ALLEN, TX – I hope you enjoy this article and can maybe identify with the mixed feelings many fans have whenever their favorite player or one of the best players on their team opts to head to Europe. Their head says it is a great opportunity, but their heart is aching.
You can imagine if one of your adult children that lived within miles of you came home and told you they were taking a new job in Europe. It would be a great adventure, and the pay would be more than they were earning in their current job. And maybe this adult child was married and had your only grandchildren. I am sure most parents would be supportive and happy for the opportunity presented to their child, but part of them would be crushed on the inside.
That is the case with Spencer Asuchak and Chad Costello. They have been such a big part of Allen Americans history on the ice but have also embraced North Texas off the ice and see Allen as much more than the place they work.
When Spencer signed to play with HKM Zvolen in the top league in Slovakia, he said in part,
“The last four years in Allen were the best years of my life. Winning three championships in four years with such amazing teammates and fans will never be forgotten. Allen will always be a second home to me and I will always consider the teammates and fans as family.”
Chad, in part, wrote this after he signed to play for the Iserlohn Roosters in the top German league this season:
“The Allen community has been unbelievable to be part of the last three years. It doesn’t feel like a “second home” anymore, just home. We’ve stayed here year around for three straight years. To the Allen fans you guys are awesome. You are not just fans for two hours during a hockey game, you are fans 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You’ve taken my family in and made us feel like we were at home from the get go. You are so much more than fans, you are friends and family.”
I would be remiss not to mention the impact Spencer and Chad had on the ice for the Allen Americans over the last few years. Most importantly the three championships in four years for Spencer and two Kelly Cups in three years for Chad, who holds almost every offensive record in the record book for Allen. Costello was selected as league MVP for all three years he was in Allen (by the PHPA in 2015 and the ECHL in 2016 & 2017). If you look at post season play, Spencer Auschak is the career leader in playoff games played, is fourth in points, fourth in goals and first in penalty minutes. Spencer and Chad were two key cogs in Allen’s success and will be greatly missed, but they have a great opportunity in Europe.
With the above as background, I wanted to find out from Spencer and Chad how the transition to their first year of playing hockey in Europe has been. They both reported to their teams over a month ago, and if they were still with Allen, they would not report for another month from now. That is a significant change from the past.
I also asked Chad’s wife, Ashley, what it has been like for the family as they have three young children, Cayne who is seven, Camden who is or will be three and Avery who will be two.
Here is what they had to say in their own words. To no surprise, Chad and Spencer have had great training camps/preseasons and will be big contributors to their teams as the regular season gets underway.
SPENCER: The transition has been pretty good so far. Most of our exhibition/preseason games have been against Swiss A teams, so the competition has been pretty tough. A good challenge and experience though. It has been nice having five other import players on the team and three of them, like me, played their junior hockey in the Western Hockey League. So far I have found it a bit harder to play physical on the bigger ice, but at the same time, it gives you a lot more room when you have the puck. I have had a decent preseason and think I am improving every game.
CHAD COSTELLO: We just finished our last preseason game tonight. We had six preseason games, and training camp was much longer than I have been used to. I finished the preseason with eight points in the six games. As a team, we started slow but got much better as the preseason went on. After the first preseason game, the coach and general manager announced they did not want me on a tryout contract any longer and wanted me to be on the team as a standard contract.
The first week started as rough as it gets. I had a blood/staph infection from an elbow injury. So I missed the first week of camp, but it has healed up, and I am all good now. As far as the transition has gone, it is still a work in progress. The bigger ice sheet changes the game a lot. It is a lot more tactical and more of a defensive style game. From what I have seen so far it is a trap and quick transition game for sure. The special teams game seems to be where the games are won and lost. With the bigger sheet and more time to make plays on the power play has been a lot of fun.
The league is very competitive, very fast paced, and a lot rougher in the corners than I had imagined. I am on a line with Americans Travis Turnbull and Jack Combs. We have had success so far, and I enjoy playing with them. I also have a fellow Texan on the team by the name of Chris Brown. He was born and raised in Flower Mound. We have become close, and he is a great teammate and great friend that says he has heard a lot of us Allen Americans.
I do miss Texas and the Americans organization a lot but also love it here in Iserlohn. The team here has a great family vibe with great older leadership. We as a family think of Allen every day, and I miss my old teammates. I saw the other day that Chewy (Joel Chouinard) was named the team captain. What a great decision that was as he is an amazing teammate and will do a great job. I also saw that Gary (Steffes) had retired from hockey. I texted him and congratulated him on a great career. To me, he was everything the Americans stood for. A great person, a great leader, always gave a hard nosed effort and was always there as a teammate. I will miss playing with him and know he will do great in whatever he does. He is and always will be a great friend.
ASHLEY COSTELLO: Hello Barry – wow what a month it has been. The first week was crazy with Chad’s infection and going to the hospital made me especially nervous with being on a new team, in a new country and Chad on a tryout contract. I was quickly relieved with how the team, the staff, and the doctor handled Chad and the situation.
Cayne has just started school here which I think will be the biggest adjustment. He will have a translator in class with him so that will help a lot and I am told he will be speaking German fluently soon. Cayne is also getting adjusted to his new hockey team. He was moved up to the 10 and under age group. I’m super excited for him and for the opportunity he has with him just turning 7.
Our schedule has been pretty crazy with Cayne having practice four days a week and hockey games on the weekend along with school and Chad’s schedule. We have tried to make the most of the days off by exploring new towns or even going on castle tours. We took the kids to the North Sea one day.
We live in a little community in Iserlohn called Letmathe, a charming town that has many restaurants and stores and it’s right on the river. We live in a house and have a back yard. It’s been nice because we can walk to Cayne’s school.
I learn something new every day here. I try to pick up on my German. I am finally able to get around without the GPS, and I’m getting the grocery store figured out.
The hockey games are very exciting! The fans chant during the entire game. They are very prideful of their team.
I’ve certainly had my days when I’m missing my family and being in Texas. We miss the comfort of the known.
Chad and Chris Brown will each be auctioning off signed sticks to donate to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. So that should be up on the Roosters website soon.
Excited for the regular season to start. We will be cheering for the Allen Americans from across the pond this year! Wishing them good luck this season.