ALLEN, TX – Before I talk about the Allen Americans training camp which has arrived with the first on ice session on Monday, I wanted to say a few words about Aaron Dell who started his first NHL game Friday night.

The San Jose Mercury News started their story about the game with this sentence, “Goalie Aaron Dell looked calm and cool in his first-ever NHL preseason start Friday night, allowing two goals on 22 shots as the Sharks came from behind to earn a 3-2 overtime win over the Arizona Coyotes at SAP Center.”

“He was solid,” San Jose coach Pete DeBoer said of Dell. “I think we did a pretty good job in front of him defensively, but he made some big saves at the right time to let us hang around and find a way.”
Dell has many fans watching and cheering him on to make the NHL. From those in his hometown of Airdrie, Alberta and the entire Calgary area that watched him growing up, to the hockey fans in North Dakota who watched him in college at the University of North Dakota, to those that watched him play for the Allen Americans, Utah Grizzlies, Abbotsford Heat, Worcester Sharks and San Jose Barracuda as a professional.

The University of North Dakota has not had a goalie make it to the NHL since Ed Belfour who last played for North Dakota in 1987 so it has been a long wait for them. The Allen Americans have not had a player make it to the NHL since Jordie Benn who played for Allen in their first season (2009-10). Yes, for you trivia buffs, Alec Martinez played three games with Allen and then returned to the Los Angeles Kings but that was the NHL lockout year. So it would be a big deal if Aaron makes the San Jose Sharks final roster.

The biggest reason Allen fans are watching, cheering and praying for Dell is he is such a great guy who endeared himself to the fans when he was with the Americans. To say he is a quiet, calm and humble guy is an understatement. The best part of his story is that he has had to work for everything he has accomplished. At every step of the way from juniors, college and in the pro ranks he was never “the guy” who was designated the top goalie on his team. He always started out as the number two goalie and through hard work and performance became the number one goalie.

It was true in college when he started on the bench and beat out an all-conference goalie for the number one spot. He signed his first professional contract with the Colorado Eagles in 2012-13 but was waived in training camp. He then signed with Allen, where two University of North Dakota alumni (Ed Belfour & Craig Ludwig) had just started working with the Americans. He was supposed to be the backup goalie to a veteran Kelly Cup MVP but won the starting job and led the Americans to their first championship playing in all 19 playoff games.
The same thing happened when he got promoted to the AHL in Worcester and then San Jose as he earned his way as their top goalie. Aaron Dell has never been given a thing. He has climbed the hockey ladder through hard work, determination, and performance along with the support of his wife, Kelly, who is back in her home state of Minnesota finishing her degree at the University of Minnesota to become a Registered Dietitian. Now Kelly and Aaron are in position to achieve the ultimate rung on the hockey ladder by making the opening day roster of the San Jose Sharks. And for the quiet kid from a small town in Alberta who was home-schooled, loves to play the guitar, and goes by the moniker of the “World’s Okayest Goalie” there are no fans more excited to see this happen than the ones he has from his days with the Allen Americans. And don’t forget, every time he has become a backup goalie he eventually became the starter. Just sayin’!
Aaron and Kelly Dell
Aaron and Kelly Dell

ALLEN AMERICANS TRAINING CAMP

Training camp officially starts tomorrow and it will certainly be a little different than normal. Because of the World Cup, training camps for the NHL and AHL have been on a different schedule this year. Allen will have many players leave today (Sunday) to attend AHL training camps so they will not be on hand for the first week of camp with Allen. Five players will be going to San Jose on try-out contracts  (Greger Hanson, Dyson Stevenson, Harrison Ruopp, Tanner Eberle, Kyle Neuber). Eric Roy, who has been in Allen for the past week skating with the team at their informal skates will also be at the San Jose camp but his situation is different because he signed with San Jose in the off season. In addition, Spencer Asuchak is going to camp with the Toronto Marlies and Chris Crane with the Chicago Wolves. Most of these players will be back in Allen in time to play in the preseason game in Wichita next Saturday (October 8).

– If you saw the official press release from the team there will be just nine signed players at training camp tomorrow. Forwards Tristan King, Kale Kerbashian, Chad Costello, Gary Steffes, and J.P. LaFontaine. Defensemen Aaron Gens, Mike Gunn and Joel Chouinard and goalie Riley Gill. Until the other players return from the AHL camps, coach Martinson will have other players (as many as nine per the team press release) signed to tryout agreements so he can run all of the drills and scrimmages in training camp.

– Training camp is open to the public and the players are scheduled to be on the ice at 9:45 in the community rink, unless something has changed over the weekend.

– All of the hockey experts I talk to feel the team that coach Martinson has signed this season is the best team in his five years as head coach in Allen. And this team will only get better with some dynamic players being assigned by San Jose. However, you don’t win a championship on paper and you certainly don’t win them in October. If this team doesn’t get hit with a rash of injuries and if there are not too many AHL call ups where the player never returns, it could be another great year for the Americans.

DID YOU KNOW: Winning a single championship in any professional sport is special. Winning four championships in a row is nearly impossible and few have been able to accomplish the feat. As the Allen Americans pursue their fifth straight championship here are the record holders in major sports.

NBA: The Boston Celtics are the only NBA team that has won four straight championships and they won eight straight from 1959-66.

MLB: The New York Yankees took home four championships in a row from 1936-39 and five in a row from 1949-53.

NHL: The Montreal Canadiens won five Stanley Cups in a row from 1956-60 and four in a row from 1976-79. The New York Islanders won four in a row from 1980-83.

NFL: No NFL team has ever won four straight championships. The Green Bay Packers are the only team to win three consecutive championships, having done so twice from 1929-31 and 1965-67.

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