ALLEN, Texas – As I was listening to Allen head coach Steve Martinson address fans at the team store yesterday about the upcoming season the list of things to write about kept getting longer and longer. It dawned on me even though the first on-ice training camp session for the Americans is still a week away, the 2018-19 season has already begun. After the gathering, a fan came up to me and said, “I keep checking to see when you will start writing your daily blog again and am disappointed when there isn’t a new post.” On my way home, it was obvious today would be the start of daily articles.
It is year number seven for me and it has evolved over time, but the one thing that has remained constant is the focus on you, the reader. For some, it is information you can’t find elsewhere, for others, it is the aggregation of information from many sources and for more, it is a different perspective informed by the time I spend with the coaches and players. I always keep in mind some of you are not on social media and don’t surf Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. getting the latest information. I have learned over time it is not important to be first with information, it is important to add value.
Each year I set my goals for how to make it better. This season is no different and there are some exciting changes coming. Some of the changes I can’t talk about yet but I can share my goal of doing more player focused stories and special interest pieces. I also plan on providing more video content as well as more photos.
Enough philosophy, let’s get started.
– Three players were added to the roster this week to bring the total to 21. The three added were forward Ben Duffy and defensemen Alex Breton and David Makowski. I will have more detail about all three over the next week but here is the info released by the Americans:
– Ben Duffy’s press release:
– David Makowski and Alex Breton press release: https://allenamericans.com/americans-bring-back-all-star-makowski-add-rookie-defenseman-breton/
– Here is the current roster:
– Martinson is no longer wearing a sling after his shoulder replacement surgery five weeks ago but he still has a long rehab ahead of him. For this type of surgery they have to cut the tendons so it takes a long time for healing. Martinson is doing light weight training on the shoulder and since his happy place is when he is working out, going to the gym to rehab is not an issue.
Here are some of the highlights from the player announcements/Q&A with Martinson:
– Martinson started out with the long-awaited announcement that all-star defenseman David Makowski will return to the Americans for his fourth season. Makowski has 142 points (44G, 98A) in 152 games with Allen. He has been runner-up as the ECHL’s Defenseman of the Year the last two seasons. Martinson talked about the importance of Makowski to the Americans and his plan is to stay in Allen all season. David could have attended AHL training camp but chose to stay in Allen. Makowski recently got married and plans to make his post-hockey home in Allen. Martinson mentioned as long as David wants to play he will have a spot with the Americans. I will have an article about Makowski sometime this week to get the details about his new approach to pro hockey, preparing for life after his playing days are done and his expectation for the upcoming season.
– Defenseman Alex Breton and forward Chad Butcher leave today (Sunday) for Iowa where they will take part in the Iowa training camp. Martinson talked about the fact Breton is a rookie who was the captain of his junior team (Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL) last season. Alex was the second leading scorer on his team last season as a defenseman. He will fit Allen’s style of play because he can carry the puck and jump in the play. He also led his team in plus/minus. Martinson described Butcher as a player from the Western Hockey League who had 103 points (27G, 76A) his last season in juniors with Medicine Hat. Chad was under contract with Bakersfield (AHL) last season and spent most of the season with Wichita. He is the type of player that can carry the puck, move the puck and make plays.
– Martinson also introduced veteran Thomas Frazee who had a big impact after he joined the Americans at the end of last season with 12 points (7G, 5A) in 16 games but was not eligible for the playoffs.
Martinson said, “Frazee just showed up early. He told me since he had to leave early last season he was coming back early this season. He has been going around the apartments figuring out which stuff he wants, which unit he wants. A smart veteran move if you ask me.”
– Martinson shared that other Allen players attending camp with the Iowa Wild include Braylon Shmyr, Josh Atkinson and Josh Thrower. Thrower was injured during the prospects tournament but should be cleared before Iowa plays their preseason games. Matt Foget will not be going to the Iowa camp even though he was at the Wild prospect tournament.
