A lot has happened concerning the Allen roster over the last twenty-four hours but no matter what is happening with individual players the most important thing is getting ready for a game tonight in Tulsa against the Oilers.

The game tonight will be the fifteenth meeting between Allen and Tulsa but only the third since December 28th. After playing twelve times in the first two months of the season these teams have played only twice in the last three months. The most recent meeting was the Allen 8-2 win at home on Sunday. After tonight Allen and Tulsa will close out the seventeen game season series with a game in Allen on Sunday and the finale back in Tulsa next Tuesday.

Despite the 8-2 lopsided loss to the Americans on Sunday Tulsa has been playing some great hockey recently. They have won their last three home games allowing just one goal in each of the three games while scoring fifteen goals of their own.

For Allen the game tonight will be a chance to build on the momentum of winning their last two games after struggling for almost two months. A win tonight would be the first three game win streak since January 19.   In the fourteen previous games Allen is 9-4-0-1 against Tulsa. On the road in Tulsa the Americans are 4-1-0-1.

Here is a statistical comparison:

Team Record: Allen (41-14-5-3) – Tulsa (33-26-1-3)
Points: Allen (90) – Tulsa (70)
League Rank: Allen (4th) – Tulsa (13th)
Goals For: Allen (253) – Tulsa (223)
Goals Against: Allen (184) – Tulsa (218)
Goal Differential: Allen (+69) – Tulsa (+5)
Team Plus/minus: Allen (+247) – Tulsa (+73)
Power Play %: Allen (21.9% on the road) – Tulsa (13.8% at home)
Penalty Kill %: Allen (86.1% on the road) – Tulsa (77.6% at home)
Team PIM’s Per Game: Allen (23.0) – Tulsa (19.1)
Record Last 5 Games: Allen (2-3) – Tulsa (4-1)

The leading scorer for Allen against Tulsa is Chad Costello who has twenty-six points (12 goals 14 assists) in the 14 games. T.J. Caig who scored both Tulsa goals on Sunday leads the way for the Oilers with eighteen points (7 goals 11 assists).

The referee for the game tonight is Zac Blazic (#9) who is very familiar to Allen fans from his many years in the CHL.

ROSTER CHANGES:

Josef Fojtik – Josef was not claimed off waivers by any teams so he will be flying back to Europe today. Had the chance to get to know Josef a little bit in the short time he was in Allen and he is a great guy. He had an excellent shot and might have been the fastest skater on the team but things just didn’t work out for him. Wish him the best of luck.

Tony Turgeon – Had lots of questions why the San Antonio Rampage would send a player to Allen rather than their ECHL affiliate which is Cincinnati. This actually happens quite frequently and in Turgeon’s case this is being called a conditioning assignment. He was sent to Allen as it is close and he will be able to get some ice time. Don’t know how long the assignment will last but would not expect it to be long term.

Vincent Arseneau – Arseneau was assigned to Allen by Worcester yesterday and has already arrived and will play tonight. The plan is to start the game with Vincent on left wing with Valcak and Costello. Arseneau was recently acquired by Worcester in a trade with Manchester. Coach Martinson pushed Worcester to trade for Arseneau and give him an opportunity based on what he saw when Vincent was with Denver and played against Allen last year. To quote Martinson, “Arseneau is the most intimidating fore-checker we have played against in my three years in Allen. He hits hard and he likes to hit.”

Here Arseneau’s info courtesy of Elite Prospects:

Gary Steffes – Gary Steffes has been loaned to the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL) and flew to Milwaukee last night. He will be in the line up tonight when Milwaukee takes on the San Antonio Rampage. The Admirals have had numerous injuries as has their NHL affiliate Nashville. Steffes was signed to a PTO after Nashville called up rookie Kevin Fiala for the first time. Fiala was Nashville’s first round draft choice this past year. What a great opportunity for Gary and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Not only is he the run away leader in goals scored in the ECHL, he is a hard worker, plays both ends of the ice and will be great in the locker room. Found this assessment of Gary’s coming to Milwaukee at admiralsroundtable.com:

“What will the Admirals forward lines end up being tonight and how will all these recent shots get converted into actual goals? Perhaps recent PTO signing Gary Steffes could help. It is his first chance in the AHL since the 2012-13 season and he has exploded for 73 points (44 goals, 29 assists) in the ECHL this season. Steffes has tallied 16 points (9 goals, 7 assists) in 10 games in the month of March alone. What I like about the Steffes signing is that it is a short term solution to the current Nashville Predators injury bug that has taken two of the Admirals more active offensive skill players. While Steffes might not be a Kevin Fiala or Viktor Arvidsson he is also not Fiala or Arvidsson. He hasn’t had the proper chance to really prove himself at the AHL level and this could be the icing on the cake for Steffes in an ECHL season that has been massive from him. He’ll be eager to please the Admirals and hungry to earn an AHL spot here, there, or anywhere and the Admirals are the possible launch pad for him to do that. He could only be here for a few games or more. Who knows. But he is here now and that’s more AHL daylight than he’s seen in a long time. Can his play translate with the Admirals? We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Good luck Gary Steffes!

