Saturday, November 30, 2013

Martinson Comments About Game & Clarke, Stats & More

The Allen Americans got back on the winning way last night defeating the Arizona Sundogs 5-3 before a crowd  of 2185 at Tim's Toyota Center. The Americans were led by Greger Hanson (2 goals 1 assist) who was the games #1 star and Alex Lavoie (2 goals) who was the #2 star. The rubber match of the three game series will be played tonight. There were some fireworks at the end of the game which could very well carryover into the game tonight. Former Allen player, Garrett Clarke, intentionally shot the puck into the Allen bench after the game was over and received an "intent to injure" game misconduct penalty. The incident prompted coach Martinson to say this when I talked him after the game, "The reason we didn't take Clarke back after he was cut by Toledo was strictly a character issue."

- Martinson was pleased with how the team played saying, "We played Allen hockey tonight, we played physical, and it was a good win."

- Bryan Pitton will get the start in goal tonight.

- Greger Hanson has certainly given the team a boost since his arrival with his speed and energy and has eight points (3 goals 5 assists) in five games. There is no longer that reliance on the top line to do all of the scoring as scoring is much more balanced the last few games.

- Jonathan Lessard returned to the line up after injury and the top line (Lessard, Lavoie, Fox) looked good playing together.

- With the win last night Allen went from fifth place in the standings to a tie for third (23 points) as the top five teams in the league are separated by only four points. Rapid City (26 points) and Missouri (24 points) both won and remain the class of the field. While the points are close the Rush and Mavericks have three games in hand over Allen & Denver who are right behind them in the standings.

- With Jonathan Lessard coming off IR Dallas Ehrhardt was placed on injured reserve.

- The penalty kill allowed two goals in only four attempts in the game. Arizona has scored three power play goals in the last two games which matches the total  number of power play goals they had scored at home all season before the Allen series. Made me think of how nice it would be to have Brian McMillin back killing penalties. Sure hope the Americans can make this happen if Brian doesn't sign with another team in Europe.

- Scoring a point a game is something everyone notices when looking at stats. At this point the Americans have five players in this category:
Alex Lavoie - 26 points in 18 games
Kale Kerbashian - 20 points in 18 games
Darryl Bootland - 17 point in 17 games
Phil Fox - 9 points in 8 games
Greger Hanson - 8 points in 5 games

- Alex Lavoie continues his torrid scoring pace. His 26 points leads all CHL rookies in scoring (6 more points than second place & 10 more than third place) and he is third in scoring amongst all CHL players. With his two goals last night including the game winner he now lead the team in points, goals (tied with Bootland ), assists, power play goals (tied ), power play assists, and game winning goals.

-  With some of the higher drawing teams playing at home this weekend (Rapid City & Missouri) the CHL average attendance has risen to 3395. This is just over 300 per game less than the average for the entire year last year. 

- It was nice to hear Tommy Daniels interview equipment manager Kacee Coberly between periods in honor of  Kacee recently passing his 500th game as an equipment manager. Quite a milestone for a 26 year old. If you haven't read the story I did about Kacee take a look as it is a good read. You can find it in the archives, "Meet Kacee Coberly, Equipment Manager Extraordinaire" dated October 30, 2013.

DID YOU KNOW: The longest tenured equipment manager in the NHL is Rip Simonick who has over 3400 NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres. Robert "Rip" Simonick is in his 41st season with the organization as Buffalo’s Equipment Manager.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Deal, Statistical Team Leaders, Hepditch Update

- It's "Black Friday" and the malls and shops will be crawling with shoppers. The Americans have a Black Friday special that is really a good deal. If you need any tickets or know anyone that will be buying tickets for any remaining games this year today is the day to buy. Don't think you will see prices this low again at least where you can buy any game. Here it is:
Black Friday Half-Price Ticket offer. The Allen Americans have made a limited number of tickets available for half-price for the remaining regular season games this season This offer is valid for any lower bowl section except glass seating and will only be available for a limited time on Black Friday. To purchase go to and use promo code TEACHER.

- If you want a good read and haven't seen it yet go the the Allen Americans web site ( and read the story about Biscuit written by Tiffany Kassab (her husband is Americans head trainer Osama Kassab). The title is, "On Being Biscuit, Who's in the Bull Dog Suit."

- Had some questions lately about key dates for the team so wanted to mention a couple of them again. There will be a Christmas break between December 23-25 where according to the collective bargaining agreement there can be no trades, games, practice, travel or promotions. Not enough time for most of the players to travel home but some time off from the grind. The other date I get asked about is the trade deadline. That date is February 3.

- While most readers of this blog will be watching/listening/following the Americans tonight as they take on the Arizona Sundogs there are two other great match ups this evening as #1 Rapid City takes on #2 Denver in Rapid City and the two teams tied for third place, Missouri & Tulsa, face off in Missouri.

- We are 17 games into the season and only 9 players have played in every game. (Lavoie, Kerbashian, Asuchak, both Ludwigs, Lukin, Rouleau. Tetrault, & Berube.

- Team Leaders:
Goals - Darryl Bootland (10)
Assists - Alex Lavoie (16)
Points - Alex Lavoie (24)
Plus/Minus - Tyler Ludwig (+4)
Penalty Minutes - Darryl Bootland (49)
Power Play Goals - Kale Kerbashian & Jonathan Lessard (3)
Power Play Assists - Alex Lavoie (4)
Shorthanded Goals - Spencer Asuchak (2)
Game Winning Goals - Lavoie, Kerbashian, Bootland (2)
Shots On Goal - Jonathan Lessard (60)
Shooting Percentage - Phil Fox (21.1%)

- Former Allen player Josh Hepditch (2011-2012) was mentioned by Tommy Daniels during the Americans broadcast on Wednesday as Josh contacted Tommy during the game. Made me want to check to see how Josh's team was doing this year. He is in his second year as coach and general manager of the Creston Valley Thunder Cats in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) which is a Junior "B" team in Creston, British Columbia. Josh's team is doing great as they are in first place by nine points with a record of 17-8. I did a story about Josh & his wife Kathryn when he transitioned from player to coach. It is in the archives, "Where Are They Now - Josh Hepditch" dated October 23, 2012 if you want to read more.

- Here is what the CHL included about Arizona and Allen in their "shots from the point" which was published today.
 Arizona remains the hottest team in the league riding a six-game win streak after Wednesday’s win over Allen (10-6-1).  The Sundogs (7-8-1) have turned things around and are now just one game from reaching the .500 mark.  The Americans will look for revenge on Friday and Saturday night and look to end their three-game slide.  Allen has lost six of their last nine games after starting the season with a 7-0-1 record.  Andrew Engelage has been a catalyst for the Sundogs winning five straight decisions while allowing just 10 goals over that stretch.  Allen had former CHL Goaltender of the Year and CHL Rookie of the Year Mark Guggenberger in net for the first time this season on Wednesday and the former all-star made 36 saves taking the loss.

- While the Americans currently find themselves in 5th place in the standings with 21 points they are only three points behind league leading Rapid City who has 24 points.

 - Look for Kale Kerbashian (5 games), John Snowden (3 games) and Spancer Asuchak (3 games) to continue their scoring streaks tonight.

DID YOU KNOW: In the 1983-1984 NHL season Wayne Gretzky scored a point in 51 consecutive games.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Thoughts, Game Stats, Player Updates & More

I wanted to start this morning by wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah and with the hope you get to spend at least part of the day with friends and/or family. I know many people have to work today (my daughter who is a nurse is one of them), are far away serving in the military, or for many other reasons can't be together so my thoughts are with all of you.

