Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Allen Beats Tulsa 1-0 in OT, Coaches & Player Quotes, Allen vs Missouri Game Preview & More

The Allen Americans got a much needed victory last night beating the first place Tulsa Oilers 1-0 in overtime before a disappointed crowd of 3859 at the BOK Center. It was the first time in franchise history the Americans were involved in a 1-0 overtime game.

- The game ended on the third Allen breakaway of the overtime with 1:20 remaining. Greger Hanson made a great play, first stripping the puck from a Tulsa player who was circling in the neutral zone during a line change. Greger then skated up the left side and scored from his favorite spot in the left face off circle. The game winner was Hanson's team leading 10th goal of the season. You can check out the game winning goal and a few of the many great saves below:

- When you have a 1-0 OT game it is a given both goalies were great. Riley Gill made 26 saves to record his 18th ECHL career shutout (12 regular season 6 playoff). For his effort Gill was named the #1 star of the game. Tulsa goalie, Colin Stevens, had 29 saves and was named the #3 star of the game.

- Three on three overtime was intended to create exciting hockey and avoid shootouts and it certainly lived up to its billing last night. Both teams had great scoring chances. Riley Gill made two point blank saves at the 2:00 mark before Hansen's game winner. The Americans had three breakaways in the overtime. Spencer Asuchak missed the net on a breakaway 30 seconds into overtime. Tulsa goalie Stevens made a great save on a Bryan Moore breakaway with 1:53 remaining before Hanson scored with 1:40 left in overtime.

- One thing Allen has done exceptionally well this season is win games that go beyond regulation. They are one of only two teams (Toledo the other) that have not lost an overtime or shootout game. The Americans are now 4-0 in overtime and 1-0 in shootouts.

- One of the keys to victory in the preview for this game was who could execute on the power play. Allen, ranked #26 (7.4%) and Tulsa, ranked #25 (8.9%) are two of the worst power play units in the ECHL. They both had numerous power play opportunities last night but could not convert. Allen even had a full two minute five on three and didn't come close to scoring. Both teams went 0-4 and neither team has scored a power play goal in the three head to head games they have played this season. They are a combined 0-24.


Here are some post game quotes courtesy of the Tulsa World, Allen Americans and coach Martinson:

"Riley Gill was solid in goal and the defense did a great job in front of him. It is time for us to start a streak.".....Allen coach Steve Martinson

"It is three on three, so there is a lot of open ice and Allen has some skilled players that can make plays. Three on three is exciting but that is what you will see, breakaways, odd man rushes, that is what you will see.".....Tulsa goalie Colin Stevens

"Someone had to end it, I'm just happy it was us. We played a solid road game tonight and Riley deserved the win."..... Greger Hanson

"The only negative in the game was the power play as we continue to struggle. I guess we need to work on our breakaways too.".....Martinson

"We had chances and gave up two breakaways when a guy was getting held. The other time it was a turnover. We had three in a row to the net and don't pass the puck. They (Allen) are too good of a team to let hang around like that.".....Tulsa coach Jason Christie

"I thought the officiating was terrible tonight, especially the first five-on-three. We have not seen that in a long time.".....Christie


- With the win in Tulsa, the Americans improved their record to 9-11 and moved up in the Mountain Division standings from a tie for last place to all alone in fourth place. However, Allen has played more games (20) than any other team in the division. Here are the Mountain Division standings with games played in parentheses:

24 points - Colorado (19)
24 points - Idaho (18)
23 points - Alaska (16)
18 points - Allen (20)
17 points - Missouri (17)
17 points - Rapid City (19)
16 points - Utah (19)

- Chad Costello is third in the league in points (25) and Hanson is 11th (21 points). Greger is sixth in the league in goals (10). He had 10 shots on goal last night which vaulted him to #1 in the league with 88.


- The game today will be the fourth between Allen and Missouri this season. They will play a total of 13 times. The first two games were played in Allen on October 15 &16. Allen handily won both games. Riley Gill won the opening night game 6-3 as the teams recorded a total of 86 shots on goal. The next night Jamie Murray stopped 35 Missouri shots on the way to a 4-0 shutout. The third meeting was in Missouri (November 15) with the Mavericks winning 5-3 while being out shot by Allen 38-25.

- In the three head to head match ups Allen has outscored Missouri 13-8 and out shot them 117-107. Allen was 2-13 on the power play, Missouri was 1-17. 

- Both teams have struggled to win on a consistent basis though Missouri has been playing better recently winning six of their last 10 games. Tonight will be the first home game for the Mavericks since they beat Allen 5-3 on November 15. Missouri's last five games have been on the road.

- Here is how Allen and Missouri match up:

                                    ALLEN                              MISSOURI

Team Record:             9-11-0-0 (18 points)            8-8-0-1 (17 points)
Division Ranking:        4th Mountain                      5th Mountain
Conference Ranking:  8th Western                       10th Western
League Ranking:        15th                                    19th
Last Game:                 1-2 Win (Tulsa)                   2-1 Win (Indy)
Goals For:                   60                                       54
Goals Against:            66                                        61
Power Play:                7.4% (6/81)                         12.9% (11/85)
Penalty Kill:                82.0% (16/89)                      88.3% (7/60)
Most PIM                    Mathers (98)                        Elbrecht (34)
Leading Scorers:        Costello (6-19-25)                Fox (5-8-13)
                                   Hanson (10-11-21)               Carzo (6-7-13)

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 2nd (18.75) - Missouri 16th (13.18)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 19th (3.00) - Missouri 15th (3.18)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 17th (3.30) - Missouri 24th (3.59)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 9th (33.25) - Missouri 14th (31.88)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 20th (33.80) - Missouri 23rd (34.82)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 26th (7.4%) - Missouri 19th (12.9%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 19th (82.0%) - Missouri 5th (88.3%)

- A couple of things stand out when you look at the stats. Both of these teams have really struggled on their power play. Allen has just six power play goals all season (6-81) and won last night in Tulsa despite going 0-4 on the power play. The Mavericks have 11 power play goals all season (11/85) but are just 1-17 against Allen.

- It sounds like a broken record but the Americans have to get the power play turned around to win consistently. They will have their work cut out for them tonight against one of the better penalty killing units in the league. Missouri is ranked #5 at 88.3%. It will probably take a power play goal by Allen to come away with a victory.

- Missouri seems to struggle against teams that play a physical style so look for Allen to finish their checks and emphasize physical play. Derek Mathers should be back in the line up after serving a two game suspension. Mathers has more major penalties (12) than the entire Missouri team (10).

The referee scheduled for the game is Stephen Reneau (#17) and the linesmen are Russ Coll (#40) and Tony Pizzutelli (#85). Reneau was also the referee last night in Tulsa.

DID YOU KNOW: The 1-0 score last night was just the fifth such score in franchise history but the first 1-0 overtime game. Three of the five 1-0 scores have taken place in 2016. In addition to last night, Allen lost to Colorado 1-0 at home on January 8, 2016 and won 1-0 in Wichita on February 26, 2016. The first two 1-0 games were a little more historic. The very first game in franchise history was a 1-0 win in Arizona on October 16, 2009. The second 1-0 game was a playoff loss to the Brahmas in Allen on April 7, 2012.   

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Allen vs Tulsa Game Preview, Special Teams Compared, Looking For The Right Mix of Players

To say the Allen Americans are in need of points as they head to Tulsa today to play the Oilers would be an understatement. Talk about teams heading in opposite directions, you have Allen in last place in the Mountain Division against Tulsa who is in first place in the Central Division. Another way to describe the divergence between Allen and Tulsa is there are only three teams in the league with a lower winning percentage than the Americans who are at .421 while there is only one team in the ECHL with a higher winning percentage than the Oilers who are at .725.

- The game tonight will be the third against Tulsa who the Americans will play a total of 14 times (7 home 7 away) before seasons end. In their first meeting on October 25, Allen out shot the Oilers 44-26 but lost the game 3-2. In their second meeting Allen came back from a 2-0 first period deficit, out shot Tulsa 42-35 and won the game in overtime on an Eric Roy goal. Both games were played in Tulsa.

- None of the injured players (Kerbashain, Brown, Roy) will make the road trip and the Americans will continue to use an emergency back up goalie (EBUG) so Riley Gill will carry all of the workload.  

- Tulsa has claimed the top spot in the ECHL standings with 29 points largely because of an outstanding home record which stands at 10-2-1-0.

-  After the game in Tulsa tonight the team will travel to Missouri where they will take on the Mavericks tomorrow (Wednesday). It will be the end of the toughest stretch of games all year. Since October 25, Allen has played 14 road games and just three home games. Almost half of their bus miles for the year (just over 10,000) will have taken place in the five week period between October 25 and November 30.

