Monday, April 24, 2017

Allen vs Colorado Equals Toughness & Grit, Reflections of Success in Allen, Playoff Update & Schedule

The Allen Americans have four days to rest and prepare for what will be one of the most grueling series you can imagine. Their opponent, the Colorado Eagles, also have four days to rest and prepare for one of the most grueling series you can imagine. There is no love lost between Allen and Colorado and in some ways they are very similar. They are tough and gritty, they will finish their checks and they have plenty of players willing to drop the gloves. Since joining the ECHL in 2015 the Americans and Eagles have taken turns as the most penalized team in the league. Over the last three years Allen has averaged 1422 penalty minutes per year and Colorado has averaged 1433. Colorado has averaged 86 fights per year and Allen has averaged 78. Typically in the playoffs there won't be as much fighting as during the regular season but you can be assured this series will be the survival of the fittest and depth will be important.


- The one thing that is very different about Allen and Colorado is playoff success.  Allen hasn't lost a playoff series since Steve Martinson became coach in 2012. Allen has won 15 straight playoff series, four championship including the last two Kelly Cups. The Colorado Eagles are in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since joining the ECHL in 2011. They were eliminated in the first round of their last five ECHL playoff appearances. Add the fact that three players on the Eagles roster (Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Matt Register, Darryl Bootland) won championships in Allen and you have a Colorado team that is very motivated. If this series lives up to expectations it should be one for the ages.


- There will be plenty of time over the next three days to wade through all sorts of statistical information about Allen and Colorado but today is a good time to pause and reflect on just how fortunate the fans of the Allen Americans have been over the last five years. I say this all of the time but to win four straight championships, all on home ice, is a lifetime worth of success for most fans. Just getting to the second round of the playoffs is an amazing feat and if the Americans don't win another playoff game it is a successful season though you would never convince Allen fans, players and coaches of that. My point is Allen has already made it to the "Elite Eight" of the ECHL playoffs. If it wasn't for the fact Allen has won four straight championships that would be considered a big success to make it to the top eight of a 27 team league. It shouldn't be the case but only in Allen is anything less than a Kelly Cup considered a disappointing season.


- Three teams have advanced to the second round of the playoffs thus far and they are all from the Western Conference. Allen, Colorado and Fort Wayne all won their series 4-1. Only Toledo, who is the #1 seed in the league has struggled in the first round. The Walleye are tied with Kalamazoo 3-3 with the deciding game seven in Toledo on Tuesday. Hope it isn't the kiss of death but Toledo has already posted their schedule for round two against Fort Wayne. The schedule comes with the obligatory asterisk that says *if the Walleye advance past the Division Semifinal, but still a cause for concern for the superstitious.


- Anything could happen in the Eastern Conference as all four series are 3-2 with the higher seeded team trialing in all four. Manchester, Brampton, Orlando and South Carolina are all looking for upsets. Everything will be decided by Wednesday evening.


- There are two playoff games tonight both in the Eastern Conference. Brampton is at Reading (Brampton leads 3-2) and Greenville is at South Carolina  (South Carolina leads 3-2).


- The ECHL dictates at the start of the playoffs the time frame for each round and then the teams involved work out the specific dates within those time frames. All series are best of seven. If your favorite team is still in the playoffs the dates for the division finals are April 28 to May 10, the conference finals are May 12 to 24 and the dates for the Kelly Cup finals are May 26 to June 7. 



DID YOU KNOW: The Kelly Cup has been awarded to the ECHL playoff champion since 1997. In that time only two teams have won it three times (Alaska & South Carolina) and three teams have won it twice (Cincinnati, Idaho, Allen). Eight teams have won the Kelly Cup once and 49 different teams have played in the ECHL for at least one season since the inception of the Kelly Cup and never won a championship.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Allen Wins 4-0, Takes Series 4-1, Martinson Comments, Allen vs Colorado Round 2 Schedule, Gill Records & More

The Allen Americans, led by goaltender Riley Gill, shutout the Utah Grizzlies 4-0 last night to advance to the second round of the Kelly Cup playoffs where they will take on the Colorado Eagles.

