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Allen Americans owner, Jack Gulati has confirmed to me that the team is for sale. When Jack bought the Americans in 2017 his commitment was that  the team would stay in Allen and he would have a more fan friendly operation. Gulati became a familiar face to fans as he greeted them on the concourse before every game he attended.



Jack Gulati engaging Allen fans




When I contacted Jack this past January after he agreed to sell the other ECHL team he owned (Reading Royals) and asked him what that meant for Allen he said, "I am pleased that I was able to consummate the deal with the current owners of the Reading Royals Arena, where the team has played since 2001. This will have a very positive impact not only for the Reading Royals but as well for the Allen Americans. With the completion of this transaction it will allow me more time to visit with our great fans in Allen and to help the team grow. I am pleased and I hope all of the loyal fans of the Allen Americans will also be pleased that I will be able to see them more often."


Needless to say it was a surprise to hear the Allen Americans were for sale after what fans thought would be many years of stability. The team seemed to have everything going in a positive direction. Gulati negotiated a new five year lease with the City of Allen and the relationship between the city and the team is better than ever. All of the financials from season tickets to groups sales to corporate sponsorships improved each season to a point where the team is now profitable.


So why is the team for sale? The answer to why Jack Gulati is selling the team is very straightforward. He is dealing with some health issues in his family and he has decided as an absentee owner it is better for him and the team to try and find local investors to purchase the Americans. When I talked to Gulati he strongly emphasized the team will stay in Allen. Jack also told me if he doesn't get the team sold by the beginning of the upcoming season he will not sell during the season.


The Allen Americans have so much going as a franchise:

- The largest and most affluent market in the ECHL.
-  A great facility in the Allen Event Center in the middle of premier shopping, dining and entertainment in The Village at Allen and Fairview Town Center.
- DFW is home to 24 Fortune 500 companies and 43 Fortune 1000 companies.
- The on ice product, under the leadership of coach Steve Martinson, who has won 10 championships in 23 years of coaching, struggled last season but won four straight championships from 2013-2016. Martinson has won over 1000 professional games, one of only three coaches to accomplish that feat.


I know there is a lot that goes into the sale of a hockey team but my hope is a local businessman or group will see that the Allen franchise is on the upswing financially, Steve Martinson will recruit a competitive team for the 2019-20 season and the potential of this franchise is outstanding. Local ownership would be great for the ECHL, the Allen Americans and the fans. Only time will tell.     
 
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The ECHL recruiting process is in full swing with player signing announcements becoming more frequent day by day. There is, however, a long way to go before training camps open the end of September. Thus far around the ECHL 86 player signings have been announced ranging from 10 by Maine, six by South Carolina and Worcester to four teams that have not announced any player signings (Brampton, Jacksonville, Kalamazoo, Tulsa). The majority of teams have announced between two and five players.


- On opening day there will be around 575 players on ECHL rosters so with 86 signed thus far that represents just 15% of opening day rosters. There has been a recent trend of more NHL/AHL contracted players being assigned to ECHL teams and that will impact how many players ECHL teams will sign. In my opinion you will see 8-10 contracted players on most ECHL teams (including Allen) when the season starts. Some of this can be attributed to the new rule adopted by the ECHL Board of Governors (BOG) about the number of games contracted players must play in the AHL to qualify for the ECHL playoffs. Here is that new rule:

The BOG reduced from 10 to five the number of games a veteran player on a NHL or AHL one way or two way contract must play in the AHL during the regular season to be eligible to play in the ECHL playoffs. This may give more opportunity for ECHL veterans to be signed to AHL deals and play the five games in the AHL to qualify for the ECHL playoffs.

For players that are not veterans who are on AHL deals there is no longer a minimum number of AHL games they need to play to be eligible for the ECHL playoffs. The old rules required five games in the AHL. This rule change should mean more depth players signed to AHL deals that may not play in any AHL games but will still be eligible for ECHL playoffs.


- The Allen Americans announced on Saturday that forward Jake Doty will be returning for the 2019-20 season. Doty led the Americans with 13 fighting majors last season and he didn't play his first game until November 21.


- The Americans official roster now stands at four players:

Spencer Asuchak
Ben Owen
Mike Hedden
Jacob Doty


- The Iowa Wild announced last week that they had signed four players. Three of them were defensemen that spent time in Allen last season. Alex Breton led all Allen defensemen in goals and assists despite being loaned to the AHL at the end of February for the remainder of the season. Jack Sadek and Nick Boka played briefly in Allen after completing their college careers. While any of these players could make the Iowa roster in training camp it is likely they will spent significant time in Allen this season. A fourth defenseman, Stepan Falkovsky, is also under contract with the Wild and spent the majority of last season in the ECHL (Allen & Manchester). He could also see time with Allen next season. Here is the Iowa press release. https://www.iowawild.com/news/detail/iowa-wild-signs-four-players-to-spc-contracts


- It is getting to the time of the off season when players looking for AHL deals or opportunities in Europe will start making decisions about where they will play next season. Some great players still in the mix for all ECHL teams.


- The Allen Americans Fan Club asked me to post the following information:

"The Allen Americans Fan Club is excited about the upcoming hockey season. A new Board of Directors was elected in July. Returning this year are Greg Simpson who will now be the President of the Fan Club, Beth Turner will be Vice President; Debra Chisolm, Treasurer; Ted Hosterman, member at Large and Teresa Taylor, Secretary. The new board has been passionately working in alignment with the Allen Americans and they have some exciting things planned to support the players. If you are interested in joining and having fun with other passionate Allen Americans Fans this is the year to join the fan club. The one question that is always asked is how much of a commitment is needed to be a Fan Club Member and the answer is to simply engage how you see fit as a fan club member. Reach out to the fan club at fanclub@allenamericans.com and one of the Board Members will be happy to answer any questions and/or send you a membership application."


- About a year ago I started a Twitter page (@ECHLStats) where I post stats and information that I find interesting and hope other ECHL fans do as well. During the summer I also started to post this information on the Allen Americans Blog Facebook page. Last week I decided to set up a separate  page on Facebook called "ECHL Stats & Information" where I will post this leaguewide information. If you are on Facebook, please go to this new "ECHL Stats & Information" page and "Like" the page.


- I will call this the social section about former Allen players. Happy birthday to Dyson Stevenson who turns 26 today. Congrats to Joel and Alexandra Rumpel who got married this weekend. Congrats to Trevor Hendrikx and his wife Laura who just announced they are expecting their first child in January.


- The 2019 World Roller Games were just completed in Barcelona, Spain. More than 4000 athletes competed in events including Alpine, Roller Freestyle, Downhill, Dance, Roller Derby, Rink Hockey and Speed just to name a few. Former Allen Americans forward Jack Combs was a member of the USA rink hockey team that won the World Championship beating the Czech Republic 3-0 in the championship game.


