 18 points (9 goals 9 assist). Allen went to the CHL championship finals in that first season before losing to Rapid City. Jordie had 11 points (2 goals 9 assists) in 20 playoff games. In 2010-11 Jordie spent the entire year with the Texas Stars (AHL) and made his NHL debut in 2011-12, just two years after playing in Allen. He now has 354 NHL games to his credit.

Aaron Dell signed his first professional contract out of the University of North Dakota with the Colorado Eagles in 2012-13 but was waived in training camp. He then signed with Allen, where two University of North Dakota alumni (Ed Belfour & Craig Ludwig) had just started working with the Americans. He was supposed to be the backup goalie to a veteran Kelly Cup MVP (Steve Silverthorn) but won the starting job and led the Americans to their first championship, playing in all 19 playoff games. Through hard work and perseverance Dell has now made it to the NHL where he has 35 games to his credit. He has played in 15 games for the Sharks this season with a GAA of 1.98 and a save percentage of .934 which are both ranked #3 in the NHL. 


  1. I love hearing about our former players who have gone on to greatness elsewhere in hockey. Be it in the USA or to other parts of the world.

    I loosely follow the Sharks, mainly because they are our up-line team, but also to keep track of Aaron Dell since he once wore an Americans sweater.

    I forget that Jordie Benn also got his start here. I will have to keep a lookout for news about him and the Candianens. It was easier to keep tabs on him when he played for the Stars!

    I wasn't there for the madness before the game Sunday but have watched several video accounts of it. It seems to me that the Wichita players were definitely the aggressors and came across the line at our guys. I would like to see more or an explanation as to the reason for the decisions by the ECHL.

    I agree with Barry...the players should have a chance to explain/defend their actions especially when a multi-game suspension is on the line.

  2. No surprise the ECHL handed out more game suspensions to the Americans than Wichita (seems to be a pattern). Also, given Stevenson's continuing altercations and misconduct during the game, I believe there should have been suspensions for that in addition to the pregame incident.
    No doubt our guys can step up to the challenge. Go Red!

  3. Didn't Jordie score the first playoff goal in team history?

    1. John, I looked it up and the first ever playoff game was against the Laredo Bucks at the AEC on March 26, 2010. Allen had a 3-2 lead after two periods but gave up two goals in the third to lose the game 4-3. Allen's first goal was scored by Liam Huculak. The other goal scorers for Allen were Tobias Whelan and Erik Adams. The series went seven games before Allen prevailed winning game seven 4-1. By the way, Jordie had all zeros in the boxscore in that first playoff game with the exception of a minor penalty for interference. Thanks for asking the question as it is always fun to look at boxscores from back in the day and relive the moments.

  4. I knew that the ECHL was going to hand more penalties to Allen, they seem to hate Allen all together. I also agree with J. Margargle, Stevenson should have received more days of suspension than anyone else involved, he is the captain and instead of calming his team members down he gets out of control and leads by his bad examples which were seen by everyone in the series against Allen.