- Allen won the series 4-1 against the Grizzlies by sweeping three games in Utah after splitting the first two games in Allen. The series win was the 15th straight for the Americans since Steve Martinson became coach and general manager.


- Allen followed an all too familiar formula to win last night. They scored first which is almost a guaranteed win. The Americans were 3-0 when scoring first in this series and for the season the record now stands at 43-2-2-1. Allen excelled on special teams in the series win over Utah. The only game the Americans lost (game two) was the only game they didn't score a power play goal. Last night Allen was 1-3 on the power play while holding Utah to 0-7. For the series Allen was 6-20 (30%) while Utah was 2-27 (7.4%). You won't lose many games when you dominate special teams the way Allen did against Utah.


- Not sure if it is conditioning, will or skill or some combination of each but Allen owned the third period in this series. Last night Allen outscored Utah 2-0 in the third period. For the series here is the scoring by period:

1st period - The teams tied with four goals apiece
2nd period - Utah outscored Allen 6-1
3rd period - Allen outscored Utah 13-0


- Balanced scoring continued last night with three of the four goals being scored by defensemen. Allen scored 18 goals in the series and 12 different players scored goals. Joel Chouinard had two goals last night and joins Wade MacLeod as the team leader in the playoffs with three goals.


- The goal scorers for Allen last night were Travis Brown (1), Joel Chouinard (2&3), and Wade MacLeod (3). You can see all of the goals and highlights at ECHL Rewind. Here is the link: http://www.echl.com/


- Here is the Allen Americans recap of the games: https://allenamericans.com/americans-shutout-utah-4-0-win-the-series-in-five-games/


- Here is the game recap from the Salt Lake Tribune with quotes from Utah coach Tim Branham: http://www.sltrib.com/sports/5207484-155/grizzlies-utah-loses-game-5-eliminated


- I asked coach Martinson for his assessment of the series with Utah and here is what he had to say, "We started out slow in the series but our skill and experience eventually kicked in. Credit to the Utah goalie who played really well and made big saves  every night. Riley Gill just calms things down in our end. You could see it was going to take a lot to beat him. Utah had several six-on four chances tonight but couldn't get the puck past Gill." 


- The Americans fly home from Salt Lake City this morning and will have the day off before starting to prepare for round two of the Kelly Cup playoffs against the Colorado Eagles who also advanced last night by eliminating the Idaho Steelheads in five games. There will be plenty of time this coming week to talk about this matchup but the story lines are endless. The two best teams in the Mountain Division going head to head in a best of seven series to see who advances, the two most penalized teams in the ECHL, former Allen Champions Darryl Bootland, Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Matt Register are just a few of the subplots in this series. Here is the schedule. All start times are central daylight time, that is the time in Allen when all the games will start. Tell all your friends and relatives they have to get tickets for this series. It should be epic.

Game 1 at Allen - Friday April 28th (7:05 pm)
Game 2 at Allen - Saturday April 29th (7:05 pm)

Game 3 at Colorado - Wednesday May 3rd (8:05 pm)
Game 4 at Colorado - Thursday May 4th (8:05 pm)
Game 5 at Colorado - Sunday May 7th (4:05 pm)

Game 6 at Allen - Tuesday May 9th (7:05 pm)
Game 7 at Allen - Wednesday May 10th (7:05 pm)


OTHER COMMENTS

- In other ECHL playoff action last night Fort Wayne beat Quad City 3-2 and won that series 4-1. The Komets now await the winner of the Toledo vs Kalamazoo series to see who they will play in round two. Toledo leads that series 3-2. Game six takes place this afternoon in Kalamazoo. Unless Kalamazoo can pull off an upset the top four seeds in the Western Conference will advance to round two.


- It is a different story in the Eastern Conference where the lower seeded teams are leading in all four playoff series. In the North Division #1 seed Adirondack is down 3-2 to #4 seed Manchester. This is the series where the last five games are all being played in Adirondack. In the other North Division semi-final #3 seed Brampton leads #2 seed Reading 3-2. This is the best opening round series in the league as the first five games have all been decided by one goal with two going to overtime. Brampton won last night 2-1 but it took over 35 minutes of overtime to get the game winner. In the South Division #1 seed Florida is on the brink of elimination by #4 seed Orlando. The Solar Bears lead the series 3-1 and the one victory by Florida was in overtime. Game five is this afternoon in Orlando. In the other South Division semi-final #3 seed South Carolina has a 3-2 lead over #2 seed Greenville.