- Check out this story from the Hockey News, "There's a New Hockey Factory in Minnesota - And It's a Middle School" https://thehockeynews.com/news/article/theres-a-new-hockey-factory-in-minnesota-and-its-a-middle-school


- Idaho head coach Neil Graham has been appointed as an assistant coach of the AHL Texas Stars. Idaho then promoted assistant coach, Everett Sheen to head coach of the Steelheads. Here are the details.
 
Neil Graham promoted to Texas Stars: https://www.idahosteelheads.com/en/articles/head-coach-neil-graham-appointed-as-texas-stars-assistant-coach

Everett Sheen promoted to Idaho's head coach: https://www.idahosteelheads.com/en/articles/steelheads-name-everett-sheen-as-franchise-s-eighth-head-coach



DID YOU KNOW: In Allen's first championship in 2013, a dramatic overtime goal in game seven by Todd Robinson is etched in everyone's mind but just as important was the game tying goal by defenseman Trevor Hendrikx with 2:19 left in regulation. It was Trevor's only shot of the game.  
 
      
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We just returned from a river cruise in France on the Seine River sailing from Paris to the English Channel. Without a doubt the highlight of the trip was visiting Normandy. My dad was in World War II and I was in the First Infantry Division in Vietnam. The Big Red One played a major role on D-Day, June 6, 1944, leaping from their landing craft into the choppy waters off Omaha Beach. You can read about and see photos of what happened that day and the days, weeks and months that followed but too see it first hand, walk through the various battlefields, gives you a different perspective and makes you realize why they are called the greatest generation.


Because of my connection to the First Infantry Division I was asked, along with two other veterans, to place a wreath at the memorial at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial on behalf of the 120 people in our tour group. Another member of our group brought his bagpipes and kilt and played Amazing Grace. Then everyone sang the National Anthem. Needless to say there was not a dry eye in our entire group.


- I had a chance to catch up with coach Steve Martinson yesterday and as you can imagine he has been very busy with the off season recruiting process. While the Americans have officially announced just two player signings (Spencer Auschak and Ben Owen) other players have been signed but not announced.


- The signing of Asuchak and Owen are special for different reasons. Asuchak has played in 385 games (regular season and playoffs) for the Americans which is 77 more than any other player in Allen history. Spencer will be playing in his seventh season in Allen, no other player has played more than five seasons. Allen is his second home. For Ben Owen, Allen is literally his home having grown up playing and working at the Allen Community rink. Ben is at the opposite end of the games played list for the Americans as he has played in just six games.

Here is the Asuchak press release: https://allenamericans.com/americans-welcome-back-longest-tenured-player/

Here is the Owen press release: https://allenamericans.com/americans-add-local-defenseman-ben-owen/


- Qualifying offers are given to a maximum of eight players to retain their rights for next season. Players that are already signed do not have to be given qualifying offers. The qualifying offers had to be given by midnight on Sunday and coach Martinson qualified the maximum of eight players. Here is the list:

Zach Pochiro
Braylon Shmyr
Chad Butcher
Alex Breton
Riley Bourbonnais
Josh Atkinson
Dalton Thrower
Mike Gunn

Keep in mind players from last season that are not on this qualified list are either signed and not announced or they are now free agents. Most of them are now free agents and won't be returning for next season.

Zach Pochiro has signed to play in Denmark next season so he was qualified to retain his rights should he return from Europe prior to the February 15th deadline for signing players returning from Europe.

Shmyr, Breton, Bourbonnais and Atkinson all spent time in the AHL last season and are waiting to get AHL deals (if they haven't already been signed by an AHL team). If they get signed by Iowa they will likely spend time in Allen. If they don't get AHL deals their only option would be to look overseas or sign with Allen.


- Zach Pochiro is one of many ECHL players that led their team in goals last season that have made the jump to Europe for the 2019-20 season. Zach will be playing for the Esbjerg Energy. Esbjerg is a seaport city (population about 115,000) on the western coast of Denmark on the North Sea. One of Zach's teammates will be former Allen defenseman Travis Brown.


- I posted this on my @EchlStats Twitter and on Facebook which shows how many top goal scorers have signed in Europe:

How hard is it for ECHL teams to keep their top goal scorer? Already, ten teams have lost their leading goal scorer from 2018-19 to Europe and it is still early. This doesn’t include leading point scorers and players that get AHL deals. Here is a list of players that led their team in goals last season that are heading overseas for the 2019-20 season:

John Shalla - Indy to Romania
Zach Pochiro - Allen to Denmark
Josh MacDonald - Reading to Denmark
Caleb Herbert - Utah to Austria
Steve McParland - Idaho to Italy
Ben Duffy - Norfolk to Germany
Mike Szmatula - Adirondack to Poland
Wacey Rabbit - Jacksonville to Romania
Chris Collins - Kalamazoo to Austria
Grant Besse - South Carolina to Germany


- Eric Roy, who is fourth all time in regular season scoring (101 points) and third all time in playoff scoring (28 points) for Allen defensemen has signed to play in Romania next season.


- The ECHL Board of Governors (BOG) recently approved a couple of rule changes for the 2019-20 season in addition to video replay which they announced earlier. The most visible change is extending 3-on-3 overtime from five minutes to seven minutes before going to a shootout. The other change is more subtle but could have a much bigger impact. The BOG reduced from 10 to five the number of games a veteran player on a NHL or AHL one way or two way contract must play in the AHL during the regular season to be eligible to play in the ECHL playoffs. This may give more opportunity for ECHL veterans to be signed to AHL deals and play the five games in the AHL to qualify for the ECHL playoffs.


- For players that are not veterans who are on AHL deals there is no longer a minimum number of AHL games they need to play to be eligible for the ECHL playoffs. The old rules required five games in the AHL but there were two exceptions. This rule change should mean more depth players signed to AHL deals that may not get any AHL games but will still be eligible for ECHL playoffs. Clearly the trend has been more and more AHL/NHL contracted players being assigned to ECHL teams. The Americans as well as most ECHL teams could have 10 or more contracted player assigned next season. The new relaxed rules will allow all of them to be eligible for the ECHL playoffs.



DID YOU KNOW: Here is a partial list of former Allen Americans and players from last season that are free agents or could become free agents because they are veterans or are coming off NHL deals who have not been signed for 2019-20. Since most of us live in the past I know fans often talk about the return of these players. For various reasons it is a long shot for most these players to be on the 2019-20 Allen roster but you can always hope that one or two just might come through. There are 13 Allen championship rings represented in this group.

Jamie Schaafsma
Matt Register
Dyson Stevenson
Colby MacAuley
Greger Hanson
Gary Steffes
Bryan Moore
Riley Gill
Casey Pierro-Zabotel
Dante Salituro
     
 
    
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- We are off to Europe today for a river cruise (Seine) and visit to Normandy so wanted to provide an update on a variety of topics. Here goes:


- Steve Martinson had a Q & A with fans at the Team Store yesterday and brought everyone up to date on his recruiting efforts for next season. He is hard at work identifying players from a variety of sources including those that could come from the Wild, re-signing players from last season, players that are free agents around the ECHL and players coming off NHL/AHL deals. As usual fans that attended the Q & A in person got some off the record tidbits.