Since this blog is for and about the Allen Americans I especially want to say thank you to the players, coaches and others (Tommy Daniels, Kacee Coberly, & Osama  Kassab) who are spending today away from both their immediate family as well as their extended families. Since I have gotten to know a little about the inner workings of a hockey team during the past year writing this blog, I appreciate what the players go through to play a sport that they love. What appears to be the seemingly glamorous life of a professional hockey player to fans is a difficult one when you play in the CHL where the risk of injury is high and the chance of lucrative signing bonuses, six figure salary checks and endorsement deals is very low. The players make an average of $600 per week and the minimum salary is only $350 per week. And players only make that during the season so for six months of the year they are working at hockey camps or other jobs back home. Combine all of this with the long road trips away from family on a cramped bus for hours upon hours and job security which allows a team to send you packing at a moments notice.  So why do these gluttons for punishment continue to suffer the consequences of physical punishment and near poverty? Mostly because they refuse to abandon dreams they've had since childhood. Make no mistake the players on the Allen Americans are still among the best hockey players in the world. They may sometimes be forced to moonlight as cabinet makers or landscapers or work in a group home for troubled youth in order to make ends meet, and odds are most of them may never see the light of signing bonuses, clothing endorsements, or digitized characters in a video game. But they possess something that makes them heroic every time they lace up their skates: undying perseverance. They simply refuse to settle for a life short of what they so desperately desire. It's a shame such an admirable quality isn't better rewarded. So today, I say thanks to "the boys" for all they do for us and I hope they enjoy their Thanksgiving meal which I understand will be at Murphy's restaurant in Prescott, AZ.

The game last night followed an all too familiar pattern where the Americans take an early lead (2-0 after the first period) but can't make that advantage hold up and lose the game. It was a 5-3 loss to Arizona before a very small crowd of 1672 at Tim's Toyota Center.

- John Snowden and Greger Hanson got the two first period goals. Since Snowden has returned to the line up (three games) he has five points (2 goals 3 assists). Hanson has played four games since being acquired and also has five points (1 goal 4 assists).

- Darryl Bootland's third period goal was his tenth of the season and ranks him tied for fourth in the CHL for goals scored.

- With the loss last night Allen has the longest current losing streak in the CHL at three games. The Sundogs with the win have the longest current winning streak in the CHL at six games.

- The Americans have fallen to fifth place in the standings as Missouri and Tulsa jumped them with wins last night. It has been a long time since the Allen Americans have been as low as 5th in the standings.

- One player that is flying under the radar in my opinion is Kale Kerbashian. With the top line (Bootland, Lavoie, & Lessard) getting much of the headlines Kale has quietly been a scoring force on the team. He has scored in five straight games and is first or second on the team in goals, assists, points, plus/minus and game winning goals.

- Mark Guggenberger got very little support in his first start for Allen. The Americans were out shot 15-6 in the first period but still managed a 2-0 lead in large part to the play of Guggenberger.  The Sundogs had 20 shots on goal in the second period and for the game Arizona out shot the Americans 41- 31.

- The Americans were not able to capitalize on the statistical advantage they had coming into the game on special teams as both Allen and Arizona went 1-6 on power plays. It was only the third power play goal Arizona has scored at home all season.

- I found the the comments of Steve Martinson, who after all is the general manager as well as head coach of the Americans, to be prophetic during this period of time where the team has lost six of their last nine games. As general manger I really like this team and know they can beat any team in the league but as coach I am not happy. The general manager is getting impatient with the coach and unless there are improvements this weekend you can expect additional roster changes being made by the general manager.

Let's hope the team has a good day off, enjoys a Thanksgiving meal together, gets re-energized, and plays they way the coach and general manager know they can play these next two games.

- Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford, organized the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621. He invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians to the feast.

  • Lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese are thought to have made up the first Thanksgiving feast.
  • Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States.
  • In the US, about 280 million turkeys are sold for the Thanksgiving celebrations.
  • Although, Thanksgiving is widely considered an American holiday, it is also celebrated on the second Monday in October in Canada.
  • The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog.
  • Turkey has more protein than chicken or beef.
  • It takes 75-80 pounds of feed to raise a 30 pound tom turkey.
  • A 15 pound turkey usually has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat.
  • Why is it called a turkey? Oh boy, this will take some explainin'. Back in the day, the Europeans took a liking to the guinea fowls imported to the continent. Since the birds were imported by Turkish merchants, the English called them turkeys. Later, when the Spaniards came to America, they found a bird that tasted like those guinea fowls. When they were sent to Europe, the English called these birds "turkeys" as well.
  • The top turkey producing state in the US is none other than the hockey hotbed, home to Phil Fox & Mark Guggenberger, Minnesota. Minnesota produces over 47 million turkeys annually.

  • Wednesday, November 27, 2013

    Clarke Chirping, More Guggenberger Info, & Game Stats

    The Allen Americans arrived safe and sound in Arizona yesterday as did new goalie Mark Guggenberger. Tommy Daniels flew from Dallas to Phoenix (avoiding that long bus ride) and met Mark at the airport for the trip to Prescott Valley. Guggenberger will make his first start for Allen tonight and will be wearing #1. There are a lot of subplots to this game and series which will be interesting to follow.

    - Allen comes into the game having lost their last two games while Arizona is riding a five game winning streak. The Sundogs will be motivated to show the defending champs they are a team to be reckoned with.

    - Keep an eye on Garrett Clarke early in the game. I have always gotten the sense their is some bad blood the way he left the team after they took care of him at the end of last season. He likes to chirp a lot and will want to show his toughness to his new teammates. One can never predict these things but one of the subplots in the game will be Clarke versus ????? in a fight. And it is certainly possible this game could be one of those ugly ones.

    - Allen has an advantage on special teams as their power play is 4th (19.6%) while the Sundogs are 8th (13.2%). If you look at power play stats at home for Arizona it is very telling. They have only scored two power play goals at home on 36 opportunities or 5.6%. On the penalty kill Allen is 2nd (86.9%) and Arizona is 4th (83.85%). Hesitant to say special teams is an advantage because the last time I pointed this out (Saturday) the Tulsa Oilers score five goals in four power play opportunities. Things should hold closer to form in this series.

    - It will be interesting to see the line combinations tonight as coach Martinson tries to have all lines clicking. With Fox, Hanson & Snowden all contributing the last couple of games lots of flexibility  for who plays together on the top two lines.

    - Goals scored also favors the Americans. Allen ranks 2nd in the league in goals scored (59) while Arizona is dead last with only 37 goals scored. The Americans are averaging 3.69 goals per game while the Sundogs are averaging only 2.47.

    - Another thing to watch for tonight is who gets the penalty kill ice time now that Corey Tamblyn has been waived and what are the penalty kill combinations.


    - If you want to listen to the game on your smartphone the TuneIn radio application may be up and running sometime this weekend. Tommy Daniels has been working with Hot 107.3 to get this operational and was hopeful it would be working sometime this weekend.

    - Brett Skinner, who was released by the Norfolk Admirals (AHL) last week has signed with the Rockford IceHogs (AHL).

    - Here is the CHL publicity on the three game series between Arizona and Allen:
    The Arizona Sundogs (6-8-1) continue to find their way into the win column beating the Quad City Mallards (5-3-3) in a pair of shootouts this past weekend, both by a 3-2 score.  The Sundogs have won five straight games, all by one goal, and have played in six straight one-goal contests.  On the season, the Sundogs lead the league with 10 one-goal games (5-4-1).  This week, Arizona will have a tough test in their effort to extend their win streak with the Allen Americans (10-5-1) coming to town for three straight games (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday).    

