Thursday, April 30, 2015

Rapid City Advances to Play Allen with 2-1 Win Over Quad City, ECHL Home Teams Prevail & More

The wait by the Allen Americans to determine who the opponent will be for the second round of playoffs is finally over as the Rapid City Rush used home ice advantage to beat Quad City last night 2-1. It was a historic series and game seven was typical of the low scoring, tight checking games the Rush and Mallards have had all series. The score was 0-0 after the second period with Rapid City having a 18-6 advantage in shots on goal. When Rapid City forward Cody Ferriero, who joined the Rush in January after starting the year in the SPHL, scored early in the third period it looked like that would win the game. However, the Mallards tied the score 1-1 with 1:32 left in the game and it appeared the teams were headed to overtime. At the 18:57 mark, just 29 seconds after Quad City tied the score, Ferriero scored again for the Rush on a deflection in front of the net to give Rapid City a 2-1 win. With the game seven, 4-3 series win Rapid City earned a trip to the second round where they will take on top seeded Allen in a series that starts tomorrow (Friday) with a 7:05 p.m. CDT puck drop.

- The Rapid City vs Quad City series was historic as the 28 combined goals are the fewest ever scored in a seven games series in ECHL history. Two quality teams that are very evenly matched. They tied for second place in the Central Division with 81 points and they had the exact same number of wins with 37. Rapid City got the #2 seed and home ice advantage because they had fewer shootout wins which aren't counted as wins when computing the tiebreaker. Other than game five which Quad City won 4-0 the other six games were all decided by a single goal and the winning team never score more than three goals.

- Here is what Mallard coach Terry Ruskowski had to say about the game as reported in the Quad City times by Bobby Metcalf. Ruskowski is always honest and to the point. He was a great leader as a player and is the only player in major professional hockey to captain four different teams (Houston Aeros of the WHA, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penquins).

"For a seventh game, we didn't play our best game, they just seemed more hungry."
"Pack your bags, we are going back to Moline,"
 "I told them we did not play our best game tonight. Sometimes less things are said because I'm not very happy right now and I get carried away and I am just going to blast some guys and some guys didn't do anything today."
"It is a very good league, it's very talented and we have got to get better."
"Next year I want a very fast, quick and good moving, good passing team. When we did that we did pretty well but it wasn't on a consistent basis."

- Here is what Rapid City Rush coach, Joe Ferras had to say after the game.
"We played a picture perfect game."
"We held them to six shots in the first two periods, our penalty kill was perfect, we kept creating chances and it paid off in the end."
"Everybody was engaged for the game. There were no passengers for this ride."



- It will be an interesting match up tomorrow night pitting one team that has had too much rest with Allen having ten days between games against a team that has had no rest with Rapid City winning last night and then making the long trip (1058 miles) to Allen overnight. Rapid City won't arrive in Allen until late this afternoon. There will be a complete series preview tomorrow.

- Here is the schedule for the Allen vs Rapid City series:
Game 1 - Fri May 1, 7:05 PM Rapid City at Allen
Game 2 - Sat May 2, 7:05 PM Rapid City at Allen
Game 3 - Wed May 6, 6:35 PM Allen at Rapid City
Game 4 - Thu May 7, 6:35 PM Allen at Rapid City
Game 5 - Sun May 10, 4:05 PM * Allen at Rapid City
Game 6 - Tue May 12, 7:05 PM * Rapid City at Allen
Game 7 - Wed May 13, 7:05 PM * Rapid City at Allen
*if necessary

- There were three game 7's last night for the first time ever in the ECHL and in all three the home team was victorious. In addition to Rapid City the other winners were Toledo who beat Wheeling 2-1 in overtime and South Carolina who beat Reading 3-2.  

- In the odd stat of the night one player scored both of the goals in the Rapid City 2-1 win (Cody Ferriero) and the Toledo 2-1 win (Kyle Bonis). In the third game Joe Devin had the second and third goals for South Carolina in their 3-2 win.

- Talk about the first round playoffs going as predicted by how the teams were seeded and it was almost perfect. In the North, East and Central Divisions all of the #1 and #2 seeds advanced. Only in the Pacific Division where #4 seed Utah beat #1 seed Idaho was there an upset.

- Here is the schedule for the Division finals in the North, East  and Pacific Divisions with how the teams were seeded in parentheses.
North Division Finals
TOLEDO (#1) vs. FORT WAYNE  (#2)
 Game 1 - Fri May 1, 7:35 PM Fort Wayne at Toledo
Game 2 - Sat May 2, 7:35 PM Fort Wayne at Toledo
Game 3 - Tue May 5, 7:30 PM Toledo at Fort Wayne
Game 4 - Thu May 7, 7:30 PM Toledo at Fort Wayne
Game 5 - Sat May 9, 7:35 PM * Fort Wayne at Toledo
Game 6 - Sun May 10, 6:00 PM * Toledo at Fort Wayne
Game 7 - Wed May 13, 7:35 PM * Fort Wayne at Toledo

East Division Finals
FLORIDA (#1) vs. SOUTH CAROLINA (#2)
 Game 1 - Fri May 1, 7:30 PM South Carolina at Florida
Game 2 - Sat May 2, 7:00 PM South Carolina at Florida
Game 3 - Tue May 5, 7:05 PM Florida at South Carolina
Game 4 - Wed May 6, 7:05 PM Florida at South Carolina
Game 5 - Fri May 8, 7:05 PM * Florida at South Carolina
Game 6 - Mon May 11, 7:30 PM * South Carolina at Florida
Game 7 - Tue May 12, 7:30 PM * South Carolina at Florida

Pacific Division Finals
UTAH (#4) vs. ONTARIO (#2)
Game 1 - Sun May 3, 3:00 PM Utah at Ontario
Game 2 - Mon May 4, 7:00 PM Utah at Ontario
Game 3 - Wed May 6, 7:05 PM Ontario at Utah
Game 4 - Fri May 8, 7:05 PM Ontario at Utah
Game 5 - Sat May 9, 7:05 PM * Ontario at Utah
Game 6 - Tue May 12, 7:00 PM * Utah at Ontario
Game 7 - Wed May 13, 7:00 PM * Utah at Ontario


- The Worcester Sharks (AHL) beat the Hershey Bears last night in Hershey by a score of 4-1 and now trail in the best of five series 1-2.  They play again on Friday and Sunday (if necessary) in Hershey.


DID YOU KNOW: During the regular season Allen was 8-4 against Rapid City. They were 6-1 at home and 2-3 in Rapid City.



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Practice Report, Martinson Comments, Will It Be Quad or Rapid, Schaafsma Story, Playoff Update

Stopped by practice yesterday as the Allen Americans continue preparation for the second round playoff opening game on Friday while still awaiting to see who will be their opponent. More on that later. For the first half of practice coach Martinson observed from the second level of the Allen Event Center (AEC) before joining the team on the ice for the second half. Had the chance to chat with the coach before he went on the ice and this is what he shared.

- After having the weekend off we will practice each day this week. The team will not have a day off during the week.

- It is difficult practicing so many days in a row so we will try and change things up from our normal routine. Today we are doing some drills that are different from what the guys are used to.

- Tomorrow (Wednesday) we will devote the majority of practice to the power play. Everyone will participate in working on the power play. With all of the skill players we have, sometimes we try and make plays when more shots from the point with guys in front of the net would be best. 

