Thursday, November 23, 2017

Allen Beats Idaho 3-1, Game Recap, Video Highlights, Martinson's Comments, Milestones Galore, Thanksgiving on the Road, Auction & Black Friday Update

 The Allen Americans got off to a good start in the first of three games against Idaho beating the Steelheads 3-1 last night before a crowd of 4320 at CenturyLink Arena. The Americans kept their streak alive, score first, win the game, which now stands at 7-0.

- Goal scorers for Allen were Bryan Moore (3) who put in a rebound after great plays by Mathieu Aubin to keep the puck in the zone and Spencer Asuchak to take the puck to the net, Vincent Arseneau (6) who has a goal in his last five games and Daniel Leavens (1) who got his first goal of the season on a great individual effort where he intercepted a pass, went in one-on-two, took a shot that missed the net and put in his own rebound off the end boards. Here are the video highlights:

- Here is the game recap by the Allen Americans:

- Here is the game recap by the Idaho Steelheads:

- Allen coach Steve Martinson sent me five quick comments after the game, "Good start to the series, Vince had the game winner and has five goals in his last five game, it was great to see Daniel Leavens score, we played a solid defensive game and Brodeur was real good in goal." I think Martinson was pleased with the team effort as they were playing short a forward and are pretty banged up right now.

- Vincent Arseneau has scored six goals this season and they have all come in his last seven games. Three of his six goals have been game winners including last night. His three game winning goals ties him for #3 in the league just one behind the league leaders.

- Tommy Daniels was a stats encyclopedia on his broadcast last night. Here is a sample of a few I remember Tommy sharing:

"Steve Martinson is coaching his 1500th game tonight"
"That is Mathieu Aubin's 300th  professional assist"
"Vincent Arseneau now has a goal in his last five games"
"Casey Pierro-Zabotel has an assist in his last five games"
"Arseneau's five game goal streak is the longest in the league right now"


- If you have been tracking the current Allen Americans auction items you may have noticed a lot more jerseys were added yesterday along with autographed sticks, pucks and photos. If you have always wanted a jersey and the prices were too high at the live auctions this may be your chance. There are seven jerseys on this auction that do not have a bid and the starting bid is only $149. You can choose from autographed Asuchak, Hanson or Makowski jerseys or even bid on one of the more infamous specialty jerseys, a McDonald's team autographed jersey.  The current auction ends Sunday night (9:00 pm CST). Remember, you don't have to register to check out the auction, just to bid. Here is the link:

- A reminder the Allen Americans team store will be open tomorrow from 9:30 am - 3:30 pm with special Black Friday deals from 9:30-1:30. Whether it is for yourself or Christmas presents a great time to check out the team store. Mention Barry the Blogger when you shop at the team store tomorrow and you will get absolutely nothing extra but they will know you saw the info on the blog.

- For the many Tanner Eberle fans you might want to check out the ECHL Showcase game tomorrow (Friday) night as Tanner's Jacksonville Icemen will be hosting the Atlanta Gladiators. The game can be seen on Facebook Live and there is no cost. Just go to the ECHL Facebook page to watch the game. Puck drop is 6:30 CST and watch for Tanner wearing #29.

- Allen was able to gain some ground on several of their Mountain Division rivals last night. Wichita, Tulsa, Utah and of course Idaho all lost last night. Allen is now in third place in the division three points behind Wichita and one point behind Colorado.


- I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving but especially those that will spend the day away from their families. Those like my daughter, Erin, who is a labor and delivery RN at Parkland Hospital and will put in a 12 hour shift today, first responders, those serving in the military and so many others including the Allen Americans who are away from their families. The Americans have never spent a Thanksgiving at home in the nine years as a franchise. This is because of scheduling conflicts at the Allen Event Center (Disney on Ice) but coach Martinson has vowed to try and make sure the team is at home next Thanksgiving even if they have to play on the road before and after the holiday. Scheduling road games with Tulsa and/or Wichita would allow the Americans to be home for Thanksgiving. 

- While the Americans won't be with their friends and families today, the team will have a Thanksgiving feast thanks to some very special Allen fans. Mark Fisher started the tradition of providing a Thanksgiving meal for the team three years ago. This year Ed and Sheri Bohnemann are joining forces with Mark and Elizabeth Fisher to provide the Thanksgiving meal. I asked Mark to share the details and this is what he said, "This year the team will be having a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner at the hotel consisting of green salad, turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, fresh vegetables and dessert. Ed & Sheri Bohnemann and Elizabeth and myself decided to provide this meal for the team as it is tough enough to be away from home during the holidays without having to worry about how much per diem you have. I started this tradition three years ago to directly improve the player experience in Allen when the team was under different ownership. Jack Gulati, the new team owner, is doing a great job of supporting and providing for the players and the organization but we wanted to continue to provide the meal for the team ourselves. I hope the players and staff know that even though only a few fans could make it to Boise, those of us that are back in North Texas are thinking of them and wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving."

What a great gesture by some super Allen Americans fans!

