ALLEN, TX – The Allen Americans head back to practice today to prepare for three home games this week. It will be what I think is a first ever back to back home games on a Wednesday and Thursday night. The Americans will finish the week on Saturday night with a game against Tulsa who they beat twice at home this weekend.

–  The two games against Missouri on Wednesday and Thursday will be absolutely critical for both teams. Allen is three points behind Colorado with a game in hand for first place in the division. Missouri is two points behind Alaska with a game in hand for the fourth and final playoff spot in the division. The Americans and Mavericks both need four points out of these two games if they want to achieve their goals. Midweek games are tough for a lot of fans but these games are worthy of attendance.

– Allen got some good news yesterday and that is Greger Hanson has returned from his stint with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL). Whenever a player gets a chance in the AHL you always hope they don’t return but when you hear they are headed back to Allen there is joy involved. Just the way it is. Sorry, not sorry.

Tanner Eberle will not play on Wednesday as result of an injury he sustained on Saturday and Bryan Moore is listed as day to day. Getting back Hanson is certainly timely given how shorthanded the team could be this week.

– I came across this story written by Blake Sebring of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel and was struck how similar it is to what I have been feeling about the Allen Americans play recently.

A couple of sentences really struck home. This is what Blake has to say about Fort Wayne but you could substitute Allen and be right on:

“They’ve been coasting for a few weeks, winning on superior talent despite inferior execution. They’ve let teams they should have handled quickly hang around or they have gone all out to erase deficits they never should have had. They’ve been dominating in third periods and usually pretty good in the first, but never in all three.”

If you read this entire story, with a couple of exceptions, you would think Blake is writing about Allen. Maybe all good teams are going through the same thing this time of year. Here is the link:

– You may have seen the announcement that Aaron Dell is the San Jose Sharks nominee for this year’s Bill Masterton Trophy which is awarded each year by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association to the NHL player that best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. Masterton is the only NHL player who has died as a direct result of an injury that happened during a game.

This is especially meaningful to me because I have written about how Aaron, from when he was a little kid was never “the guy” and had to beat out others that were considered better than him. Over and over and over again at every level he started out as the number two goalie and through hard work, perseverance and performance became the top guy.

I have also written in the blog that I grew up in Bloomington, MN and was a big North Stars fan as my mom was the first aid nurse at the Metropolitan Sports Center where the team played. Those were the days before protective netting so there were many more fan related injuries at that time in addition to the routine accidents and illnesses. I knew Bill Masterton only as any 20-year-old kid who is a big hockey fan knows the players on his favorite team. I was at the Minnesota North Stars game on January 15, 1968 when Masterton was legally checked by two Oakland Seals defensemen which resulted in the head injury that cost him his life. Needless to say that incident had a big impact on me, a young impressionable college kid who had never experienced being a witness to death before. Little did I know at that time that just nine later months I would be an infantryman in Vietnam and witness death on a routine basis.

As you can tell, the Masterton Trophy has been special to me since it was first awarded following the 1967-68 regular season. Things have come full circle when you find out Aaron Dell is nominated for the award this season. Not sure if Aaron will be one of the finalists for the Bill Masterton Trophy as it has gone most often to players that have overcome illness or family tragedies but to be nominated for the award is a great honor. And Aaron is the epitome of the award with his perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. Here is a link to the Sharks press release about Dell’s nomination.

DID YOU KNOW: As the playoffs approach there will be plenty of talk about which division is the best. Thought it would be interesting to see how the Mountain Division has fared against the other divisions during the regular season. Here is the Mountain Division’s record against the other three divisions.

North Division – 13-12-1-1
South Division – 23-12-1-3
Central Division – 68-41-4-4

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