- Here is a match up between Allen and Tulsa:

                                     ALLEN                                TULSA

Team Record               8-11-0-0 (16 points)              14-5-1-0 (29 points)
Division Ranking         7th - Mountain                        1st - Central
Conference Ranking   11th - Western                       1st - Western
League Ranking         20th                                        1st
Last Game                  5-2 Loss (Idaho)                     2-1 Win (Wichita)
Goals For                    59                                           66
Goals Against             66                                           56
Power Play                 7.8% (6/77)                             9.3% (7/75)
Penalty Kill                  81.2% (16/85)                        74.3% (18/70)
Leading Scorer           Costello  (6-19-25)                  Pleskach (10-6-16)
Most PIM's                 Mathers (98)                            Clark (57)

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 2nd (19.32) - Tulsa 11th (14.30)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 19th (3.11) - Tulsa 13th (3.30)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 21st (3.47) - Tulsa 7th (2.80)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 9th (33.42) - Tulsa 3rd (34.45)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 20th (34.21) - Tulsa 13th (31.25) 
Power Play Percentage: Allen 26th (7.8%) - Tulsa 25th (9.3%)
Penalty Kill Percentage; Allen 21st (81.2%) - Tulsa 26th (74.3%)

-  Given their records it is no surprise Tulsa is better than Allen in almost all statistical categories. They take more shots, allow fewer shots, score more goals, allow fewer goals, take fewer penalties and have a better power play than the Americans. The one exception is penalty kill where Allen is  better.

- What was a surprise is that Tulsa has the most points in the ECHL while having the worst specials teams in the league. One barometer of overall special teams success involves combining penalty kill and power play percentages. If a team exceeds 105% that is considered excellent. Anything under 100% is disappointing. Last season Allen led the ECHL with 107.5%. However, this season they are at a woeful 89.0%. Tulsa is even worse this season ranking dead last at 83.6%. 

- Special teams could play a big role in the game tonight if either team can score on the power play. In their first two meetings neither team scored a power play goal as Allen was 0-7 and Tulsa was 0-9.

- If you were wondering about the other never ending key to a hockey game which is scoring the first goal these teams are a combined 14-2-1-0 when scoring first. The problem for Allen is they have only scored the first goal in 6 of their 19 games but they have a record of 5-1 in those six games.

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Stephen Reneau (#17) and linesmen Lucas Bisbee (#72) and Chase Wilkinson (#68).


- With 20 years of coaching under his belt coach Martinson is very aware that to be successful it takes more than skill on a team. There is no question this team has enough skill to win every night. The question that remains is whether it is the right mix of players. It has never been easy to play in Allen as there has always been numerous problems because the team has been underfunded. What made the team unique was the players used that adversity as a rallying call to win for themselves and not for others. It takes players with the right attitude who are willing to put the team first. Look for Martinson to continue to make roster changes to find the right mix.

-  You hear about how getting a fresh start can be good and that has certainly been the case for Chris Crane who was recently traded to the Orlando Solar Bears. Chris did not have a goal in his last nine games in Allen and had goals in only two of 14 games this season. Chris has played in two games since arriving in Orlando and had a goal in each to help the Solar Bears to two wins.

- Tulsa ranks #3 in the ECHL in average attendance at 5253. Allen ranks #12 with average attendance of 4212. Fort Wayne is #1 (7681) and Norfolk is last (2313). The league average is 4036. For the entire 2015-16 season the average was 4385.

- In 15 games Derek Mathers has 98 penalty minutes which is 30 more than anyone else. He has 12 major penalties (11 for fighting) which is six more than anyone else. If Mathers keeps up his current pace he would break the all time single season penalty minute record (Garrett Klotz -257) if he plays in just 40 games.

DID YOU KNOW: The very first Tulsa Oilers hockey team was way back in 1928 as part of the American Hockey Association. More recently, Tulsa was one of only two teams (Wichita the other) that played in all 22 seasons of the Central Hockey League (CHL) from 1992-2014. Tulsa's one and only CHL championship came in the inaugural CHL season in 1993.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Trip Down Allen Memory Lane - Who is Playing, Who Is Not, Who is Coaching & More

 The Allen Americans are back home for one day before they head out again tomorrow for games in Tulsa (Tuesday) and Missouri (Wednesday). This will complete the longest stretch of away games (six) all season. With the team now tied for last place in the Mountain Division and a record of 8-11, some Allen fans are beginning to teeter between "they will get this turned around" and "will they get this turned around."

Rather than talk about the trials and tribulations of this year's team I thought today would be good time to talk about some of the teams and players from the past. If you are a long time Allen fan you will have fond memories of the early years and if you are a more recent follower of the team you can see how some of the players from the two Kelly Cup championship teams are doing.


2009-10: There are only two players from Allen's first team still playing professional hockey, Colton Yellow Horn and Jordie Benn. It was an exciting first season as the upstart Americans went all the way to the championship final before losing to Rapid City.

Jordie Benn (age 29) - Jordie didn't venture far from Allen as he signed with the Dallas Stars organization after playing in Allen and went back and forth between the Texas Stars (AHL) and Dallas Stars (NHL) for a couple of years but has been with the big club the last four seasons. Jordie is now 29 and has 264 NHL games to his credit.

Colton Yellow Horn (age 29)  -  The best description of Colton is "have skates will travel" as he has played hockey all over the world. He spent three years in Allen (2009-12) and was certainly a crowd favorite with his amazing offensive skills. Colton is top five in almost all offensive categories both all-time and single season for the Americans. Yellow Horn has played in Salzburg Austria, Szekesfehervar Hungary, Kushiro Japan, Plzen Czech Republic and is currently playing in Znojmo, Czech Republic. He only recently joined Znojmo having switched teams mid season. In 8 games he has 6 points (2 goals 4 assists). His team is in eighth place is a 12 team league. Here is an interview with Colton from 2012.

2010-11: Probably the most talented offensive team ever in Allen. They won their conference by 20 points and scored 271 goals in 66 games for an average of 4.11 per game. They had three 30 goals scorers, (Bruce Graham - 34, Nino Musitelli - 34, Colton Yellow Horn - 33) and five players that averaged a point per game (Dave Bonk & Judd Blackwater in addition to those above). Clearly the best team in the league but they disappointed in the playoffs losing to the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs in the conference finals, four games to one. The Mudbugs went on beat Colorado in the finals to win the championship. Bonk and Blackwater are still playing.

Dave Bonk (age 34): After his one season in Allen when he had 58 points (20 goals 38 assists) in 49 games and led the team in plus/minus (+27) he signed to play in Japan for the Nikko Icebucks. He has been there ever since and is now in his sixth year with the team. Always one of the top scorers in the league, Dave has averaged 1.48 points per game in his 234 games in Japan (143 goals 204 assists). This season he has played 27 games and has 36 points (18 goals 18 assists). His team is in sixth place in a nine team league.

Judd Blackwater (age 29): Probably most known for what is called the best fight in team history, Judd was an accomplished fighter but did not fight often. He only had two fights in 2010-11. He is a gifted offensive player and terrific with the puck. Judd has spent the last few years playing in Europe and is currently playing in Nitra, Slovakia. In 25 games he has 23 points (7 goals 16 assists). His team is in third place in a league that has 11 teams. You can check out that fight at this link.


Here is an update on players from last season's Kelly Cup team who are playing in Europe this season along with a few favorites from the past. Stats courtesy of

David Makowski - David is playing for a team in Hungary (Szekesfehervar) and has nine points (2 goal, 7 assists) in 18 games. He is the second leading scorer among defenseman on his team. His team is currently in 10th place in a 12 team league.

Jordan Rowley - Jordan is playing in Sweden (HC Vita Hasten) and has 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) in 21 games. He is the top scoring defenseman on his team and is fourth in scoring overall. His team is in 11th place in a 14 team league.

Thomas Carr - Carr is playing in France (Gap) and has 8 points (1 goal, 7 assists) in 22 games. His team is in fourth place in a 12 team league.

Alex Lavoie - Alex is playing in Sweden (BIK Karlskoga) and has 21 points (7 goals, 14 assists) in 22 games. He is second on the team in scoring. His team is in second place in the 14 team league.

Jack Combs - Jack is playing in Germany (Fischtown Pinguins) and has 14 points (8 goals, 6 assists) in 21 games. He leads the team in scoring. His team is in 9th place in a 14 team league.

Ian Schultz - Ian is playing in Scotland (Edinburgh Capitals) and has two points (1 goal, 1 assist) in 12 games. His team is tied for last place in a 10 team league.

Jonathan Lessard - Jonathan is playing in France (Angers) and has 13 points (7 goals 6 assists) in 21 games. He is third on his team in scoring and third on his team with 28 penalty minutes. His team is in fifth place in a 12 team league.

Trevor Hendrikx - Trevor is playing in Scotland (Braehead Clan) and has 3 points (1 goal 3 assists) in 13 games along with 38 penalty minutes. His team is in 8th place in a 10 team league.


Here is a list of former Allen players that played last season but are not playing this season. Not sure all of them have officially retired but they aren't playing. Lot's of great memories and championships among this group. The years they were with Allen are included:

Jarret Lukin - 2009-14
Brian McMillin - 2010-15
Scott Howes - 2012-13
Kevin Young - 2014-16
Justin Courtnall - 2015-16
Kyle Follmer - 2014-16
Jonathan Parker - 2015-16


Josh Hepditch - Head Coach, St Stephen Aces, Maritime Hockey League (Junior A)
Daniel Tetrault - Assistant Coach, Rapid City Rush (ECHL)
John Snowden - Assistant Coach, Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL)
Phil Fox - Hockey Operations Manager, Northern Michigan University
Steve Silverthorn - Assistant Coach, Bentley University
Liam Huculak - Director Business Development, Bakersfield Condors (AHL)

 DID YOU KNOW: There are only four players in the history of the Allen Americans that have played in over 200 games. Tyler Ludwig (247), Jarret Lukin (238), Mike Berube (229) and Brian McMillin (215). It is possible four more players could hit the 200 mark this season. With 53 regular season games remaining Chad Costello (163), Greger Hanson (156), Gary Steffes (149) and Aaron Gens (149) could all make the 200 game milestone.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Allen Loses 5-2, It's the Same Script, Special Teams Futility Continues, Possible Help & More

This season has certainly been a case of one step forward and two steps back. After a win in Utah on Wednesday the Americans had won four of five road games and were headed to Idaho for two games and a chance to climb to second place in the division standings. Instead, Allen was swept by the Steelheads and are now just one point out of last place in the standings.

