Friday, November 17, 2017

Allen Heads for Wichita, Newly Acquired Michael Webster Headed to College, Meet Team Store Manager Michelle Martinson & More

It is get away day for the Allen Americans as they will jump on the bus around noon for the six hour trip to Wichita where they will play the Thunder on Saturday and Sunday. These teams have split the two games they have played thus far with each team winning on the road.

- One player that will not be on the bus when the team leaves the Allen Event Center today is newly acquired defenseman Michael Webster who was suspended by the Americans yesterday. Webster was acquired in the trade that sent Tanner Eberle to Jacksonville. I had a lot of questions last night about Webster and had a chance to discuss the situation with coach Martinson so here are the facts.

Micheal Webster has decided to forego professional hockey at this time and attend college. You have heard coach Martinson say on many occasions he would never try and talk a player out of going to college.

By enrolling in college at this time Webster will be able to play this season without having to sit out a year.

The trade is not voided in this situation so Tanner Eberle will not be returning to Allen and Jacksonville does not have to send another player to Allen. The only time a trade is voided is if one of the players involved in a trade fails a physical.

I have talked to coach Martinson about trades many times over the years and know that experienced coaches like Martinson and Jacksonville coach Jason Christie don't deliberately trade players that don't intend to report. In other words I would assume Christie was not aware Webster would make a decision to attend college rather than report to Allen.

While there is no formal or required agreement when a player fails to report to their new team, most frequently, especially with experienced coaches they have an informal agreement to return a favor sometime in the future.

Coach Martinson has said many times one of the risks you take with young players that have college scholarship money available from their junior career is they head to college this time of year.



- I will have a complete game preview tomorrow but one thing Allen and Wichita have in common is they are both getting great goaltending. Wichita rookie Shane Starrett has been outstanding in goal for the Thunder with a record of 6-0-1-0. He is #2 in the ECHL in GAA (2.11)  and #1 in save percentage (.935). Starrett signed an entry level contract with the Edmonton Oilers (NHL) in April, leaving the Air Force Academy after two seasons to turn pro. Here is a story written by David Ramsey of the Colorado Springs Gazette after Shane left Air Force where Ramsey questions if Starrett made a mistake in turning pro after his sophomore year. http://gazette.com/david-ramsey-air-force-hockey-star-shane-starrett-makes-mistake-in-signing-pro-contract/article/1600770

Allen's Stephon Williams has been great in goal while carrying the load for the Americans. Stephon gave up 11 goals in his first three starts but in his last five starts has allowed only eight goals. Overall Williams is ranked #3 in the league in GAA (2.30) and #3 in save percentage (.932).

Goaltending is a group effort and to have a good team both goalies need to play well. That is the case for Allen and Wichita. They rank #1 and #2 in team save percentage in the ECHL. Wichita leads at .933 and Allen is close behind at .923.

All four goalies rank in the top ten in the league in save percentage:
.935 - Shane Starrett (Wichita)
.932 - Stephon Williams (Allen)
.930 - Joel Rumpel (Wichita)
.921 - Jeremy Brodeur (Allen)


MICHELLE MARTINSON

If you have stopped by the Allen Team Store this season to buy some Americans merchandise you have undoubtedly met the new Team Store manager, Michelle Martinson. Michelle is not only a hockey mom to teenagers Logan and Lily and a hockey wife (married to Steve Martinson) but she leads a hockey life. By his own admission coach Martinson has told me many times it is Michelle that keeps everything organized in the family with three often conflicting hockey schedules (both Logan and Lily play on elite level traveling hockey teams). I have seen the multi-colored graphs, calendars and schedules Michelle creates for coach Martinson of all his and the families activities.

Michelle comes from a hockey background as her grandfather (Frank Mathers) is a legend in AHL hockey history who had a long career (35 years) as a player, coach, general manager and president of the Hershey Bears. On the ice Mathers was one the AHL's all time best defenseman being voted to the All-Star game for five straight years in the 1950's. He won three Calder Cups as a player/coach for Hershey and then three more after he retired and became an executive for the team (general manager & president). He is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and also the AHL Hall of Fame. If you are interested in reading more about Frank Mathers here is a more complete bio: http://www.legendsofhockey.net/LegendsOfHockey/jsp/LegendsMember.jsp?mem=b199203&page=bio

Steve and Michelle met when Steve was playing in Hershey in 1985-87 and Michelle's grandfather was the team president. If you recall, Martinson had 432 penalty minutes in 1985-86 and set the AHL record for most major penalties in a season, a record that stands to this day. The first time I interviewed Steve back in 2013 I asked him how Frank Mathers allowed a hockey player who was the team enforcer to date his granddaughter. Martinson responded that Mathers really like him and supported him dating Michelle.  

It is natural for Michelle to take over the Americans team store as it combines several of her interests as she has a background in sales, fashion and of course, hockey. If you haven't already done so, stop by the team store and introduce your self to Michelle and check out the new merchandise. She would also like to hear from you on what additional merchandise you would like to see in the store.