Elizabeth & Mark Fisher

Ed & Sheri Bohnemann

 DID YOU KNOW: It is tough for the Allen Americans to be in Idaho for Thanksgiving and I am sure when the franchise started in 2009 it wasn't envisioned they would be on the road on Thanksgiving for nine straight years. That first season was quite a challenge. The day before Thanksgiving the Americans played the Mississippi River Kings in Memphis which is 450 miles from Allen. They lost that game 3-1 even though they scored the first goal early in the first period. The River Kings scored three unanswered goals in the last 10 minutes of the game for the victory. The Americans had to leave Memphis Wednesday night and drive 800 miles to Odessa where they played on Friday. They beat Odessa 5-4 in that game on a Justin Bowers power play goal with four seconds remaining in the second period. There was no scoring in the third period. The Americans then traveled back to Allen (350 miles) and played the Texas Brahmas on Saturday and won 4-3 in a shootout. Defenseman Ryan Fairbarn got the game winning shootout goal. The total was three games in four days and 1600 miles on the bus with Thanksgiving squeezed in on the off day. Idaho doesn't sound so bad after that first Thanksgiving road trip.

I had a chance to talk to Tommy Daniels this morning about that first Thanksgiving road trip and he shared with me the team left Memphis after the game Wednesday night and spent most of Thanksgiving Day getting to Odessa. They stopped at a Cracker Barrel just west of Weatherford for brunch and didn't arrive in Odessa until after 3:00 pm. They had their Thanksgiving meal that evening at the hotel. Tommy remembers assistant coach, Bill McDonald saying at dinner that night, "I sure hope we don't have to travel on Thanksgiving next season."  It has now been nine years and the team has still not been home for Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Allen vs Idaho Preview, Black Friday Team Store Specials and Records in Review on Spencer Asuchak's Birthday

It is game day for the Allen Americans as they are in Boise to begin a three game series against the Idaho Steelheads. The game tonight is the third of 10 meetings between these teams this season. They split their first two games in Allen with the Americans winning 2-1 on November 10 and Idaho winning 5-4 in a shootout on November 11.

- Games within the division are always important and the games in Idaho are no exception. The Steelheads lead Allen in the standings by one point (20 to 19) and have one game in hand on the Americans. With the top four teams in the division separated by just three points, Allen could come home after these three games against Idaho in first place or sixth place depending on the outcome.

- Idaho is one of the few teams Allen does not have a winning record against since joining the ECHL in 2014. They have played 10 times in the regular season and the Americans are 4-3-1-2 in those games. Allen's record in Idaho is 1-3-0-0. In their only meeting in the playoffs Allen beat Idaho in the first round of the 2016 playoffs (4-3) on the way to their second Kelly Cup.

- Both teams have been playing well. Allen is 4-1-0-1 over their last six games while Idaho is 5-1-0-0 with their only loss against Allen.

- Both teams will be missing key players this weekend. Idaho's top goalie, Philippe Desrosiers, was recalled by the Texas Stars (AHL) on Monday and defenseman Joe Faust was loaned to Utica (AHL). Allen will be missing Riley Gill, Zach Pochiro and Alex Schoenborn who did not make the trip plus there are some players on the trip who are day to day. It won't be known until game time what the lineup will look like. If Allen ends up short up front defenseman Miles Liberati will play some shifts at forward.

- Here is the game/series preview written by Brian McCormack of the Idaho Steelheads. Brian is the Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the Steelheads:

- Here is a comparison between Allen and Idaho:

                                     ALLEN                            IDAHO

Team Record              8-5-2-1 (19 points)              8-3-3-1 (20 points)
Division Ranking         4th - Mountain                    3rd - Mountain
Conference Ranking  5th - Western                      4th - Western
League Ranking         10th                                    9th
Last Game                  6-4 Loss (Wichita)              3-2 Win (Rapid City)
Goals For                    54                                      50
Goals Against             48                                       44
Power Play                 18.2% (14/77)                    17.4% (15/86)
Penalty Kill                  86.5% (10/74)                    81.0% (16/84)
Leading Scorer           Pierro-Zabotel (4-14-18)    Brassart (8-10-18)
Most PIM's                  Arseneau - 32                    Moroz - 56

-  Here is how Allen and Idaho rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 6th (20.06) - Idaho 5th (22.20)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 11th (3.38) - Idaho 13th (3.33)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 9th (3.00) - Idaho 8th (2.93)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 8th (34.25) - Idaho 2nd (38.80)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 22nd (35.69) - Idaho 3rd (28.13)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 10th (18.2%) - Idaho 12th (17.4%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 8th (86.5%) - Idaho 19th (81.0%)

- Statistically these teams are pretty evenly matched. One exception is Idaho is ranked #2 in the ECHL in shots per game (38.80) and #3 in shots allowed per game (28.13) for a differential of +10.67. Allen's is ranked #22 in shots allowed and their differential is -1.44. The Americans will have to work hard, use puck possession and play good defense to hold down the number of shots Idaho gets in the games this week. The shot differential doesn't transfer to goal differential because Idaho has one of the worst shooting percentages in the league (8.4%). Allen's shooting percentage is a little better at 9.7%.

