Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Midweek Marathon & A Lot Of Tulsa On The Schedule

Each year when the schedule is released there are always parts that make you scratch your head and the last week of November and first week of December is certainly a head scratcher this year for the Allen Americans. Not an ECHL issue as this is a leftover from the CHL. To start with there are seven games (six on the road) in eleven days with five of the games being against Tulsa. This includes four different trips to Tulsa. Here is how it goes starting today: to Tulsa, to Missouri, back to Tulsa, day off, to Wichita, two days off, back to Tulsa, to Allen (to play Tulsa), day off, back to Tulsa.  Three games back to back is not that unusual as Allen will do that six times this year but three games back to back all on the road during the week is very unusual. Allen plays Tulsa tonight, Tulsa then rests on Wednesday while Allen travels to Missouri to play the Mavericks and then the Americans return to Tulsa for a game Thursday night. To add insult to injury Allen is the only one of the seven former CHL teams that has to play on the road for Thanksgiving. Not too family friendly.

- Despite the rugged schedule, these five games against Tulsa in the next eleven days will be crucial. Tulsa leads the Central Division in points (tied with Quad City) and Allen leads the Division in winning percentage. These are two of the tops teams in the division and because they play each other 17 times during the season, how they do head to head will go a long way in determining where they finish in the standings. So far they have played three times, all in Allen, with Tulsa winning two of the three games including a 9-6 blowout opening night. With Allen playing much better hockey recently the upcoming five games against the Oilers will be a good measuring stick for the Americans.

- With all of the talk about the five upcoming games with Tulsa starting tonight the most intense game of the week might be tomorrow night when Allen returns to Missouri to play the Mavericks. Most will say it is just another game but you know Richard Matvichuk will have his team jacked up and ready to go after Allen beat the Mavericks in their first meeting in Missouri. That was the game Devin Di Diomete tried to prove a point that Allen didn't want him but Missouri did so he had two fights and fourteen minutes in penalties as Allen won the game 3-1. Incidentally, Missouri traded Di Diomete to the Idaho Steelheads yesterday.

- Speaking of Missouri, Richard Matvichuk has certainly been working hard trying to retool his roster after a slow start this season. The Mavericks have already had 35 different players on their roster this year. That is at least ten more than any other team in the division. Allen has had 24 different players on their roster.

- Austin Smith was loaned to the Norfolk Admirals (AHL) yesterday after scoring nine points (3 goals 6 assists) in seven games with Allen. He came to Allen with the hope of getting back to the AHL and that sure didn't take long to happen. Norfolk plays Charlotte tomorrow (Wednesday) night so hope Austin gets a chance to play.

- Coach Martinson had mentioned Saturday after the game that a player would be called up to the AHL this week. The  Austin Smith loan to Norfolk is not the move he was talking about on Saturday. Another young player (as yet unnamed) will be sent to Worcester.

- Here are some statistical comparisons between Allen and Tulsa:
Record: Allen 8-3-0-0, Tulsa 8-4-1-1
Winning Percentage: Allen .727, Tulsa .643
Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 18.73, Tulsa 20.79
Power Play: Allen 18.5%, Tulsa 15.3%
Penalty Kill: Allen 83.9%, Tulsa 84.1%
Goals For per Game: Allen 4.27, Tulsa 4.00
Goals Allowed per Game: Allen 2.82, Tulsa 3.79
Shots Taken per Game: Allen 32.55, Tulsa 28.07
Shots Allowed per Game: Allen 29.62, Tulsa 33.21
Record When Scoring First: Allen 6-0, Tulsa 5-1-0-1

- Both Allen and Tulsa have had one goalie carrying the load for the team. Kevin Carr has played in thirteen games for Tulsa and has a GAA of 3.01 and save percentage of .905. Riley Gill has played in nine games for Allen with a GAA of 1.95 and save percentage of .937.

- Tulsa has three players in the top ten in the ECHL in goals scored led by Adam Pleskach (11), TJ Caig (9) and Jon Booras (8). They also have the number two scorer amongst defensemen in the league in Scott Macaulay who has thirteen points (2 goals 11 assists) in fourteen games.

- The advantage Allen has is a much more balanced scoring attack. Allen has eleven players averaging .64 points per game or higher, Tulsa has five.

- The bus leaves for Tulsa this afternoon (Tuesday) at 1:00 pm. The fan club has invited everyone to join them (behind the AEC) to send the team off.

DID YOU KNOW:  Pat Quinn, a veteran of more than 600 NHL games and 1400 games as an NHL head coach passed away this week. Quinn played 140 games with the Tulsa Oilers over parts of four different seasons from 1964 -1969.

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