Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Time to be Monitoring Your NHL & AHL Affiliates, Choosing College or Pros, Barry the Blogger Turns 70

With the official start of training camps around the ECHL just over a week away (September 29) it is important for all ECHL fans to keep informed on what is happening at their NHL & AHL affiliates training camps. These camps can have a big impact on what the ECHL rosters will eventually look like. Let's use the San Jose Sharks as an example. They started camp last Friday with 72 players divided into three groups including many names familiar to Allen fans because they played for the Americans in the past. On Monday the Sharks trimmed the roster by 13 players and sent 11 of those players to the San Jose Barracuda's training camp which commences this coming Monday (September 25).

- The Sharks played their first preseason game last night and came away with a 5-0 shutout win against the Anaheim Ducks. Aaron Dell was in goal for San Jose and played just as he left off last season with a great performance. The Sharks coach, Pete DeBoer, had made it clear the backup goalie position was open to competition with AHL goalie of the year Troy Grosenick also in the mix. Here is a story about the game and Dell's performance last night written by Paul Gackle titled, "What we learned in Sharks preseason opener: Dell tightens grip on backup goalie job" - http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/09/19/what-we-learned-in-sharks-preseason-opener-dell-tightens-grip-on-backup-goalie-job/


- The focus for Allen fans should now turn to the Barracuda camp which starts on Monday. The complete roster for that camp has not been issued but the first 11 players have been added to the roster. As mentioned yesterday they are defensemen, Micheal Brodzinski, Cavan Fitzgerald, David Makowski and Jeremy Roy; forwards, Jonathan Martin, Colby McAuley, Bryan Moore, Alex Schoenborn, Alexander True, Manuel Wiederer and goalie Stephon Williams.

- The rest of the Barracuda roster will be made up of additional players the Sharks will send down between today and Monday along with some tryout players. Allen will be sending five tryout players to the Barracuda camp. This process is repeating itself all across hockey. Some ECHL teams have already announced the tryout players they are sending to ECHL camps and I assume the Americans will make their announcement in the next couple of days. The try out players usually have roundtrip tickets so in most cases they will be returning to Allen before the start of the Americans camp. Based on past seasons here is how the schedule might work for the tryout players. They start camp with the Barracuda on Monday (25th) and will practice until the first preseason game which is Thursday (28th) in Bakersfield against the Condors. After that game most will return to Allen. One or two players may stay longer but will still be on a tryout contract. Last season Harrison Ruopp was one of the tryout players and stayed with the Barracuda until the first week of November. The best case scenario for one of these tryout players is they would be offered a standard players contract. It doesn't happen very often but it is a possibility. Most of the tryout players should be back in Allen when the Americans camp begins presumably a week from Friday. When the on ice practices begin has not been announced by the team so stay tuned for that. 

- The other unknown is how many players that are under contract in San Jose will be assigned to Allen and when will they be assigned. The list of 11 above are the most likely candidates which includes Makowski, Moore, Brodzinski, Schoenborn and Martin who all saw action in Allen last season. The most likely player to be sent to Allen before the Americans start training camp is goalie Stephon Williams. Since he was the first goalie from Sharks camp sent to the Barracuda it reinforces he is number five on the San Jose depth chart and will be the goalie San Jose sends to Allen. Barring any goalie injuries in San Jose this could happen sometime next week but you will just have to wait and see. Here is the press release issued by San Jose when they signed Williams which will give you some background:  http://www.sjbarracuda.com/news/detail/barracuda-sign-goaltender-stephon-williams


- I have had several questions about tickets for the two preseason games that will take place in the community rink against Kansas City on October 6 (8:45 pm) and October 7 (5:30 pm). Ticket information should be out in the next few days. With the limited seating, coordinating with the Mavericks, the Allen Event Center and city officials there are all kinds of logistical details that have to be worked out.


- Another question I had from a reader is in regards to a player by the name of Tyler Coulter who is a rookie forward who just finished his junior career with the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL). Back in August the Brandon paper had an article about what was happening with several Wheat King players and in that story mentioned that Coulter would be attending rookie camp with the Arizona Coyotes (NHL) and had also signed a deal to play for the Allen Americans in 2017-18.  Here is that story: http://bdnmb.ca/three-wheat-kings-off-to-camp-one-joins-coaching-ranks/.  Subsequently it was reported Coulter had signed to attend college and play for the University of Calgary. What is known for sure is Coulter did attend rookie camp with Arizona and he in fact scored a goal in one of the rookie games.

As for the reporting that seems to be in conflict it may make more sense than it appears. My understanding is there is nothing to prevent a player that has just finished his junior career to commit to a college program and still negotiate a professional deal. A player can actually turn pro and still play college hockey that same season as long as he enrolls by a certain date which is sometime around the end of December. There are several examples of this happening in Allen over the years, the most recent being Jason Fram last season. It is always risky when you have one of these players on the roster because you never know if they will leave in December. Coulter is a Steve Martinson type player with skill (30 goals last season), grit (100 penalty minutes) and leadership (wore an "A" last season) so he would be a great rookie addition but it remains to be seen if he opts for college or the pros and if he should turn pro will he stay or head back to college in December. If Coulter does intend on turning pro there should be an announcement out soon.