- Allen lost last night by a score of 5-2 and the script was all too familiar. A poor start by being outplayed, out shot and out scored in the first period. The Americans were out shot in the first period 17-9 and gave up the first goal for the 13th time in 19 games. The score at the end of the first period was 1-0.

- Act two of the all too familiar script was losing the special teams battle. The penalty kill unit allowed two power play goals in four Idaho opportunities. Meanwhile the Americans were 0-4 on the power play. Allen's power play percentage is now at 7.8% and the penalty kill is at 81.2%.

- Act three was typical as the Americans dominated play in the third period, out shot Idaho 16-5 and scored a couple of goals but it was too little and too late. Allen's first goal was scored by Greger Hanson (9) who took an errant pass just as he was coming out of the penalty box and scored on a breakaway. The Americans cut the score to 4-2 late in the third period on a goal by Spencer Asuchak (7). Joel Chouinard took a shot from the left point, Chad Costello was in front of the net for the rebound but his shot went off the post. Asuchak picked up the shot off the post and put it in the net. Idaho got an empty net goal to make the final score 5-2.

- Most of the team headed home to Allen right after the game on a 1605 mile trip that will take close to 30 hours if all goes as planned. Big Red has been repaired so hopefully the trip home will be uneventful. Tommy Daniels mentioned on his broadcast last night that some, including himself, were staying in Boise overnight and flying home to Dallas. You would assume those that choose the flying option would do so at their own expense unless there is more going on than meets the eye.

- The Americans close out November with two more road games in Tulsa on Tuesday and Missouri on Wednesday.


-  Unless and until the Americans improve their special teams play they are destined to toil at the bottom of the Mountian Division standings. How they have fallen so far in one year is unexplainable. How can you go from first to worst with the same core group of players? Last season Allen was ranked #1 on the power play at 21.1% and #3 on the penalty kill at 86.4%. This season they are ranked #26 on the power play at 7.8% and #20 on the penalty kill at 81.2%.

- This stat tells you all you want to know about the power play. Allen has now played 19 games (26% of the season) and scored just six power play goals. However, the power play unit has allowed six shorthanded goals. When you give up as many goals on the power play as you score you have a serious problem. C'MON MAN!

- If coach Martinson wants to make some roster changes to help improve the anemic power play, one place to look is at the list of players that were given qualifying offers at the end of June. Qualifying offers were given to five players (Matt Register, David Makowski, Eric Roy, Greger Hanson, Ian Schultz). Of that group Makowski and Schultz signed in Europe. Allen has their ECHL rights and they could sign with Allen as long as they do so by February 15. Makowski was the Americans' second leading power play scorer last season trailing only Chad Costello in power play points. Ian Schultz was great at screening the goalie and making his presence known in front of the net on the power play. A big factor in luring either of these guys back to Allen is they both play on teams that will not make the playoffs. Makowski's team is in 10th place in a 12 team league and Schultz's team is in ninth place in a 10 team league. Makowski in particular would help as he is a right shot who could help at the left point. It may be wishful thinking but it is at least a possibility. 

- Chad Costello had an assist last night to continue his point streak. Chad has a least one point in nine straight games. He has failed to get a point in just three of the Americans first 19 games. Costello is third in the ECHL scoring race with 25 points (6 goals 19 assists).

- Greger Hanson had a goal in both losses in Idaho and leads the team with nine goals.

- The gap between Allen and the top of the Mountian Division standings continues to widen. There are now two teams (Colorado & Idaho) that are eight points ahead of Allen. Here are the current standings:

24 points - Colorado
24 points - Idaho
21 points - Alaska
17 points - Rapid City
16 points - Allen
16 points - Utah
15 points - Missouri

- Chris Crane played in his first game last night since being traded. It was a great beginning for Chris as he scored the first goal of the game and was named the #3 star as his Orlando Solar Bears defeated the Brampton Beast.

- In other ECHL action last night, Rick Pinkston and J.P. LaFontaine, who were teammates just a couple of weeks ago faced off against each other. Each had an assist in the game as LaFontaine's team (Elmira) came out on top of Pinkston's team (Manchester) 5-3.

DID YOU KNOW:  How bad is the Allen power play this year? Giving up as many shorthanded goals (6) as they have power play goals (6) says it all but here is Allen's power play percentage for each year in franchise history. With 26% of the season already in the books the Americans will have to really pick up the power play to avoid having it be the all time worst in franchise history.

2016-17:     7.8%
2015-16:     21.1%
2014-15:     21.9%
2013-14:     20.7%
2012-13:     20.5%
2011-12:     18.9%
2010-11:     23.9%
2009-10:     16.9%

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Allen Falls 3-2 To Idaho, Rematch Tonight, Martinson Comments, Dell Wins Again & More

The Allen Americans lost to the Idaho Steelheads 3-2 last night before a crowd of 4730 at CenturyLink Arena. If you would like a goal by goal description check out this link that is the official press release from the Allen Americans ( What I want to do this morning is share some random thoughts about the game and the team.

- Idaho scored the first goal of the game on one of the flukiest (definition = obtained or achieved more by chance than skill) goals you will ever see. The Idaho player was just trying to rim the puck along the side boards and behind the net. He blasted the puck from just inside the red line down the side boards, the puck hit a glass support and took a crazy hop past Riley Gill. The goal was described by the Idaho broadcaster as "an absolutely insane ricochet off the glass that skips by the blocker of Gill. There is nothing he could have done about that."  When things are going badly the bounces don't go your way.

- Scoring the first goal of the game is so critical to success but the Americans have only been able to accomplish that six times in 18 games. Allen's record when scoring first is 5-1. When the opponent scores first their record is 3-9.

- The Americans did an excellent job on the penalty kill last night as they successfully killed off all six Idaho power play opportunities. The Steelheads came into the game with a home power play percentage of 31% so holding them to 0-6 was great.

- Allen's power play looked like it had come to life on their second power play of the game. Coach Martinson had four forwards out with Greger Hanson on the right point. The goal was one of those beautiful feeds by Chad Costello from the left side of the net, through the slot to Hanson who was sneaking in from the point. Greger was at the faceoff dot and one timed the puck back door for the goal. At that point the power play was 1-2 but things went downhill after that. The Americans had five more power plays and went 0-5 and to make matter worse, gave up another shorthanded goal. The Americans were again playing four forwards on the power play with Matt Willows at the left point. Willows turned over the puck at the point and Idaho's Kyle Jean skated the length of the ice to score shorthanded. It was the sixth shorthanded goal allowed by Allen this season, the most of any team in the ECHL.

- Allen was out shot in the game 26-22 but did a great job of limiting shots especially considering Idaho had six power play opportunities. Allen is ranked #21 in the ECHL giving up an average of 34.44 shots per game.

- Defenseman Jason Fram, who was just assigned to Allen by San Jose, scored his first professional goal last night, deflecting in a shot by Joel Chouinard. Chouinard went right into the net after the goal to retrieve the puck for Fram. Jason was a big time scoring defenseman in the Western Hockey League. In his last three junior seasons, playing for Spokane, Fram had 165 points in 197 games.

- The teams meet again tonight with an 8:10 pm (Allen time) puck drop. Just as last night the referee will be Kenny Anderson. The Americans have had Anderson as their referee more than any other referee this season. Tonight will be the fifth time Anderson has been the referee for an Allen game. The Americans are 0-4 when he is the referee. Anderson likes to call a lot of penalties so the Americans need to adapt accordingly. In the 18 games Allen has played this season there have been 10 or more penalties called five times. Three of the five were games refereed by Anderson. 


- We played a more physical game tonight as some of the guys stepped up physically. We need to finish checks and be hard to play against if we want to be successful.

- Our power play is costing us games. We are not getting good shots. We got that one power play goal but then turned around and gave up another shorthanded goal.

-  I played five defensemen and 11 forwards tonight. I will go back to six defensemen tomorrow night.

- Watching the replay of the Mathers hit it appeared to be a clean hit that the Idaho player turned away from to avoid. Getting called for a five minute major at that point in the game was unfortunate.


- The 3-2 loss to Idaho created a bunch of ties in the Mountain Division. Idaho is tied for the top spot and Allen is now in a three way tie for fourth place. Here are the current standings:

22 points - Colorado
22 points - Idaho
19 points - Alaska
16 points - Allen
16 points - Rapid City
16 points - Utah
13 points - Missouri

- Rapid City beat division leading Colorado last night (in Colorado) 4-3 in a shootout. Rapid City was recently in last place in the division but has been on quite a streak recently. They have won five of their last six games with the only loss being in overtime.

