It was a big day yesterday as the ECHL approved new franchises in Coralville, Iowa and Trois-Rivières, Quebec who will begin play in 2021-22. It remains to be seen if all ECHL teams return after the pandemic but the ECHL now has 28 teams, two steps closer to their goal of matching the 32 teams in the AHL/NHL.

 

– Coralville is a suburb of Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa. Geographically it would make sense for Coralville to affiliate with the Minnesota Wild. The Wild’s AHL franchise, Iowa Wild, is in Des Moines which is just over 100 miles from Iowa City. Steve Martinson and the Allen Americans have a great relationship with the Wild organization so hopefully the affiliation will continue. It is no secret that Steve Martinson is in the last year of his contract and was not given an extension after being selected as the ECHL General Manager of the Year last season. Add the fact that Martinson’s home is in Rockford, Illinois just 175 miles from Iowa City and you have reason for concern if you are an Allen fan. Hopefully everything will be worked out.
– Trois-Rivières, Quebec is located about 90 miles from Montreal and is expected to be affiliated with the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal does not currently have an ECHL affiliation.
– It will be interesting to see how the new 28 team ECHL gets divided into what you assume will be four divisions of seven teams. If you look at the map the most logical division would be to leave the Mountain Division intact, add Coralville to the Central Division, Trois-Rivières to the North Division and leave the South Division intact. The unknown question is whether any of the current 26 teams drop out next season. They have all indicated their intention to play in 2021-22.
 
 
 
– More and more you see NHL teams trying to get their affiliates geographically close. This potentially saves time and money as players move between the NHL, AHL and ECHL. I doubt it will happen but logically wouldn’t it make sense to have Coralville affiliate with the Minnesota Wild, Allen affiliate with the Dallas Stars and Idaho affiliate with the Seattle Kracken?
 
 
 
– Here is the ECHL press release with more details about the two new franchises: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2021/1/echl-approves-two-expansion-memberships 
 
 
 
– Allen President Mike Waddell shared the next phase of the Americans schedule comes out this week and will cover games through April 3. The balance of the schedule will come out later. In this next phase of the schedule the Americans will have three games against non Mountain Division opponents, all on the road. The schedule is very regional centric to cut costs.
 
 
 
– After I did the update on Monday about former Allen players that are playing in Europe I got several questions about Chad Costello. Chad signed to play in Stavanger, Norway this season. After just 11 games, on December 3, he suffered a serious knee injury and is out for the season. The nature of Chad’s injury required some healing before they could do surgery. Here is the latest from Ashley Costello, 
 
“Chad is scheduled for surgery on Monday which is about six weeks after the injury happened. We are getting anxious but excited to finally be back on the road to recovery. He is getting around great, which is what the surgeon wanted.”
 
I know all of the Costello’s “Allen Americans family” wish him best of luck on his surgery and hope for a speedy recovery.
 
 
 
– Allen continues to prepare for their three game series against the Wichita Thunder which starts on Friday. Wichita added a player to the Commissioner’s Exempt List yesterday according to ECHL transactions. Hopefully no other players will be impacted and affect the games this weekend. 
 
 
 
– Roman Durny of the Tulsa Oilers was named ECHL Goalie of the Week yesterday. There were six goalies nominated and three of them have played for the Allen Americans. Evan Weninger (Wichita) was the runner up. C.J. Motte (Allen) and Andrew Shortridge (Kansas City) were nominees. 
 
 
 
DID YOU KNOW: Here is some ECHL and Steve Martinson trivia.
 
After adding ECHL teams in Iowa and Quebec yesterday the league now has 28 teams. To find a season when the ECHL had more than 28 teams you have to go all the way back to 2003-04. The league expanded to the western United States as the West Coast Hockey League (WCHL) folded and their six remaining teams were absorbed by the ECHL. The WCHL champion in their last season (2002-03) was the San Diego Gulls. The coach of that team was Steve Martinson. 
 
After absorbing the WCHL teams in 2003 the ECHL played that season with 31 teams which is the most in league history. The league started declining the following season and had been reduced to 22 teams before the Central Hockey League folded and their remaining teams joined the ECHL for the 2014-15 season to make a total of 28 teams. The CHL champion in their last season was the Allen Americans. The coach of that team was Steve Martinson.