I will have a complete series preview tomorrow but wanted to highlight a few comparisons between Allen’s and Rapid City’s playoff rosters (active and reserve combined):
- Allen has four veterans (Asuchak, Combs, Costello, Winquist), Rapid City has two (Klotz, Nelson).
- Allen has seven rookies (includes both goalies), Rapid City has 12 rookies.
- Allen has two NHL/AHL contracted players (Marotte, Lohin), Rapid City also has two and they are both goalies (Parik, Tendeck).
- There are only eight players on the playoff roster that played in Allen’s first game against Rapid City back in November.
- Allen has 682 games of AHL experience on its roster, Rapid City has 247.
- Allen clearly has more playoff experience than Rapid City going into this series. Seven players on the Allen roster have playoff experience with the Americans. Allen’s #1 and #2 all time leaders in playoff games are Spencer Asuchak, with three championships and 73 playoff games as an Allen American and Chad Costello, who is right behind Spencer with two Kelly Cups and 60 playoff games.
- Rapid City hasn’t made the ECHL playoffs since 2015.
– This series is one of a more experienced team in Allen, with players that have been top scorers on their ECHL teams in the past, against a Rapid City team that has fewer high profile players but have been successful by outworking opponents. Rapid City’s leading scorer (60 points) played in the SPHL last season. The Rush’s leading goal scorer (27 goals) played in the Federal League and SPHL last season. Two other Rapid City players had seven goals last season and 20+ goals this season. The Rush roster is filled with players having career years. Rapid City has earned everything it has accomplished through determination and hard work. The key to this series will be can Allen match Rapid City’s determination and hard work.
– The history of the Allen Americans bus “Big Red” which was old (1997 era) when the team purchased it at the beginning of the franchise, is legendary. As much as “Big Red” was the subject of ridicule the fact of the matter was the players and coaches really liked the set up on the bus. The problem was “Big Red” became more and more unreliable as the years past with mechanical breakdowns ranging from engine issues to brake problems to no air conditioning to ventilation issues with engine fumes. The trips through the Rocky Mountains the last few years became nightmares. When Jack Gulati purchased the Allen Americans in 2017, from the Steven Brothers, “Big Red” was not part of the deal. “Big Red” toiled between Wichita and Tulsa (the other Steven Brothers franchises) for a couple of years and was finally scrapped for parts.
– Why do I bring up “Big Red”? Because its younger brother, “Big Blue” is chauffeuring the Allen Americans to Rapid City. “Big Blue” is much younger, born in 1999 and has recently had a heart transplant in the form of a new engine, less then 125,000 miles ago. When you consider “Big Red” was pushing 2,000,000 miles when it died, “Big Blue” isn’t even broken in yet. I took a tour of “Big Blue” yesterday and it is set up exactly like “Big Red”, but it has been refurbished and is it top notch shape. Maybe “Big Blue” can recapture the magic of “Big Red” when Allen went all over the country winning championships. Maybe the best thing about” Big Blue” is Allen doesn’t own it. However, if you loved “Big Red” you will really love “Big Blue”.
|Big Red’s Brother – “Big Blue”
– I had a chance to meet the new Allen Americans President, Jonny Mydra, over lunch yesterday. Jonny was the Vice President of Ticketing for the Americans prior to his selection as team President. A fellow Minnesotan, Jonny is from the same hometown (Minnetonka) as Steve Martinson. We are both graduates of the the University of Minnesota though I was a few decades before Jonny.
Jonny graduated from the famous Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and went on to get his Masters Degree is Sports Management from Columbia University. He started his career in sports management as an intern with the Minnesota Viking, but his first full time job was with the Oakland Raiders where a spent almost six years in increasingly responsible positions. When the Raiders were making the move to Las Vegas, Jonny, along with his long time girlfriend, Claire, decided they didn’t want to live in Las Vegas. He took a job with the New York Jets and through a friend in that organization learned of a job in the ECHL which had more responsibilities and the opportunity to broaden his horizons. He opted not take that job (because of location) but shortly thereafter the Allen opportunity arose. He was selected as the Vice President of Ticketing just over a year ago.
As I understand it, there will be a brighter line than before between the President’s responsibilities and the on ice operations. Anything related to on ice operations will be handled by Steve Martinson working with the Director of Finance.
What I got from the conversation over lunch with Jonny is the Americans have a young executive with the education and experience to be a success. He knows what he knows but just as important he knows what he doesn’t know. He is customer focused and has a business plan that will help the Americans succeed by improving the experience for all fans. Sure there will be bumps in the road, but Jonny strikes me a a true problem solver.
On a personal note, Jonny and Claire live in Dallas but are looking to move to the Allen area very soon. They like going to the many restaurants in the DFW metroplex and Jonny enjoys golf in his spare time.
If you see Jonny Mydra on the concourse next week at the playoff games, make sure to introduce your self and wish him good luck.
DID YOU KNOW: It is always nice to recognize long term ECHL players when they retire. It is a tough grind and you know these players are playing for the love of the sport.
Congrats and stick taps to long time ECHL defenseman Eric Kattelus who has officially announced his retirement from professional hockey. Eric played 11 ECHL seasons, his first with Cincinnati and then 10 with Kalamazoo. Since joining the ECHL in 2010-11, Kattelus is #2 in points (304), #2 in goals (83), #2 in assists (221) and #5 in games played (467) among all ECHL defensemen.