- Aaron Dell was in goal for San Jose yesterday as the Sharks beat the Islanders 3-2. It was Dells's fourth NHL appearance (three as a starter and one in relief).  His won loss record is now 2-1, his GAA is 1.93 and his save percentage is .931. Some pretty impressive work by the former Allen American.

- In closing I wanted to share my opinion on where the team is at now that 25% of the season is complete. The team has certainly under performed for a team that coach Martinson said was as talented as he has had in Allen. Bringing back so many players (15) from last year's Kelly Cup championship team may in retrospect not have been the best strategy. I know other coaches have been quoted as saying bringing back too many players after winning a championship can work against the team sometimes. After the poor start Martinson wasn't about to let more time pass without making changes and that is what he has done in the last two weeks with the departure of Rick Pinkston, J.P. LaFontaine, Chris Crane and Tristan King. To be clear, these players weren't moved because they were the problem. When you make trades you have to give up someone the other team wants so good players get traded. With the recent roster changes (Alex Guptill, Harrison Ruopp, Bryan Moore, Jason Fram) hopefully the team can maintain their skill, become a little tougher to play against and improve their puck possession time. Make no mistake Martinson will continue to make roster moves. My opinion is this team is playing better and will only improve as they get a few more games with the new group. When Kale Kerbashain, Eric Roy and Travis Brown return to the line up and the guys get a lot of home cooking in December and most of January, you could see them go on a run.

- The only away games the Americans have from December 1st until January 25th are with Missouri (1), Tulsa (1) and Wichita (5). During this same period they will have 15 home games. 

DID YOU KNOW: The Americans have been outscored in the first period 25-13. The most goals any other team in the league has given up in the first period is 19. Allen's first period goal differential (-12) is also the largest in the ECHL. The next closest is Norfolk at -8. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Allen vs Idaho Preview, King Traded, Defenseman Fram Assigned, Bob Chase Tribute

It is game day for the Allen Americans as they visit the Idaho Steelheads for the first time since the teams met in the first round of the Kelly Cup playoffs last season. While Allen won that series in dramatic style (overtime in game seven) the Steelheads had a 3-2 series lead. The last time these teams played in Idaho was game five of that series and the Steelheads shellacked the Americans 7-1.

- The game today is certainly an important one for Allen as they try to right the ship and get back to .500 after a poor start. Having won four straight championships the Americans are used to having teams giving it a little extra to beat the champs. Idaho sees the game a bit differently since being eliminated by Allen and having a sense of some unfinished business. While the Steelheads have respect for Allen they also acknowledge some extra incentive to beat the Americans tonight.

- Here are a couple of quotes from a story written by Brian McCormack, Director of Media/Community Relations and the voice of the Steelheads.

"I think we have to take it like any other weekend. Obviously we have some history. They being the team that knocked us out last year, of course we want to take it to them."....Joe Basaraba who tied for the team lead in points in last year's playoffs.

"I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a little extra excitement. They have a very good team and they always do. They eliminated us from the playoffs last year. While every game is big and it is still so early yet, there is a bit of added excitement to face a team that eliminated us last year." .....Idaho coach Neil Graham

- Everyone always points out how many returning players Allen has from their Kelly Cup championship team but with recent roster changes and injuries there will only be six players on the ice tonight that played in game five in Idaho last year.

- It was announced yesterday that Tristan King has been traded to the Indy Fuel for future considerations. Tristan will be a good fit in Indy and if he can stay healthy he will help the Fuel.


- Both teams come into the game tonight playing well. Allen has won four of their last six games, Idaho four of their last five with the only loss being in overtime. The Americans have also won four of their last five road games.

- Here is a comparison between Allen and Idaho:

                                     ALLEN                              IDAHO

Team Record               8-9-0-0 (16 points)               9-5-2-0 (20 points)
Division Ranking         4th - Mountain                      2nd - Mountain
Conference Ranking   9th - Western                       5th - Western
League Ranking         16th                                      9th
Home Record             3-4-0-0                                  5-2-1-0
Road Record              5-5-0-0                                  4-3-1-0
Last Game                  3-2 Win (Utah)                      4-1 Win (Norfolk)
Goals For                    55                                         55
Goals Against             58                                         52
Power Play                 7.6% (5/66)                           26.7 (16/60)
Penalty Kill                  81.1% (14/74)                      84.7% (9/59)
Most PIM's                  Mathers (73)                         Ewanyk (33)
Leading Scorer           Costello  (6-17-23)                Dahl (7-13-20)

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 3rd (17.82) - Idaho 6th (17.06)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 16th (3.24) - Idaho 9th (3.44)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 20th (3.41) - Idaho 17th (3.25)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 5th (34.18) - Idaho 12th (32.44)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 21st (34.94) - Idaho 19th (32.69)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 25th (7.6%) - Idaho 2nd (26.7%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 20th (81.1%) - Idaho 10th (84.7%)

- As you can see from the stats above Allen and Idaho are evenly matched with the glaring exception of special teams and especially the power play. Allen has been outmatched on special teams in almost every game preview this season but tonight that difference is significant. Idaho has an overall power play percentage of 26.7% but at home they are at 31.0%.  Allen is at 7.6% overall. When there is a difference of close to 25% in power play percentages it is reason for concern. The Steelheads are 9-29 on the power play at home while Allen is 3-35 on the road. The difference in the penalty kill is not as dramatic but Idaho has the advantage. The Steelhead's home penalty kill percentage is 86.2% while on the road the Americans are at 75%. If Allen can't outperform their current special teams stats it will be a long weekend.

- With Jamie Murray being recalled by San Jose you can expect Riley Gill in goal for both games in Idaho. In addition, Jason Fram, a right shot defenseman who was just assigned to Allen by San Jose will also be in the lineup tonight. Fram was signed by the Barracuda to a one year AHL deal out of training camp and had played in just two games. Prior to this season, the 21 year old played 308 games over five years in the Western Hockey League with the Spokane Chiefs. Fram accumulated 187 points (32 goals 155 assists), 118 penalty minutes and was a +42 with Spokane. He fills a void for the Americans as they were down to five healthy defensmen.

- Here is the game preview from the other side written by the voice of the Steelheads,  Brian McCormick. An interesting read:

- The referee scheduled for the game is Kenny Anderson (#16) and the linesmen are Scott DeBaugh (#67) and Ryan Nevins (#86). Puck drop is scheduled for 8:10 pm Allen time.


- I am sure by now most everyone has heard about the passing of Bob Chase, the long time voice of the Fort Wayne Komets. To say he was a legend would be an understatement. Maybe it is because I like stats but of all the stories, tributes and articles I saw yesterday there was one written by Blake Sebring of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel that had these amazing stats about Bob Chase's 63 year association with the Komets. "During his tenure, the Komets have gone through five sets of owners, 25 coaches, more than 1000 players and 70 different opposing teams. Of the Komets' 532 playoff games during their 64 year history, Chase called 526 of them." If you haven't already done so take the time to read Blake Sebring's story about the legend and the man, it is a great read. Here is the link:

- It is a tall order but if the Americans could win both games in Idaho in regulation they could head back to Allen tied for second place in the Mountain Division. Here are the current standings:

21 points - Colorado
20 points - Idaho
17 points - Alaska
16 points - Allen
16 points - Utah
14 points - Rapid City
13 points - Missouri

- I want to add my best wishes to Tristan and Brooke King as they head to Indy. Being a fellow Minnesotan we had some great conversations. Here is the message Tristan posted on social media yesterday, "I am excited to start a new chapter in my career, Brooke and I will be heading to Indianapolis to join the Indy Fuel organization. It is going to be a special feeling playing for a city where my hockey career started when I was only three years old. I want to thank the Allen fans for being so supportive and welcoming during my time with the Americans."

Tristan King traded to Indy - Photo courtesy of Dianne Webster

DID YOU KNOW: All three players that were involved in the series winning overtime goal in game seven against Idaho last season have moved on in the last 10 days. Tristan King had the game winner and was assisted by Rick Pinkston and J.P. LaFontaine.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Allen Beats Utah 3-2 in OT, Recap, Martinson Comments, Thanksgiving, Bus Update & Costello Milestones

It is cliche to say during the regular season you take one game at a time and all wins are worth the same two points. That may be true but Allen's 3-2 overtime win in Utah last night was as gutsy a performance as you could ask for and will certainly help the team going forward. The Americans were tired after the bus breakdown and spending 27 hours just getting to Utah. They were playing short on defensemen with Eric Roy and Travis Brown back in Allen nursing injuries. They had to find an emergency back up goalie after Jamie Murray was recalled by San Jose. They were playing an inspired Grizzlies team that did not want to let Allen sweep the season series in Utah.

- What was the formula for success for the Americans? The most important piece of the puzzle was to put Riley Gill in goal. Riley stopped 38 of 40 shots including a spectacular point blank shot with 13 seconds remaining in the game just to get it to overtime. Allen won three games in Utah in the last two weeks and Gill has been the difference maker. The Americans were out shot in all three games, Utah had at least 40 shots in all three games and yet Allen won all three games. Riley Gill saved 116 of 121 shots over the three games for a phenomenal save percentage of .959.

