Sunday, February 8, 2015

ECHL Guiding Principles For Creating 2015-2016 Schedule, Asuchak Returns & A Bunch of This N' That

- Not much new with the Allen Americans other than they made the long slog home from Brampton only to turn around tomorrow and fly to California for games on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Ontario Reign. Even though they are flying to California, to have two trips of close to 3000 miles each and play four games all within a seven day period seems a bit much. Welcome to minor pro hockey.

- ICYMI: This was posted a few days ago but wanted to post it again based on lots of message board conversation about how the schedule will look for next year given the new division alignment.

Several readers have asked how the new alignment will impact the schedule and some have even said they will not renew their season tickets if their team plays the other teams in the division over and over. Here is the current thinking of the league office concerning scheduling for next season. My thanks to the ECHL office for sharing their thinking as they begin to work on the schedules for next year. You have to keep in mind the scheduling process has not begun in earnest at this point and there are no guarantees as making a schedule is a very fluid process with numerous variables to be considered. With that said here is the thinking going into the scheduling process, remember no guarantees but guiding principles.
1. The schedule will be favored toward geographical rivals in an effort to keep costs down.
2. No team will play an opponent more than 12 times (6 home, 6 away).
3. With the Board of Governors mandating east/west travel each team will see a good variety of opponents.

The bottom line for Allen fans is even though the Central Division will only have four teams next year it is likely the Americans will play Tulsa and Wichita fewer times next year than this year. There will be plenty of opportunity to see new teams coming to Allen to play the Americans and the opportunity for some new and exciting road trips for Allen fans.

- Aaron Dell had a great game last night in goal for the Worcester Sharks (AHL) in leading his team to a 4-0 win over the Norfolk Admirals. Aaron stopped all 38 Norfolk shots to record his second shutout of the year for Worcester and was named the #1 star of the game. With the shutout his GAA has dropped to 1.74 and his save percentage has risen to .932.

- Spencer Asuchak played his second game for Worcester last night and his line score was all zeros. Spencer tweeted this late last night, "Eh when life gives you lemons just make lemonade eh?" He is headed back to Allen where he will be welcomed with open arms as he is loved in Allen where he will make some great lemonade.

- Wichita lost 6-2 to Quad City last night in a game that saw a combined 34 penalties with 136 penalty minutes, mostly in the third period after Quad City took a big lead. Wichita became the first Central Division team to go over the 1000 minute penalty mark for the season. In all, seven players were sent to the showers in the third period. Wichita has a recent streak of high penalty minute games which should make for a couple of interesting games next weekend when they play Allen in a home and home series. The Thunder now lead the ECHL in average penalty minutes per game at 22.49. Allen is #3 at 22.23.

- All season long the best teams in the ECHL have been Toledo, Fort Wayne, Florida and Allen. These four teams still have the best winning percentages in the league but have cooled off recently. A couple of surprise teams are playing the best hockey over the last ten games. The Reading Royals have won ten straight games and are now leading the Eastern Conference by one point over Florida and Fort Wayne. Indy is still in sixth place in the North Division but has gone 9-1 in the last ten games and closed the gap for a playoff spot to three points. The Orlando Solar Bears are in fifth place in the East division but are 8-2 in the last ten games.

- There are just five points separating 2nd thru 5th spots in the Central Division standings. Rapid City has won seven of their last ten games to join Quad City, Tulsa, and Wichita in the race for second place in the division.

- Statistics would show that very few teams sitting in 5th, 6th, & 7th place in their division at this point of the season will make the playoffs. Some teams have only 24 games remaining in the regular season. Allen has 29 games remaining.

- There were some nice crowds around the ECHL last night including Gwinnett (9289), Tulsa (8255), Fort Wayne (7424) and Greenville (7285). The ECHL average his risen to 4462. Allen is below the ECHL average at 4021.

- Will save a complete statistical leaders post for another day but suffice it to say Allen players are overall ECHL leaders in points, goals, assists, penalty minutes, power play goals, shorthanded goals, power play assists, and power play points. 

DID YOU KNOW: Allen leads the ECHL in shorthanded goals with ten and seven of the ten have come at home.

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