DID YOU KNOW: Barry the Blogger turns 70 today. I celebrated as I do every morning with a 22 mile bike ride with my buddy, Jerry Tucker. I know age is just a number and it is how you feel that is important but to say you are 70 years old sounds like the official passage into old age. I know one way to stay young is writing this blog and hanging around a bunch of 20 something hockey players. I am blessed to be able to write about the Allen Americans each and every day.  

     

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sharks Trim Roster & Send 11 to Barracuda Camp, Lots of Leaders on Allen's Roster & More

The San Jose Sharks trimmed their training camp roster by 13 players yesterday. That took the training camp roster from from 55 players to 42 players. Two players were sent back to their junior teams and the other 11 were assigned to the San Jose Barracuda training camp which will officially open on Monday, September 25. This list of 11 is of special interest to Allen Americans fans as this is the group from which Allen is most likely to get players assigned. They are all under contract with San Jose.

Defensemen
Micheal Brodzinski
Cavan Fitzgerald
David Makowski
Jeremy Roy

Forwards
Jonathan Martin
Colby McAuley
Bryan Moore
Alex Schoenborn
Alexander True
Manuel Wiederer

Goalie
Stephon Williams


- The complete training camp roster for the Barracuda has not yet been released but remember coach Martinson has indicated he will have five players attending the camp on a tryout basis. Martinson himself will also be in attendance at the Barracuda training camp.


- The last two days I made an attempt to look at the Allen Americans 2017-18 roster in terms of offensive production and toughness/grit. Today I want to take a look at the roster in terms of leadership on and off the ice. This is an important component of success for any hockey team. Even more so this season when you think the entire on ice leadership team from last season will not be back. Co-captains Chad Costello (playing in Germany), Gary Steffes (retired) and alternate captain Dyson Stevenson (traded to Wichita) will certainly be missed. However, as I was reading the bios of some of the new players it seemed to me the roster for the upcoming season is filled with players that can fill the void.

Joel Chouinard has already been named captain for the upcoming season and that choice has been heralded by everyone. Joel has served as captain and alternate captain in the past and if you watched him last season, his first with Allen, you could see him take on more and more of a leadership role as the season progressed. As Steve Martinson said when he named Chouinard captain, "This is what comes to mind when I think of Joel. He does everything right. He is in top shape and always the hardest worker. He is a team first player." Chouinard is also by far the most experienced when it comes to AHL games played. Combined the roster has 440 AHL games, Joel has 204 of them.

Casey Pierro-Zabotel - It is hard to imagine Casey won't have a big leadership role on this team. When you are the winner of the last two Kelly Cups playing for two different teams (Allen & Colorado) it says all you need to know about how to win. Casey was an alternate captain in Colorado last season and also served in that capacity when he played for Gwinnett in 2014-15. I am sure he will be counted on for leadership on the ice and in the locker room.

I have had players tell me in the past team leadership is so much more than who wears a "C" or "A" on the ice. The current roster has plenty of players with leadership qualities. Here are the players on the current Allen roster (17 players) that have been a captain or alternate captain in the past. This info is from the website eliteprospects.com

Miles Liberati - alternate captain for his junior team (North Bay Battalion - OHL)
Jaynen Rissling - alternate captain and captain for his junior team (Calgary Hitmen - WHL)
Eric Roy - alternate captain for two seasons on his junior team (Brandon Wheat Kings - WHL)
Dalton Thrower - captain of his junior team (Vancouver Giant - WHL)
Mathieu Aubin - captain in Cincinnati (ECHL) and alternate captain in Utah (ECHL)
Tanner Eberle - alternate captain for two years in juniors (Moose Jaw Warriors - WHL)
Zach Pochiro - alternate captain for his junior team (Prince George Cougars - WHL)

With only 17 players currently on the Allen roster you can look for three or four more to be added. Players signed by coach Martinson or assigned by San Jose. There will assuredly be more leaders in this group. Bottom line is this team will have plenty of leaders on and off the ice. You can never have too many players that have a team first attitude. And one of the traits of a good leader is they are also good followers.


OTHER COMMENTS

- I heard from the league office that the press release on all of the critical dates for the upcoming season should be released some time next week.


- Congrats to Riley and Angie Gill who announced they are expecting their second child in March.


- The Mountain Division has a new look this season with Alaska folding and Kansas City moving to the Central Division along with the addition of long time Allen rivals Wichita and Tulsa. If you are on Twitter and haven't already done so, you should give the other Mountain Division Team Sin Bin writers a follow. It is a great way to keep up with the happenings around the division.