- Allen's three goals were scored by Derek Mathers (2), Chad Costello (6) and Harrison Ruopp (1). Greger Hanson had the primary assist on the first two goals. On the first one, Greger took a cross ice pass from Mike Brodzinski at the blue line, carried the puck up the left wing to the faceoff circle and made a perfect pass to Derek Mathers going to the net on the right side. On the second goal, Hanson made a stretch pass to Chad Costello who was ahead of the defense. The puck went off Chad's stick and was headed for the corner but he chased it down, shot at a sharp angle from the goal line and the puck went in. It appeared Allen had won the game at the 2:46 mark of the overtime on a goal by Alex Guptill but the referee waived off the goal because of incidental contact with the goalie. With less than a minute left in overtime Gary Steffes got a big faceoff win to the left of the Utah goalie and drew the puck to Harrison Ruopp at the point. Roupp took a couple of steps toward the slot and blasted a slap shot top shelf over the glove of the goalie.


- It is great to start this leg of the road trip with a win especially with all the trouble we had just getting to Utah.

- That was a big shot from Harrison Ruopp to win the game in overtime after a big faceoff win by Gary Steffes.

- Special teams are still frustrating but we just missed a goal on the power play at the end of regulation.

- Even though the team was really tired they played better in the third period than the second.


- The three stars of the game last night were #1 Ruopp for the game winning goal, #2 Hanson for the two outstanding assists and #3 Gill for his great work in goal. Whoever selects the stars of the game in Utah must not appreciate goalie play. Riley Gill should feel lucky he was selected the #3 star last night. He was the Americans' best player in all three wins in Utah and could have easily been the #1 star in all three games but has just the #3 star last night to show for his efforts.

- Allen has been very good this season when they get off to a good start and are playing with the lead. They are 5-1 when scoring the first goal of the game and 4-1 when leading after the first period. On the flip side they are 1-8 when trailing after the first period.

- The overtime win was Allen's third this season to go with one shootout victory. Allen is now a perfect 4-0 when games go beyond regulation. Toledo is the only other ECHL team that has not lost an overtime or shootout game. 

- With the win last night Allen improved their record to 8-9 and moved back into a playoff spot in the Mountain Division as they are now in fourth place with 16 points. The Americans have won four of their last six games.

- Colorado moved into first place in the Mountain Division with a 3-2 overtime win in Rapid City last night. It was like an Allen Americans alumni game as Darryl Bootland scored Colorado's first two goals and was named the games #1 star and Casey Pierro-Zabotel scored the game winner in overtime and was the #2 star.

- If you looked at the ECHL transactions yesterday you got an idea of how long Eric Roy and Travis Brown might be out of the lineup with injuries. Roy was placed on the 21 day injured reserve effective November 16 while Brown was placed on reserve so he can return anytime as soon as he is ready.

- Riley Gill has a GAA of 2.78 which is high for him but that is because he has faced so many shots. Riley is ranked #19 in GAA but his save percentage (.927) is the second best in the league. Allen is 6-3 with Gill in goal, 2-6 in the other games.


- I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving but especially those that will spend the day away from their families. Those like my daughter, Erin, who is a labor and delivery RN at Parkland Hospital and will put in a 12 hour shift today, those serving in the military and so many others including the Allen Americans who are away from their families.

- While the Americans won't be with their families today, the team will have a Thanksgiving feast thanks to a very special Allen fan by the name of Mark Fisher. This is the second year Mark has arranged for Thanksgiving dinner for the team on the road. I had the chance to talk to Mark yesterday as he and his fiancee (Elizabeth) were about to get on an airplane to return to Texas from Hawaii where they were attending a wedding. This is what Mark had to say, "Thanksgiving dinner is just something I have decided to do each year. I feel the boys have enough going on being away from their families for the holiday that they shouldn't have to worry about eating on per diem or at Denny's for Thanksgiving. I have made arrangements at a real nice restaurant just two blocks from the hotel were the guys are staying. The boys are going to have a four course meal with a choice of four entrees (turkey, ham, lamb or salmon). I think everyone should be happy and hopefully the boys like it and get charged up and go to work on Idaho on Friday and Saturday. If I wasn't coming back from Hawaii I would have liked to join the team in Boise and have Thanksgiving dinner with them. Job well done Mark! Incidentally, Mark and Elizabeth will be getting married at the end of next month. Congrats!

Mark Fisher and Elizabeth


The Americans headed for Boise after the game last night on a different bus. Big Red is stranded in Salt Lake City where repairs are underway. According to Tommy Daniels, the plan was for the bus and the driver (Monty) to stay behind in Utah until the bus is fixed and then join the team in Boise for the trip back to Allen. That will be another nailbiter hoping for good weather, kind mountains and a cooperative Big Red on the 1600 mile trip home.

DID YOU KNOW: Congrats to Chad Costello reached the 600 point mark in his professional career with a goal last night. 390 of those points were scored in the ECHL. Chad's scoring prowess can be described so many ways. Winning the scoring title by an ECHL record 45 points two years ago was a highlight but here are some other ECHL scoring stats to think about. Chad has played 254 games in the ECHL which ranks him #454 on the all time list. Even though he is 454th in games played Chad ranks #53 all time in points (390), #39 in assists and #14 all time in plus/minus (+72).

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Allen vs Utah Game Preview, Roster Update & Big Red On the Fritz

Most fans associated with the Allen Americans would have said before this road trip out west started it was a big mistake to take Big Red through the mountains as the Ole Girl is too old and unreliable.  I heard late last night that Big Red was DOA and the team had to take cabs the last 20 miles to the hotel in Utah.  It was 11:00 pm (Allen time) so the 20 hour bus trip had turned into a 27 hour marathon. Won't go into all of the details but suffice it to say there were several problems along the way. It is clear the team takes the bus because it is a cheaper alternative than flying. I wonder how much extra expense will be incurred on this trip that was not factored into the equation. When you take a bus that is almost 20 years old on a 3000 mile trip to Salt Lake City and Boise, through the mountains and it is the end of November, it seems like you are asking for trouble. I am sure almost all, if not all, ECHL teams would have opted to fly given this situation. C'MON MAN!

- Knowing the players, most of them laughed it all off but they must have a serious case of "bus legs" this morning. The big question of the day is how does the team get to Boise after the game tonight. Will the bus be fixed and can it be trusted on a 350 mile, five hour trip through some mountainous terrain. An even scarier thought is the 1600 mile trip back to Allen after the game in Utah Saturday night. The primary concern should be to make the decision that keeps everyone safe.

- Big Red has a long history of breakdowns. One of the funniest was captured on video by Jarret Lukin back in 2012. The team was headed to Arizona and broke down before they got out of McKinney. Check this out for a good laugh and a trip down memory lane with some players from the past. One of the many reasons Allen fans loved Jarret Lukin was his sense of humor. Here is the link:

- Enough about transportation, let's talk hockey. The game tonight will be the third and final time the Americans will play in Utah during the regular season. The Grizzlies only visit to the Allen Event Center (AEC) takes place on New Year's Eve. Allen won their first two games in Utah earlier this month. On November 11 the Americans won 5-1 despite being out shot 41-20. The next night Allen won 3-2 in a shootout. That was the night Aaron Gens tied the score with 3.5 seconds left in the game. Greger Hanson and Matt Willows converted in the shootout while Riley Gill stopped both Utah attempts to seal the victory.

- The game tonight will be a real challenge for Allen. To start with, Utah will not want to lose to Allen for a third straight time on home ice. The Grizzlies home record is 5-3-0-1 with Allen accounting for half of the losses. I have said enough about the transportation problems getting to Utah and that wasn't helpful. A bigger factor is Allen will be missing Eric Roy and Travis Brown who stayed home with injuries. The Americans have just five defensemen on the trip which will be okay as long as they stay healthy and out of the penalty box.

- I would expect you will see Riley Gill in goal tonight and newly acquired forward Bryan Moore should be in the line up as will Mike Brodzinski who is returning from bereavement leave.

- I can report that one of the forwards has requested a trade and coach Martinson is currently working to make that happen. You never know the outcome of these requests so not going to be specific.

- Here is a comparison between Allen and Utah:

                                     ALLEN                              UTAH

Team Record              7-9-0-0 (14 points)              7-7-0-1 (15 points)
Division Ranking         5th - Mountain                    4th - Mountain
Conference Ranking  11th - Western                     8th - Western
League Ranking         19th                                    16th
Last Game                  4-3 Win (Tulsa)                   3-2 Loss (Adirondack)
Goals For                    52                                       45
Goals Against             56                                       51
Power Play                 7.9% (5/63)                        17.3% (9/52)
Penalty Kill                  81.9% (13/72)                    84.0% (8/50)
Leading Scorer           Costello  (5-17-22)             Puskar (5-5-10)
Most PIM's                  Mathers - 73                      Howe - 41

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 3rd (18.31) - Utah 8th (15.73)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 17th (3.25) - Utah 19th (3.00)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 21st (3.50) - Utah 19th (3.40)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 5th (34.13) - Utah 7th (33.60)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 21st (34.63) - Utah 9th (29.93)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 24th (7.9%) - Utah 16th (17.3%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 20th (81.9%) - Utah 12th (84.0%)

- The stats show two evenly matched teams except when it comes to special teams where Utah has an advantage. At home the Utah power play is at 14.3% while the Allen road power play is 9.4%. The Utah home penalty kill is 88.2% compared to Allen's road penalty kill of  76.5%. In their first two meetings Allen was 1-8 on the power play and Utah was 1-6. Until the Americans can get their power play on track it will be difficult to win consistently. It certainly won't help the power play to have Eric Roy out of the line up.

