ALLEN, TX – Two weeks away from writing was quite the experience. Just returned from a great vacation to the national parks of Costa Rica.

I want to start out this morning by thanking Mary Betz and Ted Hosterman for writing the blog in my absence. They did a terrific job and put in a lot of time doing game previews and recaps plus numerous interviews to give readers background stories about the Allen Americans coaches, staff and some of the newly signed players. Thanks again Ted and Mary!

With the regular season complete Allen can now focus on the playoffs and their first round opponent, the Idaho Steelheads. There will be an in-depth playoff preview on Wednesday but a couple of interesting notes about playing Idaho. The Steelheads lost the West Division title on the final day of the season on Saturday when Missouri defeated them at home 3-1, while Colorado beat Alaska 5-3 in Anchorage. Both teams ended the season with 86 points but Colorado won the West Division on the first tie breaker (wins, excluding shootout wins).

The interesting thing about how things played out in the Alaska vs Colorado game is the Aces started a 45 year old goalie who had never played a professional game. Alaska has long been eliminated from the playoffs, so they decided to honor their long time EBUG (emergency back up goalie) by signing him to a standard player contract so he could play. The night was a financial success as the game was a sellout. There was post game jersey auction of the team’s warm-up jerseys and the goalie’s jersey went for $2400. For a game that impacted who would win the division title, it makes one wonder if other professional leagues would have allowed this to happen. To be fair, the ECHL approved the contract and the Idaho coach had no comment. Here is the complete story: http://www.adn.com/article/20160407/after-25-years-emergency-back-goalie-barneys-ready-his-aces-close

With Colorado winning the West Division it means they will take on the sixth seed (Utah Grizzlies) while Allen takes on the fifth seed (Idaho). Every player and coach I talked to preferred to play Colorado. Not because of the match up but because Allen will be taking the bus to their away games and Colorado is 842 miles from Allen while Idaho is 1605 miles away. Most fans were happy to hear the first round opponent would be Idaho because Colorado has been playing the best hockey in the Western Conference going 8-1-1-0 over their last ten games.

Travel could certainly play a role in this series for the Americans. Game five is scheduled for April 23 in Idaho and game six is scheduled for April 26 in Allen. While Idaho will fly to Allen, the Americans will be taking “Big Red” back to Allen. A trip that will take close to 30 hours on the bus.

Here is the first round schedule:
Game 1: Thursday, April 14th Idaho at Allen 7:05 PM CST
Game 2: Saturday, April 16th Idaho at Allen 7:05 PM CST
Game 3: Wednesday, April 20th Allen at Idaho 8:10 PM CST
Game 4: Friday, April 22nd Allen at Idaho 8:10 PM CST
Game 5: Saturday, April 23rd Allen at Idaho 8:10 PM CST if necessary
Game 6: Tuesday April 26th Idaho at Allen 7:05 PM CST if necessary
Game 7: Wednesday April 27th Idaho at Allen 7:05 PM CST if necessary

PLAYOFF ROSTER:

– Coach Martinson must submit the playoff roster this afternoon (3:00 pm EDT). The playoff roster can be up to 23 players (19 active 4 reserves). There are many decisions that must be made today. Will there be three goalies on the the playoff roster? My guess is the answer is yes. Will Aaron Gens make the playoff roster? This depends on the doctor’s report as to when Aaron can start skating and play, but knowing Gens the answer will be yes. Will additional amateurs be signed? Look for one or two new names to be on the playoff roster. Will a slot be saved for players eligible for the playoffs but currently in the AHL like Nikita Jevpalovs? This will depend on a conversation with San Jose. What players, if any, who have been with the team all year will be released or left off the playoff roster? Depending on the answers to the previous questions it might be necessary.

– One thing is for sure is there will be some surprises when the playoff roster is released this afternoon. It will be a busy day at practice for coach Martinson as the team prepares for Idaho and it will be a busy day for general manager Martinson as he makes the decisions on the playoff roster. It is the kind of day Allen fans are thankful they have a guy like Martinson with 20 years of head coaching experience at the helm.

ECHL MVP:

– The ECHL will announce the league MVP on Friday and Chad Costello is certainly one of the top candidates for the award. Chad has had another amazing year but I am sure his thoughts are the same as mine. If he wasn’t the MVP last season when he had 125 points and won the scoring championship by the widest margin in league history (45 points), had more assists then any other player in the ECHL had total points, was second in goals scored (41), first in power play points, third in plus/minus and played in all 72 games for his team it is hard to see the same voters giving him the MVP this season.

While Chad was not the the ECHL MVP as voted by the teams and media he was selected as the MVP by his peers as he won the PHPA (Professional Hockey Players Association) ECHL Most Valuable Player Award.

Here is why I think Chad should be the MVP this season:
– He once again won the ECHL scoring championship with 103 points (24 goals 79 assists).
– Other than Chad, there has not been a 100 point scorer in the ECHL in seven years.
– Chad had more assists (79) than anyone else in the ECHL had total points except Trent Daavettlia who had 80 points.
– Chad won the scoring title by 23 points which is the fifth largest margin in the history of the ECHL.
– Chad is the only player in the last 20 years who has won the scoring title by at least 20 points.
– Chad was the only player on his team who played in all 72 games. A true ironman who has never missed a game (regular season or playoffs) as an Allen American.
– Chad had at least one assist in the last 19 games of the season. This streak is second all time in the ECHL.
– Chad scored an average of 1.43 points per game which was the highest average in the ECHL.
– The Allen Americans won 38 games in regulation and overtime. Chad was involved in the game winning goal in 19 of the 38 victories.
– Chad served as co-captain of the Allen Americans.

– Chad is finishing his second year in Allen and has 228 points in those two years. The most points any other player in the ECHL has in the last two years is Fort Wayne’s Shawn Szydlowski who has 149 points. Chad isn’t concerned about individual awards as it is another Kelly Cup that has his focus. Allen fans realize there is no player in the league that contributes as much to his team as Chad Costello.

DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans finished the season with 89 points which was tied for the second most points in the Western Conference. However, it is the lowest point total in the history of the franchise. Here are the point totals by season, conference finish and playoff results. The points were adjusted by using average points per game to equate to a 72 game season.

2015-16:   89 points    (finished second in conference) – ?????
2014-15:   106 points  (finished first in conference)     –  won championship
2013-14:   90 points   (finished third in conference)     –  won championship
2012-13:   95 points   (finished first in conference)      –  won championship
2011-12:   95 points   (finished second in conference)  – lost in first round
2010-11:   106 points (finished first in conference)      –  lost in third round
2009-10:   100 points (finished second in conference) –  lost in championship final

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