    - Here is part of a story written by Doyle Woody of the Anchorage Dalily News concerning Mark Guggenberger's departure from the Alaska Aces.
    The Alaska Aces have suspended goaltender Mark Guggenberger after he left the ECHL team and signed with the Allen Americans of the Central Hockey League in a move that reduced the Aces to a single active goalie as they begin an eight-game, 20-day road trip.
    "He just jumped ship, abandoned the team,'' Aces coach Rob Murray said by cellphone from Colorado. "He felt he wasn't going to get enough of a shot here, so he went back to the Central League.''
    Guggenberger, 24, was a second-team All-ECHL pick for the Aces last season and two seasons ago was the CHL's Most Outstanding Goaltender and Rookie of the Year for the Texas Brahmas.
    By suspending Guggenberger, the Aces retain his ECHL rights for the remainder of the season. Another ECHL team cannot employ Guggenberger without making a deal with the Aces.
    Guggenberger faced something of a logjam in the crease with the Aces because Alaska is in its first season as an affiliate of the NHL's Calgary Flames and American Hockey League's Abbotsford Heat. The Flames have rotated three different goaltenders through the Aces, all of them under NHL contract.
    Those goaltenders gained No. 1 status and presumably relegated Guggenberger to back-up duty. Still, because of a recent NHL trade that involved Olivier Roy, and also because of other circumstances, Guggenberger's six starts are most among the four different goalies who have played in Alaska's first 14 games. "With the Abbotsford affiliation and the impending return of Gerald Coleman, (Guggenberger) felt it was a good time to go somewhere else,'' Murray said.

    DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans have had a former Alaska Aces player on their team the last four years:
    2013-2014 - Mark Guggenberger
    2012-2013 - Scott Howes*
    2011-2012 - James Reid
    2010- 2011 - Judd Blackwater
    *And remember Scott Howes played with the Aces in 2010-2011 when they won the ECHL Championship (Kelly Cup) and he was the Kelly Cup MVP.

    Read more here:

    Read more here:

    Read more here:

    Tuesday, November 26, 2013

    Brown, Tamblyn Out, Guggenberger In, The Details

    The Allen Americans made several roster moves yesterday prior to getting on the bus for the trip to Arizona. Goalie David Brown and forward Corey Tamblyn were waived. Former Brahma goalie,  Mark Guggenberger, has come to terms with Allen and is meeting the team in Arizona.

    In other news Darryl Bootland did accompany the team to Arizona but Jamie Schaafsma who hoped his injury would be improved enough to go on the trip is not with the team.

    Tamblyn was the surprise move of the day as he seemed to have found a role on the checking line and as a penalty killer. In 16 games with the Americans, Corey had five points (2 goals 3 assists). There are rumors on who might be replacing Tamblyn but I haven't been able to confirm anything at this point. Stay tuned.

    David Brown played in seven games for the Americans and had a record of 4-2 with a GAA of 2.90 and a save percentage of .898. 

    Roster changes are inevitable and expected this time of year as all teams are constantly trying to improve their roster. Mark Guggenberger is a name I heard during training camp as a possibility and he is a great acquisition for the Americans. For those that don't remember, Mark was a rookie for the Fort Worth Brahmas in 2011-2012 and was named the CHL's rookie of the year and the CHL's goaltender of the year. After his rookie year he signed with the Alaska Aces (ECHL) and has been in Alaska ever since. Alaska always has a great team and won the regular season championship (Brabham Cup) last year and are leading their division this year. Mark has played in six of fourteen games for the Aces this year and has a 5-1 record with a 2.21 GAA and .903 save percentage. He was a 2nd team all-star in the ECHL last year.
    Goalie Mark Guggenberger Joins the Americans

    Guggenberger was on the Western Hockey League championship team in 2008-2009 playing for the Kelowna Rockets. They lost in the finals of the Memorial Cup. One of Mark's teammates on that junior team was Dallas Stars captain, Jamie Benn. Ryley Grantham was also on that team.

    Here are a few things said about Mark by his coaches over the years:
    - The obvious first thing about him is his size, he is a big kid that can cover a lot of net.
    - Mark is a warrior who prepares for a hockey game like it is the last game he is ever going to play
    - He is a gamer and always rises to the occasion
    - Gugg's is a fun kid, the boys love him
    - I've never seen a goalie get a team up for a game like Mark does.

    One of the most impressive accomplishments of Guggenberger's young career is the CHL record for most consecutive minutes of scoreless hockey of 238 minutes and 31 seconds. And yes, he shutout the Allen Americans during that streak.

    Mark will be welcomed to the Americans by Phil Fox and Ross Rouleau who were his Brahma's teammates in 2011-2012.

    Here are the details from Hockeydb:

    Mark Guggenberger

    Goalie -- shoots R
    Born -- Richfield, MN
    [24 yrs. ago]
    Height 6.03 -- Weight 208 
    RS Scoring RS Goalie Stats PO Scoring
    Season Team Lge GP A PIM Min GA EN SO GAA W L T Svs Pct GP A PIM
    2007-08 Texas Tornado NAHL 3 0 0 179 12 0 0 4.03 0 3 0 96 0.889

    2007-08 Portland Winter Hawks WHL 3 0 7 180 12 0 0 4.00 1 2 0 98 0.891 ---
    2007-08 Swift Current Broncos WHL 11 0 2 608 22 0 4 2.17 6 3 1 280 0.927 ---
    2008-09 Swift Current Broncos WHL 24 2 4 1323 62 1 2 2.81 12 11 0 655 0.914 ---
    2008-09 Kelowna Rockets WHL 25 2 0 1394 47 2 1 2.02 17 3 3 514 0.916 22 3 4
    2009-10 Kelowna Rockets WHL 16 1 0 853 49 2 1 3.45 4 11 1 359 0.880 10 1 0
    2010-11 U. of Prince Edward Island AUS 15 0 0 789 44 0 0 3.35 5 9 0 405 0.902

    2011-12 Texas Brahmas CHL 39 0 0 2249 85 0 3 2.27 22 11 3 884 0.912 6 0 0
    2012-13 Alaska Aces ECHL 39 0 12 2314 86 3 3 2.23 25 8 5 966 0.918 3 0 0
    2013-14 Alaska Aces ECHL 6 0 0 353 13 0 1 2.21 5 1 0 121 0.903

    Hat trick: When a player scores three goals in a game it is known as a hat trick. Three goals in a row is a "pure" hat trick.
    It may surprise some people to learn that the term "hat trick" actually originated in British cricket. A bowler who retired three batsmen with three consecutive balls in cricket was entitled to a new hat at the expense of the club to commemorate this feat. Eventually, the phrase was applied to the same player scoring three goals in any goal sport, and baseball announcers now occasionally refer to a batter who gets three hits in three turns at bat as having managed a hat trick as well. The phrase finally broadened to include any string of three important successes or achievements, in any field.

    Monday, November 25, 2013

    The Bottom Line, Coaches Comments, Snowden Shines, & Stats

    The bottom line on the game Sunday afternoon was a 4-2 loss to the Tulsa Oilers before an announced crowd of 3484 at the BOK Center in Tulsa. The bottom line on the weekend was a win and two losses against Tulsa. The bottom line on the last eight games was three wins and five losses. All this and Allen has yet to play the top two teams in the league (Rapid City & Missouri). While it is tough to be away from family and friends during Thanksgiving week, the upcoming road trip may be a blessing in disguise and just what the doctor ordered to use a couple of cliches. The team leaves this afternoon for a three game series against Arizona (Wednesday, Friday & Saturday). Spending this week together concentrating on hockey could turn out to be a good thing. Here are my thoughts on this weekend and next weekend:

    - There certainly were some positives in the game yesterday after the 10-8 debacle on Saturday. There is no such thing as a good loss and getting down 3-0 is rarely the formula for success but when you look at the score sheet there is some good news including the penalty kill which did not give up a goal in five Tulsa man advantages, the power play scored a goal, the Americans allowed only 21 shots on goal after allowing 41 on Saturday, and Allen out shot Tulsa 30-21. Something to build on for sure.

    - Steve Martinson's comment to me after the game was we out played Tulsa but they finished better. A bad line change and a turnover led to odd man rushes for the Oilers. The one goal was a bad bounce after Pitton made a pass that deflected right to a Tulsa player.

