It is game day for the Allen Americans as they take on the Missouri Mavericks tonight (7:05 pm) at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence, Missouri. Last season the Americans were by far the best team in the Central Division and owned the Mavericks, winning eight of nine games. The one loss was in overtime. This season the Mavericks have been the best team in the Central Division and are trying to return the favor to the Americans. Missouri has won three of four games thus far and out scored Allen 12-5 in those four games. The road to a second Kelly Cup for the Americans goes through Missouri and with seven games remaining with the Mavericks it is imperative for Allen to show they can hold their own. That opportunity starts tonight.
- The game tonight will be the fifth of 11 times these teams meet this season. Here are the results of their first four meetings:
October 31 at home - Allen outplayed Missouri throughout, gave up a goal in the last 75 seconds of the game and won 2-1.
November 17 (away) - Missouri dominated this game out shooting Allen 42-18 on the way to an easy 4-1 victory.
December 26 at home - Allen out shot Missouri 33-23 but could not solve Maverick's goalie Josh Robinson. Americans lost 3-1.
January 1 (away) - Missouri took a 4-0 lead before Allen got on the board with their lone goal. The Americans out shot the Mavericks 33-31 but goalie Josh Robinson was again the story of the game. Final score was 4-1.
- Josh Robinson, who was in goal for the three Missouri wins, was loaned to Springfield (AHL) this week. Robinson is a perfect 25-0 this season. Parker Milner, who was in goal for the lone Allen win, will most likely be the goalie for Missouri tonight. If you think having Milner in goal instead of Robinson is a big break, keep in mind Milner has outstanding statistics himself. His GAA of 1.71 and save percentage of .937 are actually better than Robinson's. Milner shutout Tulsa 3-0 on Tuesday.
- Here is how Allen and Missouri match up:
Team Record: 28-18-2-1 (61 points) 39-6-2-1 (81 points)
Division Ranking: 2nd Central 1st Central
Conference Ranking: 4th Western 1st Western
League Ranking: 11th 1st
Home Record 14-6-2-1 22-2-0-0
Road Record 15-12-0-0 17-4-2-1
Last Ten Games 6-4-0-0 8-1-1-0
Last Game: 5-4 Loss (Alaska) 3-0 Win (Tulsa)
Goals For: 152 167
Goals Against: 141 101
Power Play: 21.9% (40/183) 18.3% (35/191)
Penalty Kill: 86.7% (26/195) 86.1% (23/165)
Most PIM's Stevenson (83) Courtney (54)
Leading Scorers: Costello (19-50-69) Barnes (19-32-51)
- Here is how Allen and Missouri rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:
Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 3rd (16.80) - Missouri 26th (10.50)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 8th (3.04) - Missouri 1st (3.48)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 14th (2.82) - Missouri 1st (2.10)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 26th (27.22) - Missouri 23rd (28.85)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 14th (30.02) - Missouri 3rd (26.67)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 2nd (21.9%) - Missouri 7th (18.3%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 4th (86.7%) - Missouri 5th (86.1%)
The stats above show why the Americans will have their work cut out for
them tonight. Allen has trouble generating shots
(ranked 26th) while Missouri doesn't allow many shots (ranked 3rd). When you play a team like Missouri
that scores the most goals in the league and allows the fewest goals in
the league it is a tall task. Another way to look at this is goal
differential. Allen has scored 152 goals and allowed 141 for a goal
differential of +11. Missouri has scored 167 goals and allowed 101 for a
goal differential of +66.
- Special teams
are always important but when you have two teams at the opposite ends of
the spectrum when it comes to penalties, it could be the deciding
factor in the game. Allen has 840 penalty minutes while Missouri has just 504. Allen has taken 48 major penalties (mostly for
fighting) while Missouri has taken just 12. This disparity has not
shown up in the four games these teams have played against each other.
Allen has 54 penalty minutes while the Mavericks have 61 penalty
minutes. Allen is 1-15 (6.7%) on the power play and Missouri is 2-14
(14.3%). If either team can get an advantage on special teams it might
make the difference in the game.
- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Chris Pontes (#2) and linesmen Russ Coll (#40) and Andy Bethmann (#95).
- If you haven't seen the story about Rapid City head coach Joe Ferras stepping down on Wednesday here is a link. Ever since Allen lost to Ferras and the Rush in the CHL championship final in the Americans first year in operation (2009-10) it has been quite the rivalry. Ferras will remain with the Rush as General Manager of both hockey operations and the day-to-day operations of the organization. Associate head coach Mark DeSantis has moved up to the head coaching position. http://rapidcityjournal.com/sports/echl-ferras-steps-down-as-rush-head-coach/article_8a796af2-971b-5e0e-a40c-3afcd232d91c.html
- Drew Daniels, who was part of the Allen Americans first championship and went on to be an all-star with the Fort Wayne Komets, has left the team. I did an in-depth interview with Drew back in 2013 (check the archives dated March 12, 2013, "Oh Danny Boy") and he is a great young man. Not sure about the details as to his leaving the Komets but wish him the best. Here is the story that was published by the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel yesterday: http://www.news-sentinel.com/sports/komets/All-star-defenseman-Drew-Daniels-has-left-Komets
- Aaron Dell is getting closer to making his NHL debut. Here is another story on his progression in the Sharks organization including some nice remarks by his coach. http://www.gacklereport.com/golf-article/barracudas-dell-makes-case-for-recall-to-sharks/
- The Idaho Steelheads are 8-2 in their last ten games and are challenging Allen for the fourth seed in the Western Conference. Allen has a two point lead with two games in hand for the important fourth seed (best record of the non division winners) which carries with it home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans have the best record in the ECHL when scoring first. They have garnered 88.5% of the available points when getting the first goal of the game. Their record is 22-2-1-1. However, Allen has scored the first goal in only 26 of their 50 games this season.