- I learned a long time ago not to worry about things that are out of my control and whether we play Rapid City or Quad City falls into that category. They are both good teams and there are pros and cons to playing each of them. We need to play our game and be ready to go after the ten day layoff.

- Depending on what happens on Wednesday in the Worcester vs Hershey series it is possible there could be roster changes before the weekend but it is too early to talk about that at this point.


OTHER COMMENTS

- Rapid City beat Quad City last night 3-2 to even the series 3-3 with the deciding game seven taking place tonight. This is the exact same script as last year when these teams went back to Rapid City with the Mallards leading 3-2 and the Rush won game six to force a seventh game. Last year Quad City won the seventh game. It should be a dandy of a game in Rapid City tonight.


- Who do Allen fans want as their opponent in round two? Have heard a lot of different opinions about this over the last two weeks and they are not all based on who would be the best match up for the Americans. Here is a sample of what fans have been saying:

"I want Rapid City so we can pay them back for the finals loss in 2009-2010" - (FYI there is not a single player on the team this year that played for Allen in 2009-2010 except for coach Erik Adams)

"I want Quad City because it is closer for travel than Rapid City" (Quad City 790 miles & Rapid City 1058 miles)

"I want Rapid City because Daniel Tetrault is my favorite player"

"I think Rapid City has more depth so I would prefer Quad City"

"Both Quad City goalies are playing lights out so I prefer Rapid City (Quad City goalies are #2 & #3 in the playoffs in GAA, Mosher is at 1.80, Milner is at 1.84)."

"It would be nice to play Rapid City so we can see Kerbashian, Tetrault and Ehrhardt back in Allen."

"I would prefer Quad City so we don't have to deal with Kerbashian, Tetrault, and Ehrhardt who would all come into the series with extra motivation."


- No matter who wins game seven tonight they will head immediately to Allen for the opening game of round two on Friday. You would think Allen would have a big advantage with the long rest while both Quad City and Rapid City will be exhausted from a tough seven game series, with little rest and a long 1000 mile bus trip unless they fly. How will Allen play and what will be the outcome of the ten day layoff. The "rest vs rust" debate won't be answered until Friday night. Just a reminder that the well rested Allen Americans lost to the exhausted Quad City Mallards last year in game one by a score of 4-2.


- It was quite an eventful night around the ECHL last night. There was one game seven and Ontario prevailed over Colorado by a score of 4-2 to advance to the second round to take on Utah. Ontario had to win two games at home to advance after trailing 3-2. It is just the eighth time in ECHL postseason history a team has come back to win a seven game series after trailing 3 games to 2.


- In the other three series in action last night the teams that could have been eliminated all won to force a game seven. It sets up another first for the ECHL as tonight will be the first time in postseason history that there are three game sevens on the same night. Here they are with the seedings in parentheses:
Quad City (#3) at Rapid City (#2)
Wheeling (#4) at Toledo (#1)
Reading (#3) at South Carolina (#2)


- Playoff attendance continues to be disappointing around the ECHL as evidenced last night where three of the four games drew fewer than 3000 fans. Granted they were midweek games but they were all closeout games in the playoffs. The average attendance for 47 first round playoff games is 3372. Here is the  attendance from last night with the teams regular season average attendance in parentheses:
4704 - Toledo (6440)
2727 - Ontario (7802)
2687 - Rapid City (3856)
2069 - South Carolina (3979)


- It is always nice to see all of the publicity the Americans get this time of year. In a major market like DFW it takes a lot of work by Tommy Daniels and the entire staff to get publicity even though Allen is the most successful professional team in the Metroplex in any sport. It is also nice when players get recognized back home. Jamie Schaafsma has always received support from back home. Jamie is from a very small Ontario community (Blenheim population around 4500) which is part of a municipality called Chatham-Kent which was created in 1998 by the merger of Kent County and all of its small towns. If you are on social media you have probable seen the story below that was posted earlier this week by Ian Kennedy of Chatham-Kent Sports Network (cksn.ca).  It is a great read if you haven't seen it.


Jamie Schaafsma Allen Americans
Jamie Schaafsma has embraced the role of captain for the ECHL’s Allen Americans this season – Photo by Kimberly Sauer

When you’re born and raised in small town Ontario, and have represented the Netherlands internationally, the moniker “Captain America” might not fit. That is unless you’re Blenheim’s Jamie Schaafsma, who has had the honour of captaining the ECHL’s Allen Americans this season.
“It is a great honor to be chosen as captain of the Americans and I am proud to be the captain of such a great group of guys and a talented hockey team,” said Schaafsma, who is now in his ninth season of professional hockey.
Schaafsma joined the Allen Americans in 2013 when the team was still part of the Central Hockey League. Since then, his role with the team, and community, which is a Northern suburb of Dallas, Texas, has grown exponentially.
“On the ice I just try to go out and lead by example,” says Schaafsma, who was the CHL’s playoff MVP last season while leading Allen to a championship.
“Work hard, finish hits, and do all the little things that add up and help the team win. On ice it’s pretty much business as usual for me, other than I am forced to talk to referees quite often,” added Schaafsma as his new responsibilities as captain in the team’s first season after moving to the ECHL.
“Off ice it’s just making sure our group stays focused and that we grow together as a group, so everyone wants to win for each other and have one another’s back.”
For Schaafsma, he not only has the backs of his teammates, he’s also supporting his entire community, as he was one of four Allen American players to participate in an internship with the Allen Fire Department this season.
“Right now I’m definitely starting to work toward a career after hockey,” explained Schaafsma, who also participated in a month long fire and emergency services course in Toronto last summer with close to 20 other minor professional hockey players.
”I’ve been working towards a career in Firefighting for the last year and a half.”
Giving back to the community of Allen, both on and off the ice has become the norm for the Americans captain, which comes natural to Schaafsma when thinking about the city and team he loves.
“Allen is a great place to play hockey and the organization is committed to winning,” says Schaafsma.
“Aside from hockey, Allen is a great place to live for many reasons. My family and I have some great friends here and it has been a pleasure living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. There is so much to do and the people here have really gone out of their way to take care of us.”
While he’s still busy taking care of his teammates, in search of a Kelly Cup title in the ECHL, Schaafsma knows a time will come when his role as “Captain America” will be done, and he’ll have to hang up his skates. For now however, it’s all hockey, and Schaafsma, who turned 32 in February, is soaking up every second of his on ice experience.
“Right now I’m just trying to keep enjoying playing the game,” says Schaafsma.
“Eventually my family and I will have some tough decisions to make in what we will do when my playing days come to an end.”
“You can’t play forever but it’s definitely going to be hard to walk away from playing the game. It’s a great lifestyle and an amazing career that my family and I really enjoy.”



DID YOU KNOW: Jamie Schaafsma has played in the championship finals for the last six years playing for four different teams. When you look at Jamie's hockey resume it reads like a world traveler. His first stop as a professional hockey player in 2004 was in Geleen, The Netherlands. Over the next eight years he played for teams in Amsterdam, Canazei, Italy, Bremerhaven, Germany, Bolzano, Italy & Val Gardena, Italy. During this time he also played in four World Hockey Championships for The Netherlands national hockey team which took him to China, Austria, Estonia & Poland.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Deep Dive On the 2015-2016 Allen Americans Schedule (Home & Away)

Ever since the Allen Americans became part of the ECHL everyone has talked about the 2015-2016 schedule when the seven former CHL teams would be fully integrated into the ECHL. The ECHL announced earlier this year they would move to a six division alignment for next season. Allen will be in the four team Central Division along with Missouri, Tulsa and Wichita. The next step happened yesterday with the release of the schedule for next season. Kudos to the ECHL for the early release which makes for better planning for all involved. Here is the complete schedule for the Allen Americans.


