ALLEN, TX – The Americans arrived safe and sound back in Allen last night after a successful opening weekend to start the 2017-18 ECHL hockey season. It is a long bus ride from Rapid City at 1050 miles and 18 hours of riding the highways.
The team will practice today but it will most likely be a “light practice” by normal standards. It actually makes a lot of sense to have a practice today after the team spent most of Sunday on the bus. With five days before the game Saturday night, the players will probably get a day off midweek. Coach Steve Martinson often says he gets tired of yelling at the players more than three days in a row and they get tired of listening to him yell at them more than three days in a row, so a midweek break is probably in order.
– As Martinson said after the two games in Rapid City the team has some things to clean up before the home opener against Orlando next weekend. He specifically mentioned play in front of their own net, backchecking and the power play as areas of emphasis.
– It is only two games into the season but when you look at the league-wide stats Allen is in a familiar spot in many categories. Tied for first in points (4), #1 in goals scored (13), #1 in penalty minutes (62), #1 in goal differential (+7) and #2 in shooting percentage (19.4%). However, there are some stats where Allen is in unfamiliar territory most notably being tied for last in power play percentage (0.0%) going 0-9 in Rapid City.
– If you watched the two games from Rapid City you undoubtedly noticed that David Makowski and Spencer Asuchak were wearing the “A’s” as alternate captains. I had a chance to ask Martinson about this and he shared he plans to name two additional players to be alternate captains. He has used various forms of team leadership over the past five years most notably with the captains (Costello & Steffes) the last two seasons. With so many leaders on this team having four with an “A” makes a lot of sense. You can expect to see two at home and two on the road and then do a switch at some point in the season. The best way to look at this, however, is Martinson has a pool of four alternate captains and he can mix and match them as necessary given injuries, call-ups etc.
– As the Americans prepare for two games against the Orlando Solar Bears on Saturday and Sunday, it won’t be quite the homecoming as expected. At one point, it looked like four former Allen players would be participating. Allen fans will still see Chris Crane and Orlando’s assistant coach, John Snowden. However, Tristan King was recently traded to Quad City and Darryl Bootland was placed on the 21-day injured reserve.
– It had to be a disappointing weekend all around for the Rapid City Rush especially with all of the excitement generated with a new coach and a new and improved team. On the ice, the Americans took it to the Rush beating them 8-3 on Friday and 5-3 on Saturday. Just as disappointing was the attendance at the two games. According to the ECHL attendance statistics, the Rush averaged only 3078 for the two games and are in last place in average attendance. Only 15 of the 27 ECHL teams have had home games thus far. It is still early and there is plenty of time for Rapid City to turns thing around but most franchises cannot sustain the losses that come with averaging only 3000 per game.
DID YOU KNOW: A reader asked which former Allen players are doing well overseas thus far this season. Here are former Allen players averaging at least a point per game. Stats courtesy of eliteprospects.com.
Austin Smith – Austin has 19 points (6 goals 13 assists) in 12 games playing in Italy
Wade MacLeod – Wade has 17 points (6 goals 11 assists) in 10 games playing in Germany
Spencer Edwards – Spencer has 16 points (8 goals 8 assists) in 13 games playing in France
Colton Yellow Horn – Colton has 14 points (5 goals 9 assists) in 12 games in the Czech Republic
Judd Blackwater – Judd has 14 points (4 goals 10 assists) in 13 games playing in Slovakia
Devin DiDiomete – Devin has 13 points (8 goals 5 assists) in nine games playing in Italy
Alex Lavoie – Alex has seven points (3 goals 4 assists) in six games playing in Finland