Monday, September 28, 2020

Allen Americans Stats - A Look at Penalty Minutes and Tough Guys

Today I want to take a look at Allen Americans individual stats for penalty minutes (PIMS) and fights. In the process I will make some conclusions on the tough guys that have played in Allen. PIMS are not a good surrogate for tough guys, especially all time PIMS but let's start with the top five players all time and the top five single season PIMS leaders:


PIMS Leaders (all-time)

487 - Garrett Clarke (4 seasons)

475 - David Makowski (4 seasons)

377 - Spencer Asuchak (7 seasons)

331 - Bryan Moore (2 seasons)

326 - Trevor Hendrikx (3 seasons)


PIMS Leaders (single season)

274 - Derek Mathers (2016-17)

257 - Garrett Klotz (2013-14)

256 - Brett Lyon (2014-15)

223 - Garrett Clarke (2012-13)

218 - Bryan Moore (2017-18)



Maybe a better way to look at tough guys is how often they drop the gloves. Here is a list of the players with the most fights each season since the start of the Allen Americans franchise.

2019-20:   Cole Fraser (6 fights)
2018-19:   Jake Doty (13 fights)
2017-18:   Josh Thrower (10 fights)
2016-17:   Derek Mathers  (29 fights)
2015-16:   Dyson Stevenson  (16 fights)
2014-15:   Garrett Clarke  (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)


- There are plenty of heavyweight fighters not on the lists above because they were not in Allen a full year. Here are a few of them:

Kip Brennan (6'4" 230) - Kip had the tough guy role in the NHL, AHL and spent parts of two seasons with Allen at the end of his career. In 2010-11 Kip played in 31 games for Allen and had 21 points (8G 13A) to go along with 146 PIMS and 10 fights.

Alex Penner (6'4" 240) - With a nickname of "Weapon X" there is little doubt about the enforcer role Penner played in his professional hockey career. Alex played just 20 games (1G, 3A) with Allen in the 2012-13 season and accumulated 88 PIMS before being suspended for the remainder of the season and playoffs after a brawl against the Fort Worth Brahmas on February 23. Allen fans may remember in November of 2018 Steve Martinson signed Penner to a contract for one weekend when the Americans were playing Wichita at home twice for the first time after a previous game resulted in 10 fighting majors. After the ECHL put both teams on notice that any actions the league felt would be detrimental to the league in the weekend games would lead to fines and suspensions the Americans management made the decision to not register Penner's contract. Allen and Wichita split the two games and there were no fights.

Britt Dougherty 6'3" 225) - Britt was on the 2009-10 Allen team and had 10 fights in his first 42 games (1G, 2A) for the Americans before getting hurt in February. His injury led to an early retirement from pro hockey. A pure fighter, there were not many CHL players that wanted to fight Dougherty.

- There are agitators who will fight, there are players that will stick up for their teammates but are not pure fighters and there are players whose primary role is to fight, though in recent times you have to be more than just a fighter. It is a part of the game where it is hard to find consensus on who was the best. If you look at who fought the most, Derek Mather's 29 fights in 2016-17 stands out and his record may never be broken.


- When you ask the question who is the best fighter to ever play in Allen, the player most feared by opponents, for me two names rise to the top of the list. From back in the CHL days it would be Alex Penner and more recently it would be Jake Doty. Two guys that wouldn't back down from anyone and players that rarely lost a fight. Allen still owns the ECHL rights to Doty who is under contract with the AHL Ontario Reign. In 53 games with Allen, Doty has 14 points (5G, 9A). 


- When it comes to most entertaining fighter it is hard to beat Darryl Bootland. In his career Bootland had over 1400 PIMS in the AHL, over 1400 PIMS in the ECHL and over 400 in the CHL. Bootland was in his 30's when he joined the Americans for two seasons (2012-2014). In 100 games with the Americans the man known as Booter had 30 goals, 45 assists and 280 PIMS. He was part of two CHL championships with the Americans. Here is one of Bootland's fights after he delivered a big check on one of Tulsa's top scorers, Gary Steffes.