- The chance for all three San Jose affiliated teams (Sharks, Barracuda, Americans) to win championships was dashed last night as the Sharks were eliminated by the Edmonton Oilers. The Barracuda play Stockton this afternoon in the second game of their first round series against Stockton. They have a 1-0 lead in the best of five series. While a Stanley Cup is now out of the question a Calder Cup and Kelly Cup are still in play for the San Jose family.


DID YOU KNOW: Riley Gill's 30 save shutout last night was the seventh playoff shutout of his career to go along with 18 regular season shutouts. Riley has eight shutouts this season (seven regular season, one playoff) which is the most of his career. Gill sets an ECHL career record every time he starts a game and wins a game. He now has 84 career playoff appearances (old record was 80) and 51 playoff wins (old record was 43). The one career record Riley does not own is most playoff minutes played in a career. Gill is at 4739 which is 102 minutes behind all time leader Nick Vitucci's 4841. 



Saturday, April 22, 2017

Five Goal 3rd Period Propels Allen, Lead Series 3-1, Martinson Comments, Game Five Preview & More

Trailing 1-0 after two periods the Allen Americans exploded for five third period goals to defeat the Utah Grizzlies 5-1 last night before a disappointed crowd of 4498 at the Maverik Center. With the win the Americans have a 3-1 series lead and a chance to close out the series tonight (8:05 pm Allen time).


- Special teams have been a key to victory all series and that proved to be the case again last night. Allen had only three power play opportunities but cashed in on two of them. Allen's first two goals came by way of the power play. The Americans were perfect on the penalty kill not allowing a goal on the three Utah power plays.


- A hallmark of Steve Martinson coached teams is never giving up and that has been proven over and over this season with many third period comebacks. If you look at the regular season, goals for and against by period proves the point. During the regular season the Americans outscored their opponents in all three periods but the margins were very different. In the first period it was 80-66, the second period 85-72 and in the third period 120-59. In this playoff series with Utah the Grizzlies have had the lead in all four games only to succumb to Allen comebacks. Utah has outscored Allen in the first period 4-2 and in the second period 6-1. However, Allen has dominated the third period by scoring 11 goals and allowing the Grizzlies zero.


- Team depth is another attribute of this Allen team and balanced scoring has been the result. The Americans have had 11 different players score the 14 goals in this series. Chad Costello is tied for the team lead in points (5) but hasn't scored a goal. No player has more than two goals.


-The goal scorers last night were David Makowski (1), Eric Roy (1), Greger Hanson (2), Wade MacLeod (2) and Alex Krushelnyski (1). You can check out all the goals at ECHL Rewind. Here is the link: http://www.echl.com/


- Here is the game recap issued by the Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/americans-explode-for-five-in-the-third-to-beat-utah-5-1/


- Here is a game recap from the Salt Lake City Tribune: http://www.sltrib.com/sports/5204646-155/grizzlies-utah-gives-up-five-goals


- Finally a game recap from deseretnews.com: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865678368/Utah-Grizzlies-doomed-in-third-period-trail-Americans-3-1-in-playoff-series.html



STEVE MARTINSON'S POST GAME COMMENTS

-  Our power play got us going just as it has all year. We had traffic in front of the goalie and were pounding shots from the point.

- The veteran guys led the way tonight. All four goals (excluding the empty net goal) were lasers.

- We have a lot of depth and proven scorers on this team. Goals can come from everyone and we have three lines that are a threat to score on every shift.

- In the third period our proven scorers made their young defensemen pay.



ALLEN VS UTAH GAME FIVE PREVIEW


-  With four playoff games now in the books here is a comparison between Allen and Utah.

