Admit it, when you heard the South Carolina Stingrays were facing Allen in the ECHL’s Kelly Cup finals, you thought he was some slick skating prodigy from Saskatchewan good enough to take on an entire minor league hockey team by himself, right?
It turns out Allen is an actual Texas town caught up in the magic of ECHL expansion that includes teams in Idaho and Kalamazoo and Orlando.
Not to be confused with the more famous McAllen, Texas, Allen is actually a McSuburb of Dallas (pop. 92,000-plus). Complete with a mayor and a Chick-fil-A, an arena and a functioning Zamboni machine.
The Stingrays, the seasonal pride of North Charleston, lead the Allen Americans 2-1 in a best-of-seven Kelly Cup series that moves from Texas to the North Charleston Coliseum for Game 4 on Sunday night.
If the series goes anything like a basic Allen-North Charleston comparison, the Stingrays will seize their fourth Kelly Cup before anyone in Allen notices its most prominent Americans are missing.
Stingrays: Indigenous salt water species lending to fun logo and mascot.
Americans: Winner of the Non-Creative Nickname Award presented by a third-grade class in Fort Worth. Patriotism is wonderful. But of all the critters, snakes, outlaws, heroes, Lone Star lore and Chuck Norris impersonators in Texas, that’s the best you can do?
Allen: Home of the first train robbery in Texas. Sam Bass and his gang got the drop on the ol’ Texas Express Car in 1878 and made off with approximately $1,500, not counting their robbery wardrobe expenses. Another nickname idea: Allen Train Robbers.
North Charleston: Home of the H.L. Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy ship, the Union’s Housatonic during the Civil War.
Allen: A $60 million high school football stadium that had to close last year before its official opening when concrete cracks were discovered made national news.
North Charleston: Home of Art Shell, Bonds-Wilson High School graduate, Pro Football Hall of Famer, perhaps the greatest tackle in NFL history and a former NFL head coach.
North Charleston: Park Circle fare is only part of the culinary joy in North Charleston.
Edge: Fratello’s, Sesame … And Chick-fil-A, too.
Allen: Mammoth Allen High School is a Texas prep power (with a nice stadium).
North Charleston: Fort Dorchester High School alone has three alums counted among the NFL’s best players. Robert Quinn and Byron Maxwell were on hand at Carlos Dunlap’s annual Fort Dorchester camp this week.
Edge: North Charleston
Americans: The Ice Angels, 15 bikini-clad Texas women who conduct various contests during games.
Edge: Ice Angels
Americans regular season attendance average: 4,096.
Stingrays regular season attendance average: 3,979.
Edge: Essentially even when you consider some Americans fans came strictly to see the Ice Angels
Allen: Hydrous Wakeboard Park.
North Charleston: The Cooper River flows to the Atlantic Ocean.
Edge: Boating, fishing and alternative access to Canadian hockey talent
Charleston is a consensus Top 10 tourist destination.
Edge: The Holy City
Allen Event Center: Disney in Concert, Texas Twister Regional Taekwondo Tournament, Allen Bridal Show, Counting Crows.
North Charleston Coliseum & Performing Arts Center: Rob Thomas, Weird Al Yankovic, Nickelback, The Southern Bridal Show, Mark Knopfler, Disney’s Beauty and The Beast.
Edge: Post-Stingrays entertainment.
Not even much-maligned Nickelback can dim the glow of Weird Al’s “Mandatory World Tour” which hopefully will include “Like a Surgeon,” “Eat It” and “Smells Like Nirvana.”
Weird Al trumps Weird Allen in any arena and the Stingrays will triumph over the Americans in six games. There’s nothing the Sam Bass gang or Ice Angels can do about it.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff