ALLEN, TX – It is another light week that is part of a month-long schedule that has the Allen Americans playing five road games in 25 days. In a league where three or four games a week are the norm, the Americans go from February 20 to March 16 and average one game every five days. After completing a two-game sweep of Missouri on Saturday, Allen will play just two games in the next 12 days. Those two games are back in Missouri on Friday and at the Indy Fuel on Sunday.
– There will be lots of practice days between now and the next home game on March 17. This week the team will have four days before they play in Missouri on Friday. Coach Steve Martinson always says he doesn’t like to practice more than three days in a row because he gets tired of yelling at the team and they get tired of listening to him yell. The plan for this week, however is to practice every day but have shorter practices each day.
– The Americans need to rest up now because starting with the next home game on March 17, they go from 5 games in 25 days to finishing the season with 11 games in 23 days. Fortunately, eight of the 11 games are at home. Allen will play one day longer than any other ECHL team. The game in Wichita that was originally scheduled for this Wednesday takes place on April 9, one day after the ECHL season officially comes to an end. With the playoff rosters due April 10 and the playoffs starting on the 12th it would have been nice if the Americans had the 9th off like all of the other ECHL teams.
– This will be a big week as far as roster moves are concerned. Wade MacLeod will join the team as discussed yesterday. Greger Hanson and Bryan Moore are returning to Allen today from their AHL loans. If any NHL/AHL team wants to move one of their contracted players from their ECHL affiliate to Allen they must do that before the recall/assignment date which is Wednesday at 11:59 pm local time. The ECHL trade deadline is Thursday at 3:00 pm EST. Amateur players are also being recruited but aren’t tied to these deadlines. Bottom line is you could see players coming and going this week but it is also possible Martinson stands pat. Stay tuned.
– If you look at the Mountain Division standings the top three teams (Colorado, Allen, Idaho) have separated from the bottom three teams (Alaska, Missouri, Utah) that are fighting for the final playoff spot. Teams still have 13-16 games to play so anything can happen but if you would have to predict today the top three seeds will be #1 Colorado, #2 Allen and #3 Idaho. The battle for the #4 seed will come down to the last weekend of play. Alaska plays their last three games at home against Idaho while Missouri is on the road for their last three games in Utah. It will be an interesting finish for sure.
– The talk about Steve Martinson’s future with the Allen Americans has certainly quieted down since the press conference announcing the sale of the club to Jack Gulati on February 23. At that time the most optimistic were saying relax, give them time to talk and everything will be fine. The most pessimistic were saying there is trouble brewing and Martinson may be coaching elsewhere next season. I came across this story yesterday in the Reading Eagle written by Jason Guarente which talks about the Reading Royals current coaching vacancy because coach Larry Courville is leaving when his contract expires at the end of the season. I was struck by some of the similarities between Reading and Allen when it comes to their coaches. A couple of sentences in the story really hit home with me, makes me wonder about the future in Allen and pushes me a little closer to the pessimistic side. The link to the story is below and you definitely need to read the entire thing but here are the sentences that got my attention.
“Owner Jack Gulati, who finalized a deal to buy the ECHL’s Allen Americans last month, is allowing someone synonymous with the Reading franchise to walk out the door because of failed contract negotiations. Everything that follows must be viewed through that lens. The Royals are fixing something that didn’t have to be broken.”
“In a transient, volatile league, coach Courville was as close as it gets to a sure thing. Letting him leave puts the Royals’ status as a perennial winner in jeopardy.”
My hope and wish is the optimists are correct and it is just a matter of time before a multi-year contract for Steve Martinson is announced. It would be a shame if Allen ends up in the same position as Reading.
DID YOU KNOW: Since the seven former CHL teams joined the ECHL for the 2014-15 season the group has had a firm grip on the Kelly Cup thanks to back to back wins by Allen. Who will carry the torch for the group this season? Thus far it looks like it will be Allen, Brampton and Quad City as they are the only teams currently in playoff spots.
Here are the points for the former CHL teams with their division standings in parentheses. The top four teams in each division make the playoffs.
79 points – Allen (2nd in the Mountain Division)
71 points – Brampton (2nd in the North Division)
67 points – Quad City (3rd in the Central Division)
61 points – Missouri (5th in the Mountian Division)
58 points – Tulsa (5th in the Central Division)
50 points – Rapid City (7th in the Mountain Division)
38 points – Wichita (6th in the Central Division)