- Allen and Idaho are two of the most penalized teams in the ECHL which should make for an interesting matchup. Idaho has been called for 104 minor penalties (second most in the league) and 13 major penalties in 15 games. Allen has 98 minor penalties and 15 major penalties in 16 games. You don't think of Idaho as a team that fights a lot but they are ranked #3 in the league with fights (19) while Allen is #4 with 17 fights.

- The overall special team stats between Allen and Idaho show the Americans with an advanatge on the penalty kill (86.5% vs 81.0%) and on the power play (18.2% vs 17.4%). However, if you look at home vs road special team stats the percentages change in favor of Idaho. On the power play Allen is 17.2% on the road while Idaho is 21.6% at home. On the penalty kill Allen is 76.0% on the road while Idaho is 84.1% at home. Another thing to keep in mind that may be a factor tonight is the last time Allen played Idaho the Americans scored four power play goals.

- Both teams have had trouble scoring first. Allen has scored first in only six of their 16 games and is a perfect 6-0 when scoring first. Idaho has scored first in six of their 15 games and has a record of 5-0-0-1. With a combined record when scoring first of 11-0-0-1 you can see the importance of scoring the first goal tonight.

- The referee scheduled for the game tonight is Chris Pontes (#12) and the linesmen will be Scott DeBaugh (#67) and Brendan Gormley (#38).


- Check out the new auction items at the Americans auction website. There are practice jerseys, a Brodeur signed puck, a Halloween jersey and a Jamie Schaafsma #22 white jersey that is definitely a collector's item. As Jamie says, "I am a 13 year pro on a 15 year plan to make the NHL." This auction ends on on Sunday (November 26) at 9:00 pm CST. Here is the link:

- If you are a Black Friday shopper you need to stop by the Allen Americans team store for some great deals. The team store is on the northwest corner of the Allen Event Center and will be open on Friday from 9:30 - 3:30. There will be discounts throughout the day but store manager Michelle Martinson tells be there are special deals from 9:30-1:30. Here is a sample:

All logo T-shirts (four colors) - Buy one for $22 get one for a penny
All Adult & Youth "Property Of" hoodies -  Buy one for $39.99 get one for a penny
All beanie hats - Buy one for $24.99 get one for a penny
All players T-shirts - 25% off

- One series to keep an eye on this week is Colorado vs Greenville. The Swamp Rabbits visit the Eagles for games tonight, Friday and Saturday. Greenville is in second place in the South Division with a record of 9-4-2-0 and Colorado is in second place in the Mountain Division with an identical record of 9-4-2-0. Colorado leads the ECHL in penalty minutes (337) with Greenville close behind in second place with 326 penalty minutes.

- Tanner Eberle scored his first goal as a member of the Jacksonville Icemen last night. Tanner scored the lone Jacksonville goal as they lost to Orlando 4-1. 

DID YOU KNOW: Today is Spencer Asuchak's 26th birthday and as usual he is spending it on the road with the team. Congrats to the guy they call Assman and hope he has a great day. Spencer is a big part of Allen Americans history. He has won three championships in Allen and is one of only three players along with Brian McMillin and Jarret Lukin to play for the Americans in five different seasons. If you combine regular season and playoff stats Spencer Asuchak is the only player in team history that is in the top ten in games played, points, goals, assists, and penalty minutes. He is sixth in games played (266), fifth in points (217), sixth in goals (89), sixth in assists (128) and fourth in penalty minutes (354). 

A throwback pic from the junior days in Prince George circa 2010

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Allen Flying to Idaho Today, Comparing This Season to Last, Gordie Howe Hat Tricks, Pulling for Tulsa, Beware the Shorty

As the Allen Americans head to the airport today for their flight to Boise where they will be spending the Thanksgiving holiday they can be thankful they are not getting on "Big Red" for a bus trip through the mountains in November. I am sure sometime this week the new Allen players will hear all about the "Trips From Hell" from last season heading west through the mountains. Two trips in November that featured numerous bus breakdowns plus snow, ice and blizzard conditions. This trip to Boise will be much more relaxing as the Americans prepare to play Idaho on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

- Yesterday I talked about the difference in winning percentage this season (.594) compared to last season (.400). Here are some other comparisons between last season and this season after 16 games played.

                                     2016-17                             2017-18

Team Record              7-9-0-0 (14 points)              8-5-2-1 (19 points)
Division Ranking         5th - Mountain                    4th - Mountain
Conference Ranking  11th - Western                     5th - Western
League Ranking         19th                                     9th
Goals For                    52                                       54
Goals Against             56                                       48
Power Play                 7.9% (5/63)                        18.2% (14/77)
Penalty Kill                  81.9% (13/72)                    86.5% (10/74)
Leading Scorer           Costello  (5-17-22)             Pierro-Zabotel (4-14-18)
Most PIM's                  Mathers - 73                      Arseneau - 32

-  Here is Allen's ECHL ranking last season versus this season in some key statistical categories:

                                                  2016-17                2017-18
Penalty Minutes Per Game:  3rd (18.31)               6th (20.06)
Goals Scored Per Game:      17th (3.25)              11th (3.38)
Goals Allowed Per Game:     21st (3.50)               9th (3.00)
Shots For Per Game:            5th (34.13)               9th (34.25)
Shots Against Per Game:     21st (34.63)             22nd (35.69)
Power Play Percentage:       24th (7.9%)             10th (18.2%)
Penalty Kill Percentage        20th (81.9%)           7th (86.5%)

- Based on all of the stats above it is easy to see the team is doing better than last season in almost every category. They have scored more goals and allowed fewer goals than last season. The power play is much better and the penalty kill is also better than last season. The real question is how much will this team improve going forward. Last season once December came around the Americans rarely lost. Allen's record the rest of the way was 42-8-4-2.