- The leading scorer for Allen in the two previous games in Utah was Chad Costello who had two goals and three assists. Chad has been on a hot streak lately having at least one point in the last six games (3 goals 7 assists).

- Allen is 6-2 overall against Utah since joining the ECHL. In Utah their record is 4-2.

- Here is a stat to keep in mind if you listen to or watch the game tonight. The Americans have not lost a game all season if they have been tied or ahead after the first or second period. They have not won a game all season if the have trailed after the first or second period.  

- The referee scheduled for the game tonight is Sean Fernandez (#21) and the linesmen will be James McKenna (#96) and Kollin Kleinendorst (#35).

DID YOU KNOW: Scoring is definitely up in the ECHL this season. There are 19 teams averaging 3.00 or more goals per game including two (Toledo & Brampton) averaging over 4.00 goals per game. Last season there were only 12 teams that averaged 3.00 goals or more and none that averaged 4.00 goals per game. The Allen Americans are averaging 3.25 goals per game which ranks them #17 compared to last season when they averaged 3.08 goals per game but were ranked #12.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Allen Heads West Shorthanded, Thank Yous, Twitter Obsession, Schaafsma Interview & More

- Wanted to start out today by saying thank you to everyone who reads the Allen Americans Blog. It is truly a labor of love even though sometimes the labor overtakes the love. As I was reflecting on several recent milestones including 800,000 page views, 1100 blog posts and 1000 Twitter followers, I was reminded how lucky I have been. Over the last four years I have met so many folks that love hockey including players and their families, coaches, broadcasters, media, fans, officials and front office employees not only from Allen but from all over the league. Four years with four championships is quite a ride but the real satisfaction is hearing from people that enjoy reading the blog. So a special thanks to those of you who take the time to like/share/retweet a post on social media, leave a comment or stop me at a game to say you enjoy the blog, it means more than you know. At the last home game I had two experiences that equally made my day. Before the game I ran into Rapid City assistant coach Daniel Tetrault and we chatted a couple of minutes about how the team was doing. As I walked away Daniel said, "I still enjoy reading your blog." After the game a lady stopped me and asked, "Are you the blogger?" and when I said yes she responded, "I read your blog everyday." Had an extra bounce in my step after those kind words.

- If you are on Twitter, as I am, it is easy to be focused on how many followers you have and who is following you. It is probably a sign of insecurity but I was really looking forward to reaching 1000 followers which just happened. Each day you see who started following you and on the flip side you contemplate what you did wrong when your number of followers goes down. I know how misguided it is to look to others to affirm that your pursuits are worthy and your efforts are admirable and it is a sure fire way to veer off the path of the good life. However, when Rick Gosselin and Mike Heika, two of the premier sports writers around and big hockey fans started following me on Twitter I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Likewise, I wonder why doesn't Mark Binetti, the voice of the Rapid City Rush follow me as he seems to follow all of the other Team Sin Bin writers. Why doesn't Paul Gackle who writes the The Gackle Report ( and covers the San Jose Sharks organization follow me? He is following 3812 on Twitter, adding me would be easy and he could learn all about the San Jose contracted players in Allen.  Why do some of the players on the Allen team not follow me, but they follow all of the Ice Angels? Sorry about that one, I answered my own question. I think I just had my own therapy session by writing about this and it might have helped. But in case my obsession continues, if any of you talk to Mark, Paul, or those Allen players not following me, give them a hint.

- The Americans left last night for Utah on a trip that will encompass over 20 hours on Big Red if all goes as planned. Heard a rumor Big Red was in the shop so the departure was delayed until 8:30 pm last night. That will put the team into Salt Lake City late this afternoon. The bus may be the least of the concerns for the team as both Eric Roy and Travis Brown stayed home because of injuries. Eric and Travis were hurt in the game on Saturday but played with the injuries on Sunday. It will be a depleted back line with only six healthy defensemen. Mike Brodzinski will meet the team in Utah as he returns from bereavement leave.

- Newly acquired forward Bryan Moore was with the team when they departed Allen and will play on Wednesday. With Kale Kerbashian starting to skate this week coach Martinson will have to figure out his next roster move. Counting Kerbashian there are 13 forwards on the roster so it is likely there will be a trade in the near future. One thing is for sure and that is roster moves will continue until things get turned around. To quote coach Martinson. "We should be a pretty good team once we get our power play going and stop passing the other team the puck."

- Here is a link to a new interview with former Allen captain Jamie Schaafsma done by the local television station in Fort Wayne. Jamie talks about his new role as player/coach of the Fort Wayne Komets. Jamie's new role must be agreeing with him as the notoriously slow starter already has 13 points (five goal 8 assists) in 12 games. How good of a start is it for Jamie? Last season he had the exact same number of points 13 (5 goals 8 assists) on January 30 after 38 games so he is over two months ahead of schedule. Last season, even with the slow start, he led the team in goals (25). If Jamie has his typical hot streak at the end of the season it could be a career year for him. Here is the link:

- Nothing like a bus trip birthday. Happy birthday to Spencer Asuchak who turns 25 today.

DID YOU KNOW: The Mountain Division has all of sudden become the most competitive division in the ECHL if you look from top to bottom. That is because the bottom three teams in the division (Allen, Rapid City, Missouri) have won a combined seven straight games.  Idaho leads the division with 20 points and Missouri is in last place with 13 points.  Here is the point differential from the first place team to the last place team in each division.

7 points - Mountain Division
10 points - Central Division
15 points - North Division
16 points - South Division

Monday, November 21, 2016

Allen Beats Tulsa 4-3 in OT, Game Recap, Martinson's Comments & More

The Allen Americans got a much needed victory yesterday by beating the Tulsa Oilers in overtime by a score of 4-3. It was a tough start for the Americans as they gave up two unassisted goals in the first period. Critical turnovers led to both Tulsa goals and gave the Oilers a 2-0 lead after the first period.

- The Americans came back in the second period with two goals of their own. The first goal was scored by Chad Costello (5). Eric Roy made the play with a takeaway in the neutral zone and a quick backhand pass to Alex Guptill heading up the right wing. Guptill took a shot from the face off circle and Chad was at the side of the net for the rebound. He had to shoot twice as the goalie saved the first one but he was able to tap the second shot in as he passed the net. It wasn't a pretty goal but the result of hard work, getting the puck on net and having Costello in front for the rebound.

- The second goal to tie the score 2-2 was definitely the gritty, greasy type the coaches talked about after the loss on Saturday. Allen was on the penalty kill and the play started with a big hit by Harrison Ruopp behind his own net. Ruopp got the puck to Dyson Stevenson on the side boards who headed up the right wing. When he got to the blue line he cut to the middle, split two Oilers and took a backhand shot that the goalie saved. Dyson pursued the rebound which was on the end boards and banked a shot off the goalie into the goal from behind the goal line. Two great plays, first by Ruopp with the big check in his own zone to get the Oiler forward to cough up the puck and then the determination of Stevenson to go the length of the ice and get the shorthanded goal. It was Dyson's second goal of the season.

- Heading into the third period the Americans had fought back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the score but at the 2:29 mark Tulsa took the lead again on another costly turnover that set up a two on one odd man rush. Riley Gill made the initial save but nobody covered the trailer who slammed home the rebound. 

- The Americans came back again just three minutes later to tie the score 3-3 on another work hard, get pucks to the net with players in front type of goal. Gary Steffes did a great job of forechecking in the corner and got the puck back to Travis Brown at the point. Travis took one shot that was blocked but he got the puck back and sent another shot to the net. Jake Marchment was parked in front of the net and the puck went off his skate or stick into the net. It was Marchment's fifth goal as he has made a living by going to the net.

- Time expired in the third period with the score tied 3-3. All three Tulsa goals were scored on pretty egregious turnovers as you can tell by the fact the Oilers had three goals and just one assist. All three Allen goals were scored on hard work, pucks to the net type of plays as there was nothing fancy about them. That was about to change in overtime.

- It took the Americans 68 seconds into overtime to win the game and it was vintage Chad Costello that made it happen proving again why he is the best offensive player in the ECHL. The play started a good defensive play when Chad got a little piece of an Oiler's stick just as he was about to shoot and made him fan on the shot. Chad picked up the puck and proceeded to pass it to himself off the side boards to create a two on one with Eric Roy. The Tulsa defender made a move toward Costello and Chad made a perfect saucer pass to Roy who was all alone in the slot. Eric lifted the puck over the blocker of the goalie for the game winner. It was as fancy a play by Costello as you will ever see from taking the puck away from his opponent, to how he created the odd man rush with a pass to himself off the sideboards, to the perfect saucer pass. by his defender. to Eric Roy.

- It wasn't a dominant win by any means for the Americans but it was an important win as they start a long road trip. The team kept working and coming from behind and the hard work paid off. The Americans headed back to Allen after the game and will leave tonight on the 1238 mile trip to Utah where they will play the Grizzlies on Wednesday.

