Wednesday, February 22, 2017

ECHL Attendance Trending Down, On Pace for Lowest in Ten Years - Team By Team Results

Back in December I took a look at the ECHL attendance numbers which were clearly on a downward trend. Not necessarily an exciting topic but certainly an interesting one if you are looking at the health of your favorite team and the entire ECHL. The conventional wisdom is attendance improves after the first of the year when the weather turns cold and football is over. Now that the ECHL season is over 70% complete it is a good time to look at the attendance figures again.  What you find is the average attendance has increased since December but is still on pace to be the lowest in the last ten years. Attendance has been trending downward since 2013-14.


The information below is taken from the ECHL website and includes average league wide attendance for the last ten years and a comparison of attendance from last year to this year for each ECHL team.


The figures for this season are obviously based on just the first part of the season as 699 of 972 (71.9%) games have been played thus far. The average ECHL attendance has improved from 3930 in December to 4146 today.  The question is, will it exceed last year's average attendance (4385) and reverse the downward trend? 

Here is the average ECHL attendance over the last ten years:

4146 - 2016-17 (after 699 of 972 games)
4385 - 2015-16
4598 - 2014-15
4706 - 2013-14
4695 - 2012-13
4282 - 2011-12
4339 - 2010-11
4485 - 2009-10
4258 - 2008-09
4174 - 2007-08


If you look at the figures above some of the variation can be explained by teams coming and going from the league. However, the trend over the last three years is certainly downward and as it currently stands, the average ECHL attendance is 560 less per game than just three years ago. When you figure most ECHL teams get an estimated 70% - 80% of their revenue from ticket sales that is significant.


The next step was to look at the individual teams to compare average attendance from last season to this season to see who has lost attendance and who has gained attendance. The list below goes from the teams that have gained the most in attendance from 2015-16 to 2016-17 to those that have lost the most. This compares the number of games the team has played this season to the same number of games last season. The number in parenthesis is the average attendance for this season:

+399   Greenville (3790)
+389   Reading (3937)
+309   Utah (5217)
+255   Wichita (4674)
+214   Brampton (3011)
+201   Toledo (7239) 
+169   Adirondack (2604)
+44     South Carolina (3609)
+27     Kalamazoo (2246)
+25     Fort Wayne (7612)
-17     Florida (5013)
-37     Missouri (5043)
-53     Wheeling (2559)
-64     Idaho (4095)
-95    Tulsa (5588)
-126   Colorado (4775)
-136   ECHL AVERAGE (4146)
-183   Atlanta (4661)
-200    Quad City (3915) 
-233    Alaska (3400)
-298    Cincinnati (3880)
-329    Indy (3501)
-352   Allen (4239)
-475   Elmira (2410)
-547   Rapid City (3215)
-734   Orlando (5266) 
-896   Norfolk (2705)
-1049  Manchester (3354)


You get a little different picture if you look at percentage of increase or decrease rather than the raw numbers. Here is the list from the biggest increase in attendance to the biggest decrease from last season to this season in percentage:

+11.8%  Greenville
+11.0%  Reading
+7.7%   Brampton
+7.0%   Adirondack
+6.3%   Utah
+5.8%   Wichita
+2.9%   Toledo
+1.2%   South Carolina
+1.2%   Kalamazoo
+0.3%   Fort Wayne
-0.3%   Florida
-0.7%   Missouri
-1.5%   Idaho
-1.7%   Tulsa
-2.0%   Wheeling
-2.6%   Colorado
-3.2%   ECHL AVERAGE
-3.8%   Atlanta
-4.9%   Quad City
-6.4%   Alaska
-7.1%   Cincinnati
-7.7%   Allen
-8.6%   Indy
-12.2%  Orlando
-14.5%  Rapid City
-16.5%  Elmira
-23.8%  Manchester
-24.9%  Norfolk



CONCLUSIONS

- There are 10 teams with increased attendance over last season and 17 with decreases but the decreases are much larger than the increases. If you add it all together the ECHL average attendance (4146) is down 136 per game league wide. This is a 3.2% decline in attendance when you compare the 699 games played thus far this season to the first 699 games last season. 


- Results don't always tie to attendance increases but it is worthy to note the three teams with the biggest percentage increase in attendance (Greenville, Reading, Brampton) all have higher winning percentages than last season. In the case of Brampton and Greenville they were last place teams last season and are much improved this season.


- At the other end of the spectrum is Manchester and Orlando. Manchester is in first place in the North Division but has the biggest decline in attendance in the ECHL averaging 1049 fewer fans per game than last season. Orlando is tied for second in the South Division but has the third biggest decline in attendance (734).


- Another red flag when looking at the attendance chart above relates to Norfolk (-24.9%) and Manchester (-23.8%) who have the biggest percentage decline in attendance from last season. Both of these teams (along with Adirondack) are former AHL cities who joined the ECHL last season after losing their AHL franchises. To have such big decreases in attendance in the second year of operation has to be concerning.