@SinBinRush - Mike Crook covers the Rapid City Rush
@SinBinThunder - Matt Harding & Zach Courter cover the Wichita Thunder
@SinBinEagles - Jay Hay covers the Colorado Eagles
@Rich_Lohman - Rich Lohman covers the Tulsa Oilers


- It was a good day on Sunday for Chad Costello and Spencer Asuchak. Chad's team (Iserlohn Roosters) earned their first win after three loses. Better yet Chad scored his first goal of the season. Spencer's team (HKM Zvolen) also won to improve their record to 2-2. He also has one goal thus far.


DID YOU KNOW: As the Allen roster stands today (17 players) they have a combined total of 644 games played for the Americans. Ten of the 17 players have games played for Allen. Here are those 10 players with games played in an Americans jersey:
122 - Riley Gill
101 - Mike Gunn
92 - Eric Roy
72 - Joel Chouinard
62 - Jonathan Lessard
62 - Tanner Eberle
58 - Casey Pierro-Zabotel
34 - Miles Liberati
33 - Zach Hall
8 - Kyle Neuber


Monday, September 18, 2017

Measuring Grit and Toughness - The 2017-18 Americans Will Have Plenty Plus Other Updates

Yesterday I made an attempt to look at the current Allen Americans roster (17 players signed and announced) and the roster from last season as it relates to scoring and pointed out why the numbers don't tell all. Today I want to take a look at another premise between the two rosters. That premise is will the 2017-18 roster be tougher, grittier and harder to play against than the team last season. Coach Martinson has said to me many times what he looks for in players is their willingness to finish their checks, move people from in front of the net, be fearless and make it difficult for others to play against. Yes, fighting is part of the equation but that is not the main factor of how tough a team is to play against. If a player is willing to stand up for his teammates and is fearless that is a real asset.

With the appropriate caveat above I thought it would be interesting to look at penalty minutes per game for the same list of players I used to compare points per game yesterday. It is a poor surrogate for grit and toughness but it is measurable. Here are the results:

2016-17
4.64 -  Derek Mathers
2.80 - Bryan Moore
2.26 - David Makowski
2.00 -  Dyson Stevenson
1.89 -  Tanner Eberle
1.80 -  Harrison Ruopp
1.67 -  Mike Gunn
0.83 - Spencer Asuchak
0.79 -  Zach Hall
0.67 -  Jake Marchment
0.63 -  Gary Steffes
0.58 -  Chad Costello
0.56 -  Travis Brown
0.50 -  Joel Chouinard
0.48 -  Greger Hanson
0.45 -  Eric Roy

2017-18
3.00 - Dalton Thrower
1.89 - Tanner Eberle
1.67 -  Mike Gunn
1.61 -  Josh Thrower
1.57 -  Zach Pochiro
1.18 - Marcus
1.10 -  Jonathan Lessard
0.97 -  Jaynen Rissling
0.83 -  Olivier Archambault
0.79 -  Zach Hall
0.65 - Casey Pierro-Zabotel
0.50 - Joel Chouinard
0.45 -  Eric Roy
0.42 -  Mathieu Aubin
0.18 -  Miles Liberati

- If you look at the raw numbers the advantage goes to the team from last season even though both of these lists have seven players who averaged more than one penalty minute per game last season.


- Just like with the scoring comparison you need to keep in mind the roster for the upcoming season is not complete. If you add Bryan Moore (2.80), David Makowski (2.26) and Vincent Arseneau (3.67) to the list for 2017-18 there is little doubt it will be tougher and harder to play against than last year's team.

- Don't forget Kyle Neuber is also on the roster and is not included on either list above. Kyle has played just eight games for Allen over the last two seasons but in those eight games he has averaged 2.25 penalty minutes per game.


OTHER COMMENTS

- The Americans have hired a new trainer to replace Jaime Garcia who is now working for the Rochester Americans (AHL). Will have all the details on this new hire later this week.


- I have heard from several readers after writing about Beckett Dougherty, the three month old son of Britt and Kelley (Sklar) Dougherty, who his battling cancer. If you haven't seen the story you can find it here: http://allenamericansblog.blogspot.com/2017/09/allen-signs-veteran-forward-mathieu.html
If you want to follow Beckett's journey and share an encouraging word with the Doughertys you can do so by going to caringbridge.org and search for Beckett Dougherty. Kelley's sister (Cassidy) is providing updates almost daily and has shared how much Britt and Kelly appreciate the comments everyone is leaving to show support. Take the time to let them know the support they have from the Allen Americans family.


- You may have noticed a photo the Americans posted of a joint meeting that was held in Reading last week with the front office staffs of the Royals and Americans along with some folks from the ECHL office. In talking to several of the attendees it was a very productive meeting and another step in working together to improve both franchises.


- Congrats to former Allen goalie, Joel Rumpel who just became engaged to his long time girlfriend Alexandra.


DID YOU KNOW: Last season Allen had the second most fights in franchise history. but one player (Derek Mathers) had 30 fights by far the most in any season. Here are the number of fights and the leader for each season in franchise history courtesy of the website dropyourgloves.com. It is interesting the year Allen had the most fights (2012-13) the leader had the fewest fights (12). What made that team so tough was they had eight players with at least six fights that season.

