ALLEN, Texas – Today, we continue with the “Where Are They Now” series, as we catch up with Chad Costello and family. When I brainstormed a list of people to look at for this series, it was the Chad Costello story I was most looking forward to writing.
If you recall, last August the ECHL came out with their 30 greatest players in ECHL history and Chad was selected as the ninth greatest player. It was a great honor and Chad was the only player in the top ten that isn’t already in the ECHL Hall of Fame but my thought was how could Costello be ranked so low given what he has accomplished.
It wasn’t an hour after the top ten list was revealed that I got a text message from Spencer Asuchak, who had the exact same reaction as I did:
“Barry, don’t you think Costy should have been ranked higher? In this day and age what he accomplished will never be matched! Chad is as good as any player I have played with or against in any league. His hockey smarts are as high as they can be and not only that he is an amazing person off the ice too.”
I told Spencer at some point this season I would make the case, from my perspective, why Chad Costello should be ranked as the best ECHL player of all time. Today is that day.
The story of Chad Costello and the Allen Americans began in the summer of 2014. Chad had played just 14 games in the 2013-14 season and his hockey future was in real doubt because of serious concussion issues he was dealing with. When Costello arrived at training camp he was on a tryout contract because it was uncertain he would be able to play symptom-free. Chad got through training camp just fine, signed a contract and began a three-year career in Allen that is the best three seasons in the history of the ECHL. Maybe the most amazing record — and there are many — is the fact that Chad went from a tryout contract because of health issues to not missing a single game regular season or playoffs for three straight seasons. That was 276 straight games and he played hurt for many of those games.
It is hard to know where to start when describing Costello’s impressive accomplishments with the Allen Americans. He was in Allen for three seasons, led the league in scoring each year and was selected as the ECHL MVP all three years (by the PHPA in 2015). He won two Kelly Cups, was the Kelly Cup MVP in 2016 and was a captain of the team his last two seasons.
As for Allen Americans team records, many of these will never be broken. Here is a list of where Chad stands in the all-time and single-season record book.
Allen Americans all-time career records:
Points – Chad leads with 350 which is 115 more than second place
Assists – Chad leads with 252 which is 114 more than second place
Goals – Chad is tied with Greger Hanson at 98 goals
Allen Americans single-season records:
Points – Chad is #1 (125), #2 (122) and #3 (103) in team history, no other player has more than 88 points
Assists – Chad is #1 (89), #2 (84) and #3 (79) in team history, no other player has more than 55
Goals – Chad is # 2 with 41 goals in 2014-15
Here is my case for Chad Costello as the best player in ECHL history:
It is important to put scoring in perspective when comparing numbers over time. In the 1990s, the style of the game was such that scoring was prolific. For example, in the 1996-97 season, there were six fifty goals scorers and six players with over 100 points. In the history of the ECHL, 50 goals have been scored 41 times. All but two took place prior to 2000. There have been 12 times an ECHL player has scored 120 or more points in a season. All but two of those seasons took place before 2000. The two exceptions are Chad Costello.
In my mind, because of the prolific scoring in the 1990s, the only way to determine the best player is to compare players with their peers. In the 31-year history of the ECHL, the scoring champion has won the scoring title by more than 20 points only six times. Here are the six seasons where the ECHL scoring champion had at least twenty more points than the runner-up.
45 points – 2014-2015 (Chad Costello)
43 points – 1992-1993 (Trevor Jobe)
35 points – 1989-1990 (Bill McDougall)
34 points – 2016-2017 (Chad Costello)
24 points – 1995-1996 (Hugo Belanger)
23 points – 2015-2016 (Chad Costello)
The stat above shows Chad is the most dominant point scorer relative to his peers of all time. Here are a few other stats to help make the case:
- Chad is the only player in ECHL history to win the MVP Award more than once. He has three ECHL MVP awards, 2012 in Colorado, 2016 in Allen and 2017 in Allen. He should have also won the award in 2015 when he had his best season in Allen (125 points). He was selected as the MVP that season by the player’s association (PHPA).
- Chad is the only player in ECHL history to win the scoring title three years in a row.
- In his three years in Allen, Costello had the #3, #5 and #12 best single seasons for assists in ECHL history. No other player is in the top 12 more than once. Only three players in ECHL history had more assists than the 89 Chad had in 2016-17 and they all played in the 1990s.
- His ECHL career points per game average is fifth-best in league history (350 games minimum) at 1.58. The four players ahead of him all played in the 1990s.
- Chad won the 2015 ECHL Sportsman Award given to the player to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct with a high standard of playing ability.