Game #:Date:Time:Visiting Team:Home Team:
5Fri, Oct 16, 2015 7:05 pm CDTQuad City
at  Allen
7:05 pm CDT
16Sat, Oct 17, 2015 7:05 pm CDTTulsa
at  Allen
7:05 pm CDT
26Sun, Oct 18, 2015 4:05 pm CDTAllen
at  Tulsa
4:05 pm CDT
29Wed, Oct 21, 2015 7:05 pm MDTAllen
at  Colorado
7:05 pm MDT
32Fri, Oct 23, 2015 7:05 pm MDTAllen
at  Utah
7:05 pm MDT
44Sat, Oct 24, 2015 7:05 pm MDTAllen
at  Utah
7:05 pm MDT
82Sat, Oct 31, 2015 7:05 pm CDTMissouri
at  Allen
7:05 pm CDT
91Tue, Nov 3, 2015 7:05 pm CSTAllen
at  Tulsa
7:05 pm CST
102Fri, Nov 6, 2015 7:05 pm MSTAllen
at  Rapid City
7:05 pm MST
115Sat, Nov 7, 2015 7:05 pm MSTAllen
at  Rapid City
7:05 pm MST
131Tue, Nov 10, 2015 7:05 pm CSTWichita
at  Allen
7:05 pm CST
145Fri, Nov 13, 2015 7:05 pm CSTAllen
at  Tulsa
7:05 pm CST
157Sat, Nov 14, 2015 7:05 pm CSTColorado
at  Allen
7:05 pm CST
167Sun, Nov 15, 2015 4:05 pm ESTColorado
at  Allen
4:05 pm EST
174Tue, Nov 17, 2015 7:05 pm CSTAllen
at  Missouri
7:05 pm CST
186Fri, Nov 20, 2015 7:05 pm CSTAllen
at  Wichita
7:05 pm CST
200Sat, Nov 21, 2015 7:05 pm CSTTulsa
at  Allen
7:05 pm CST
209Sun, Nov 22, 2015 4:05 pm CSTAllen
at  Tulsa
4:05 pm CST
227Fri, Nov 27, 2015 7:05 pm MSTAllen
at  Utah
7:05 pm MST
237Sat, Nov 28, 2015 7:05 pm MSTAllen
at  Utah
7:05 pm MST
270Fri, Dec 4, 2015 7:05 pm CSTRapid City
at  Allen
7:05 pm CST
280Sat, Dec 5, 2015 7:05 pm CSTUtah
at  Allen
7:05 pm CST
298Wed, Dec 9, 2015 7:05 pm CSTIdaho
at  Allen
7:05 pm CST
331Sun, Dec 13, 2015 4:05 pm CSTIdaho
at  Allen
4:05 pm CST
339Wed, Dec 16, 2015 7:05 pm MSTAllen
at  Colorado
7:05 pm MST
347Fri, Dec 18, 2015 7:10 pm MSTAllen
at  Idaho
7:10 pm MST
359Sat, Dec 19, 2015 7:10 pm MSTAllen
at  Idaho
7:10 pm MST
377Mon, Dec 21, 2015 7:05 pm CSTTulsa
at  Allen
7:05 pm CST
382Sat, Dec 26, 2015 7:05 pm CSTMissouri
at  Allen
7:05 pm CST
392Sun, Dec 27, 2015 5:05 pm CSTAllen
at  Wichita
5:05 pm CST
408Wed, Dec 30, 2015 7:05 pm CSTAllen
at  Wichita
7:05 pm CST
425Fri, Jan 1, 2016 7:05 pm CSTAllen
at  Missouri
7:05 pm CST
431Sat, Jan 2, 2016 7:05 pm CSTAllen
at  Quad City
7:05 pm CST
457Fri, Jan 8, 2016 7:05 pm CSTColorado
at  Allen
7:05 pm CST
480Sun, Jan 10, 2016 4:05 pm CSTColorado
at  Allen
4:05 pm CST
508Sat, Jan 16, 2016 7:05 pm CSTCincinnati
at  Allen
7:05 pm CST
518Sun, Jan 17, 2016 4:05 pm CSTCincinnati
at  Allen
4:05 pm CST
526Mon, Jan 18, 2016 1:05 pm CSTCincinnati
at  Allen
1:05 pm CST
532Fri, Jan 22, 2016 7:05 pm CSTAllen
at  Wichita
7:05 pm CST
558Sun, Jan 24, 2016 7:05 pm CSTWichita
at  Allen
7:05 pm CST
566Tue, Jan 26, 2016 7:05 pm CSTAllen
at  Tulsa
7:05 pm CST
575Fri, Jan 29, 2016 7:05 pm CSTTulsa
at  Allen
7:05 pm CST
589Sat, Jan 30, 2016 7:05 pm CSTAllen
at  Tulsa
7:05 pm CST
601Sun, Jan 31, 2016 4:05 pm CSTTulsa
at  Allen
4:05 pm CST
615Fri, Feb 5, 2016 7:05 pm CSTUtah
at  Allen
7:05 pm CST
627Sat, Feb 6, 2016 7:05 pm CSTWichita
at  Allen
7:05 pm CST
642Wed, Feb 10, 2016 7:15 pm AKSTAllen
at  Alaska
7:15 pm AKST
647Fri, Feb 12, 2016 7:15 pm AKSTAllen
at  Alaska
7:15 pm AKST
660Sat, Feb 13, 2016 7:15 pm AKSTAllen
at  Alaska
7:15 pm AKST
695Fri, Feb 19, 2016 7:05 pm CSTAllen
at  Missouri
7:05 pm CST
708Sat, Feb 20, 2016 7:05 pm CSTAllen
at  Tulsa
7:05 pm CST
721Sun, Feb 21, 2016 4:05 pm CSTAllen
at  Tulsa
4:05 pm CST
738Fri, Feb 26, 2016 7:05 pm CSTAllen
at  Wichita
7:05 pm CST
750Sat, Feb 27, 2016 7:05 pm CSTWichita
at  Allen
7:05 pm CST
761Sun, Feb 28, 2016 4:05 pm CSTWichita
at  Allen
4:05 pm CST
787Sat, Mar 5, 2016 7:05 pm MSTAllen
at  Colorado
7:05 pm MST
799Sun, Mar 6, 2016 4:05 pm MSTAllen
at  Rapid City
4:05 pm MST
810Wed, Mar 9, 2016 7:05 pm CSTMissouri
at  Allen
7:05 pm CST
832Sat, Mar 12, 2016 7:05 pm CSTWichita
at  Allen
7:05 pm CST
840Sun, Mar 13, 2016 4:05 pm CDTWichita
at  Allen
4:05 pm CDT
853Wed, Mar 16, 2016 7:05 pm CDTMissouri
at  Allen
7:05 pm CDT
862Fri, Mar 18, 2016 7:05 pm CDTAlaska
at  Allen
7:05 pm CDT
874Sat, Mar 19, 2016 7:05 pm CDTAllen
at  Tulsa
7:05 pm CDT
885Sun, Mar 20, 2016 4:05 pm CDTTulsa
at  Allen
4:05 pm CDT
895Wed, Mar 23, 2016 7:05 pm CDTAllen
at  Wichita
7:05 pm CDT
919Sat, Mar 26, 2016 7:05 pm CDTMissouri
at  Allen
7:05 pm CDT
928Sun, Mar 27, 2016 4:05 pm CDTMissouri
at  Allen
4:05 pm CDT
942Fri, Apr 1, 2016 7:05 pm CDTAllen
at  Missouri
7:05 pm CDT
955Sat, Apr 2, 2016 7:05 pm CDTAllen
at  Missouri
7:05 pm CDT
975Wed, Apr 6, 2016 7:05 pm CDTEvansville
at  Allen
7:05 pm CDT
985Fri, Apr 8, 2016 7:05 pm CDTEvansville
at  Allen
7:05 pm CDT
999Sat, Apr 9, 2016 7:05 pm CDTEvansville
at  Allen
7:05 pm CDT 

