Over the years Allen coach Steve Martinson has often said in jest having four straight days of practice, like this week, is difficult because he gets tired of yelling at the players and they get tired of being yelled at. After two opening weekend wins Martinson let the team have some fun yesterday at practice. He set up a red vs white tournament starting with 5 on 5 play, then going to 4 on 4 and finishing with 3 on 3 cross ice play.
– In the past these fun day tournaments have pitted the Canadian vs US players and Western League players vs the rest, but yesterday the teams were the right shots vs left shots. Coach Martinson wasn’t even on the ice. There was a method to his madness however. He wanted the players to have fun but he also wanted the practice to be competitive so every player had some skin in the game (if you know what I mean) and one of the goals was to improve communication on the ice. Gary Steffes was the only non-player on the ice serving as a quasi referee/arbiter.
– The lefties beat the righties 11-10 in a come from behind shootout victory. I got this tongue in cheek assessment from one of the unbiased players, lefty Spencer Asuchak. “The lefties were down 9-5 with about five minutes remaining and came back to tie the score 10-10 before winning in the shootout. The lefties decided to spot them the lead so the righties didn’t feel too bad about themselves when we won.”
– While it was a lot of fun Spencer also said, “In all seriousness it was really competitive and I thought everyone worked hard and had a good time. Seemed great for team morale and communication on the ice.” This sentiment was also echoed by Gary Steffes and Shawn O’Donnell when I talked to them after practice.
– It will be back to the traditional practice the rest of the week, working on correcting some of the mistakes from the weekend. As coach Martinson says, “It is easier working on correcting mistakes when you are winning.”
– Defenseman Turner Ottenbreit was loaned to Iowa (AHL) yesterday. I was asked how Iowa decides who to ask for from Allen. I assume a big factor was they wanted a left shot defenseman. If you look at the Iowa defensemen, Turner’s style of play might be a better fit. In the AHL, typically seven defensemen dress for a game. Matt Register has played in one of the Wild’s four games as the seventh defenseman. That is the role Ottenbreit will also mostly likely have in Iowa. Register is more offensive minded and can quarterback the power play. Allen has a couple of Wild contracted defenseman that are similar in style to Register. Ottenbreit has a little different skill set which is more defensive minded with plenty grit and grease which I assume is why he was requested. Iowa had plenty of time to watch Turner first hand at the Traverse City Prospect Tournament and the Wild training camp. While I am sure he will be a healthy scratch some nights, he gives the Wild a choice for the seventh defenseman between himself and the more offensive minded Register. A great opportunity for Turner.
– For those interested in practice times, here they are for the week but keep in mind they are subject to change:
Tuesday – 10:00 am
Wednesday – 10:00 am
Thursday – 10:00 am
Friday – 9:45 am (pregame skate)
Saturday – 9:45 am pregame skate)
DID YOU KNOW: The Americans have always had offensive minded defensemen willing to jump into the play. That was never more evident than in 2014-15 when Allen won their first ECHL championship. While Gary Steffes set a team record with 44 goals and Chad Costello set a team record with 125 points, Aaron Gens set a team record for points by a defenseman (56). All of these records still stand today. There were four defensemen that finished in the top ten in scoring for Allen that season. The list:
56 points – Aaron Gens
44 points – Kevin Young
39 points – Justin Baker
37 points – Tyler Ludwig
In the playoffs a fifth defenseman was added to the list from Allen’s AHL affiliate at the time (Worcester). Konrad Abeltshauser led all Allen defensemen in the playoffs with 16 points (5G, 11A).