– When describing his overall assessment of the team, Martinson said:
“We have a good mix of skill, we have speed, we have size and we have toughness. I think our defense will be the most skilled and mobile we have had. We have more players this year than in the past that signed to play for us and not move up to the AHL. For the young guys, it is nice because they aren’t on a team that has 20 players looking to move up.”
– Martinson talked at length about the brand new apartments the team has secured for the upcoming season. They are in the Watters Creek area of Allen and are called “The Reflection at Montgomery Ridge.” The apartments are the best the team has ever had. The location is great for players without vehicles with restaurants, grocery store, and shopping all in close proximity along with parks. The players are going to love their accommodations this season. A question was asked about how many players live in one apartment. The CBA (collective bargaining agreement) does not speak to the number of players in one apartment. The CBA requirement is for each player to have their own furnished bedroom. This year, the apartments are two bedrooms so there will be two players per apartment if they are not married. The exact wording from the CBA is as follows:
“Each player without a spouse shall be entitled to his own furnished bedroom in a furnished apartment. Each player and spouse shall be entitled to a furnished apartment or residence of his own.”
Note the keyword is spouse so girlfriends that accompany the players will be sharing the apartment with another player.
– It is clear to me training camp will be more competitive than in the past. There are no “camp fillers” on the roster and the list above does not include the players that will be assigned by the Wild. Martinson has mentioned more than once if players show up out of shape they will be gone. Some familiar names are sure to be traded or released before the end of camp, which is only a little over two weeks away.
– Martinson mentioned that Matt Foget will not be attending Iowa Wild training camp. Matt had an assist and the tying goal at the end game in a shootout win in one game and a key assist in the third-place game when he attended the Wild prospect tournament. Despite his offensive prowess at the prospect tournament, he did not earn an invite to the AHL camp with the Iowa Wild. To play at the next level it takes more than offense. You have to win puck battles, be a good checker and play both ends of the ice.
– If you want to track the Iowa Wild training camp here is the press release with the schedule. Note they play two preseason games in Minnesota next Friday and Saturday followed by an off day on Sunday. https://www.iowawild.com/news/detail/iowa-wild-training-camp-opens-sept-24
– If you have been tracking the Minnesota Wild training camp you may have noticed they started with 61 players in camp, made a cut to 55 players last Monday and then to 35 players yesterday. Of the players cut yesterday, 14 of them were assigned to the Iowa Wild who start their training camp tomorrow. One of those 14 players sent to Iowa of particular interest to Allen fans is goalie C.J. Motte. Motte is the third goalie on the Iowa roster and is on a try-out contract. It would appear Motte is slated to be the fifth goalie in the Wild system (two in Minnesota, two in Iowa) which means it is likely he would be the goalie sent to Allen to play and be available as the depth goalie for the Wild in case of injury. Motte is no stranger to ECHL fans having played in Quad City the last two seasons. He had nine AHL games last season including six for the Iowa Wild where he had a 2.13 GAA and .926 save percentage.
– Training camp starts next weekend for the Allen Americans with physicals on Saturday (29th) and the first on-ice practice on Sunday (30th). Fans are invited to attend the Sunday practice which will be in the Community Rink from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm.
– Ice time the following week (October 1-4) will be at 10:00 am and typically lasts for two hours. All of these practices will be in the Community Rink. Fans are encouraged to stop by and watch training camp.
– Is it just me or does it say something about the culture of the Allen Americans and the leadership shown by the four veterans on the roster that they are all in Allen, working together to be ready when training camp starts. Joel Chouinard, Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Spencer Asuchak and Frazee are not only talented but are the type of character players you want in your veteran group.
Did You Know?
ECHL teams are still putting together their rosters and many changes will take place before the season begins put as of today according to the website eliteprospects.com the Allen Americans have the fifth youngest team in the ECHL. Here are the five youngest teams by average age.
23.86 – Wichita Thunder
24.31 – Norfolk Admirals
24.33 – Wheeling Nailers
24.47 – Maine Mariners
24.52 – Allen Americans