- Without a doubt the most famous fight in Allen history involved a player the rarely fought but could handle himself when he did fight. Judd Blackwater had just two fights in 2010-11 but his two punch knockout on March 2, 2011 went viral on YouTube. 



DID YOU KNOW: PIMS during the playoffs are always reduced but not as much back in the CHL days. Here are the top five players in PIMS in a single postseason. The top four are from the CHL years:

82 - Mike Salekin (2009-10)

61 - Justin Bowers (2009-10)

60 - Darryl Bootland (2012-13)

56 - Jim McKenzie (2012-13)

55 - Vincent Arseneau (2015-16)

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Barry the Blogger Channels Doubting Thomas, Debbie Downer and the Half Empty Glass Regarding the 2020-21 ECHL Season

I have been thinking about writing about my thoughts on the upcoming ECHL hockey season for a while now and decided today is the day. If I had to describe this post it would definitely be the glass half empty point of view. After all, with the Dallas Stars in the NHL final, some pro hockey leagues in Europe starting to play, the NFL in full swing with fans in the stands in some cases and high school sports starting, the glass half full may be the more prevalent point of view but that is not mine as it relates to the ECHL and the Allen Americans.

- Here are some of the stories and comments I have seen in the last week or so that gives me pause:

NHL - Commissioner Gary Bettman admitted on Saturday he would not be surprised if the start date for the 2020-21 season slips into later December or even into January.

AHL - I saw a statement where the AHL needs a minimum of 60 days notice before they could start a season as some employees are furloughed and start up will take time. It is pretty clear the AHL will not start its season before the NHL. Another cause for concern is you see more and more NHL/AHL contracted players being loaned to teams in Europe. I am sure these loans include the right to recall the players back at any time but that is not a good sign. I saw where as of Saturday, 110 NHL/AHL contracted players have been loaned to European clubs led by Edmonton with 12 players loaned. 

EIHL - One European league has suspended play for the 2020-21 season. The top pro league in Great Britain is similar to the ECHL in that they cannot survive without fans in the stands. They are also similar to the US in that they have been hit hard by COVID-19 and it is on the upswing. While the US has the highest rate of deaths per million population in North America (617 per million) the Untied Kingdom is #3 in Europe in deaths per million population (615 per million). In the EIHL press release announcing the suspension of the season the league indicated if government guidance and support were to change some teams could revise their plans to return to play. You have started to see players from the EIHL sign with ECHL clubs and more will likely follow. One such player is former Allen goalie C.J. Motte who played for Coventry. Motte finished the 2019-20 season with Coventry after starting the season in Austria and was statistically the best goalie in the EIHL over the 24 games he played.

DEL - The top German league has been delayed from September 18 to November 13 but as of now they haven't released a schedule and the capacity is limited to 20%. Most teams will not survive at 20% capacity so further delays are possible. This is the league that Chad Costello has played in since going to Europe. With the uncertainty in Germany, Chad could sign with Allen or look to the leagues in Europe that will start play earlier. Sweden has already started playing with Finland starting October 1st and Norway starting October 3rd. 


ECHL -  Keeping in mind the information above it is hard for me to believe the ECHL will start play on December 4th which is the planning assumption right now. It appears the NHL and AHL will not start until later and you have to assume the ECHL will follow their lead. The ECHL start up is complicated by the fact the league is in 19 states all with different rules on how many people can be in their arenas. You add the two Canadian provinces and it is hard to see how this can work especially with the prediction cases will spike as winter arrives. It is hard to conclude anything other than some teams are not going to make it through this pandemic and changes to the schedule, travel, etc. will be constantly in flux. 