- There are five franchises averaging less than 3000 per game (Norfolk, Adirondack, Wheeling, Elmira and Kalamazoo). While a few franchises have survived averaging less than 3000 such as Wheeling and Kalamazoo they are the exception not the rule.


-There are eight teams that have had declines in attendance of 6.4% or more. Two of the teams (Elmira and Alaska) have been in the press recently with stories about the viability of the franchises going forward. The financial woes in Allen and Rapid City are a poorly kept secret. As already mentioned Norfolk and Manchester have year over year attendance declines of over 20%. There is little doubt sold or fold may be the story line for some ECHL franchises going forward. With Worcester and Jacksonville starting play this fall the hope is the league doesn't lose any franchises and continues to grow.


DID YOU KNOW: Fort Wayne leads the ECHL in attendance this season averaging 7612 per game. You have to go  back to the 2013-14 season for the last team that averaged over 8000 per game when Ontario averaged 8158. Check out these numbers which is a list of the teams that led the ECHL in average attendance in the 1990's.

1991-92:   9472  (Cincinnati)
1992-93:   7904  (Hampton Roads)
1993-94:   9151  (South Carolina)
1994-95:   8589  (South Carolina)
1995-96:   9775  (Louisiana)
1996-97:   11433 (Louisiana)
1997-98:   11196 (Louisiana)
1998-99:   9857  (Louisiana)
 







Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Roster Changes, Light Schedule for Allen, Stevenson's Impact, Attendance Update & More

After enjoying a day off on Presidents Day it is back to practice this morning for the Allen Americans. It is a very light schedule the rest of February for Allen with only a same day trip to play the Tulsa Oilers on Friday remaining.


- I mentioned yesterday there will be plenty of roster changes over the next few weeks and they have already started. Yesterday Jon Martin was reassigned back to the San Jose Barracuda. Martin played in seven games with Allen and had four points (2 goals 2 assists). The other roster change yesterday was putting Eric Roy on the injured reserve list. Eric took a puck to the face on Sunday and suffered a lower jaw injury. He will be out for several weeks. 



- The next six games for the Americans are on the road but they are spread out. It will take 24 days to complete those six road games. A sharp contrast to last week when Allen played four games in five days. Because Allen has played more games (56) than any other team in the league (tied with Tulsa) they will have the luxury of more days off the rest of the season. This week is a perfect example. The Americans have a lone game against Tulsa while every other team in the Mountain Division will be playing at least three games with the chance to gain ground on Allen. Here is the schedule:

Colorado - The Eagles host Utah Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Idaho - The Steelheads beat Utah last night and play Missouri Friday and Saturday.
Alaska - The Aces are in Elmira Thursday and Manchester on Saturday and Sunday.
Utah - The Grizzlies lost to Idaho last night and are at Colorado on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday.
Missouri - The Mavericks host Idaho Friday and Saturday and travel to Tulsa on Sunday. 
Rapid City - The Rush host South Carolina on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The bottom line is Allen can earn just two points this week while all the other teams in the division can earn at least six points. That could mean as much as an eight point swing in standings. All the Americans can do is take care of what is in their control and beat Tulsa and see what happens with the other teams in the Division.


- After the Tulsa game on Friday, Allen will not play again until March 3 & 4 in Missouri. The team will take their all-star break, which was delayed, this coming Saturday, Sunday and Monday.


- The next home game for Allen is not until March 17 when they will take on the Wichita Thunder.


- The Americans had some good crowds this weekend including 5430 for the Police vs Fire game on Saturday. That was the third best crowd of the season. Despite the good crowds recently Allen is 7.7%  behind the attendance figures from last season. That equates to an average of 352 fewer fans in attendance for every game. I will look at the attendance across the ECHL in the next few days.



DID YOU KNOW: In between periods during the Rapid City game on Sunday I was on the radio/television broadcast talking to color commentator Maurice Fitzgerald about how some players on any sports team have much more value than their statistics. It is usually a player that is totally team focused and will do whatever is necessary to make the team successful. They are typically a good player but not the best but with their work ethic and attitude inspire others to play better. For me, that player on the Allen Americans is Dyson Stevenson. If you look at the ECHL "Daily Report" there are literally hundreds of team and player statistics and you will not find Dyson's name a single time. Stevenson is a total team player that will do whatever is necessary. He can play in any situation and has been called on to play defense as well as forward.  Someone suggested to me I take a look at Allen's record when Dyson is not in the lineup. He has missed 19 games this season and with Stevenson out of the lineup the Americans have a losing record of 9-10. Dyson has missed eight games in the last month and Allen's record in those eight games is 2-6. That says all you need to know about his value to the Allen Americans.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Rapid City Sweeps Allen, Game Recap, Changes Are Coming, Favorite Photos & More

Hockey is a game of ups and downs and ebbs and flows and the 3-2 loss to the Rapid City Rush yesterday sent 4638 Allen fans and a bunch of dogs (it was Pucks & Paws Day) home disappointed. Losing twice at home against the last place team in the division is certainly a downer. The fact that it was the fourth game in five days is not an excuse for the Americans as Rapid City had the same thing with some travel thrown in for good measure.