- It is hard to believe Allen has already played 25% of their home games as nine of 36 home games are already in the books. The Americans record for those nine home games is 4-2-2-1. Allen has played seven road games with a record of  4-3-0-0.

- I saw this stat posted on Twitter by @hockeyfights and found it interesting. It is the 2017-18 Gordie Howe hat trick counter by league through November 18. Allen is a big contributor to the eight ECHL Gordie Howe hat tricks. Spencer Asuchak against Tulsa, Vincent Arseneau against Tulsa and Jonathan Lessard against Orlando have all accomplished the feat this season.  

NHL - 3
AHL - 4
ECHL - 8
SPHL - 1
OHL - 3
WHL - 7
USHL - 0
NAHL - 1

- The Tulsa Oilers are in the midst of playing 14 straight games on the road. Their last home game was November 4 and they won't play again at home until December 15. It is a tough stretch that has been made worse by the medical emergency of their coach Rob Murray. Coach Murray is out of the hospital and is at home recuperating until he is ready to return to the bench. The team plays three games in Rapid City this week and then will head to Idaho for three games next week. Last I heard they are taking Big Red (the bus) on the entire road trip which is scary, especially through the mountains this time of year. So far the Tulsa record on the 14 straight road games is 0-3-1-1. Their game against Quad City, when coach Murray had the medical emergency, was suspended and will be finished at a later date. Have to admit I am pulling for the Oilers who are dealing with more than a fair share of adversity. Tulsa is already five points out of a playoff spot and their season could be over by the time they play at home again.

 - Here is how the Mountain Division has fared against the other divisions.

North Division:    4-2-0-0
South Division:    4-2-1-0
Central Division:  7-7-2-2

It should be noted that Wichita and Tulsa have played 13 of the 19 games against the Central Division. Wichita's record is 5-0-1-0 and Tulsa's record is 1-5-0-1.

DID YOU KNOW: Shorthanded goals are one of the biggest momentum changers is hockey. It is something Allen will have to be aware of in the three games they play against Idaho this week. Allen has scored three shorthanded goals this season but allowed four. Idaho has scored four shorthanded goals this season but have not allowed a single shorthanded goal.  

Monday, November 20, 2017

Allen Loses to Wichita 6-4, Splits Weekend Series, Game Recap, Martinson's Comments, Power Play Improvement, Injuries & Everything in Perspective

It is not the formula for success to give up the first goal of the game, allow five second period goals and allow the most goals of the season (6) but such was the case for Allen yesterday. The Americans lost to the Wichita Thunder 6-4 before a small crowd of 2575 at Intrust Bank Arena. It wasn't all bad for Allen as they came back from a 2-0 deficit early in the second period (before Wichita scored three unanswered goals) and the power play was excellent going 3-5. Despite the loss it was a successful weekend for the Americans, splitting two games on the road against the second best team in the league by winning percentage (.821).

- The Americans headed home right after the game and were scheduled to arrive late last night. It will be a quick stop in Allen as the team will fly to Boise tomorrow (Tuesday) where they will play three games against the Idaho Steelheads on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

- The goal scorers for Allen were David Makowski (3), Colby McAuley (1), Peter MacArthur (4) and Joel Chouinard (3). You can check out seven minutes of video highlights including all 10 goals, some great saves by both goalies and the only fight of the weekend at ECHL Rewind:

- Here is a game recap from Matt Harding who covers the Wichita Thunder for Team Sin Bin. Matt's story includes quotes from Wichita coach Malcolm Cameron:


- Some very weak defensive breakdowns in the second period made the difference in the game.

- The disallowed shorthanded goal which would have tied the score 3-3 was pivotal in the game. It is hard to understand how all three officials couldn't see the puck went off Aubin's skate with absolutely no kicking motion whatsoever.

- We had a few players that had as bad a night as the officials.


- How is this for an odd stat. The Allen power play has gone 7-18 (38.9%) over the last four games but it has been feast or famine. The Americans won two of the last four games and went 0-2 and 0-3 on the power play in the two wins. In the two losses Allen was 4-8 and 3-5 on the power play. Go figure! You sure don't lose many games when you get three or four power play goals.

- Allen has been playing better hockey lately as they have captured nine of 12 points over the last six games for a winning percentage of .750. As a frame of reference last season Allen had the second best winning percentage in the ECHL at .722. Continuous improvement is the key and last night's game excluded, there has been improvement recently.