2016-17:   85  (Derek Mathers 30)
2015-16:   71  (Dyson Stevenson 16)
2014-15:   79  (Garrett Clarke 16)
2013-14:   72  (Garrett Klotz 20)
2012-13:   91  (Garrett Clarke 12)
2011-12:   63  (Brett Clouthier 13)
2010-11:   72  (Liam Huculak 15)
2009-10:   64  (Liam Huculak 16)






Sunday, September 17, 2017

Will the 2017-18 Allen Americans Have Enough Firepower, Why the Stats Are Wrong

When I talk to Allen fans about the upcoming season one comment I hear from almost everyone is how will coach Martinson replace all of the offense represented by the players that will not be returning. I have to admit this issue has been in my thoughts for some time.  A lot of familiar names will be missing when the Americans take the ice for their home opener against Orlando on October 21. It is possible the top six scorers from last season will be missing.  Just as a reminder the top six point scorers last season were Chad Costello (122 points), Greger Hanson (76 points), Spencer Asuchak (66 points), Bryan Moore (51 points), David Makowski (50 points) and Gary Steffes (47 points). Moore and/or Makowski could be assigned to Allen if they don't make the Barracuda roster out of training camp but they both have a shot at sticking in San Jose. These six players accounted for 54% of the Allen goals last season and 51% of the total points. It will be difficult to replace that much offensive firepower especially if Moore and Makowski are in San Jose.

-  I am going to try and do some type of statistical comparison between the players from last season and the upcoming season but am not sure how valid that comparison is. It is also important to state success is certainly more than how many points a team scorers. Looking at defense and goaltending between last season and this season is also key.


- First step is to look at average points per game for players from last season that played a minimum of 35 games in Allen and compare that stat to the players for the upcoming season and the average points per game they scored last season. 

2016-17
1.69 - Chad Costello
1.31 - Greger Hanson
1.19 - David Makowski
1.03 - Spencer Asuchak
1.02 - Bryan Moore
.88 -  Eric Roy
.86 -  Zach Hall
.63 -  Jake Marchment
.61 -  Gary Steffes
.61 -  Joel Chouinard
.57 -  Dyson Stevenson
.44 -  Tanner Eberle
.39 -  Travis Brown
.23 -  Mike Gunn
.20 -  Derek Mathers
.20 -  Harrison Ruopp

2017-18
1.22 - Casey Pierro-Zabotel
.88 -  Eric Roy
.86 -  Zach Hall
.70 -  Jonathan Lessard
.69 -  Olivier Archambault
.66 -  Mathieu Aubin
.64 -  Zach Pochiro
.61 - Joel Chouinard
.58 - Marcus Basara
.44 - Tanner Eberle
.42 -  Jaynen Rissling
.38 -  Miles Liberati
.30 -  Josh Thrower
.23 -  Mike Gunn
.13 - Dalton Thrower


- Looking at average points per game the numbers don't lie. There was a lot more fire power last season compared to this season's roster but there are a few things to keep in mind.


 - The roster for this season is not complete so you can expect a couple of more new players to be added that will add more fire power. Adding Bryan Moore and/or David Makowski to the mix in Allen would be huge. While the hope is they stay in San Jose, if they are assigned to Allen it would make a big difference. I have mentioned numerous times that Vincent Arseneau is still unsigned according to eliteprospects.com and that says to me he is headed to an AHL training camp. If he is on the San Jose Barracuda training camp roster when it comes out in the next few days that would be good news for Allen fans. If he is on the roster for some other AHL team it probably means he will not be coming to Allen.


- Other than the players mentioned above, Allen will probably be assigned other players from San Jose that are on NHL or AHL deals. Last season Mike Brodzinski, Alex Schoenborn and Jonathan Martin all spent time in Allen. You can expect San Jose to send some of their NHL/AHL contracted players to Allen for development and to get them some playing time. Who that might be is unknown at this time. 
 


- Steve Martinson plays a system that is very offensive minded. His team is always one of the highest goal scoring teams in the ECHL. Last season Allen was second with 294 goals and in 2014-15 they led the ECHL in goals scored with 292. The point being is you can expect some of the new players will score a lot more points in the Martinson system than where they played last season. There are plenty examples of players signing in Allen and scoring at a much higher clip. This would include  Chad Costello's three 100 point seasons, Gary Steffes with 44 goals in a season which was double any other pro season,  Jonathan Lessard's best season as a pro was in Allen when he led the team in goals (28), Alex Lavoie led Allen in scoring as a rookie (76 points) which is his highest point total as a pro. Hanson, Asuchak, Moore and Makowski all had career years last season with point totals far exceeding their other pro seasons.