- The goal scorers for Allen were Greger Hanson who scored his 30th goal and Spencer Asuchak who tallied his 23rd. Greger also has one goal from his loan to San Diego (AHL). His 31 total goals ties his personal best and there are still 16 games remaining in the regular season. Asuchak is also having a career year as his 23 goals in the most he has scored in a season going back to his junior days in the Western Hockey League.


- The highlight package is on ECHL Rewind and you can see all of the goals, a couple of great saves by the Rush goalie and the Mathers fight. You might want to focus on the defensive breakdowns on the Rapid City goals as you can see where Allen players were focused on the puck and left Rush players all alone. http://www.echl.com/


- Here is the recap of the game from the Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/americans-drop-second-straight/


- Here is the recap of the game from the Rapid City Rush: http://www.rapidcityrush.com/news/?article_id=826


- Here is the pregame interview with Tom Manning and Steve Martinson:




- It was a quick fall from grace for Allen as it is the time of year when the top teams start playing their best hockey. Allen had the most points in the ECHL after the win over Indy Friday night. With two losses to Rapid City the Americans now find themselves in second place in the Mountain Division and third place in the Western Conference. To make matters worse, all of the teams Allen is battling for the top spot in the conference have games in hand varying from three to five games.


- Coach Martinson has said several times the team is going to have trouble winning against the better teams in the league if they keep playing the way they have recently. The Americans have been inconsistent with too many turnovers and defensive lapses.


- Allen has just one game remaining the rest of the month and that is in Tulsa on Friday. With only one game in nine days it would be easy for fans to checkout for a while. My advice would be to pay close attention as the rest of February could see some big changes. It is that time of year where players will get recalled or loaned, trades get made to strengthen teams for the playoffs, amateurs get identified for signing after their college eligibility is complete and some unexpected things happen. Pay close attention.


OTHER COMMENTS

- Chad Costello had an assist on the Hanson goal last night to keep his scoring streak alive. Chad has at least one point in 13 straight games. Costello has been held scoreless in just seven of the Americans 56 games this season. He now has a 35 point lead in the ECHL scoring race. Tied for second place in ECHL scoring is Greger Hanson and Casey Pierro-Zabotel who have 65 points. Greger is also in second place in the league in goals with 30, just two behind the leader.


- The two hottest teams in the Mountain Division are the Colorado Eagles who have won 12 games in a row and the Missouri Mavericks who are 8-2 in their last 10 games.


- It is fascinating to see all of the stories out of San Jose about whether the Sharks should acquire an experienced back up goalie for the playoffs rather than going with rookie Aaron Dell. All Dell does amongst all of the chatter is continue to do his job. He made 36 saves Saturday night to lead San Jose to a 4-1 win over Arizona. His season long record is now 7-3-1 with a GAA of 1.95 and save percentage of .934. He deserves to be the backup goalie in the playoffs because he has earned it, just as he has earned everything he has attained during his entire career.


- Here are a few favorite photos from last night courtesy of Dianne Webster:







DID YOU KNOW: Allen and Rapid City played six times this season and each team won three times but the odd stat is the visiting team won all six games.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Allen Loses 4-3 in OT, The Curse Continues, Post Game Melee, Jersey Auction Results & Costello Reaches 100

The curse of the large crowd (5430) and the specialty jersey continued last night for the Allen Americans as they lost 4-3 in overtime to the Rapid City Rush. Here are just a few examples of how the curse worked last night.

- Allen gave up leads of 2-0 and 3-1 which is a rare occurrence
- Allen had a 2-0 lead after the first period. Their record in these games was 13-1-0-1
- Allen scored the first goal of the game. Their record when scoring first was 26-1-1-1
- Prior to last night Rapid City had only won two games all season when trailing after one period
- Allen went into the overtime period with a record of 7-2 in overtimes
- Rapid City went into the overtime with a record of 1-8 in overtimes
- Before last night Riley Gill had won ten straight games going back to the middle of December
- Prior to last night Allen's record against the Rush over the past two years was 7-1-0-0


- All you can say after seeing the stats above is the large crowd/specialty jersey curse is alive and well in Allen. One streak that did continue last night was the visiting team has won all five games Allen and Rapid City have played this season.


- Goal scorers for Allen were David Makowski (12), Gary Steffes (14) and Zach Hall (9). Unfortunately the Americans have not posted the highlights to ECHL Rewind as of this morning. Hopefully they are posted later but typically that does not happen.


- After a good first period Allen had a 2-0 lead on goals by Makowski and Steffes. The Americans gave it all back in the second period as they were out shot 20 -7 and allowed three Rush goals. Allen's typical good third period did not materialize as they were out shot 11-7 and no goals were scored. Rapid City won the game 91 seconds into the overtime on a goal by Hunter Fejes. A melee broke out after the overtime goal that lasted several minutes and included a scrum with everyone from both teams involved. More on that later.


