ALLEN, Texas – There were no roster moves yesterday for the Allen Americans so maybe things will be stable for the upcoming three games in three days. The Americans travel to Wichita for a game on Friday, play Wichita again on Saturday at home and then travel to Tulsa for a game on Sunday. It is the nature of the schedule that Allen has only three games between October 14-25 (12 days) but the three games will be played in a period of 48 hours.
– With so many practice days before and after the three games this weekend I thought today would be a good day to talk about practice. You can’t talk about practice without remembering NBA star Allen Iverson’s thoughts on practice, a real classic.
– Lots of practice time early in the season is critical as the team is still forming. Over half the players on the roster were not in Allen at the beginning of last season. In order to implement the offensive and defensive systems and expectations, it takes a lot of repetition. The goal is to have players instinctively do what the system calls for without having to think about where they should be, where they should pass and who should they cover. With enough repetition, players will react the right way without thinking.
– As the season progresses, there are fewer practice days so laying the foundation early is critical. The month of December is a good example. The Americans play 15 games and take road trips to Kansas City, Wheeling, Reading, and Utah. If you add in travel days, no practice during the Christmas break, a day off for the players here and there, it is realistic to expect as few as five practices the entire month. It is difficult to make adjustments and work on problems with such little practice time.
– If you watch a lot of Steve Martinson practices there is a certain ebb and flow you pick up. He told me a few years ago he doesn’t like to have practice more than three days in a row because he gets tired of yelling at the players and they get tired of listening to him yell. There is little doubt Martinson’s presence on the ice creates a tone that is very different if you have watched practices conducted by others. It doesn’t mean there are not light moments at practice as Martinson has never lost his ability to chirp but there is no doubt he is in command.
– If you take a 20,000-foot view of practice this week it goes something like this. Monday and Tuesday was devoted to a lot of skating drills. Some of the drills Martinson uses he has been using for 20 years. but he is always looking for something new as well. He will be using some things he has acquired from the new affiliation with the Minnesota Wild. With the amount of speed on the roster, you can see the emphasis on everyone moving with speed. If you watched practice the last two days there wasn’t much talking by coach Martinson, it was a lot of skating drills.
– Things will change today and tomorrow and practice will slow down. Martinson will spend more time at the whiteboard, talking systems, and strategy between drills. There will be time spent on special teams. The power play didn’t convert in the two games last weekend (0-6) so that will get plenty of attention.
– The team will practice Thursday and then head to Wichita after lunch. A lot will have been accomplished in four days of practice this week.
– One of the many quotes you hear over and over from Martinson is, “You can’t be the best player if you don’t work the hardest.” He expects that in practice as much as in the games.
– I started with a video about practice. I thought I would end with a different point of view about practicing. This video is about the importance of hockey IQ.
– The Pink in the Rink specialty jerseys the Americans will wear at the home opener on Saturday will be auctioned off right after the game with a live auction. This season the team will be using a combination of live auctions and online auctions when they wear specialty jerseys. They haven’t announced all of the details yet but on Saturday it will be a live auction.
– The Americans will be wearing a Minnesota Wild inspired jersey during warmups. Here is a look at the jersey if you haven’t seen it.
– Former Allen player Colby McAuley, who is under contract with San Jose, was loaned to Orlando at the beginning of the season. Colby has gotten off to a great start with the Solar Bears. In three games he has four points (3G, 1A). He leads his team in goals, points, shooting percentage (42.9%) and has a game-winning goal. His three goals are tied for the league lead. Colby was a popular player in Allen who was good in all situations, played both ends of the ice and played with a lot of grit. Hopefully, his great start in Orlando will earn him a trip back to the AHL with the San Jose Barracuda.
Did You Know?
The Jacksonville Icemen have a roster with 1335 AHL games played which is tops in the ECHL followed by Wichita with 1159 AHL games played. By comparison, Allen has 556 AHL games played on their roster. Here is a list of Allen players with AHL games played.
204 – Joel Chouinard
139 – Kevin Sundher
60 – Spencer Asuchak
34 – Chase Lang
19 – Dante Salituro
17 – Casey Pierro-Zabotel
17 – Pavel Jenys
15 – C.J. Motte
10 – Eric Roy
9 – Dalton Thrower
9 – David Makowski
9 – Thomas Frazee
7 – Chad Butcher
5 – Zach Pochiro
2 – Josh Atkinson
0 – Jordy Stallard
0 – Braylon Shmyr
0 – Tate Olson
0 – Miles Liberati
0 – Alex Breton
0 – Jeremy Brodeur
0 – Mike Gunn
0 – Josh Thrower