- The Allen Americans released their 2019-20 schedule this week. Here is a link that shows the schedule in calendar format. https://allenamericans.com/schedule/


- I will do a deep dive on the schedule as the season gets closer but it is noteworthy the Americans will play only eight different teams at home and 32 of 36 homes games are against division opponents. Norfolk, who finished sixth in the South Division last season will visit Allen on November 8 & 9. Kalamazoo, who finished fourth in the Central Division last season will visit Allen on January 10 &11. Here are the number of home games the Americans will play against Mountain Division teams:

7 - Wichita
6 - Tulsa
6 - Rapid City
6 - Idaho
4 - Utah
3 - Kansas City


- Allen will play 11 different teams on the road. In addition to the six Mountain Division foes the Americans will visit Cincinnati on November 12 & 14. From December 13-18 Allen will play two games in Adirondack and one each in Brampton and Worcester.


- Yesterday (June 15th) all ECHL teams had to submit their season ending roster of no more than 20 players. It should reveal more players that will not return to Allen next season. Since Allen had only 20 players on their protected list (submitted earlier) you will know any player on the protected list not on the season ending list will not be back in Allen. As a reminder, here is Allen's protected list which totals 20 players. The season ending rosters should be released in the next day or two.

Goalie
Lukas Hafner

Defensemen
Alex Breton
Ben Owen
David Makowski
Joel Chouinard
Duggie Lagrone
Josh Atkinson
Dalton Thrower
Mike Gunn
Curt Gogol

Forwards
Zach Pochiro
Braylon Shmyr
Riley Bourbonnais
Casey Pierro-Zabotel
Thomas Frazee
Spencer Asuchak
Jacob Doty
Gary Steffes
Chad Butcher
Alex Guptill



- Today is the first day to sign players for the 2019-20 season. You might look for an announcement of a player signing this week but my guess is the process might be a bit slower this season than in the past.


- If you track AHL transactions you have noticed teams have started to announce player signings for next season. Many teams wait until after the NHL draft (June 21-22) to sign players for their AHL teams. I haven't seen any announcements from the Iowa Wild but my understanding is they have signed several players that will likely spend time in Allen next season. Remember, coach Martinson expects a lot more contracted players from the Wild organization next season and he has been involved in the process.


- The recruiting process for players coming off AHL/NHL deals that are free agents is now in full swing. There a many familiar names out there who are free agents. Vincent Arseneau is not one of them as he re-signed with Utica (AHL) last week.


- The annual exodus of players from the ECHL to Europe is going strong.  Utah's leading scorer, Caleb Herbert, is heading to Austria. Fort Wayne's leading scorer, Justin Hodgeman, will be a teammate of Chad Costello in Germany. Idaho's leading scorer, Steve McParland will play in Italy.  Fort Wayne's long time defenseman/tough guy Cody Sol will play in Slovakia. Ben Duffy, who was in training camp with Allen and was Norfolk's leading scorer, signed in Germany. Former Allen defenseman Travis Brown will play in Denmark next season. Christophe Lalancette, who played briefly in Allen last season has signed to play in Slovakia. There will be many more players signing overseas in the next month.


- Johnny McInnis, who played 23 games in Allen last season, has announced his retirement from pro hockey.


- I am sure most of you have seen the statement Jamie Schaafsma put out this week announcing he will not be returning to Fort Wayne next season (see below). The 36 year old has played in Fort Wayne the last four seasons and was captain of the team from day one. He has been a player/coach the last three seasons and this season was named MVP of the team. Fort Wayne recently named a new coach and the team is going in the proverbial "different direction." Jamie was noncommittal when asked if he will play again next season but did say he has been contacted by several teams since he announced he was not returning to Fort Wayne. Here is a story written by Justin Cohn with the details:  http://www.journalgazette.net/blog/ice-chips/20190612/delving-deeper-into-ks-schaafsma-breakup 





- Jamie Schaafsma is a great leader on and off the ice and also a great family man. When he was the captain in Allen he help start the intern program with the Allen fire department that still exists today. He has all of the certifications to become a fireman. Whether he plays again next season, takes a coaching job, becomes a fireman or pursues something else outside of hockey he will be successful. Best of luck to Jamie, Nicole and their four children.

Fireman Interns left to right, Ian Schultz, Kevin Young, Chad Costello & Jamie Schaafsma



- You know you have made it big when your hometown newspaper writes a feature story about your accomplishment. Such is the case with John Snowden coaching the Newfoundland Growlers to the Kelly Cup. John's hometown of Snohomish, Washington is a mere 4284 miles from St. John's, Newfoundland. A great read: https://www.heraldnet.com/sports/how-a-snohomish-product-won-a-pro-hockey-title-in-newfoundland/ 



DID YOU KNOW: Jamie Schaafsma made the championship finals in seven straight seasons playing for four different teams. He won a championship in Italy but will always be remembered for winning three straight championships with the Allen Americans. Jamie was the playoff MVP when Allen won their second CHL championship in 2014.  
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After a drive of 1358 miles (one way) for a week of fishing in Ontario on an isolated lake off the famous Red Lake Road and the long trek back to Allen it is time for an Allen Americans update. The fishing trip was great as any time you can spend all day in a pristine environment with the sites and sounds of nature it is good for the soul. For the record our group of five caught 355 walleyes over the week along with some small-mouth bass, northern pike, muskie, perch and crappie. While each fisherman can only take four walleyes home we managed to eat around 120 walleyes using four different recipes. I hope I don't get to go on this fishing trip next year as it would mean a deep playoff run for the Allen Americans.


- You may have seen the Allen Americans protected list that was released yesterday. As a reminder there are three roster related lists that will be issued in June.

June 1st - Protected List (unlimited number of players)
June 15 - Season-Ending Roster (max 20 players)
June 30 - Qualifying Offers (max eight players)

Allen's protected list is more telling by who was not included. Since there is no down side to putting players on the list as there in no limit on the number of players that are included those that were omitted were given a clear message they will not be back in Allen. Here is Allen's protected list which totals 20 players.

Goalie
Lukas Hafner

Defensemen
Alex Breton
Ben Owen
David Makowski
Joel Chouinard
Duggie Lagrone
Josh Atkinson
Dalton Thrower
Mike Gunn
Curt Gogol

Forwards
Zach Pochiro
Braylon Shmyr
Riley Bourbonnais
Casey Pierro-Zabotel
Thomas Frazee
Spencer Asuchak
Jacob Doty
Gary Steffes
Chad Butcher
Alex Guptill


- Here are the protected lists for all ECHL teams:  https://www.echl.com/en/news/2019/6/echl-announces-2019-protected-lists


- Players on AHL/NHL deals cannot be protected (Josh Thrower, Chase Lang, Dante Salituro). The players that could have been protected by coach Martinson but were not are now free agents. Those players include:

Adam Miller
Alex Ranger
Mitch Maloney
Malcolm Gould
Kevin Sundher
Etienne Boutet


- Of the 20 players on the protected list the next step is making the season ending list which will come out on June 15. While all of the players on the protected list could be on the season ending list because it can have a max of 20 players I expect there will be less than 20 players on the season ending list when it is released. The bottom line is many of the players on the protected list will not return next season.