- Here is the Allen Americans press release describing the game courtesy of Tommy Daniels: https://allenamericans.com/americans-fall-to-rush-in-overtime/


- Here is a recap of the game from the Rapid City point of view courtesy of the Rapid City Journal: http://rapidcityjournal.com/sports/fejes-ot-goal-lifts-rush-past-allen/article_35ca50a6-346c-5b43-ba4b-6fc069ddb365.html


- Allen and Rapid City have a rematch this afternoon (4:05 pm) and it will be the last time they play this season as the Rush will not make the playoffs. It should be an interesting game to say the least.


- Jamie Murray will be in goal for Allen and you can expect Greger Hanson and Josh Brittain to also be in the lineup as they return from their two game stint with the Chicago Wolves (AHL). They both played last night as Chicago beat Texas in Cedar Park by a score of 4-1. Neither player factored in the scoring as Josh had zeros across the board in the boxscore while Greger had two penalty minutes and was a +1.


- Officials scheduled for the game today are referee Mike Sheehan (#11) and linesmen Chase Wilkinson (#68) and Christopher Williams (#0).


OTHER COMMENTS

- I had a chance to review the video of the melee that took place after the game was over. Here is what I saw. As Riley Gill is starting to skate off after the winning goal is scored a Rush player skates by Gill and says something. Gill reacts by slashing the player behind the legs. Then another Rapid player reacts by spearing Riley Gill. The post game penalties reflect this as Gill was given a two minute slashing penalty and Rapid City was given a five minute major and game misconduct for spearing. A game misconduct for spearing does not come with an automatic suspension but supplementary discipline can be applied at the discretion of the Commissioner. My guess and it is just that, there will not be a suspension.  The official boxscore shows the spearing penalty being assessed to Hunter Fejes who scored the game winner. I think that will be changed to Anthony Collins (#48) as it is clear on the video he is the player that speared Gill. Here is a video of part of the post game melee but it does not include what started everything.



- Lost in all of the negative parts of the game was the fact that Chad Costello had two assists and reached the 100 point mark for the third straight season. If you read the "Did You Know" section of the blog yesterday it describes what a rare accomplishment this is as only three other players players in the history of the ECHL have three 100 point seasons. Scoring a 100 points in a season was fairly commonplace in the late 1980's and early 1990's when most scoring records were set. But to score a 100 points in today's style of hockey is quite a feat. The best way to describe what Chad has accomplished is in the last seven years there have been close to 4000 players on ECHL rosters and scoring 100 points in a season has been achieved just three times, all by Chad Costello. C'MON MAN!  


- Costello and Makowski have scored at least one point in 12 straight games. Zach Hall has a goal in all three game since he returned from an injury.


- The Allen Americans and more specifically Steve Martinson have a great relationship with the San Jose Sharks and San Jose Barracuda. It is nice to see all three teams in first place in their respective divisions.


- The jersey auction after the game last night was one of the better ones this season. It could be the popularity of the jersey, the fact that a portion of the proceeds were going to a veterans charity (Folds of Honor) or some other reason. Here are the top ten from the jersey auction.

$1600 - Chad Costello
$1100 - Bryan Moore
$1000 - Derek Mathers
$1000 - Mike Gunn
$900 -  Gary Steffes
$900 -  Aaron Gens
$900 -  Riley Gill
$900 - Greger Hanson
$900 - Dyson Stevenson
$900 - David Makowski


- In Mountain Division action last night Colorado won their 11th straight game beating Alaska 6-2 and Idaho won in Utah 3-2 in a shootout. Missouri won their sixth straight game beating Quad City 2-1. Here are the current standings with games remaining in parentheses:

73 points - Allen (17 games remaining)
72 points - Colorado (20 games)
63 points - Idaho (20 games)
57 points - Alaska (23 games)
55 points - Utah (21 games)
55 points - Missouri (22 games)
44 points - Rapid City (21 games)



DID YOU KNOW: Here is a look at the number of ECHL 100 point scorers over time. Again, it points out how dominate Chad Costello has been among his peers. It also shows how much more scoring there was in the late 80's and early 90's. Here are the number of 100 point scorers since the ECHL was established:

2011 - 2017:  three (Chad Costello has all three)
2004 - 2010:  six
1997 - 2003:  20
1989 - 1996:  40  


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Allen Wins 6-0, Martinson Comments, Allen vs Rapid Preview, Costello in Rare 100 Point Company

It is a rare occurrence when you witness a game like the 6-0 Allen victory over the Indy Fuel last night before a crowd of 4158 at the Allen Event Center (AEC). The Americans won every phase of the game. Here is a list.