Allen Americans -  If things aren't bleak enough conjecturing about the 2020-21 season a recent  announcement hit home. The city of Coralville, Iowa (suburb of Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa) has announced an agreement with the ownership group of the Newfoundland Growlers to bring an ECHL team to their new Xtream Arena for the 2021-22 season. While the ECHL made it clear a franchise has not been approved the expectation is this will happen. There was nothing in the press release indicating the new ECHL team would affiliate with Minnesota but when you consider the Wild's AHL affiliate is in Des Moines, which is a mere 115 miles from Iowa City, it is a natural fit.


So there you have my glass half empty, the sky is falling speculation about what might be in store for the ECHL and Allen Americans in 2020-21. A recap of my worst case scenarios:

- COVID-19 stats get worse the next three months

- ECHL delays season even further

- many ECHL teams decide they can't play under current capacity guidelines

- Chad Costello doesn't sign in Allen or Germany but plays elsewhere in Europe

- Minnesota Wild switch ECHL affiliation to a new franchise in Iowa City for the 2021-22 season.  

I would be thrilled to be wrong about each and everyone of these points. Reading the tea leaves is always speculative. Maybe because I am now 73 years old and in that "expendable group" I am seeing this with a jaundiced eye. I hope the glass half full options win out. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Allen Americans Stats - Offensive Defensemen

 I heard in an interview recently the question posed about which Allen team, since joining the ECHL, had the best group of defensemen from an offensive perspective. I decided to take a look back from several different angles to see what the stats show to see if any one group stands out.


- The easiest calculation is to look at goals scored by the defensive group by season. Because 2019-20 was a shortened season the goals scored was adjusted by taking average goals per game times 72. Here are the goals scored by defensemen by season:

55   2019-20

41   2018-19

46   2017-18

55   2016-17

51   2015-16

57   2014-15

- If you look at total points by defensemen rather than just goals here are the results. Again, the 2019-20 number was adjusted for a complete 72 game season.

240   2019-20

176   2018-19

184   2017-18

205   2016-17

163   2015-16

215   2014-15

- Next I looked at the top individual seasons for defensemen in points, goals and assists:

POINTS (50+ point seasons)

56 - Aaron Gens (2014-15)*

55 - Alex Breton (2019-20)*

54 - David Makowski (2017-18)

51 - Joel Chouinard (2017-18)

50 - David Makowski (2016-17)

*led ECHL


GOALS (14+ goal seasons)

17 - David Makowski (2015-16)*

16 - David Makowski (2016-17)

16 - Tyler Ludwig (2014-15)*

15 - Stepan Falkovsky (2019-20)*

14 - Alex Breton (2018-19)

14 - Eric Roy (2017-18)

14 - Eric Roy (2015-16)

*led ECHL


ASSISTS (30+ assist seasons)

48 - Aaron Gens (2014-15)*

44 - Alex Breton (2019-20)*

43 - David Makowski (2017-18)

39 - Joel Chouinard (2017-18)

36 - Kevin Young (2014-15)

34 - David Makowski (2016-17)

34 - Joel Chouinard (2016-17)

*led ECHL



- The Allen Americans have had some outstanding offensive defensemen since joining the ECHL in 2014-15. If you look at which group of defensemen was best the stats would point to the 2014-15 and 2019-20 teams as the standouts. Both seasons had the ECHL leaders in points, goals and assists. In 2014-15 Aaron Gens led the ECHL in points (56) and assists (48) while Tyler Ludwig led in goals (16). In 2019-20 Alex Breton led the league in points (55) and assists (44) while Stepan Falkovsky led in goals (15). 


- It is impossible to tell what the 2019-20 defensive group could have accomplished if the regular season had been completed and the playoffs took place. There is no doubt they were one of the best offensive group of defensemen ever.


- The 2014-15 group was the only one in Allen history to have four players reach 35 points (Aaron Gens, Kevin Young, Justin Baker, Tyler Ludwig). The 2019-20 team had two defensemen with more then 35 points (Alex Breton & Stepan Falkovsky). Jack Sadek finished with 32 points and would most likely have made 35+ had the season not been canceled.


