Monday, September 9, 2019

Allen Americans Update, Never Miss a Steve Martinson Q & A, Prospect Tournament and More

It has been awhile since I have written an update on the Allen Americans. I want to start by going back to the Q & A session Steve Martinson conducted at the Allen Event Center 10 days ago and then cover a few assorted topics.


I have said many times in the past, Allen Americans fans should never pass up the opportunity to attend a question and answer session with Allen coach and general manager Steve Martinson. Whether it is a post game Q & A, a personal appearance or his annual recruiting update as it was a week ago Saturday; the unvarnished, off the record, tell it like it is Steve Martinson is always entertaining and informative. Fans got their money's worth hearing about everything from emergency surgery Martinson had in August where six inches of his small intestine had to be removed to some surprise player announcements to insights on Allen players that will be attending various hockey camps (Minnesota Wild, Iowa Wild, San Antonio Rampage, Toronto Marlies).


- The highlight of the Q & A session was intended to be the planned announcement that three time ECHL Defenseman of the Year and three time Kelly Cup champion, Matt Register is returning to Allen for the 2019-20 season. It will be Register's third stint with the Americans. Matt spent part of the 2011-12 season with Allen (22 games) and was part of the Americans 2015-16 Kelly Cup championship (13 regular season and 23 playoff games).


- There are a lot of stats you can cite to show Register's impact but the one that best says what he brings to the ice is the fact he has been in the Kelly Cup finals the last four seasons with three different teams and won three of the four. If you look at ECHL playoff games over the last five seasons Matt is #1 in games (110), assists (65) and points (89). Here is the press release with the details about Register:  https://allenamericans.com/matt-register-returns-americans-add-4-key-parts-to-roster-today/


- The Register announcement turned out to be just the beginning as by the end of the session, to everyone's surprise, coach Martinson had shared three additional player signings including returning defenseman Josh Atkinson, veteran forward Shawn O'Donnell and defenseman Turner Ottenbreit.

Josh Atkinson - Last season Atkinson was #2 among Allen's regular defensemen in points per game, #1 in penalty minutes, #3 in assists and #1 in plus/minus. At the end of the season Josh was loaned to  Chicago (AHL) and spent the Calder Cup playoffs with the Wolves. Chicago lost in the Calder Cup finals to the Charlotte Checkers.

Turner Ottenbriet - Turner is a hard-nosed defenseman starting his second pro season. He played for the Utah Grizzlies last season and had 23 points (11G, 12A) in 58 games. His dad, Grant, also played pro hockey and Martinson shared they had fought each other back in the day. Here is the press release issued by the Americans on Turner Ottenbreit:  https://allenamericans.com/americans-add-offensive-punch-on-the-blue-line-with-the-addition-of-turner-ottenbreit/

Shawn O'Donnell - Shawn adds veteran experience at forward to the Americans with almost 300 professional games, most (188) at the AHL level. Here is the press release issued by the Americans on O'Donnell:  https://allenamericans.com/americans-add-experience-up-front-with-addition-of-shawn-odonnell/


- Here is how coach Martinson described the three new players he has signed for the 2019-20 season:

"The best thing about signing Matt Register is I won't have to watch him score game winning goals against us this season like he did those years in Colorado. He just makes the big play for his team when you need it. He knows how to get it done in the playoffs and I am excited to have him back."

"Ottenbreit is a big, physical defenseman who had 11 goals in Utah last season. He was under contract with Colorado. He is going to the Traverse City tournament.

"O'Donnell is a point a game guy in the ECHL with a lot of AHL experience. I expect Shawn will be a key player for us. He is a greasy, skilled. right shot center.


- The Americans official roster now stands at 14 players. Martinson shared at the Q & A he has signed 10 forwards, six defensemen and two goalies and this doesn't include any players that will be assigned by the Wild. Here are the 14 players that have been officially announced by the Allen Americans:

Forwards
*Spencer Asuchak - seventh pro season, 60 AHL games
Jacob Doty - sixth pro season, 71 AHL games
Gabriel Gagne - fourth pro season, 154 AHL games
*Mike Hedden - 11th pro season, 210 AHL games, 155 DEL games (top German league)
*Shawn O'Donnell - seventh pro season, 188 AHL games 
Jason Salvaggio - second pro season, 4 AHL games
Braylon Shmyr - second pro season, 3 AHL games
Jordan Topping - second pro season, 0 AHL games

Defensemen
Josh Atkinson - fourth pro season, 3 AHL games
Turner Ottenbreit - second pro season, 4 AHL games
Ben Owen - second pro season, 0 AHL games
*Matt Register -  ninth pro season, 11 AHL games

Goalies
Jake Paterson - fifth pro season, 10 AHL games
Evan Weninger - first pro season, 0 AHL games

*Veterans


- Former Allen Americans Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Miles Liberati signed with new teams this past week. Casey will play for Adirondack and Miles will play for Tulsa.