- I had a chance to sit down with coach Martinson yesterday and he shared the following about the recruiting process for the 2019-20 season.

The discussion with the Wild about the players that will be assigned to Allen have gone very well. There will be significantly more players under contract with the Wild assigned to the Americans than last season. While Martinson did not mention a number I could see as many as 10 AHL contracted players in Allen next season.

Coach Martinson has been working with the Wild identifying players that could be recruited as depth players for Iowa and top players for Allen. The Wild will then offer two way contracts to these players.

Martinson has not started talking to the Allen veterans from last season and won't start this process until he has a better idea of who will get assigned to the Americans by the Wild. He will then fill in the gaps using the four veteran slots he has available for the final roster.

 It is too early to talk to players coming of AHL deals but that will be another source of recruitment later in the summer.

With Manchester folding all of their non AHL/NHL contracted players became free agents and can sign with any ECHL team when signing begins on June 16th. Manchester has some good young players that will be highly recruited by coaches across the ECHL. Another potential recruiting source for coach Martinson.


- If you haven't been following Allen defenseman Josh Atkinson since the end of the Americans season he has been on quite a ride. Josh was loaned to the Chicago Wolves and played in their last regular season game. He is on Chicago's playoff roster and played in the first playoff game against Grand Rapids. He is still with the team as they are now in the finals of the Calder Cup. While it is unlikely Josh will get in another game unless there are injuries he could become a Calder Cup champion. Chicago is facing Charlotte in the finals and the series is tied 1-1with the next three games in Chicago. Hopefully Atkinson will get an AHL deal for next season.


- Other players from last season that could get AHL deals include Alex Breton, Riley Bourbonnais, Braylon Shmyr and Dante Salituro. Hopefully Iowa would be interested in some of these players and they could be assigned to Allen. Last season Breton spent time with Belleville and Springfield, Bourbonnais was with Iowa and Shmyr spent time with Springfield and San Antonio. Salituro is coming off a three year NHL deal with the Minnesota Wild. All of these players are free agents as it pertains to the AHL and can sign with any team.


- Another unknown is which players from the 2018-19 roster are pursuing deals in Europe. There is little doubt that some of them will head overseas. Etienne Boutet, Alex Ranger and C.J. Motte have already signed to play in Europe next season. More will follow.


- Newfoundland has a chance tonight to win the Kelly Cup. After taking a 3-1 series lead before losing game five in Toledo the Growlers have two chances to get the fourth win at home. The Newfoundland Growlers are the story of the playoffs. A first year team affiliated with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Marlies, the Growlers had their head coach (Ryane Clowe) step down in January for medical reasons. Assistant coach John Snowden, who played in Allen, was named the new head coach. Newfoundland won the North Division easily but struggled at the end of the regular season losing nine of their last 14 games. The Growlers won the first round of the playoffs against Brampton 4-2 but three of the wins came in overtime. Newfoundland improved each round and by the time they took on the favored Florida Everblades in the Eastern Conference Finals they were playing their best hockey. Newfoundland went to Florida to start the series and beat the Everblades twice and the series was essentially decided. It ended up going five games but the Growlers were dominate. Now in the finals, Newfoundland has a 3-2 series lead over Toledo and the odds of the Growlers winning the Kelly Cup are about 80% depending on the data you use. In NHL history, according to the website whowins.com, in the finals the team with a 3-2 lead wins game six about 60% of the time and wins the series 80% of the time.


- I know this is old news at this point but I couldn't help but notice all of the information on social media pertaining to the Colorado Eagles refusal to return the Kelly Cup to the ECHL. Apparently there is some dispute over the exit fees charged to the Eagles for leaving the ECHL for the AHL. The league was forced to create a new Kelly Cup that will be presented to Newfoundland or Toldeo. Since the Cup is presented to the ECHL champion by Mr Kelly who was the first commissioner of the ECHL and is going strong at 83 years of age it is disrespectful to Patrick Kelly and poor form by Colorado to not give up the trophy over some financial squabbles. C'MON MAN!



DID YOU KNOW:  From the start of the ECHL in 1988-89 to 1995-96 the playoff champion was awarded the Riley Cup. Beginning in the 1996-97 season the Patrick J. Kelly Cup is awarded to the ECHL champion. Named in recognition of Patrick J. Kelly, one of the founding fathers of the league and the ECHL Commissioner for the first eight seasons before being named Commissioner Emeritus in 1996. Kelly just celebrated his 66th season in hockey. It is interesting that it is the Colorado Eagles that are refusing to return the Kelly Cup as Kelly was the coach of the Colorado Rockies (NHL) in 1977-78 and is the only coach to lead the Rockies to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The franchise was moved to Colorado from Kansas City (Scouts) after being in Kansas City from 1974-76. The Rockies were in Colorado from 1976-82 and were then moved to New Jersey where they became the New Jersey Devils.
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I am about to head to Canada (Ontario) on my annual fishing trip where for a week we will be off the grid and the daily agenda is very simple. Sleep, eat, fish, eat, nap, fish, eat and repeat. I am the camp cook and I have four different recipes for all of the walleye we will catch from fried Walleye, to Parmesan broiled walleye to tented baked walleye with vegetables to a seafood chowder with walleye, clams and shrimp for the cold rainy days. You can only bring four walleye each back home but you can eat 20 per day (four walleye times five fishermen) so lots of fish meals.


- The Kelly Cup finals won't be set until tomorrow (Wednesday) night when Tulsa and Toledo meet in game seven of the Western Conference finals. The Oilers went into a sold out (7542) Huntington Center last night and beat the Walleye 4-2 to force a game seven which will be in Tulsa. There have been just two seven game series in the 2019 Kelly Cup playoffs with both involving Tulsa. In the opening round the Oilers beat Kansas City in game seven (at home) after falling behind in the series 3-2. Can Tulsa use home ice advantage to advance to the Kelly Cup finals and bring a fifth straight championship to the Mountain Division?


- Awaiting in the wings are the Newfoundland Growlers who clinched the Eastern Conference championship on Saturday. It is already a given that Newfoundland will have home ice advantage in the Kelly Cup finals because they finished #3 during the regular season and are the highest ranked team remaining. Games one and two of the finals will be in Newfoundland on Saturday and Sunday. It will be the classic case of rest or rust as the Growlers will go a week between games while the winner of Tulsa vs Toledo will go from one series to the next.  