                                     ALLEN                              UTAH

Series Record              3-1                                    1-3
Goals For                     14                                     10
Goals Against              10                                      14
Goal Differential          +4                                      -4
Plus/Minus                   +5                                      -8
Shooting %                  10.9%                                9.0%
Goals Scored Ave.       3.50                                   2.50
Goals Allowed Ave.      2.50                                   3.50
Power Play                   29.4% (5/17)                     10.0% (2/20)
Penalty Kill                   90.0% (2/20)                      70.6% 17/14)



- Two stats that jump out in this series are special teams and third period production. As mentioned above Allen has been outstanding in the third period outscoring Utah 11-0. The Americans had the second best special teams in the ECHL during the regular season and that has certainly been the difference maker in this series. Remember, the team that has scored the most power play goals has won all four games thus far. Allen has scored on five of 17 power play opportunities which is a 29.4% success rate. Utah has converted on two of 20 chances for a 10% conversion rate. The inverse of these numbers are the penalty kill percentages with Allen at 90% and Utah at 70.6%. If Allen can continue this trend they will be in good shape tonight to get another victory.


- During the regular season Allen was outshot by their opponent in 42 of their 72 games though their record in those 42 games when they were outshot was an outstanding 31-6-3-2. This series against Utah has been unique as Allen has outshot the Grizzlies in all four games. The totals are 129 shots for the Americans and 111 for the Grizzlies. 


- The referees tonight will be the same as last night, Andrea Barone (#15) and Jonathan Sitarski (#23). The linesmen will be Andrew Collins (#49) and Kollin Kleinendorst (#35)


OTHER COMMENTS

- Don't look now but guess who is leading the entire ECHL playoffs in plus/minus? Yes, it is none other than Joel Chouinard who is +7. Between the regular season and playoffs Joel is now at a cool +54.


- Every playoff game Riley Gill plays sets a new record and last night was no exception. His win in Utah was the 50th of his storied ECHL career. No other goalie in ECHL history has more than 43 playoff wins.


- Allen had a great comeback win last night but it pales in comparison to what Colorado did in Idaho. The Eagles scored three times in the last 2:28 including the game tying goal with nine seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime. Colorado then scored 41 seconds into overtime to win the game 6-5. When you have a 5-2 lead with 2:28 left in the game and lose there is no recovering for Idaho in this series. Colorado now leads the series 3-1 with a chance to close it out tonight. Here is a recap of the Idaho nightmare courtesy of the Idaho Statesman: http://www.idahostatesman.com/sports/nhl/idaho-steelheads/article146150389.html


- It is never good to get ahead of yourself but it looks like the Mountain Division will come down to the matchup everyone was predicting. Allen and Colorado both have 3-1 series leads and home ice advanatge. They both play tonight with a chance to close out the series on the road knowing that games six and seven will be at home if necessary.


- In addition to Allen and Colorado winning last night here are the other results. South Carolina won 4-2 in Greenville and lead the series 3-2. Toledo beat Kalamazoo 3-2 at home to take a 3-2 lead in that series. Quad City avoided elimination beating Fort Wayne 3-2 in overtime at home. Fort Wayne now leads the series 3-1.


- The schedule tonight has Manchester at Adirondack (Manchester leads the series 3-1), Florida at Orlando (Orlando leads 2-1), Fort Wayne at Quad City (Fort Wayne leads 3-1), Reading at Brampton (series is tied 2-2), Allen at Utah (Allen leads 3-1) and Colorado at Idaho (Colorado leads 3-1). With four of the six games potential elimination games most likely the end of the season for one or more teams tonight.


- Congrats to Allen affiliate San Jose Barracuda who opened their AHL playoff series last night by shutting out the Stockton Heat 4-0 at home. They play game two of this best of five series on Sunday. Meanwhile the Sharks have a must win game at home tonight as they take on Edmonton trailing in the series 3-2. 



DID YOU KNOW: In case you were wondering Allen's playoff record in the 14 game fives since Steve Martinson became coach it is 9-5. When Allen has had a chance to close out a series in game five their record is 5-2. According to the the website Who Wins if you look at the first round of every NHL seven game playoff series in history when a team leads 3-1 and started the playoffs at home the visiting team in game five wins 55.2% of the time but they win the series 85.1% of the time. The stats are clearly in the Americans favor.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Allen vs Utah Preview, Moore Suspended Four Games, 2017-18 Home Schedule Released, Stats Tell All

The Allen Americans take on the Utah Grizzlies tonight at the Maverik Center in game four of their best of seven series. The Americans have a 2-1 series lead with a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead with a win and or will be in a fight to the end with a loss.


