ALLEN, Texas – The pace has quickened with six player announcements in the last week. The Americans are now up to 14 players on the 2021-22 roster. As a comparison to other ECHL teams, Allen’s 14 players announced is mid-pack, with 11 teams announcing fewer and 12 teams announcing more players than the Americans. Fort Wayne leads with 21 players announced while Tulsa and Iowa have announced just five players. There are a lot of announcements yet to come with the first day of on-ice training camp just two weeks away.
The Roster So Far…
Here is Allen’s announced roster with seven forwards, six defensemen, and one goalie:
#35 – Frank Marotte
#5 – Phil Beaulieu
#16 – Darian Skeoch
#18 – Kris Myllari
#20 – Ben Carroll
#24 – Nolan Kneen
#28 – Miles Liberati
#8 – Jackson Leppard
#9 – Dawson Butt
#11 – Branden Troock
#15 – D-Jay Jerome
#25 – Kelly Bent
#26 – Spencer Asuchak
#?? – Jackson Leef
An Affiliation With Seattle?
– There is nothing new (officially) on the Allen NHL/AHL affiliation for the upcoming season. There may be a clue, however, in that goalie Frank Marotte is on the Seattle Kracken training camp roster. The Seattle training camp opened yesterday with the first Kracken preseason game on Sunday against Vancouver. There are five goalies in camp. It may be just a coincidence that Marotte is attending an NHL training camp with Seattle but it may also be a tell on Allen’s affiliation.
What’s the Latest on #13?
– I had a chance to talk to Chad Costello this week and he is continuing his preparation for the upcoming hockey season. He is training hard and it is clear he expects to be ready to play. It is impossible to overstate how important it would be if Chad would return to Allen for the 2021-22 season.
The Jackson Two:
Here is a little info on the two Jackson’s coming to Allen:
JACKSON LEEF – Jackson will be starting his sixth year as a pro hockey player. He won the Kelly Cup last season with the Fort Wayne Komets. Jackson grew up in Fort Wayne and is the son of Ron Leef, who played for Fort Wayne from 1981 to 1987. Ron Leef is #10 all-time in points for the Komets with 503 (212G, 291A) and is a member of the Komets Hall of Fame. He also played two games with the Dallas Black Hawks (CHL) before signing with Fort Wayne. Leef is also familiar with the DFW area as he played his junior hockey with the Texas Tornado (NAHL) winning the Robertson Cup in 2011-12. Jackson attended college at Westfield State University and served as captain of the team in 2016-17 when was selected as the Player of the Year in his conference.
JACKSON LEPPARD – Jackson is an ECHL rookie that played his junior hockey in the WHL where he had 115 points (49G, 66A) in 252 games. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound left-shot forward describes his game this way:
“I am a power forward with lots of grit. I work hard in the corners and the d-zone. I have some skill and use my strength to get on the puck and hopefully put it in the net.”
As a bantam in 2014, his team won the Western Canada Bantam Championship and one of his teammates was good friend was Nolan Kneen. Here is a video of Leppard with some of his WHL highlights:
I have had a few questions about what will be the COVID protocol for the 2021-22 Allen Americans season. I posed the question to team President Mike Waddell and while guidance is always subject to change here is what Mike had to say, “The ECHL is requiring all team personnel who engage with players to be vaccinated. Additional guidance is expected from the league in the next 7-10 days.”
“Per COVID protocol for fans, the Allen Americans are planning to operate at 100% capacity in the Allen Event Center. There will be no mask or vaccination requirement.”
“All ticketing will remain digital for the 2021-22 season.”
“All Americans Team Store transactions will be cashless.”
– Allen has announced 14 players thus far and true to form Steve Martinson continues to recruit players from the Western Hockey League (WHL). Eight of the 14 players announced played their junior hockey in the WHL (Asuchak, Carroll, Kneen, Skeoch, Troock, Leppard, Butt, Jerome).
– Some European leagues have started their season but most are still in preseason. There are several preseason tournaments in Europe so some leagues/teams get an early start. Off to great starts include Tyler Sheehy, who has three goals in his first five games, and Les Lancaster with three assists in his first three games. Alex Breton has not started playing yet but his Slovakian team, Banksa Bystrica, has an unusual schedule. It will play the first 22 games on the road, then 22 home games in its newly renovated rink.
– Longtime ECHL coach Malcolm Cameron, who was in Wichita from 2016-19, is coaching the Glasgow Clan in Scotland this season and has recruited many players from his past including former Allen players Dyson Stevenson and Colton Yellow Horn. Here is a story about how Cameron put together the team in his first year in Europe and the impact of signing Stevenson: https://clanihc.com/post/news-coach-its-not-a-typical-malcolm-cameron-team/
– If you saw the ECHL preseason schedule you noticed the Allen Americans will not play preseason games. The team is still in the process of planning the activities for preseason but there will be some kind of intrasquad game for fans to check out the team prior to the beginning of the regular season. Stay tuned.
Did You Know?
The last two ECHL seasons have been difficult for fans and players alike. I posted this on my ECHL stats page recently and it really hit home how much impact COVID has had on professional hockey players at all levels but particularly the ECHL. In 2018-19 there were exactly 1000 players play at least one game in the ECHL. In the COVID shortened 2019-20 season that number was down to 870 players. In 2020-21 when so many ECHL teams opted out of the season and just 14 played, the number of players that found jobs was down to just 584. Let’s hope the 2021-22 season will see a return to normal and all 27 teams will play the full 72 game schedule.
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