- Injuries are a way of life as a professional hockey player and the Americans have had their share thus far. Dalton Thrower and Zach Pochiro are out with hand injuries, Alex Schoenborn didn't make the trip to Wichita, Vincent Arseneau sat out the game last night, Riley Gill hasn't played since October 21 when he was taken off the ice on a stretcher and there are several other players playing with injuries that could use some rest. I heard another player might have gotten injured last night but no confirmation from the team at this point. It is striking how quickly the roster can go from too many players to not enough players. The three games against Idaho this week are all the Americans play in the next 11 days so there will be time for some much needed rest. 

- As a team the Americans had a plus/minus total of -20 in the game last night. Four defensemen (Thrower, Gunn, Roy, Liberati) and Zach Hall were the only players not to be minus. The team total for the season is +9. Last season Allen finished +334 as a team and Joel Chouinard led the ECHL with +47.

- Joel Chouinard had two power play points last night with a goal and an assist. That gives Joel nine power play points on the season which is good for third place in the ECHL and just one point from the league lead.

- The Americans were 3-5 on the power play last night and 4-8 in a game last weekend. With that success the Allen power play is now ranked #10 in the league at 18.2%. The penalty kill is ranked #7 at 86.5%.

- Thought today would be a good day for some hockey humor. This one is a few years old but hopefully at least one of these 29 steps to being a hockey player will give you a chuckle.


DID YOU KNOW: I know some Allen fans are concerned about how the team is performing but sometimes it is worth putting things in perspective. Allen is #10 in the 27 team league in points (19) and if they had won last night would have been #3. If you go by winning percentage (.594) the Americans are ranked #12.

Exactly one year ago today this was what I wrote in DID YOU KNOW: There are now only two teams in the entire ECHL that have a lower winning percentage than Allen (.400). They are Norfolk and Elmira.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Allen Beats Wichita 3-2, Game Recap, Rematch Preview, Martinson's Post Game Comments, Archambault Injured & Penalty Minutes Don't Predict Success

The mastery of the Allen Americans over the Wichita Thunder on the road continued last night as the Americans defeated the Thunder 3-2 before a crowd of 6417 at Intrust Bank Arena. The Thunder has lost only two games in regulation all season and both have come at home at the hands of the Americans. Since joining the ECHL in 2014 Allen's record in Wichita is now 19-2-1-2.

- In the game last night Allen got off to a great start on a goal by Vincent Arseneau at the 2:40 mark of the first period. The Americans took a 2-0 lead six minutes later when Miles Liberati scored on a one timer from the point off a faceoff win by Zach Hall.

- Dyson Stevenson scored on a Wichita power play (16:20) to make the score 2-1 and that is how the first period ended. At that point Allen fans were confident the game would go the Americans way. The reason being is Allen's record when scoring first now stands at 6-0 and their record when taking a first period lead is 5-0.

- Mathieu Aubin scored early in the second period (1:06) to give Allen a two goal lead and then Wichita scored their second power play goal at the 13:16 mark to cut the score to 3-2. That was the end of the scoring as there were no goals scored in the final 27 minutes of the game. Good defense and some spectacular saves by Allen goalie Stephon Williams carried the day.

- The goal scorers for Allen were Vincent Arseneau (5) who has a goal in four straight games, Miles Liberati (2) who has a goal in the last two games and is just one goal away from matching his goal total for all of last season and Mathieu Aubin (3) who has scored three goals in the last three games. Since returning from the 21 day injured reserve Aubin has played in five games and has four points (3 goals 1 assist). You can check out all of the goals plus a save of the year candidate by Stephon Willams at ECHL Rewind. Here is the link:

- Here is the game recap from the Allen Americans:

- Here is a game recap courtesy of Matt Harding who covers the Wichita Thunder for Team Sin Bin. Matt's story includes a description of each goal, quotes from Wichita coach Malcolm Cameron and all of the video highlights:


- We had a great start with the two early goals in the first period but I thought we kind of stopped skating at times after the 2-0 start.

- We didn't do a good job of killing a couple of bad penalties and it led to both Wichita goals. I thought one was a bad call and one was a bad penalty to take.

- We can play a lot better and will have to do that tomorrow. We need to make sure we keep moving and keep skating.

- It was big to get the early goals to start the first and second period. On Aubin's goal early in the second period we caught them on a bad line change.


- As great as the win was last night if the Americans don't back it up with another win today they will not have gained any ground on Wichita. The other teams ahead of Allen in the standings (Colorado & Idaho) also won last night so the Americans find themselves in fourth place in the Mountain Division standings. Only two points separate first place Wichita (21 points) and fourth place Allen (19 points) with Colorado and Idaho in between with 20 points. Colorado and Idaho are idle today so if Allen wins in regulation they vault from fourth place to tied for first place in the division.

- If Allen is to win this afternoon (4:05 pm) they will need to have another good start just as they did last night and they will have to improve their special teams play. The Americans power play on the road is 2-24 and is ranked #25 at 8.3%. Wichita's power play at home is at 20.7% after they went 2-4 last night. There is a similar disparity between the penalty kill units. Overall Allen is ranked #5 (87.3%) on the penalty kill but if you look at road games the penalty kill is ranked #25 at 77.3%. Wichita's home penalty kill is 83.9%. Allen gave up two power play goals last night and didn't score any. It is unlikely they can win this afternoon if they repeat that performance.