- The Minnesota Wild prospects have dropped their first two games at the prospect tournament in Traverse City losing to the Dallas Stars prospects 2-1 on Friday and 3-2 in overtime to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. The Wild play the New York Ranger prospects today (Monday 1:30 pm CDT). The games are live streamed for free at Fox Sports Go. Here are the game recaps:  https://www.iowawild.com/news/detail/the-wild-wire-2019-nhl-prospects-tournament-blog


-  I had a chance to talk to Steve Martinson yesterday. Martinson and assistant coach Jason Deitsch are in Traverse City watching the prospect tournament and meeting with Wild management and staff. Current Allen players (Turner Ottenbriet & Jordan Topping plus one player that hasn't been announced by Allen) have acquitted themselves quite well. Alex Breton, who signed with Iowa in the off season, has had a lot of ice time in both games and was on the #1 power play unit.


- There are several Allen players in the hunt to be signed by Iowa depending on how they perform at the Wild training camps over the next couple of weeks.



DID YOU KNOW: Here are the top 10 players in ECHL career points (regular season) that have played at least one game for the Allen Americans. The number of ECHL games each player played for Allen is in parentheses. Over the last 10 seasons, Casey's career points (504) is ranked #1 in the ECHL and Chad's career points (489) is ranked #2:

504 points - Casey Pierro Zabotel (138)
489 points - Chad Costello (216)
487 points - Mathieu Aubin (48)
319 points - Matt Register (35)
273 points - Tyler Barnes (11)
269 points - Adam Miller (62)
263 points - Jack Combs (32)
258 points - Tristan King (61)
246 points - Judd Blackwater (49)
235 points - Justin Bowers (49)




 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Allen Americans Update, Current Roster, Steve Martinson Q&A on Saturday and More


It is down to one month and counting until ECHL training camps open. The number of players announced around the league has surpassed 300 ranging from three by Kalamazoo to 19 by Fort Wayne.

 
- 20 of the 26 ECHL teams have announced 10 or more players. As a reminder, there will be a total 575-600 players on opening day rosters.


- It is important to remember two factors that impact the number of player announcements. Some teams/coaches don't like to make these announcements while they are in the middle of recruiting. There are many good reasons not to show your hand to other teams and players who you have signed. The flip side is player announcements are seen as a way to build enthusiasm in the off season and it helps the sales and marketing staffs.


- The second factor impacting the number of player announcements is the trend of more NHL/AHL contracted players being assigned to ECHL teams. You can expect to see 10+ contracted players on some ECHL rosters this season. Teams with fewer than 10 players announced thus far (Allen, Jacksonville, Kalamazoo, Newfoundland, Tulsa, Wheeling) may be teams expecting a lot of help from their AHL/NHL affiliates.


- The Americans official roster now stands at eight players. There are still as many as 10 more players signed by coach Martinson but not yet announced. Just a guess but I wouldn't be surprised to hear some "off the record" names at the Martinson Q&A on Saturday (see below). Here is the current roster with the number of professional seasons and number of AHL games played. 

Forwards
Spencer Asuchak - seventh pro season, 60 AHL games
Jacob Doty - sixth pro season, 71 AHL games
Gabriel Gagne - fourth pro season, 154 AHL games
Mike Hedden - 11th pro season, 210 AHL games, 155 DEL games (top German league)
Jason Salvaggio - second pro season, 4 AHL games
Braylon Shmyr - second pro season, 3 AHL games
Jordan Topping - second pro season, 0 AHL games