- Allen won every period scoring one goal in the first, two in the second and three in the third.
- Allen had balanced scoring with six different players getting the goals.
- Allen won the special teams battle going 1-3 on the power play and getting another goal on a Zach Hall penalty shot.
- Allen killed off all four Indy power plays including a five-on-three with less than two minutes left in the game to preserve the shutout.
- Riley Gill was great in goal stopping 24 Indy shots on the way to his league leading sixth shutout of the season. Riley lowered his league leading GAA to 2.10 and raised his league leading save percentage to .937.


- The goal scorers for Allen were Spencer Asuchak (22), Gary Steffes (13), Jon Martin (2), Zach Hall (8), Joel Chouinard (8) and Miles Liberati (1). The official boxscore shows David Makowski with the last goal but that is wrong as it was Liberati's goal. Unfortunately, the highlight package has the first five goals but not the sixth. Two plays to watch a few times from the highlights are Zach Hall's penalty shot goal where he slows down and waits for the goalie to commit and then goes five hole and Hall's great pass to Chouinard for the fifth goal. Hall fakes the shot and then feeds Chouinard who has an open net. By the way the Hall penalty shot goal was the first of the season for Allen. Spencer Asuchak had the only other penalty shot attempt (New Year's Eve) and did not convert. Here is the link to ECHL Rewind to watch the first five goals: http://www.echl.com/


- Here is the Allen Americans press release recapping the game: https://allenamericans.com/americans-and-gill-shutout-fuel-6-0/


-  I like the sense of humor from the Indy twitter feed. The last tweet was, "The Indy Fuel drop a nail-biter in Texas, Allen Americans hang on to a 6-0 victory." Here is the link to the Indy press release recapping the game with the title, "Fuel roasted in rematch with Americans" - https://www.indyfuelhockey.com/fuel-roasted-in-rematch-with-americans


- Tom Manning's pregame interview last night was the co-captain Gary Steffes as the talked about the team's approach to the game.




STEVE MARTINSON'S POST GAME COMMENTS

- We were in the same spot as we were on Wednesday being up 3-0 going into the third period but we played much better tonight. It was tough having to kill off that five-on-three at the end of the game to get Gill the shutout.

- I was trying to rest some guys in the third period and play the younger guys more.

- I had a 20 minute video session with the team this morning which is probably the longest one we have had all year to go over some of the defensive issues from the game on Wednesday. I did not have a pregame meeting and let the captains deal with it themselves. The idea behind that is they have to make the plays to be better defensively. I have to show them the mistakes and teach the right way to do things but they have to have the commitment to play defensively.

- Jamie Murry will get one of the games against Rapid City but I am not sure yet which one.

- With Brittain and Hanson playing with Chicago (AHL) it provides an opportunity for some other guys to step up and show they belong in the lineup.



OTHER COMMENTS


- Greger Hanson was injured playing for Chicago last night against Texas. He was crossed checked and took some stitches. The player that delivered the cheap shot was given a match penalty. Greger will be okay.

- It seems like you hear a new story each day about an ECHL team having financial problems. Here is the latest about the Alaska Aces: http://www.ktva.com/alaska-aces-ownership-considering-ceasing-operations-727/#.WKeuMzTpx5w.twitter


-  The Elmira Jackals financial woes have been well documented recently and their future is in doubt unless issues with the team, the arena and the city can be resolved. Last night a game between Elmira and Reading had to be suspended because of poor ice conditions in the arena.


- With the win last night Allen goes into play today with the most points in the ECHL (72 points). However, Allen has played several more games than the other top teams in the league. If you look at winning percentage the Americans have climbed to fourth in the league at .667. That is quite an accomplishment when you keep in mind at the end of November the percentage was .421.


-  Don't forget tonight is the 8th Annual Battle of the Badges as the the Police vs Fire game takes place prior to the Allen vs Rapid City game. Doors open at 4:30 pm so come early and support the first responders. Two games for the price of one. The Americans will be wearing a special Patriotic jersey tonight that will be auctioned off immediately following the game. A portion of the funds raised from the auction will go to Folds of Honor, a non-profit dedicated to helping families of the armed services that have been killed or wounded while serving the nation.




- There should be a big crowd at the game tonight. It will be a double whammy for the team to overcome. History will show the team has not done well in front of big crowds during the regular season and also loses more often than not when there is a specialty jersey auction after the game. Tonight needs to be an exception to the rule!




ALLEN VS RAPID CITY PREVIEW

- Allen finishes off the four games in five days against the Rapid City Rush tonight and tomorrow. Rapid City has won their last two games including a 5-3 win in Tulsa last night. It will be interesting to see if there is any carryover from the games played last weekend in Rapid City when Dyson Stevenson was injured. Stevenson will not play as he will be serving the last two games of his three game suspension. Triston Grant who speared Stevenson in the groin and slashed him in the face is serving a 13 game suspension and also will not play. I think there is some unfinished business with other activities that took place in Rapid City so the game tonight should be a hard fought one for sure.

