- Call it a fresh start or a new beginning for the Allen Americans as they hit the road for yet another game with the Wichita Thunder. For the first time in franchise history Allen will be traveling to Wichita the day of the game. The team will leave Allen around 10:00 am this morning for the 360 mile trip so they can arrive at the Intrust Bank Arena around 4:00 pm this afternoon. Game time is 7:05 pm and the team will head back to Allen right after the game. Why the change? My understanding is the ownership group (Allen, Wichita and Tulsa) made the change as a way to save money. If you avoid an overnight stay in a hotel along with other costs (per diem, bus driver etc) it is a lot of savings. The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) allows for same day travel as long as you have a sleeper bus like the one the Americans own.
- Wichita did the same thing when they traveled to Allen on Tuesday and they came away with a victory so maybe Allen can return the favor tonight.
- There is no question Allen has been struggling as they have the worst record in the Central Division over the last ten games and have lost eight in a row at home but for some reason the road has been kind to Allen. They have won seven of their last ten road games which includes two wins in Wichita. Allen's overall record against Wichita is 7-2-3-2 but in the six games played in Wichita the Americans are 4-1-0-1.
- The game tonight will be number fifteen between these teams with two more to go (April 1st & 11th). Luckily the goal for next year is teams will play no more than twelve times.
- It has been mentioned before that Allen and Wichita have been evenly matched statistically all year. All but two of the fourteen previous games have been decided by one or two goals. The only exceptions being the 4-0 win on Wednesday by Wichita and a 8-2 win by Allen on January 16.
- Here is an up to date statistical comparison for the fourteen games played between the Americans and Thunder this season.
Goals: Allen (54) - Wichita (50)
Shots on Goal: Allen (428) - Wichita (443)
Penalty Minutes: Allen (343) - Wichita (326)
Special teams is almost always the key to victory and Allen has the
edge in this department. If you look at the head to head matchups in the fourteen games played this season Allen has gone 18-81 (22.2%) on the
power play and Wichita has gone 13-75 (17.3%) on the power play. More
broadly at home Wichita is ranked
#4 (21.4%) on the power play and #11 (83.6%) on the penalty kill. On
road Allen is #2 (23.0%) on the power play and #6 (86.5%) on the
- Riley Gill will be in goal for Allen tonight trying to build on his ECHL leading 28 wins. In his last game Riley became the all time single season leader for the Allen Americans in games played (45) passing Aaron Dell (44) and and in minutes played (2588) passing Chris Whitley who set the record of 2561 in 2009-2010.
- The referee assigned for the game is Peter Tarnaris (#23) who fans may remember from his days in the CHL. He has a fascinating story you might enjoy reading having started as an official at a very young age. You can find it in the archives dated March 5, 2013 with the title, "The Inside Story of a CHL Referee".
- Allen had several chances to be the first ECHL team to clinch a playoff spot needing just one win. However, a four game losing streak prevented that from happening. Last night Reading and Fort Wayne became the first teams to clinch a playoff spot.
- In the last seven games against Wichita the Americans have allowed at least four goals in every game. They have given up six goals once, five goals three times and four goals three times. A commitment to defense first is a key to victory.
- Chad Costello sets a new all time single season assist record for the Allen Americans every time he gets an assist but his next one will be a big milestone as it will be number 300 in his professional career. Chad's scoring prowess is well documented but the most amazing stat is the fact that he has more assists (68) this year than any other player in the ECHL has points except his buddy Jack Combs who has 69 points.
DID YOU KNOW: The first game ever between Wichita and Allen took place on New Year's Eve in 2009 and it was a unique game. Allen came out on top blanking the Thunder 3-0 with Charlie Effinger in goal. Goal scorers for Allen were Nathan O'Nabigon, Christian Gaudet, and Tyler Wooddisse. What was unique about that game? Goalie Charlie Effinger had an assist on the first goal and Bruce Graham did not score but had a five minute fighting major. It was Effinger's one and only assist playing for Allen and it was Graham's only fight that year.