Defensemen
Ben Owen - second pro season, 0 AHL games



- The Minnesota Wild have announced the roster that will take part in the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan from September 6-9. The only player from the Allen Americans announced roster that will be participating is Jordan Topping. Iowa signed players who spent time in Allen last season that will be at the prospects tournament are Alex Breton, Nick Boka and Jack Sadek. Here is a link to the press release issued by the Minnesota Wild with the complete roster and the schedule. The first game of the tournament pits Minnesota against the Dallas Stars prospects. Steve Martinson will attend the tournament to watch the prospects, many of which will be assigned to Allen this season. He also plans to spend some time at the Minnesota Wild's main training camp:  https://www.nhl.com/wild/news/traverse-city-prospect-tournament-082719/c-308688104
 


-  The Allen Americans are having an open house on Saturday (August 31) from 11:00 - 2:00. You don't want to miss the Q&A with Steve Martinson which will be at 11:00. I talked to coach Martinson this morning and he is very excited about the team he has put together for the upcoming season and the affiliation relationship that has evolved with the Wild organization. It is perfect timing for an update on the 2019-20 season from the coach. Come armed with your questions as this will be a must attend Q&A session. Martinson also shared with me they will be announcing a marquee player at the event on Saturday.


- While Martinson is pretty much done with recruiting for the upcoming season he is still working on what players will be attending the Minnesota Wild main training camp. In addition Allen players will be attending AHL camps with the Iowa Wild, San Antonio Rampage and Toronto Marlies. Another good question for the coach on Saturday is which players will be going to all of these camps.


-  The Americans announced last week they will play just one preseason game. On October 4th, Allen will be in Kansas City to play the Mavericks. I would assume there will be some opportunity for fans to see the team at home in some manner like an inter-squad game but nothing has been announced thus far. Here is the press release issued by the Americans about the preseason game in Kansas City:  https://allenamericans.com/americans-announce-preseason-game-in-kansas-city/


-  It was announced yesterday that Dante Salituro, who led Allen in points (61) and assists (39) last season has signed with the Indy Fuel. My reporting is Salituro felt he would be better positioned for loans to AHL teams by playing in Indy. Dante is a free agent when it comes to AHL teams.


- Former Allen goalie Joel Rumpel has returned to North America for the 2019-20 season after playing in Scotland last season. Joel, who was recently married, has signed with the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL).


- Nothing new to report on the sale of the team other than there is interest and things are progressing. Might be a good question for someone to ask on Saturday. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.



DID YOU KNOW: Getting off to a good start will be so important for the Americans this season. Last season Allen lost 25 of their first 31 games and were out of the playoff picture by Thanksgiving.     

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Player Announcements, Allen Roster, Dream List of Returnees Fading, ECHL Commissioner Interview, Allen's Undisciplined Penalties and More


It is now just 44 days before ECHL teams can take the ice for the start of training camp (September 27). The Allen Americans have fallen behind the rest of the ECHL in player announcements. Allen has officially announced just five players. Only three teams (Kalamazoo, Jacksonville, Tulsa) have announced fewer.


- 15 of the 27 ECHL teams have announced 10 or more players led by Maine (17) and Fort Wayne (15). The total players announced this far is now at 250 which is less than half the 575-600 players that will be on opening day rosters.


- It is important to remember two factors that impact the number of player announcements. Some teams/coaches don't like to make these announcements while they are in the middle of recruiting. There are many good reasons not to show your hand to other teams and players who you have signed. The flip side is player announcements are seen as a way to build enthusiasm in the off season and it helps the sales and marketing staffs.


- The second factor impacting the number of player annoucements is the trend of more NHL/AHL contracted players being assigned to ECHL teams. This impacts how many players ECHL teams will sign. You can expect to see 10+ contracted players on many ECHL rosters this season. Some of this can be attributed to the new rule adopted by the ECHL Board of Governors (BOG) about the number of games contracted players must play in the AHL to qualify for the ECHL playoffs. For players that are not veterans who are on AHL deals there is no longer a minimum number of AHL games they need to play to be eligible for the ECHL playoffs. The old rules required five games in the AHL. This rule change should mean more depth players signed to AHL deals that may not play in any AHL games but will still be eligible for ECHL playoffs. The trendsetter last season was Toronto who had 15 contracted players assigned to ECHL Kelly Cup champion, Newfoundland Growlers.