- Allen is 3-1 against Rapid City this season having won three straight after losing the first meeting back on November 13. Interestingly the visiting team has won all four games. The game tonight will be just like last night. If Allen plays their game and commits to defense they will be fine. Allen is better than the Rush on the power play (22.0% to 16.0%) and penalty kill (83.6% to 81.1%). Allen has a goal differential of +55 while Rapid City is -31.

- Head to head Allen is 7-15 (46.7%) on the power play while Rapid City is 2-13 (15.4%). The referee tonight has a history of calling lots penalties so special teams is an area Allen needs to capitalize on.

The referee scheduled for the game is Tudor Floru (#26) and the linesmen are Aaron Schacht (#31) and Brian Bull (#95).




DID YOU KNOW: Chad Costello had an assist last night and scored his league leading 98th point and will soon reach the 100 point mark for the third straight year. Tommy Daniels posed the question on his radio broadcast as the whether any other player in ECHL history had three 100 point seasons. I was almost certain the answer was yes only because in the early years of the ECHL there was much more scoring than today. Chad is the only player in the last seven years to score 100 points in a season. Compare that to 1991-92 when nine players scored 100 points in a single season. Despite the prolific scoring in the 1990's Chad will become the first player in ECHL history to win the scoring title three times and he also holds the ECHL record  for the biggest margin of victory when he won the scoring race by 45 points in 2015-16. To answer Tommy's question there has been one ECHL player (John Spoltare) who had four 100 point seasons and two players (Darren Colbourne & Trevor Jobe) that had three. Here are the details as they are very interesting.


John Spoltare -  John was a big time scorer that had over a 100 points four times with the same ECHL team (Louisiana IceGators). In 1995-96 he scored 101 points but finished seventh in the scoring race. In 1997-98 he had 111 points and finished third in the scoring race. He won back to back scoring titles (the only other person to accomplish that other than Chad Costello) in 1998-99 with 109 points and 1999-2000 with 119 points. It is also interesting Spoltare played for Steve Martinson in San Diego (West Coast Hockey League) in 2001-02 and led that team in scoring with 113 points. Tragically, Spoltare died of brain cancer at 38 years of age.


Darren Colbourne - What is interesting about Colbourne is he scored 100 points three time with three different teams but never won a scoring title. In 1991-92 he had 119 points for the Dayton Bombers but finished second in the scoring race. In 1993-94 Colbourne had 104 points for the Richmond Renegades but finished third in the scoring race. His last 100 point season came in 1996-97 when he had 101 points with the Raleigh Icecaps and finished fifth in the scoring race.


Trevor Jobe - Trevor Jobe scored 100 points three times in the ECHL put won the scoring title just one time. That one time was considered the best season in the history of the league. His first 100 point season was in 1990-91 when he scored 109 points for the Nashville Knights but finished fourth in the scoring race. In 1991-92 Jobe had 103 points, played for two teams (Richmond Renegades & Nashville Knights) and finished sixth in the scoring race. At the age of 25 Jobe, playing for the Nashville Knights in 1992-93, scored 161 points (85 goals 76 assists) in just 61 games. Jobe won the scoring title by 43 points, a record that stood until Chad Costello won the scoring title by 45 points in 2014-15. The 85 goals Trevor scored led the league by 23 goals. He also had 222 penalty minutes. Jobe's 161 points is the ECHL all-time record for points in a season and that is a record that will probably never be broken.


Chad Costello - Chad will join some elite company when he records his 100th point which hopefully will be tonight. He will have over 100 points in three straight seasons and will be the only player in ECHL history with three scoring titles. Chad is going for his third straight scoring title and third straight Kelly Cup. What an amazing accomplishment to have three straight 100 point seasons in this day and age. 


Friday, February 17, 2017

Allen vs Indy Game Preview, Another Chance for #1, Team Ownership, Best Plus/Minus Teams

The Allen Americans start one of those brutal three games in three days tonight as they take on the Indy Fuel at the Allen Event Center (AEC). Allen then plays Rapid City on Saturday and Sunday. Three games in three days sounds bad enough but with the 4:05 pm start on Sunday it will actually be three games in less than 48 hours. Cruel and unusually punishment indeed. At least the Americans spend the entire weekend at home while their opponent (Rapid City) also plays three in three but has some travel thrown in for good measure. The Rush played in Wichita on Wednesday, play in Tulsa tonight and then have to travel to Allen for the games on Saturday and Sunday. It may very well come down to the survival of the fittest.


- It is important to take one game at a time and the game at hand is tonight against the Indy Fuel. it will be the fifth of six games against Indy this season. They will play a final time in Indy on March 12.


- Allen has swept the first four meetings with Indy but it hasn't been easy considering Allen is a first place team and Indy is a last place team. The combined stats for the first four games show Allen with a 4-0 record. The Americans have scored first in all four games, outscored Indy 21-14 but the shots on goal are almost even at 133-132. Allen is 3-9 (33.3%) on the power play while the Fuel are 3-14 (21.4%) on the power play. There have not been a lot of penalties called in the first four games averaging less than 10 penalties and 25 minutes per game.