Michelle will be having online auctions on BidPal where fans can purchase older team jerseys from the archives, autographed pucks and other collectables. The next auction will open on Tuesday (November 21) and close on Sunday (November 26). There will be new auction items each week from now until Christmas. No credit card is needed to view the items and if you register you can get text notifications when new auctions open. Here is the link to the BidPal site if you are not already registered. You may have to wait until the merchandise is on the site to register: https://one.bidpal.net/goamericans

The Martinson family celebrating the Kelly Cup championship in 2016


- Here is another story from The Players Tribune. This one was written by Mark Recchi, assistant coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He takes you on his journey from growing up in Kamloops, B.C. to his induction into the Hall of Fame. An excellent read: https://www.theplayerstribune.com/mark-recchi-hockey-hall-of-fame/



DID YOU KNOW: Excelling in the post season is key to a successful hockey career. Here are the Allen Americans career leaders for points scored in the playoffs by a defenseman.

37 points - Tyler Ludwig
29 points - David Makowski
25 points - Eric Roy

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Practice Update, A Chat With Zach Pochiro, A Look at Slashing Penalties, Game Winning Goals

I had a chance to stop by practice yesterday and talk to coach Martinson about the upcoming weekend games with Wichita. Practice was the typical early in the week practice with a lot of drills that emphasized skating, going full speed the length of the ice. Today the team will work on the defensive breakdowns in their own zone that came up last weekend and also spend time working on the power play. As for the games with Wichita coach Martinson shared they are important for a couple of reasons. Wichita is playing good hockey so it is always good to measure yourself against the best teams. Second, when you play teams in your own division that are ahead of you in the standings it is important to close that gap and not let them get further ahead.

- The power play percentage is now up to 15.7% (ranked #17) thanks to a great night last Saturday. The box score originally showed Allen going 3-8 in the game but that was later changed and all four Allen goals in the 5-4 shootout loss to Idaho came on the power play. The Americans were 0-3 on the power play Sunday afternoon but coach Martinson said he would not spend time analyzing those  because the team was so tired after playing three games in three days. So many key players logged a lot of ice time because of all the special teams play both power play and penalty kill.


- I spent some time talking to Zach Pochiro during practice yesterday. Zach is out of the line up on injured reserve with a broken finger. We covered a lot of topics from growing up in Las Vegas to playing Under 16 hockey in California to playing junior hockey in Canada in the Western Hockey League. Zach was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL draft by the St. Louis Blues and he talked about that story. It is a dream of all young hockey players to get drafted by the NHL but in Zach's case it was a real dream come true as his was drafted by his favorite team. While he was raised in Las Vegas, Zach was born in St. Louis and the Blues were always his favorite team. Zach shared with me what it was like to go to development camp with the Blues where there was a lot of off ice training which included a lot of work in the weight room. When Zach was drafted he was 6'2" and 150 pounds soaking wet. The weight room was not his friend. Later he attended the Traverse City rookie camp and received excellent feedback as he surprised some folks with what the "tall skinny rail" could do on the ice.

Zach also shared how much he enjoys playing in Allen for coach Martinson with the style of play and expectations of winning. I asked Zach about his injury and he said it happened in a scrum in front of the net when he was slashed but he didn't think it was intentional. I also asked him if he thought the emphasis the ECHL is placing on slashing calls this season has had an effect on the game. He said without a doubt it has had a big impact on how games are played.


- After my conversation with Zach Pochiro at practice it piqued my interest in looking at the possible effects of more slashing calls this season. I started by looking at the data on the ECHL website. I first looked at penalty minutes and found that on average each team is taking close to two more penalty minutes per game over last season. Two minutes doesn't sound like a lot but over a season that represents close to 4000 additional penalty minutes league-wide. I then decided to look at the number of minor penalties rather than overall penalty minutes. Turns out the ECHL average is .84 minor penalty more per game than last season. Again, it sounds like a small number but over the course of the season it would mean  over 1600 more minor penalties.


- I decided to compare goals and shots year over year. Last season there were two ECHL teams that averaged over four goals per game and so far this season there are three. Last season there were seven teams that averaged less than three goals per game and this season there are five. Last season two teams averaged more than 35 shots per game while this season (thus far) there are five teams averaging more than 35 shots per game including two teams averaging over 40. Last season there were four teams that averaged less than 30 shots per game while thus far this season there are nine.


- After looking at all the data above I knew what I really needed was the number of slashing penalties called this season versus last season to see the impact of the emphasis on the slashing rule. Unfortunately that info doesn't exist on the ECHL website. Then last night I remembered an old friend from back in the CHL days who always kept penalties by type and referee. He would take the info from each game and compile it throughout the season. His name is Joe Alsman, better known as MavsFanJoe and his team was the Missouri Mavericks (now Kansas City). Joe is now the stat guru for Team Sin Bin. I contacted Joe last night and sure enough he still keeps the data and within a couple of hours sent me all of the information. The answer is yes indeed the emphasis on the slashing rule has had a big impact on the number of slashing calls. Thanks to Joe Alsman for providing this information.

- Last season (2016-17) through November 14th there were 158 games played and the referees called 194 slashing penalties. That is an average 1.23 slashing penalties per game. This season (2017-18) through November 14 there were 160 games played and the referees have called 497 slashing penalties for an average of 2.61 slashing penalties per game. That equates to a year over year increase of 112.2% per game.   


- The Wichita Thunder lost their second game of the season last night losing at home to the Kansas City Mavericks 2-1 in overtime. The Mavericks got the game winner 19 seconds into the overtime period. The Thunder record is now 10-1-1-0. They are tied for first place in the ECHL in points (21) and lead the league in winning percentage (.875). Wichita's road record is a perfect 5-0 and their home record is 5-1-1-0. Here is a game recap courtesy of Matt Harding from Team Sin Bin: http://thesinbin.net/thunder-offense-stymied-in-goaltending-dual/


- The Americans will leave around noon on Friday to make the trip to Wichita where they play the Thunder on Saturday (7:05 pm CST) and Sunday (4:05 pm CST). I know a lot of Allen fans are making the trip. It makes for a good road trip with the early game start on Sunday.