- Cincinnati and Florida dominated during the regular season. Cincinnati finished with 110 points which was 16 points more than third place Newfoundland and Florida finished the regular season with 106 points, 12 more than the Growlers. The fact that Cincinnati and Florida didn't make it to the Kelly Cup finals is not a huge surprise but the way they lost was a big surprise. Cincinnati lost to Toledo 4-1 in the Central Division Finals and Florida lost the Newfoundland 4-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals.


- The Newfoundland Growlers are the story of the playoffs. A first year team affiliated with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Marlies, the Growlers had their head coach (Ryane Clowe) step down in January for medical reasons. Assistant coach John Snowden was named the new head coach. Newfoundland won the North Division easily but struggled at the end of the regular season losing nine of their last 14 games. The Growlers won the first round of the playoffs against Brampton 4-2 but three of the wins came in overtime. Newfoundland improved each round and by the time they took on the favored Florida Everblades in the Eastern Conference Finals they were playing their best hockey. Newfoundland went to Florida to start the series and beat the Everblades twice and the series was essentially decided. It ended up going five games but the Growlers were dominate. Here are a few examples:

In their four wins against Florida the Growlers outscored the Everblades 16-1.

In 79 playoff games so far there has been nine shutouts, the last three have been by Newfoundland's Micheal Garteig against Florida who was #2 in the ECHL in the regular season averaging 3.83 goals per game.

Newfoundland was very disciplined in the series allowing only eight power play opportunities to Florida and the Everblades scored only one power play goal. Florida allowed 22 power plays to the Growlers that resulted in five power play goals.

Growler forward Zach O'Brien had his second hat trick of the playoffs in game four against the Everblades. There have been five hat tricks in the playoffs so far and Zach has two of them. He is tied for the lead in playoffs in goals (14) and is second in points (24). O'Brien leads the playoffs in game winning goals with five. By the way the ECHL record for most goals in one playoff year is 17.


- The Kelly Cup finals will be unique no matter who joins Newfoundland. The Growlers are a first year franchise and you have to go back to 1990 to find the last time that has happened. The Greensboro Monarchs won the 1990 ECHL championship (Riley Cup) as a first year franchise beating the Winston-Salem Thunderbirds 4-1.


- If Tulsa makes the finals it will be the first time since joining the ECHL in 2014. The Oilers missed the playoffs the last three seasons.


-If Toledo makes the finals it will be the first time since 1994. The Walleye won their division four years straight (2015-18) but never advanced to the finals. This season they finished second to Cincinnati in the Central Division but can advance to the championship finals with a win in Tulsa tomorrow night.


- Here is a story from the Toledo Blade about the disappointment of the Walleye losing game six at home and having to take a 15 hour bus ride to Tulsa for game seven: https://www.toledoblade.com/sports/walleye/2019/05/21/why-the-toledo-walleye-are-busing-to-tulsa-echl-playoffs/stories/20190521092


- The off season changes will pick up next month but several notable ones have already been announced. Allen captain Joel Chouinard and former players Peter MacArthur and Tyler Barnes have retired. Defenseman Etienne Boutet has signed to play in France. Utah's leading scorer (71 points, 32 goals), Caleb Herbert, has signed in Austria where his teammate will be Allen goalie C.J. Motte who signed earlier. Goalie Joe Cannata, who led the Colorado Eagles to the Kelly Cup in 2018 and played for Utah this season has signed to play in Sweden in 2019-20. If this off season is typical the majority of the top 10 ECHL scorers will not return to next season. If they don't get AHL deals they will head to Europe.


- The Wichita Thunder announced last week that their new coach will be Bruce Ramsay who Allen fans will remember from his six years (2009-15) as the head coach in Tulsa. There has been speculation that Wichita Thunder captain Dyson Stevenson could return to Allen. Since Dyson is now a veteran with 288 pro games he can become a free agent and sign with any ECHL team. Will Stevenson re-sign with Wichita now that the Thunder have selected Ramsay as their new coach? Ramsay played a similar style to Stevenson during his pro career. Ramsay played one season in Wichita (2000-01) and had 35 points in 60 games to go along with 364 penalty minutes. Stevenson could also look at playing in Europe. The bottom line is Dyson will have lots of option on where he will play next season and Allen is just one of them.


DID YOU KNOW: There are so many stats you can look at to determine which of the three teams left in the playoffs will win the Kelly Cup. Here are a couple of comparisons looking at games played in the division and conference finals.

Goals Differential
+21 Newfoundland
+9   Toledo
-1    Tulsa

Goals Allowed Per Game
1.73 - Newfoundland
2.00 - Toledo
2.33 - Tulsa
    
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 - Steve Martinson is back in Allen from a week in Iowa and reports that in addition to being involved in the "Black Aces" practices he had the opportunity to work with the Wild staff in planning for next season. He still expects to get more players assigned to Allen than last season. The recruitment process is still in the very early stages. Keep in mind the ECHL protected lists are not due until June 1, the season ending roster is not due until June 15, the first day to sign players isn't until June 16 and qualifying offers aren't due until June 30.


- If you have been following the conference finals of the Kelly Cup playoffs you have watched the lower seeded teams (Newfoundland in the Eastern Conference, Toledo in the Western Conference) take 2-0 leads.


Newfoundland vs Florida - This is the typical 2-3-2 series where the higher seeded team (Florida) started with two home games. The Growlers went to Florida and beat the Everblades 2-0 in game one and 5-1 in game two. Newfoundland now heads home for the next three games. NHL history paints a bleak picture for the odds of Florida coming back in this series. According to the website WhoWins, in NHL conference finals when a team starts on the road and takes a 2-0 lead they go on to win the series 95% of the time.


Tulsa vs Toledo - This series pits the Mountain Division champions (Tulsa) against the second place team from the Central Division (Toledo). Because of arena availability this series is 2-3-1-1 and the higher seeded team (Tulsa) had to start on the road. Toledo held serve at home beating Tulsa 6-2 in game one and 4-1 in game two. The series now moves to Tulsa for the next three games on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. WhoWins shows in the history of the NHL, in the conference finals, when a team starts at home and takes a 2-0 lead they have gone on to win the series 90.2% of the time.


- The full ECHL schedule won't be published until sometime in June but teams can put out their home schedules whenever they want. The only announcement from the Americans thus far is they will open the 2019-20 season at home on October 11 against the Tulsa Oilers.


- Here are some of Allen's away games based on opponents releasing their home schedules:

Rapid City - Allen will make one trip to Rapid City for three games against the Rush on February 12, 14 and 15.

Kansas City - Allen visits Kansas City five times spread out throughout the season. It seems strange but they play just one game against the Mavericks on all five trips to Kansas City. Here are the dates:
November 19
January 18
February 8
March 6
April 1


- Based on home schedules released by other ECHL teams, Allen will not be visiting Indy, Fort Wayne, Brampton or South Carolina in 2019-20.


