It is afternoon hockey as the Allen Americans take on the Missouri Mavericks today at the Allen Event Center (AEC) with a 1:05 puck drop. The game marks the end of the first half of the inaugural ECHL season for Allen and the beginning of the official three day All-Star break. If there was ever a trap game this has to be the one. Missouri arrives in Allen with six straight losses overall and seven losses in a row at home. To add insult to injury the Mavericks are 0-6 against Allen this season. Missouri has fallen to sixth place in the Central Division standings and are now 25 points behind the Allen Americans. Meanwhile Allen has won a league leading eight games in a row and nine straight games at home to go along with having the best record in the ECHL.
- Any statistical comparison between Allen and Missouri whether you
look at head to head record, season long record, recent record, goals
scored, goals allowed, goal differential, plus/minus, or special teams
would show that Allen is the better team. That is precisely what makes
the game this afternoon a concern.
- Special teams have certainly been a key in Allen having a perfect 6-0 record
against Missouri this year. The Mavericks power play is the worst in the ECHL ranked #28 at 10.1%. Missouri has not scored a power play goal on Allen all year going 0-29 in their six previous meetings. The Americans have five power play goals against the Mavericks.
- Missouri has struggled to score goals as they rank #27 with a goals scored per game average of 2.44. Allen is ranked #1 with an average of 4.34. During their current six game losing streak Missouri has just seven goals in six games.
- Haven't heard who will be in goal this afternoon but Riley Gill has been out the last couple of games with bumps and bruises so Aaron Dell may get the start. Gill has been in goal for all six wins against Missouri this
year giving up only seven goals in the six games including a 29 save
6-0 shutout in Missouri on November 26.
- Bottom line is Allen has a big advantage going into the
game this afternoon. After all, they have beaten the Mavericks six straight times. The winning formula remains the same
and that is out work Missouri, be aggressive but don't gamble, get back
defensively, avoid odd man rushes, and take advantage of being the
better team on special teams. Finally, get pucks to the net and don't try to make the perfect play. As a team the Missouri goalies have a combined .882 save percentage so pucks to the net with guys in front should get the job done.
- With a win today Allen will hit the halfway point in the season with a huge 17 point lead in the Central Division standings. Quad City beat Rapid City last night to move into a three way tie for second place in the standings with Wichita and Tulsa. The second place teams have 42 points but none of them play today.
- Wish I had taken a picture of Jesse Messier helping a gangly, spaghetti legged child at the skate after the game on Saturday. Long after the other players had left the ice there was Jesse showing compassion for this not so young child who was struggling to stand up let alone skate. His compassion and encouragement was both noticed and appreciated.
- When you ask players if they have rituals or superstitions they most often say no but if you ask about routines they almost always say yes and are very specific about their game day routine. With a 1:05 game time you can bet routines are discombobulated today as to when to get up, what and when to eat, no nap, and preparing for a game that will be over before they usually get to the rink on a normal game day. Check with the wives and girlfriends at the game today to see if their man was a little more grouchy or out of sorts than normal this morning. Bet you will get a few yes answers.
- If you have an interest in watching the ECHL All-Star game Wednesday night you can watch it for free on ECHL-TV. If you don't already have an account you can set one up free of charge and use code CCMASC2015 to access the feed from Orlando. If you just want to listen to the game it will be on iHeartRadio on iheartsolarbears.com. More details at the ECHL website.
- The official All-Star break is tomorrow through Thursday (January 20-22) as players are given that time off. However, because the Americans leave for their road trip on Wednesday (Indy, Toledo, Klalmazoo) it was agreed by everyone involved to take their All-Star break over the Super Bowl weekend (February 1st). Nice compromise!
- Today will be the last day to see the Allen Americans in their white jerseys at home. They will be wearing the red jerseys for the rest of the season starting with the January 29th home game against Rapid City.
- Had a good result last night in the Central Division vs the rest of the ECHL as Brampton beat Wheeling 2-1 in dramatic fashion. Tyler Donati scored the game winner with 1.9 second left in the game. With that win the Central Division finishes 7-19-1-0 against the other ECHL divisions in the first half. The Central Division teams will have 15 more opportunities in the second half.
- Have to admit it was good to see Dallas Ehrhardt have a good night against his old team on Saturday. Dallas is a big stay at home defenseman and when he was traded this past week by Missouri to Rapid City for offensive defenseman Landon Oslanski a lot of people from both teams piled on saying Missouri got the better deal in the trade. Having watched Dallas for a year in Allen he was a big asset to the team. As fate would have it the second game Dallas played for Rapid City was against his old team in Missouri. Ehrhardt had two assists, a fight against Ryley Grantham (another former Allen American) and was named the #2 Star of the game. And his team won the game 3-1. Dallas always was the quiet type who let his actions speak louder than words. Job well done.
DID YOU KNOW: Allen has an amazing home record this season of 17-2-1-0. They are a perfect 13-0 when tied or leading after the first period. They have been out shot by their opponents just four times at home but are a perfect 4-0 in those games.