DID YOU KNOW:  Who has scored the most game winning goals for the Allen Americans over the last two seasons, 2015-17? Here are the top five.

9 - Chad Costello
9 - David Makowski
8 - Eric Roy
7 - Greger Hanson
5 - Gary Steffes

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Allen vs Wichita Rivalry, Tanner Eberle Thanks Allen Fans, Hockey-N-Heels, The Ironmen

As the Allen Americans continue to prepare to visit Wichita this weekend it is hard not to overstate the importance of these two games against the Thunder. It is easy to think two games early in the season don't make that much of a difference but an argument can be made that is not the case this weekend.


- To start with Wichita has a three point lead over Allen in the Mountain Division standings but they also have three games in hand so the lead could potentially be nine points which is a big lead this early in the season. Wichita plays Kansas City at home tonight so they could be five points up on Allen going into the weekend. Allen needs to sweep or get a split this weekend to avoid falling further behind Wichita. 


- The rivalry between these teams runs deep with Allen always coming out on top. This has been the case ever since the Americans beat the Thunder to win their first championship in 2013. The results prior to this season have been very one-sided. It may look like a misprint but the Americans record against Wichita since joining the ECHL is 33-4-4-3. When playing in Wichita the record is 17-2-1-2. The record last season was 11-2-1-0.


- Even this season as Wichita has gotten off to the best start in franchise history (10-1) their only loss of the season came at home at the hands of the Americans.


- Issues surrounding ownership when both teams were owned by the same group only intensified the rivalry and earlier this month the Wichita coach was fined for inappropriate remarks he made about Allen and coach Martinson was fined for confronting the Wichita coach after a game. If controversy sells tickets there should be a big crowd at the games in Wichita this weekend.


- Adding to the intrigue is Dyson Stevenson now plays for Wichita and is the captain of the team and Vincent Arseneau, who was in Wichita last season is an alternate captain in Allen.


- Bottom line is with all of the history and with all of the chirping that has gone on between players, coaches and even one of the owners both teams are out to prove something. For Wichita it's to show things have changed and Allen should get used to losing to the Thunder after years of dominance by the Americans. Allen is out to prove they are still the better team and the best is yet to come.


- The Allen vs Wichita series will be fun to watch all season. They play each other 12 times (six home 6 away) and they have split the two games they have played thus far. Allen won 5-3 in Wichita on November 3rd and the Thunder beat the Americans 3-1 in Allen on November 4th. There will be a complete Allen vs Wichita game preview later in the week.


- With all of the turnover that takes place on ECHL teams each year you often hear it said fans need to cheer for the name on the front of the jersey not the name on the back. It is a catchy phrase and with players being on one year contracts that allows them to be traded, waived or released anytime it is wise advice. The reality however is fans do get attached to players. Players are so accessible it is easy to get to know them on a personal level and the players go out of their way to connect with everyone, especially the young fans. Tanner Eberle is a good example. I received the following message from a mom who has two young children whose favorite player is Tanner and were heartbroken when they found out he was traded. The mom said, "Tanner Eberle's trade was SO sad for our little Eberle fans. I loved watching his hustle and admired the type of man he was on and off the ice. We will miss him for sure."

On a personal note I share a love of fishing with Tanner and we spent more than a few hours talking about everything except hockey while pond fishing. It is a great get away for many of the players after practice or on a day off.

The boys pond fishing for crappies last season


- I had a chance to touch base with Tanner and asked him if there was anything I could pass along to his many fans in Allen since most of them did not have a chance to say good-bye. Here is what he said, "I would like to say thank you to the fan club/boosters for the countless amount of household items they provide to the players. They make it easy to feel at home in Allen right from day one. I also want to thank all of the Allen fans for the endless amount of passion they show the team everyday, win or lose. The fans always believe we can win it all every season which makes Allen such an easy place to play."


- I publicize a lot of events sponsored by the Allen Americans in the blog but there is one coming up on November 28th that is a must if you are an Allen Americans fan. It is Hockey-N-Heels and it takes place at Landon Winery in McKinney. The Americans have had events like this in the past but maybe because Hockey-N-Heels is being planned by a woman for the first time it is shaping up to be a special event. Sales and Service Account Executive, Amber Barros, is planning the event and what a line up she has put together. Coach Steve Martinson is the guest speaker and he is always worth the price of admission. You will get a lot of good information, some stories and plenty of laughs. Also in attendance will be Michelle Martinson, Angie Gill, Levi Pierro-Zabotel, Courtney Chouinard and Kellie Gens to answer your question from a wives perspective. Several players will also attend.

For $35 you get the program including Q&A, light snacks, two glasses of wine, a ticket for the Allen Americans game on Ladies Night (December 1) and a special gift. There will also be a raffle and silent auction. A great value!

Here is a link to sign up: http://allenamericans.com/hockeynheels/

If you have any questions about Hockey-N-Heels contact Amber Barros at 972-912-1011.


- One team to keep an eye on is the Wheeling Nailers who are off to a good start (8-2-2-0) and have the ECHL's leading scorer in Cody Wydo (19 points) and the top two rookie scorers in the league. Reid Gardiner leads all rookies in points (18) and goals (10). Cam Brown is second in points (16) and first in assists (14). The risk when you have the top rookies is losing them to AHL call ups. 