    - It was great to see John Snowden back in the line up the last two games and he made is presence known in both games. He officially got a goal and an assist in both games but the goal credited to him on Saturday will be changed to Kale Kerbashian as John reported that it was Kale's goal. Though it was in a losing cause his goal, assist and overall play on Sunday earned him the games #2 star. John's combined plus/minus in these two games was a +1 as he was the only player on the team in plus territory.

    - According to Tommy Daniels in his broadcast from Tulsa, Darryl Bootland did not make the trip to Tulsa because he was on personal leave. With Trevor Hendrikx in the line up the team was short a forward and had an extra defenseman for the game.

    - So much for home ice advantage. The Americans have more wins on the road (69) than they do at home (66) in the last three years.

    - This will be the third time in five years the Americans have spent Thanksgiving in Arizona. Thanksgiving dinner may be at Cracker Barrel. In the two prior Thanksgiving visits (2010-2011 & 2012-2013) Allen won two of three games.

    - Jamie Schaafsma told me he intends to travel with the team to Arizona and hopes his injury is healed sufficiently to get him back in the line up on the weekend.

    - The team leaves this afternoon for the long trip to Arizona. The distance is something like 1050 miles and will take the team about 20 hours if there are no weather issues. Talk about bonding time this is the ultimate. Here are a couple of quotes that might apply.
    “Too often travel, instead of broadening the mind, merely lengthens the conversations.” — Elizabeth Drew
    “Thanks to the interstate highway system, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything.” - Charles Kuralt

    - Today is the day to submit my weekly CHL rankings to Minor League Hockey Report for inclusion in their Power Ranking. As I was looking at what happened around the league this past week and the upcoming schedules a few teams stood out. Rapid City has emerged as the best team in the league. Tulsa is on the move up the power ranking chart and the standings as they have won nine of their last eleven games. Arizona with five straight wins is a dangerous team despite being in 7th place in the standings. Wichita has gone from bad to worse with four straight losses (all at home) and have yet to win at home (0-7-2).

    DID YOU KNOW: When leading after two periods the Americans record this year is 7-0-1. When trailing after two periods the record is 0-5.

    Sunday, November 24, 2013

    Bizarro Game, Martinson Comments, A Shorthanded Hat Trick

    The game last night was one for the ages and not in a good way. You can pick your adjective to describe this one as many fit such as crazy, sloppy, strange, bizarre, peculiar, weird, lackadaisical, surreal or odd. When it was all over you could say the 4392 fans at the Allen Event Center got their moneys worth as Allen lost to the Tulsa Oilers 10-8 but the hockey purists must have all been sick to their stomachs. Lots of interesting tidbits on this game so here goes:

    -  The eighteen total goals was a franchise record as were the ten goals in the second period of which seven were scored by Tulsa.

    - Obviously in a game like this it is not all the goalies fault but the combined save percentage for the game was a paltry .773.  Imagine Tulsa goalie Shane Madolora stopped only 27 of 35 shots (.771 save percentage) and he won the game.

    - In addition to the 18 goals there were 101 minutes in penalties including seven fighting majors.

    - In one stretch toward the end of the second period and the beginning of the third period there were eight straight special team goals with four power play goals, a shorthanded goal and then three more power play goals.

    - The Americans league leading (no more) penalty kill really took it in the shorts in one of the most bizarre looking stats on the score sheet. Allen allowed five goals in four power play attempts as one of the attempts was a five minute major. In this one game the penalty kill percentage for the season went down over five percent from 90.80% to 85.71%.

    - It was definitely a point padding night for both teams led by former Allen player Todd Robinson who had eight points (2 goals 6 assists) and Adam Pleskach who had six points on (4 goals 2 assists). For the Americans Alex Lavoie led the barrage with five points (3 goals 2 assists).

    - What is probably another record out of this strange game Alex Lavoie's three goals came on a penalty shot, a shorthanded goal, and a full strength goal.

    - With less than one minute remaining in the second period the Americans were down 8-4. They  scored the next four goals to tie the game 8-8 and a comeback was looking good. Not in this weird game as Tulsa scored on the next shift just 19 seconds later.

    - So let me recap this infamous game that will be talked about for years to come. Tulsa beats Allen 10-8, a franchise record for goals scored in one game. The game includes 101 minutes in penalties, seven fighting majors, a player ejection, eight straight special team goals, a successful penalty shot, a shorthanded goal and an empty net goal. And oh yes, Tulsa scores five power play goals in four power play attempts. This qualifies for a COME ON MAN.

    Needless to say coach Martinson was not a happy camper when he addressed the press and season ticket holders after the game. A lot of the same themes that he has been talking about for the last few press conferences came up again but you can tell there is a greater sense of urgency and changes are on the way. Here are some of the highlights:

     - I thought the ten feet around our goal was a soft area. When I look at how Richard Matvichuk played during his career and I see the way we are in front of our net it is disappointing. There are too many guys standing around getting shot after shot after shot. I would not want to be a goalie on our team tonight.

    - It goes back to the fact that the priority and focus for this team really wasn't in playing hockey and playing the image we want to play. It is more about living in Allen, living on a golf course, having a nice meal set up by the team, having your apartment all furnished by the booster club, and playing soft. That was a soft game tonight. It is painful as a coach to watch that stuff.

    - Tulsa's power play was marginal coming into this game, but they have some skill and we let them pass the puck especially cross ice passes. We know exactly what Robinson wants to do and we have our sticks in the wrong lanes.

    - It is difficult to understand how we ended up with an extra five minute penalty when that whole melee started when Snowden was crossed checked into the goal and there were two players hitting Bootland including the goalie. It is very frustrating. All you can do is share the video with the league but nothing will happen. It is also important to note all of the frustration with the officiating doesn't change how we are playing. We didn't give up 10 goals because of the officiating.

    - The attitude from some of the older guys is we will be there when it counts, we will be there down the stretch, we will be there in the playoffs but that will not work. You have to work game in and game out, shift in and shift out. Things don't magically appear.

    - Our young guys are great. Hansen is a spark plug out there that has to be fun to watch,  Lavoie and Asuchak are playing great. We are getting everything out of the young guys we expected. The guys that were here last year built a pretty nice place to come to. We had guys called up to the AHL and we won a companionship. I am disappointed where we are at from that standpoint this year. I am looking for answers. I could have brought in three or four more young guys as lots of guys want to play in Allen when they see a young player like Lavoie being called up. My phone has been ringing off the hook but I wanted to give things a little more time with the older guys. I challenged some of the older guys tonight and I am not happy with the results.

    - I am also not happy with our defense as we are not playing with an edge. Our defenseman with an edge has been sitting out but that won't be the case tomorrow (Sunday) as Trevor Hendrikx will be in the line up. It doesn't seem to me with all the experience we have at defense the focus is on playing hockey. This group of defensemen is the most experienced I have ever had, it has the largest percentage of salary I have ever allocated to the blue line. I will have to review the tape but I don't need to review the tape to figure out we are not playing with the edge we need, the edge we expect, and it is not acceptable.

     - Sometimes you can throw out one game as atypical but there is a trend we are seeing that we don't like. We are not about to change the style of play that has made us successful. If guys don't want to play that style we will have to get some new guys.

    - I expect our young guys to go out and play like they did tonight in tomorrow's game. I expect they will carry the charge but I am not sure with the older guys. It is up to them but I expect them to show up. The team will travel to Tulsa Sunday morning and return to Allen immediately after the game. They will leave for Arizona Monday afternoon for games Wednesday, Friday & Saturday.

    - Brett Skinner got released by the Norfolk Admirals (AHL) and I have been talking to him about coming to Allen. He will be probably be heading to Europe to play but we may see him down the road.


    - Rapid City won again in Wichita and have opened up a three point lead over Allen and Denver in the standings. Rapid is now 12-1 and has a perfect 7-0 road record. Meanwhile the frustration continues for the Thunder fans as the team has still not won at home (0-7-2). This early in the season and Wichita is already 16 point out of first place.