- The bottom line is looking strictly at the numbers the Allen roster as it stands today (17 players) doesn't stack up to the stats from the 2016-17 roster. However, for the reasons stated above come opening day there will be plenty of offensive firepower on the ice for the Americans. And if the roster needs some change after the season starts Steve Martinson will make the changes. After the team started poorly last year going 8-11 and finding themselves in last place in the division at the end of November, Martinson made a bunch of changes in just a few weeks. Matt Willows, Chris Crane, Mike Brodzinski, Tristan King, Alex Guptill, Jason Fram, J.P. LaFontaine and Rick Pinkston were traded, released or recalled. Allen added David Makowski, Bryan Moore, Harrison Ruopp, Zach Hall and Randy Cure. From that 8-11 start Allen finished the season 49-17-2-2 and missed having the best record in the league by just two points.


- Goalie play is obviously a big part of team success and this coming season may be a bit different from last season. The net will be anchored again by Riley Gill who is the best goalie in the league. Last season Riley's record was 32-7-2-0. In games when Riley wasn't in goal Allen's record was 17-12-2-2. The goaltending tandem this season could turn out to be improved. If you look at the San Jose depth chart the Americans are usually assigned the #5 goalie in the organization. Going into training camp the San Jose depth chart should look like this:
#1 - Martin Jones
#2 - Aaron Dell
#3 - Troy Grosenick
#4 - Antoine Bibeau
#5 - Stephon Williams

Barring injuries and training camp surprises Stephon Williams should be assigned to Allen and the Americans would have an experienced second goalie with two years of professional experience including 58 AHL games to his credit. This could turn out to be a great goalie tandem.


- I know I am a bit obsessive in checking on how Chad Costello, Spencer Asuchak and Josh Brittain are doing in their first season playing in Europe. I wrote an entire blog post (http://allenamericansblog.blogspot.com/2017/09/transition-to-europe-catching-up-with.html) confessing that as much as I wanted them to be successful, just like a parent I want them to come back home to Allen. Here is how things stand after three games. They all play game four today (Sunday).

Chad - Chad's team has gotten off to a rough start losing their first three games by scores of 2-1 in overtime, 4-1 and 4-1. With one point for the overtime loss they are in 13th place in the 14 team league. Chad has been held scoreless in the three games.

Spencer - Spencer's team had a terrible start losing their first two games by scores of 5-1 and 6-1 but they won their third game 5-4 and Spencer scored a goal. With a record of 1-2 the team is tied for ninth place in the 11 team league. By the way the 5-4 win was over the last placed team. The goal is Spencer's only point after three games.

Josh - Josh's team has a win and two overtime losses in the first three games. They are tied for third place in the 11 team league. Josh has two goals and an assist in the first three games. By they way Josh and Spencer play in the same league.

If any of them wanted to return to Allen they have until February 15 to make that decision and of course coach Martinson would have to want them back. They have been in Europe for almost two months and since it is their first foray they would know by now if it is something they enjoy. Things could be quite different in Germany where Chad plays versus Slovakia where Spencer and Josh play. After their success in Allen with two championships for Chad and three for Spencer it won't be much fun if their teams keep losing. As I said in the earlier piece everyone wants them to enjoy the experience in Europe but at the same time they sure would look good in red again.


DID YOU KNOW: Here is a list of Allen Americans players who had their best professional stats while playing in Allen. Keep in mind the years for each category (goals, assists, points) may have been different.

Chad Costello  - goals (41), assists (89), points (125)
Greger Hanson - goals (35), assists (41), points (76)
Spencer Asuchak - goals (26), assists (40), points (66)
Gary Steffes - goals (44), assists (29), points (73)
Chris Crane - goals (21), points (38)
Aaron Gens - goals (9), assists (48), points (56)
Bruce Graham - goals (34), assists (48), points (79)
Tyler Ludwig - goals (20), assists (40), points (55)
Darryl Bootland - assists (29)
Kale Kerbashian - goals (16), assists (34), points (50)
Trevor Ludwig - goals (9), points (29)
Alex Lavoie - goals (25), assists (51), points (76)
Jonathan Lessard - goals (28), assist (29), points (57)





 


 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

An Educated Guess on Training Camp Schedule and Roster, Player Signings Around the ECHL & More

The hockey season is officially here as the San Jose Sharks training camp got underway yesterday. The AHL and ECHL training camps will follow in sequence. You can check out the first day of Sharks camp through some videos on their website: https://www.nhl.com/sharks

- It is really special to have David Makowski and Bryan Moore attending an NHL camp. What a great experience for them no matter where they end up playing this season. Here is a photo from the first day a camp with a couple of familiar names:




- There has been nothing issued by the ECHL or the Allen Americans concerning training camps and several of you have asked about those details. For some reason all of these details typically are issued just before the start of training camp. I know some fans take time off work the first days of training camp so they can come and watch. The ECHL critical dates will probably be issued in the next week however based on what is already known and past history it is fairly easy to figure out the training camp dates before they are officially released. Here is my best guess on the dates.


- What is already known is the ECHL season kicks off October 13 with the first regular season games. Preseason games start as early as October 5. The Allen Americans preseason games are in the community rink on October 6 (8:45 pm) and October 7 (5:30 pm). Details on tickets for the preseason games are still not out but seating capacity in the community rink is very limited.  On the community rink's website it says seating capacity for "over 300 spectators" so even with standing room you can expect tickets will be limited.


