Thursday, January 21, 2016

Allen Practice Update, ECHL Attendance, Thanks Mike Heika, Gretzky Records Revisited

Not much new to report from practice yesterday as the Americans get ready for the weekend series against the Wichita Thunder. Reid Halabi and Chris Crane did not practice but Tristan King was on the ice in the "no contact" jersey. Best case scenario is all three of these players will be available for coach Martinson on Friday. The team won't depart for Wichita until Friday morning so there will be a full practice today. Coach Martinson has yet to bring in a back up goalie to replace Riley Gill while he is out. Equipment manager, Nolan Bowker, is expected to be the emergency back up goalie in Wichita and was practicing with the team yesterday. Vincent Arseneau was doing some light skating on his own after practice.

- January was supposed to be the month when Allen put some wins together because of a favorable schedule. The last four weeks of the month had eight homes games on the schedule and just four road games. In all 12 games Allen's opponents owned a lower win percentage than Allen. During the recently completed five game home stand, the Americans split two games with Colorado and lost two of three games to Cincinnati.  Allen has seven games remaining in January and they are all against Wichita and Tulsa with three at home and four on the road. The road games are the back to back games this weekend in Wichita and then two day trips to Tulsa the last week of the month. How the Americans perform the rest of the month will go a long way to answer the question, can Allen hold onto the fourth seed in the Western Conference? This is where veteran leadership comes into play. It is up to the veterans to make sure they lead on and off the ice so the Americans can string some wins together over the next seven games against Wichita and Tulsa.

- As mentioned the other day, at this point in the season (38 games), the Americans have taken 201 fewer shots, scored 63 fewer goals and allowed 12 more goals than at the same point last season. Decided to take a look at plus/minus after 38 games this year compared to last year. Right now the team has a plus/minus of -99. After 38 games last season the team was +153. That is a difference of 252 in plus/minus which says a lot about where this team is at this season.


- The ECHL has just passed the halfway mark of the season in terms of total games played,  as 531 of the 1008 (52.7%) games are now in the books. Total attendance stands at 2,177,706 which is an average of 4101. The average attendance is 497 per game less than last year and 605 fewer than the 2013-14 season. The 4101 average for this year should increase for a couple of reasons. Teams tend to draw better the last half of the season and the teams at the top of the average attendance chart have played fewer home games than those at the bottom. Even with these factors increasing average attendance from where it presently stands, it appears the ECHL average attendance will decline for the third straight season. One thing to remember is the three locations that moved to the AHL this year (Ontario, Bakersfield, Stockton) had much better attendance than the three teams that replaced them (Adirondack, Norfolk, Manchester). Ontario, Bakersfield, and Stockton had a combined average attendance of 17,222 last year. This season, Adirondack, Norfolk and Manchester have a combined average attendance of 9972.

- I have mentioned this before but it is worth mentioning again that Mike Heika, who covers the Dallas Stars for the Dallas Morning News has been very helpful in publicizing the Allen Americans. He graciously sends the blog to his 17,000 followers on Twitter. He does the same for many of the news releases put out by the Allen Americans. To have 17,000 hockey fans see information about the Allen Americans each and every day is invaluable. I know many Allen Americans fans are Dallas Stars fans and with Mike's help some Dallas Stars fans have become fans of the three time champion, Allen Americans. If you are on Twitter make sure to give Mike a follow @MikeHeika and if you ever get a chance, thank him for his help.

- It was a good night for a couple of former Allen Americans in the AHL last night. Eric Roy had an assist and was a +1 for Lake Erie who lost to Grand Rapids 3-2 in overtime. Eric has played in four games thus far for Lake Erie and has a goal, an assist and is a +3. Jack Combs had an assist and was a +2 for Hartford as they beat Albany 3-2 in overtime.

DID YOU KNOW: It is always fascinating to look back at the records that Wayne Gretzky set that will never be broken. When he set the most goals in a season record in 1981-82 at 92, the prior record was 76 set by Phil Esposito in 1970-71. Gretzky's single season assist record of 163 was set in 1985-86 and broke his own record set the previous year of 135. Gretzky owns the seven highest single season assist totals in NHL history. Since it is throw back Thursday, here is one of many videos on his top ten moments.

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