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ALLEN, Texas – For the first time since I started writing about the Allen Americans six years ago, the season has ended in the opening round with a historic loss. No time for sorrow or disappointment. It is time for me to say my thanks to all involved in making Allen Americans hockey the best fan experience anywhere. While I will still be posting articles during the summer when there is news to report, it will no longer be each day.

It is quite an undertaking to write about the team seven days a week during the season, and it does indeed take a village to make it all possible. So please indulge me for this once a year post all of the people that help me. It seems like as the years go by more and more readers help me out with ideas for stories, ask questions and let me know about errors I make so I can get them corrected.

It wouldn’t be right to have a post without some stats so here is one that amazes me. I write somewhere around 250,000 words during the hockey season. Who would have imagined a blog started for the Heritage Ranch Allen Americans fan club now reaches people all over the US and Canada as well as the hockey hotbeds in Europe on a daily basis.  It proves fans of the Allen Americans are all over the world.

I want to start out by thanking all of the fans that read this. It has been my pleasure to meet many of you, and your words of encouragement in person, comments at the end of each article, posts on Twitter, Facebook, message boards, and email have been very satisfying and inspiring.

Thanks to the many fans, writers, and media from all over the league that have promoted this as fair and balanced and have also shared information with me about their teams. One of the unexpected benefits of writing has been getting to know all of the broadcasters, writers and passionate fans from other teams.

Thank you to the players who have never said no to a single request I have made of them for a chat, an interview or a question. I have gotten to know most of these young men both professionally and personally, and they have superbly represented the Americans. You see the players at their best when they are visiting schools and hospitals or are interacting with the young fans in any environment.

One of my goals when I started was to share the personal stories of the players. It is something I didn’t do enough of this season, but I hope to do more next season. The wives/girlfriends, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and friends I have met have been great about sharing family stories which I have then been able to share. Thanks to all of you.

Thanks to Steve Martinson and his staff (Jason Deitsch, Tim Abbott, Bryan Parfrey, Luke Chilcott) for always being willing to talk to me and help educate me. A special thanks to coach Martinson for allowing me to stop by his office after every game and every practice to ask questions and talk about the team. It is his openness and trust that has allowed me to have information you can’t find anywhere else.

Thanks to Tommy Daniels, Director of Communications & Broadcasting for the Allen Americans, who has been a big help to me. Tommy is the one who encouraged me to start the writing, made me feel like part of the media team, answered many questions, and invited me to be part of the between periods conversation on his radio broadcast to talk hockey. Tommy is the best broadcaster in the business and is always willing to share his knowledge with others.

Thanks to Tommy’s radio sidekick, Maurice Fitzgerald, for all the between periods chats on the radio broadcast. Maurice has forgotten more about hockey than I will ever know but we are a good combo with all of my day-to-day information about the team and their stats.

Maurice and I are two of a big volunteer army that devotes time to the Allen Americans because of their love of the team and love of hockey. Photographers, writers, interns, fan club members and fans too numerous to mention. Certainly an underappreciated group of volunteers.

Joe Babik, Director of Communication for the ECHL has once again spent more time with me this season than I deserved to help educate me about the policies, rules, procedures, and records of the ECHL. Joe has gone above and beyond the call of duty and seems to respond to questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Thanks to the entire Team Sin Bin group which has welcomed me into their group for the fourth year and made it very easy for me to get my stories on their site (thesinbin.net). A special thanks to Matt Harding (@SinBinThunder) and Joe Rozycki (@SinBinMavs).

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my lovely wife of almost 40 years (to be precise 40 years on Sunday) Nancy, who is kind enough to proofread my article each morning. It is a tireless task. Despite our best efforts, we miss plenty of errors in both substance and form. Luckily many of you are kind enough to let me know of these errors so corrections can be made promptly. The volunteer proofreader list has gotten too long to list everyone but you know who you are and I thank you for your help. Articles live forever on the internet and can always be corrected, so I appreciate when you let me know about errors.

Finally, on a persona,l note you may know I have been taking a two-week fishing trip to Ontario and Minnesota for over 20 years with some buddies from Minnesota. The trip is always the last week of May in Canada the first week of June in Minnesota. This worked out fine when Allen was in the Central Hockey League as the playoffs were always over by the time the fishing trip started but that is not the case since joining the ECHL.

In 2015, I missed the finals series and in 2016, I flew home early to catch the championship finals. Last season I made the tough choice to forego the fishing trip as it made no sense to cover the team every single day and then miss the playoffs. My fishing buddies told me I was making a big mistake by not going on the fishing trip as the team won four straight championships and if I didn’t go on the fishing trip the team would lose. Then my superstitious Allen fans (you know who you are) said it was all my fault the Americans lost because I decided to not go on the fishing trip.

Not being the superstitious type, I once again decided to forego the fishing trip this season so I wouldn’t miss the playoffs. Needless to say, come the end of May there will be no playoffs and no fishing trip. I have learned my lesson after two years and promise all of my superstitious friends I am going on the fishing trip next year just to make sure the Americans get back to the Kelly Cup finals.

DID YOU KNOW: It is hard to believe it is still April and the Allen Americans are not playing hockey. April 25th is the earliest the Americans have played the last game of the season in the six years Steve Martinson has been the coach but not the earliest in team history. Here is the date of the last game played in each year of the Allen franchise along with the results.

May 4, 2010 – A 4-3 loss to Rapid City in the CHL Presidents’ Cup finals
May 8, 2011 – A 5-3 loss to Bossier-Shreveport in the CHL Berry Conference finals
April 10, 2012 – A 4-2 loss to the Texas Brahmas in the CHL Berry Conference semifinals
May 11, 2013 – A 4-3 OT win over Wichita in the CHL Presidents’ Cup finals
May 10, 2014 – A 5-2 win over Denver in the CHL Presidents’ Cup finals
June 14, 2015 – A 6-1 win over South Carolina in the Kelly Cup finals
June 9, 2016 – A 4-2 win over the Wheeling Nailers in the Kelly Cup final
May 9, 2017 – A 4-3 loss to Colorado in the ECHL Mountain Division finals
April 25, 2018 – A 4-1 loss to Idaho in the ECHL Mountain Division semifinals

This will be the last daily article for the season. I will still write on an as needed basis as new information becomes available. Remember, it is only 168 days until Allen Americans hockey starts again.

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