    - The team on the move is Arizona who won their fifth straight game last night beating Quad City in a shoot out.

    - The fan club Christmas ornament silent auction concluded last night. Heard the top bids went to a Dallas Ehrhardt design that went for $50 and a mystery designed ornament (rumor has it was a Booter design) that fetched $55. Kudos to the fan club for a great idea which attracted a lot of interest.

    - A tip of the hat to Wichita Thunder fans for the continued support in what has been a difficult start to the season. Despite not winning at home thus far this season there were 5484 fans at the game last night which the Thunder lost 4-2. 

    - Brian McMillin finally got his first goal of the season and was named the games #1 star for the Coventry Blaze yesterday.

    - The Allen vs. Tulsa game Sunday afternoon (4:05 start) is the only game scheduled in the CHL today.

    DID YOU KNOW: Before the 18 goal outburst last night the most goals ever scored in one game at the Allen Event Center was 17 on New Years day in 2011. The Colorado Eagles beat Allen 11-6.  Another bizarre game by the Americans as they gave up three shorthanded goals all to Kevin Ulanski who is still with the Eagles as they now play in the ECHL. A hat trick with shorthanded goals, wonder how many times that has ever happened?  Ulanski had four goals in the game. Bruce Graham had a hat trick for the Americans.

    Saturday, November 23, 2013

    Martinson Post Game Comments, Jersey Auction, Stats & More

    Darryl Bootland with with two goals was the games #1 star

    The Allen Americans beat an improved Tulsa Oilers team last night 3-1 before a crowd of 3342 at the Allen Event Center. Allen High School playoff football and the cold wet weather probably helped hold the crowd numbers down some. Wearing specialty jerseys for "Americans Fight Alzheimers" night Allen was led on offense by Darryl Bootland with two goals and the #1 star of the game, Alex Lavoie with two assists and the #2 star and Phil Fox with a goal and the #3 star. Neither goalie (David Brown or Shane Madolora) cracked the three star selections but for my money both of them could have easily been on the list. I thought the goalie play was outstanding at both ends of the rink.

    - Tulsa came into the game last night 7-1 in their last eight games and have been out shooting opponents in most games. Allen out shot the Oilers 42-32 and improved their record against Tulsa to 5-1 on the season.

    - Special teams play followed an all too familiar pattern of late with a rock solid penalty kill (0-6) and an anemic power play (0-5). The power play has not scored in the last three games going 0-16.

    - Special teams should favor the Americans against Tulsa as the Oilers rank 9th in the league on the penalty kill (78.08%) while the Americans lead the league at 90.80%. The difference in the power play is not as big with Tulsa 7th in the CHL at 13.70% while Allen is 4th at 18.07%.

    - If you noticed the power play last night the Americans had lots of opportunities to score and controlled the puck in the offensive zone for longs periods of time but couldn't get the puck in the net. If the power play continues as it did last night the goals will come.

    - One of the most interesting stats on the team right now is plus/minus. Tyler Ludwig leads the team with a +8. No other player is higher than +3 and there are 10 players at zero or below. As a team the Americans are +5.

     "I liked the play of David Brown as he did a great job in goal. We had a lot of puck possession and lots of shots. Madolora was also great in goal. We are trying to do a couple of things a little different on the power play and while we didn't score we had the puck in the offensive zone a lot. It wasn't a real physical game as Tulsa doesn't play a real physical game and when you have lots of puck possession as we did and 42 shots on goal you are not going to have as much physical play. I liked the play of Greger Hanson for his first game. He takes the puck to the net and he did some things I saw him do against us last year. He made a great pass to Bootland on the third goal. You have to remember Hanson has only played four games this year and he wasn't playing a lot of minutes in those four games so he will only get better."

    - Allen made up no ground in the standings as the top four teams (Rapid City, Allen, Missouri, & Denver) all won last night. The other team that won last night was Arizona who has now won four straight games. The win last night was the first of the year at home for the Sundogs.

    - Wichita is now the only team in the league that has not won at home as their home record is 0-6-2. The Thunder will have another chance to get that first home win again tonight but it won't be easy as they take on the only remaining team that has not lost on the road, Rapid City. The Rush road record is 6-0-0.

    - The Allen Americans Fan Club had a silent auction last night for some of the Christmas tree ornaments the players made at a recent party. While most went for $15 - $25 the big winner was the ornament made by Kale Kerbashian which went for $100. Wow! Don't worry if you missed out as they only auctioned off half of the ornaments last night. Stop by the fan club table tonight as the other half of the ornaments will be auctioned tonight. 

    Alex Lavoie had two assists wearing the "Americans Fight Alzheimers" jersey - photo by

    - Congrats to the Allen Americans, Kimberly Munson and all of the other sponsors and people involved in a great "Americans Fight Alzheimers" promotion. A big part of the fund raising came from the specialty jersey auction after the game. I don't know the exact figures but the jersey auction brought in close to $15,000. I am continually impressed by the seemingly small group of fans that support the specialty jersey auctions. They really deserve everyone's thanks. For those interested in the details the jerseys that brought in the most money were Alex Lavoie at $1100, Jarret Lukin & Mike Berube at $1000, and Darryl Bootland at $850. And for those of you wondering what is the least amount you need to spend to get a jersey, last night it was $400.

    - If you haven't noticed, the Team Store recently populated their web site with many of the items that are in the store so you can now buy on line. To access the team store go to the Allen Americans web site ( and click on the "Team Store" tab on the top of the page.

    - Attendance figures around the league last night varied from 5488 in Missouri to 1386 in Denver. These numbers are close to season long numbers where Missouri leads the league with an average attendance of 5712 and Denver is last with an average of 1379.

    DID YOU KNOW: With an assist last night Missouri Mavericks forward Sebastien Thinel moved to third place all time for assists in the CHL. Thinel's 549 assists trail only #1 Doug Lawrence (1992-2002) with 684 and #2 Travis Clayton (1997-2011) with 601.

    Friday, November 22, 2013

    20 Questions With Greger Hanson - An Introduction

    Greger & Andrea Hanson were married in July

    If you have ever looked at a stress test where you can calculate how stressed you are based on life events you know that Greger Hanson's score would be off the charts based on his life over the last year. Living away from family, check. Changing jobs four times, check, Moving four times, check. Getting married, check. Personal injury, check.

    His mom and dad and a sister are back in Lidingo, Sweden where he was born and raised. Lidingo is an island which you could call a suburb of Stockholm. Greger describes it as a beautiful place within 10 minutes of Stockholm with forests, fields and lots of water. His dad is in the consulting business (Stockholm Consulting Group) and his sister works for Ernst & Young in Stockholm. His other sister is attending business school in Copenhagen. He has one brother who is playing hockey for Northern Michigan University (NMU), the same school Greger attended. Gregor met his wife, Andrea, while they were both attending NMU. They were just married in July. Andrea is attending law school at Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She will visit Allen as her law school schedule permits.

    Hanson had a great rookie season with the Wichita Thunder last year with 44 points (21 goals 23 assists) in 44 games. He also had a great playoff run until he was injured and could not play in the seventh game of the championship series which is now referred to as the greatest game in Allen Americans history.

    Gregor decided to leave Wichita this year and signed with the Colorado Eagles (ECHL) but was released during training camp. He then was signed by the Greenville Warriors (ECHL) which was great because it meant he would be playing close to Andrea. After four games with Greenville he was released.

    With all that has happened in the last year you can see why Hanson's stress score would be off the charts. I found him to be just the opposite. He is a relaxed, bright young man ( his degree from NMU is in business) who has a positive attitude and is very engaging. He is extremely happy to be playing for the Allen Americans and I know coach Martinson is excited about what Greger can bring to the team. Martinson has explained to me a couple of different times that all players need is an opportunity to be successful and sometimes that doesn't happen in the ECHL. Often times ECHL teams are required to take or keep contracted players from their AHL affiliates and let go players that are free agents who are better than the AHL contracted players.