- Based on the ECHL critical dates from past years you can be pretty sure the key dates will be as follows when they are issued:

September 28 - Training camp rosters due to the league office
September 29 - Training camp opens (Teams can begin on ice sessions)
October 12 - Opening day rosters due to league office
October 13 - 30th ECHL season begins


- There are several factors that will determine the specific dates for the Allen Americans training camp. Most importantly is the availability of housing. In past years training camp was delayed a couple of days because apartment leases were for October 1 and the team could not get into the housing early. Knowing the new ownership of the team my guess is that will not be an issue this year.


- My recollection from past seasons is the first day of camp is devoted to player physicals and the earliest that could take place is Friday, September 29. Then the next issue will be ice availability in the community rink. Remember, there will be no ice in the main rink until the week of October 1st.


- Under coach Martinson the training camp practices have been open for fans to attend so I am sure the team will be issuing that information in the near future. If you are planning on attending training camp practice past history says you can be assured there will be practice on Monday, October 2nd. Whether the team will practice on Saturday (September 30) or Sunday (October 1) is uncertain and even of the team does practice one day over the weekend it may not be open to the public. Stay tuned for an annoucment from the Americans.


- How many players will be at training camp is a unknown for a couple of reasons. While 17 players have already been announced by the Americans some of those players will be attending training camp with the San Jose Barracuda so they may still be in San Jose when Allen starts training camp. Coach Martinson told me he will have five players at the Barracuda camp. He will also be attending Barracuda training camp himself where he will be able to see how the Allen players perform but also take a look at some AHL contracted players that might be assigned to Allen during the season. Martinson will be in San Jose starting September 24, just prior to the start of Allen's training camp.


- Look for Allen's training camp to have some SPHL players attend on tryout agreements. Coach Martinson has used this in the past to take a look at some players that he could bring in during the season if the Americans have injuries or players are recalled or loaned to the AHL.


- If you didn't have a chance to see all of the promotion nights and giveaways here is the press release issued by the Americans yesterday. There will be nine specialty jersey nights (and auctions) and six of them are on Saturdays. There will be 11 giveaway nights and nine of them will be on Saturdays. Looks like some Saturday sellouts are possible. Make sure to get your tickets early for Saturday games. https://allenamericans.com/allen-americans-announce-2017-2018-promotional-nights-giveaways/


- Here is how many players each team in the ECHL has signed and announced as reported by eliteprospects.com.

Adirondack - 12
Allen - 17
Atlanta - 12
Brampton - 11
Cincinnati - 13
Colorado - 10
Florida - 8
Fort Wayne - 20
Greenville - 14
Idaho - 17
Indy - 17
Jacksonville - 5
Kalamazoo - 18
Kansas City - 18
Manchester - 12
Norfolk - 8
Orlando - 14
Quad City - 22
Rapid City - 17
Reading - 15
South Carolina - 23
Toledo - 15
Tulsa - 13
Utah - 12
Wheeling - 18
Wichita - 19
Worcester - 14


- Bad news continued for Chad Costello's team last night as the Iserlohn Roosters lost for the third time this season. The Roosters lost their opening game 2-1 in overtime and lost the last two games by identical scores of 4-1. It is hard to get complete boxscores but pretty sure Chad is still scoreless on the season.


DID YOU KNOW: The current Allen roster (17 players) has combined for a total of 440 AHL games played. Captain Joel Chouinard leads in AHL experience having played in 204 AHL games.



 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Allen Signs Veteran Forward Mathieu Aubin, The French Connection & One of the Allen Family Needs Prayers

Another piece of the puzzle fell into place yesterday as the Allen Americans announced the signing of veteran forward Mathieu Aubin. Aubin is 6' 2" and weighs 205 pounds. He will turn 31 on Monday. Mathieu was a fifth round draft choice (#130 overall) of the Montreal Canadiens in the 2005 NHL draft. He has played in 544 ECHL games averaging .86 points per game over his career. He also has 83 AHL games to his credit scoring 27 points (12 goals 15 assists).


- Aubin has played for four different ECHL teams including six seasons with Cincinnati where he was part of two Kelly Cup championships (2008 & 2010). He played one season in Bakersfield (2009-10) and has been with the Utah Grizzlies since 2013-14. With all of the great recruiting tools in Steve Martinson's tool box maybe the best recruiting tool you can ever have is when a player has a girlfriend/wife that lives or works in the DFW area. Joel Chouinard and Daniel Tetrault are two great examples. I didn't hear this from the Americans but my reporting says Aubin is another example.