- The Americans will be without the services of forward Bryan Moore who was suspended for four games yesterday for an intent to injure cross check in Allen's 4-2 win on Wednesday. Here is the ECHL release announcing the Moore suspension along with three others. http://www.echl.com/echl-announces-fines-suspensions-68


-  If you are an Allen fan you have heard coach Martinson say numerous times how important it is to not retaliate when an opposing player does something that you feel is wrong. Take his number and settle the dispute by challenging the player later. I know coach Martinson emphasized this with the team prior to the start of this series. To be fair to Moore if you watch the video replay which is still on ECHL Rewind (http://www.echl.com/) you can see Utah's Phil Pietroniro check Bryan very low. Even though a penalty wasn't called Moore didn't like the low hit to his knee. At that point in the game you have to have the discipline to skate away and deal with the situation later. I am sure coach Martinson let Moore know it was an unwise decision retaliate when he did.


- There was lots of discussion on social media about the four game suspension for Moore and no suspension for Utah's Tim Daly for a major spearing penalty that included a game misconduct. The big difference was Moore's penalty was a head shot that caused injury to a player. Coach Martinson has been a big advocate for coming down hard on penalties targeting the head. Pietroniro was not seriously injured and will most likely play tonight but he was clearly injured. Daly's penalty was a dirty play that could have resulted in serious injury but did not. He did the same thing to Alex Krushelnyski in game one and wasn't even called for a penalty. You could certainly argue a one game suspension for Daly was appropriate but the ECHL didn't see it that way.  Sometimes the ECHL suspends players indefinitely and waits to see if the injured player will miss games. They chose not to do that in Moore's case and gave him four games right away. You could argue four games is too severe and many Allen fans have done just that but when you have a non hockey play that results in a head area injury the league tends to come down hard on the player. The bottom line is Moore put himself in a position to be suspended and Allen is rarely given the benefit of the doubt so they will live with the ECHL decision and move on.


- With Moore out of the lineup tonight it means Gary Steffes who was a healthy scratch on Wednesday will be back in the lineup. Gary Steffes has been a prolific goal scorer in the last two runs to the Kelly Cup with 13 goals each year. It says a lot about the depth of the Americans that they can add the player with the second most goals in the ECHL in the 2015 and 2016 playoffs to the lineup. Wouldn't be surprised at all of Steffes gets a goal tonight.


- With three playoff games in the books here is a comparison between Allen and Utah.

                                     ALLEN                              UTAH

Series Record              2-1                                     1-2
Goals For                     9                                        9
Goals Against              9                                         9
Goal Differential           0                                        0
Plus/Minus                   -5                                       +3
Shooting %                  9.6%                                  11.1%
Goals Scored Ave.       3.00                                   3.00
Goals Allowed Ave.      3.00                                   3.00
Power Play                   21.4% (3/14)                     11.8% (2/17)
Penalty Kill                   88.2% (2/17)                      78.6% 3/14)


- If you look at the stats above the teams are very even in this series. The big regular season advantage Allen had in every category has disappeared. During the regular season Allen had a +91 goal differential while Utah was -15. Allen was +334 in plus/minus compared to Utah at -91. Allen scored a goal more per game and allowed a half a goal per game less than Utah. All of those advantages have disappeared with the exception of special teams. It is a small sample but Allen clearly has the better special teams play thus far. Allen needs to stay out of the penalty box and take advantage of the power plays when they get them.


- I mentioned yesterday the team that has scored first has won the first three games of this series and the team that won the special teams battle has won the first three games. Don't see any reason to bet against that formula in the game tonight.