- You can check out all of the highlights including the goals for and against as well as  an Alex Guptill fight at ECHL Rewind. Unfortunately the highlights don't show the Ruopp hit that started the play where Stevenson got the shorthanded goal. Play close attention to Costello on the overtime goal. You may have to watch that one several times to see everything Chad did to make that play. Here is the link:


Here are Steve Martinson's comments after the Tulsa win last night. It was the 900th win of his coaching career but those numbers don't mean much to the coach other than it was a much needed victory. He has said in the past that number 1000 will be of special significance. Hope that happens in Allen.

- Turnovers led to all three Tulsa goals. Our structure was not good on a couple of the goals. On their third goal our guys were caught low and we couldn't even cover the trailer after Gill made the initial save on the odd man rush.

- Sometimes we struggle to read that there isn't a play and the best decision is to chip the puck in and forecheck. We may have to become a dump and chase team.

- Jake Marchment continues to be rewarded for going to the net as he did on the goal that tied the game.

- Dyson made a big play on that shorthanded goal through sheer determination.

- It was a great goal in overtime to win the game. Costello and Roy have pretty good chemistry when it comes to overtime.


- Allen out shot Tulsa 42-35 and continue to generate shots on goal at a much higher rate than last season. The Americans are ranked #5 in the league averaging 34.13 shots per game which is over five more shots per game than last year.

- Jake Marchment has slowly earned himself more ice time with his play. Have seen him on the ice in all situations (equal strength, power play, penalty kill) recently and he is one of a few players that will take the punishment to park in front of the net. His penchant for going to the net has paid off with five goals in 10 games. His goals per game average (.50) is the highest on the team.

- With a goal and assist against Tulsa, Chad Costello is now fourth in the ECHL in scoring with 22 points, just two points out of the lead.

- Allen and Toledo are the only two ECHL teams that are undefeated in extra time. Allen is 2-0 in overtime and 1-0 in shootouts. Toledo is 3-0 in overtime and 2-0 in shootouts.

- The Americans power play continues its futility as they were 0-2 in Tulsa. The power play percentage has dropped to 7.9%. The Americans having scored just five power play goals all season on 63 attempts. The penalty kill continues to improve as the unit killed all six Tulsa power play opportunities and came up with a shorthanded goal.

- The official attendance for the game in Tulsa was 5657 but if you watched on ECHL-TV or listened to the broadcast it was clear the crowd was considerably smaller than that.

DID YOU KNOW: There are a lot of ways to measure which of the four ECHL divisions is the best and worst. The South Division has the best team in Florida with a .885 winning percentage but the rest of the teams are all below .542. The Central Division has only one team below .500 and that team is at .467. The Mountain Division has the lowest winning percentage for a first place team at .625. The North Division is the only one with two teams at .700 or higher. Here is how the Mountian Division has fared when playing teams in the other divisions:

North Division: 6-7-0-1
South Division: 6-2-1-0
Central Division: 10-15-0-1

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Allen Loses Again, Game Recap, How Bad Is It, Jersey Auction & Allen vs Tulsa Preview

It was a perfect start for the Americans last night against Rapid City at the Allen Event Center. The Americans were wearing some great looking dinosaur themed specialty jerseys, they had a great crowd in the house (5460), they came out with great energy and they scored the first goal of the game for only the fifth time all season. They were undefeated when scoring first. They had an early power play opportunity with a chance to extend the lead but instead a turnover at the point led to a shorthanded goal by the Rush and a big swing in momentum. Rapid City scored two goals in the first period despite being outshot 11-8 and the Americans were unable to even the score the rest of the game. The Americans got within one goal (3-2) midway through the second period on a goal by Aaron Gens (2) but gave up a costly goal to Rapid City with just 43 seconds left in the period. The final score was 6-3 in favor of the Rush. Allen ended up winless at home during the month of November (0-3) and are 3-7 in their last ten games.

- There were some bright spots for the Americans despite the disappointing loss. They outshot Rapid City in all three periods and 36-21 for the game. The third line for Allen made up of  Derek Mathers, Tanner Eberle and Jake Marchment caused problems for the Rush whenever they were on the ice. Mathers and Marchment each had a goal and Eberle was on the ice for all three of Allen's goals. Joel Chouinard quietly goes about his business and has been the best defenseman on the team. He was a +2 in the game last night and is now a +12 on the season which ranks him fifth in the league in plus/minus. That is an amazing stat for a team that has a record of 6-9.

- One of the keys to the game was controlling Rapid City's two big scoring threats, Lindsay Sparks and Ryan Walters. Coach Martinson tried many different combinations to stop them to no avail. Sparks had two goals and was on the ice for all six Rapid goals. Walters had one goal and was on the ice for five of the six Rush goals. When you play a team that has one line that does all of the scoring the game typically turns on whether you can control the top line.

- Allen heads to Tulsa today for a Sunday afternoon game (4:05 pm) as they start the longest stretch of away games all season with the next six games on the road. The team will return to Allen after the game today and leave tomorrow (Monday)  for a game in Utah on Wednesday. They will be traveling close to 7500 miles over the next six games which is about 125 hours on Big Red if all goes without a hitch, which is doubtful.


- Just how bad has this become for the Americans? They are now dead last in the Western Conference in winning percentage (.400). Missouri has 11 points, one less than Allen but they have played two fewer games than the Americans.  This team has way too much talent to be performing as they are. The mantra you keep hearing is the players need to play for themselves, stop making excuses, and the core group of returning players need to lead the way.

- Of all the disappointments this season the special teams play is at the top of the list. Most of the special teams are the same guys that had the best record in the league last season. Last season there were eight players with double digit power play points led by Chad Costello with 40. Six of the eight are back this season with only David Makowski (15 points) and Casey Pierro-Zabotel (14 points) missing. Makowski was great on the point and Zabotel was excellent on faceoffs and going to the net but does that account for a power play that has gone from #1 last season at 21.1% to #25 this season at 8.2%? The same could be said for the penalty kill where most of the unit returned this season but the penalty kill percentage has declined from #3 (86.4%) last season to #22 (80.3%) this season.

- Here are the special teams categories in which the Americans ranks toward the bottom of the 27 team ECHL.
25th - overall power play
23rd - home power play
23rd - road power play
22nd - overall penalty kill
25th - road penalty kill
27th - shorthanded goals allowed

- What a difference a year makes. Last season Allen and Missouri were the top two in the Western  Conference standings, this season they are the bottom two.


There was another jersey auction last night. Here are some pictures and the results.

Gary Steffes shows off the specialty jersey - photo by Dianne Webster

$700 - Dyson Stevenson
$700 - Gary Steffes
$650 - Spencer Asuchak
$600 - Riley Gill
$600 - Eric Roy
$550 - Chad Costello
$550 - Aaron Gens
$550 - Greger Hanson
$550 - Tanner Eberle
$550 - Mike Gunn
$550 - Derek Mathers
$550 - Matt Willows
$550 - Alex Guptill
$500 - Joel Chouinard
$500 - Kale Kerbashain
$500 - Jake Marchment
$500 - Rick Pinkston
$450 - Travis Brown
$450 - Kyle Neuber
$450 - Mike Brodzinski
$450 - Jamie Murray
$450 - Tristan King
$400 - Harrison Ruopp
$400 - Chris Crane
$350 - Peter Di Salvo

Auctioneer Tommy Daniels and Matt Willows - photo by Dianne Webster

-  Want to thank Tommy Daniels, voice of the Allen Americans for providing me with a new experience last night. With his sidekick, color commentator Maurice Fitzgerald not at the game, Tommy gave me the remote microphone and I had a chance to periodically share my thoughts during his broadcast from the comfort of my seats on the glass. I then got to conduct the end of period interviews on the ice (coach Martinson after the first period and Derek Mathers after the second). After some initial nerves it was a lot of fun.


- It would be an understatement to say the game today in Tulsa is crucial for Allen to back on track. Tulsa had a great start to the season but has lost two straight home games (both to Rapid City) and are 5-5 in their last 10 games.

- With Jamie Murray continuing to struggle in goal look for Riley Gill to get the start today and in most of the games on this six game road trip. Murray is 2-6 with a GAA of 3.78 and a save percentage of .882.

- Gary Steffes should also be back in the line up today. Gary always plays well against his old team and it would be great to see him break out of his goal scoring slump. It has been 12 games since he scored his last goal.

- I always say special teams are key to any game but the matchup between Allen and Tulsa is particularly unique as they both are really struggling. Tulsa's power play in only marginally better then Allen. Tulsa is at 8.6% while Allen is at 8.2%. Allen has the edge on the penalty kill 80.3% to Tulsa's 76.3%. If either team can breakout it would be a game changer.

- One special teams play to be aware of today is the shorthanded goal. Tulsa leads the ECHL having already scored five shorties. At the other end of the spectrum the Americans lead the league in shorthanded goals allowed with five.

- In talking to the Allen coaches after the game there was consensus that in order for the team to get out of their slump they need to approach the game in a different way. They need to forgo the fancy/pretty play and concentrate on getting pucks in deep and pucks to the net. More effort on the forecheck is a must. Making it tough to play against by finishing checks is a trademark of this team that has been missing all too often. The Americans need that gritty, gutsy style up and down the lineup and the greasy goals will come. Let's hope we see more of that style of play today.

