Allen Americans goaltender Rejean Beauchemin is one of the top goalies in the Central Hockey League, posting some amazing numbers and even back to back shutouts. (Photo courtesy CHL Photos blog www.chlphotos.com)
Only in Texas would football and hockey meet in such a unique way. Following what can only be described as a roller coaster career, Terrell Owens signed this offseason with the Allen Wranglers. The Wranglers, who share the Allen Event Center with the Allen Americans, is an indoor football league. Announcing his signing via a video posted on Twitter, Owens has been introduced to the community at a welcoming party for #81 already. He continued getting out into the Allen community by dropping the ceremonial puck at the Allen Americans game on Tuesday night. He was received fairly well by the crowd, although not by everyone - the occasional "boo bird" was heard as well.
The real story of the evening, however, was the contest against cross-town rival the Texas Brahamas. Joshua Hepditch would score the lone Americans goal and Brendon Hodge would score the lone goal for Texas to send the game to overtime and eventually a shootout. The game was also a showdown between the two top goaltenders in the entire Central Hockey League, Mark Guggenberger (TEX, 1.88 GAA, .929 SV%) and Rejean Beauchemin (ALN, 2.12 GAA, .928 SV%) Beauchemin had another pretty solid game, even if he didn't get the result he was looking for. The Americans are currently second in the Berry Conference, with 67 points in 50 games.
More on the Allen Americans after the jump.
Callups For Several Americans Players
Allen has had the fortune to send several players for stints in the American Hockey League. The following have seen some time in the AHL:
Forward Nick Layton will now join the Texas Stars - with the callup of Matt Fraser, the Texas Stars were down to only 11 healthy forwards. Layton has put up decent points totals for Allen this season, and is a hard worker and physical presence. He should fit in well down in Austin, having attended camp with them at the beginning of the season.
Trade Deadline Passed
The Central Hockey League trade deadline passed with Allen making only one roster move. They traded defensemen Dominic D'Amour to Rapid City for future considerations. The return of Mike Berube and Scott Langdon from callups at the AHL level left Allen deep on the blueline. The impressive play of Matt Register, the 22 year old rookie from Calgary, Alberta, eventually made D'Amour expendable to Allen. Register has skated in only 12 games but boasts a goal and an assist and a +9 in those games. As he's still young, he's prone to making some poor decisions on ice at times, but he generally makes good things happen by reading the ice really well and protecting the puck long enough for the forwards to create some space for outlet passes. He's become a bit of a fan favorite over the past couple of weeks, always willing to interact with fans, even when they're on the road. The Americans are 8-3-1 with Register in the lineup.
Lead Scorers Out With Injuries
The Allen Americans were without top scorers Bruce Graham and Colton Yellow Horn for a time. Yellow Horn has since returned from his lower body injury, and Graham remains out for at least another three weeks with his injury. Keith Johnson has been dealing with concussion symptoms for some time, and he's taking it slow coming back. The good news for him is that he's back practicing and skating with the team. Luckily, the team continues to roll and get big points with some of their key pieces missing from the lineup, and getting back some of these key players as they progress towards the playoffs can only help.
It came as no surprise that, when the Americans started to go through a rough stretch of several games back to back giving up leads to lose games, the decision on captain for the season was finally made. Selected by the team, Jason Deitsch is now sporting the "C" on his sweater for another year. He was captain of the Texas Brahamas last season, and beyond being the social coordinator of the team, he will serve as a voice between players and coaches for the rest of the season - and hopefully beyond.
The Americans are on pace for 89 points this season, which would place them in second place in the Berry Conference. There is a very good chance that the Americans will make the post season for their third consecutive year of existence, battling with Wichita for tops in the conference. In order to gain ground on the top seed, the Americans need to increase the points they are getting on their home ice. Of teams projected to make the playoffs, they have the lowest points percentage on home ice grabbing only ~53% of available points at home. Witchita, ahead of them in standings, is an insane ~77% home points percentage. Allen has been absolute beasts on the road, collecting an astounding ~69% of all available points. With the rest of their schedule made of nine more home games and seven more road games, the play at home is where they'll need to improve to win the league again.