JACK COMBS:

You have most likely heard by now that Missouri waived Jack Combs yesterday so the waiver process has started again and another team or teams will claim him today. If you follow social media or message boards you undoubtedly have heard all sides of this issue and at this point no minds will be changed. The teams that claim Jack have every right to do so and Jack has every right to say where he wants to play. Both sides will make the decisions that they see is the best for them. With that said, here is some old and maybe some new information for everyone to consider.

Allen waived Combs on February 14 as it was the ONLY possible way they could get him back to Allen. Coach Martinson had worked out an agreement with Stockton before Jack was waived and both teams were aware of what would transpire. Won’t go into all of the rules but it was possible but unlikely that all the teams that had claimed Combs would rescind their claims and he could then be immediatley traded back to Allen which Stockton had agreed to do. By the time the trade deadline came around (March 12) all but two teams had rescinded their claims so that effort fell short.

The next step in the process, which Stockton also had agreed to with Allen, is Stockton would waive Combs after the trade deadline. Combs had made it clear to all ECHL teams his interest was to get back to the team he had signed with at the beginning of the season and he was not interested in playing anywhere but Allen.

Many fans don’t understand why it is even remotely possible that Jack would fall to Allen in the waiver process given the Americans have the fourth best record in the league. There are several reasons why teams would pass on what is arguably the best player in the league.

Jack’s salary when he was put on waivers by Stockton was $1700 per week so that is what teams that claim him will have to pay. Just for clarification that does not mean Jack’s salary was $1700 when he was with Allen as that is not the case. All it means is when he was waived by Stockton his salary was $1700 per week. With a weekly salary cap of $12,200 for twenty players $1700 is what three players would make on average. There is no way most teams would want to pay that much, even if they could afford it, to one player when their star players are making around $1000 per week.

Jack is a veteran so any team that claims him would have to have a veteran spot open or would have to release a veteran. Teams at the vet limit (four vets) would be reluctant to release a vet that had been with the team all year.

Some teams will make a decision that they do not want a player in their locker room if they don’t want to the there. It is not good for the locker room and most likely the player would not perform as well in an environment they don’t want to be in.

Combs has consistently said he is only interested in playing in Allen but he is well aware of the rules that allow other teams to claim him. Contrary to what many believe, he has not refused to report and won’t refuse to report to any team that claims him. He will let it be known he does not want to report but when a team provides an airline ticket he will be on the way. He has not missed a days pay yet and has no plans to do so in the future.

From what I understand teams can not talk to Combs before they put in a waiver claim so here is a scenario that may very well play out over the next couple of weeks. A team claims Jack and talks to him to tell him all of the great things about the team but says they can’t pay him $1700 a week and asks if he is willing to come for less money. Jack reiterates he has no interest in playing for any team other than Allen and he is unwilling to take a pay cut. It costs the team a days pay ($250) to talk to Jack. After they talk to him they decide it is not worth it and they place Jack on waivers and the whole process starts again.

The bottom line is Jack Combs has every right to ask teams not to claim him and articulate that he only wants to play in Allen. Teams have every right to claim him against his wishes and do what is in their best interest. And fans have the right to call him spoiled, uniformed, and say he created this problem so he should keep quiet and go play for the team that claims him. Other fans can have the opinion he should be allowed to go back to the team he was signed with and wants to play for.

There are no right or wrong answers as everyone is acting in their own self-interest. Hopefully this helped clarify two points. The first is Jack Combs wants to play in Allen and has made that clear to every team in the ECHL but he will report to any team that claims him and fulfills his contract requirements. The second point is most teams will decide not to claim Combs as it is not in their interest to do so even if it means he might end up back in Allen. Missouri didn’t waive Combs because he refused to report, they didn’t waive him because they struck some deal with Allen or any other ECHL team. The Mavericks waived Combs because they decided it was not in their best interest to have him report.

DID YOU KNOW: It is possible Jack Combs could be claimed and released several more times before the last day to place players on waivers which is April 11 at 5:00 p.m. EDT

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