- Allen has continued to win but has not played as well over the last six weeks as they did in December and the big difference is on defense. The average goals allowed over the 14 games in December was 2.07. That included four shutouts and three games where Allen allowed only one goal. Since the beginning of January (18 games) Allen has given up an average of 3.56 goals per game and  allowed three or more goals in 14 of the 18 games. There were no shutouts and the Americans held their opponent to one goal just once. Coach Martinson always talks about the importance of winning games rather than scoring points and the players have to buy into that concept. There will definitely be an emphasis on defensive in the pregame talk tonight.


- There is little doubt Allen is a better team than Indy as indicated by their records. Allen's record is 33-16-2-2 while Indy has a record of 14-32-2-2. If you look at the updated stats below Allen is better in each and every category. All the Americans need to do tonight to win is play their game, be aggressive but don't cheat. A dedication to defense will go a long way to an Allen victory. If the Americans want to make another deep run in the playoffs they need to play better against last place teams like Indy and Rapid City.


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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (20.75) - Indy 22nd (11.86)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 2nd (3.99) - Indy 26th (2.52)
Goals Allowed per Game: Allen 6th (3.00) - Indy 25th (3.92)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 15th (31.87) - Indy 23rd (29.76)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 22nd (34.62) - Indy 27th (36.28)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 7th (21.9%) - Indy 22nd (14.1%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 13th (83.4%) - Indy 15th (82.1%)


- Just a reminder of the importance of scoring first and not getting behind in the game. Allen is 25-2-1-1 when scoring first. For Indy 11 of their 14 wins this season have come when they scored the first goal of the game. Allen is 11-0-0-0 when tied after the first period and 19-2-1-1 when leading after the first period. When trailing after the first period Allen is 3-14-1-1 and Indy is 2-21-0-1. You could almost go home after the first period and be guaranteed of the outcome.


- If you are looking for who will create the offense tonight it is the usual suspects. In the four previous games against Indy, Chad Costello has 11 points (3 goals 8 assists), Spencer Asuchak has six points (4 goals 2 assists) and Greger Hanson has  six points (2 goals 4 assists). The line of Bryan Moore, Zach Hall and Gary Steffes was just reunited after a Hall injury and they could have a big night tonight. Moore has six points and Hall five points in the three games they have played against the Fuel.


- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Kenny Anderson (#16) and linesmen Lucas Bisbee (#72) and Brian Bull (#95).


- Here is the Indy Fuel take on the rematch with Allen tonight: https://www.indyfuelhockey.com/fuel-aim-to-snap-skid-in-rematch-with-americans


OTHER COMMENTS


- Florida is one of the few teams that is idle tonight as 24 of the 27 ECHL teams will be in action. With Florida not playing Allen can be assured of being the #1 team in the ECHL in points if they can beat Indy. With a win Allen will have 72 points and pass Florida who has 71 points.


- There are some interesting Mountain Division matchups this weekend that will impact the standings. Colorado is in Alaska for three games and Idaho plays three games in Utah. Here are the current Mountain Division standings.

70 points - Allen
68 points - Colorado
59 points - Idaho
57 points - Alaska
54 points - Utah
53 points - Missouri
40 points - Rapid City


- If you track social media you may have seen some stories about one of the owners of the Allen Americans being the subject of a federal inquiry into high stakes poker and his efforts to open a casino in Kansas. I am not going to post the stories because this is just an inquiry at this time and nobody has been indicted. If you are interested the local paper (Wichita Eagle - kansas.com ) has been covering this story indepth. What I will say is something I have said many times in the past and that is the current owners need to sell the Allen Americans to an ownership group that cares about the franchise, the coach, the players, the employees, the fans and the community. That is not the case today.



DID YOU KNOW: I was asked at the game on Wednesday about the Americans plus/minus statistic. This is another stat that got turned around with the great month of December. As a reminder at the beginning of December Allen had a team plus/minus of -27 which was one of the poorer numbers in the league. During December Allen had just two minus games (-1 & -3)  and 12 plus games including a +29 and +24. For the entire month (14 games) the Americans plus/minus total was an astounding +161. Here are the current top five ECHL teams in plus/minus:

+208 - Florida
+184 - Allen
+177 - Reading
+132 - Fort Wayne
+129 - Toledo




Thursday, February 16, 2017

Allen Wins 3-2, Coach's Corner With Steve Martinson, Ticket Winners, Photos & More

Steve Martinson described it best when he said the 3-2 victory over Indy last night was a win that felt like a loss. More on that in Coach's Corner below. The Allen Americans used some timely scoring to defeat the Indy Fuel 3-2 before an announced crowd of 3510 at the Allen Event Center.  It was the eighth straight loss for Indy who are in last place in the Central Division and the fourth straight win for Allen who occupy first place in the Mountain Division.