- The ECHL set a goal to have no more than twelve games (six home six away) against any team in the division and they came close in achieving that goal but didn't quite make it. Allen plays Tulsa 15 times (6 home 9 away) and Wichita 13 times (7 home 6 away).

- Allen will play eleven different ECHL teams next season. Here is a complete list of the 72 games by team:
15 games - Tulsa (6 home 9 away)
13 games - Wichita (7 home 6 away)
11 games - Missouri (6 home 5 away)
7 games - Colorado (4 home 3 away)
6 games - Utah (2 home 4 away)
4 games - Alaska (1 home 3 away)
4 games - Idaho (2 home 2 away)
4 game - Rapid City (1 home 3 away
3 games - Cincinnati (3 home 0 away)
3 games - Evansville (3 home 0 away)
2 games - Quad City (1 home 1 away)

- Here is a breakdown of all 72 games by day of the week:
Sunday - 15 (10 home, 5 away)
Monday - 2 (2 home, 0 away)
Tuesday -  4 (1 home, 3 away)
Wednesday - 9 (4 home, 5 away)
Thursday - 0
Friday - 19 (7 home, 12 away)
Saturday - 23 (12 home, 11 away)

- Here are the games by month. Allen was successful in getting more road games in October and November during football season.
October - 7 games (3 home 4 away)
November - 13 games (4 home 9 away)
December - 11 games (6 home 5 away)
January - 13 games (8 home 5 away)
February - 11 games (4 home 7 away)
March - 12 games (8 home 4 away)
April- 5 games (3 home 2 away)
  

- One of the many things the team looks at when the schedule comes out is how many times they have to play three games back to back to back. Three games in three days is stressful especially if there is travel involved. Players are more prone to injuries in these situations. This past season the Americans played three games in three days five times. In 2015-2016 that will happen seven times. Here are back to back to back games for the Allen Americans:

October 16, 17, 18 - Quad City (H), Tulsa (H), Tulsa (A)
November 13, 14, 15 - Tulsa (A), Colorado (H), Colorado (H)
November 20, 21, 22 - Wichita (A), Tulsa (H), Tulsa (A)
January 16, 17, 18 - Cincinnati (H), Cincinnati (H), Cincinnati (H)
January 29, 30, 31 - Tulsa (H), Tulsa (A), Tulsa (H)
February 26, 27, 28 - Wichita (A), Wichita (H), Wichita (H)
March 18, 19, 20 - Alaska (H), Tulsa (A), Tulsa (H)

-  Four games in five days with travel is really brutal but that only happens twice next season.
November 13-17 - Tulsa (A), Colorado (H), Colorado (H), Missouri (A)
March 16-20 - Missouri (H), Alaska (H), Tulsa (A), Tulsa (H)

- Five of the eleven teams on Allen's schedule next year didn't make the playoffs this year. Allen will play these five teams 34 times.

- Allen will play only two teams with a winning percentage above .600 during the just completed regular season. Idaho had a winning percentage of .708 and Colorado had a winning percentage of .625. Here is a complete list in winning percentage order with the number of games played in parentheses:
.708 - Colorado (7)
.625 - Idaho (4)
.569 - Utah (6)
.562 - Rapid City (4)
.562 - Quad City (2)
.556 - Tulsa (15)
.535 - Alaska (4)
.507 - Cincinnati (3)
.507 - Wichita (13)
.451 - Missouri (11)
.271 - Evansville (3)

- After opening the season at home against Quad City on October 16th and Tulsa on October 17th the Americans hit the road for eight of ten games between October 18 and November 13. The other tough part of the schedule for Allen will be February 10 through March 6 when Allen plays nine of eleven games on the road.

- The easiest part of the schedule for Allen will be between January 8th and February 6th. During this month they play 10 of 13 games at home and the three road games are one day trips to Tulsa, Tulsa & Wichita.

- From March 9th to the end of the season on April 9th Allen will have 11 of 15 games at home. The Americans finish the season with four straight games against Missouri (2 home 2 away) followed by three home games against Evansville.

- If you have ever wanted to go on a road trip to cheer on the Americans three dates to mark on your calendar are October 18th, November 22nd and February 21st. These games are on a Sunday afternoon in Tulsa. They combine the shortest distance to drive (230 miles) and a 4:05 p.m. puck drop so you can watch the game and still drive back to Allen at a reasonable hour.  If you want to make it an overnight trip pick February 21st as the Americans also play Tulsa on Saturday the 20th at 7:05 p.m. Maybe the Americans can sponsor a bus to one of these games.

- If you have always wanted to visit Alaska you can accompany the team on the first ever visit to play the Alaska Aces with games on February 10th, 12th & 13th. 

- Allen plays at home on December 21st and December 26th which makes it nice with no travel right before or after the Christmas break. The Americans will be on the road this year for New Years playing in Wichita on December 30th, Missouri on January 1st and Quad City on January 2nd.




DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans will travel 30,000 miles next year to their 36 road games with 22,000 miles being on the bus. The 8,000 mile round trip to Alaska will be by plane.








Monday, April 27, 2015

Former Allen Americans In ECHL Playoffs, Awards Arrive, Playoff Attendance Up, Golf Tournament


No, it is not PGA Q-School card winners, it is the Allen Americans team golf tournament


With five days still remaining before round two of the playoffs begin and the Allen Americans returning to practice today after a couple of days off thought it would be a good time to catch up with former Allen Americans players that are still in the ECHL playoffs to see how they are doing.

Darryl Bootland (2012-2014) - Booter and the Colorado Eagles are leading their first round series with Ontario 3-2 with games six and seven scheduled for Ontario tonight (Monday) and Tuesday. Bootland has two goals and two assists in the playoffs along with all of the other things he brings to the table like finishing checks, agitating and dropping the gloves. 

Judd Blackwater (2010-2011) - Judd only spent one year in Allen but it was a memorable one as his fight against Jim Jorgenson was one of the best of all time and Blackwater was a magician with the puck. Always remember someone describing Judd and his good friend and teammate Colton Yellow Horn as guys that could stick handle out of a telephone booth. Judd plays for the Ontario Reign and they have their backs against the wall trailing 3-2 against Colorado. At least the last two games of the series are in Ontario. Blackwater had 35 goals during the regular season and is the leading scorer for Ontario in the playoffs with six points (3 goals 3 assists).