DID YOU KNOW: There are now only two teams in the entire ECHL that have a lower winning percentage than Allen. They are Norfolk and Elmira.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Allen vs Rapid City Game Preview, Crane Traded To Orlando, Roster Update & More

The Allen Americans take on the surging Rapid City Rush tonight (7:05 pm CST) at the Allen Event Center. They will do so without Chris Crane who was traded to the Orlando Solar Bears yesterday for forward Bryan Moore. Moore is a second year pro whose scouting report says he is a good skater who will bring scoring ability and physicality to the line up every night. He has been playing behind numerous AHL contracted players in Orlando but Allen fans may remember him in his rookie season last year. Moore split time between the San Diego Gulls (AHL) and their ECHL affiliate, the Utah Grizzlies. In 19 games with Utah, Bryan had 23 points (8 goals 15 assists) for a points per game average of 1.21 along with 42 penalty minutes. Moore played four games against the Americans last year and had seven points (2 goals 5 assists) in the four games. He was the #1 star in a game on November 27 when Utah beat Allen 7-3. Moore had two goals and three assists in that game. See more details on Bryan Moore below.

- Allen also received the rights to Rylan Schwartz in the trade. Schwartz was part of Allen's 2015 Kelly Cup championship team and is currently playing in Germany. He is having a great year leading his team in scoring. In 17 games he has 24 points (12 goals 12 assists) but his team is in last place in a 14 team league. It is not likely he will be returning to North America but you never know.

- There have been a lot of roster changes since the Americans last played at the AEC on November 6. Adam Helewka has returned to San Jose, Rick Pinkston and Chris Crane have been traded, J.P. Lafontaine was claimed off waivers by Elmira. Harrison Ruopp was returned from San Jose on loan. Alex Guptill and Bryan Moore have been added through trades.

- Here is my best guess on who is in and who is out for the game tonight. Bryan Moore will not arrive in time to play as he is driving his car from Orlando. Mike Brodzinski had a death in the family so he is on bereavement leave. Mike Gunn, who has practiced all week coming off an injury will replace Brodzinski. Tristin King is also coming off an injury (hasn't played since October 28) and has looked good in practice. Coach Martinson says he needs more speed in the lineup especially carrying the puck through the neutral zone and King is that type of player. Tristan was also practicing with the power play unit at the point position. If King is in, which I expect he will be, one of the other forwards will be a healthy scratch. It could be Derek Mathers if coach Martinson decides he doesn't need his toughness against Rapid City who is one of the least penalized teams in the league. The Rush haven't had a fight in their last three games which were all victories. If Mathers plays, whoever is the healthy scratch will be a player not used to being a healthy scratch. Will have to wait until warmups to see how it all plays out.

- Look for Jamie Murray to start in goal. Murray has not had a start since the last Allen home game on November 6 even though he did play 34 minute in relief of Riley Gill on Tuesday in Missouri. It is important to develop young contract goalies as part of the affiliate agreement with San Jose.

- A week ago if you previewed the game tonight against Rapid City it would be easy to conclude it should be an easy night for the Allen Americans. The Rush were one of the worst teams in the league with a record of 2-9-1-0. They would be arriving in Allen after a game on Friday against the Oilers and traveling from Tulsa. The game against the Americans would be the third in four nights for the Rush.

- What a difference a week makes as Rapid City has won their last three games against quality opponents. Last Friday they beat Colorado (2nd in the Mountain Division) 2-1 at home. They then went on the road and beat the #1 team in the league standings (Tulsa) twice by scores of 2-0 and 3-2. What changed for Rapid City? A lot of credit has to go to goalie Adam Morrison who was signed by the Rush on November 8 and has been in goal for the last three games. Three wins with a GAA of 1.00 and save percentage of .974.

- Here is how Allen and Rapid City match up so far this season:

                                     ALLEN                                RAPID CITY

Team Record               6-8-0-0 (12 points)               5-9-1-0 (11 points)
Division Ranking         5th - Mountain                      6th - Mountain
Conference Ranking   11th - Western                      12th - Western
League Ranking         20th                                       22nd
Last Game                  5-3 Loss (@Missouri)            3-2 Win (@Tulsa)
Goals For                    45                                         46
Goals Against             47                                          57
Power Play                 8.5% (5/59)                           19.6% (11/56)
Penalty Kill                 80.0% (13/65)                        89.7% (4/39)
Most PIMs                  Mathers (73 minutes)            Grant (23 minutes)
Leading Scorer          Costello (4-15-19)                  Sparks (8-13-21)

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 3rd (19.21) - Rapid City 25th (10.33)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 15th (3.21) - Rapid City 18th (3.07)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 19th (3.36) - Rapid City 23rd (3.80)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 8th (33.43) - Rapid City 26th (26.33)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 23rd (35.57) - Rapid City 24th (36.07)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 25th (8.5%) - Rapid City 11th (19.6%)
Penalty Kill Percentage; Allen 21st (80.0%) - Rapid City 3rd (89.7%)

- More than normal I think the stats are pretty much out the window for this game. Rapid City is a different team in their last three games allowing just three goals to some high powered offenses. They have the statistical advantage on special teams but Allen will have different players tonight on both the power play and penalty kill. Allen will be the fresher team having last played on Tuesday while Tulsa had games on Wednesday and Friday along with the bus trip from Tulsa.

- A good start will be key for both teams but especially for Allen who is 4-0 when scoring first but has struggled in first periods. Allen and Rapid City have a combined record of 7-1 when leading after the first period. When they trail after the first period their combined record is 0-12. I would say a good start is critical.

- Rapid City has two players (Lindsay Sparks & Ryan Walters) in the top four in ECHL scoring. Combined these two players have 33% of the team points and 37% of the team assists. Sparks (#10) and Walters (#88) play on the same line and the Americans will have to pay special attention when they are on the ice.

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Andy Howard (#2) and linesmen Chase Wilkinson (#68) and Brian Bull (#49).

- Here is an article from a couple of years ago when Bryan Moore was coming up on the NHL draft. Being from the Charlotte, NC area it was a big local story. This will give you some background on Bryan:

Here are Moore's stats courtesy of

Bryan Moore

Right Wing -- shoots R
Born May 25 1994 -- Indian Trail, NC
[22 yrs. ago]
Height 5.11 -- Weight 200

Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2010-11 Sioux Falls Stampede USHL 49 10 9 19 68 4 7 1 0 1 4
2011-12 Sioux Falls Stampede USHL 43 7 10 17 33 1 ----------
2012-13 Sarnia Sting OHL 64 11 19 30 45 -1 3 1 0 1 0
2013-14 Sarnia Sting OHL 31 11 22 33 67 -5 ----------
2013-14 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OHL 27 14 14 28 33 11 7 2 1 3 10
2014-15 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OHL 59 23 27 50 110 27 14 7 6 13 21
2015-16 San Diego Gulls AHL 29 2 5 7 35 0----------
2015-16 Utah Grizzlies ECHL 19 8 15 23 42 10 9 2 5 7 20
2016-17 Orlando Solar Bears ECHL 6 0 0 0 27 -2

2016-17 Allen Americans ECHL

- I want to close today by wishing Rick Pinkston, J.P. Lafontaine and Chris Crane good luck with their new teams. It has been a tough week for the team and Allen fans as these are three well liked  class guys who were great in the locker room. It is one of the most difficult parts of cheering for teams in minor pro hockey. If you cheer for the name on the back of the jersey (which everyone does) instead of the name on the front you will always have plenty of disappointment. My reporting would indicate coach Martinson felt with the way the team was playing he had too many players that played the same style of hockey and made a decision to bring in some new players that played a little different style. Hopefully the new players will accomplish Martinson's goal of being quick but also hard to play against. We will see if the acquisition of Ruopp, Guptill, Moore and the return to the lineup of King and Kerbashian will make a difference.

DID YOU KNOW: You may remember Rush goalie Adam Morrison from when he was the back up goalie in South Carolina the year Allen beat them in the 2015 Kelly Cup finals. That was the year South Carolina set an ECHL record by winning 23 straight games. Jeff Jakaitis was the primary goalie for South Carolina playing in 37 games with a GAA of 1.96, save percentage of .924 and won the ECHL MVP award. What is sometimes forgotten is Morrison actually had better stats than Jakaitis playing in 23 games he had a GAA of 1.88 and save percentage of .928. If you are like me you will never forget Jeff Jakaitis won the ECHL MVP award having played in only 37 games while Chad Costello played in all 72 games for Allen and and won the scoring title by an all time record 45 points. Chad had 125 points (41 goals 84 assists) and actually had more assists than anyone else in the league had total points. It may have been the greatest offensive performance in the history of the ECHL and by the way he finished third in plus/minus with a +43. Chad was denied the MVP award in my opinion because he was with the upstart Allen Americans who had just arrived from the Central Hockey League which had little respect from many around the ECHL that did the voting. Sorry about getting on my soap box but I have never really gotten over that one. The consolation for Chad wasn't too bad as the Americans beat South Carolina in the Kelly Cup finals. That was also the year the players voted for a league MVP through the PHPA (Professional Hockey Players Association) and the players selected Costello as the ECHL MVP.