- The second official announcement about players from last season happened this past week. The first or course was the retirement of captain Joel Chouinard. The latest was the announcement that defenseman Etienne Boutet has signed to play in the top league in France (Ligue Magnus) for a team called Rapaces de Gap which translates to the Gap Raptors. Gap is an alpine town in the southeast of France with a population of just over 40,000. Former Allen players that have played in Ligue Magnus include familiar names like Brian McMillin and Jonathan Lessard. Here are some others that played briefly in Allen and went on to play in France:

Dallas Ehrhardt (2013-14)
Alex Quesnel (2010-11)
Spencer Edwards (2011-12)


- Dallas Ehrhardt has played in England the last three seasons for the Manchester Storm and is also a member of the Great Britain national team which for the first time in 25 years is playing in the top tier of the Hockey World championships against the elite teams in the world (United States, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland). A great experience for Dallas and his teammates playing against some of the best players in the world. Great Britain is the lowest ranked team in the tournament (#22) and has lost to Germany 3-1 and Canada 8-0.     


- Allen's AHL affiliate, the Iowa Wild, are on the verge of elimination in the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs. Iowa is trailing Chicago in the series 3-2 with game six (tonight) and game seven if necessary on Wednesday. Both games will be in Chicago. The Wolves took the lead in the series with a 7-4 win over the Wild in Iowa on Friday night.


- Former Allen Americans are playing a big role for the Toledo Walleye in the Western Conference finals against Tulsa. Toledo has taken a 2-0 lead in the series. Chris Crane had the game winning goal last night to go along with an assist in game one. Bryan Moore had a goal in game one, it was his sixth goal of the playoffs. Matt Register had three assists in the two games against Tulsa.


- Matt Register is going for his fourth straight Kelly Cup championship having won in Allen in 2016 and in Colorado in 2017 and 2018. Register is the only player in ECHL history that has won three straight Kelly Cup titles.


DID YOU KNOW: Allen's home opener in 2019-20 will be against Tulsa (October 11). It will be the third time in team history the home opener has been against Tulsa. The first two did not go well for the Americans. In 2011-12 Tulsa beat Allen 4-1 and in 2014-15 the Oilers beat the Americans 9-6. Here are the teams Allen has played in their first home game each season.

2009-10 - Corpus Christi 
2010-11 - Texas
2011-12 - Tulsa
2012-13 - Arizona
2013-14 - Wichita
2014-15 - Tulsa
2015-16 - Quad City
2016-17 - Missouri 
2017-18 - Orlando
2018-19 - Wichita
2019-20 - Tulsa
    
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- The Brabham Cup curse has struck again. The Toledo Walleye beat the Cincinnati Cyclones last night to advance to the Western Conference finals in the Kelly Cup playoffs. Toledo won the series 4-1. Cincinnati follows a long list of teams that have won the regular season championship and failed to win the Kelly/Riley Cup. The Cyclones won the Brabham Cup this season with 110 points which was four more points than South Division leader Florida, 16 more points than North Division leader Newfoundland and 20 more points than Mountain Division leader Tulsa. In the 31 year history of the ECHL only three teams have won the Brabham Cup and gone on to win the Kelly/Riley Cup. Alaska did it three times (2014, 2011, 2006), Cincinnati did it in 2008 and South Carolina in 1997. It has to be disappointing to be so dominating in the regular season and go out in the second round of the playoffs losing the series 4-1. The Cyclones lost only two games in regulation at home during the entire regular season but went 0-2 in the playoffs against Toledo. Congrats to Toledo who will now take on the winner of the Tulsa vs Idaho series for the Western Conference championship. Tulsa leads in that series 3-2 with game six in Tulsa tonight. If the series goes to a game seven it will be in Tulsa on Tuesday night.


- In the Eastern Conference the Florida Everblades have advanced and will play the winner of Newfoundland vs Manchester in the conference finals. Newfoundland leads the series 3-2 and has game six (Monday night) and game seven if necessary (Tuesday night) at home.


- Steve Martinson is in Des Moines, Iowa helping out the Wild who are still in the AHL playoffs. Martinson got a call last week to see if he would help out by conducting practice with the "Black Aces" for the Wild. When an NHL or AHL team makes the playoffs they will expand the roster by calling up players from their affiliates. According to the AHL website the Iowa Wild roster is at 32 players (3 goalies, 10 defensemen, 18 forwards). Typically the Black Aces do not see any playoff action. They do not practice with the team and do not travel on road games. They participate in a separate practice session reserved for extra skaters. The assignment as a Black Ace requires hard work and focus even though the opportunity to play is remote, barring injuries. Coach Martinson will be familiar with many of the "Black Aces" because of their time in Allen this season. The group includes C.J. Motte, Riley Bourbonnais, Dante Salituro, Nick Boka and Jack Sadek. Iowa is playing Chicago in the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs and trails in the best of seven series 0-2. The next three games are in Iowa.


- The schedule for next season is under going the final revisions and ECHL teams have been given permission to release their home schedules on Monday (May 6). This will be done on a team by team basis so I would expect they will be announced by different teams on different dates. Some teams have already put out on social media the announcement will be made on Monday. The entire ECHL schedule will not be released until later. I would expect the Allen home schedule will be released in the next couple of days.


- The PHPA (Professional Hockey Players Association) recently did a profile on Allen's player representative the last two season, Joel Chouinard. The PHPA asks the retiring captain everything from how he became the player rep for Allen to his junior days to being drafted in the NHL to becoming a dad to his hidden talents and much more. You can check it out here:  https://www.phpa.com/news/1494


- Former Allen forward Bryan Moore was a major factor in Toledo's win over Cincinnati in the Central Division finals. Moore had two goals in game five and was the #2 star of the game. He followed that up with scoring the game winning goal in game six and being selected the #1 star. Another former Allen player, defenseman Matt Register, had a goal and three assists in the five game series against Cincinnati.


- I am sure many of you remember Brooklyn Rivera who was one of the Ice Angels for several years and also worked in the front office for the Americans. Brooklyn has gone on to great things as a business owner and mom. She was recently selected as Mrs. McKinney and last night competed in the finals of the Mrs. Texas Pageant and finished as the 1st runner-up.  Congrats to Brooklyn, her husband Eddie and their young family on mom finishing second in the Mrs. Texas Pageant.

