When there was a COVID breakout in the AHL and NHL and the NHL decided to create an interim taxi squad, Allen coach Steve Martinson said it was a matter of time before contracted players and free agents from Allen would be recalled/loaned. When the NHL taxi squads were implemented, the plan was for them to be in place until the All-Star game (February 5) with a possibility they could be extended.
– Allen has had four NHL/AHL contracted players on the roster this season, they have all been recalled at this point. Here is the list:
- Antoine Bibeau – has played 10 games in Allen, currently with Seattle (NHL)
- Frank Marotte – has played nine games in Allen, currently with San Diego (AHL)
- Ryan Lohin – has played six games in Allen, currently with Charlotte (AHL)
- Luke Henman – has played three games in Allen, currently with Charlotte (AHL)
– Earlier this month defenseman Nolan Kneen (an AHL free agent) was loaned to Charlotte. After spending some time in COVID protocol, Nolan played his first two AHL games on Saturday and Sunday. He had an assist in both games as the Checkers split two games against the Texas Stars.
– Yesterday Allen co-captain, Spencer Asuchak, was loaned to Charlotte. Have to say it was a surprise since Asuchak is 30 years old and hasn’t spent time in the AHL since the 2017-18 season when he played six games with the San Jose Barracuda. Spencer clearly has the skill to play at the next level as evidenced by his 60 AHL games played. My guess is Charlotte was looking for a player with a specific skill set and Asuchak met that need. If the Checkers need a big body fourth line center who can play net front and is great on faceoffs, Spencer is the perfect match. The Checkers play four games this week (tonight, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday) so I am sure that was also a factor. Did you know Spencer has five AHL goals to his credit but three of them game in one game. He had a hat trick on December 2, 2015, when he was playing for the Chicago Wolves. Here is the Americans press release on Asuchak heading to Charlotte: https://allenamericans.com/media/spencer-asuchak-signs-pto-with-charlotte-ahl/
– In talking to coach Martinson this morning, he does not expect any of the players currently loaned/recalled back for the series this weekend in Utah. However, he cautioned me you never know for sure when players might get sent back. He always reminds me of the time he loaned a player to the AHL for one game on a weekend and the player never returned and was in the NHL the following season. Of the injured players, Zach Hall will be available for the road trip and Chad Butcher is day to day. Martinson is still looking for a goalie, so he doesn’t have to use an EBUG in Utah.
– I am sure all of the effort Gavin Gould put in just to play in the All-Star game last night was worth it. He has to have been dead tired after all of the games he played last week including Sunday afternoon in Tulsa followed by the bus trip home to Allen and then catching a 7:30 am flight to Jacksonville yesterday morning. It turned out well for Gavin as he scored the first goal of the game and participated in the fastest skater event. He will be flying back to Allen this morning.
– Utah beat Idaho 6-3 at home yesterday in one of three MLK afternoon games in the ECHL. The Grizzlies will be a big challenge for the Americans in their three game series on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Utah has won seven of its last eight home games dating back to December 6. Allen has a better road record (.594) than home record (.500). In the Americans last eight road games their record is 5-1-1-1. Allen will have to be at its best and it looks like they will be playing without Asuchak, Bibeau and Kneen.
– The ECHL announced yesterday that the Goaltender of the Year Award will be named after Nick Vittucci who is the all-time goaltender leader in appearances (479), wins (265) and minutes played (27,291). Vittucci won five ECHL championships as a player and a coach. Here is the ECHL press release with the details: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2022/1/goaltender-of-the-year-award-named-in-honor-of-nick-vitucci
– Vittucci won four championships as a player and was inducted to the very first ECHL Hall of Fame class in 2008. His association with the ECHL spans a couple of decades and includes time as a successful player, assistant coach and head coach.
– I assumed Vittucci was the all-time leader in most playoff stats given his four championships as a player but not the case at all. Riley Gill, who won two Kelly Cups in Allen plus one in Reading is the all-time playoff leader in appearances (90), minutes (5095) and wins (53, 10 more than anyone else). Maybe the most impressive playoff record held by Riley is career wins in the Kelly Cup/ Riley Cup championship finals. Here are the top five:
- 11 – Riley Gill, Reading, Allen (2013, 15, 16)
- 8 – Gerald Coleman, Alaska (2011, 14)
- 8 – Dave Gagnon, Hampton Roads, 1991, 94)
- 6 – Nick Vitucci, Carolina, Greensboro, Charlotte (1989-91, 96)
- 5 – Scott Stirling, Atlantic City, Trenton (2001, 03)
Riley’s career was cut short because of injury but his 335 ECHL games played (regular season and playoffs) ranks him #7 all-time. There is no question in my mind Gill should be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
– Congrats to Jackson Leppard who celebrates his 22nd birthday today. He shares a birthday with 27 players that have played in the NHL including Mark Messier, Alex Pietrangelo and Brian Gionta.
DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL All-Star game took place last night with the All-Stars playing the host team, Jacksonville Icemen. Here is the game by the numbers:
14-7: Final score, All-Stars beat Jacksonville7687: Attendance3G, 1A: points by MVP, Defenseman Marcus Crawford (KC)5: Most Assists, Olivier Archambault (Trois Rivières)0: Power Plays1: Penalty Shot77: Total Shots3: All three skills competitions were won by Jacksonville players:Fastest skater – Ben Hawerchuk, 13.01 secondsHardest shot – Croix Evingson, 90 MPH
Accuracy Shooting – Derek Lodermeier, 6.0 seconds