As the summer heat continues the slow crawl to October 16th and the start of hockey season marches forward for the Allen Americans. You can sense the pace is quickening and activities from the front office, dance team and coaching staff indicates training camp is just around the corner (October 2nd). Had a chance to talk to Matt Canavan (Team President), Stephanie Di Biase-White (Ice Angels Director/Choreographer) and Steve Martinson (Head Coach & General Manager) to get an update on all things Allen Americans.

THE TEAM

– Steve Martinson continues to work to put the 2015-2016 team together and is very pleased with the progress thus far. While there have been just six players announced (Chad Costello, Riley Gill, Kevin Young, Aaron Gens, Nolan Descoteaux, and Casey Pierro-Zabotel) many other players have agreed to sign in Allen and are in various stages of getting contracts completed, signed, approved by the league office and announced.

There will be player announcements on a regular basis, beginning with one at an open house event Saturday afternoon. As stated in prior updates there will be many players from last season returning for the 2015-2016 season. For those fans that don’t like all of the turnover from season to season this will be a good year. There will still be plenty of new faces but nothing like past seasons. As is the case every year some fan favorites won’t be offered a contract, there will be some surprises, but the Allen fans will be very familiar with this team when opening night arrives at the Allen Event Center on October 16th.

– Coach Martinson and his family will be heading back to Allen next week from their summer home in Rockford, Illinois. With Allen schools starting August 24th that is what dictates the return date to Allen.

– Martinson plans on attending the San Jose training camp which will provide him the opportunity to get more familiar with players in the system and be better equipped to deal with player movement from San Jose to Allen as well as Allen to San Jose during the season.

– You can expect several Allen players without AHL contracts to be invited to the San Jose AHL training camp. A great opportunity for players to be seen by the San Jose coaching staff. Martinson has a reputation of loaning players during the season and with the roster he is putting together you can look for a lot of that to happen this season.

– The one new player signed by Allen is Casey Pierro-Zabotel. He is friends with Spencer Asuchak which may have helped in recruiting the the high powered center to Allen. He was Gwinnett’s leading scorer last season with 60 points (23 goals 37 assists) in 54 games before being traded to Florida at the trade deadline. He is a veteran (348 ECHL games) so he could have gone to any ECHL team. Here are Pierro-Zabotel’s stats from Elite Prospects:

THE ICE ANGELS

– Most would agree the Allen Ice Angels are the best dance team in the ECHL, led by Director/Choreographer Stephanie Di Baise-Wheat. The Ice Angels are a talented group of young ladies that get a lot of publicity for the team. Had a chance to talk to Stephanie about the team for this year and there has been more interest than ever. The finals take place Friday night at the official training facility of the Ice Angels, the Dallas Powerhouse of Dance where 30 dancers (24 first year plus 6 returning veterans) will compete for a spot on the team.

– There will be 10-12 judges ranging from former Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, Dallas Mavericks Cheerleaders, sponsors and the voice of the Allen Americans Tommy Daniels. Tommy will be a judge for the first time as he is usually on vacation when the final tryouts take place.

Tommy had this to say, “Stephanie does a great job with the Ice Angels and I am really looking forward to being a judge. They are a big help to the organization being so visible in the community as well as in the media.”

– Being a member of the Allen Ice Angels has been a great stepping stone to NFL, NBA and NHL dance teams. According to Stephanie, Ice Angels have gone on to the following teams:
2 – Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders
2 – Houston Texans Cheerleaders
3 – Dallas Stars Ice Girls
1 – San Antonio Spurs Silver Dancers

– Among the many perks the Ice Angels receive is a destination calendar shoot. The destination this year is a secret (last year they went to Cancun) but they will be doing another destination calendar shoot the end of September.

– In case you were wondering the final tryouts are not open to the public. The team will be announced after the tryouts Friday night. Everyone will get a chance to see the 2015-2016 edition of the Allen Ice Angels at their first on ice performance on opening night.

THE FRONT OFFICE

The front office is already planning for the opening night (October 16th) celebration of winning the Kelly Cup. It is hard to believe Allen will be raising a championship banner to the rafters on opening night for the third straight year. With many players returning from the Kelly Cup championship team it should be a fun evening.

OTHER COMMENTS

– The hockey coaching ranks of former Allen Americans increased recently with John Snowden (2013-2014)  being selected as an assistant coach for the Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL). He joins Josh Hepditch (2011-2012) who has been coaching for a few years and is now the head coach of the County Aces which is a junior team in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League. The County Aces are located in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. The County Aces assistant coach is another Allen Americans alum, Bruce Graham (2009-2015). Josh and Bruce played junior hockey together for the Moncton Wildcats.

– Congrats to Bruce and Whitney Graham who welcomed baby number three into the world. Beckett Lovell Graham (8 lbs 12 oz.) joins his big sisters Harper and London in the Graham household.

– Don’t have any details but saw on Facebook Josh and Kathryn Hepditch also just had a baby boy which is their first child. I think he was born this morning. Congrats to them as well!

– Rapid City announced they have signed an affiliation agreement with the Arizona Coyotes (NHL) and Springfield Falcons (AHL). Of the seven CHL teams that came into the ECHL last season only Wichita is now without an affiliation.

– Aaron Dell recently signed his second NHL contract with  the San Jose Sharks. According to the web site generalfanager.com Dell signed a one year, two way contract valued at $575,000 in the NHL and $65,000 with the Sharks AHL team (San Jose Barracuda). Aaron will be attending the Sharks training camp in September.

DID YOU KNOW: Recently signed center Casey Pierro-Zabotel was the leading scorer for Gwinnett last season but was traded to Florida at the trade deadline for two players (Jeff Silengo and Jason Wilson) plus future considerations. The future consideration ended up being the rights to former Allen center, Alex Lavoie.

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