- The Americans official roster still stands at five players. Allen recently traded defenseman Dalton Thrower has to Jacksonville for defenseman Kayle Doetzel. While I am sure coach Martinson would not make this trade without knowing Doetzel would sign, there has been no official announcement he has signed. Here is the current roster:

Forwards
Spencer Asuchak
Mike Hedden
Jacob Doty
Braylon Shmyr

Defensemen
Ben Owen


-  While only five players have been officially announced coach Martinson is very busy on several fronts. While he has more players already signed he is close on several others that will be impact players for the Americans. He is also working with Iowa to sign depth players that will split time between Iowa and Allen. In addition he is lining up slots for AHL training camps (more than one team) where Martinson can give players he has signed an opportunity to show what they can do at the next level. He is also identifying who he will send to the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City to play with the Minnesota Wild team.


- Nothing new to report on the sale of the Allen Americans other then the effort is progressing and there is interest in buying the team. If a deal is to get done it should happen in the next month or so.


- A few former Allen Americans signed with new teams this past week:

Chris Crane - Chris finished last season with the Toledo Walleye and just signed with the Wichita Thunder.
Jaynen Rissling - Jaynen played in England last season and just signed with the South Carolina Stingrays.
Kyle Neuber - Kyle most recently played in Australia and just signed with the Florida Everblades.


- A while back I included the list below of names I hear from fans they would like to see return to Allen. Here is my take on all of these players as of today:

Chad Costello - signed with Krefeld (Germany)
Jamie Schaafsma - nothing official but it appears Jamie will not play in 2019-20
Matt Register - still unsigned, supposedly talking to several teams including Allen
Dyson Stevenson - signed with Utica (AHL)
Colby MacAuley- unofficial, signed with Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL)
Greger Hanson - retired
Gary Steffes - nothing official but appears he will once again play a fill in role as needed for Allen
Bryan Moore - signed with Cleveland (AHL)
Olivier Archambault - officially unsigned but have heard he has signed a deal with an AHL team
Riley Gill - nothing official but Riley is still trying to get healthy and will not play
Casey Pierro-Zabotel - unsigned, still a chance he could return to Allen
Dante Salituro - nothing official but have heard he is signing with another ECHL team


- Wild.com's Dan Meyer finished his series of interviews with the Wild affiliated coaches last week with an interview with Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. There is a link in this story to Dan's interviews with Allen coach Steve Martinson and Iowa coach Tim Army if you missed them:  https://www.nhl.com/wild/news/coach-catchup-bruce-boudreau-080819/c-308474138


-  Here is an interview written by Andrew Zadarnowski with ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin that covers ECHL expansion and getting to a three tiered system (NHL/AHL/ECHL) but read Crelin's answer to the question asked about whether the fact Toronto had 15 contracted players in Newfoundland last season created a competitive imbalance. https://www.habseyesontheprize.com/2019/8/11/20798589/echl-commissioner-ryan-crelin-interview-expansion-trois-rivieres-montreal-canadiens-leafs-growlers



DID YOU KNOW: Of the many issues Allen had last season, the number of undisciplined penalties certainly stands out and needs to change in 2019-20. Here are a few examples:

Minor Penalties - Allen led the league with 423 minor penalties. In contrast, the Kelly Cup champion, Newfoundland Growlers, took 298 minor penalties.

10 Minute Misconduct Penalties - Allen led the ECHL with 23, Newfoundland had four and the Reading Royals had one.

Game Misconduct Penalties - Allen led the league with 30. Rapid City had 20, Idaho 13 and Orlando 12. No other ECHL team reached double digits in game misconduct penalties.

Match Penalties - Allen led the league with seven match penalties. No other team had more than four. 12 teams had zero match penalties and another nine had just one.  
      




Saturday, August 3, 2019

Allen Americans Weekly Update



A couple of big picture items are top of mind this week while Allen Americans fans are awaiting  more player announcements.

- Minnesota Wild:  The Wild fired general manager Paul Fenton this week and that is always unsettling when your affiliate goes through a change especially at this point in preparing for next season. Fenton was only on the job for 14 months. Assistant General Manager, Tom Kurvers has been named as interim GM while a search is underway for Fenton's replacement. Coach Martinson deals with Kurvers a lot because as assistant GM one of his duties is to be the GM for the Iowa Wild. It remains to be seen what, if any, impact the changes will have on the Americans. Iowa is in the process of recruiting/signing depth players for their team who will be assigned to the Americans. Here is a story from the Minneapolis Star and Tribune about the situation with the Wild.  http://www.startribune.com/wild-general-manager-paul-fenton-fired-by-owner-craig-leipold/513393392/


- Allen Americans Sale: Nothing specific to report on the sale of the team other than my reporting is several groups are interested in buying the team and are in the process of doing their due diligence. Remember, owner Jack Gulati has said if the team isn't sold prior to the start of the season he will remove the franchise from sale to focus on competing in the 2019-20 season.


