Friday, November 14, 2014

Allen vs Missouri Preview With All The Subplots & Statistics

The date many fans in Allen and Missouri circled on the schedule when it first came out has finally arrived as the Steve Martinson coached Americans take on the Richard Matvichuk coached Mavericks for the first time tonight at the Independence Event Center. To some it is just another game on the schedule but to others it represents a battle between the two coaches that guided Allen to back to back championships.

- Both teams have gotten off to less than stellar starts (Missouri 4-3, Allen 3-3) and have been retooling their rosters on the fly. Missouri just traded Garett Bembridge, the CHL MVP and scoring leader from last year. Allen just traded the tough and talented Devin Di Diomete to of all places Missouri. It was just a few weeks ago Richard Matvichuk described Bembridge "as a cornerstone to the Mavs hockey program in Independence" and Steve Martinson said of Di Diomete, "Devin can do it all. He can skate, score, hit, fight and make plays. He will be a big fan favorite in Allen." What a difference a few weeks can make.

- Speaking of Di Diomete, he had this to say about the game tonight. "I know coach (Matvichuk) is fired up but he can't be any more fired up than I am. They (Allen) didn't want me and Mattie (Matvichuk) and the Mavericks do want me. Do you know what that means to a player? I am looking forward to stirring the pot Friday night, giving the fans their money's worth and do anything I can to help the Mavericks win the game." Would suggest the Allen players keep their heads up as Devin will be a motivated guy tonight and he definitely knows how to stir the pot.

- Not a surprise because of coach Richard Matvichuk's connection to Allen but Missouri has had six former Allen players on the Maverick's roster thus far. (Devin Di Diomete, Dallas Ehrhardt, Ryley Grantham, Justin Kirsch, Scott Langdon, Steven Tarasuk).  Kirsch is now gone, Grantham (on IR) and Langdon (Suspended) will not play in the game tonight and Tarasuk is on reserve so he may not play as well but the Allen flavor will make for an interesting dynamic.

- You can bet this game is important to both coaches but one would have to believe there is more pressure on Richard Matvichuk to come out of the shadow of Steve Martinson. After all, Steve Martinson is in his nineteenth year as a head coach and has won eight championships including the last two years while Matvichuk is in his first year as a head coach with expectations that anything less than a championship is a failure. Granted the expectation of anything less than a championship is a failure was made and articulated by Matvichuk himself when the Mavericks were in the much smaller  Central Hockey League. Not sure that is a fair expectation in the ECHL. These are both great coaches who will get their teams consistently winning and you can be sure they want to win this game, but in the grand scheme of things it is just another game early in the season.

- Allen and Missouri have only played each other 20 times in the last five years and seven of those were last year. Talk about a couple of evenly matched teams how is this for head to head regular season results since 2009-2010 of the 20 games played.
Overall: 10-10
In Allen: 4-4
In Missouri: 6-6

- As important as many see the game tonight it is interesting that earlier this week some Allen players did not even know Richard Matvichuk was a coach in Allen last year and just saw this game as the first of three games in three days. Pretty sure they know the background by now but it does help put the game in perspective.

- There is no doubt Missouri is the class of the Central Division when it comes to attendance. The game tonight will be another sellout as it will be only the Maverick's second home game of the season. Missouri ranks fourth in the ECHL in average attendance. Impressive.

- These two teams are very close in penalty minutes averaging just over twenty minutes per game which ranks them #5 (Allen) and #6 (Missouri) in the league.

- With two teams that take a lot of penalties, special teams will be a key to victory. It would appear that Allen's power play has an advantage as the Americans are at 20% while Missouri has one of the worst power play percentages in the ECHL at 10.3%. However, if you look at the last four games both teams are struggling. Allen has one goal in twenty power play opportunities while Missouri has one goal in fifteen power play opportunities. Power play goals will very likely be the difference in the game.

- On the penalty kill Missouri is #20 in the league at 79.1% and Allen is #21 at 77.4%. Again, the winner of this battle will probably be the winner of the game.

- Another interesting statistic about these two teams is when they score their goals. They both have struggled in the first period giving up more goals than they have scored. Missouri has been the strongest in the second period outscoring their opponents 7-3 but have been weak in the third period scoring eight times but allowing fourteen goals against. Allen's strongest period has been the third when they have outscored their opponents 10-6.

- Allen has averaged 4.17 goals per game (#2 in ECHL) while Missouri is averaging a full goal per game less at 3.14 (#15 in ECHL). As for goals allowed Allen is #26 in the league at 4.00 per game and Missouri is #23 at 3.71 per game. It all points to a high scoring game tonight.

- Another stat to keep an eye on tonight is shots on goal as the biggest difference between Allen and Missouri is in this stat. Allen is #3 in the league averaging 34.00 shots on goal per game. Missouri is last (#28) in the ECHL averaging only 23.29 shots on goal per game.

- In the last three games Missouri is 3-0 and Allen is 1-2. Advantage Missouri. However, Allen has always been a good road team and actually has a better road record than home record over the last five years. Advantage Allen. Anyway you slice it this should be a great game tonight.

- The scoring for Allen can come from any of the three lines so it is hard to predict where the scoring will come from but Jack Combs has scored in every game thus far and you may see Jamie Schaafsma on the line with Combs and  Chad Costello. If  Spencer Asuchak, Greger Hanson and  Austin Smith remain as line mates look for them to have a good scoring night as well. As coach Martinson keeps saying scoring goals should not be a problem, the key to victory will be the commitment to playing defensive hockey. UPDATE: Spencer Asuchak has been placed on reserve and is day to day. He will not play in the game against Missouri.

- Missouri's leading scorers are they guys you would expect. Sebastien Thinel has a seven game scoring streak and David Rutherford leads the team in goals. Keep an eye on Kellan Tochkin as he has had the hot hand lately scoring three goals in the last two games.

- With Aaron Dell being recalled to Worcester (AHL) Allen has resigned Raphael Girard as the back up goalie. Riley Gill will start in goal against Missouri.

DID YOU KNOW: During the 2010-2011 season the Allen Americans and Missouri Mavericks never played each other in the regular season or the playoffs.

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