Friday, May 13, 2016

Allen vs Fort Wayne Series Preview - From Jamie Schaafsma, the ECHL & Barry the Blogger

The Allen Americans take on the Fort Wayne Komets tonight in game one of the ECHL Western Conference final. Two teams with winning traditions, great fan bases, and the ability to play whatever style of game that is necessary to be successful. Fort Wayne is the #2 seed in the conference having finished first in the Midwest Division while Allen is the #4 seed with a second place finish in the Central Division. However, both teams finished the regular season with the same number of points, 89.

- Allen and Fort Wayne are two evenly matched teams than can best be described as big, tall, young and skilled. Fort Wayne is the tallest and heaviest team in the ECHL and Allen is not far behind. You are talking average heights of 6'1" and average weights of 200 pounds. Fort Wayne is the bigger team on the back end and Allen is bigger up front. While both teams have a ton of skill they were two of the most penalized teams in the league. After 72 regular season games Fort Wayne had 1196 penalty minutes and Allen had 1189.

- Here is a Jamie Schaafsma video interview in which Jamie does a great job of breaking down the series and also talks about what the series will be like for him. There is no doubt Jamie will get a big ovation from the Allen fans when he is introduced at the Allen Event Center.

- Below is a snapshot of the Western Conference final courtesy of the ECHL:

- Here is a regular season comparison between Allen and Fort Wayne:

                                    ALLEN                              FORT WAYNE

Team Record:             41-24-3-4 (89 points)          40-23-7-2 (89 points)
Division Ranking:        2nd Central                        1st Midwest
Conference Ranking:  4th Western                        2nd Western
League Ranking:        6th                                      5th
Home Record             22-10-2-2                            22-9-5-0
Road Record              19-14-1-2                            18-14-2-2
Goals For:                   222                                     240
Goals Against:            204                                     200
Power Play:                21.1%                                 20.4%
Penalty Kill:                 86.4%                                 85.1%
Most PIM's                  Stevenson (115)                Sol (259)
Leading Scorers:        Costello (24-79-103)          Sydlowski (25-50-75)

The following is how Allen and Fort Wayne rank among the four remaining playoff teams in some statistical categories considering just the playoff game results:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 4th (12.69) - Fort Wayne 3rd (14.18)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 4th (2.69) - Fort Wayne 1st (3.82)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 3rd (2.38) - Fort Wayne 2nd (2.27)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 4th (30.38) - Fort Wayne 1st (36.45)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 3rd (29.00) - Fort Wayne 2nd (27.27)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 1st (23.6%) - Fort Wayne 2nd (21.4%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 4th (83.6%) - Fort Wayne 1st (89.7%)
Plus/Minus: Allen 4th (-4) - Fort Wayne 2nd (+53)

- From the statistics above you would have to give the advantage to Fort Wayne especially when you add in they have home ice advantage. However, Allen has shown many times over the last four years while going 12-0 in playoff series that stats don't win games. The Americans won games six and seven to win their first round match up against Idaho and beat Missouri in six games in the second round even though the Mavericks had much better stats and home ice advantage.      

- Allen has played 13 games on the way to the Western Conference final while Fort Wayne has played just 11. However total minutes played is much closer because Fort Wayne has played five overtime periods to Allen's one. Total minutes are 775 for Allen and 727 for Fort Wayne.

- As always special teams will play a big factor in this series. When you look at home vs road special teams it is quite different than the overall numbers. Fort Wayne has the best road power play percentage of the final four (30.8%) but they have struggled at home converting on just four of 33 attempts (13.3%). Allen has a home penalty kill percentage of 90.9% but on the road are just 78.8%.

- The referees scheduled tonight are Nic Leduc (#14) and Peter Tarnaris (#23). The linesmen will be Shaun Morgan (#71) and Tyler Landman (#90).

- Here is some additional information courtesy of the ECHL:

Western Conference Finals (Best of Seven)

Fort Wayne Komets vs. Allen Americans
Series Matchup Sheet

Fort Wayne is making its first appearance in the Conference Finals in its four ECHL seasons while Allen is the first defending Kelly Cup champion to return to the Conference Finals the following season since Alaska in 2012.

