Yesterday was an eventful day to stop by Allen Americans practice as the team was preparing for its game against Tulsa tonight. Lots of roster activity, most of which you saw in the afternoon if you follow ECHL transactions. Here is a recap/update on the roster:
Aiden Brown – Brown was placed on injured reserve yesterday (effective January 9) after being injured on a penalty shot in the game against Kansas City on Sunday. The goalie poke checked the puck and in the process his stick took Brown down and he crashed into the boards. The fact that Brown was placed on IR so quickly says to me he will be out for a while.
Grant Hebert – Hebert was practicing with the team with his own equipment which finally arrived after being lost by the airlines for several days. I talked to Grant after practice and the sticks he brought with him are still lost. He also shared his dad who went to Kansas City to watch his son play his first pro game, then went to Tulsa to watch his first game and then came to Allen to watch his first game on Sunday is still in town and will finally watch his son play in his first pro game tonight. Grant’s dad deserves a game puck tonight and it would be great if it was his first pro goal puck.
Lord-Anthony Grissom – Grissom was traded to Greenville yesterday for goalie Chase Perry. This was a case of a numbers game for both teams. Allen shows nine defensemen on the roster, eight if you don’t count Jared Bethune who is listed as a defenseman but has been playing forward. Grissom has been a healthy scratch the last three games, so the trade to Greenville, who was short defensemen, will give him a chance to play quality minutes.
Chase Perry – There is no other way to read the trade for Perry other than coach Costello was not happy with the recent goalie play and needed to find some help. Greenville had four goalies on its roster, so it was an obvious choice to acquire a needed defenseman and trade a goalie. Perry was a 5th round draft choice in the 2014 NHL draft by the Detroit Red Wings. He is a big goalie (6’3″) and 26 years old. Perry spent some time with Allen last season when the Americans were shorthanded. He started one game against Newfoundland and stopped 35 of 36 shots for a .972 save percentage as Allen beat the Growlers 2-1. This season Perry started two games for Greenville with a GAA of 1.93 and .944 save percentage.
Liam Finlay – Finlay did skate in practice yesterday but it was a no contact type of practice. He has been skating with the team for a while. He went on the road trip last week thinking he would be able to play but that did not happen. He is listed as day to day but will not play tonight.
Mikael Robidoux – The ECHL suspended Robidoux for seven games, six more in addition to the one he served on Sunday. He will be able to return to the lineup on January 27 at home, ironically against Tulsa. Here is the ECHL press release on his suspension: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2023/1/echl-announces-suspension-jan-10
The reaction to Robidoux’s suspension on social media as well as the many texts and emails I received was very consistent. Here are just a few of the comments:
- Can we admit the Robidoux experience has been an epic failure and move on already
- When a player has been suspended for a total of almost 3X the number of games played, it is time to cut ties.
- What does Robidoux have to do for Chad to say that enough is enough.
- It doesn’t matter if Robidoux is a big hitter, a fast skater or whatever, if he can’t get on the ice because of suspensions.
- Time to remove him from the team, huge liability
I likely have the only contrary opinion to the conclusions everyone else has drawn and the facts certainly back up the majority opinion. Here are the facts:
- 14 game suspension (10/27/22) – off ice incident with a fan
- 6 game suspension (12/3/22) – suspended along with two other players for off ice incident
- 7 game suspension (1/10/23) suspended for kneeing incident
- Totals for 2022-23 are 27 games suspended, 10 games played
Add to the above a recent game for which Robidoux would have likely been suspended but was not because there was no videotape of the complete incident. Given all of these incidents any coach would be justified in saying goodbye to a player. After all it is not just having a suspended player out of the lineup, they must remain on the active roster, which effects the the salary cap and can mean playing shorthanded.
With all that said here is what I have observed since the beginning of the season. Robidoux is a third-year pro but is still one of the youngest players on the team at 23. In interviewing players over the years that play the role of agitator, energy guy and fighter it is very intense, and they are all playing on that edge. It is always difficult the go up to the line but not cross it.
What I have seen and heard about Robidoux, is a player that is passionate about hockey and wants to make the changes that will allow him to thrive. He works with coach Costello on how to harness the energy and intensity and when to bring it to bear in the game. Since Robidoux resumed playing (December 22) he has been one the best players on the team. I saw posts pointing out Robidoux has played three years in the league and has two goals and nine assists. What they don’t say is both of the goals and three of the assists have come in his last eight games and one of the goals was shorthanded.
Even his most recent suspension of seven games was “light” according to many comments. I think that is because the league agreed it was not an intent to injure penalty, but a poor decision that resulted in a penalty that was called a two-minute minor by the referee.
There have been numerous instances of Robidoux showing restraint that go unnoticed. Many predicted problems when Allen visited Kansas City last week given Robidoux played for the Mavericks last season. In two games he took no penalties while drawing a couple of penalties to put Allen on the power play.
I am not looking for anyone to agree with me, but I think coach Costello will be rewarded for sticking with and working with Robidoux. Mikael has the right attitude; he is working his butt off on ice and has skill that is just developing. Most importantly he is dedicated to continuing making the changes that will allow him to be a success while playing the style of hockey that is part of who he is. I wouldn’t bet against Costello and Robidoux making this work, though I am sure the leash has gotten even shorter with this recent suspension.
– There you have to up to date roster changes. The one thing I am sure of is there are more changes coming for the Allen Americans.
ALLEN VS TULSA PREVIEW
– After the 3-2 loss in Tulsa last Saturday when Allen scored first and had the lead after the first and second period only to give up two goals in third period, the Americans should be very motivated for the game tonight.
– Allen is 1-3 against Tulsa this season but the game tonight will be the first at home. Over the last five years Allen’s home record against Tulsa is a mediocre 11-10-1-0.
– Allen will be playing shorthanded again tonight with Brown on IR, Finlay unavailable and Robidoux suspended. Luke Peressini will be in goal for the Americans.
– Allen’s special teams have been struggling recently. The power play has fallen to #16 (19.4%) and the penalty kill to #15 (80.1%). As always, a good start and winning the special teams battle will be keys to victory.
– Allen’s goal scoring in the four games against Tulsa has been spread around. Combs, Hargrove, Crone and Robidoux each have two goals. #13 for Tulsa, Jimmy Soper has scored five goals for the Oilers in four games against Allen.
– With a win tonight Allen’s record over the last month will be 7-7-0-0. Allen enters the game on a two-game losing streak, Tulsa has points in three straights games with two wins and a shootout loss.
DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL Stats post for today is below and is self-explanatory. It should be noted that Jack Combs is fourth on this list but has played between 100 and 500 fewer ECHL games than anyone else on the list. Jack has scored .55 goals per game in his ECHL career. The others on the list vary from .23 to .39.
Most career ECHL goals by active players. Team shown is current team. Goals thus far in 2022-23 is in parenthesis:261 – Justin Taylor, Kalamazoo (13)196 – Michael Pelech, Atlanta (6)186 – Shawn Szydlowski, Orlando (6)171 – Jack Combs, Allen (18)155 – Mathieu Roy, Norfolk (6)152 – Andrew Cherniwchan, South Carolina (6)135 – Justin Vaive, Cincinnati (13)