The Allen Americans are on their way to Indianapolis to take on the Indy Fuel tomorrow (Friday) night. The team was scheduled to leave last night around 7:00 and if all goes as planned and there are no travel delays they should arrive in Indy around noon today. The worst of the recent very cold weather has passed Indiana with a high temperature in Indianapolis today of 31 and tomorrow 37. By Sunday in Fort Wayne the high is predicted to be 43.
- I was asked last night why the team didn't leave this morning since they don't play until tomorrow night. There are several factors that go into what time the team chooses to depart on road trips. It is always better on the longer trips like this one to travel during the night where everyone can sleep so that is the preference. Departure time is also driven by the time the team wants to arrive at the destination and also the availability of ice. On this trip, if there are no weather delays, the team will be able to check into the hotel and has ice available this afternoon for practice.
- Another factor in selecting departure times is the payment of meal money. The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) not only states the amount of daily meal money ($42) but it also specifies the amount and time on which the meal money is calculated. If the team is on the road prior to 10:00 am everyone gets $9 for breakfast, prior to 2:00 pm $12 for lunch and prior to 7:00 pm $21 for dinner. The team has the option to provide a meal in lieu of the meal money. For example, the team could have gathered for a meal before they departed last night and left before 7:00 pm and the dinner meal money would not be paid. Many times the team leaves after 7:00 pm so everyone eats at home prior to departure. By leaving after 7:00 that would save the team close to $500, almost the cost of a pair of new skates.
- This road trip is important for the Americans to get back on the right track. Allen has been inconsistent recently with a record in their last 10 games of 4-6. They had a good outing in their last road game (7-2 win in Tulsa) but have lost four of their last five road games. Indy has a losing record this season but is 6-4 in their last 10 games and has a winning record at home (9-8). After playing Indy on Friday night the Americans move on to Fort Wayne for two games (Saturday & Sunday). The Komets home record is 12-5-2-0.
- Allen got some good news yesterday with the arrival of reinforcements from San Jose in the names of Spencer Asuchak and Colby McAuley. Asuchak brings his net front presence, faceoff skill and fills a gap at center for Allen. McAuley was averaging a point a game in his last 11 games in Allen before being recalled by San Jose. They will provide a big lift to the team and for the first time in a long time there are 10 forwards on the trip. There are eight defensemen on the trip but Mike Gunn has one game left of his suspension so he won't be available until the team gets to Fort Wayne.
- I had lots of questions last night about the impact of Idaho making a waiver claim for Gary Steffes yesterday. I am not an expert on this waiver process but here is my guess as to what has happened. What is clear is Idaho now owns his rights. Allen had to put Steffes on waivers as there was no other viable option once he was headed back home. Idaho started the poker game by claiming Gary even though my guess is they have little or no interest in having him play. They are probably only interested in making sure he cannot return to Allen. Idaho does have a veteran spot available but my understanding is Gary's contract makes him one of the highest paid players in the league. It certainly doesn't make economic sense for the Steelheads to claim him. The next step for Allen fans to watch is to see if Steffes decides to see if Idaho is bluffing. All he would have to do is tell Idaho he is ready to go and they should get him a flight from his home to Boise. I can tell you a flight from where he lives in Minnesota to Boise would not be cheap. Gary could also contact Idaho and try and get them to drop the waiver claim by appealing to them as a veteran in the league who isn't interested in playing in Idaho. Whatever the outcome it should be known in the next couple of days. Gary is retired so this is not like the Jack Combs situation a few years ago. It would certainly be nice if the need arises in the future Allen could bring Gary back. Right now that would not be possible but it remains to be seen how this works out with Idaho. Stay tuned.
- The ECHL just announced the format for the 2019 All-Star game which will take place in Toledo on January 21, 2019 (MLK Day). The game will still be a four team three-on-three tournament but instead of having an All-Star team from each division as they did this year, next year will be different. The host team (Toledo) will make up two of the four teams with the other two teams comprised of players from the Eastern and Western Conferences. Here is the ECHL press release announcing the format change with all of the details: https://www.echl.com/format-announced-2019-ccm-echl-star-classic
- I didn't ask to confirm this but tomorrow is the official jersey reversal date in the ECHL so you should see the Americans wearing their white jerseys on the road and red at home for the remainder of the season.
- In AHL action last night Utica beat Rochester in a shootout 3-2. Vincent Arseneau did not play as I heard he is out with an injury. The San Jose Barracuda was shutout 2-0 at home by Stockton and has fallen to last place in the eight team Pacific Division.
DID YOU KNOW: The Mountain Division of the ECHL has won the last three Kelly Cups, won the All-Star tournament this week and is also the toughest division in the league. If you look at the top five teams in fights this season four of them come from the Mountain Division. Here are the top five and bottom five in number of fights according to the website dropyourgloves.com.
51 - Colorado
40 - Jacksonville
40 - Allen
39 - Rapid City
36 - Wichita
8 - Brampton
9 - Quad City
14 - Reading
15 - South Carolina
20 - Norfolk & Toledo