Matt Register (2011-2012) - Matt also plays for Ontario and is the second leading scorer in the playoffs for the Reign as a defenseman with five points (2 goals 3 assists). Matt was playing in a men's league (Sylvan Lake Admirals) back home in Alberta when he was signed to his first pro contract by the Allen Americans part way through the 2011-2012 season. Pretty sure it was coach/advisor Bill McDonald who was responsible for finding Matt. I will always remember Bill telling me Matt was a good sized kid (6'2" 205) who could move the puck and score (when he signed he had 24 points in 18 games in Sylvan Lake as a defenseman) but he was so "green" they didn't know what they had. Bill used to say, "Matt is still used to driving to the rink with all of his equipment on, that is how little experience he has." Now everyone knows what Allen had at the time. Matt has developed into an all-star defenseman for the Reign and was selected as the ECHL's "Defenseman of the Year" last season and was runner-up this season.

Drew Daniels (2012-2013) - Another defenseman who played for Allen as a rookie right out of Northeastern University that has gotten better each year as a professional. Drew now plays for Fort Wayne and led the ECHL in plus/minus this year at +46 and was second in assists by a defensemen with 41 assists trailing only Aaron Gens who had 48. Fort Wayne has already advanced to the second round of the playoffs after dispatching Kalamazoo  4-1 in the first round. Drew has continued his great play in the playoffs with four points (2 goals 2 assists) in the first round to go with a +5.

- A trio of former Allen Americans are playing for Rapid City who also has their back to the wall trailing Quad City 3-2.  The Rush will have to win at home on Tuesday and Wednesday to advance. Kale Kerbashian (2012-2014), Daniel Tetrault (2013-2014) and Dallas Ehrhardt (2013-2014) knew nothing but championships while playing for Allen and are trying to bring that experience to Rapid City. They have all played in every playoff game thus far (five games). Here are their stats:
Kerbashian - two points (1 goal 1 assist)  and +2
Tetrault - one point (0 goals 1 assist) and -2
Ehrhardt - two points (0 goals 2 assists) and -1

- The most disappointing situation as it relates to former Allen players in the playoffs has to do with Alex Lavoie (2013-2014) who set rookie scoring records last year for Allen with 76 points (25 goals 51 assists) that may never be broken. Alex signed with the Florida Everblades this year and was the fourth leading scorer on the team during the regular season with 57 points (21 goals 36 assists). The Everblades won the East Division with 105 points. Alex is on the playoff roster but has been a healthy scratch in all five first round games. Florida leads Orlando 3-2 with game six and game seven (if necessary) at home tonight and Wednesday. Florida has a double AHL affiliation (Charlotte & Syracuse) so players being assigned to Florida by the AHL teams explains why Alex has not played. It has to be difficult to play all year with the team, be one of the leading scorers and then sit in the playoffs. It would be great to have Alex back in Allen next year if he is not resigned by Florida.



OTHER COMMENTS

- The ECHL post season awards arrived this past week and it was quite a collection for the Americans. All the players named to the All- Rookie and 1st and 2nd All-ECHL teams, as well as all the individual award winners, receive a personalized crystal award. Here is a picture with the awards. Chad Costello was 1st team All-ECHL and won the scoring title and Sportsman Award. Aaron Gens and Gary Steffes were 2nd team All-ECHL. Justin Baker was on the ECHL All-Rookie team.

L to R Chad Costello, Aaron Gens, Gary Steffes, Justin Baker with their ECHL awards


- In the only action in the ECHL last night South Carolina beat Reading 4-3 in Reading to take a 3-2 lead in the series and head back home for game six and seven (if necessary). The win last night was the type of game fans became accustomed to during the Stingrays 23 game winning streak. They overcame three deficits and scored the game winner with just 81 seconds left in the game.

- With two weekend games and plenty of time to market games #1 & #2  wouldn't it be nice to have over 5000 in attendance on Friday & Saturday. Fans play a big part in getting the word out about the games. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to sell tickets so everyone needs to do their part. Discounted tickets are available through Ticketmaster with the promo code "SKATE."

- Allen has done quite well so far in playoff attendance. There have been 40 playoff games in the ECHL thus far and the average attendance is 3444. Allen is averaging 3848 which ranks them #6 in attendance with a chance to improve the average substantially this weekend.


DID YOU KNOW: The Central Hockey League historically had better attendance in the playoffs than the ECHL. Here is the comparison going back to the 2010 playoffs.

Year    CHL    ECHL
2010:  3669    3425
2011:  3777    2919
2012:  4427    3029
2013:  3629    3259
2014:  3309    3318

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Quad City One Win From Advancing, Playoff Update, Worcester Down 0-2, Rookie Goalies Dominate Playoffs


Updated bracket through Saturday night - courtesy of Allen Americans

- Not much new with the team today as they continue with their weekend off before the serious preparation starts tomorrow for the second round of the playoffs. Every year during the playoffs the team leadership schedules activities so the guys can spend time together as a group. With the long break between rounds that is more important this year than ever. If you are on social media you may have seen a picture with everyone at the pool yesterday enjoying the great North Texas weather. Today the annual team golf tournament is on the schedule.

- In the battle to see who will face the Americans in the second round the Quad City Mallards won at  home last night by a score of 4-0 to take a 3-2 lead in the series over Rapid City. It was the first game in the series won by more than one goal. The teams head back to Rapid City for games six and seven (if necessary) on Tuesday and Wednesday. This series has been a carbon copy of last year when the Mallards held a 3-2 series lead going back to Rapid City for the final two games. The Rush won game six before Quad City prevailed in game seven. Mallards coach Terry Ruskowski had this to say about going to Rapid City needing one win to move forward, "We know now we are capable of doing it. Can we do it? We know we did it once, we'll try and do it again but it's easier said than done."

- Below is the status of all of the first round playoff series. Fort Wayne beat Kalamazoo last night to take that series 4-1 and join Allen as the only teams that have advanced to the second round. The team most vulnerable to an upset is Idaho who is the #1 seed in the Pacific Division. They trail Utah 3-2 in the series and game six is in Utah on Monday night. Two other higher seeded teams (Rapid City and Ontario) are trailing in their series 3-2 but will be at home for games six and seven.