- What distinguishes the 2014-15 group of defensemen and makes them in my opinion the top offensive group is their performance in the 2015 Kelly Cup playoffs. To an already strong group Allen added Konrad Abeltshauser to the roster at the end of the regular season from their AHL affiliate, Worcester Sharks. The Americans went on to win their first Kelly Cup and defensemen finished the playoffs with five of the top 11 spots in assists. 


- In summary, while there have been many groups of great offensive defensemen since the Allen Americans joined the ECHL the records of the 2014-15 group has them #1 all time. Here is a recap of their stats:

#1 -  Kelly Cup Champions

#1 - Most goals scored by defensive group, one season (57)

#1 - Most points by individual defenseman, one season (56)

#1 - Most assists by individual defenseman, one season (48)

#2 - Most goals by individual defenseman, one season (16)

#2 - Most points by defensive group, one season (215)



DID YOU KNOW: David Makowski is the only defenseman to ever lead the Americans in game winning goals. In 2015-16, David had seven game winning goals which is #3 all time. #1 all time is Greger Hanson (11) and #2 is Gary Steffes (8) both set in 2014-15. 


- Here is another stat about offensive defensemen. Just seven Allen defensemen have a career points per game average above .500 (minimum 100 games regular season and playoffs). The years played in Allen is in parenthesis:

.825 - Alex Breton (2018-20)

.814 - David Makowski (2015-19)

.679 - Tyler Ludwig (2011-15)

.611 - Eric Roy (2015-19)

.601 - Joel Chouinard (2016-19)

.561 - Aaron Gens (2014-17)

.554 - Justin Baker (2014-16)


Thursday, September 3, 2020

Allen Americans Stats - Why the 2014-15 Allen Americans Team Was the Best Team in Franchise History

The Allen Americans were a good team from the very start of the franchise back in 2009-10 when they lost in the CHL championship finals to Rapid City. Since that time the Americans have won four championships (four in a row from 2013 to 2016) and have missed the playoffs just one time. When the topic of the best team in Allen history comes up there are so many sides to the argument it always makes for a good discussion. Today I picked out three regular season stats to compare all 11 Allen seasons to see which teams fares the best. There are many stats you could pick to determine best team but my choice was winning percentage, finish in regular season standings and goal differential.

Winning Percentage
.710 - 2019-20
.389 - 2018-19
.542 - 2017-18
.722 - 2016-17
.618 - 2015-16
.736 - 2014-15
.629 - 2013-14
.659 - 2012-13
.659 - 2011-12
.735 - 2010-11
.695 - 2009-10

Finish in Standings
3rd - 2019-20
27th - 2018-19
14th - 2017-18
2nd - 2016-17
6th - 2015-16
2nd - 2014-15
3rd - 2013-14
1st - 2012-13 (by one point)
2nd - 2011-12
1st - 2010-11 (by 13 points)
4th - 2009-10

Goal Differential
+52  2019-20
-61   2018-19
+3    2017-18
+91  2016-17
+18  2015-16
+89  2014-15
+35  2013-14
+34  2012-13
+37  2011-12
+60  2010-11
+27  2009-10

In order to aggregate these three stats I assigned points from 11 for the top team in each stat to one for the bottom team. If a team finished first in all three stats they would have 33 points and if last they would total just three points. Here are the results:

30  2010-11
30  2014-15*
29  2016-17
22  2019-20
22  2012-13*
22  2011-12
16  2013-14*
15  2009-10
9  2015-16*
6  2017-18
3  2018-19

*Won championship

There are many conclusions you can draw from these stats, the first of which is they are not a good proxy for the best teams in Allen's history. I believe the stats are instructive and the two teams with 30 points are indeed the best teams in franchise history. Here are some of my conclusions:

- Regular season success does not predict playoff success. The three teams at the top of the list were all great teams and stand above the rest but only one (2014-15) went on to win the Kelly Cup.  