Tonight the referees will be Andrea Barone (#15) and Jonathan Sitarski (#23). The linesmen will be James McKenna (#96) and Kollin Kleinendorst (#35)


OTHER COMMENTS


- The Allen Americans have released their home schedule for next season and it is a lot of the same. Orlando is the only new team coming to the Allen Event Center. The Americans open the season  with two games against the Solar Bears on October 21 & 22.  Allen plays just eight different teams in their 36 home games. It is clear more games have been scheduled within the division. Here is the list of teams with the number of games played at the AEC:

7 games - Tulsa
6 games - Wichita
5 games  - Rapid City
4 games - Kansas City
4 games - Colorado
4 games - Utah
4 games - Idaho
2 games - Orlando

Here is a calendar with all 36 home dates. http://hosting.fyleio.com/11355/public/2017-2018%20Allen%20Americans%20Schedule%20HOME.pdf


- In ECHL play last night Manchester beat Adirondack 2-1 to take a 3-1 series lead in the most surprising results thus far. Manchester only has two home games in this series and has to play the last five games in Adirondack. The series is not over by any means but the Monarchs certainly have the Thunder on the ropes. Reading won in Brampton last night 3-2 and tied that series 2-2. This is a very close series with the first four games all decided by one goal. Orlando beat #1 seed Florida twice on the road and had a chance to take a 3-0 series lead last night at home but lost to the Everblades 5-4 in overtime.


- In addition to Allen at Utah (Allen leads series 2-1) the other games on tap tonight are South Carolina at Greenville (series tied 2-2), Kalamazoo at Toledo (series tied 2-2), Fort Wayne at Quad City (Fort Wayne leads series 3-0) and Colorado at Idaho (Colorado leads series 2-1).


DID YOU KNOW: If you like to look at the odds when predicting who will win the game between Allen and Utah tonight there is some good news and bad news. I mentioned yesterday that in the 14 playoff series under coach Martinson, Allen is 10-4 in game fours. However, if you look at the first round of every NHL seven game playoff series in history when a team leads 2-1 and started the playoffs at home the visiting team in game four wins only 45.9% of the time but they win the series 69.7% of the time. As usual with statistics whether Allen wins or loses tonight there are stats to back up the outcome.
 





Thursday, April 20, 2017

Allen Wins, Takes 2-1 Series Lead, Martinson Comments, Video Highlights & Sharks Organization Finds Success at All Levels

The Allen Americans beat the Utah Grizzlies 4-2 last night to take a 2-1 series lead and reclaim home ice advantage. Allen tallied the only goal of the first period, relinquished the lead allowing two Utah goals in the second period and won the game with three unanswered goals in the third period.


- It was a penalty filled game with a total of 15 power play opportunities. Utah's Tim Daly was given a game misconduct for spearing and in a separate incident Allen's Bryan Moore was given a match penalty for high sticking. Neither of these penalties come with automatic suspensions but both come with the ominous phrase, "supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion" so it remains to be seen if additional discipline will be forthcoming.


- Allen won the special teams battle as they went 2-7 on the power play while holding the Grizzlies to 1-8. The Americans also scored an empty net shorthanded goal with six seconds remaining in the game.


- Allen delivered on two keys to the game. They scored first and that has been magic this season as the Americans have won over 90% of the games when they score first. In this series the team that has scored first has won all three games. The other key to the game was winning the special teams battle which Allen accomplished. Just like scoring first, the team with the most power play goals has won each of the first three games.


- Goal scorers for Allen were Bryan Moore (2), Zach Hall (1), Greger Hanson (1) and Spencer Asuchak (1). You can see all of the goals, many great saves by both goalies, some big checks and a couple of the penalties including the high sticking match penalty on Bryan Moore at ECHL Rewind. Here is the link: http://www.echl.com/


- Here is the complete game recap from the Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/americans-win-a-tight-game-to-take-a-2-1-series-lead/


- I had a chance to touch base with coach Martinson after the game and get his take on the win. Here is what he had to say, "It was a tough night for special teams. We need to do a better job to zero in on our scoring chances. I can't remember a team that flails and falls as much as Utah. While they are falling they still manage to look at the referee to see if he is buying their dives. It is not playoff hockey. Playoff hockey is supposed to be a battle of physicality, skill and will."


- The teams have the day off today before the series resumes tomorrow (Friday) with a 8:05 pm puck drop Allen time. Game five is also in Utah on Saturday night.


