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ALLEN, TX – When our kids were young back in the early 1980’s before computers, smartphones, and iPads, the house was full of children’s books, but when it came to story time there were just a few favorites. One of them was “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day” which tells the story of everything going wrong the entire day for Alexander.

It has been many years since I have read that book, but I do remember from the time he woke up to the time he went to bed nothing went right for Alexander. As he woke up the gum that was in his mouth the night before was in his hair. His two brothers found prizes in their breakfast cereal, and he didn’t. He didn’t get a window seat in the carpool going to school. His mom forgot to put dessert in his lunch bag. He went to the dentist after school and had a cavity. He visited his dad at his office and accidentally dialed Australia while playing with the phone. He had lima beans for dinner (which he hated). There was kissing on TV (which he hated). His mom made him wear his train pajamas (which he hated). And in the final incident of the night, the cat chooses to sleep with his brother.

– I share the Alexander story because the book actually popped into my head last night as I was thinking about what to write this morning. It started out in the early morning yesterday when I calculated how many games players had missed this season for any reason. I only included 11 players and the games lost was over 150.

30 games – Riley Gill (still on injured reserve)
22 games – Olivier Archambault
21 games – Zach Pochiro (still on injured reserve)
13 games – Vincent Arseneau (still on loan to Utica)
13 games – Bryan Moore
12 games – Zach Hall (out with an injury)
10 games – Spencer Asuchak (still recalled to San Jose)
10 games – Peter MacArthur (season-ending injury)
8  games – Mathieu Aubin
8  games – Dalton Thrower
4  games – David Makowski

– As I headed to practice, I thought that you could have the nucleus of a really good team just with the guys that won’t be at practice (Gill, Asuchak, Arseneau, MacArthur, Pochiro, Hall) but at least the defense is intact.

– It was a light practice conducted by the players and when I arrived, they were playing three on three cross-ice from the blue line to the end boards, just having fun. The first player off the ice greeted me with; I’m sick, I have to get to the locker room. The next player I talked to shared they were starting to feel better but got sick in Wichita.  At this time of year when the players are tired and energy depleted after playing so many games in a short period, they are susceptible to getting sick, and once it starts, it spreads because the players are in such close quarters all of the time. The hope is the worst of it is behind the team before the weekend.

– The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day ended with the announcement that three Allen players would be suspended for the warmup incident on Sunday. Mike Gunn was given a seven-game suspension, Dalton Thrower a three-game suspension and David Makowski a two-game suspension. Wichita players suspended were Guillaume Lepine (7 games), Dyson Stevenson (2 games) and Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin one game.

– Allen fans were obviously upset, especially those that come early to  each game to watch warmups. Everyone I talked to felt the incident was initiated by Wichita and the fact the entire Thunder team ended up inside the Allen blue line, when both teams are supposed to stay on their side of the red line, would mean the league would treat Wichita more harshly than Allen. The ECHL clearly didn’t see the incident the same way.

– I contacted Steve Martinson to get his reaction to the suspensions, and he was as surprised as the fans that witnessed the altercation. He had this to say:

“I was shocked at the suspensions. My only conversation allowed by the league was a statement that it was started by Dyson Stevenson and it was all on our side of the red line. I wasn’t expecting any suspensions. We had a fight in warmups two years ago after which I sent the video to the league and they didn’t do anything. In a game, if another player is the aggressor, you are allowed to defend yourself without being thrown out of the game. Common sense says it would apply to warmups as well.”

– Having covered many disciplinary incidents over the years, there are two things I have never been able to understand and both of them would make it more understandable/acceptable when the league hands out suspensions and fines.

The first is the fact that players get no opportunity to give their side of the story before the league makes a decision. I realize there are too many disciplinary cases to do this on everyone but when you are going to suspend a player for multiple games, it would be nice if the player had a few minutes to tell what happened from their perspective. Maybe the PHPA should try and address this in the upcoming CBA negotiations.

Secondly, it would be helpful if the league would explain why they make the decisions to suspend. There is some reason the ECHL decided two Allen players should be suspended longer than two Wichita players. Why not an explanation? When it appears discipline is being handed down by a dictator and the league is judge, jury, and executioner some transparency for those that support the ECHL (the fans) would be helpful.

– Because the three Allen players suspended were all defensemen it really puts coach Martinson in a bind. With only seven defensemen on the roster, he now has just four available for the games this weekend in Idaho (Chouinard, Roy, Josh Thrower, Liberati). The solution is not as simple as bringing in a couple of defensemen temporarily to replace the players that are suspended. You can’t take players off the active roster when they are suspended so the three suspended defensemen still take up an active roster slot and their salary still counts toward the salary cap.

It is possible Martinson may not be able to add any players for the weekend. He may have to move an injured player to the 21-day injured reserve. There are no easy solutions and it is pretty certain unless Martinson can pull a rabbit out of the hat, the Americans will be playing shorthanded in Idaho.

– Maybe the most pressing question in the Allen locker room this morning will be who has played defense in the past? It will be interesting to see if any of the forwards are in the defense line during drills at practice.

OTHER COMMENTS

– Through all of the ups and downs of the season with the injuries, call-ups, loans, sickness, healthy scratches and suspensions the Americans are down to three “Iron Men,” and the value of these players cannot be overstated. The three players to have played in all 32 Allen games are Joel Chouinard, Casey Pierro-Zabotel, and Eric Roy.

– An under-reported and under-appreciated stat speaks highly of the Allen goalie group. When Riley Gill was injured on October 21 (and has yet to return,) who would have thought the Allen Americans would have the best team save percentage in the ECHL on January 1. Allen’s #1 ranked save percentage of .920 not only leads the ECHL but is better than the Kelly Cup championship teams in 2016 (.909) and 2015 (.906). Rookie goalie Jeremy Brodeur leads the way with a .933 save percentage which is the second best in the ECHL.

– Last night was a special night for Allen fans as they had the opportunity to watch the two players that started their professional careers with the Americans and make it to the NHL going head-to-head. Aaron Dell stopped 30 of 31 shots to lead the San Jose Sharks to a 4-1 win in Montreal over Jordie Benn and the Canadiens.

DID YOU KNOW: Jordie Benn played in Allen in their first season (2009-10) after playing for the Victoria Salmon Kings (ECHL) in his first professional season. In 45 regular season games Jordie had 18 points (9 goals 9 assist). Allen went to the CHL championship finals in that first season before losing to Rapid City. Jordie had 11 points (2 goals 9 assists) in 20 playoff games. In 2010-11 Jordie spent the entire year with the Texas Stars (AHL) and made his NHL debut in 2011-12, just two years after playing in Allen. He now has 354 NHL games to his credit.

Aaron Dell signed his first professional contract out of the University of North Dakota with the Colorado Eagles in 2012-13 but was waived in training camp. He then signed with Allen, where two University of North Dakota alumni (Ed Belfour & Craig Ludwig) had just started working with the Americans. He was supposed to be the backup goalie to a veteran Kelly Cup MVP (Steve Silverthorn) but won the starting job and led the Americans to their first championship, playing in all 19 playoff games. Through hard work and perseverance Dell has now made it to the NHL where he has 35 games to his credit. He has played in 15 games for the Sharks this season with a GAA of 1.98 and a save percentage of .934 which are both ranked #3 in the NHL.

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