DID YOU KNOW:  Allen is only 14 games into the season and there are just seven players that have played in every game and are candidates to be an Ironman by playing in all 72 games. It is a feat that is really difficult to accomplish. The seven players are Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Joel Chouinard, Jonathan Lessard, Eric Roy, Spencer Asuchak, Mike Gunn and Josh Thrower. Here are the past Ironmen who played in every regular season game.

2016-17 - Chad Costello, Joel Chouinard
2015-16 - Chad Costello
2014-15 - Chad Costello, Aaron Gens, Jamie Schaafsma
2013-14 - Spencer Asuchak, Daniel Tetrault, Mike Berube
2012-13 - Jamie Schaafsma, Jason Deitsch
2011-12 - Jason Deitsch
2010-11 - Colton Yellow Horn, David Strathman
2009-10 - Bruce Graham, Christian Gaudet

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Player Profile - Casey Pierro-Zabotel

Today I am headed to Lake Texoma on a one day fishing trip for Stripers (Striped Bass) so posting the blog extra early this morning. Incidentally, I spelled "Stripers" wrong in my blog one time and got quite a reaction. You put an extra "p" in that word and it changes the nature of the trip a lot.

Anyway, Ted Hosterman, who along with Mary Betz, has filled in for me in the past when I travel during hockey season has kindly volunteered to do some player profiles this season. This is the first in a series of player profiles written by Ted and his subject today is Casey Pierro-Zabotel. My only contribution to the blog this morning is this introduction and the "Did You Know" section at the end.

Here is wishing me "tight lines" today on Texoma!

Casey Pierro-Zabotel


Casey puts one in the net



Casey Pierro-Zabotel - Player Profile

Casey Pierro-Zabotel is a name well known to most Americans fans.  He helped lead the team to its fourth consecutive championship (second consecutive Kelly Cup) in 2015-16.  After playing in Colorado last year, where he again helped lead the team to the Kelly Cup championship, he rejoins the Americans as a player/assistant coach.

Casey was drafted in the third round (80th overall) by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2007 NHL entry draft after an outstanding junior career in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) and the Western Hockey League (WHL).  He has played in the AHL, the ECHL and spent time in Germany playing in the DEL2 league.  In 489 ECHL games Casey has 133 goals and 313 assists for an average of .912 points per game.  Steve Martinson has said about Pierro-Zabotel - "He's one of the smartest players I've ever had". 


DID YOU KNOW: 


Tell me a little about your family
I am married with two children, one boy 8 years old and a girl that's 1 year old.  My wife and I are both from the same hometown, we kind of grew up together.  Both parents are still alive living back in my hometown of Kamloops, BC.

Did you have a pet growing up? How about now?
I had a Rottweiler growing up - his name was Handsome.  He was a really cool dog.
My family currently has an English Bulldog named Buzz.  Very easy going - he likes to sleep all day.

Describe your training regimen
No formal regimen - just basic stuff.  I play soccer with the guys for warm ups.

Favorite number, (how did it become your favorite number).

17 - it was my first number in juniors so that is what I try to stick with.  It was the last jersey number available when it was first assigned to me.  Allen is one of the few places where I have actually been able to get 17.

Your nickname

CPZ, Zabbo, Zabby - I prefer Zabby.

Who is/was your hockey hero
Joe Sakic who is from BC, same as me.  More recently Shane Doan - we train together along with Spencer Asuchak and some other Americans players.

Earliest hockey memory
Playing pond hockey with my brothers and cousin.

Age you started skating

3 years old.

Describe your style of play
I am definitely a guy who likes to pass first - I have a passer's mentality.  I enjoy having the puck, protecting it in the corners.  Not afraid to go to the front of the net - that is where I score most of my goals.

Favorite Actor or Actress

Will Farrell and Adam Sandler - they are funny guys; always entertaining.

Favorite type of music
Hip Hop and Counrty

Current Favorite Singer or Group
Tupac was always my favorite when growing up

If you could have lunch with anyone living who would you pick (not family)
Definitely Wayne Gretzky - would love to ask him questions about when he was playing.

What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you
I love hunting - something I would love to do professionally if I was not a hockey player.  Moose is my favorite prey; I have bagged two so far.

What chore do you hate to do
Sweeping and cleaning in general.

What do you have that is of great value to you but little value to anyone else
Would have to say my kids - I love both of them so much.

 Who do you admire as a leader (can be hockey or non hockey)
Shane Doan, Steve Yzerman - they both are great team leaders.  I try to read as much as I can about both of them.

Where is the most interesting place you have ever visited
The Prague at Christmastime.  It was an unbelievable Christmas experience for both me and my family.

 If you could be anything besides a pro hockey player what would it be
A professional hunter.

Any pre-game routines, rituals or superstitions
I put on my gear left side first.

Who is your number one fan
My mom and wife.  My parents follow me on ECHL TV.  They have never seen me play in Texas.

What do you like to do to kill time on the bus

Watch a lot of movies.
 
Favorite motto or saying

Per Wayne Gretzky - "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take".

Favorite TV show

The Office

If you could choose someone as a mentor who would you choose
Someone like Mike Babcock who coached the Red Wings and Maple Leafs.

What do you like to do away from the rink
Play video games, watch TV , hang out with family and the guys

What is your impression of the Allen fans

Of all the teams I have played for and against they are up there with the best, especially come play-off time when they are at their loudest.