- Finally, he won two Kelly Cups in Allen and was the playoff MVP in 2016. He is all over the ECHL record book for playoff scoring. Here are a few examples:
#1: Most assists one playoff year (29)
#1: Most assists in final series (10)
#2: Most points one playoff year (36)
#3: Most assists in playoff, career (61)
#3: Most points in playoffs, career (83)
#3: Most points in a final series (13)
The bottom line is if you just look at the numbers, Chad can’t compare to the 85 goals, 93 assists and 161 points scored in a single season back in the 1990s. However, if you look at what Costello accomplished in his era compared to his peers there is no doubt in my mind he is best ECHL player of all time.
The Move Overseas
After the 2016-17 season, Chad and Ashley Costello made the decision to move to Germany for the 2017-18 season. This is what I wrote at the time about the move:
“As you might imagine after every season Chad gets offers to play overseas and has never made the leap. Why is this season different? Costello had another great season in Allen winning the scoring title and the league MVP but he is soon to be 31 years old and you never know how many opportunities will arise in the future. Getting a contract offer from a team in the top league in Germany (DEL) means two things for Chad. First, the financial rewards are much greater than what he could get in the ECHL even as a top player. Second, he will play with his best friend and former teammate Jack Combs.
The most important thing Chad wanted me to know when I asked about why he signed in Germany was it had nothing to do with how the season ended in Allen or playing in Allen. As a matter of fact, that is what made the decision to leave so difficult. Chad and Ashley don’t see Allen as a place where Chad has a job, they don’t see folks as co-workers and fans but they see everyone as friends and that makes it hard to leave. Chad also expressed his admiration and respect for Steve Martinson who he credits in large part for his record breaking success in Allen.”
After a year playing for the Iserlohn Roosters, Chad signed to play with the Krefeld Pinguine this season. Greger Hanson is his teammate. Chad describes this season below but what he doesn’t mention is he leads his team in scoring with 23 points (9G, 14A) and is third in the league in scoring. Krefeld is fighting for a playoff spot and are currently in 10th place in a 14-team league.
Here is an update from Chad in his own words:
I think everyone knows Ashley and I have been together a long time. She is amazing and I honestly think she is the secret to my success and I am lucky to have her. Cayne is eight now and turning into a great little boy and a really good hockey player. Camden is four now and skates every day with Cayne’s hockey team and can hold his own. He is a tough little boy with a bright face. Our youngest is Avery who is two. She is so smart and beautiful and makes us all smile every day. We also have a golden doodle named Bauer, you can imagine we are busy every day.
TSB: Tell us about your team?
I am playing in the top German league in Krefeld. Krefeld is a city of about 225,000 in the western part of Germany close to the river Rhine. We have a good team here in Krefeld and are trying to change the culture. I think we have a playoff team and I am doing all I can to help. I plan on playing as long as I can as I love the sport and feel I still have more to give. I am getting older that’s for sure, but I guess that is part of it and I am enjoying that part as well. Well kinda.
TSB: Any hobbies you are enjoying?
Golf, cycling and hanging out with Ashley and the kids.
TSB: Can you share something about your experience playing in Allen?
Allen is home to us, we love it there. I love the culture and the expectation to win. The fans are amazing in every aspect. Coach Martinson is the best coach I have ever had. He always got the best out of me and my teammates. He is a good coach, great motivator, and a good person. Playing for him was challenging and rewarding at the same time.
I think Allen is the best place to play because of the ten-year history and the people surrounding the organization. From bus driver Monty, to the voice of the Americans, Tommy. The staff were not just great at their job, they were great people and I love being around them. The memories of Allen is something I think about every day. I was so lucky in my time in Allen, I had the best teammates. The guys I played with those three seasons in Allen have a special place with me. I believe in all of them and have seen them make plays and do things that were amazing. I remember them all and will forever. I cheer for the Americans every game while I am away.
TSB: What is your highlight, fondest memory of your time playing in Allen?
My fondest memories are the championships. They were so hard fought. I really appreciate the battle and the challenge it was to end the season on top. Winning games is very difficult and winning championships is even harder. To do what we did was very special. It took special people all working together at the right time. Wow was that fun!
I also have great memories of the day-to-day work we put in. I enjoyed every trip on “Big Red.” Every time I went to the rink it was great because of the great teammates and friends I had on the team. We were so close and would do anything for one another, and that is not only why we won but almost better than winning.
TSB: Who were your favorite/closest teammates in Allen. Any stories you can tell?
My favorite teammates, wow that is a tough one. I had so many when I was there. I stay in touch a little bit. Not as much as I would like as we are all busy but they know I am there if they need anything and I think of them every day.