- The Americans official roster now stands at six players with the announcement last week that defenseman Dalton Thrower has been traded to Jacksonville for defenseman Kayle Doetzel. Here is the press release on the trade: https://allenamericans.com/americans-and-jacksonville-swap-defensemen/


1. Spencer Asuchak
2. Ben Owen
3. Mike Hedden
4. Jacob Doty
5. Braylon Shmyr
6. Kayle Doetzel


- There have been rumors all summer that former Allen Americans defenseman and three time ECHL Defenseman of the Year, Matt Register, would not return to Toledo. That was confirmed yesterday in a story written by Mark Monroe of the Toledo Blade where Toledo coach, Dan Watson, said Register would not be returning to Toledo. It also says in the story Register is "reportedly in talks with ECHL teams Idaho and Allen." Here is a link to Monroe's story: https://www.toledoblade.com/sports/walleye/2019/08/02/decorated-defenseman-matt-register-will-not-return-to-the-toledo-walleye/stories/20190802188


- I had a chance to talk to coach Martinson this morning and there are a lot of moving pieces going on right now. He is signing players himself, helping in signing depth guys for Iowa, identifying rookies to attend the Traverse City tournament, and identifying players that will attend Iowa's training camp. While there is a lot accomplished there is still work to be done. If all goes as planned, the Americans should have some exciting announcements next week.


- The number of player announcements around the ECHL continues to accelerate with an average of 8-10 players being announced each day. The total is now over 200 ranging from 16 by Maine to zero by Kalamazoo. The majority of teams have announced between six and ten players. At the start of the season there will be somewhere between 575-600 players on ECHL rosters so there is still a long way to go. It should be noted there are a lot of players signed but not announced by all ECHL teams.


- Dan Myers, Digital Content Coordinator for the Minnesota Wild is doing a series of interviews with the three head coaches in the Wild organization. He started with Allen coach Steve Martinson and it is a great interview. You will learn some new things about the Americans coach. Then Myers interviewed Iowa coach Tim Army. Yet to come is the interview with Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. Here are the links to the stories.

Steve Martinson: https://www.nhl.com/wild/news/coach-catchup-steve-martinson-072919/c-308385666

Tim Army: https://www.nhl.com/wild/news/coach-catchup-tim-army-080119/c-308413108


- I ran into Thomas Frazee this week and had a chance to talk to him briefly. He is thrilled that the Atlanta Gladiators reached out to him and signed him to a contract for next season. The veteran's rehab from season ending knee surgery last season is going well and he is looking forward to playing for Atlanta, where he makes his off season home. Frazee went out of his way to say how much he enjoyed his time in Allen and mentioned the team, front office and fans. He is a real class act.


- You may have heard of stick handling expert Pavel Barber, who posts many videos. Here is one that is a shootout challenge between the pros vs the YouTube guys. The pros are Cam Atkinson who scored 41 goals for the Columbus Blue Jackets last season and former Allen Americans forward J.C. Campagna who had 35 goals for Fort Wayne. It is 18 minutes long but the chirping and the shootout moves are enjoyable. Campagna acquits himself very well.




- My ECHL Stats page had its one year anniversary this week but is still not known by most ECHL fans. Do me a favor and if you are on Twitter give me a follow (@EchlStats). If you are on Facebook go to the ECHL Stats & Information page and give it a like. Thanks!



DID YOU KNOW: This was my ECHL Stats post for today:
Scoring more than 110 points in a season has happened 26 times in ECHL history but 23 of the 26 took place prior to the turn of the century. Here are the three exceptions:
125 - Chad Costello, 2014-15, Allen Americans
122 - Chad Costello, 2016-17, Allen Americans
114 - Tyler Donati, 2009-10, Elmira Jackals

What the post today didn't include was Steve Martinson was the coach for all three of these achievements. Also, Chad Costello is one of only 12 players who have scored 120+ points in one ECHL season. Chad's 125 points in 2014-15 is #9 all-time and his 122 points in 2016-17 is #10 all-time. The eight players ahead of Costello on the single season point list all set their marks between 1989 -1996 during the high scoring years of pro hockey. 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Allen Americans Weekly Update, Current Roster, Team for Sale, Greger Hanson Retires, Free Agent Players From the Past and More