The Komets rallied from an 0-2 deficit in the Western Conference Quarterfinals to defeat Cincinnati 4 games to 3 before eliminating Utah 4 games to 0 in the Western Conference Semifinals. Fort Wayne led the ECHL in the regular season with 3.33 goals per game and the offensive attack has carried over to the postseason with a playoff-leading 3.82 goals per game. The Komets’ defense has also been stout as the team ranks second among playoff teams allowing 2.27 goals per game.

Shawn Szydlowski, who was third in the league during the regular season with 75 points and was named to the All-ECHL Second Team, is tied for the playoff lead with 15 points and is tied for second with eight goals. Teammate Garrett Thompson has also tallied eight goals while Jordon Southorn leads defensemen with 10 assists while his 10 points are fourth among blueliners. Pat Nagle has appeared in goal for every game during the playoffs and is tied for the playoff lead with eight wins while ranking fourth with a 2.06 goals-against average.

Allen has reached the Western Conference Finals with a 4 games to 3 win over Idaho in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, a series in which the Americans won both Games 6 and 7 on home ice, and a 4 games to 2 win over Brabham Cup champion Missouri in the Western Conference Semifinals. The power play has been Allen’s key to success all season as the Americans led the ECHL during the regular season at 21.1 percent and have improved that number in the Kelly Cup Playoffs with a postseason-leading 23.6 percent success rate on the man advantage.

Chad Costello, who led the ECHL in scoring during the regular season for the second consecutive season and received the League Most Valuable Player award, paces the Americans offense in the postseason with 15 points (3g-12a) which is tied for the playoff lead. Greger Hanson, who was the Most Valuable Player of the 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs, is tied for second in the playoffs with eight goals while David Makowski is tied for second among defensemen with 11 points (2g-9a). Riley Gill, who has won Kelly Cup titles with Reading in 2013 and Allen last season, leads all goaltenders in the playoffs with a .935 save percentage and is third with a 1.96 goals-against average. His win in Game 6 of the conference semifinals against Missouri was his 44th career ECHL playoff win, breaking the previous record of 43, held by 2008 ECHL Hall of Fame inductee Nick Vitucci.

The winner of the Western Conference Finals receives the Bruce Taylor Trophy. The trophy is named in recognition of Bruce Taylor, who was the founding father of the West Coast Hockey League. In the early 1990s, Taylor purchased teams in Fresno, Reno and Bakersfield and in 1995 joined them with teams in Anchorage, Fairbanks and San Diego to form the West Coast Hockey League. The Taylor Cup was presented to the playoff champion in the WCHL from the league’s inaugural season in 1995-96 until the league ceased operations following the 2002-03 season. Taylor’s ownership in hockey began in 1983 with the purchase of the Burnaby Bluehawks of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League and continued with the purchase of the Richmond Sockeyes in the BCJHL and the New Westminster Royals in the BCJHL.

Game 1 – Friday, May 13 at 8 p.m. ET at Fort Wayne
Game 2 – Sunday, May 15 at 6 p.m. ET at Fort Wayne
Game 3 – Thursday, May 19 at 7:05 p.m. CT at Allen
Game 4 – Saturday, May 21 at 7:05 p.m. CT at Allen
Game 5 – Sunday, May 22 at 4:05 p.m. CT at Allen (If Necessary)
Game 6 – Tuesday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Fort Wayne (If Necessary)
Game 7 – Thursday, May 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Fort Wayne (If Necessary) 

DID YOU KNOW: When you see the struggles many great NHL coaches have had in game sevens it can only make you marvel at Steve Martinson's game seven record. His record in game sevens is 11-1. That just might be a record for any level of professional hockey.

1 comment:

  1. From Fort Wayne perspective.
    - Allen coach Steve Martinson is someone fans here love to hate or long to hire.
    - “They’re the defending champs,” Szydlowski said. “They have the leading scorer in the league the last couple of years (in Costello) and we’re looking forward to shutting him down. As long as we shut down their top players and keep playing physical on defense, and get to the net at the other end, I don’t see any problems.”
    - “He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever played for,” Schaafsma said. “He’s a little bit hard on his players at times, but I really respect the way he coaches. I agree with his philosophies on coaching. He demands a lot out of his players and expects the best. But that’s probably why he’s had so much success in his coaching career. I really like him, but I’m excited to get out there and play against him and maybe show him what I can do from the other side.”