ALLEN, Texas – I want to start out today by wishing a Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms during these trying times. Some of you, like me, won’t be able to hug your mom or grandmother because they are in heaven. Some of you won’t be able to hug your mother, your grandmother, or your kids because of social distancing. The toughest ones for me to watch are those mothers and grandmothers in assisted living, long-term care, or memory care and their loved ones aren’t allowed in the facility so they will be alone without family.
I have been thinking a lot about my mom, who was a nurse from Ireland and met my dad during World War II in England. In honor of all these moms, I thought today would be a good time to bring back a classic video about how special moms are that always brings a tear to my eye (and especially on this day): “So God Made a Hockey Mom.”
AMERICANS RECRUITING UPDATE
Nothing new to report on the recruiting front for the Allen Americans. I did have a chance to talk to Head Coach Steve Martinson. He has said in his recent interviews he’s been recruiting for a while and is now waiting for two things to happen before plans can be finalized. One is the ECHL signing date, which is still five weeks away with no indication the June 16 date will be changed.
AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE SEASON: TO BE CANCELLED?
The other decision that will impact recruiting is the fate of the remaining of the season in the AHL. The AHL Board of Governors met on Friday to discuss the issue but did not announce their decision. An official announcement is expected Monday; it is a forgone conclusion the decision is the AHL season will end. I read one account where the league was waiting until Monday so teams could be prepared to field questions from fans and sponsors during business hours.
With the AHL season almost certainly coming to an end on Monday, you can look for more attention focusing on the 2020-21 season. I know Coach Martinson has been working with the Wild organization to identify players they might sign to add depth to the Iowa roster and also be a good fit in Allen. Martinson has always been an advocate of signing these depth players early in the recruiting process.
PANDEMIC AFFECTING EUROPE HOCKEY IMPORTS
Because of COVID-19, the dynamic in Europe has changed and recruitment for imports from North America has slowed down some with less money being offered, as well. This could have an impact on recruitment for ECHL teams. Players could be available next season that would normally be heading to Europe.
No matter how it all plays out, the one thing that is certain is the 2020-21 Allen team will have more grit and toughness. Martinson mentions that every time he talks about the recruiting process for next season. There are a lot of moving pieces in the recruiting process this year with what is happening in the AHL, Europe, and the overall uncertainty with COVID-19. Coach Martinson has much of his recruiting done, but has to remain flexible as there are a lot of moving pieces to the recruitment puzzle. He will have to adapt to the changes as they develop.
ALLEN ZOOM CHAT SERIES CONTINUES
Allen Brodcaster Tommy Daniels continues his Zoom chats. Here are the latest if you haven’t seen them — Jamie Schaafsma and Brett Pollock:
BARRY’S OWN ZOOM CHAT WITH TOMMY
On Friday, I sat down with Tommy Daniels for one of his Zoom chats, and I whiffed on a couple of my comments. Luckily, I write a blog, so have a second chance.
Strike one, I was talking about the talent on the 2010-11 Americans team and was recounting or trying to recount the three players that had 30 goals that season — names which I know very well. When I watched the interview, much to my amazement, I said Brian McMillin instead of Bruce Graham. For the record, the three 30-goal scorers that season were Graham (34), Colton Yellow Horn (34) and Nino Musitelli (33).
Strike two was when Tommy asked me my three most memorable moments ever other than the four championships. Nothing wrong with answers I gave, but when I reflected on that question after the interview, what came to mind were memories not related to a specific game but more personal memories.
The tribute to Steve Martinson after his 1,000th win choked me up. But, when I interviewed him in his office long after everyone had left and asked if all the tributes from family and friends made him emotional, in his typical Marty fashion, his answer was, “Not really.” When Martinson passed John Brophy for number two on the all-time wins list (1,028), the Americans asked me to present a plaque to the coach at center ice along with his wife and daughter. Both of those milestones are favorite memories.
Another favorite memory is off the ice. For a few years, the players would come out to Heritage Range (where I live) to fish in the afternoons after practice. Aaron Gens and Riley Gill were the ring leaders, and there were some avid fishermen like Eric Roy, Tanner Eberle, Dyson Stevenson, and Derek Mathers to name a few. Then there were the guys who will remain nameless that needed help putting the minnow on the hook and taking the rare fish they would catch off the hook. It was always a fun time with lots of chirping and fish tales.
Now that I have taken a second crack at the questions, here is the interview where Tommy and I cover a few different topics from favorite championships to the schedule for 2020-21 to some former Allen players.
INDIVIDUAL SEASON REVIEWS
Here is a look back on the 2019-20 season for a few more of the Allen players:
Andrew Shortridge – The rookie goaltender signed a one-year, free agent contract with the San Jose Sharks for the 2019-20 season and was assigned to Allen in January. Andrew allowed 13 goals in his first three games with the Americans. He took extra practice with Allen’s goalie coach and also put in a lot of time on video review. After those first three games, Shortridge was very effective, allowing just 14 goals in is last seven games before the season was canceled. In those seven games, he had two shutouts and a save percentage of .932.
Stepan Falkovsky – Known as “The Falcon” and possessing a cannon of a shot, Stepan led the ECHL in goals by a defenseman with 15 and finished fourth in points with 41. Falkovsky also led all ECHL defensemen in power play goals (8), shorthanded goals (2) and shooting percentage (17%). The native of Belarus, Stepan was able to get back home to Minsk after the season was canceled and before flying internationally became so difficult.
Jared VanWormer – Jared finished his college career at Ferris State University in 2016-17, having scored a total of 25 goals in four seasons and never had a 10-goal season. He is a tenacious worker that never takes a shift off and, despite his size, lives in the dirty areas of the ice in front of the net and in the corners. He has improved in each of his three pro seasons. In 2019-20, he had 22 goals in 54 games, the best goal production of his pro career. Coach Martinson did not name a team captain at the beginning of the season (as he made a decision to wait), but when the time came, he selected Jared to wear the “C”
Josh Lammon – Rookie Josh Lammon was acquired by the Americans in a trade with Florida just before the start of the 2019-20 season. A smart player who is always in the right position, he was captain of his college team (Mercyhurst) and was voted the best defensive forward in the entire league as a senior. After scoring just one goal in the first three months of the season in Allen, the dam broke on January 18 when Josh had two goals and an assist in a win over Kansas City. Over the next eight games, Josh had 11 points (6G, 5A). Lammon finished the season with 27 points (8G, 11A), but you get the feeling his second pro season will show he has just scratched the surface of what he can accomplish.
The new DASH auction site the Americans have recently switched to has been very active with offerings each week. The latest has a Zoom video chat experience with Spencer Asuchak, with the all proceeds benefiting Player Relief Fund. This is a great way to support the players and have a chance to have a private conversation with the longest tenured Allen Americans. I would be asking for some stories about the bus trips and championship celebrations back in 2013-14 when the Americans were in the CHL (as there were some classics). The current bid is $110 with a little over two days remaining.
The jerseys on the current auction include:
Alex Breton autographed military game jersey – $300 current bid
Corey Durocher autographed military game jersey – $250 current bid
Jake Doty autographed red game jersey – $270 current bid
Cody Corbett autographed red game jersey – minimum bid $250
Team autographed grey eagle jersey – current bid $250
If you are not sure of how to get to the DASH site, an easy way is to go to the Allen Americans website and click on the blue tab “Click For Live Auctions” on the home page.
TETRAULT EXTENDED AS RUSH HEAD COACH
Congrats are in order for former Allen defenseman Daniel Tetrault, who is the current coach of the Rapid City Rush. Daniel signed a two-year contract extension this week with a mutual option for a third year. Tetrault won the only championship in his storied, 15-year professional career when he played for the Allen Americans in 2013-14.
I sure hope the Allen Americans are working on a contract extension for Steve Martinson. The 2019-20 ECHL General Manager of the Year has just one year left on his current deal. With 10 championships and 1,043 wins as a pro coach (number two all-time), it is imperative to lock up Martinson for the future of the franchise — no matter the ownership situation.
DID YOU KNOW…
It never ceases to amaze me the records Chad Costello set in his three seasons (2014-17) in Allen. Two Kelly Cups, three scoring titles, three MVP’s and not missing a single game (regular season or playoffs) — 276 games straight. He won his three scoring titles by 45, 34 and 23 points. I came across this stat while doing some other research, which shows just how dominant Chad was in those three season. He certainly stood above the rest and had three of the best seasons in the history of the ECHL. Here are the top six players in total points (combined regular season and playoffs) from 2014-15 to 2016-17. As you can see, Allen dominates this list.
426 points – Chad Costello, Allen
263 points – Shane Berschbach, Toledo
249 points – Shawn Szydlowski, Fort Wayne
236 points – Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Florida, Allen, Colorado
234 points – Greger Hanson, Allen
207 points – Gary Steffes, Allen
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