- Like many hockey player from Canada, Aubin comes from a hockey background. His dad, Normand, was a third round draft choice (#51 overall) of the Toronto Maple Leaf in the 1979 NHL draft. He played in 63 NHL games in his career. Normand had some sick numbers in his junior career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). In his NHL draft year (1978-79) he had 149 points (80 goals 69) assist in 70 games. For his junior career (254 games) he averaged 2.03 points per game which is #38 all time in the QMJHL. An even more amazing stat is he averaged just over a goal per game scoring 258 goals in his 254 junior career. I would say Mathieu comes from good hockey "stock".


- Look for Aubin to bring a goal scorers touch to the Allen lineup. All of the scouting reports you read about him talk about him having excellent goal scoring hands. Just as important will be his veteran presence and leadership. He has been a team captain (Cincinnati) and alternate captain (Utah) so you can see him being a mentor for the younger guys on the team even if he isn't wearing a letter on his jersey.


- Here are a couple of videos from the past. The first is from 2011 where his coach is talking about his return to the Cincinnati Cyclones. The second video is from 2013 when Mathieu along with a couple of other players are talking about the just completed Cincinnati season. Watch the second video all the way through as there are two clips of Aubin.





- Aubin is one of several players on the Allen roster with a partiality to the #9. With his veteran status it might be a good bet he ends up with that number.


- With the signing of Aubin the Allen Americans "French Connection" grows. He joins Joel Chouinard, Olivier Archambault and Jonathan Lessard with french as their first language. I know Allen fans hope this list grows by one more in the name of Vincent Arseneau. According to the website eliteprospects.com Arseneau has still not signed a contract for the upcoming season. If he is attending an AHL training camp that will be a sure giveaway of where he might end up if he plays in the ECHL. AHL training camp rosters should be out next week.


- Congrats to David Makowski and Bryan Moore who will be attending the San Jose Sharks training camp which starts today. A great experience for both these young players. Here are all the training camp details plus the full training camp roster. Some of the names on this list will undoubtedly spend time in Allen this season. Many of the players on this list will be assigned to the Barracuda training camp which I think will start next week. https://www.nhl.com/sharks/news/sharks-announce-2017-training-camp-schedule--roster/c-291037532


- It has not been announced by the Americans yet put they will have several players attend camp with the Barracuda. Those names should be made public in the next few days.


- A couple of questions I have been asked recently are when will the ice go in on the main rink at the Allen Event Center (AEC) and why do press releases on player announcements say the "Allen Americans and Globe Life are proud to announce" all the time? I am told the ice will go in on the main rink after the Theresa Caputo show which is scheduled for October 1st. There is already ice in the community rink. Globe Life has become an Allen Americans corporate sponsor and that sponsorship includes being the presenting sponsor for all player transactions so you will see that reference in each press release from the Americans relating to transactions. If you have any questions throughout the season send them to me on social media, in the comments section of the blog or by email (janssenfamily@msn.com) and if I don't have the answer I will track it down.


- If you have been following the Allen Americans since the beginning you may remember a sales representative by the name of Kelley Sklar. Kelley walked me thorough the AEC while it was still under constructions. Hard hats required but she took me to every nook and cranny of the building. You may also remember the enforcer on that first team was a player by the name of Britt Dougherty. Britt was tough as nails but had to retire after the 2009-10 season because of an injury. To make a long story short Kelley and Britt met during that first Allen season and fell in love. When Britt retired after the 2009-10 season he moved home to Swift Current, Saskatchewan and Kelley moved with him. They are now married and have a three month old son. Yesterday Tom Manning shared with me a post that one of Kelley's friends (Amanda Ransom) shared on social media. If you remember Kelley and Britt or are one of the "once red always red family" keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Here is the post from Amanda. "One of my dearest lifelong friends, Kelley Dougherty's three month old son, Beckett Dougherty, was recently diagnosed with Infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The is a very rare childhood cancer. Kelley and her husband Britt currently live in Swift Current but have transferred Beckett to Toronto (over 20 hours away) in order to get him the best possible care. This will be a long journey for the family and we would love to show them support in any way we can. Please consider making a donation in the link below. More importantly, please pray for this sweet family and their brave little boy. Be one of thousands of people all over the world praying for Beckett."

Beckett Dougherty

Here is the link where you can make a contribution if you desire: https://www.gofundme.com/beckettdougherty



DID YOU KNOW: I can't remember when Allen had so many players on the roster that were drafted by the NHL. Being drafted by the NHL when you are a young hockey player is a big deal and quite an honor. Ten of the 17 players signed and announced by the Americans thus far are NHL draftees. Here is the list with NHL team, draft year and what round the player was drafted.

