ALLEN, Texas – The numerous roster moves everyone knew were coming began yesterday as tryout players Mitch Vandergunst (forward) and Ben Owen (defenseman) were released. They both played above expectations during training camp and if they don’t get picked up by another ECHL team and end up in the SPHL it would not be a surprise to see them back in Allen should a need arise during the season.
– Also released yesterday was contract player Lucas Clark (forward) who is eligible for a waiver claim from the other 26 ECHL teams.
– The roster stands at 22 players this morning. The movement will continue today and tomorrow. Several players will be assigned from the Iowa Wild, there could be trades and more players will be released all in an effort to get the opening day roster in place by tomorrow (Wednesday) at 2:00 pm when the roster is due in the league office.
– One thing to keep in mind is the roster doesn’t freeze when it is sent to the league office tomorrow. Changes will continue once the season starts. After just a few games many teams will see they have weaknesses that need to be addressed and teams that have extra players will see the value of those players increase.
– Yesterday coach Steve Martinson sat down with Tommy Daniels to talk about training camp and the upcoming season. If you didn’t have a chance to listen to the interview on Mixlr here are some of the highlights.
“If we get everybody back from Iowa that I am expecting in the next couple of days it would be two forwards, a goalie, and Josh Thrower.”
“Chad Butcher is out for a couple of weeks and Kevin Sundher is probably out for this weekend. The advantage of having players hurt is the decision to decide who will sit out is easier. Our roster is so deep I won’t be able to play everyone. Some established players that have done well in this league will have to sit out.”
“I have a lot of offers for players so after this interview I will be headed back to the office and sort through what is the best thing to do.”
“I am not worried about getting pushed around with our roster, there is plenty of toughness in our lineup. We will have a good mix of skill, size, and grit when all is said and done and we have everyone in the lineup.”
“Vincent Arseneau has been sitting out in Utica (AHL) and they have 18 forwards on their roster so that may be an option since Allen has his ECHL rights.”
“I am talking to a power forward that could be in our lineup at some point.”
“This team will be the fastest team we have had in Allen. We have always had a lot of skilled players on the team but this year that skill will be deeper.”
“Our defensive group is faster and more mobile this season. Alex Breton skates as good as any of the forwards.”
“I really liked Dante Salituro in the preseason games. He has a lot of speed but also plays a greasy game which I like.”
“Last year we were hurt in the second half of the season when we ran into injuries, callups, and suspensions because we didn’t have the depth. So this season we signed more players that want to play in Allen and fewer guys that want to move up. The guys that want to move up are younger guys and not players like Arseneau and Archambault.”
“The goalie we expect to get from Iowa stops a lot of pucks and can play a lot. I am excited to get him and he will start on Friday.”
“I like my job and I like what I do and I enjoy it. I like interacting with the players. It is a lot easier to have fun when you have a good team and you are winning. Right now we feel really good about the lineup and feel good about the team. We don’t have a Vincent Arseneau type player yet so maybe I would like to add one more guy like that into the lineup and I am working on that.”
– Another change for the upcoming season that in my opinion will have a positive impact has to do with assistant coach Jason Deitsch. Jason won three championships with three different teams (Cincinnati Cycle team, Texas and Allen. He was a team-first player that would do anything for his teammates. Deitsch is a McKinney fireman and has helped out coach Martinson in the past when his scheduled allowed. Last season Jason was still in training, working on his EMT/paramedic certification after finishing his firefighter course, Texas Brahmas, Allen Americans) during his playing career and served as captain for his college training. Jason has now completed his training and has more control of his schedule so will be much more involved with the team. Jason will be a great sounding board for the players as well as coach Martinson.
Since I posted the info above I saw this information posted by Jason’s college hockey team (St. Norbert Green Knights) as they prepare for their upcoming season by highlighting players from the past. Some very impressive college stats indeed:
19 days remaining until we drop the puck!
#19 Jason Deitsch (‘05)
Deitsch sits atop the Green Knights all-time scoring list having scored 64 goals and 120 assists for 184 points. Jason’s 122 career games played ties Deitsch for most all-time with Shane Dickson (‘01) and Rob Smillie (‘99). His 120 career assists is an all-time mark at St. Norbert, and his 34 assists in the ‘03-‘04 season is also a team record.
Deitsch was named to the All-NCHA Team in all four seasons at St. Norbert (‘02 -honorable mention, ‘03, ‘04, ‘05). Jason was named the teams Most Valuable Player in 3 consecutive seasons (‘03, ‘04, ‘05), as well being named a First Team All-American in 3 consecutive seasons (‘03, ‘04, ‘05) Jason and his teammates won 4 consecutive NCHA Regular Season Titles, 3 NCHA Playoff Titles, and went to 4 NCAA Tournaments, playing in a Frozen Four in ‘02-‘03 and the National Championship game in ‘03-‘04.
Following his career at St. Norbert, Jason began a 9-year professional hockey career. Deitsch played 2 seasons with the UHL’s Kalamazoo Wings. 2 seasons with ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones. 3 seasons with the CHL’s Texas Brahmas. Jason played 34 games in the AHL with Wilkes-Barrie/Scranton and the Houston Aeros and also spent 34 games with Munich EHC. Deitsch finished his professional career playing 2 seasons with the CHL’s Allen Americans, where he served as team captain, captaining the Americans to the 2013 Presidents Cup Championship in his final professional season.
Today, Jason resides in Texas where he is an assistant coach for the ECHL’s Allen Americans.
– I plan on doing a full season preview after the opening day roster is announced on Wednesday. After last season when the Americans had their worst season under Steve Martinson with a .542 regular season winning percentage and a disappointing first-round playoff exit after taking a 3-0 series lead, the upcoming season is all the more important to show this team is determined to make a deep playoff run in 2018-19.
– There are six games scheduled for the ECHL’s opening night on Friday including three in the Mountain Division. In addition to Allen at Kansas City, Idaho opens in Wichita and Rapid City is at Utah. Getting off to a good start is imperative. A reminder that 80% of all playoff teams are decided by Thanksgiving.
DID YOU KNOW: I came across this stat on the ECHL Stats (@EchlStats) Twitter account which is a great follow for those on Twitter. This is a list of ECHL players from the last 10 years with the highest points per game average. A minimum of 150 games played was used as the criteria for this list. Maybe the most amazing thing about this list is five of the seven players (with asterisks) played for Steve Martinson. Costello, both Donati brothers, and Hanson had their best pro season (most points) playing for Martinson. Combs is the exception but he was scoring at 1.75 points per game clip in the one season he spent in Allen but only stayed for 32 games. He had 56 points (22G, 34A) and at that rate would have had well over 100 points for the entire season had he stayed.
1.593 – Chad Costello*
1.420 – Mark Derlago
1.398 – Tyler Donati*
1.362 – Justin Donati*
1.283 – Jack Combs*
1.165 – Eric Faille
1.153 – Greger Hanson*