SECOND ROUND

North Division Finals
TBD vs. FORT WAYNE
Not yet started

Central Division Finals
ALLEN vs. TBD
Not yet started


FIRST ROUND

North Division Semifinals
TOLEDO vs. WHEELING
Toledo leads series 3 - 2
Game 1 - Thu Apr 16 8:15 PM Wheeling 3, TOLEDO 2
Game 2 - Sat Apr 18 7:35 PM TOLEDO 2, Wheeling 1 OT
Game 3 - Wed Apr 22 7:05 PM WHEELING 5, Toledo 4
Game 4 - Fri Apr 24 7:35 PM Toledo 4, WHEELING 1
Game 5 - Sat Apr 25 7:35 PM Toledo 2, WHEELING 1
Game 6 - Tue Apr 28 7:35 PM Wheeling at Toledo
Game 7 - Wed Apr 29 7:35 PM * Wheeling at Toledo

North Division Semifinals
FORT WAYNE vs. KALAMAZOO
Fort Wayne wins series 4 - 1
Game 1 - Fri Apr 17 8:05 PM FORT WAYNE 4, Kalamazoo 2
Game 2 - Sat Apr 18 7:35 PM FORT WAYNE 3, Kalamazoo 0
Game 3 - Wed Apr 22 7:00 PM Fort Wayne 3, KALAMAZOO 1
Game 4 - Fri Apr 24 7:30 PM KALAMAZOO 4, Fort Wayne 3
Game 5 - Sat Apr 25 7:30 PM Fort Wayne 6, KALAMAZOO 4

East Division Semifinals
FLORIDA vs. ORLANDO
Florida leads series 3 - 2
Game 1 - Fri Apr 17 7:30 PM FLORIDA 3, Orlando 2
Game 2 - Sat Apr 18 7:00 PM FLORIDA 5, Orlando 1
Game 3 - Tue Apr 21 7:00 PM ORLANDO 5, Florida 2
Game 4 - Thu Apr 23 7:00 PM ORLANDO 4, Florida 3
Game 5 - Sat Apr 25 7:00 PM Florida 5, ORLANDO 4
Game 6 - Mon Apr 27 7:30 PM Orlando at Florida
Game 7 - Wed Apr 29 7:30 PM * Orlando at Florida

East Division Semifinals
SOUTH CAROLINA vs. READING
series tied 2 - 2
Game 1 - Fri Apr 17 7:05 PM SOUTH CAROLINA 2, Reading 1 OT2
Game 2 - Sat Apr 18 7:05 PM Reading 4, SOUTH CAROLINA 2
Game 3 - Thu Apr 23 7:00 PM South Carolina 5, READING 2
Game 4 - Sat Apr 25 7:00 PM READING 4, South Carolina 2
Game 5 - Sun Apr 26 5:00 PM South Carolina at Reading
Game 6 - Tue Apr 28 7:05 PM Reading at South Carolina
Game 7 - Wed Apr 29 7:05 PM * Reading at South Carolina

Central Division Semifinals
ALLEN vs. TULSA
Allen wins series 4 - 1
Game 1 - Tue Apr 14 7:05 PM ALLEN 6, Tulsa 2
Game 2 - Wed Apr 15 7:05 PM ALLEN 5, Tulsa 4 OT
Game 3 - Fri Apr 17 7:35 PM TULSA 5, Allen 1
Game 4 - Sat Apr 18 7:35 PM Allen 3, TULSA 1
Game 5 - Tue Apr 21 7:05 PM ALLEN 3, Tulsa 2

Central Division Semifinals
RAPID CITY vs. QUAD CITY
Quad City leads series 3 - 2
Game 1 - Fri Apr 17 7:05 PM Quad City 3, RAPID CITY 2
Game 2 - Sat Apr 18 7:05 PM RAPID CITY 3, Quad City 2
Game 3 - Wed Apr 22 6:00 PM Rapid City 2, QUAD CITY 1 OT
Game 4 - Fri Apr 24 7:00 PM QUAD CITY 2, Rapid City 1
Game 5 - Sat Apr 25 7:00 PM QUAD CITY 4, Rapid City 0
Game 6 - Tue Apr 28 6:35 PM Quad City at Rapid City
Game 7 - Wed Apr 29 6:35 PM * Quad City at Rapid City

Pacific Division Semifinals
IDAHO vs. UTAH
Utah leads series 3 - 2
Game 1 - Wed Apr 15 7:10 PM IDAHO 3, Utah 2 OT
Game 2 - Fri Apr 17 7:00 PM UTAH 3, Idaho 2
Game 3 - Sat Apr 18 7:00 PM Idaho 5, UTAH 4 OT
Game 4 - Fri Apr 24 7:10 PM Utah 4, IDAHO 1
Game 5 - Sat Apr 25 7:10 PM Utah 5, IDAHO 2
Game 6 - Mon Apr 27 7:00 PM Idaho at Utah
Game 7 - Wed Apr 29 7:10 PM * Utah at Idaho

Pacific Division Semifinals
ONTARIO vs. COLORADO
Colorado leads series 3 - 2
Game 1 - Thu Apr 16 7:00 PM Colorado 4, ONTARIO 2
Game 2 - Fri Apr 17 7:00 PM ONTARIO 4, Colorado 1
Game 3 - Sun Apr 19 7:05 PM Ontario 5, COLORADO 1
Game 4 - Wed Apr 22 7:05 PM COLORADO 4, Ontario 3
Game 5 - Fri Apr 24 7:05 PM COLORADO 4, Ontario 1
Game 6 - Mon Apr 27 7:00 PM Colorado at Ontario
Game 7 - Tue Apr 28 7:00 PM * Colorado at Ontario

(* if necessary)

- The Worcester Sharks lost again last night to the Hershey Bears by a score of 3-1 and now trail 0-2 in the best of five series. The next game is in Hershey on Wednesday. I don't have any information from the Americans but it does make you wonder, if Worcester loses on Wednesday, will Aaron Dell and/or Rylan Schwartz be assigned to Allen by the Sharks. There are two roster spots available so it is certainly possible. And if they are assigned could they be in Allen before the second round opening game on Friday? Stay tuned.

-  Joel Rumpel is ranked #2 in the ECHL in GAA in the playoffs with a GAA of 2.19. The hottest goalie in the league is #1 ranked Evan Mosher who has given up just three goals in three wins for Quad City for a GAA of 1.00.

- Congrats to former Allen coach Dwight Mullins who was hired this past week by the Dallas Stars as Hockey Development Director. The new position will oversee the continued development of Dallas Stars local hockey programs along with helping assist, educate, develop and grow all facets of the game in the Dallas area.


DID YOU KNOW: Four of the top five goalies in the ECHL playoffs in GAA are rookies. Evan Mosher (Quad City), Joel Rumpel (Allen), Roman Will (Fort Wayne), and Clarke Suanders (Colorado).

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Practice Report, Martinson Comments, Eberle Out, Worcester Loses Game One, Playoff Update

The Allen Americans practice yesterday took place at the Community Rink as the main arena was set up for a Texas Revolution (arena football) game last night. All players participated in practice including Tyler Ludwig who participated in some of the skating drills before the full practice got underway. Spoke briefly to Tyler and he hopes to be medically cleared and ready to play for the second round. A reporter from the Allen Image Magazine was at practice talking to players and staff as he is working on a cover story for the magazine about the Allen Americans.

Spent a few minutes with coach Steve Martinson after practice to get his take on what is happening with the team. Here is what he had to say:

- We have tried to change things up in practice this week. With so much time off between the end of the first round and start of the second round we have tried some different drills and worked on different facets of the game. We even had players drawing up drills one day. It is important to try and keep that competitive edge without wearing the guys out.

- The team will take Saturday and Sunday off to relax and enjoy themselves and then we will hit it hard on Monday. The guys are having their team golf tournament this weekend and will be spending a lot of time together off the ice.

- Tanner Eberle's injury turned out to be more serious than originally thought so he will not be available for the rest of the playoffs. Since he did not play after returning from Bridgeport (AHL) and was never put on the playoff roster I still have two roster spots open for playoff eligible guys that are playing in the AHL. If Worcester loses in the first round of the AHL playoffs (they played their first game last night and lost) we could see one or both of these roster spots filled.