    Here are the details:
    Hometown: Lidingo, Sweden
    Birthdate: February 17, 1988
    Height: 5' 10"
    Weight: 185
    Position: Forward
    Shoots: Left
    Number: 12

    Roommate: Phil Fox

    Nickname: I really have never had one. My teammates usually just call me Greger

    Hockey Hero: I admire they way that Pavel Bure played the game and try to model my play after him. I really liked Mats Sundin growing up as we were from the same junior team.

    How would you describe your style of play: I rely a lot on speed and creating opportunities with my speed. I am pretty good around the net, can score goals, and think I do well on the forecheck.

    What is your very first hockey memory: When I was three or four I would skate with my mom and dad and sometimes my grandpa on a flooded soccer field in the winter. While my dad did play some hockey his main sport was soccer (he still plays) but my grandfather was a professional hockey player and also was excellent at a sport popular in Sweden called bandy.

    Favorite actor: I like Will Farrell and enjoy all of the Leonardo DiCaprio movies

    Favorite type of music: I listen to a little bit of everything but really enjoy old school rock.

    Favorite singer or group: Dire Straits and Bruce Springsteen

    If you could have lunch with anyone who would you pick: Tom Brady

    Something people would be surprised to learn about you: I cook a lot, enjoy cooking and I am pretty good at it. I enjoy shopping at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. Another thing is that I have a fear of spiders and snakes.

    What chore do you absolutely hate to do: Moving in and out of houses.

    What is of great value to you but little value to anyone else: My business degree from NMU and my getting married to Andrea.

    Who do you admire as a leader: In sports I would say Tom Brady as he was not a high draft pick but has turned into a great player. He leads by example.

    The most interesting place you have ever visited: Tunisia in Africa

    If you could live in another country for two years where would you pick: Australia or New Zealand.

    If you could be anything besides a pro athlete what would you do: I would work in Capital Investment. My first job was with a Capital Investment Bank and I really enjoyed that experience.

    Any pregame rituals or superstitions: No, I never have had any. I follow the same routine once I get to the rink and I don't like to get to the rink too early, but no rituals.

    Who is your number one fan: I would say my dog, Bella, who is always happy to see me regardless of what happens in hockey. She is a Yorkie/ Maltese mix called a Morkie. She is with Andrea now but she will come and visit.

    What do you like to do to kill time on the bus: I spend a lot of time on my phone browsing the internet but I also enjoy talking to people and getting to know my teammates better.

    Favorite childhood toy: My bike as I was into doing tricks on my bike. I wrecked quite a few bikes doing tricks.

    Favorite motto or saying: "The Legs Feed The Wolf" was on our wall at school. It has meaning as it relates to hockey.

    Who would you choose as a mentor: My parents and my wife.

    Favorite TV show:  Game of Thrones

    What do you like to do away from the rink: I enjoy golf but not sure how much I will be able to play during the season.

    Originally coined by the late, great coach Herb Brooks, "The Legs Feed the Wolf" is a phrase that was used to inspire the players of the Gold Medal Winning 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team.
    It's meaning stems from the hunting behavior of wolves who must locate, stalk & then chase their prey. Some wolves have been known to chase their prey for up to 13 miles. A wolf must be able to outrun and outlast its prey in order to eat and ultimately survive.
    The same can be said of hockey players. In order to be successful, you must be able to outlast and out-will your opponent. The Legs Feed the Wolf saying is a perfect reminder to every hockey player to dig deep, to keep moving your feet & to never give up!

    Thursday, November 21, 2013

    Goalie Coach, Roster Moves, Goal Drought, & Rankings

    This has been another long week for the Allen Americans. Anytime there is a week between games it makes for some tough practices. The guys did get a couple of days off over the weekend but have been hard at it since Monday. Everyone is ready for Friday to be here to play a game. Things will be hectic this weekend with three games in three days against Tulsa. The team will travel to Tulsa on Sunday to play and then return to Allen right after the game. Monday they leave for Arizona where they play three games (Wednesday, Friday & Saturday) over Thanksgiving.

    - Something new at practice yesterday was the presence of a goalie coach. Thomas Speer, who is a master coach with Elite Goalies, a company owned my Dallas Stars goalie coach Mike Valley, will be working with the Allen goalies. Speer has worked with Mike Valley for five years and is considered a excellent young goalie coach.

    - With Greger Hanson moving into the lineup on Friday it is very likely a roster move will have to be made today. The team will probably not carry 21 players on the roster. This is always a difficult time for the coaching staff and you just hope if they need to reduce the roster they can accomplish it through a trade or a player being claimed on waivers rather than an outright release. However, if you have been following the transactions around the league you will notice very few trades or waiver claims but lots of outright releases. I know this is part of playing a professional sport but as a fan it is always difficult to see players move on. And if they have a family it is even more heart wrenching.  

    - Coach Martinson talks a lot about how important it is to get a second line scoring consistently and it made me think about last year and all the players that have moved on. Decided to take a look at some of the players from last year and see how many goals they have scored this year. It would be hard to believe if you said at the end of last year that the combined total of goals from Maiani, Deitsch, Pineault, Howes, McMillin, Skinner, Daniels, and Grantham a week before Thanksgiving this year would be three but that is the case.  To be fair, Maiani and Deitsch are not playing hockey and some of the other guys are having good years but are just not scoring goals. Who would have guessed Garrett Clarke with two goals would out score the list above. The leading goal scorers from last years group that have moved on are Jim McKenzie with five and Todd Robinson with four.

     Each week (on Sunday) I am included in a group of writers/bloggers from around the league who submit their rankings of  CHL teams to Minor League Hockey Report who combines the input and publishes what is called their "Power Ranking." The CHL also has a coaches poll that gets published each week and then of course you have the actual team standings which is another ranking. When I look at all of these rankings and include my own input there are many similarities. Here are my thoughts on the rankings.

    -Rapid & Missouri are the two best teams in the league right now but Rapid is #1 based on their record (10-1) and the shots on goal for the two game split with Missouri last weekend which favored the Rush (92-64).  Missouri is #2 as they split with the Rush in Rapid City but followed that up with a loss in Denver. They now have a 9-2 record but have still only had two games at home.

    - Tulsa moved up in all polls this week based on the fact that after starting the season 0-7 they are 7-1 in their last eight games. They have three games with Allen this weekend to prove they belong even higher in the polls.

    - Quad City is flying under the radar a little bit. Their last four games have been against Denver and they won three of them. While they are 7th in the standings they have five games in hand over Brampton and six games in hand over Tulsa, the two teams  just ahead of them in the standings. They deserve a higher ranking in all of the polls despite their low point total (11).

    - Brampton is on that long road trip which I am afraid will get worse the longer it goes. They did win last night in St. Charles but still have eight more road games before they get their next home game on December 12th. They have not had a home game since November 10th.

    - After a great start to the season (5-0) Denver struggled on the road but had a great home win against Missouri on Tuesday. While they have two games at home this weekend against Brampton they then travel to Rapid City for three games over Thanksgiving. A tough stretch for the Cutthroats. Denver is the team that has the most variance in the various pools ranging from #3 to #7.

    - Arizona maybe deserves a higher ranking (they are #8 in all polls)  based on three road game victories last week. Their next five games are at home versus Quad City (2) and Allen (3) so they have a chance to turn around their poor home record (0-4-1) and move up.

    - St. Charles has lost five games in a row (three at home) and waived Chad Costello & Kyle Kraemer last week. They may be at #10 for a while.

    DID YOU KNOW: Four years ago today, led by goalie Chris Whitley, the Americans shutout the Corpus Christi IceRays 4-0 at the Allen Event Center. It was a memorable game with four goals by Bruce Graham (2), Nathan O'Nabigon, and Tobias Whelan and four fights by O'Nabigon, Britt Dougherty, Liam Huculak and Christian Gaudet.

