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Practice and Roster Update, Two ECHL Captains Return for Playoffs, Minnesota High School Hockey Tournament, ECHL 40+ Points Scorers and More

Wednesday, March 8th
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You never know what surprises await when you attend the Allen Americans practice and yesterday was full of surprises. Top of the list was no Xavier Bernard at practice after I had just written about Belleville loaning him to Allen. Turns out he had arrived in DFW but before he could get to Allen, he was informed he had been traded to Bakersfield (AHL) so he returned to the airport to catch a flight to California.

– It is disappointing Bernard is not in Allen as he would have been a big help, but when you consider the big picture, you can’t criticize the trade. My reporting is a trade has been a possibility for a while. Bernard played just one game for Belleville since January 1st so the trade to Bakersfield will be a fresh start for him. What I don’t understand is why he was sent to Allen before the AHL trade deadline had passed. The trade deadline is Friday.

– Practice also had a couple of bright spots. Aiden Brown took a big hit at the end of the game on Sunday. He was a full participant in practice yesterday. Justin Young was also practicing yesterday albeit in the red no contact jersey. It is expected Young will travel with the team to Idaho. The status of Chad Butcher for the Idaho trip is still unknown.

– Jared Bethune has signed with the Birmingham Bulls in the SPHL. Birmingham is in second place in the 10 team SPHL. The SPHL regular season ends on April 8. The top eight teams make the playoffs, and all series are best of three.

– If you follow Elite Prospects, you may have noticed the website listed two goalies being signed by Allen yesterday. These are erroneous listings. The goalies were signed by Atlanta.

– With more and more college teams being eliminated from the playoffs every day there has been a flood of players signing with ECHL teams. There have been over 15 college players added to ECHL rosters in the last two days. In addition, the ECHL trade deadline is a week from tomorrow so look for an uptick in trades over the next week. Teams in the playoff hunt will be acquiring players now and give up futures which will be players at the end of the season.

OTHER COMMENTS

– The Minnesota High School boy’s hockey tournament starts today, and it is a spectacle beyond belief. The state tournament has two classes (small schools and big schools) with eight teams qualifying for each class. There are 150 high schools with a hockey program. Over the four-day tournament the attendance will top 125,000. As a comparison Allen’s attendance last season was 115,000 for 36 games. The finals of the state tournament, which is at the Excel Energy Center where the Minnesota Wild average attendance is over 18,000, will be standing room only over 20,000. The largest crowd ever to attend an indoor hockey game in the state of Minnesota was at the at the high school tournament (21,609).

– There will some Allen Americans connections paying close attention to the state tournament. Riley Gill’s high school team (Northfield) is the #5 seed in Class A (small schools). Prior to this season Northfield had made the state tournament only one other time (2017) in the history of the team. In 2017 the team lost in the second round. Northfield plays #4 seed Orono at 8:00 pm tonight. Allen goalie Chase Perry will also have an interest in the tournament. His high school team (Andover) is the #4 seed in the Class AA (big schools) tournament. Andover plays the late game (8:00 pm) tomorrow night against #5 seed Lakeville South. Andover won the tournament last season.

– There are five games on the ECHL schedule tonight, none in the Mountain Division. Here is the ECHL Today with the previews: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2023/3/echl-today-march-8

–  Florida and Toledo met in the Kelly Cup finals last season with Florida winning the championship. The captains for both teams chose not to play this season. John McCarron led Florida last season with 70 points (29G, 41A). The 30-year-old did not return this season for the start of the season, but recently signed with Florida. Just in time to get back in playing shape for the playoffs. The same thing happened with Toledo captain, T.J. Hensick. Last season Hensick led the Walleye with 78 points (22G, 56A) but started this season on the sidelines. The 37-year-old with 112 NHL games on his resume just signed with Toledo. Again, just in time to get in playing shape for the playoffs. Florida and Toledo have both enhanced their playoff chance with the addition of these high scoring veteran players late in the season.

– Allen has had four NHL/AHL contracted players assigned at some points this season. The total games played by the four players totals 80 games. Defensemen have played 63 games; goalies 17 games and Allen hasn’t had a forward assigned yet this season. At the other end of the spectrum is Newfoundland who has had over 20 NHL/AHL contracted players assigned at some point this season. I counted six with over 40 games played for the Growlers and four with over 50 games played.

DID YOU KNOW: Here is the ECHL Stats post for today. What is unique about Allen as it relates to the post is Allen has four players with 40+ points but two have 70+ points, one 60+ points and the fourth 59 points. No other ECHL team has more than one player with 59+ points.There are seven ECHL teams with four or more 40+ point scorers this season. The list includes the top five teams in the league. All seven teams are currently in playoff positions.6: Idaho5: Newfoundland5: Toledo5: Indy4: Allen4: Cincinnati4: WichitaFour teams (Trois Rivières, Norfolk, Kalamazoo, Iowa) have no 40-point scorers. All four are currently outside of playoff positions.

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