There has been a lot happening around the Allen Americans and the ECHL both past and present so thought today would be a good day to cover a laundry list for those of you that don't follow on a day to day basis. Here goes:

- I received all kinds of feedback from the story I wrote last week about Jack Gulati selling the Allen Americans. If you haven't read that story here is the link: https://allenamericansblog.blogspot.com/2019/07/owner-jack-gulati-confirms-allen.html

I would emphasize the following from my conversation with owner Jack Gulati for the story:

The Americans are stable and profitable. Jack's reason for selling the team is because of health issues with his family.

If the team isn't sold prior to the start of the season Jack will remove the franchise from sale to focus on competing in the 2019-20 season.

There is no risk of the team leaving Allen.


- The number of player announcements around the ECHL has accelerated with almost 60 players announced in the last 10 days. The total is now over 140 ranging from 14 by Maine, 11 by Fort Wayne to three teams that have not announced any player signings (Brampton, Jacksonville, Kalamazoo). Brampton just filled their coaching vacancy (Spiros Anastas). The majority of teams have announced between five and nine players.


- The Americans official roster now stands at five players with the announcement last week that Braylon Shmyr has re-signed. Here is the Shmyr press release: https://allenamericans.com/americans-bring-back-forward-braylon-shmyr/

1. Spencer Asuchak
2. Ben Owen
3. Mike Hedden
4. Jacob Doty
5. Braylon Shmyr


- I had the chance to check in with coach Steve Martinson who is still at home in Rockford before returning to Allen next month. He has been very busy recruiting players he will sign and also working with Iowa on depth guys they will sign who will spend time in Allen. There are some old and new names being recruited that if successful will be very exciting for Allen fans.


- One player from the past that was rumored to be in the mix for Allen that won't return is Dyson Stevenson. It was announced earlier this week that Dyson has signed with the Utica Comets (AHL) where one of his teammates will be Vincent Arseneau. Being a depth guy for Utica, look for Dyson to spend most of the season in Kalamazoo, the ECHL affiliate for Utica. Here is a story written by blogger Cory Hergott which includes a section about Stevenson which says in part, "He has picked up 639 penalty minutes in 279 ECHL games, so I see Stevenson playing in Kalamazoo until someone like Vincent Arseneau gets dinged up in Utica."  https://canucksarmy.com/2019/07/23/utica-comets-add-depth-with-the-signings-of-defencemen-matt-petgrave-aaron-thow-along-with-forwards-dyson-stevenson-tanner-sorenson/


- Riley Bourbonnais has signed with the Odense Bulldogs in the top league in Denmark. Odense is the third largest city in Denmark with a population of about 200,000. Because Riley was given a qualifying offer by coach Martinson the Allen Americans will retain his ECHL rights for the upcoming season. 


- Greger Hanson's wife, Andrea, posted on social media, "After eight years of living the hockey life we are finally settling down! Greger and I are so excited to call Scottsdale our new home."

Hanson played four seasons in Allen and won three championships. Even though he is only 12th in regular season games played (195) he is tied for first in goals (98), fourth in points (225) and fourth in assists all-time.

Where Greger really excelled was in the playoffs. Between 2014-15 and 2016-17 Greger Hanson was #1 in the entire ECHL in playoff goals (30), #2 in points (60) and #4 in assists. In 59 ECHL playoff games, Hanson averaged 1.017 points per game with 30 goals and 30 assists. In addition to winning two Kelly Cups with Allen, Greger was the Kelly Cup MVP in the 2015 playoffs. Clearly one of the all-time greats in Allen Americans history.


- Richard Matvichuk, who was assistant coach in Allen for their first two championships has been hired as the Director of Hockey for the Burnaby Winter Club in Burnaby, British Columbia. Here is a press release: http://www.csshl.ca/leagues/newsletter.cfm?clientID=4542&leagueID=15269


- The Iowa Wild have announced that they have hired Alex Tanguay as an assistant coach. Tanguay played 15 seasons in the NHL and played in over 1000 games. He has been working as an analyst for the NHL Network. Here is the press release from the Wild with more detail:  https://www.iowawild.com/news/detail/iowa-wild-announces-alex-tanguay-as-assistant-coach



DID YOU KNOW:  Here is a list of Allen players from past seasons who are free agents. This is just a partial list with names I hear from fans they would like to see return to Allen. All but four are still available so if one of your favorites is on this list you can keep hoping.