Joel Chouinard -  Colorado Alavanche 2008 (sixth round #167 overall)
Miles Liberati - Vancouver Canucks 2013 (seventh round (#205 overall)
Jaynen Rissling - Washington Capitols 2012 (seventh round (#197 overall)
Eric Roy - Calgary Flames 2013 (fifth round #135 overall)
Dalton Thrower - Montreal Canadiens 2012 (second round #51 overall)
Olivier Archambault - Montreal Canadiens 2011 (fourth round #108 overall)
Mathieu Aubin - Montreal Canadiens 2005 (fifth round #130 overall)
Kyle Neuber - Columbus Blue Jackets 2009 (seventh round #197 overall)
Casey Pierro-Zabotel - Pittsburgh Penguins 2007 (third round #80 overall)
Zach Pochiro - St. Louis Blues 2013 (fourth round #112 overall)


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Gary Steffes Post Script, ECHL Roster Numbers, Barracuda Sign Third Goalie, Lamar Hunt Jr. Video & More

- As a followup to the story yesterday about the retirement of Gary Steffes I heard from many Allen and Gary Steffes fans that wanted to thank Gary, to let him know how much he will be missed and tell him what an inspiration he is to so many. Here are a couple of examples.

 Gilley "Dilbert" Estes says, "Gary, you are the type of person to whom young athletes should look to for inspiration. You embody the goodness, kindness and work ethic that is so hard to find these days. We will miss you in Allen this coming season but I know that you will be helping to grow the next generation of hockey players. And those players will hopefully have your voice in their heads as they pursue their dreams of college or professional hockey. Sending you prayers and positive energy to show tomorrow's players how to play hard and do it in His name."

Sandy Manning says, "I will really miss Gary. I'll also miss waiting a bit to leave the stands after a game in honor of his taking a knee at center ice. I wonder if anyone else will do it? He was often alone. It is always a wonderful thing to see an athlete who lives a clean life, has an outstanding work ethic and is so nice to people. He represents what a Christian is supposed to be like. All the best to him as he pursues his next venture!

I also heard from Gary who had this to say, "Thank you so much Barry for the incredibly kind and encouraging words. I will always be tremendously thankful and honored for the years I got to spend in Allen. Many many blessings to all of you on the team, in the organization and in the community. I can't say thank you enough for how much you all have blessed my career."


- With the start of training camp just over two weeks away it is interesting to look at the current rosters around the ECHL. According to eliteprospects.com the number of players signed and announced around the league varies a lot. The Quad City Mallards have the most with 21 and the Jacksonville IceMen the least with just five players announced. By the way Allen is at 16 players signed and announced (one goalie, seven defensemen, eight forwards). These figures can be misleading because some coaches don't like to announce too many players while they are recruiting so they may have a lot of players signed but not yet announced. If you add it all up there are still 150-175 players to be announced in the next two weeks.


- If you look at average age of players already announced Allen is one of the youngest teams in the ECHL with an average age of 24.69. Only two teams are younger, Idaho (24.44) and Florida (24.25). The oldest team in the league at this point is Brampton who has an average age of 28.00. As the rosters fill out these averages will change. Allen for example still has two veteran slots that have not been filled.


- The San Jose Barracuda announced yesterday that they have signed free agent goalie, Stephon Williams. Here is the press release issued by the team: http://www.sjbarracuda.com/news/detail/barracuda-sign-goaltender-stephon-williams

Why this signing may be of interest to Allen fans is each season the San Jose organization sends a goalie to Allen for developmental purposes. Aaron Dell, Joel Rumpel and Jamie Murray are recent examples. Williams is the third goalie on the Barracuda roster and barring injuries one of the three will be sent to Allen. The Barracuda's top goalie is Troy Grosenick who was the AHL's goalie of the year last season. The other goalie on the Barracuda roster is Antoine Bibeau who was signed in July after spending his first three professional seasons in the Toronto organization. Last season he played in 32 AHL games and two NHL games. You never know the impact of training camp and injuries but on paper Williams is the most likely of the three Barracuda goalies to be assigned to the Americans.


- Add Mike Gunn to the list of players that are already back in Allen preparing for the upcoming season. This will be Mike's third year in Allen. He has improved each season on the ice and he is a great locker room guy.


- Here is a well done video produced by the Kansas City Mavericks where team owner, Lamar Hunt Jr., answers a series of questions on various topics. Most of his answers would certainly apply to Allen. Of particular interest to Allen fans is Hunt's answer to this question, are there games you most look forward to each season?



 - For those of you that like to keep track of the three players from last season that have signed overseas (Costello, Asuchak, Brittain) they all have games on Friday and Sunday this week. After the games this weekend you will start to get an idea how their teams might fare this season.


- I think most know, if you are a regular reader of the blog, that I grew up in Minnesota and have been an avid hunter and fisherman all of my life. If you grow up in the upper midwest part of the US or in Canada it is likely you enjoy fishing and/or hunting. As the players arrive in Allen some of them seek me out for places they can hunt and fish. Several fans have taken the players hunting or fishing in the past. If you have access to dove hunting, deer hunting, hog hunting or fishing and would be willing to have the players take part please email me at janssenfamily@msn.com.



DID YOU KNOW: The Allen roster typically has about the same number of players from the US and Canada. If you look at all of the players that played at least one game from the 2015-16 roster there were 25 from the US and 22 from Canada. Last season the number was similar with 24 from the US and 21 from Canada. That trend may be changing this season. It is still early and only 16 players have been signed but 12 of the players are from Canada and just four from the US.