It's been an eventful 2014 for Chicago Wolves goalie Jake Allen. The trouble is, none of his activity has included playing in a game.
Starting Jan. 2, Allen was recalled by the Blues and returned twice within three days, pressed into emergency duty when Blues starter Jaroslav Halak couldn't play because of illness.
Allen backed up Brian Elliott for a home game Jan. 2 against the Los Angeles Kings, and was shipped back to Chicago the next day. But a day after that, the Blues again recalled him so he could provide backup for Elliott in a home game against Columbus. He returned to the Wolves Jan. 5.
Oh, and how did these yo-yoing trips to St. Louis begin for Allen? With him stranded at O'Hare International Airport for nine hours due to bad weather. He barely arrived in time for warmups before the Kings game.
"Once O’Hare gets a few flights cancelled it sort of screws everybody else," Allen said after Friday's Wolves practice. "Some bad luck there, but luckily I got there for the game. It was good to get back for a couple games and see the guys. I didn’t get a chance to play, but it was good."
In fact, Allen hasn't played since making 33 saves in the Wolves 4-3 victory over Charlotte on Dec. 29. Allen, who played in 23 of the Wolves first 32 games, is expected to man the Wolves crease Saturday in Milwaukee against the Admirals, almost two full weeks since his last start.
Allen said the break hasn't bothered him.
"I don’t mind it. I’ve been in this position before," he said. "I just want to pick up where I left off. I was playing well."
Although it's possible Allen might be rusty, Wolves coach John Anderson said he doesn't believe that will be the case. Anderson pointed out Allen got some work in Thursday during a team off-day. Allen took to the ice with Anderson, defensemen Taylor Chorney and Duluth, Minn., native Cade Fairchild, as well as Ty Conklin, the Blues' traveling goalie development coach.
"He understands that he hasn’t played, so he wants to make sure he’s ready," Anderson said. "We watched him in practice (this week) and he’s really sharp."
That's not all that's been happening with Allen. On Thursday he was one of 20 players named to the AHL All-Star Team that will compete against Farjestad BK from the Swedish Hockey League on Feb. 12 in St. John's, Newfoundland. Allen earned the honor by posting a 14-7-2 record with the league's fourth-best GAA at 2.17 and eighth-best saves percentage at .922. He's also tied for fifth with two shutouts.
It's Allen's second All-Star honor, having represented the Western Conference in the 2011 All-Star Game during his rookie season with Peoria.
"It was a good experience the first time so I’m looking forward to it," Allen said. "These guys helped me get there, so it’s not just for me. I’m representing the (Wolves) and the players. It’s an honor."
The game is also somewhat of a homecoming for Allen, who played for the St. John's Fog Devils of the QMJHL in 2007-08. (An aside, is Fog Devils not one of the greatest nicknames ever?)
"I have a lot of close friends from when I lived there for three summers," Allen said. "It's really exciting for me that it’s there and to go back and see everyone again. So it’s more than just an all-star game for me."