ALLEN, TX – The Allen Americans were back at practice yesterday as they prepare for two games against the Colorado Eagles on Thursday and Friday. The Eagles lead the ECHL in many statistical categories including most points (66), best winning percentage (.786) and most fights (54). Allen has 47 points, a winning percentage of .534 and has been in 36 fights. In their last 10 games, Colorado is 8-2 while Allen is 3-7.
– Based on my observations at practice, the Americans are fully aware of and embrace the challenge they have ahead of them against Colorado. I would say the practice yesterday was the most spirited one of the season with everyone working hard in practice. It seemed at times some guys were even practicing taking penalties the practice was so spirited. If you ask me this team will be ready to go on Thursday night against the best team in the league.
– Zach Hall participated in practice yesterday wearing the no-contact yellow jersey which means he is now day-to-day and could see action this week. When Hall returns coach Martinson will have 22 players available which is a big roster compared to past seasons at this time of year. The maximum number of players is 20 on the active roster (must fit under the $12,800 weekly salary cap) plus two players on reserve. An unlimited number of players can be on the 21-day injured reserve (21 days is the minimum). Riley Gill and Peter MacArthur are on the 21-day injured reserve.
– With so many players on the roster the status of Gary Steffes returning is up in the air. I know Gary had some work conflicts with FCA that was going to limit his availability. He was originally going to come back for the home games against Colorado and then accompany the team on their road trip to Atlanta, Florida, and Jacksonville. Whether Gary comes for any games is now undecided and with the number of healthy players available (21 or 22) my guess is Gary won’t be needed at this point.
– Peter MacArthur stopped by practice yesterday to say hi to the boys. Peter recently had surgery to repair his injury so he had his arm in a sling. Have to say when you are around Peter you are surrounded by a guy with a smile on his face, a positive attitude and so much positive energy.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW:
– It is hard to believe there are well over 100 former Allen Americans playing hockey elsewhere this season from the NHL, AHL, ECHL, SPHL & LNAH in North America to all over the world. Around the globe from Japan in the west, Russia in the east, Sweden in the north, Dubai in the south and everywhere in between you can find players that have spent time in Allen. There are also a handful of players playing college hockey. I thought today I would stay close to home and cover a few former Americans that are playing in the ECHL this season to see how the season is going for them individually and for their team. The years in parentheses are when they played in Allen.
Matt Register – (2011-12 & 2015-16) Matt is having another outstanding season with the Colorado Eagles. He leads all ECHL defensemen in points (41), assists (31), plus/minus (+29) and is second in goals (10). Matt is the reigning Kelly Cup champion and ECHL Defenseman of the Year and will have a chance to repeat for both this season. Colorado has been the class of the ECHL so far this season.
Matt Willows – (2016-17) Matt plays for the Reading Royals and leads the team in points (41), assists (28) and is second in goals (13). Matt is one of only two players on the team that has played in all 45 Reading games. The Royals are currently tied for third place in the North Division and should make the playoffs.
Darryl Bootland – (2012-14) After three years in Colorado and a Kelly Cup championship last season Bootland is playing for Orlando this season. The guy fans know as Booter is now 36 and has missed a lot of games because of injuries. He didn’t play his first game of the season until December 1st. After a slow start, the Solar Bears have played well recently and are currently in fourth place in the South Division. Maybe Bootland can take some credit for Orlando’s resurgence because it seemed to coincide with his return to the lineup. He has played in 17 games and has 7 points (3 goals 4 assists).
Chris Crane – (2015-17) Chris is a teammate of Bootland’s in Orlando and has also missed time because of injury. He missed close to two months from mid-November to early January. Chris has played in 21 games and has 19 points (9 goals 8 assists).
Travis Brown – (2016-17) Travis is having the best season of his pro career. He is an assistant captain for the Wichita Thunder and leads all defensemen on the team in points (26), goals (7), assists (19) and plus/minus (+13). The Thunder are in third place in the Mountain Division but have the #6 ranked winning percentage in the ECHL (.622).
Dyson Stevenson – (2014-17) Dyson is the captain in Wichita and his value is so much more than the points he scores but he is on pace for the best stats in his pro career. He already has 10 goals which ties his best pro season, he has 23 points in 36 games and is six points away from surpassing his pro best. Stevenson also leads the Thunder in fighting majors with eight. Dyson has missed Wichita’s last four games with an injury and may be out a bit longer.
