ALLEN, TX – With the official start of training camps around the ECHL just over a week away (September 29,) it is important for all ECHL fans to keep informed on what is happening at their NHL & AHL affiliates training camps. These camps can have a significant impact on what the ECHL rosters will eventually look like. Let’s use the San Jose Sharks as an example. They started camp last Friday with 72 players divided into three groups including many names familiar to Allen fans because they played for the Americans in the past. Monday, the Sharks trimmed the roster by 13 players and sent 11 of those players to the San Jose Barracuda’s training camp which commences this coming Monday (September 25).
– The Sharks played their first preseason game last night and came away with a 5-0 shutout win against the Anaheim Ducks. Aaron Dell was in goal for San Jose and played just as he left off last season with a great performance. The Sharks coach, Pete DeBoer, had made it clear the backup goalie position was open to competition with AHL goalie of the year Troy Grosenick also in the mix.
Here is a story about the game and Dell’s performance last night written by Paul Gackle titled, “What we learned in Sharks preseason opener: Dell tightens grip on backup goalie job” https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/09/19/what-we-learned-in-sharks-preseason-opener-dell-tightens-grip-on-backup-goalie-job/
– The focus for Allen fans should now turn to the Barracuda camp which starts on Monday. The complete roster for that camp has not been issued, but the first 11 players have been added to the roster. As mentioned yesterday they are defensemen, Michael Brodzinski, Cavan Fitzgerald, David Makowski, and Jeremy Roy; forwards, Jonathan Martin, Colby McAuley, Bryan Moore, Alex Schoenborn, Alexander True, Manuel Wiederer, and goalie Stephon Williams.
– The rest of the Barracuda roster will be made up of additional players the Sharks will send down between today and Monday along with some tryout players. Allen will be sending five tryout players to the Barracuda camp. This process is repeating itself all across hockey. Some ECHL teams have already announced the tryout players they are sending to ECHL camps, and I assume the Americans will make their announcement in the next couple of days. The tryout players usually have roundtrip tickets so in most cases they will be returning to Allen before the start of the Americans camp.
Based on past seasons, here is how the schedule might work for the tryout players. They start camp with the Barracuda on Monday (25th) and will practice until the first preseason game which is Thursday (28th) in Bakersfield against the Condors. After that game most will return to Allen. One or two players may stay longer but will still be on a tryout contract. Last season, Harrison Ruopp was one of the tryout players and stayed with the Barracuda until the first week of November. The best case scenario for one of these tryout players will get a contract. It doesn’t happen very often, but it is a possibility. Most of the tryout players should be back in Allen when the Americans camp begins presumably a week from Friday. When the on-ice practices begin has not been announced by the team so stay tuned for that.
– The other unknown is how many players that are under contract in San Jose will be assigned to Allen and when will they be assigned. The list of 11 above are the most likely candidates which include Makowski, Moore, Brodzinski, Schoenborn, and Martin who all saw action in Allen last season. The most likely player to be sent to Allen before the Americans start training camp is goalie Stephon Williams. Since he was the first goalie from Sharks camp sent to the Barracuda, it reinforces he is number five on the San Jose depth chart and will be the goalie San Jose sends to Allen. Barring any goalie injuries in San Jose, this could happen sometime next week, but you will just have to wait and see. Here is the press release issued by San Jose when they signed Williams which will give you some background: https://www.sjbarracuda.com/news/detail/barracuda-sign-goaltender-stephon-williams
– I have had several questions about tickets for the two preseason games that will take place in the community rink against Kansas City on October 6 (8:45 pm) and October 7 (5:30 pm). Ticket information should be out in the next few days. With the limited seating, coordinating with the Mavericks, the Allen Event Center and city officials there are all kinds of logistical details that have to be worked out.
– Another question I had from a reader is in regards to a player by the name of Tyler Coulter who is a rookie forward who just finished his junior career with the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL). Back in August, the Brandon paper had an article about what was happening with several Wheat King players and in that story mentioned that Coulter would be attending rookie camp with the Arizona Coyotes (NHL) and had also signed a deal to play for the Allen Americans in 2017-18. Here is that story: https://bdnmb.ca/three-wheat-kings-off-to-camp-one-joins-coaching-ranks/.
Since then, it was reported Coulter had signed to attend college and play for the University of Calgary. What is known for sure is Coulter did attend rookie camp with Arizona and he, in fact, scored a goal in one of the rookie games.
As for the reporting that seems to be in conflict, it may make more sense than it appears. My understanding is there is nothing to prevent a player that has just finished his junior career to commit to a college program and still negotiate a professional deal. A player can turn pro and still play college hockey that same season as long as he enrolls by a specified date which is sometime around the end of December. There are several examples of this happening in Allen over the years, the most recent being Jason Fram last season. It is always risky when you have one of these players on the roster because you never know if they will leave in December. Coulter is a Steve Martinson type player with skill (30 goals last season), grit (100 penalty minutes) and leadership (wore an “A” last season) so he would be a great rookie addition, but it remains to be seen if he opts for college or the pros and if he should turn pro will he stay or head back to college in December. If Coulter does intend on turning pro, there should be an announcement out soon.
DID YOU KNOW: Barry the Blogger turns 70 today. I celebrated as I do every morning with a 22-mile bike ride with my buddy, Jerry Tucker. I know age is just a number, and it is how you feel that is important but to say you are 70 years old sounds like the official passage into old age. I know one way to stay young is writing this blog and hanging around a bunch of 20 something hockey players. I am blessed to be able to write about the Allen Americans every day.