- The 2015-16 Kelly Cup winning team is not given enough credit when you consider their regular season was not that remarkable. Their .618 winning percentage is ranked 9th in Allen's 11 seasons or said another way it was the third worst winning percentage in team history. They finished sixth in the ECHL standings, again the third worst finish in history. Finally their goal differential of +18 is only ahead of the 2017-18 (+3) and 2018-19 (-61) teams. Things didn't look good for the Americans in the first round of the playoffs as they fell behind 3-2 in the series against Idaho and had to come from behind in game seven to win in overtime. After the first round the Americans beat the #1 seed, Missouri, 4-2, Fort Wayne (4-1) and Wheeling (4-2) to claim their second straight Kelly Cup and fourth straight championship.

- The argument for the 2010-11 team being the best in history is evidenced by the fact they not only finished #1 in the regular season, they won their conference by 20 points and had 13 more points than any other team in the league (CHL). Allen has had just nine 30+ goal scorers in their 11 year history and three (Bruce Graham, Colton Yellow Horn, Nino Musitelli) came from the 2010-11 team. The outstanding regular season ended in disappointment in the playoffs when Allen lost 4-1 in the conference finals to Bossier-Shreveport who went on to win the championship.

- If you come from the school of thought you can't be the best team in history if you don't win a championship, hands down the best team is the 2014-15 Allen Americans. That team had the best winning percentage (.736) in team history. They finished second in the ECHL with 106 points, just one behind Toledo. Their +89 goal differential is second all time. The only two 40 goal scorers in Allen history (Chad Costello & Gary Steffes) were on that team. In the playoffs, after cruising through the first two rounds, beating Tulsa (4-1) and Rapid City (4-2), the Americans had epic come from behind seven game series wins over Ontario in the conference finals and South Carolina in the Kelly Cup Finals. The upstart Allen Americans were given little chance to win the Kelly Cup having just arrived in the ECHL from the defunct CHL which made the championship even more rewarding.

- The is no argument on the worst team in Allen history. The 2018-19 team has by far the worst ever winning percentage (.389), they finished dead last (27th) in the standings and with a goal differential of -61 it is the only team in history with a negative goal differential, enough said.

- We will never know how good the 2019-20 Allen team could have been because of the shortened season. When the season ended Allen had a winning percentage of .710 (4th all time), was third in the ECHL standings and had a goal differential of +52 with 10 games remaining. It sure looked like another deep playoff run was a possibility.

- For a long time I have thought the best team in Allen franchise history was the 2010-11 team and there is no doubt that team had the most dominant regular season in team history. But as of today I am convinced, at least for me, the best team of all time was the 2014-15 Kelly Cup Championship team. The cherry on top of the success of the 2014-15 team was the fact Chad Costello had the best season in the history of the ECHL. Chad had 125 points that season and won the scoring championship by 45 points, the largest margin in ECHL history. Chad had more assists (84) than any other player in the league had total points.

- In case you don't remember the names from the best team in Allen Americans history here are the skaters that played at least 20 games (playoffs and/or regular season) for the Americans that season in alphabetical order. That team was loaded with talent.
Konrad Abeltshauser
Vincent Arseneau
Spencer Asuchak
Justin Baker
Garrett Clarke
Jack Combs
Chad Costello
Chris Crane
Nolan Descoteaux
Josef Fojtik
Kyle Follmer
Aaron Gens
Greger Hanson
Trevor Ludwig
Tyler Ludwig
Brett Lyon
Brian McMillin
Jesse Messier
Jamie Schaafsma
Ian Schultz
Rylan Schwartz
Gary Steffes
Dyson Stevenson
Patrik Valcak
Kevin Young


- Riley Gill was the primary goalie in 2014-15 and played the vast majority of the games in the regular season (50) and playoffs (21). Aaron Dell started the season in Allen in 2014-15 and played in 12 games before his promotion the AHL. Joel Rumpel played in a total of 11 games, four in the regular season and seven in the playoffs. 

- Here is a photo taken by team photographer, Kimberly Sauer, who past away last May, of the best team in franchise history, the 2014-15 Kelly Cup champions.