Nolan Descoteaux – (2014-17) Nolan had a great season last year playing for Alaska. He got a lot of ice time and had a career-high in points (30), goals (10) and assists (20). With Alaska folding at the end of last least season Nolan signed with Indy this season. He leads all defensemen on the team in points (15) and assists (14). It looks like the playoffs are a long shot for the Dallas native this season but don’t count him out yet. Indy is 7-3 in their last 10 games and has closed the gap to a playoff spot to seven points.
Tristan King – (2015-17) Tristan plays for the Quad City Mallards who is by far the worst team in the ECHL with a record of 11-25-3-1. King has played in only 28 games this season for the Mallards because of injuries and has 15 points (3 goals 12 assists). A veteran with proven playoff experience including the game-winning overtime goal in game seven of Allen’s first round win over Idaho and the first goal in the championship-winning game against Wheeling in the Americans 2016 Kelly Cup win. I am sure Tristan, who is a veteran, would be interested in a trade to a playoff contender before the trade deadline.
Jamie Schaafsma – (2012-15) The former Allen captain seems to get better with age. After winning three championships in Allen he is in his third season with the Fort Wayne Komets and has served as captain all three seasons. Jamie will turn 35 in a couple of weeks and is looking for another championship. He had arguably his best pro season last year with 62 points (17 goals 45 assists) in 53 games. Jamie is no longer the ironman he was in Allen when he played in all 97 games in 2014-15 between the regular season and playoffs on the way to the Kelly Cup championship. Schaafsma has played in 35 games this season and has 22 points (12 goals 10 assists). Jamie, who also has the role of player/assistant coach has a team that could make some noise in the playoffs which is the case every season with Fort Wayne. The Komets are in second place in the Central Division battling Toledo for the top spot. Toledo eliminated Fort Wayne in the second round of the playoffs last season and Allen eliminated them in the third round in 2016. Even though it hasn’t happened the last two seasons, Jamie Schaafsma has a history of making it to the championship finals over his pro career. This could be the year he gets back to the finals. Here is a great story written by Blake Sebring of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel where Blake interviews Jamie & Nicole (who are expecting their fourth child) about the nomad life of a professional hockey family. https://www.news-sentinel.com/sports/2018/01/30/to-komets-schaafsma-family-moving-is-an-artform/
Danny Federico – (2015-16) Danny is the prototype of a stay at home defenseman. He has played in 169 games in his three years as a pro and has a total of three goals. After his rookie season in Allen as part of the Americans second Kelly Cup championship team he has spent the last two season with the South Carolina Stingrays. As you might imagine Danny doesn’t lead the Stingrays defensemen in any offensive category but he does have the best plus/minus of all defensemen at +16, the next best is +7. Danny leads the entire team in plus/minus. In four years of college and three years as a pro, Federico has never finished a season with a negative plus/minus. South Carolina is second in the South Division trailing Florida by five points but they have the #3 ranked winning percentage in the entire league (.702). They will be a team to watch in the playoffs because they have a history of doing well.
Rick Pinkston – (2015-17) Rick is under contract with the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL) but has spent the entire season in the ECHL. Because of an affiliation change, he was assigned by Milwaukee to Norfolk early in the season and then was assigned to Atlanta where he is now. He played 17 games in Norfolk and has played 25 games with Atlanta. In those 25 Atlanta games Rick has 10 points (2 goals 8 assists). Atlanta is in third place in the South Division but only five points separate third and fifth place. Florida and South Carolina are the class of the division and are 17 and 12 points ahead of third place Atlanta. Anything can happen come playoff time but Florida and South Carolina will be hard to beat.
There are three former Allen goalies with more than 15 ECHL games this season. Jake Hildebrand has played in 33 games for Tulsa and has a save percentage of .909. Joel Rumpel is playing in Wichita and has a .906 save percentage over 18 games. Jamie Murray has played 15 games for Norfolk and has a .893 save percentage.
DID YOU KNOW: Of the 12 former Allen Americans goalies that have played elsewhere this season, the one with the best statistics is the former goalie that is playing in the NHL. Aaron Dell has played in 22 games for the San Jose Sharks and has a GAA of 2.51 and a save percentage of .917.