- Allen and Wichita have now played three times this season with the Americans winning twice. There will be another nine games between these teams this season. After three games the head to head stats have Allen outscoring Wichita 9-8 and out shooting them 107-95. Wichita has the advanatge on the power play going 3-11 (27.3%) compared to Allen at 1-8 (12.5%). Allen leads in penalty minutes 48-30.

- Fans got to see two of the best goalies in the league last night in Shane Starrett and Stephon Williams and their stats couldn't be closer. They have the exact same save percentage at .932 which is third best in the league. Williams gave up two goals last night and lowered his GAA to 2.26. Starrett's GAA inched up to 2.23 after he allowed three goals. It will be interesting to see if either team makes a switch to their backup goalies who have also played great when given the opportunity. Jeremy Brodeur (Allen) has a .921 save percentage in the four games he has started and Joel Rumpel has a .930 in the five games he has played. The way Stephon Williams has been playing my guess is coach Martinson stays with the hot goalie. 

- Officials scheduled for the game are the same as those who worked the game last night. Referee Sean MacFarlane (#4) and linesmen Addison Brush (#80 ) and Michael Houle (#49).


- Allen has a five game point scoring streak going (4-0-0-1) which is the longest current steak in the division.

- The San Jose Barracuda won last night beating Ontario 2-1. Olivier Archambault was injured during the game, left the ice holding his wrist and did not return. Hope it is nothing serious.

- It is still a ways away but the home game on Saturday, December 2 against Rapid City will be a great game to bring the family. It is not only the night for the Teddy Bear Toss it is also Nickelodeon Night and the players will be wearing Spongebob specialty jerseys.

-  Rick Duncan from conducted this interview with Joel Choiunard before the team left for Wichita. Rick is a sponsor with the Americans and his website covers north Dallas sports news from high school to the pros, from basketball to football to hockey to rodeo. In other words he covers all sports from A to Z. Rick has been doing this for years and his website is very comprehensive. He and his team have been doing a lot of stories about the Allen Americans. Make sure to check out if you haven't already done so.


DID YOU KNOW: Wichita leads the Mountain Division standings and has the fewest penalty minutes (183) in the division. The teams in second, third and fourth place all have over 300 penalty minutes, Colorado (337), Idaho (303) and Allen (306). Whenever I look at standings and penalty minutes I always conclude there are different ways to build a winning team. Here are the facts.

The team with the fewest penalty minutes in the North Division is Reading (101) and they are in fourth place. The team with the fewest penalty minutes in the South Division is South Carolina (140) and they are in third place. The team with the fewest penalty minutes in the Central Division is Quad City (130) and they are in fifth place.

The team with the most penalty minutes in the Mountain Division is Colorado (337) and they are in second place. The team with the most penalty minutes in the North Division is Worcester (269) and they are in last place. The team with the most penalty minutes in the South Division is Greenville (292) and they are in second place. The team with the most penalty minutes in the Central Division is Indy (287) and they are in last place.

Here are the penalty minutes for the four division leaders:

257 - Florida (South Division)
245 - Wheeling (North Division)
230 - Toledo (Central Division)
183 - Wichita (Mountain Division)

Here are the penalty minutes for the four last place teams:

287 - Indy (Central Division)
269 - Worcester (North Division)
252 - Rapid City (Mountain Division)
218 - Jacksonville (South Division) 


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Allen vs Wichita Game Preview, Tulsa Coach Rob Murray Hospitalized, Division Standings & More

The Allen Americans are in Wichita to take on the league leading (winning percentage) Thunder tonight (7:05 pm CST) in a critical division matchup. Wichita is the most improved team in the ECHL this season. They finished last season ranked #26 in the league with a .340 winning percentage compared to this season with the #1 ranking of .875.

- The game tonight will be the third of 12 times these teams will meet this season. They have split the first two meetings with Allen winning 5-3 in Wichita and Wichita winning 3-1 in Allen.

- The Americans and Thunder will meet again tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon and this two game set will go along way in showing whether Allen is indeed back on track after a five game losing streak at the end of October. Since that time the Americans are 4-1-0-1 but the games have been close and low scoring. The two games this weekend against Wichita will be a good measuring stick for Allen. Best case scenario for the Americans is they win both games in regulation and are tied with the Thunder for first place in the division with 21 points. Worst case scenario is they lose both games in regulation, fall eight points behind Wichita and are all alone in sixth place in the division with 17 points.