    Wednesday, November 20, 2013

    Steve Martinson Talks Past, Present & Future

    Tommy Daniels and Steve Martinson kicked off an ambitious radio schedule for this season last night at five year sponsor Solutions Automotive in McKinney. It was a great show and very informative. They covered a lot of ground during the hour show from reliving the championship season, to the current roster to the future of the CHL. Here are some of the highlights of what Coach Martinson had to say:

    - If you look at championship teams they all tend to be physical teams that have gritty players who are tough to play against. That has been and will continue to be the formula for success. But a couple of guys who aren't real physical came through for us in the championship series. Bringing in Todd Robinson for the playoff run really helped our team, especially on the power play where we had underperformed after Brett Skinner went to the AHL. Brian McMillin earned extra ice time in the playoffs and made the most of it. Even when we were down 2-0 in the third period of the seventh game the players were positive as we were out playing Wichita. It was a great ending to a great season.

    - We have brought in a new player named Greger Hanson who played for Wichita last year (see post from yesterday, "Allen Americans Sign Former Wichita Forward Greger Hanson"). I thought he was the best player on Wichita's team during the finals last year until he got hurt. He broke his jaw and didn't play in the seventh game. He looked good in practice today and will play on Friday against Tulsa. Greger just got married in July but his wife will not be joining him as she is going to law school in North Carolina (Wake Forest). He will be rooming with his four year college teammate, Phil Fox.

    - David Brown will start in goal on Friday. Our goalie play thus far has been good but not great. I would like to see both of our goalies playing better and the best situation would be if they were interchangeable rather than having a #1 & #2.

    - Our young guys are meeting our expectations but we need more scoring out of some of our veteran players. Spencer Asuchak has four goals and is usually skating against the other teams top line. He is a very smart player and skates well for a big guy.

    - Corey Tamblyn has played an important role for our team. When I signed him. I told his agent he would have to beat out some guys in training camp that were ahead of him. Corey came to camp in great shape and made the team through hard work. He has done a good job on the checking line and as a penalty killer and on the road I have played him some at his natural position of center. He has also proven to be a good face-off  guy.

    - I heard good things about Alex Lavoie on his one game loan to Oklahoma City. He created opportunities, had a couple of shots on goal and almost scored.  Alex still has some work to do to improve his play in the defensive end but he will get additional opportunities
     at the AHL level this year.

    - We feel we have the best group of defensemen in the league. We spent a lot of money in putting this veteran group together. They have not been performing up to expectations thus far but we are confident this will get straightened out. We are looking at them as a group to lead by example and make good decisions which they aren't always doing at this point.

    - I have started earlier than last year to identify guys who are playing in Europe who are interested in coming to Allen for the playoffs. Guys like Colton Yellow Horn, who are on teams that will not make the playoffs in Europe.

    - It is difficult to know the future of the CHL. Several teams are struggling to put fans in the stands. It has to be difficult financially for teams like Denver, Arizona, St. Charles and Brampton even if the owners have deep pockets. The St. Charles and Brampton franchises were approved when the CHL was owned by one guy. Now that the league is owned by a group you wonder if those same decisions would be made. It is difficult to justify spending $30,000 on a trip to Brampton for visiting teams.

    - I talk to players, agents, and front office staffs all the time who express interest in coming to Allen or having a relationship with Allen but will not do so because of the uncertainty surrounding the CHL. I have no idea what the future holds but I do know the league needs to strengthen its franchises and make some rule changes that will help all the teams in the league.

    - Without a reciprocal agreement in place with the ECHL you have to be very careful in how you manage players and also how you go about trading players in the CHL. Since players can always jump to the ECHL if they are not happy you need to make sure if you make a trade the player will not turn around and sign with the ECHL. The same is true if you claim a player on waivers.


    - Chad Costello who was one of the best players in the CHL has signed with the Ontario Reign (ECHL). Martinson mentioned on the radio broadcast that he almost had a trade worked out to acquire Costello but a paperwork snafu prevented it from happening. Instead Costello was put on waivers and claimed by the Arizona Sundogs. Rather than reporting to Arizona he opted to sign with Ontario.

    - In the lone game in the CHL last night Denver beat Missouri 4-1 behind two goals by Garett Bembridge. Bembridge leads the CHL in goals (13) and points (24). He is an experienced player (32 years old) who has 244 AHL games and has played in the ECHL,(207 games), in Germany (173 games), Italy and last year in Japan. He played for the Nikko Icebucks in Japan and was a teammate of Dave Bonk who played for the Americans (2010 - 2011). Looks like Bembridge will be a force to be reckoned with the entire year.

    - As impressive as the Denver win was last night in beating Missouri the attendance was abysmal with the official figure being 911. Someone who attended the game reported that the actual crowd was no more than 500. In the five years the Americans have been in the CHL only four teams have averaged fewer than 2000 for the entire season and they are obviously no longer in the league. Both Denver (1379) and St. Charles (1809) are in that "can't survive" territory at this point in the season. While they have time to turn it around it will take some effort. St. Charles is a new franchise and playing poorly so there is more hope in their case than Denver where the team is playing great (7-0-2 at home) and they are in the second year of operation. Denver has the biggest decrease in attendance from last year (over 50%) than any team in minor pro hockey.

    DID YOU KNOW: The best team in the league according to the coaches poll, writers poll, and the standings is the Rapid City Rush. A remarkably start to the season with a record of 10-1. Imagine how much better they can become if they improve on special teams. If you combine power play and penalty kill the Rush have the worst special teams in the league. They rank 9th on the power play at 11.67% and they rank 7th on the penalty kill at 80.77%.

    Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    Allen Americans Sign Former Wichita Forward - Greger Hanson

    Allen Americans Sign Greger Hanson

    - The Allen Americans have signed former Wichita Thunder forward Greger Hanson. Hanson was released by the Greenville Road Warriors (ECHL) on Friday after playing in four games in which he had one assist. As a rookie, last year Hanson tallied 44 points (21g-23a) in 44 games with Wichita. He helped lead the Thunder to the Presidents' Cup Finals with 13 points (7g-6a) in 14 playoff games. If you recall he had two goals and an assist in game three of the finals including the game winning goal and had a goal in game six but did not play in game seven because of an injury. He was named to the CHL all rookie team.

     -Hanson is from Lidingo, Sweden. Lidingo is an island in the inner Stockholm archipelago, northeast of Stockholm. In 2010, the population was 31,561. The seascape at Lidingö shares similarities with that of Seattle and Sydney, Australia, with clear blue skies and waterways. The landscape is one of large forests and open farm land.

    - Greger came to the US in 2007 along with his friend and teammate Erik Gustafsson (now with the Philadelphia Flyers)  to attended college. He graduated from Northern Michigan University (NMU) where he recorded 112 points (40g-72a) in 161 career games.

    - Greger just got married (wife Andrea) in July of this year.

    - Here is how Hanson is described by the elite prospects web site: An offensively skilled forward with excellent wheels. Hanson accelerates extremely well and has a decent scoring touch and fine technical skills. Additional strength would not hurt his game.

    - Hanson will be wearing #12 for the Americans

    Here is the Hockeydb info on Greger Hanson:

    Greger Hanson

    Forward -- shoots L
    Born -- Lidingo, Sweden
    [25 yrs. ago]
    Height 5.10 -- Weight 185 
    Regular Season Playoffs
    Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
    2007-08 Northern Michigan University CCHA 44 6 12 18 30

    2008-09 Northern Michigan University CCHA 40 13 21 34 22

    2009-10 Northern Michigan University CCHA 40 16 22 38 38

    2010-11 Northern Michigan University CCHA 37 5 17 22 32

    2011-12 Sodertalje SK Swe-1 24 1 4 5 39 -1

    2012-13 Wichita Thunder CHL 44 21 23 44 32 13 14 7 6 13 20
    2013-14 Greenville Road Warriors* ECHL 4 0 1 1 4 -1

    DID YOU KNOW: Greger Hanson and Phil Fox were teammates at NMU for four years. When Greger first came to the US in 2007 Phil was the one who taught him how to drive. Greger used Phil's car to take his driving test.