Chad Costello - signed with Krefeld (Germany)
Jamie Schaafsma
Matt Register
Dyson Stevenson - signed with Utica (AHL)
Colby MacAuley
Greger Hanson - Retired
Gary Steffes
Bryan Moore - signed with Cleveland (AHL)
Olivier Archambault
Riley Gill
Casey Pierro-Zabotel
Dante Salituro
      


Friday, July 19, 2019

Owner Jack Gulati Confirms Allen Americans Up for Sale With Hope of Attracting Local Investors



Allen Americans owner, Jack Gulati has confirmed to me that the team is for sale. When Jack bought the Americans in 2017 his commitment was that  the team would stay in Allen and he would have a more fan friendly operation. Gulati became a familiar face to fans as he greeted them on the concourse before every game he attended.



Jack Gulati engaging Allen fans




When I contacted Jack this past January after he agreed to sell the other ECHL team he owned (Reading Royals) and asked him what that meant for Allen he said, "I am pleased that I was able to consummate the deal with the current owners of the Reading Royals Arena, where the team has played since 2001. This will have a very positive impact not only for the Reading Royals but as well for the Allen Americans. With the completion of this transaction it will allow me more time to visit with our great fans in Allen and to help the team grow. I am pleased and I hope all of the loyal fans of the Allen Americans will also be pleased that I will be able to see them more often."


Needless to say it was a surprise to hear the Allen Americans were for sale after what fans thought would be many years of stability. The team seemed to have everything going in a positive direction. Gulati negotiated a new five year lease with the City of Allen and the relationship between the city and the team is better than ever. All of the financials from season tickets to groups sales to corporate sponsorships improved each season to a point where the team is now profitable.


So why is the team for sale? The answer to why Jack Gulati is selling the team is very straightforward. He is dealing with some health issues in his family and he has decided as an absentee owner it is better for him and the team to try and find local investors to purchase the Americans. When I talked to Gulati he strongly emphasized the team will stay in Allen. Jack also told me if he doesn't get the team sold by the beginning of the upcoming season he will not sell during the season.


The Allen Americans have so much going as a franchise:

- The largest and most affluent market in the ECHL.
-  A great facility in the Allen Event Center in the middle of premier shopping, dining and entertainment in The Village at Allen and Fairview Town Center.
- DFW is home to 24 Fortune 500 companies and 43 Fortune 1000 companies.
- The on ice product, under the leadership of coach Steve Martinson, who has won 10 championships in 23 years of coaching, struggled last season but won four straight championships from 2013-2016. Martinson has won over 1000 professional games, one of only three coaches to accomplish that feat.


I know there is a lot that goes into the sale of a hockey team but my hope is a local businessman or group will see that the Allen franchise is on the upswing financially, Steve Martinson will recruit a competitive team for the 2019-20 season and the potential of this franchise is outstanding. Local ownership would be great for the ECHL, the Allen Americans and the fans. Only time will tell.     
 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Allen Americans Roster Update, Recruitment Progress, Fan Club Update, Former Player News, ECHL Stats & Information, Coaching Changes & More


The ECHL recruiting process is in full swing with player signing announcements becoming more frequent day by day. There is, however, a long way to go before training camps open the end of September. Thus far around the ECHL 86 player signings have been announced ranging from 10 by Maine, six by South Carolina and Worcester to four teams that have not announced any player signings (Brampton, Jacksonville, Kalamazoo, Tulsa). The majority of teams have announced between two and five players.


- On opening day there will be around 575 players on ECHL rosters so with 86 signed thus far that represents just 15% of opening day rosters. There has been a recent trend of more NHL/AHL contracted players being assigned to ECHL teams and that will impact how many players ECHL teams will sign. In my opinion you will see 8-10 contracted players on most ECHL teams (including Allen) when the season starts. Some of this can be attributed to the new rule adopted by the ECHL Board of Governors (BOG) about the number of games contracted players must play in the AHL to qualify for the ECHL playoffs. Here is that new rule:

The BOG reduced from 10 to five the number of games a veteran player on a NHL or AHL one way or two way contract must play in the AHL during the regular season to be eligible to play in the ECHL playoffs. This may give more opportunity for ECHL veterans to be signed to AHL deals and play the five games in the AHL to qualify for the ECHL playoffs.

