ALLEN, TX – As the Allen Americans continue to prepare to visit Wichita this weekend it is hard not to overstate the importance of these two games against the Thunder. It is easy to think two games early in the season don’t make that much of a difference but an argument can be made that is not the case this weekend.
– To start with Wichita has a three point lead over Allen in the Mountain Division standings but they also have three games in hand so the lead could potentially be nine points which is a big lead this early in the season. Wichita plays Kansas City at home tonight so they could be five points up on Allen going into the weekend. Allen needs to sweep or get a split this weekend to avoid falling further behind Wichita.
– The rivalry between these teams runs deep with Allen always coming out on top. This has been the case ever since the Americans beat the Thunder to win their first championship in 2013. The results prior to this season have been very one-sided. It may look like a misprint but the Americans record against Wichita since joining the ECHL is 33-4-4-3. When playing in Wichita the record is 17-2-1-2. The record last season was 11-2-1-0.
– Even this season as Wichita has gotten off to the best start in franchise history (10-1) their only loss of the season came at home at the hands of the Americans.
– Issues surrounding ownership when both teams were owned by the same group only intensified the rivalry and earlier this month the Wichita coach was fined for inappropriate remarks he made about Allen and coach Martinson was fined for confronting the Wichita coach after a game. If controversy sells tickets there should be a big crowd at the games in Wichita this weekend.
– Adding to the intrigue is Dyson Stevenson now plays for Wichita and is the captain of the team and Vincent Arseneau, who was in Wichita last season is an alternate captain in Allen.
– Bottom line is with all of the history and with all of the chirping that has gone on between players, coaches and even one of the owners both teams are out to prove something. For Wichita, it’s to show things have changed and Allen should get used to losing to the Thunder after years of dominance by the Americans. Allen is out to prove they are still the better team and the best is yet to come.
– The Allen vs Wichita series will be fun to watch all season. They play each other 12 times (six home 6 away) and they have split the two games they have played thus far. Allen won 5-3 in Wichita on November 3rd and the Thunder beat the Americans 3-1 in Allen on November 4th. There will be a complete Allen vs Wichita game preview later in the week.
– With all of the turnover that takes place on ECHL teams each year you often hear it said fans need to cheer for the name on the front of the jersey not the name on the back. It is a catchy phrase and with players being on one year contracts that allows them to be traded, waived or released anytime it is wise advice. The reality, however, is fans do get attached to players. Players are so accessible it is easy to get to know them on a personal level and the players go out of their way to connect with everyone, especially the young fans. Tanner Eberle is a good example. I received the following message from a mom who has two young children whose favorite player is Tanner and was heartbroken when they found out he was traded. The mom said, “Tanner Eberle’s trade was SO sad for our little Eberle fans. I loved watching his hustle and admired the type of man he was on and off the ice. We will miss him for sure.”
On a personal note, I share a love of fishing with Tanner and we spent more than a few hours talking about everything except hockey while pond fishing. It is a great get away for many of the players after practice or on a day off.
– I had a chance to touch base with Tanner and asked him if there was anything I could pass along to his many fans in Allen since most of them did not have a chance to say good-bye. Here is what he said, “I would like to say thank you to the fan club/boosters for the countless amount of household items they provide to the players. They make it easy to feel at home in Allen right from day one. I also want to thank all of the Allen fans for the endless amount of passion they show the team every day, win or lose. The fans always believe we can win it all every season which makes Allen such an easy place to play.”
– I publicize a lot of events sponsored by the Allen Americans in the blog but there is one coming up on November 28th that is a must if you are an Allen Americans fan. It is Hockey-N-Heels and it takes place at Landon Winery in McKinney. The Americans have had events like this in the past but maybe because Hockey-N-Heels is being planned by a woman for the first time it is shaping up to be a special event. Sales and Service Account Executive, Amber Barros, is planning the event and what a line up she has put together. Coach Steve Martinson is the guest speaker and he is always worth the price of admission. You will get a lot of good information, some stories and plenty of laughs. Also in attendance will be Michelle Martinson, Angie Gill, Levi Pierro-Zabotel, Courtney Chouinard and Kellie Gens to answer your question from a wives perspective. Several players will also attend.
For $35 you get the program including Q&A, light snacks, two glasses of wine, a ticket for the Allen Americans game on Ladies Night (December 1) and a special gift. There will also be a raffle and silent auction. A great value!
Here is a link to sign up: https://allenamericans.com/hockeynheels/
If you have any questions about Hockey-N-Heels contact Amber Barros at 972-912-1011.
– One team to keep an eye on is the Wheeling Nailers who are off to a good start (8-2-2-0) and have the ECHL’s leading scorer in Cody Wydo (19 points) and the top two rookie scorers in the league. Reid Gardiner leads all rookies in points (18) and goals (10). Cam Brown is second in points (16) and first in assists (14). The risk when you have the top rookies is losing them to AHL call ups.
DID YOU KNOW: Allen is only 14 games into the season and there are just seven players that have played in every game and are candidates to be an Ironman by playing in all 72 games. It is a feat that is really difficult to accomplish. The seven players are Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Joel Chouinard, Jonathan Lessard, Eric Roy, Spencer Asuchak, Mike Gunn and Josh Thrower. Here are the past Ironmen who played in every regular season game.
2016-17 – Chad Costello, Joel Chouinard
2015-16 – Chad Costello
2014-15 – Chad Costello, Aaron Gens, Jamie Schaafsma
2013-14 – Spencer Asuchak, Daniel Tetrault, Mike Berube
2012-13 – Jamie Schaafsma, Jason Deitsch
2011-12 – Jason Deitsch
2010-11 – Colton Yellow Horn, David Strathman
2009-10 – Bruce Graham, Christian Gaudet