    Lavoie Returns, Fighting Alzheimer's, & CHL 50 Years

    - Just a reminder this Friday (November 22) the Allen Americans are trying to purple out the rink with their first “Allen Americans Fight Alzheimer’s” game.  The Americans hope this night will help continue the movement to raise awareness and funds for the fight against Alzheimer’s and help advance the research to treat and prevent the disease. The Americans will be wearing specialty jerseys to commemorate the night and those jerseys will be auctioned following the game with proceeds raised going to the Alzheimer’s Association. The jerseys are sponsored by Esteem Hospice, Arbor Hills Memory Care Community and The Law Offices of Kimberly J. Munson, PLLC.  Additionally, the Americans have pledged $2 from each ticket purchased, using the code CHAMPS, will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association. If you plan to attend the game on Friday you are asked to wear something purple.
    Specialty Jerseys to Be Auctioned Friday

    - Alex Lavoie has returned to Allen after playing his first AHL game on Saturday in Oklahoma City. Alex got plenty of ice time and had two shots on goal. I have talked to people who were at the game and they all said Alex fit right in and distinguished himself well. I am sure he will get additional AHL opportunities in the future.


    It was 50 years ago that the heritage of the current Central Hockey League was really formed in the body of the Central Professional Hockey League.

    The league lasted from 1963 until 1984 and was owned and operated by the National Hockey League and its founding president was Hockey Hall of Famer Jack Adams.

    Original CHL Founder Jack Adams

    From 1963 until 1968, the league was called the Central Professional Hockey League and then from 1968 until 1984 was renamed the Central Hockey League.

    The current CHL, started up in 1992 after nearly a decade of dormancy from the “Original CHL”.

    Many of the historic figures that helped the current CHL reclaim its place in the hockey world were a huge part of the Original CHL.  People such as Ray Miron, whom the CHL’s Championship Cup is named after (Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup) and Bud Poile, whom the CHL’s regular season Championship Cup is named after (Bud Poile Governors’ Cup) were key figures in the history of the league.

    Ray Miron

    Some of the great teams from that era were the Omaha Knights (four time champs), the Dallas Black Hawks (four time champs), the Salt Lake Golden Eagles (three time champs) and the Tulsa Oilers (three time champs and final champion of the Original CHL, 1984)

    The teams of the Original CHL were:

     Albuquerque Six Guns (1973–1974)
     Amarillo Wranglers (1968–1969, 1970–1971)
    Birmingham Bulls (1979–1981)
    Birmingham South Stars (1982–1983)
    Cincinnati Stingers (1979–1980)
    Cincinnati Tigers (1981–1982)
    Cincinnati Wings (1963–1964)
    Colorado Flames (1982–1984)
    Dallas Black Hawks (1967–1982)
    Denver Spurs (1974–1975)
    Fort Worth Texans (1974–1982)
    Fort Worth Wings (1967–1974)
    Houston Apollos (1965–1969; 1979–1981)
    Indianapolis Capitals (1963–1964) (became Cincinnati Wings mid-season)
    Indianapolis Checkers (1979–1984)
    Iowa Stars (1969–1970)
    Kansas City Blues (1967–1972; 1976–1977)
    Kansas City Red Wings (1977–1979)
    Memphis South Stars (1967–1969)
    Memphis Wings (1964–1967)
    Minneapolis Bruins (1963–1965)
    Minnesota Rangers (1965–1966)
    Montana Magic (1983–1984)
    Nashville South Stars (1981–1982)
    Oklahoma City Blazers (1965–1972, 1973–1977)
    Oklahoma City Stars (1978–1982)
    Omaha Knights (1963–1965, 1966–1975)
    Phoenix Roadrunners (1977–1978)
    St. Louis Braves (1963–1967)
    St. Paul Rangers (1963–1965)
    Salt Lake Golden Eagles (1974–1984)
    Seattle Totems (1974–1975)
    Tucson Mavericks (1975–1976)
    Tulsa Oilers (1964–1984)
    Wichita Wind (1980–1983)

    Here are a couple of important hockey figures and their impact in the “Original CHL”

    GUY LAPOINTE (Houston Apollos, 1968-69)
    Although he only played one season in the Original CHL, it was Lapointe’s rookie campaign.  It was the first year of an incredible 16-year career.  He played 894 career NHL regular season games and 123 Stanley Cup playoff games.  All but a little more than two of his seasons were played with the Montreal Canadians where he helped the Habs to six Stanley Cup Championships.  He finished with 622 career NHL points (171-451=622).

    Guy Lapointe.jpg
    Guy Lapointe

    JIM WILEY (Seattle Totems 1974-75, Tulsa Oilers 1975-77 & 1978-80)
    Wiley played 305 games in the CHL, most with the Tulsa Oilers, where he scored 101 goals with 186 assists.  During the 1975-76 season with Tulsa, the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native put up his best single campaign totaling nearly 100 points (96).  Wiley played in 62 National Hockey League games (with Pittsburgh and Vancouver) and eventually coached in the NHL as the Head Coach for the San Jose Sharks.  He is now the Director of Hockey Operations for the current CHL.

    Jim Wiley

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    Americans Sign a Forward, Call-ups, Power Rankings & More

    - After a very rare weekend off the Americans will be back at it today getting ready for the Tulsa Oilers who they play three times this weekend with home games Friday and Saturday and on Sunday in Tulsa. Allen has already played Tulsa five times this year with a record of 4-1 but Tulsa has been playing much better hockey lately. Tulsa started the season 0-7 but in their last eight games are 7-1. This series will be a real challenge for the Americans.

    - While the Allen players had the weekend off the coaches never have a day off as roster changes can happen anytime. Alex Lavoie was called up by the Oklahoma City Barons and played in his first AHL game on Saturday . He is scheduled to play in his second game for the Barons as they take on the San Antonio Rampage tomorrow night (Tuesday). Alex is wearing #24 for Oklahoma City.

    - Allen signed a puck carrying/play making forward over the weekend in what I am sure is an effort to getting another scoring line going. Since I have not heard the name officially from the Americans nor seen it in any public forum my policy is to not publish the name in my blog. I will publish an article about the player later today as soon as the name is made public.

    - After the three games this weekend against the Tulsa Oilers the Americans closeout the month with three games against the Sundogs in Arizona over Thanksgiving. Arizona is another team that had a rough start to the season but has played better lately. This past week the Sundogs were 3-0 winning all three games on the road.

    - Today is the day I submit my "power rankings" for inclusion along with a group of bloggers/writers from around the league. The results are compiled by Minor League Hockey Report and will be published tomorrow. Won't list my complete rankings but as I look at what happened around the CHL last week here are some of my random thoughts:
    Rapid City and Missouri split two games but Rapid out shot the Mavericks 92-64.
    Arizona has to move up based on winning three straight games on the road.
    Tulsa is on the rise again going 3-0 over the weekend.
    Denver moves down based on 1-2 home record this week.
    St. Charles moves down after waiving two of their best players and going 0-2.

    - This is the time of year when injuries at the NHL & AHL level can lead to call ups for CHL players. While these call ups are great for the players involved if they become long term call ups it can negatively impact their CHL teams. Scott Howes and Brett Skinner are examples from last year of impact players that left the CHL for the AHL. Their circumstances were a little different because of the lockout but the impact was the same. Denver lost goalie Kieran Millan earlier this year and just had one of their top players (AJ Gale) called up and of course the Americans have just lost Alex Lavoie to a call up. Have not heard this from the Americans but would expect Alex to be back in Allen for the weekend.

    DID YOU KNOW: Last year (2012-2013) the Americans had nine different players called up to the AHL for at least one game.