ALLEN, TX – After a day off to spend with the family, play golf, go fishing, run errands, play video games, take in March Madness or playoff hockey it is back to practice today for the Allen Americans as they prepare for a game against Missouri on Wednesday.
– So much has happened to this team in the last month on and off the ice I thought today would be a good day to do a bit of a recap of some of the changes and accomplishments. In my conversations with fans, they have very different perceptions of change whether it is related to ownership, player roster, customer service, sales, marketing, promotions, team name and a myriad of other topics related to the Allen Americans.
Change can be difficult, even if it is a positive change, as reminded by some of these famous quotes about change:
“Any change, even change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts” – Arnold Bennett
“When you are finished changing, you are finished” – Benjamin Franklin
And on a lighter note – “Change is inevitable; except from a vending machine”- Robert Gallagher
– The biggest change in several years for Allen fans took place less than one month ago when Jack Gulati, owner of the Reading Royals, bought the Allen Americans. Jack is a self-made man that can best be described by the title of his book, “Serial Entrepreneur.” Jack has taken Allen by storm with his enthusiasm and style. He is a hero for taking the risk and saving the franchise from tough times on many fronts. As with any change, there are discomforts most notably concerning the coach and front office staff.
– Talk about potential for monumental change, Steve Martinson made it clear after the game on Friday he is not under contract after this season, is a free agent, and plans on testing the market by talking to other teams before he makes a decision on his future. Talk about resistance to change, fans rallied around Martinson and made their feelings known to Gulati as he was greeting fans on the concourse or meeting with season ticket holders. The message was loud and clear, if you want to succeed you must find a way to retain Steve Martinson.
– Whenever roster changes take place there are always mixed feelings as fans see players they like leave and new ones arrive. Some of the change quotes above such as “to improve is to change” and “change before you have to” certainly apply to the moves coach Martinson has made in the last two weeks. Kale Kerbashian, Randy Cure, and Jake Marchment are gone and Wade MacLeod, Tyler Barnes, and Alex Krushelnyski have arrived. Adding three ECHL all-stars to an already potent roster for the stretch run and playoffs is something only a Steve Martinson could pull off.
– Another change over the last month has been the quality of play by the Americans. They have won seven straight games including five road games in a row. Allen has been able to stay in the race for the top spot in the Mountain Division despite Colorado winning 17 straight games recently. Allen remains four points back of the Eagles as both teams have identical records over the last 10 games (8-1-1-0).
– One thing that hasn’t changed is the leadership provided by the two oldest players on the team, Riley Gill and Chad Costello. Riley is having his best year since joining the Americans and arguably the best season in his pro career. Riley leads the league in GAA (2.15) and a save percentage (.938). Riley has lost just one game in the last three months and that one loss was in overtime. Chad is doing what he does every year, leading the ECHL in scoring by some ridiculous amount. He has 109 points and a 30 point lead in the scoring race. Winning the scoring race by 20 points has only been done five times in ECHL history. Chad is about to make that six times in ECHL history and he will own three of the six. Chad won the scoring title by a record 45 points in 2014-15 and by 23 points last season.
– Today will be the first full practice for newcomers Tyler Barnes and Alex Krushelnyski. The other roster change for today is that Alex Schoenborn has been recalled by San Jose and is headed back to the Barracuda. Allen has had a very light schedule over the last month but that is about to change. Practice days are important this time of year and they will become a premium because of the schedule. Allen will play three games each week for the remainder of the season.
– If you are on Colorado watch, the Eagles have four games this week. They play in Utah tonight and then head home to play Rapid City on Wednesday and Utah on Friday and Saturday.
– It is always good to see former players do well. Jake Marchment is playing on the top line in Indy and has a goal in the last three games. Jake has five points in six games with the Fuel. Kale Kerbashian has eight points (2 goals 6 assists) in the four games he has played since joining the Wheeling Nailers. Two examples of how embracing change can lead to success.
DID YOU KNOW: Most observers (players, fans, media) would agree the current Allen roster is the most skilled and has the most depth of any Steve Martinson team in Allen. Here is a list of players on the current roster in the 20, 30 and 40 goal club in a single season in the ECHL.
40 Goal Club: Chad Costello, Gary Steffes
30 Goal Club: Greger Hanson, Wade MacLeod, Tyler Barnes
20 Goal Club: Spencer Asuchak, Bryan Moore, Alex Krushelnyski
Zach Hall and David Makowski don’t have a 20 goal season in the ECHL but both are scoring at a pace that would exceed 20 goals if they had played a full season in Allen this year. Makowski has 15 goals in 39 games and Hall has 10 goals in only 25 games.