OTHER COMMENTS

- It is always interesting to talk to coach Martinson because he lives and breathes hockey and knows the back story on everything that is happening from youth hockey to the NHL. You rarely go in his office when he is not on his laptop checking out a team or a player, reviewing video, or maintaining the numerous contacts he has throughout hockey.

- You may have seen messages on social media from some of the players about buying tickets for the second round playoff games. Everyone that works for the Americans becomes part of the sales staff during playoffs as getting the word out is critical. The games on May 1st & 2nd are crucial because they are rare weekend dates. Have had a couple of questions about all of the dates for the second round. The series will be 2-3-2 with the away dates depending on whether Rapid City or Quad City is the opponent.  Here are the four home dates. All start times are 7:05 p.m. CDT.
Game 1 - Friday May 1st
Game 2 - Saturday May 2nd
Game 6 - Tuesday May 12th (if necessary)
Game 7 - Wednesday May 13th (if necessary)

- Speaking of  Rapid City vs Quad City they played last night and Quad City came out on top by a score of 2-1 to even the series 2-2. The Mallards scored the winning goal on a power play with just over two minutes left in the game. This series has been a tight checking defensive battle from the first game. All four games have been won by just one goal and the teams have only scored 16 combined goals (eight  each) in the four games. The Rush and the Mallards play again tonight in Quad City and then return to Rapid City for games six and seven on Tuesday and Wednesday.

- In other action around the ECHL last night Kalamazoo beat Fort Wayne 4-3 to avoid elimination. Fort Wayne leads the series 3-1. Utah beat Idaho 4-1 to tie that series 2-2 and Colorado beat Ontario to take a 3-2 lead in that series.

- The ECHL will release the complete 2015-2016 schedule at 2 p.m. ET on Monday. Will Allen be headed to Alaska and if so when? How many times will the Americans visit Colorado? All the answers will be public on Monday.

- The Worcester Sharks who are the #7 seed in the AHL Eastern Conference opened up the playoffs with a 4-1 loss to the Hershey Bears (#2 seed) last night. In the AHL the first round is a best of five and the first two games are in Worcester with the final three in Hershey. Aaron Dell was in goal for Worcester and the game was much closer than the score would indicate. A Worcester player took a  five minute major penalty and game misconduct penalty for checking from behind at the 17:17 mark of the third period with the score tied 1-1. Hershey scored power play goals at 17:39, 19:03 and 19:30 (empty net) to make the final score 4-1. Game two is tonight in Worcester. If you are interested the three games in Hershey will be next Wednesday (April 29), Friday (May 1) and Sunday (May 3).

- There are six games in the ECHL tonight but only one (Fort Wayne at Kalamazoo) is a close out game.


DID YOU KNOW: The South Carolina Stingrays hold the ECHL record for most playoff appearances as this year is their 21st appearance. The Stingrays have only missed the playoffs one year (2007) since 1994.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Playoff Stats - Some Good Some Not, Playoff Series Update & April 24, 2013 Revisited

I plan on going to practice this morning to get any updates on the roster, practice plans for the week ahead and anything else of note but in the mean time thought it would be interesting to look at some team and individual statistics now that the playoffs are underway. In many categories Allen is situated similar to the regular season as they lead all teams in the playoffs in average goals per game and average shots per game. In other categories such as special teams they are not performing as well as they did during the regular season. Here is a look:

Penalty Minutes - Allen is ranked #8 of the 16 teams in the playoffs with sixteen penalty minutes per game. It is a big improvement from the regular season when they were #1 with 22.8 minutes per game. The news isn't all good for the Americans as the 80 penalty minutes are all minor penalties. Of the teams remaining in the playoffs only Colorado with 31 minor penalties comes close to the 40 minor penalties taken by Allen.

When Scoring First - Allen is a perfect 2-0 when scoring the first goal of the game. They are one of only five teams in the playoffs that have not lost after scoring the first goal of the game.

Power Play - Allen had the #2 ranked power play during the regular season converting 21.9% of the time. In the first round of the playoffs the Americans were 4-25 on the power play or 16%. They are ranked #7.

Penalty Kill - In the regular season Allen was #3 on the penalty kill at 83.6%. For the playoffs they are ranked #12 at 81.5%.

Scoring By Period - As they did in the regular season Allen has continued to be a second period team in the playoffs. They scored 120 goals in the second period during the regular season which was 23 more than any other team. They have 11 second period goals in the playoffs which is four more than any other team. Here are the goals scored by period for the regular season and playoffs.
Regular Season: 74 - 120 - 92
Playoffs:             2 - 11 - 4

Goals For & Against - The numbers are a little different but the rank is exactly the same in the regular season and the playoffs for Allen in this category. Allen is #1 in average goals scored in the regular season (4.06) and also in the playoffs (3.60). The Americans are #7 in average goals allowed in the regular season (2.82) and also in the playoffs (2.80)

Shots For & Against - Allen has improved both of these numbers from the regular season. In the playoffs Allen is #1 in shots for per game (37.80) and #4 in shots allowed per game (27). In the regular season they were #5 in shots for (32.83) and #11 in shots against (29.31).

- Here is a list of the top ranked Allen players in some of the offensive categories. The number represents league wide rank in the playoffs. Keep in mind Allen has one or two more games than the other teams in the playoffs.
Points: #1 - Spencer Asuchak (8 points)
Goals: #2 - Gary Steffes (4 goals)
Assists: #1 - Spencer Asuchak (5 assists)
Plus/Minus: #2 Greger Hanson (+5)
Points Defensemen: #1 - Konrad Abeltshauser (5 points)
Goals Defensemen: #1 - Konrad Abeltshauser (2 goals)
Assists Defensemen: #1 - Kevin Young (4 assists)
Plus/Minus Defensenmen: #2 Aaron Gens (+4)


OTHER COMMENTS

- There will be a lot of progress this weekend in determining which teams will make it to the second round of the playoffs. The only series that could end tonight is Fort Wayne vs Kalamazoo. Fort Wayne has a 3-0 lead and they play tonight in Kalamazoo. Here is the status of the other series:

Toledo vs Wheeling - Toledo is the ECHL #1 seed overall but they have dug themselves a hole and trail the series 2-1 with games tonight and tomorrow night in Wheeling.

Florida vs Orlando - This series is tied 2-2 with a game Saturday night in Orlando. The home team has won every game thus far. The final two games of this series will be in Florida.

South Carolina vs Reading - It took two overtimes for higher seeded South Carolina to win the opening game of this series at home. Since then each team has won on the others home ice. South Carolina has a 2-1 series lead with games Saturday and Sunday in Reading.

Rapid City vs Quad City - Rapid City leads this series 2-1 with games tonight (Friday) and Saturday in Quad City. Allen gets the winner of this series but may have a to wait a while as this series could go the distance. All three games thus far have been one goal games and one has gone to overtime.

Idaho vs Utah - The #1 seed in the Pacific Division is Idaho and they have a 2-1 lead over #4 seed Utah. They play tonight and Saturday in Idaho. This series had an unusual sequence because of building availability. It is a 1-2-2-1-1 series.

