While we are all still basking in the glory of a hockey season that ended with a Kelly Cup championship for the Allen Americans, it is time for me to say my thanks to all involved. I sure consider myself lucky to have started this blog three seasons ago and have all of them end with championships.
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 and has just passed 450,000 pages views. It proves fans of the Allen Americans are all over the world.
I want to start out by thanking all of the fans that frequent this blog. It has been my pleasure to meet many of you and your words of encouragement in person, comments at the end of each blog post, on Twitter, Facebook, message boards, and email have been very satisfying and inspiring.
Thanks to the many fans, bloggers, and media from all over the league that have promoted the blog as fair and balanced and also have shared information with me about their teams. One of the unexpected benefits of writing the blog has been getting to know all of the passionate fans from other teams.
Joe Babik, Director of Communication for the ECHL, spent more time with me this season working to educate me about the policies, rules, and procedures 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.
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 represented the Americans in an outstanding manner.
One of my goals when I started the blog was to share the personal stories of the players. 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 in the blog. Thanks to all of you.
Thanks to Steve Martinson, Kevin Colley, and Erik Adams 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 the blog to have information you can’t find anywhere else.
A special thank you to Tommy Daniels, Director of Communication & Broadcasting, who has been a tremendous help to me for three years. He is the one that encouraged me to start the blog, made me feel like part of the media team, answered many questions, let me stop by his office on almost a daily basis to get current information, publicized the blog to attract new readership, and invited me to be part of the between periods conversation on his radio broadcast to talk hockey and promote the blog. He even let me do color commentary in Tulsa during the first round of the playoffs. Tommy is the best in the business and is always willing to share his knowledge with others.
Thanks to photographers Kimberly Sauer and Lauren Lyssy who work tirelessly to provide pictures for the blog. You may know I write the blog in the morning and get up at 4:00 am. Many mornings after a game, Kimberly and Lauren are up until 2:00 am or later to process all of their pictures and email me their best ones. It sure makes for a better game recap with their pictures included.
Thanks also to the entire Team Sin Bin which has welcomed me into their group this 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) who work their magic every day to post my stories.
Unlike most writers, bloggers, and other media types that cover the Americans I have a dual role as in addition to being a blogger I also coordinate the activities of the fan club at Heritage Ranch where I live. In this capacity I spend a lot of time in the front office of the Americans arranging for season tickets, suites, individual game tickets, seats for soldiers tickets, and other promotions. I want to thank the entire sales and marketing staff and especially Mike Martin and Robert Fatta who have gone out of their way to help me and the residents of Heritage Ranch.
Finally, thanks to Matt Canavan, Allen Americans President, who is always willing to answer my questions about how the league operates, the business end of minor pro hockey and any other questions I may have.
So a third consecutive magical season has come to an end. I have been a season ticket holder since the beginning so I have been following the team since its inception but these last three seasons have been different. I was able to see the team from a different perspective and the access I was given by the entire organization helped me bring the Allen Americans story to the blog.
Soon everyone will scatter to the winds and all of the uncertainty about next year commences. Based on past history more than half of the team will not return. Some will choose to go to Europe, some will be in the AHL, some will not be re-signed and some will retire. Tyler Ludwig has already let it be known he will be taking a 9 to 5 job and will retire from professional hockey. Super fan Wendy Ellis said it best, “The day after is always so bittersweet. Winning is awesome – so happy for the guys! Saying goodbye is the hardest day of the season! We will miss these guys and their families so much. Such a wonderful group. So proud and so grateful we get to share it with them. We have come to realize how fortunate we are to get to know the players and their families the way we do and to have access the way we do.”
This will be the last daily blog post for the year. It is time to hit the gym to try to shed the twenty pounds I gained during the season by writing the blog in the morning instead of working out. I will still blog on an as needed basis as new information becomes available. If you are on Facebook or Twitter you can see whenever there is a new post on the blog by liking my page on Facebook at “Allen Americans Blog” or following me on Twitter at @allenamericans1.
DID YOU KNOW: Season-Ending Rosters were due yesterday at 3 p.m. EDT. They may include up to twenty players. Since AHL contracted guys are excluded everyone else on the Allen roster should have been included on the Season-Ending Roster.