Ice Angel Brooklyn



The Rivera family

Brooklyn, second from left was 1st runner up and won awards for best interview and most photogenic



- If you are not on social media you may have missed this story about former Allen defenseman Rick Pinkston having to retire after a serious infection as a result of something hockey players refer to as "Bauer Bump" which is a bony growth that develops on the back of the heel. Here is the story: https://www.fifetoday.co.uk/sport/other-sport/fife-flyers-defenceman-rick-pinkston-retires-from-playing-after-hospital-scare-1-4917650




DID YOU KNOW:  In the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs all four division champions (Nashville, Calgary, Tampa Bay and Washington) lost in the first round and all four wild card teams are still alive. In the ECHL all four division champions (Newfoundland, Florida, Cincinnati, Tulsa) won their first round series and the bottom six teams were eliminated in the first round. While Cincinnati was eliminated last night the other three division champions have either already advanced (Florida) or are leading their second round series 3-2 with two games remaining at home. Anything can and does happen in the Stanley Cup playoffs but in the ECHL Kelly Cup playoffs the champion always comes from one of the top regular season teams. Unless Manchester or Idaho pull an upset by winning two games on the road the final four in the Kelly Cup playoffs will be teams rank #2, #3, #4 and #5 in the regular season. 
  
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- There is not much new on the Allen Americans recruiting front but it is important to remember it is still very early in the process. The NHL, AHL and ECHL are in the second round of their playoffs and in seven of Allen's 10 seasons they were still playing at this point. As a reminder here is the last game in each of the last 10 seasons:

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 semi-finals
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 finals
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 semi-finals
April 6, 2019 - A 4-1 loss to Wichita, out of playoffs


-  In talking to coach Martinson he is spending the majority of his time researching players at all levels and coordinating with the Minnesota Wild and Iowa Wild. The Wild have shared with Martinson they will be signing more players this season which will be of great help to Allen. 


- I've heard from many Allen fans they have lost interest in the Kelly Cup playoffs since the Americans are not participating for the first time in franchise history. There are some connections to the Allen Americans that have made it to the Division finals so if nothing else you can cheer for some of the players that have spent time in Allen in the past. Here is the list:

Cincinnati - none

Florida
Mitch Vandergunst - Mitch was in training camp with Allen this season.

Newfoundland
John Snowden - John is the Growler's head coach. He played in Allen in 2013-14.
Eric Levine - well traveled goalie (15 teams in six pro seasons) play five games in Allen (2013-14).

Tulsa
Steve Kaunisto - played 10 games in Allen in 2011-12.

Toledo
Chris Crane - played part of three seasons in Allen and was big part of the 2014-15 championship.
Bryan Moore - had 48 goals in two seasons with Allen (2016-18).
Matt Register - Matt had two stints in Allen, 2011-12 and 2015-16.

Idaho - none

Orlando
Matt Foget - Matt played in Allen briefly in 2017-18 and was in camp this season
Alex Schoenborn -  contracted player from San Jose played in Allen 2016-18.
Colby McAuley - contracted player from San Jose played in Allen 2017-18.
Mike Brodzinski - contracted player from San Jose played in Allen 2017-18.

Manchester
Pavel Jenys - contracted player with the Wild played nine games with Allen this season.
Stepan Falkovsky - contracted player with the Wild played 12 games with Allen this season.


- The second round of the Kelly Cup playoffs got off to a rough start for three of the division champions. Newfoundland, Cincinnati and Florida all lost at home in their opening game. However, they all bounced back in game two so the series are tied 1-1. Tulsa was the exception as they have a 2-0 lead heading to Idaho for the next three games.


- I saw a video where Tulsa head coach, Rob Murray, was talking about the team taking a 26 hour bus ride to Boise for the next three games of the Mountain Division finals. The Oilers have a 2-0 lead in the series and can close out the Steelheads in Idaho. The teams play on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. It is bad enough Tulsa has to bus rather than fly to Boise. You can only hope they are not still using Allen's old bus, "Big Red" for this trip. Big Red hates mountains and getting over them has proven to be a 50-50 proposition in the past.      


- Because of arena availability the Central Division championship, Cincinnati vs Toledo, is a rare 1-3-3 format. The series is tied 1-1 with the road team winning the first two games. The next two games are in Toledo on Wednesday and Friday. The big question in this series is will Cincinnati follow a long list of teams that have won the regular season championship and failed to win the Kelly/Riley Cup? The Cyclones won the Brabham Cup this season with 110 points which was four more points than South Division leader Florida, 16 more points than North Division leader Newfoundland and 20 more points than Mountain Division leader Tulsa. However, in the 31 year history of the ECHL only three teams have won the Brabham Cup and gone on to win the Kelly/Riley Cup. Alaska did it three times (2014, 2011, 2006), Cincinnati did it in 2008 and South Carolina in 1997. Will the curse of the Brabham Cup bite Cincinnati this season?


DID YOU KNOW:  The top three scorers in the 2019 ECHL playoffs not only come from the same team, they are on the same line. The Tulsa Oilers line of Alex Dostie, Stephen Perfetto and Adam Pleskach have been unstoppable so far. They have combined for 45 points (23G, 22A) in Tulsa's first nine playoff games. They have scored 72% of the Oilers goals. Here are their individual stats:

16 points (10G, 6A) Alex Dostie
16 points (5G, 11A) Stephen Perfetto
13 points (8G, 5A) Adam Pleskach 

No other player in the Kelly Cup playoffs has more than 10 points or 6 goals.
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JOEL CHOUINARD

- Allen Americans captain Joel Chouinard made it official last night announcing his retirement from professional hockey. The 2008 sixth round NHL draft choice of the Colorado Avalanche finishes his pro career with 534 games played including 204 in the AHL. The term "class act" describes Joel Chouinard both on and off the ice. Joel's career in Allen spans just three seasons including two seasons wearing the "C" on his chest.


- How did Joel end up playing for the Allen Americans? You can thank his wife, Courtney. The story goes back to when he met Courtney when he was playing in Cleveland for the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL) and one of his teammates was Justin Mercier. As Joel tells the story, "Justin's sister, Courtney, went to school at the University of Michigan and over spring break she came and visited her brother. Their parents are from Erie, Pennsylvania and Cleveland is a midpoint between Erie and Ann Arbor so Cleveland was the perfect spot for the whole family to meet. They would come to watch Justin play and after I met them, to watch me as well. That is how I met Courtney and it has been great ever since." Allen fans can thank Courtney for recruiting Joel for the Americans. While she was attending the University of Michigan Law School she took an internship in Dallas which led to a full time position after she graduated. Steve Martinson was the benefactor of the move to Dallas.


- Joel Chouinard played just three seasons in Allen and was one of the most effective defensmen in the ECHL. Here is how Joel ranks among all ECHL defensmen when you combine his three seasons in Allen.

3rd - Assists (95)
4th - Points (123)
5th - Games Played (205)
10th - Goals (28)


- In 2016-17 Joel won the ECHL Plus Performer Award, leading the league in plus/minus at +47.


