ALLEN, TX – The Allen Americans are now just two days before the home opener for season number nine at the Allen Event Center (AEC), and you can sense the anticipation no matter where you look.
Coach Steve Martinson is putting the team through the paces each day at practice building on the two wins in Rapid City last weekend. He will be focusing on special teams play (especially the 0-9 power play) today and tomorrow.
The sales staff is working overtime selling a few more groups, reaching out to season ticket holders that have not renewed and accommodating last-minute ticket requests. The players have also been making sales calls and delivering season tickets after practice. The team store is being prepared and will be in its old enclosed location.
The AEC staff has been tuning up/sprucing up the Zambonis so they are ready to go. The glass in the rink is being washed on the outside and buffed on the inside to remove all of the marks left by sticks and pucks. All of the new dasher board advertising will be installed tomorrow.
The equipment room is in pristine condition and the jerseys are ready to go. The game operations staff is interviewing players, selecting music, editing video for opening night. The Ice Angels are polishing their opening night performance.
Tommy Daniels is working on game notes and preparing his broadcast booth which will be from one of the suites this season rather than the perch up in the rafters of the AEC. Tommy did a dry run of the new broadcast location yesterday with a live coach’s show with Martinson; it was a 2017-18 season preview. Last but not least everyone is planning for owner Jack Gulati being in attendance and all of the activities he will be involved on opening night.
– Here are a few of the highlights from the conversation Tommy Daniels had with coach Martinson yesterday:
– I am pleased with the team. We are big, fast, skilled, physical and have a lot of proven, experienced players. We are going to be a difficult team to play against. At the beginning of the season last year, I thought we looked good on paper but we weren’t hard enough to play against. This season we have guys on every line that are physical and can play. We are pretty solid this year and we will give a lot of pushback to teams.
– We have had a history of providing opportunities to players to excel because of the style of play in Allen. Everyone knows that defense wins championships but the flip side is the team that scores the most goals wins the game. We try to have a combination of both and the players buy into that.
– It may have hurt us a little bit in training camp by not working on our systems but we had our skating coach, Luke Chilcott out working with the players on skating. You don’t typically do that in training camp but because Luke is also working in San Jose, we have to work around his schedule. I think players see when you are working on their individual skills it helps them. I tell players working on individual skills will help them make more money or move up to a higher level.
– We are going to be more competitive for ice time and power play time as we get Vincent Arseneau and Peter MacArthur back in the lineup. I like healthy competition for more playing time on a team.
– It was good for our program that San Jose signed Moore and Makowski in the offseason and they were also going to sign Asuchak before he decided to go to Europe. What San Jose said to me is you like these players and we like these players so let’s sign them rather than going out on the market and sign a player that may or may not work out. It is great San Jose signed some of our go-to guys and that counts less on the cap for us but they would not sign guys just for us. They signed these guys because they plan on using them during the season. Bryan Moore was going to go up yesterday and may end up going to the Barracuda on Friday. He went home (North Carolina) after we returned from Rapid City to pick up his vehicle so they couldn’t get him to San Jose in time.
– I want players to come to Allen, develop and get opportunities in the AHL. A lot of times coaches want to hold onto their players. Players can see that. They know if you are only interested in winning and sacrifice their careers and chance to move up to win. We are not doing that. Players respond to us wanting to help them individually.
– Watching Zach Pochiro in training camp, it was obvious he has all of the tools. There are some things that lead up to players not having success right away but you could see his potential early in camp. I trusted his agent and his coach last year, who used to play for me, and they both told me he has more skill than his numbers showed.
– I did plant the seed in training camp that playing defense will be the key to our success this season. We have a lot of players returning who have been here for a few years along with some new guys. I asked myself if in the past I should have been harder, quicker and earlier on some of the guys defensively. I wanted to make sure to everybody knew this year we have the depth so if you are not buying in defensively, if you are not working hard both ways, we don’t need your offense. I was just trying to instill that from the get-go because sometimes in the past we weren’t getting the defensive play from everyone that was capable of doing it.
– We are going to use four alternate captains this year. Makowski and Asuchak wore the A’s in Rapid City. I haven’t told the other two players yet. I am not going to be locked into a specific rotation of the four players. Last year we rotated who was the captain at home and who was the captain on the road every month. We will do something like that but some of it will be who is in the lineup with call-ups and injuries being a factor. When you have a group of guys with the success and leadership ability that exists on this team it makes sense to have more guys involved.
– The plan with the goalies is to split time but if one gets hot, they will play more. It is understood that we develop the contract goalies that San Jose assigns to us but goalies have to earn their playing time too.
– Maybe the best part of the coach’s show was towards the conclusion when it came to an abrupt end as coach Martinson got a text from his daughter that she had left her art project on the counter at home. Martinson quickly kicked in to dad duty to get the the art project to school.
– The Allen Event Center and the Allen Americans are joining together to sponsor something they are calling the “Premium Level 3rd Intermission” where the lounge on the upper level will stay open until 11:00 pm after games for fans in the upper level to socialize. There will be live music and coach Martinson and some players might stop by from time to time.
– In ECHL action last night Tulsa beat Quad City 5-2 and Idaho beat Utah 3-1. Greger Hanson had the lone goal for Utah as the Grizzlies lost their fourth straight game.
DID YOU KNOW: This is the 30th year of the ECHL and if a player holds a postseason record after all these years that is special. Two future ECHL Hall of Famers are Chad Costello and Riley Gill who are #1 all-time in several postseason categories. Here is the list:
Individual Post Season Records
Most Assists, One Playoff Year
29 Chad Costello – (second place is 26)
Most Assists Final Series
10 Chad Costello – (Allen vs. Wheeling, 2016)
Most Playoff Games appeared in by a Goaltender, Career
90 Riley Gill (second place is 80)
Most Playoff Minutes Played By a Goaltender, Career
5095 Riley Gill (Kalamazoo, Reading, Allen)
Most Playoff wins by a Goaltender, Career
53 Riley Gill (second place is 43)
There are many other categories where Riley and Chad, as well as several other former Allen players, are in the post season record book, just not in first place. Will cover those as the season progresses.