Today we catch up with another of the original Allen Americans, Justin Bowers, who is scheduled to be in Allen for the alumni game on February 16. To tell Justin’s story you have to go back to the beginning of the Allen Americans franchise, their head coach, Dwight Mullins and associate coach, Bill McDonald. The DNA of the Americans can be traced to Mullins and McDonald who won a CHL championship together in 1996-97 with the Fort Worth Fire. McDonald was the coach of that team and Mullins was the captain. The Fire were a team that had a lot of skill but were also a very physical team. They had 80 fights that season led by Mullins with 19 fights and 301 penalty minutes.
Fast forward to 2009-10 and Dwight Mullins has been selected as the first head coach of the Allen Americans and hires his old coach, Bill McDonald, as his associate coach. McDonald had been the head coach of the Dayton Bombers (ECHL) in 2008-09 but the team had ceased operations after that season. There is no doubt the kind of team this duo would build. Allen would be a skilled but physical team that would be hard to play against. The nucleus of that first Allen team came from McDonald’s defunct Dayton Bombers team. He was able to convince six players from his 2008-09 ECHL roster to join him in the Central Hockey League with the upstart Allen Americans. Those six players included the Bombers leading scorer, Nino Musitelli, second leading scorer, Jarret Lukin and their top points per game player, Justin Bowers, who spent part of the season in the AHL. Forward Christian Gaudet, defenseman Tyler Wooddisse and enforcer Britt Dougherty were the other players from Dayton on the 2009-10 Americans roster.
That is a long winded way of telling how Justin Bowers arrived Allen for his second professional season. It was a long way from home, 2400 miles to be exact, for the 6’0″ 185 pound forward who hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Justin Bowers spent just one season in Allen (2009-10) but what a season it was. He was the type of player that was an outstanding play maker who could also put the puck in the net. In 49 games Justin had 73 points (23G, 50A) with a plus/minus of +21. His points per game (1.49) was by far the best on the team. Bowers led Allen in a playoff run that ended with the first year Americans losing in the championship finals. Justin had 30 points (12G, 18A) in 20 playoff games which led the Americans and also the entire CHL in playoff scoring.
Bowers was ranked #9 in games played (49) for the Americans as he missed time because of a loan to the AHL (Abbotsford) and also because of injury. Even though Justin played 12-14 games fewer than the others at the top of the team’s scoring chart he ranked at or near the top in all offensive categories:
2nd – Points (73)
2nd – Goals (23)
1st – Assists (50)
3rd – Plus/Minus (+21)
1st – Power Play Goals (9)
4th – Power Play Assists (12)
2nd – Shorthanded Goals (2)
1st – Shorthanded Assists (3)
2nd – Shooting Percentage (13.0%)
1st – Average Points Per Game (1.49)
Bowers was known for his consistency. He had points in 38 of 49 regular season games in 2009-10 and only once went two games without a point. One of his most memorable games was January 23, 2010 at the Allen Event Center and Justin didn’t even score a goal. The Americans beat Bossier-Shreveport 5-1 and Bowers assisted on all five goals. His five assists are still tied for the most assists in a single game in team history.
Justin was selected as a starter for the 2010 CHL All-Star game that was held in Laredo.
After the 2009-10 season Justin Bowers left Allen and the CHL and signed with the ECHL’s Greenville Warriors. I always heard he felt the path to the AHL was better from the ECHL than the CHL. In 2010-11 Justin split time between Greenville and Portland (AHL) and ended up with 26 AHL games played. Bowers retired after the 2012-13 season.
Here is an update from Justin in his own words:
Can you give us an update on you and your family?
I am married to Leah Bowers and we have two children with our third due in August. Our oldest is Will who is four and our youngest is Ally who is two. We have a toy poodle named Gino. We live in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. I own my own home building company called Justin Bowers Homes Inc. focusing mainly on new custom construction.
What involvement do you have in hockey?
I had coached three years at the Junior A level and one year at the Midget AAA level since retiring from pro hockey. At the moment I am just trying to help Will learn how to skate and will probably coach him in is early years.
What are your hobbies/interests now that you no longer play professional hockey?
When I am not working it is nice to just hang out with my family.
Can you share something about your experience playing in Allen?
Allen was an awesome experience and one I will never forget. We were treated like kings there. Just the hospitality alone was worth playing in Allen.
What was your highlight, fondest memory of your time in Allen?
My fondest memory of playing in Allen was our playoff run. No one really understands how remarkable it was to take an expansion team all the way to game six of the championship final. We were very close to winning it all. Something Allen fans got to enjoy after we left.
Who were your closest teammates in Allen? Who do you still stay in touch with?
My roommate was Jarret Lukin. We played together in Dayton and signed together in Allen. We hung out a lot together but I like to think I was close with everyone. We had a very tight knit team and to this day I still keep in touch with most of the guys. Bruce Graham and I grew up playing spring hockey together so it was a pleasure playing with him on a line in Allen.
If you want to check out Justin’s business here is the website for JB Homes: http://www.justinbowershomes.ca/
DID YOU KNOW: According to eliteprospects.com, over his entire hockey career from junior hockey, to college hockey, to professional hockey, to senior hockey, Justin played in 567 games and had 738 points (259G, 479A) for a points per game average of 1.30. In his last year of junior hockey (2005-06) Bowers had 123 points (58G, 65A) in just 54 games. Justin’s point per game average of 1.49 in his one season in Allen ranks #2 all-time for players that have played more than 35 games.