- Even though Chouinard played just three seasons in Allen he is near the top of the all-time record list for defensemen in every category. Joel was an Ironman his first two seasons playing in all 72 games. Here are the all-time leaders for Allen defensemen:

Games Played
247 - Tyler Ludwig
229 - Mike Berube
222 - David Makowski
205 - Joel Chouinard

Points
174 - David Makowski
172 - Tyler Ludwig
123 - Joel Chouinard

Goals
55 - David Makowski
51 - Tyler Ludwig
42 - Eric Roy
28 - Joel Chouinard

Assists
121 - Tyler Ludwig
119 - David Makowski
95 - Joel Chouinard


- If you look at single season records, Joel is the all-time leader for the Americans in plus/minus with +47 in 2016-17. In the 10 year history of the Americans no other defenseman has had a plus/minus higher than +28.


- Just two Allen defensemen have played in all 72 games in a season. Aaron Gens was the first in 2014-15. Joel accomplished the feat in 2016-17 and 2017-18.


- Joel had 51 points (12G, 39A) in 2017-18 which was the fourth highest single season point total by a defenseman in team history. His 39 assists that season is also the fourth highest total in team history.


- It has been quite a year for the Chouinard family with the purchase of their new home, a new pet, the arrival of their first child, and now Joel's retirement. I am sure all Allen fans join me in wishing Joel, Courtney, Julien and their dog Harley the best going forward. Here is what Joel posted on the Allen Americans Blog last night, "Thanks everyone! The last three years have been some of the best of my life. You guys were a big part of that!! And yes, to answer some of your questions, I will be around the AEC for games next year, just not on the ice."

Best Wishes to the Chouinards - Joel, Julien, Courtney and Harley




JOHN SNOWDEN

 You may remember John Snowden when he played 22 games for Allen during the 2013-14 season. John had a distinguished nine year pro career of over 700 games but my first memory of him was when he was playing for the Fort Worth Brahmas in 2013. On February 13, 2013 Snowden scored five goals in a game including four straight goals in the second period as Fort Worth beat Arizona 7-1.

- John retired after the 2013-14 season and moved to Orlando to attend the Golf Academy of America to pursue a degree in golf management and obtain his PGA teaching pro card. John was a scratch golfer. However, John never gave up on the idea of coaching for a living and coached youth hockey in Orlando while he was attending the golf academy. When the opportunity to become the assistant  coach for the Orlando Solar Bears for the 2015-16 season came up, John jumped at the chance. He was promoted to the associate coach in Orlando (2017-18). Orlando was affiliated with the Toronto Maple Leafs but that affiliation ended after the 2017-18 season when Toronto affiliated with the expansion Newfoundland Growlers. Toronto recruited John to move to Newfoundland to become the assistant coach with the Growlers. 2018-19 has been quite a season for the Snowdens. You can only imagine the logistics of getting family, pets, vehicles etc. from Florida to Newfoundland. Much of this fell to John's wife, Janelle, who was pregnant with their third child.


- In January Newfoundland Growlers head coach, Ryane Clowe, stepped down because of concussion related medical issues that date back to 2014 when his 10 year NHL career was cut short. In a real  vote of confidence John was named the permanent head coach and the team recruited a new assistant coach.


- Newfoundland won the North Division Championship and beat Brampton in the first round of the playoffs which included one of the most memorable days of John's life. Two days ago on Tuesday, April 23, John and Janelle welcomed their third child and first girl into the world as Rowan Elizabeth Snowden was born at 1:56 am. It was the start of a long day for John as at 9:45 pm his team beat Brampton 3-2 in overtime to advance to the second round of the Kelly Cup playoffs.


- I reached out to John to ask him what it was like dealing with his first ever playoff series as a head coach, traveling to Brampton while Janelle was about to give birth and all that happened on Tuesday. Here is what happened in John's own words. "Barry, to sum it all up it was a whirlwind. After game five in Brampton on Saturday I jumped on a late flight back to St. John to get back home as quick as possible. I knew Janelle was close and I was not missing it! I was able to get back to celebrate Janelle's birthday on Sunday and spend Easter with the boys. I held practice Monday morning and then went straight to the hospital. Early on Tuesday morning (1:56 am) we welcomed our beautiful daughter, Rowan Elizabeth, into the world. I got one hour of sleep, rushed home to check on the boys before heading to the rink to get our morning meetings prepared. My staff then delivered the meetings and morning skate while I went back to the hospital with the boys to meet their sister and see mom. After leaving the hospital we went home, I got the boys to a friends house, took a one hour nap and headed back to the rink for the game. Being able to win our first series as a team and franchise on the same day as having our daughter was amazing. I am a very fortunate man to have an amazing wife and family and being able to work with an elite organization with the Maple Leafs and Growlers that understand the importance of family. April 23 is a day I will never forget!


- It has been quite the year for the Snowden family and it could get even better with the Growlers going strong in the playoffs. Congrats to John and Janelle, big brothers Aiden and Keegan, and new arrival Rowan.

Big brothers Keegan (left) and Aiden meet sister Rowan




KELLY CUP PLAYOFFS

- The final piece of the second round playoff puzzle fell into place last night as Tulsa advanced by beating Kansas City 6-2 in the only series that went to a game seven.


- Unlike the NHL where all four division champions were defeated in the opening round of the playoffs, all four ECHL division champions advanced.


- The higher seeded team won seven of eight first round series. The one exception was Manchester who was the #3 seed in the North Division and beat #2 seed Adirondack 4-1.


- I posted this a couple of weeks ago and wanted to update the info:

 So much for the idea once you make the Kelly Cup playoffs any team can win. In the last 14 seasons the Kelly Cup champion has never finished worse than seventh in the regular season. In 12 of the last 14 seasons the Kelly Cup champion finished in the top five during the regular season. Here is the regular season rank of the 16 teams that made the playoffs. The teams marked with an asterisk have advanced to the second round.

*1. Cincinnati
*2. Florida
*3. Newfoundland
*4. Tulsa
*5. Toledo
*6. Idaho
*7. Orlando
8. Adirondack
9. Utah
*10. Manchester
11. Fort Wayne
12. Brampton
13. Kansas City
14. Kalamazoo
15. South Carolina  


- The second round of the Kelly Cup playoffs get underway tonight as Cincinnati takes on Toledo in the Central Division finals. Cincinnati's record against Toledo in the regular season was 5-2-2-0.


- Getting players added to the roster for the playoffs who spent the majority of the season in the AHL can be the difference in winning and losing. Tulsa is a prefect example. The #1 seeded Oilers fell behind to #4 seeded Kansas City in the Mountain Division semi-finals 3-2 and had to win two games at home to advance. Tulsa was led in the two wins by Alex Dostie who played only five games with Tulsa during the regular season, just enough to qualify to play in the playoffs. Alex was selected the #1 star in games six and seven. In game seven last night Alex had a hat trick including the game winning goal. Dostie is leading all ECHL players in the playoffs in points (13) and goals (9). 

         

DID YOU KNOW: It you had to look at one stat from the first round of the playoffs to help predict second round success it might be goal differential. Here is the list:

+13  Manchester
+11  Toledo
+9    Florida
+8    Cincinnati
+6    Orlando
+4    Tulsa
-2     Idaho
-5     Newfoundland

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