OTHER COMMENTS

- In other playoff action last night Kalamazoo beat Toledo 8-5 to tie the series 2-2, Fort Wayne beat Quad City 4-3 in overtime to take a commanding 3-0 series lead and Colorado won in Idaho 4-2 to take a 2-1 lead in that series.


- There are three ECHL playoff games tonight. Manchester is at Aditondack (Manchester leads the series 2-1), Florida is at Orlando (Orlando leads the series 2-0)  and Reading is at Brampton (Brampton leads the series 2-1).


- Steve Martinson talks frequently about the affiliation he has with the San Jose Sharks and Barracuda and says it is the best affiliation he has ever had. Affiliations can be good or bad and it is clear Allen's is one that benefits all three teams. It means you look after the interest of each other, not just yourself. It is easier to say than to do. Here is a story about the affiliation titled, "Sharks Organization Finding Success at All Levels" that describes what the relationship means up and down the line. http://www.sjbarracuda.com/news/detail/sharks-organization-finding-success-at-all-levels



DID YOU KNOW: Past isn't prologue but game four has been critical to Allen in their four straight championships. Playing almost all game fours on the road over the last four years Allen has a record of 10-4. 




Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Allen vs Utah Game Preview, Playoff Update & More

It is game day as the Allen Americans take on the Utah Grizzlies in game three of their best of seven series. The series is tied 1-1 and game three has taken on greater importance after Utah beat Allen 4-1 on Friday at the Allen Event Center.


- Allen should feel comfortable at the Maverik Center as they won all three games they played in Utah during the regular season. However, those games were all played back in November.


- The one roster change that is almost certain is having Zach Hall return to the lineup. That most likely means one forward will sit out as a health scratch. You could also see changes on defense. Mike Brodzinski and Miles Liberati were healthy scratches the first two games of this series. With Allen struggling offensively in game two you might see one or both of them inserted in the lineup.


- As a reminder of how these teams performed in the regular season here is a comparison between Allen and Utah.

                                     ALLEN                              UTAH

Team Record              49-17-4-2 (104 points)          36-29-5-2 (79 points)
Goals For                    294                                        225
Goals Against             203                                        240
Goal Differential         +91                                        -15
Plus/Minus                  +334                                     -91
Shooting %                 13.0%                                    9.6%
Goals Scored Ave.      4.08                                       3.13
Goals Allowed Ave.    2.82                                       3.33
Power Play                 24.4%                                    16.4%
Penalty Kill                  84.4%                                   83.7%



- The team totals after two playoff games show Utah has the lead in goals (7-5) but Allen has the lead in shots (62-54). Allen is 1-7 (14.3%) on the power play while Utah is 1-9 (11.1%). Allen has taken 12 penalties for 27 minutes and Utah has taken 10 penalties for 23 minutes.


- Good starts and success on the power play are always keys to victory for the Americans. Allen's record during the regular season when scoring first was outstanding at 40-2-2-1. The Americans scored first in game one of this series and went on to win the game. In game two Utah scored first and went on to win the game. The Americans power play was around 30% the last two months of the season but is only 1-7 in this series. That has to improve.


- While the game tonight is certainly important you would not put it in the must win category. Three times in the last two Kelly Cup championships Allen fell behind 1-2. Last year against Wheeling in the finals and in 2015 against Ontario in the Conference finals and in the Kelly Cup finals against South Carolina. While not necessarily a must win the Americans certainly need a win to get back on track.


Tonight the referees will be Oliver Gouin (#9) and Tyler Puddifant (#28). The linesmen will be Andrew Collins (#49) and Kollin Kleinendorst (#35).


OTHER COMMENTS

- The other games on tap tonight are Toledo at Kalamazoo (Toledo leads 2-1), Fort Wayne at Quad City (Fort Wayne lead 2-0) and Colorado at Idaho (series tied 1-1).


- Here are the results from the games last night. Adirondack beat Manchester 3-1 (Manchester leads the series 2-1), Kalamazoo beat Toledo 6-4 (Toledo leads the series 2-1), South Carolina beat Greenville 6-1 (the series is tied 2-2) and Brampton beat Reading 2-1 (Brampton leads the series 2-1).


