Most fans associated with the Allen Americans would have said before this road trip out west started it was a big mistake to take Big Red through the mountains as the Ole Girl is too old and unreliable. I heard late last night that Big Red was DOA and the team had to take cabs the last 20 miles to the hotel in Utah. It was 11:00 pm (Allen time) so the 20 hour bus trip had turned into a 27 hour marathon. Won't go into all of the details but suffice it to say there were several problems along the way. It is clear the team takes the bus because it is a cheaper alternative than flying. I wonder how much extra expense will be incurred on this trip that was not factored into the equation. When you take a bus that is almost 20 years old on a 3000 mile trip to Salt Lake City and Boise, through the mountains and it is the end of November, it seems like you are asking for trouble. I am sure almost all, if not all, ECHL teams would have opted to fly given this situation. C'MON MAN!
- Knowing the players, most of them laughed it all off but they must have a serious case of "bus legs" this morning. The big question of the day is how does the team get to Boise after the game tonight. Will the bus be fixed and can it be trusted on a 350 mile, five hour trip through some mountainous terrain. An even scarier thought is the 1600 mile trip back to Allen after the game in Utah Saturday night. The primary concern should be to make the decision that keeps everyone safe.
- Big Red has a long history of breakdowns. One of the funniest was captured on video by Jarret Lukin back in 2012. The team was headed to Arizona and broke down before they got out of McKinney. Check this out for a good laugh and a trip down memory lane with some players from the past. One of the many reasons Allen fans loved Jarret Lukin was his sense of humor. Here is the link: https://youtu.be/H2DRf_mFiTc
- Enough about transportation, let's talk hockey. The game tonight will be the third and final time the Americans will play in Utah during the regular season. The Grizzlies only visit to the Allen Event Center (AEC) takes place on New Year's Eve. Allen won their first two games in Utah earlier this month. On November 11 the Americans won 5-1 despite being out shot 41-20. The next night Allen won 3-2 in a shootout. That was the night Aaron Gens tied the score with 3.5 seconds left in the game. Greger Hanson and Matt Willows converted in the shootout while Riley Gill stopped both Utah attempts to seal the victory.
- The game tonight will be a real challenge for Allen. To start with, Utah will not want to lose to Allen for a third straight time on home ice. The Grizzlies home record is 5-3-0-1 with Allen accounting for half of the losses. I have said enough about the transportation problems getting to Utah and that wasn't helpful. A bigger factor is Allen will be missing Eric Roy and Travis Brown who stayed home with injuries. The Americans have just five defensemen on the trip which will be okay as long as they stay healthy and out of the penalty box.
- I would expect you will see Riley Gill in goal tonight and newly acquired forward Bryan Moore should be in the line up as will Mike Brodzinski who is returning from bereavement leave.
- I can report that one of the forwards has requested a trade and coach Martinson is currently working to make that happen. You never know the outcome of these requests so not going to be specific.
- Here is a comparison between Allen and Utah:
Team Record 7-9-0-0 (14 points) 7-7-0-1 (15 points)
Division Ranking 5th - Mountain 4th - Mountain
Conference Ranking 11th - Western 8th - Western
League Ranking 19th 16th
Last Game 4-3 Win (Tulsa) 3-2 Loss (Adirondack)
Goals For 52 45
Goals Against 56 51
Power Play 7.9% (5/63) 17.3% (9/52)
Penalty Kill 81.9% (13/72) 84.0% (8/50)
Leading Scorer Costello (5-17-22) Puskar (5-5-10)
Most PIM's Mathers - 73 Howe - 41
- Here is how Allen and Utah rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:
Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 3rd (18.31) - Utah 8th (15.73)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 17th (3.25) - Utah 19th (3.00)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 21st (3.50) - Utah 19th (3.40)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 5th (34.13) - Utah 7th (33.60)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 21st (34.63) - Utah 9th (29.93)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 24th (7.9%) - Utah 16th (17.3%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 20th (81.9%) - Utah 12th (84.0%)
- The stats show two evenly matched teams except when it comes to special teams where Utah has an advantage. At home the Utah power play is at 14.3% while the Allen road power play is 9.4%. The Utah home penalty kill is 88.2% compared to Allen's road penalty kill of 76.5%. In their first two meetings Allen was 1-8 on the power play and Utah was 1-6. Until the Americans can get their power play on track it will be difficult to win consistently. It certainly won't help the power play to have Eric Roy out of the line up.
- The leading scorer for Allen in the two previous games in Utah was Chad Costello who had two goals and three assists. Chad has been on a hot streak lately having at least one point in the last six games (3 goals 7 assists).
- Allen is 6-2 overall against Utah since joining the ECHL. In Utah their record is 4-2.
- Here is a stat to keep in mind if you listen to or watch the game tonight. The Americans have not lost a game all season if they have been tied or ahead after the first or second period. They have not won a game all season if the have trailed after the first or second period.
- The referee scheduled for the game tonight is Sean Fernandez (#21) and the linesmen will be James McKenna (#96) and Kollin Kleinendorst (#35).
DID YOU KNOW: Scoring is definitely up in the ECHL this season. There are 19 teams averaging 3.00 or more goals per game including two (Toledo & Brampton) averaging over 4.00 goals per game. Last season there were only 12 teams that averaged 3.00 goals or more and none that averaged 4.00 goals per game. The Allen Americans are averaging 3.25 goals per game which ranks them #17 compared to last season when they averaged 3.08 goals per game but were ranked #12.