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ALLEN, Texas – I feel like I need to reintroduce myself after a month without an article. We arrived home yesterday afternoon after a 20-hour trip that started in Helsinki. Nancy and I just spent a glorious month cruising around the Baltic Sea visiting Stockholm, Sweden. Our 84-passenger ship with a crew of 60 cruised right by Greger Hanson‘s hometown (an island named Lidingo that is part of the Stockholm archipelago). We then headed to St. Petersburg, Russia which was full of World Cup fans from all over the world. Russia was followed by a stop in Tallin, Estonia and Riga Latvia (home of Nikita Jevpalovs). We then visited Gdansk, Poland and Copenhagen, Denmark.

On the second half of our trip, we set a course up the western coast of Norway aboard an authentic steamer ship that regularly sails into local harbors to deliver supplies and travelers to hard to reach towns. These are pristine lands of steep rugged mountains, narrow ocean inlets, and vivid blue fjords. We ended up near the top of the world at the northernmost land mass in Europe (North Cape), the land of the midnight sun. We then toured northern Finland (Lapland) by bus before flying back to Helsinki.

This isn’t a travel blog so I will stop here, but in addition to eating fresh fish almost everyday (salmon, halibut, cod, trout, wolf fish, arctic char, white fish,) I did get to go net fishing in Ivalo, Finland which is above the Arctic Circle. There are so few people in this part of the world with so many fish individuals are allowed to fish with nets (60 meters long) when fishing in lakes.

Two things worth mentioning about a visit to Lapland is there are reindeer everywhere and you think of temps way above the arctic circle to be cold. Turns out there was a heat wave during our visit. July high temps are normally in the mid 60’s but they were in the mid 80’s this past week. The locals were suffering as well as the tourists since none of the hotels have air conditioning. The reindeer were also suffering with the hot weather and a bumper crop of mosquitoes. Reindeer walking down the highway was commonplace as they tried to escape the mosquitoes in the forest.

– I sure didn’t miss much from the Allen Americans in the last month with player announcements. Casey Pierro-Zabotel was announced before I left. Since then captain Joel Chouinard‘s return was announced. I will have a blog post in the next week about preparing for life after hockey which is based on Joel’s experience from being drafted by the NHL to planning for his future outside of hockey while still playing professionally.

– The Americans announced their third player on Thursday with the signing of forward Chad Butcher.  Allen has a history of recruiting from the Western Hockey League (WHL) and Chad had a great career in the WHL including 103 points (27G, 76A) in 68 games in his overage year with the Medicine Hat Tigers where he spent his entire junior career.

This is Butcher’s second pro season as he was signed to an AHL contract last season with the Edmonton Oilers organization (Bakersfield Condors). Even though Chad was undrafted by the NHL he was outstanding in the Oilers prospect camp last September playing with the Oilers #1 draft pick Kailer Yamamoto. One headline (Edmonton Journal) read, “All Eyes on Yamamoto but Butcher Leads Oilers Prospects”.

If you read articles about Chad the consensus you get is he is a proven scorer that is a great playmaker, has a lethal shot and plays both ends of the ice. Butcher is a great skater with speed which may come from the fact he was a speedskater when he was younger. He had a pond behind his house growing up so he had plenty of practice time close to home. Finally, if you are an Allen Americans fan you have to be thrilled about signing a player from Kamloops, British Columbia, the same hometown as Spencer Asuchak and Casey Pierro-Zabotel.

– The Americans will finally officially announce their new affiliation today after a long time getting all of the details/paperwork in place. From when Steve Martinson first mentioned the possibility of this affiliation he was very excited about what it could mean for Allen in getting some good young players assigned to the Americans for development. The announcement will be made via Facebook Live so you have an option to watch the announcement if you can’t make it to the AEC. You never know with Martinson, there just may be some breaking news in addition to the affiliation announcement.

– I know some fans are getting antsy with the roster for next season. I will have a roster update in the next few days after I have a chance to check in with Martinson, who is still enjoying his waterfront home in Rockford. One thing for sure is there are many more players signed than have been announced. Typically by this point in the season, Martinson has at least 15 players under contract. Based on who was given qualifying offers, players that have not been signed elsewhere and other information I should be able to make some educated guesses on the roster.

John Snowden spent part of the 2013-14 season with Allen Americans and has been an assistant/associate coach for the Orlando Solar Bears the last three seasons. John had a long pro career but I first noticed him in 2013 in the old CHL when he was playing for the Fort Worth Brahmas. John scored five goals on seven shots in a game that year against the Arizona Sundogs. John was just hired as an assistant coach for the new ECHL franchise, Newfoundland Growlers, who are affiliated with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Orlando was the Leafs’ former ECHL affiliate. John’s wife (Janelle) summed up the move to Newfoundland from Orlando this way, “We will be trading in our flip-flops for snowshoes.” Best of luck to the Snowden family on their new adventure.

– If you are on social media you may have noticed that Garrett Clarke, who is the Allen Americans career penalty minutes leader (432) by over 100 minutes recently started writing a blog ( He says this in his first blog post, “After years of seeing or hearing other people tell my story, I figure it is my turn.” Since I was one of those people telling his story when he arrived in Allen as a 19-year-old in his first pro season I look forward to what he has to say. Here is my story about Garrett from 2012 which was intended to be from his perspective.

DID YOU KNOW: Garrett Clarke is the career leader in penalty minutes for the Allen Americans with 432. Did you know tied for second all-time at 331 penalty minutes are David Makowski and Bryan Moore.

The all-time leader in average penalty minutes per game is Derek Mathers who had 274 penalty minutes in 59 games with the Americans for an average of 4.64 penalty minutes per game.

No Allen American can top coach Steve Martinson who averaged 5.11 penalty minutes per game in his 179 games played in the AHL and 4.98 penalty minutes per game in his 49 NHL games.

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