- It was a tough attendance night last night. Here is the attendance for the four games played.

2430 - South Carolina
2325 - Adirondack
2218 - Brampton
1139 - Kalamazoo


- The San Jose Sharks came out of their offensive drought (shutout twice in a row) in style last night defeating Edmonton 7-0 to tie the series at two games apiece. Here are the details:  http://www.csnbayarea.com/sharks/sharks-finally-play-lead-make-it-count-rout-oilers



DID YOU KNOW: Allen's record over the last four seasons in game three is 8-6. Since joining the ECHL the Americans' game three record is 3-5.

PS: Sorry for the early post. I'm going fishing!



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Practice Update, Fly Away Day, Playoff Attendance, Allen's Career PIM's Leaders, Kalamazoo Captain Suspended

The best thing about practice yesterday for the Allen Americans was the return of Zach Hall. He wasn't wearing the no contact jersey, he was a full participant in practice and looked good. Hall will be ready to go when the Americans take on Utah tomorrow night in game three of their playoff series.

- One of coach Martinson's many quotes over the years is you can't control what the other team does, all you can do is control how you react to what the other team does. Practice yesterday seemed to be focused on a lot of system issues and drills. Lot's of trips to the white board hanging over the glass at center ice followed by drills to practice what was discussed. Adaptability is one reason Martinson has been so successful in the playoffs over the years.


- The practice yesterday was key as the team will not have any ice time today and tomorrow will be a short pregame skate. With three games in the next four days coach Martinson felt it was best not to have practice either before the team leaves for Salt Lake City or after they arrive.


- Not sure if the travel logistics changed this year because of new ownership but they seem to be much better than last year. Here is what I wrote one year ago as the team was headed to Idaho for game three of their first round series,  "It is get away day for the Americans as they fly to Boise in two groups. The majority of the team left very early this morning with a smaller group having flights this afternoon. I am sure everyone is thankful and grateful they didn't have to take "Big Red" on a 30 hour bus trip even if they had to get up at 3:30 or 4:00 am this morning." This year the Americans are traveling all together as a team and their flight is just after noon.


- Everyone on the playoff roster will be traveling with the exception of Tanner Eberle who is still recovering from his injury. From what I understand Eberle still has another week before his cast will be removed and then will have some rehab time before he is cleared to play.


OTHER COMMENTS

- In the only ECHL playoff game last night the South Carolina Stingrays liked home ice after going down 2-0 in Greenville. South Carolina hammered Greenville 6-0 and outshot them 44-25. None of the games in this series have been close. The Swamp Rabbits won the first two games 6-3 and 4-1 and then the Stingrays won 6-0 last night. Game four of this 2-2-1-1-1 series is tonight before the teams travel back to Greenville for game five.


- The other teams in action tonight are Manchester at Adirondack with Manchester leading the series 2-0, Toledo at Kalamazoo with Toledo leading the series 2-0 and Reading at Brampton with the series tied 1-1.


- The ECHL announced yesterday that Kalamazoo captain Ben Wilson has been suspended indefinitely for an incident in the Wings game against Toledo on Saturday. Wilson repeatedly cross checked Walleye defenseman Simon Dennis seven times in an incident that has received nationwide attention. Ben Wilson played briefly for Allen in 2011-12 and has been with Kalamazoo since 2013. This was his first season as captain of the team. Here are the details from sports writer Mark Monroe from the Toledo Blade: http://www.bcsn.tv/news_article/show/782512


- It is still very early in the playoffs with no team having more than two home games and many to still have their first home playoff game. With that said there are three teams averaging less than 3000 per game (Reading, Florida, South Carolina) and three teams averaging over 5000 (Toledo, Fort Wayne, Colorado). Allen averaged 4673 for their first two home dates.



DID YOU KNOW: Derek Mathers played in 59 games for the Allen Americans this season and set the all time single season penalty minute record with 274 minutes. Did you know Derek is now fourth on the franchise career penalty minute list. Here are the top five:

432 - Garrett Clarke
326 - Trevor Hendrikx
280 - Darryl Bootland
274 - Derek Mathers
273 - Aaron Gens