How did you originally get to be an Allen American
When my contract with Florida expired in 2015, I got hooked up with Marty through Spencer Asuchak.


DID YOU KNOW:  Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Wade MacLeod, who played in Allen last season, were teammates in junior hockey and played for the Merritt Centennials in the BCHL. In 2006-07 when Casey was 17 and Wade was 19 they combined for an amazing one two punch for the Centennials. They each had 51 goals with Casey tallying 116 points in 55 games and Wade adding 105 points in 60 games. Their entire team scored 212 goals that season, Wade and Casey had 102 of them. That equates to 48% of the team's goal production from two players. No other teammate had more than 14 goals that season.  



Monday, November 13, 2017

Allen Beats Tulsa 4-3 in OT, Martinson's Comments, Allen Trades Eberle for Defenseman Michael Webster

The Allen Americans were playing their third game in 48 hours on Sunday afternoon against the Tulsa Oilers who were playing their first game in a week. Congrats to the Americans for gutting out a 4-3 overtime win before a happy crowd of 3243 at the Allen Event Center. Bryan Moore scored the game winner with 2.5 seconds remaining in overtime. Moore and Spencer Asuchak stole the puck at center ice and went in all alone on the goalie. Spencer made the pass to Moore who put it home.


- Allen got five of six points on the weekend to move into sole possession of second place in the Mountain Division. It was a struggle for sure as the Americans held on for a 2-1 win on Friday, lost 5-4 in a shootout on Saturday and won 4-3 in overtime on Sunday. The Americans struggled in the third period in all three games which is unusual because historically they have been a strong third period team. They were outplayed, outscored (4-1) and out shot (32-21) in the third period in the games this weekend. Allen gave up two goal leads in the third period twice (Saturday & Sunday). The team is playing better and anytime you get five of six points playing three games in less than 48 hours it is a huge success but there is still work to do to get better. Two games against league leading Wichita this Saturday and Sunday in Wichita will be a good barometer.   


- Goal scorers for Allen were Spencer Asuchak (3), Miles Liberati (1), Vincent Arseneau (4) and Bryan Moore (2). You can check out a great highlight package with all of the goals and fights at ECHL Rewind: https://www.echl.com/


- Here is the game recap from the Allen Americans with post game quotes from Bryan Moore: https://allenamericans.com/americans-grab-extra-point-overtime-win/


-  Here is the game recap issued by the Tulsa Oilers: https://tulsaoilers.com/oilers-extend-point-streak-seven-games-overtime-loss/


STEVE MARTINSON'S POST GAME COMMENTS

- It would have been tough if we hadn't won that game. With all of the special teams play this weekend our top guys, who play on the penalty kill and power play, have logged a lot of ice time so are really tired. All and all it was a good effort by the team against a well rested Tulsa team.

- On the goal that tied the game 3-3 there were several mistakes. We left Tulsa's best player all alone in front of the net. We had a forward take a guy the defenseman was already on. The forwards just didn't collapse well on that goal.

- The first thing I did when I saw Moore and Asuchak take the puck at center ice and get the 2-on-0 was look at the clock to see if they had enough time. It was great to see Moore bury that puck.

Bryan Moore with the overtime game winner - photo by Lauren Lyssy


- I am sure you all have heard I traded Tanner Eberle today. It is always tough to trade players that you like. I think his first choice was always to play in Allen but his second choice is to play and he will go to Jacksonville, who is struggling, and get a lot of ice time. Tanner wants to play in the American Hockey League (AHL) and I wish him good luck. I will say again it is tough trading guys you like but he is going to a place where he can play a lot.

- Michael Webster, who we got in the trade for Eberle, is a defenseman who is supposed to be a really good skater and can move the puck. His acquisition gives us more depth at defense. He was the second leading scorer for defensmen on Wheeling last season and was second in plus/minus of all skaters on the team.

- McAuley made some good plays today including the pass on the 2-on-1 when Asuchak scored.  That is the first time we scored on a 2-on-1 in a while. McAuley is solid, he plays hard and he hits. He is good defensively and probably logged more penalty kill minutes than any other forward the last two games.

- Our goalie play has been really good. They have both had to make some big plays to keep us in games.


OTHER COMMENTS

- The team will take the day off today and then start preparing for an important two games in Wichita this weekend. The Thunder are off to a great start with a 10-1 record. Their only loss was 5-3 to Allen at home on November 3rd. Wichita has a three point lead on the Americans in the Mountain Division standings and has played three fewer games than Allen.


- It is hard to believe but the game yesterday was the ninth home game of the season. Allen now has 25% of their home games in the books. The Americans home record is 4-2-2-1.


- Tulsa is about to embark on a 18 day/10 game road trip that will take them to Kansas City, Indy, Fort Wayne, Rapid City and Idaho. I heard the plan is to take "Big Red" for the entire trip including through the mountains to Boise for games with Idaho on November 29, December 1st & 2nd. Allen fans certainly know the risks of taking that bus through the mountains this time of year. As someone mentioned to me about a long trip like this on Big Red, tell the Tulsa players to make sure they have the Uber number on their phones, bring extra warm clothes and some extra blankets.


