ALLEN, TX – When you write about the Allen Americans each and every day during the hockey season (at least that is the goal) some days include a very specific topic and some days are a free for all. There is at least one reader of the blog (Jim K. talking to you) that loves the free for all days where the topics are all over the place. A blog post that I usually call “this and that” or “news you may be able to use.” Here goes some this and that:
– The city of Allen had to do some significant repairs to the ice plant in the community rink over the summer and the project is still not 100% complete. It is complete enough that they have ice in the community rink but when I stopped by last week you could see they still have to pour some concrete behind the stands along the length of the building. Finishing this project, getting the building inspector and fire marshal approval may be why the details on tickets for the two preseason games with Kansas City (Friday, October 6th at 8:45 pm & Saturday, October 7th at 5:30 pm) have not been finalized. These games will take place in the community rink. Stay tuned.
– The local players have been getting together to skate but it is a small group at this point. I walked in the locker room on Friday and the only stalls with equipment in them were Joel Chouinard and Riley Gill. They have a few other local players from other teams join them for their informal practices.
– Greger Hanson was skating with the group but he has now reported to San Diego to get ready for training camp with the Gulls.
– Have you ever thought about the Allen Americans retiring numbers? The team will be starting their ninth season as a franchise and there are certainly candidates to consider that had a big impact on Allen and are now retired. Bruce Graham, Jarret Lukin, Tyler Ludwig and Gary Steffes are all part of the Allen record book and worthy candidates. However, if I were king I would wait for Chad Costello and Riley Gill to retire and have #13 and #30 the first numbers to head to the rafters for the Allen Americans. The impact these two players have had on the team and the league sets them apart in my opinion. Costello and Gill will both be in the ECHL Hall of Fame some day.
– If you are talking about putting something in the rafters, maybe the first individual recognition should go to the only person that was in Allen for all four consecutive championships and that is Steve Martinson. He will be starting his 22nd season as a head coach and I always bring up his 10 championships which is remarkable but maybe even more impressive is the fact that he has made the playoffs in 20 of his 21 seasons. If you know the history of that one season he did not make the playoffs it almost should count or at least there should be an asterisk. Steve was hired as the coach for a new ECHL franchise in Chicago (Chicago Express) in 2011-12. Back in 2013, Martinson talked about that season in Chicago after I asked him what it was like to win his first championship in Allen. Here is what he said, “The championship was satisfying for me personally because it came the year after missing the playoffs in Chicago. Missing the playoffs had never happened to me before. Even though that Chicago team lost seven players to the AHL and had seven season ending injuries and unbeknownst to me the team was folding, it was tough missing the playoffs. To win the championship the year after missing the playoffs for the first time was big for me.”
– I heard that Casey Pierro-Zabotel has arrived in Allen. It will be great to have the second leading scorer in the ECHL from last season back in an Allen uniform. Pierro-Zabotel had the best season of his professional career last season with 88 points (24 goals 64 assists) and played in all 72 games for Colorado. Look for Pierro-Zabotel to have an expanded role for Allen after winning the Kelly Cup the past two seasons.
– Another arrival in the last couple of days is equipment manager Tim Abbott. The Americans are fortunate to have an equipment manager with Tim’s credentials. Tim spent 13 years as the associate equipment manager with the Detroit Red Wings during which he was part of three Stanley Cup championships. He was the head equipment manager in Adirondack (AHL) for five years where he was part of two Calder Cup championships. The players love this guy, he is on top of everything and takes great pride in his job.
– Several readers have asked me about Derek Mathers and his decision to retire from professional hockey at such a young age (24). I have tried to contact Derek a couple of times but have not been able to talk to him so won’t speculate as to why he made the decision to retire.
– I took a quick look at how Costello, Spencer Asuchak, and Josh Brittain did in their first regular season games in Europe. According to eurohockey.com and eliteprospects.com all three lost their first game. Asuchak’s team lost 5-1 and he had no points, Brittain’s team lost 3-2 in overtime and he scored a goal and Costello’s team lost 2-1 in overtime and he had no points.
– I had the chance to talk to Gill after he and a few guys skated on Friday and asked him about his summer. It has been a busy one for him and his family. He did get to spend some time at the family cabin in Wisconsin but not as much as as in the past. As the player representative for the team he attended the PHPA meeting in Orlando. Gill also instructed at hockey camps in the DFW area and also went to Scotland for a goalie camp. Gill is now the goalie coach for Allen High School joining former Allen players Jason Deitsch (head coach) and Eric Adams (asst. coach) on the coaching staff.
DID YOU KNOW: Gill is the most successful playoff goalie in the history of the ECHL. He has 10 more playoff wins (53) than any other goalie to go along with his three Kelly Cup championships. He owns all career playoff goalie records on the ECHL website.