For players that are not veterans who are on AHL deals there is no longer a minimum number of AHL games they need to play to be eligible for the ECHL playoffs. The old rules required five games in the AHL. This rule change should mean more depth players signed to AHL deals that may not play in any AHL games but will still be eligible for ECHL playoffs.


- The Allen Americans announced on Saturday that forward Jake Doty will be returning for the 2019-20 season. Doty led the Americans with 13 fighting majors last season and he didn't play his first game until November 21.


- The Americans official roster now stands at four players:

Spencer Asuchak
Ben Owen
Mike Hedden
Jacob Doty


- The Iowa Wild announced last week that they had signed four players. Three of them were defensemen that spent time in Allen last season. Alex Breton led all Allen defensemen in goals and assists despite being loaned to the AHL at the end of February for the remainder of the season. Jack Sadek and Nick Boka played briefly in Allen after completing their college careers. While any of these players could make the Iowa roster in training camp it is likely they will spent significant time in Allen this season. A fourth defenseman, Stepan Falkovsky, is also under contract with the Wild and spent the majority of last season in the ECHL (Allen & Manchester). He could also see time with Allen next season. Here is the Iowa press release. https://www.iowawild.com/news/detail/iowa-wild-signs-four-players-to-spc-contracts


- It is getting to the time of the off season when players looking for AHL deals or opportunities in Europe will start making decisions about where they will play next season. Some great players still in the mix for all ECHL teams.


- The Allen Americans Fan Club asked me to post the following information:

"The Allen Americans Fan Club is excited about the upcoming hockey season. A new Board of Directors was elected in July. Returning this year are Greg Simpson who will now be the President of the Fan Club, Beth Turner will be Vice President; Debra Chisolm, Treasurer; Ted Hosterman, member at Large and Teresa Taylor, Secretary. The new board has been passionately working in alignment with the Allen Americans and they have some exciting things planned to support the players. If you are interested in joining and having fun with other passionate Allen Americans Fans this is the year to join the fan club. The one question that is always asked is how much of a commitment is needed to be a Fan Club Member and the answer is to simply engage how you see fit as a fan club member. Reach out to the fan club at fanclub@allenamericans.com and one of the Board Members will be happy to answer any questions and/or send you a membership application."


- About a year ago I started a Twitter page (@ECHLStats) where I post stats and information that I find interesting and hope other ECHL fans do as well. During the summer I also started to post this information on the Allen Americans Blog Facebook page. Last week I decided to set up a separate  page on Facebook called "ECHL Stats & Information" where I will post this leaguewide information. If you are on Facebook, please go to this new "ECHL Stats & Information" page and "Like" the page.


- I will call this the social section about former Allen players. Happy birthday to Dyson Stevenson who turns 26 today. Congrats to Joel and Alexandra Rumpel who got married this weekend. Congrats to Trevor Hendrikx and his wife Laura who just announced they are expecting their first child in January.


- The 2019 World Roller Games were just completed in Barcelona, Spain. More than 4000 athletes competed in events including Alpine, Roller Freestyle, Downhill, Dance, Roller Derby, Rink Hockey and Speed just to name a few. Former Allen Americans forward Jack Combs was a member of the USA rink hockey team that won the World Championship beating the Czech Republic 3-0 in the championship game.


- Check out this story from the Hockey News, "There's a New Hockey Factory in Minnesota - And It's a Middle School" https://thehockeynews.com/news/article/theres-a-new-hockey-factory-in-minnesota-and-its-a-middle-school


- Idaho head coach Neil Graham has been appointed as an assistant coach of the AHL Texas Stars. Idaho then promoted assistant coach, Everett Sheen to head coach of the Steelheads. Here are the details.
 
Neil Graham promoted to Texas Stars: https://www.idahosteelheads.com/en/articles/head-coach-neil-graham-appointed-as-texas-stars-assistant-coach

Everett Sheen promoted to Idaho's head coach: https://www.idahosteelheads.com/en/articles/steelheads-name-everett-sheen-as-franchise-s-eighth-head-coach



DID YOU KNOW: In Allen's first championship in 2013, a dramatic overtime goal in game seven by Todd Robinson is etched in everyone's mind but just as important was the game tying goal by defenseman Trevor Hendrikx with 2:19 left in regulation. It was Trevor's only shot of the game.