- The San Jose Barracuda (AHL) beat Manitoba yesterday 4-1. Olivier Archambault has been a healthy scratch the last two games as some of the injured Barracuda players have returned to the lineup. Olivier has played great since joining the Barracuda having a point in his last four games but it is hard to get ice time over prospects already under contract with San Jose. You see the pattern play out over and over where someone like Archambault goes from third or fourth line minutes, to healthly scratch to being sent to Allen. The Barracuda do not play again until next Saturday so if they plan on sending Olivier back to Allen it will probably happen today or tomorrow. The only hope is the pattern doesn't hold true this time and Archambault stays in San Jose.


- If you look at the Western Conference standings they are dominated by teams from the Mountain Division. Wichita is #1, Allen #2, Colorado is tied for #3, Utah, Tulsa and Idaho are tied for #5. The only Central Division team in the top seven is Toledo who is tied for #3.


- Defenseman Michael Webster was acquired from Jacksonville in a trade for Tanner Eberle. Webster is a second year pro who played in Wheeling last season. In addition to the comments made by coach Martinson above, Webster is described as great north-south skater with good offensive instincts who plays a solid two way game. Here is a press release from January when Webster was recalled to the AHL from Wheeling. It talks about his junior career with the Barrie Colts and his leadership on the ice, in the locker room and in the community.  http://www.wbspenguins.com/2017/01/20/penguins-recall-defenseman-michael-webster/

Here is the hockeydb profile on Michael Webster:

Michael Webster

Michael Webster

Defense -- shoots L
Born May 24 1995 -- Toronto, ONT
[22 yrs. ago]
Height 6.01 -- Weight 197

Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2012-13 Barrie Colts OHL 63 0 11 11 49 14 20 0 4 4 18
2013-14 Barrie Colts OHL 65 3 14 17 51 6 11 0 0 0 12
2014-15 Barrie Colts OHL 62 6 17 23 64 29 9 1 4 5 10
2015-16 Barrie Colts OHL 64 9 35 44 57 31 14 1 7 8 29
2016-17 Wheeling Nailers ECHL 57 5 24 29 38 13 ----------
2017-18 Jacksonville Icemen* ECHL 5 0 1 1 2 0



DID YOU KNOW: The three most penalized teams in the ECHL all come from the Mountain Division. Colorado, Allen and Idaho have combined for 859 penalty minutes and have a combined record of  19-11-7-2. The three least penalized teams in the league (Reading, Cincinnati, South Carolina) come from the other three divisions and have a combined total of 305 penalty minutes and a combined record of 20-6-4-0.



Sunday, November 12, 2017

Allen Blows Two Goal Lead, Loses 5-4 in Shootout, Martinson's Comments & Allen vs Tulsa Game Preview

The Allen Americans lost to the Idaho Steelheads last night 5-4 in a shootout before a disappointed crowd of 4843 at the Allen Event Center. After falling behind 2-0 in the first period, which included giving up their league leading fourth shorthanded goal, the Americans stormed back. Allen scored four unanswered goals (three on the power play) to take a 4-2 lead into the second intermission.  The Americans spent half of the third period on the penalty kill and gave up two power play goals to allow Idaho to tie the game 4-4 and send it to overtime. Allen had the better chances in the overtime period but neither team could get the game winner. Idaho's Justin Parizak, whose late goal in the third period tied the score also got the game winner in the shootout. He had the only goal in the shootout as Steelhead's goalie Philippe Desrosiers denied all three Allen shooters (Daniel Leavens, Mathieu Aubin and Jonathan Lessard).


- The Americans took three of four points from Idaho and have a chance to make it a five of six point weekend when they take on the Tulsa Oilers this afternoon with a 4:05 pm puck drop.


- Goal scorers for Allen were Vincent Arseneau (3), Peter MacArthur (3) and Mathieu Aubin (1&2). The video highlights are at ECHL Rewind. Here is the link: https://www.echl.com/


- Here is the game recap from the Allen Americans along with post game quotes from Mathieu Aubin: https://allenamericans.com/americans-earn-point-5-4-loss-idaho/


- Here is the game recap from the Idaho Steelheads: http://www.idahosteelheads.com/events/idaho-steelheads-vs-allen-americans-8/#gametab-2


- The game last night provided many ups and downs for the Allen Americans. They fell behind 2-0 in the first period but came back with two goals of their own. They took a 4-2 lead only to see Idaho comeback to tie the score 4-4 and send it to overtime. Allen scored three power play goals but allowed two power play goals and a shorthanded goal. In the shootout Allen sent out Daniel Leavens who converted last Sunday to win the game against Tulsa, Mathieu Aubin who is 9-22 in shootouts over the last five years and Jonathan Lessard who was 2-4 in ECHL shootout attempts. All failed to convert. Meanwhile, the game winner for Idaho was scored by a rookie taking his first shootout attempt as a pro.


STEVE MARTINSON'S COMMENTS

- Here is the pregame interview from last night with Tom Manning and Steve Martinson:



- Here are Steve Martinson's post game comments:

- It was a stupid game. We had a poor start but our power play got us back in the game and then it was one stupid penalty after another. Obviously we self destructed in the third period. We emphasized the importance of keeping the sticks on the ice but what do we do, get stick penalty after stick penalty. The stick penalties we took were just brain dead penalties. Tough hockey is not hitting a guy with your stick or slapping them in the head. If you want to fight someone step back and challenge them to a fight or get them back with a clean hard check. Instead we retaliated and ended up giving them power plays which they finally converted. 

- Unless the time on the video is incorrect we scored four power play goals tonight.

- I thought we had the better chances in overtime but the guys that had the chances looked tired when they had the chances.