Here is a match up between Allen and Wichita:

                                     ALLEN                               WICHITA

Team Record               7-4-2-1 (17 points)                10-1-1-0 (21 points)
Division Ranking         4th - Mountain                       1st - Central
Conference Ranking   5th - Western                         2nd - Western
League Ranking         11th                                        3rd
Last Game                  4-3 Win (Tulsa)                      2-1 Win (Kansas City)
Goals For                    47                                          45
Goals Against             40                                          27
Power Play                 15.7% 11/70)                         23.3% (10/43)
Penalty Kill                  89.6% (7/67)                         89.4% (5/47)
Most PIM                    Arseneau (32)                       Stevenson (40)
Leading Scorers:        Pierro-Zabotel (4-12-16)       Platzer (5-9-14)
                                   Pochiro (7-3-11)                    MacMillan (7-6-13)

-  Here is how Allen and Wichita rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 4th (21.14) - Wichita 20th (14.75)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 12th (3.36) - Wichita 4th (3.75)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 7th (2.86) - Wichita 1st (2.25)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 7th (34.71) - Wichita 19th (30.42)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 22nd (36.14) - Wichita 18th (33.50)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 18th (15.7%) - Wichita 3rd (23.3%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 3rd (89.6%) - Wichita 4th (89.4%)

-  Both teams have been getting great goaltending. They rank #1 and #2 in team save percentage in the ECHL. Wichita leads at .933 and Allen is close behind at .923. Based on the recent past you would expect the game to be low scoring. Wichita leads the ECHL in goals allowed per game with a 2.25 average. Allen is ranked #7 at 2.86.

- If you look at the stats above a few things stand out. Wichita is historically toward the top of the charts in penalty minutes but this season is ranked #20 averaging under 15 penalty minutes per game. Don't let the numbers fool you as the Thunder are still plenty tough. They have had 13 fights in 12 games compared to Allen with 16 fights in 14 games.

- The battle of the special teams will be interesting to watch. Wichita has the #3 ranked power play at 23.3% but at home have converted at a much lower rate (16.0%). Allen has the #3 ranked penalty kill at 89.6% but on the road is 83.3%. As is typically the case special teams will be a key to victory.

- The stats show how important it is to score the first goal and have a good first period if you want to win. Allen is 5-0 when scoring first and Wichita is 7-1 when scoring first. The one loss the Thunder had when scoring first was against Allen. The combined record of these teams with a first period lead is 10-0.

-  The Thunder have outscored their opponents 18-7 in the first period, 19-9 in the second period and have actually been outscored 6-10 in the third period. Allen has had much more balanced scoring. The Americans have outscored their opponents 16-15 in the first period, 15-10 in the second period and 14-12 in the third period. If Allen is going to beat Wichita it is imperative they win the first period. If Allen falls behind in the first period it may be a long night.

- Both teams will be missing key players tonight. Wichita's top scorer (Kyle Platzer) and third leading scorer (Zach O'Brien) are currently with the Thunder's AHL affiliate (Bakersfield). Allen's second leading scorer, Zach Pochiro, is on the injured reserve.

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Sean MacFarlane (#4) and linesmen Tony Pizzutelli (#97 ) and Russ Coll (#40).


- If you are on social media I am sure you know by now that Tulsa coach, Rob Murray, collapsed on the bench during the second period of the Oilers game in Quad City last night and was taken to the hospital. The game was suspended and will be completed at a later date. Here is the most complete information I could find. It is a story written by Bobby Metcalf of the Quad-City Times:

The most current info I have seen is from Tulsa's broadcaster and Vice President of Communications John Peterson, who accompanied Murray in the ambulance to the hospital. About 2:00 am John put out this message, "Coach Murray is in good spirits (he's a fighter after all). We are staying over night in Quad Cities for precautionary reasons. Plan is to be released in the morning." Earlier in the evening John had said, "Coach Murray is doing well. The doctors have told me he is suffering from dehydration and exhaustion. They said there is no concern right now."

It was really heartening so see all of the messages from around the ECHL, fans and teams showing concern for Murray and sending along their thoughts and prayers. It really is one big family in AA hockey.

- Greger Hanson was sent back to Utah by the San Diego Gulls (AHL) yesterday and it didn't take him long to make his presence felt. Utah lost last night to Colorado 3-2 in overtime. Greger had both Utah goals in a losing cause and was named the #1 star of the game.

- With Allen not playing last night along with Colorado and Idaho winning, the Americans dropped to fourth place in the Mountain Division standings. Here are the current Mountain Division standings with games played in parentheses:

21 points - Wichita (12 games)
18 points - Colorado (14 games)
18 points - Idaho (14 games)
17 points - Allen (14 games)
15 points - Utah (15 games)
14 points - Tulsa (13 games)
10 points - Rapid City (13 games)

DID YOU KNOW: Winning the regular season championship is not a good predictor of playoff success. Once the playoffs start any team is capable of winning. Allen won four straight championships but only once (2012-13) did they have the best regular season record. If you look at the last ten seasons in the ECHL the regular season champion won the Kelly Cup just three times. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Allen Heads for Wichita, Newly Acquired Michael Webster Headed to College, Meet Team Store Manager Michelle Martinson & More

It is get away day for the Allen Americans as they will jump on the bus around noon for the six hour trip to Wichita where they will play the Thunder on Saturday and Sunday. These teams have split the two games they have played thus far with each team winning on the road.