- It was timely scoring indeed for the Americans as Spencer Asuchak scored his 21st goal of the season with 14 seconds remaining in the first period. Allen has played Indy four times this season, scored the first goal in all four games and won all four games. Allen got their second goal 55 seconds into the second period as Zach Hall, playing in his first game since January 20, scored his seventh goal of the season. The Americans took a 3-0 lead when Greger Hanson scored his 29th goal of the season just 26 seconds into the third period. It was a power play goal and for Greger it was his league leading 12th power play goal of the season.


- It looked like Riley Gill was headed for his league leading sixth shutout of the season until defensive lapses allowed Indy two goals late in the third period. Indy out shot Allen 10-4 in the period and had a chance to tie the score after they pulled their goalie. The Americans hung on for the 3-2 win.


- Here is the Indy Fuel take on the game: https://www.indyfuelhockey.com/fuel-stage-late-push-drop-game-one-in-allen


- Here is the Allen press release on the game which includes a quote from the #1 star, Greger Hanson: https://allenamericans.com/americans-hold-on-for-3-2-win-over-indy/


- The highlight package is posted on ECHL Rewind and includes all five goals. Notice the great passes that led to all three Allen goals. Costello to Asuchak on the first goal, Moore to Hall on the second and Costello to Hanson on the third. Also notice on the Indy goals how Gill is left unprotected with several Fuel players wide open in front of the net. http://www.echl.com/


- The teams have the day off today (the Americans will have an optional skate) and resume play again on Friday night. 


COACH'S CORNER

- Here is the pregame interview with Tom Manning and coach Martinson:




-  Here are Steve Martinson's post game comments:

- I know we won but I feel like we lost. Gill was in great position to get a shutout and apparently that wasn't on the mind of the three forwards that were on the ice. That is some of the worse defensive play you will see.

- We made so many defensive mistakes until Indy finally had a wide open net. Then on the power play goal they had us three on one in front of the net.

- We talked between periods about getting a power play goal on the five-on-three to start the third and then holding them to six shots. We got the power play goal but the idea of holding them to six shots went out the window. I don't think everyone bought into that.

- I will show the video of the last couple of plays to everyone on the team tomorrow. If we want to beat the good teams we can't play bad defensively like we did tonight.

- I will go through the tape and count but we had way to many turnovers at the blue line. Veteran guys did it and young guys did it. We had way too many weak plays at the blue line.

- We have guys cheating trying to get behind their defensmen and you don't have to do that. Our line rushes through the neutral zone weren't very good and we had a lot of offsides.

- I don't think we had enough guys going to the net tonight. I don't think we had good center drive. Several times the puck was going to the net and we had guys go behind the net.

- I thought Stevenson did a great job playing defense. The last five minutes I moved him up to forward because it seemed like we had forwards that didn't care about getting scored on. He did a great job playing defense, creating some offense and making some plays on the breakout.

- Josh Brittain is being loaned to the Chicago Wolves (AHL) this weekend as they play two games against Texas.


OTHER COMMENTS

- With the win last night Allen now has 70 points and is alone atop the Mountain Division and Western Conference. Florida beat Orlando in overtime last night and is the only team in the league with more points than the Americans. Florida has 71 points.


- Allen is in good shape when you look at points but that is a bit misleading because the Americans have played more games (53) than any other team in the league. If you look at winning percentage Allen is fifth in the ECHL at .660.


- Chad Costello had two more assists last night and now has 97 points (28 goals 69 assists) and a 35 point lead in the ECHL scoring race. Chad has at least two points in nine straight games. In the last nine games he is averaging 2.67 points per game.


- Greger Hanson had a goal and an assist last night to extend his point scoring streak to seven games. In those seven games Hanson is averaging 2.14 points per game. He is now second in the ECHL scoring race with 62 points (28 goals 33 assists).


-  Congrats to Gerald Bates, Adam Leavitt, Justin Wagner,  Rebecca Lowrey  and Jeff Colvin who all won tickets for Allen games this weekend. If you didn't win keep entering the drawings as there will be plenty more free tickets in the future. A special thanks to season ticket holder Rich Brown and the Heritage Ranch fan club for donating tickets for the drawing.



PHOTOS OF THE GAME

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the game last night courtesy of Dianne Webster:


Let's get this party started

Zach Hall scores in first game back in a month

Defenseman Dyson Stevenson clears the puck

The "Swedish Sniper" puts it in the back of the net on one knee





DID YOU KNOW: The best way to look at ECHL standings is to look at winning percentage because of the varying number of games played by each team. Allen and Tulsa have played 53 games while Wichita has played only 46. Here are the top ten teams in the ECHL by winning percentage:

.755 - Florida
.719 - Toledo
.680 - Colorado
.673 - Manchester
.660 - Allen
.635 - Fort Wayne
.625 - Adirondack
.622 - Reading
.615 - Brampton
.612 - Quad City