ALLEN, Texas – When you look at ECHL player stats, most of the press is devoted to goals, assists, points and penalty minutes. Today, I want to talk about in my opinion one of the more undervalued statistics: players that never miss a game. I call them the ironmen and they are a special group. With limited rosters and salary cap/budget issues in the ECHL, having a player that plays every game in a season is something special and valuable. It means playing with injuries, no AHL call-ups, and answering the bell each and every game.
To give you an idea of how few ironmen exist in the ECHL, here are the stats from the last two full seasons. In 2017-18, there were 980 players in the ECHL for a least one game. Just 18 (or 1.8%) played in all 72 games. In 2018-19 there were exactly 1000 players and 27 (2.2%) played in all 72 games.
I thought today would be a good day to honor all of the ironmen in Allen Americans history. One thing to keep in mind is when the Americans first started in the Central Hockey League (CHL) in 2009-10, they only played 64 games before expanding to 66 games in 2010-11. Since joining the ECHL in 2014-15, the Americans have played 72 games in the regular season (except last year). Even though the 2019-20 season was shortened and the Americans played just 62 games before the season was canceled, it was the first time in franchise history no players played in every game. Alex Breton and Jack Sadek played in 61 of 62 games.
Congrats and stick taps to all Allen Americans ironmen past and present! It is a very exclusive club.
2019-20 – None
2018-19 – Spencer Asuchak
2017-18 – Joel Chouinard, Casey Pierro-Zabotel
2016-17 – Chad Costello, Joel Chouinard
2015-16 – Chad Costello
2014-15 – Chad Costello, Aaron Gens, Jamie Schaafsma
2013-14 – Spencer Asuchak, Daniel Tetrault, Mike Berube
2012-13 – Jamie Schaafsma, Jason Deitsch
2011-12 – Jason Deitsch
2010-11 – Colton Yellow Horn, David Strathman
2009-10 – Bruce Graham, Christian Gaudet
The 2014-15 ironmen share the all-time franchise record for games played in a single season when you combine regular season and playoff games. If you remember, the 2014-15 season was Allen’s first in the ECHL. After a grueling 72-game regular season, the Americans entered the 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs as an underdog. It took 25 games, which included come from behind seven-game series wins in the Conference Final against Ontario and the Kelly Cup Final against South Carolina for Allen to become champions. All three regular season ironmen (Costello, Gens, Schaafsma) played in all 25 playoff games to end the season with a championship ring and the all-time record of 97 games played. Quite an accomplishment.
Undoubtedly, the most amazing ironman story in franchise history belongs to Chad Costello. The future Hall of Famer will always be remembered for leading the ECHL in scoring all three seasons he played in Allen and exceeding 100 points each year. In 2014-15, Chad had 125 points and won the scoring title by 45 points, the largest margin in the history of the ECHL.
With all of his offensive prowess, his ironman record in Allen is just as amazing. Chad came to Allen as an unlikely ironman. As a matter of fact, neither Costello or Allen Head Coach Steve Martinson were sure Chad could even play. He came to Allen training camp in September of 2014 on a tryout, without a contract. Injuries in 2013-14 had limited him to just 14 games played and there was concern his career might be over. During training camp, Chad assured Coach Martinson he was good to go, a contract was signed, and the rest is history.
Costello ended his three years in Allen with two Kelly Cup championships, three regular season MVP awards (PHPA in 2015, ECHL in 2016 & 2017), and one playoff MVP award (2016). He accomplished all of this while never missing a game — regular season or playoffs — in three years. He played hurt a lot and even declined recommended surgery to continue playing. In just three seasons, Chad played in 276 consecutive games (97, 96, 83). The ironman of all ironmen!
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