- One player that will not be on the bus when the team leaves the Allen Event Center today is newly acquired defenseman Michael Webster who was suspended by the Americans yesterday. Webster was acquired in the trade that sent Tanner Eberle to Jacksonville. I had a lot of questions last night about Webster and had a chance to discuss the situation with coach Martinson so here are the facts.

Micheal Webster has decided to forego professional hockey at this time and attend college. You have heard coach Martinson say on many occasions he would never try and talk a player out of going to college.

By enrolling in college at this time Webster will be able to play this season without having to sit out a year.

The trade is not voided in this situation so Tanner Eberle will not be returning to Allen and Jacksonville does not have to send another player to Allen. The only time a trade is voided is if one of the players involved in a trade fails a physical.

I have talked to coach Martinson about trades many times over the years and know that experienced coaches like Martinson and Jacksonville coach Jason Christie don't deliberately trade players that don't intend to report. In other words I would assume Christie was not aware Webster would make a decision to attend college rather than report to Allen.

While there is no formal or required agreement when a player fails to report to their new team, most frequently, especially with experienced coaches they have an informal agreement to return a favor sometime in the future.

Coach Martinson has said many times one of the risks you take with young players that have college scholarship money available from their junior career is they head to college this time of year.

- I will have a complete game preview tomorrow but one thing Allen and Wichita have in common is they are both getting great goaltending. Wichita rookie Shane Starrett has been outstanding in goal for the Thunder with a record of 6-0-1-0. He is #2 in the ECHL in GAA (2.11)  and #1 in save percentage (.935). Starrett signed an entry level contract with the Edmonton Oilers (NHL) in April, leaving the Air Force Academy after two seasons to turn pro. Here is a story written by David Ramsey of the Colorado Springs Gazette after Shane left Air Force where Ramsey questions if Starrett made a mistake in turning pro after his sophomore year.

Allen's Stephon Williams has been great in goal while carrying the load for the Americans. Stephon gave up 11 goals in his first three starts but in his last five starts has allowed only eight goals. Overall Williams is ranked #3 in the league in GAA (2.30) and #3 in save percentage (.932).

Goaltending is a group effort and to have a good team both goalies need to play well. That is the case for Allen and Wichita. They rank #1 and #2 in team save percentage in the ECHL. Wichita leads at .933 and Allen is close behind at .923.

All four goalies rank in the top ten in the league in save percentage:
.935 - Shane Starrett (Wichita)
.932 - Stephon Williams (Allen)
.930 - Joel Rumpel (Wichita)
.921 - Jeremy Brodeur (Allen)


If you have stopped by the Allen Team Store this season to buy some Americans merchandise you have undoubtedly met the new Team Store manager, Michelle Martinson. Michelle is not only a hockey mom to teenagers Logan and Lily and a hockey wife (married to Steve Martinson) but she leads a hockey life. By his own admission coach Martinson has told me many times it is Michelle that keeps everything organized in the family with three often conflicting hockey schedules (both Logan and Lily play on elite level traveling hockey teams). I have seen the multi-colored graphs, calendars and schedules Michelle creates for coach Martinson of all his and the families activities.

Michelle comes from a hockey background as her grandfather (Frank Mathers) is a legend in AHL hockey history who had a long career (35 years) as a player, coach, general manager and president of the Hershey Bears. On the ice Mathers was one the AHL's all time best defenseman being voted to the All-Star game for five straight years in the 1950's. He won three Calder Cups as a player/coach for Hershey and then three more after he retired and became an executive for the team (general manager & president). He is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and also the AHL Hall of Fame. If you are interested in reading more about Frank Mathers here is a more complete bio:

Steve and Michelle met when Steve was playing in Hershey in 1985-87 and Michelle's grandfather was the team president. If you recall, Martinson had 432 penalty minutes in 1985-86 and set the AHL record for most major penalties in a season, a record that stands to this day. The first time I interviewed Steve back in 2013 I asked him how Frank Mathers allowed a hockey player who was the team enforcer to date his granddaughter. Martinson responded that Mathers really like him and supported him dating Michelle.  

It is natural for Michelle to take over the Americans team store as it combines several of her interests as she has a background in sales, fashion and of course, hockey. If you haven't already done so, stop by the team store and introduce your self to Michelle and check out the new merchandise. She would also like to hear from you on what additional merchandise you would like to see in the store.

Michelle will be having online auctions on BidPal where fans can purchase older team jerseys from the archives, autographed pucks and other collectables. The next auction will open on Tuesday (November 21) and close on Sunday (November 26). There will be new auction items each week from now until Christmas. No credit card is needed to view the items and if you register you can get text notifications when new auctions open. Here is the link to the BidPal site if you are not already registered. You may have to wait until the merchandise is on the site to register:

The Martinson family celebrating the Kelly Cup championship in 2016

- Here is another story from The Players Tribune. This one was written by Mark Recchi, assistant coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He takes you on his journey from growing up in Kamloops, B.C. to his induction into the Hall of Fame. An excellent read:

DID YOU KNOW: Excelling in the post season is key to a successful hockey career. Here are the Allen Americans career leaders for points scored in the playoffs by a defenseman.

37 points - Tyler Ludwig
29 points - David Makowski
25 points - Eric Roy