- We have had several odd man rushes this weekend and I don't think we have converted on any of them.

- I am planning on putting the guys that have been sitting out in the lineup tomorrow. They are rested and with Tulsa not playing we will need the fresh legs.

- Tomorrow is another day. We have to get five out of six points and make it a good weekend. We have to play smarter than we did tonight.



ALLEN VS TULSA GAME PREVIEW

- For the third week in a row the Allen Americans will be playing the Tulsa Oilers at home on Sunday afternoon. For the Americans it is the third straight weekend they have had to play three games in less than 48 hours. Not the case for Tulsa who has not played a game since last Sunday when they lost to Allen 2-1. The fresher legs definitely belong to Tulsa.


- The game this afternoon will be the fifth of 13 meetings between Allen and Tulsa this season. Tulsa beat Allen three games in a row on October 27th (4-3), October 28th (2-0) and 29th (4-3) before the Americans won last Sunday by a score of 2-1.


- Tulsa has scored at least one point in six straight games (4-0-1-1) while Allen has a three game point streak (2-0-0-1).


- Here is a match up between Allen and Tulsa:

                                     ALLEN                                TULSA

Team Record               6-4-2- (15 points)                   5-3-1-2 (13 points)
Division Ranking         3rd - Mountain                         6th - Central
Conference Ranking   4th - Western                          8th - Western
League Ranking          10th                                        16th
Last Game                  5-4 loss (Idaho)                       2-1 Loss (Allen)
Goals For                    43                                           33
Goals Against             37                                            33
Power Play                 14.9% (10/67)                          10.4% (5/48)
Penalty Kill                  88.9% (7/63)                           80.8% (10/52)
Leading Scorer           Pierro-Zabotel  (4-11-15)         Bleackley (7-4-11)
Most PIM's                  Eberle (27)                              Pleskach (20)


-  Here is how Allen and Tulsa rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 5th (20.31) - Tulsa 20th (14.18)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 11th (3.31) - Tulsa 20th (3.00)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 8th (2.85) - Tulsa 11th (3.00)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 6th (34.92) - Tulsa 3rd (38.91)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 23rd (36.00) - Tulsa 21st (35.09) 
Power Play Percentage: Allen 17th (14.9%) - Tulsa 24th (10.4%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 3rd (88.9%) - Tulsa 18th (80.8%)


-If you look at the four head to head games these teams have played the team that scored first has won all four games. For the season Allen is 4-0 when they score first and 2-4-2-1 when they don't.


- Head to head Tulsa has the edge is goals (11-8) and shots (164-153). Tulsa has averaged 41 shots per game and in the last two meetings has had 47 shots and 50 shots. For Allen to prevail this afternoon they will need to tighten down on shots allowed to the Oilers.


- If you look at the stats above Allen has the edge on the power play and the penalty kill. However, head to head Allen is 3-18 (16.7%) against Tulsa on the power play while Tulsa's power play against Allen is 2-10 (20%).


- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Matt Menniti (#10) and linesmen Brian Bull (#95) and Lucas Bisbee (#72). Menniti has been the referee for all three games this weekend, that doesn't happen very often.


OTHER COMMENTS

- It was another tough night for the Colorado Eagles against the Rapid City Rush. Friday night the Eagles blew a 3-0 lead in the final eight minutes of the game at home against the Rush and ended up losing in overtime. Last night in Rapid City the Eagles scored the go ahead goal with 66 second  remaining in the game but then gave up the tying goal with 21 seconds remaining. Rapid City won the game in overtime. After a horrible start to the season Rapid City has won four straight games.


- Wichita cruised to its10th win of the season against one loss with a 4-2 win in Kansas City last night. Wichita has 20 points to lead the ECHL standings by one point over Florida. No other team has more than 16 points.


- If you look at the Mountain Division standings by winning percentage it looks like this:

.909 - Wichita
.614 - Colorado
.591 - Tulsa
.583 - Idaho
.577 - Allen
.500 - Utah
.455 - Rapid City 


Here are a couple of my favorite photos from last night courtesy of Lauren Lyssy:

Love this photo!

Mathieu Aubin pokes home his second goal





DID YOU KNOW: Blowing a lead in the third period at home, as the Americans did last night, is a very unusual event. Combining last season and this season Allen's record (prior to last night) when leading after two periods at home was 25-0-0-1.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Allen Beats Idaho 2-1, Game Recap, Martinson's Comments, Rematch Preview, Division Standings & More

It was one of those good news and bad news type of games for the Allen Americans last night but the best news is they won the game against the Idaho Steelheads by a score of 2-1 before a crowd of 2985 at the Allen Event Center.

- The Americans continued to play well on defense holding their opponent to one goal for the second game in a row. Allen has allowed a total of only 10 goals in their last five games. They held Idaho, the league leader in shots per game (42.10) to 29 shots. It was the first time all season Idaho had been held to fewer than 30 shots.


- The penalty kill unit was a game saver killing all five Idaho power plays including a 5-on-3 for 1:25 in the third period. Allen's penalty kill percentage at home is now at 94.3% (33-35). The Americans best penalty killer was Stephon Williams who saved 28 of 29 shots on the night and raised his save percentage to .934, the fourth best in the ECHL.


- Allen scored the first goal of the game for only the fourth time in 12 games this season. The Americans are a perfect 4-0 when scoring first.


- The power play struggles for the Americans continued going 0-5 last night and falling to 7-59 (11.9%) on the season.