Ontario vs Colorado - This series is tied 2-2 and is another that could go seven games. Most of the games haven't been close as the teams have taken turns beating each other. It has been a hard fought series with three major penalties and five misconduct penalties called in the first four games. Both teams have won a game on the road. They play tonight in Colorado before returning to Ontario to finish the series.

- Was asked by a reader where they could find the home schedule for next year. The easiest place to go is the Allen Americans web site. That is also the place to go to buy tickets for the next round of the playoffs. The web site is www.allenamericans.com. You can get tickets through the web site or you can call 972-912-1000 for ticket information. Nothing like "Allen Americans Playoff Hockey, Rock Your Red."


DID YOU KNOW: Two years ago today Allen fans were celebrating a seventh game victory over the Missouri Mavericks to win the semi-finals series and move on the the Presidents' Cup final. Here is part of the post from April 24, 2013:

The Allen Americans defeated the Missouri Mavericks last night 7-3 in a winner take all game to advance to the CHL finals for the second time in their four years as a franchise. A disappointing loss for Missouri as they came up one game short of a finals appearance for the second straight year. There is nothing like attending a game seven at home and last night was no exception as an enthusiastic crowd of 4847 saw the Americans get off to an early lead when Brian McMillin scored less than two minutes into the game. Allen would never relinquish the lead. The Americans were led by McMillin and Todd Robinson who each had two goals in the victory. 
Two Handshakes Down, One To Go As Allen Is Victorious In Winner Take All Game Against Missouri 7-3 - photo by chlphotos.com



Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Deep Dive on the 2015-2016 Allen Home Schedule, Knuckles vs Numbers Video, Playoff Update

- The Allen Americans are in practice mode while they await the opening of the second round of the Kelly Cup playoffs which will take place on Friday, May 1st at the Allen Event Center. Their opponent is still to be determined as the Rapid City vs Quad City series had another close game last night with Rapid City winning 2-1 in overtime. Rapid City now has a 2-1 lead in the series. All three games in the series have been one goal games and neither team has scored more than three goals in a game. Games four and five will be Friday and Saturday in Quad City with games six and seven back in Rapid City if necessary.

- The Allen Americans released their 2015-2016 home schedule yesterday as the ECHL headquarters gave all of the teams permission to release the schedule any time after 2:00 pm ET. The ECHL will be releasing the entire schedule early next week. Plaudits to the ECHL for getting the schedule out early but have to say the sequencing seems a little strange. Not sure of the rationale for letting each team release their home schedule at their own pace and then the league releasing the away schedules all at once. I am sure many ECHL fans were trying to piece together they away schedules by looking at the other teams in the league home schedules. Have to admit to checking the Alaska Aces web site several times to see if they had released their home schedule yet in the hopes the Americans make a trip to Alaska next year. Unfortunately Alaska is one of a number of teams that have not released their home schedule.


2015-2016 HOME SCHEDULE

- There is a lot to like about the home schedule next year from playing fewer games against the teams in the Central Division, to having more weekend dates to seeing new teams come to the Allen Event Center. Here is what I call a deep dive into the home schedule.

- The ECHL set a goal to have no more than six home games against any team in the division and they came very close in achieving that goal. Allen will play Missouri and Tulsa six times and Wichita seven times. This compares with 2014-2015 when the numbers were Tulsa (9), Wichita (8) and Missouri (5).

- Allen fans will see eleven different teams including six new teams at AEC next year. Here is a list of the 36 home games by team:
7 games - Wichita
6 games - Missouri
6 games - Tulsa
4 games - Colorado
3 games - Cincinnati
3 games - Evansville
2 games - Utah
2 games - Idaho
1 game - Alaska
1 game - Rapid City
1 game - Quad City

- The 2015-2016 home schedule is more favorable than this year with fewer weekday games and more weekend games but there are three fewer prime time Friday night games. Here is the home schedule for next season by day of week with the change from this year in parentheses.
Monday - 2 games (same as last year)
Tuesday - 1 game (same as last year)
Wednesday - 4 games (one less than last year)
Thursday - 0 games (two less than last year)
Friday - 7 games (three less than last year)
Saturday - 12 games (three more than last year)
Sunday - 10 games (three more than last year)

- If you look at the home schedule on a monthly basis it is also favorable as there are a few more home games later in the season after the first of the year when more fans are focused on hockey. There are a few less home games in the prime football playoff season. Here is a breakdown of the home schedule by month with the change from last year in parentheses.
October - 3 games (+2)
November - 4 games (-1)
December - 6 games (-2)
January - 8 games (-1)
February - 4 games (-1)
March - 8 games (+3)
April - 3 games (same)

- Finally, thought it would be interesting to look at the quality of the opponents on 2015-2016 home schedule based their 2014-2015 record. Things can change drastically from year to year in the ECHL so it doesn't mean the teams with poor records this year will have poor records next year so with that caveat here is what I found:

- Five of the eleven teams coming to the AEC next year didn't make the playoffs this year. Allen will play these five teams 20 of the 36 home games.

- Allen will play only two teams at home with a winning percentage above .600. Idaho had a winning percentage this year of .708 and plays at the AEC twice. Colorado had a winning percentage of .625 and plays four times in Allen. Here is a complete list in winning percentage order with the number of games played in Allen in parentheses:
.708 - Colorado (4)
.625 - Idaho (2)
.569 - Utah (2)
.562 - Rapid City (1)
.562 - Quad City (1)
.556 - Tulsa (6)
.535 - Alaska (1)
.507 - Cincinnati (3)
.507 - Wichita (7)
.451 - Missouri (6)
.271 - Evansville (3)

- The second year in the ECHL will see drastic changes for many of the old CHL teams. Allen will still see a lot of Missouri, Tulsa and Wichita in the new Central Division alignment and those rivalries will be ongoing. The rivalry that will be missed the most is with Rapid City who moves to the West Division. The history with the Rush dating back to 2009-2010 is one that will be missed. Luckily, Rapid City will still play in Allen once and the Americans have a couple games in Rapid City but it won't be like to old days.

- Many of the traditional promotion games are on the schedule next year such as Halloween (October 31) and MLK Day (January 18) but New Years Eve is not on the home schedule next year.


OTHER COMMENTS

- In other playoff action around the ECHL last night Wheeling beat #1 seed Toledo 5-4 and leads that series 2-1. Fort Wayne beat Kalamazoo 3-1 and lead the series 3-0. Colorado beat Ontario 4-3 to tie that series 2-2. There are two games tonight (Thursday) with Florida at Orlando and South Carolina at Reading.

- Wanted to add my congratulations to Bob Hoffman who has been hired by the Quad City Mallards as Executive Vice President. Bob has many years of experience in minor pro hockey and most recently served as the Central Hockey League's Director of Operations and Communications from 2007 until last year when the CHL ceased operations. Bob spent many hours helping this fledgling blogger understand everything about the CHL from rules to rosters to policies. Whether it was email, on the phone or in person on one of his many visits to Allen he was always willing to take the time to explain and educate. He doesn't need it but best of luck to Bob Hoffman in Quad City.

- Wanted to post this video about the role of the enforcer in professional hockey. It is an interesting perspective of looking at enforcers from an analytical point of view. The video speaks for itself but my takeaway is not that fighting will be eliminated but guys that can only fight are being phased out of the game. If you haven't already seen the video it is worth a look.




DID YOU KNOW: During the regular season there was not a single team in the ECHL Central Division that won more games at home than they did on the road.