ALLEN, TX – I have to admit watching Allen Americans practices is not something I enjoy doing. My reason for going is to see who is on the ice and who is not, see what the line combinations are, see what the defensive pairings are, talk to players after practice and get updates from coach Steve Martinson. However, every once in while you get to witness something special at practice.
Over the years there have been a few times when players seriously squared off, a lot when they do it for fun and I have witnessed coach Martinson hold a fighting clinic or two, especially back in the Central Hockey League days. By far the best practices to attend are when these professionals become boys again, choose up sides and play for something like who buys lunch. One of the best ever was a few years ago when it was Canada vs USA.
– The match up yesterday was the young players (white jerseys) vs the old players (red jerseys) or should I say older players. It was back and forth hockey and as you can imagine a lot more offense than defense. With Riley Gill on the shelf with strep throat, the oldtimers had to bring in an EBUG (emergency back up goalie) which may have been a factor in the outcome. After a lot of goals, smiles, stick taps and fun, the young guys were victorious.
– Here are some photos courtesy of Dianne Webster:
– Coach Martinson has been in the business a long time and there is always a method to his madness. He did not participate in practice but was a spectator for quite a while and I saw him smile a few times. But whenever Martinson is watching he is always assessing, so if a player is gliding down the ice in a scrimmage instead of skating he will take notice. This is a tough week for coach Martinson with the trade deadline on Thursday. Winning a fifth straight championship and third straight Kelly Cup is certainly unprecedented and he is totally committed to doing that. If he has the chance to upgrade the roster this week to improve Allen’s chances in the playoffs he will make that move. But I also know from talking to him over the years he doesn’t like moving players who have been with the team all season. The next two days will be interesting and could range from big moves with future considerations involved, to trades, to no changes whatsoever. I am sure it is not an easy week for the players or the coach. Maybe that is why practice yesterday was intended to just have some fun.
– Newly signed forward Wade MacLeod participated in his first practice with the team and fit right in. Here is a video interview Tommy Daniels recorded after practice:
– Aaron Dell won his ninth game last night as San Jose defeated the Jets in Winnipeg 3-2. Dell stopped 31 shots in his 14th game for the Sharks. His GAA is 1.88 and his save percentage is .935. Here is a link to a recap of the game along with video highlights: https://www.nhl.com/news/san-jose-sharks-winnipeg-jets-game-recap/c-287448270
– As you might imagine I got a lot of questions and comments from my remarks in the blog yesterday about a story in the Reading paper concerning their coaching vacancy and my pessimistic outlook on the future of Steve Martinson in Allen. More than a few Allen fans were wondering, thinking, conspiring about owner Jack Gulati signing Steve Martinson to coach in Reading. I have no idea what will happen but feel strongly if Steve Martinson is not the head coach in Allen he will not be in Reading. He will be a free agent with many options as to where he coaches. Martinson deserves to be the highest-paid coach/general manager in the ECHL with a long term contract and if that doesn’t happen in Allen it will happen elsewhere.
– I had the chance to ask coach Martinson about another item my article yesterday. 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. Martinson shared with me he really didn’t have much choice in agreeing to the schedule change but did ask that Allen’s first playoff game be delayed until the 13th rather than start on the 12th.
DID YOU KNOW: Wade MacLeod is a goal scorer and always has been. In his last year of junior hockey (2006-07) he scored 51 goals which was only good for a tie for the team lead with another familiar name in Allen, Casey Pierro-Zabotel. Their entire team (Merritt Centennials) scored 212 goals that season. Wade and Casey had 102 of them. No other teammate had more than 14. Wade moved on to college at Northeastern University where he played for four years. He was second on the team in points as a freshman and then led the team in points his last three seasons. He led Idaho in goals (38) and assists (42) in 2014-15 and last season in Germany he led his team with 34 goals in 50 games. If you compare ECHL career goals scored per game for MacLeod and Allen’s top goals scorers here are the results. This is career ECHL goals divided by ECHL games played.
.54 – Wade MacLeod
.52 – Greger Hanson
.49 – Chad Costello
.45 – Bryan Moore
.41 – Gary Steffes
.38 – Spencer Asuchak