- When Allen took a 2-0 lead midway through the second period it seemed like the mindset changed. This was commented on by both players and coach Martinson after the game. Scoring became more important than winning for too many players. It didn't cost the Americans last night but it will if it continues.


- The goal scorers for Allen were Peter MacArthur (2) and Vincent Arseneau (2). You can watch the video highlights at ECHL Rewind. Things to watch for on the highlights are great setup passes by Bryan Moore on the MacArthur goal, by Miles Liberati on the Arseneau goal and the traffic in front of the net on the lone Idaho goal. Here is the link: https://www.echl.com/


- Here is the game recap issued by the Allen Americans with post game quotes from defenseman Mike Gunn: https://allenamericans.com/americans-hold-2-1-win-idaho/


- Here is the game recap from the Idaho Steelheads: http://www.idahosteelheads.com/events/idaho-steelheads-vs-allen-americans-7/#gametab-2


STEVE MARTINSON'S COMMENTS

- Here is Steve Martinson's pregame interview with game host Kayla McLain:



- It was pretty clear from his post games comments that coach Martinson was not happy with the way some players performed once the Americans took a 2-0. Here is what he had to say:

- I thought we were playing good and moving our feet and then we took the 2-0 lead we had a bunch of guys that just wanted to score. It was mostly guys that were here in the past taking shortcuts thinking it is more important to score than to win the game.

- We didn't get in front of the shot from the point on Idaho's lone goal because of some  miscommunication and then we didn't clear the guy out in front of the net.

- I liked our penalty kill in the third period but I didn't like the rest of our play. After they pulled their goalie we were trying to score an empty goal rather than just move the puck out of our zone.

- On our power plays we didn't shoot the puck. We just keep moving it around on the outside and don't shoot. I need to get two guys in front of the net and find someone that wants to shoot the puck from the point.

- Colby McAuley played hard and was physical and could have had a couple of goals. I thought he was dependable at both ends of the ice.

- I don't typically go in the locker room after a game because I prefer to look at the videotape before talking to players but tonight I did. I went in the locker room and called the guys out.  I told them all they care about is scoring. I am all for scoring four or five goals but don't cheat to do it, just play hard, skate and move your feet.

- Defensively we were hard to play against. We had some good hits.

- Liberati has been great since he has been back in the lineup and has been fun to watch. That was just a fabulous play he made on Arseneau's goal.

- I don't think we are there yet but we are definitely playing better. We are getting good goaltending. Our power play has been anemic. If we can add a power play goal each game that will make a big difference. In the past we have averaged a goal every four or five power plays.

- We have 13 forwards right now and we have never carried more than 11. It will be hard to carry 13 especially when you have guys that don't want to sit out.

- Zach Pochiro was put on the 21 day injured reserve. He has a broken finger.

- I thought in the first period we had a lot of good shots within 20 feet of the goal that we could have buried. We could have easily had three or four goals. They were great scoring chances.


OTHER COMMENTS

- For the rematch tonight with Idaho it should be more of the same and if the Americans can get off to a good start again, hold down the shots against and get a power play goal they will win. It will be a different atmosphere with a larger crowd and some of the Dallas Stars front office and coaching staff in attendance to watch their ECHL affiliate. With the Dallas brass watching you know the Steelheads will be going all out.


- In other action in the Mountain Division last night Colorado blew a 3-0 lead with less than eight minutes remaining in the game and lost to Rapid City 4-3 in overtime. Wichita continued their winning ways beating Kansas City on  the road 6-2. The Thunder improved their record to 9-1 which is the best start in franchise history. They lead the ECHL in points (18) and winning percentage (.900).


- With their win last night Allen moved into sole possession of third place in the Mountain Division standings which remain very tight with three points separating second and sixth place. Here are the current Mountain Division standings with games played in parentheses:

18 points - Wichita (10 games)
15 points - Colorado (12 games)
14 points - Allen (12 games)
13 points - Tulsa (11 games)
12 points - Utah (13 games)
12 points - Idaho (11 games)
8 points - Rapid City (10 games)


- The ECHL hit a big milestone last night as they honored the 100 millionth regular season fan in league history. It all took place in Kalamazoo. Here are the details: https://www.echl.com/echl-welcomes-100-millionth-fan-league-history


- For the second consecutive year the ECHL All-Star game will be televised live exclusively on the  NHL Network. The format for the game has changed this year with each of the four divisions being represented by a team. Here are the details: https://www.echl.com/2018-ccm-echl-star-classic-televised-nationally-live-nhl-network


- The Americans paid tribute to Bill Mazzeo, the well known and well liked usher who past away unexpectedly this week with a moment of silence before the game. I had a chance to stop by the suite provided to Bill's extended family who are in town for his memorial service and it was a celebration of his love for the Allen Americans. Bill's daughter, Danielle, told me her dad was looking down at the AEC enjoying the attention and smiling about an Allen victory on the night he was remembered.


DID YOU KNOW: If you look at the ECHL stats the Allen Americans are ranked #13 in goals scored averaging 3.25 goals per game. The number is misleading and masks what has been a difficult time for the Americans to put the puck in the net. Allen scored 19 goals in their first three games and led the league averaging 6.33 goals per game. In their last nine games the Americans have scored 20 goals for an average of 2.22 goals per game. If you eliminate those first three games the Allen goals per game average of 2.22 is the worst in the ECHL. Quad City is currently last in the league with an average of 2.33.