Saturday, December 31, 2016

Allen Rolls Thunder 9-0, Allen vs Utah Preview, Revisiting Allen's Other High Goal Games

The Allen Americans had a win of historic proportion last night as they beat the beleaguered Wichita Thunder 9-0 before 3517 fans at Intrust Bank Arena. Talk about two teams heading in opposite directions you couldn't have a bigger contrast. Wichita had a good start to the season and was 7-3 at one point. The Thunder has now hit rock bottom losing five straight games. Losing five straight is bad enough but it is how the Thunder lost that is disappointing. Wichita has been shutout in their last three games and in the five game losing streak has been outscored 27-2.


- Allen had a poor start to the season but has now gone seven games without losing in regulation with a record of 6-0-1-0. Allen has outscored their opponents in the last seven games 39-7. The Americans have played more games (34) than any other team in the ECHL but their recent winning streak has them with 40 points. Only three teams (Toledo, Florida, Colorado) have more points than Allen.


- The Americans scored early and often as the 9-0 score was the biggest shutout victory in team history. The goal scorers for the Americans were Greger Hanson (16,17,18), Joel Chouinard (3), Eric Roy (5), Jake Marchment (9,10),  Zach Hall (3), and Spencer Asuchak (14). As usual you can check out all of the goals and highlights at ECHL Rewind.  The link is http://www.echl.com/


- It would be fair to say Allen feasted on the Wichita Thunder during the month of December. They played six times with five of the games being in Wichita. Allen took 11 of the possible 12 points with the only blemish being a 5-4 overtime loss on December 10. In the five Allen wins they out scored the Thunder 27-2. There are a lot of impressive stats from the six games the Americans played against Wichita in the month of December but none more impressive than the Allen penalty kill record. The penalty killers killed off 36 of 37 Wichita power plays with the lone goal being a five-on-three. That computes to a Wichita power play percentage of 2.7%.


- When you win a game 9-0 it creates some amazing stats and last night was no exception. Six players had multiple point nights led by Greger Hanson with five points (3 goals 2 assist), Spencer Asuchak with four points (1 goal 3 assists) and Chad Costello with four assists. The team was a combined +29 on the night.


- Greger Hanson's five points is tied for the most points in a game in the ECHL all season. Greger was a +5 in the game and that is also tied for highest plus/minus in a game all season.


- With their recent offensive explosion Allen players have been moving up the overall leader chart. Over the last seven games the Americans are averaging 5.43 goals per game. Chad Costello has jumped out to an eight point lead in the ECHL scoring race with 53 points. Greger Hanson isn't far behind in fourth place with 40 points. Hanson (18 goals), Costello (17 goals) and Asuchak (14 goals) are all in the top 14 in the league in goals. Joel Chouinard is first in plus/minus (+21) and Derek Mathers first in penalty minutes (149).


-  The team headed home right after the game and arrived back in Allen early this morning. It is a short turnaround with a 5:05 pm puck drop against Utah tonight. Both teams will be battling fatigue as Utah played last night in Tulsa where they beat the Oilers 3-2 on overtime.



ALLEN VS UTAH GAME PREVIEW

The game tonight will be the only appearance by the Utah Grizzlies at the Allen Event Center (AEC) during the regular season. The teams played three times in Utah in November with the Americans coming out on top in all three games. 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. On November 23 Allen won 3-2 in overtime. With less than a minute left in overtime Gary Steffes got a big faceoff win to the left of the Utah goalie and drew the puck to Harrison Ruopp at the point. Roupp took a couple of steps toward the slot and blasted a slap shot top shelf over the glove of the goalie.

- Allen won all three three games in Utah and to no surprise Riley Gill was the difference maker. The Americans were out shot in all three games, Utah had at least 40 shots in all three games and yet Allen won all three games. Riley Gill saved 116 of 121 shots over the three games for a phenomenal save percentage of .959.


- Here is a comparison between Allen and Utah:

                                     ALLEN                              UTAH

Team Record              19-13-1-1 (14 points)            12-16-2-1 (27 points)
Division Ranking         2nd - Mountain                     5th - Mountain
Conference Ranking  3rd - Western                        9th - Western
League Ranking         5th                                        20th
Last Game                  9-0 Win (Wichita)                 3-2 Win (Tulsa)
Goals For                    120                                      87
Goals Against             91                                        108
Power Play                 16.3% (24/147)                    17.2% (21/122)
Penalty Kill                  85.7% (23/161)                    83.7% (20/123)
Leading Scorer           Costello  (17-36-53)             Aubin (10-11-21)
Most PIM's                  Mathers - 149                      Howe - 73


-  Here is how Allen and Utah rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 3rd (20.18) - Utah 5th (17.71)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 8th (3.53) - Utah 21st (2.81)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 1st (2.68) - Utah 21st (3.48)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 4th (33.12) - Utah 12th (32.10)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 21st (34.18) - Utah 6th (29.19)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 14th (16.3%) - Utah 12th (17.2%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 7th (85.7%) - Utah 16th (83.7%)


- The turnaround by the Allen offense has been quick and dramatic. A month ago they were ranked #19 in goals scored per game at 3.11. Today they are ranked #8 at 3.52. A month ago the Americans were ranked #21 in goals allowed at 3.47. Today they are #1 at 2.68. With the season almost half complete to move these number that far in a month is remarkable.


- Allen is certainly playing well but so is Utah. The Grizzlies have won their last three games and they were all on the road.


- Riley Gill is 3-0 against the Grizzlies this season with all three wins coming in Utah. Gill is expected to be in goal tonight.


- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Tudor Floru (#26) and linesmen Christopher Williams (#0) and Chase Wilkinson (#68). The last two games with Floru as the referee there have been 62 penalties called for a total of  218 penalty minutes. Hope it is a different type of game tonight.




DID YOU KNOW: The nine goal outburst last night by Allen set a record for largest margin of victory in a shutout and tied the all time record for largest margin of victory in any game.  It was just the fourth time in franchise history an Allen team has scored nine or more goals. Here is a little trip down memory lane of the other three times Allen has scored at least nine goals:

10-1 - It was a wild New Years Eve game at the Allen Event Center on December 31, 2010 as the Americans beat the Tulsa Oilers 10-1. The ten goals are the franchise record. Dave Bonk had a hat trick in that game and Judd Blackwater had six points (1 goal 5 assists). The lone goal for Tulsa was scored by none other than Chad Costello. In case you don't remember, the next night on New Year's Day, Colorado came to town and and beat the Americans 11-6.

9-6 - This game took place the same season as the 10-1 game. It was on March 11, 2011 and took place at the infamous NYTEX Centre as the Americans beat the Brahmas. No hat tricks in this game but Nino Musitelli, Bruce Graham and Colton Yellow Horn each had two goals.

9-2 - The most recent nine goal game took place at the AEC on November 21, 2014 against the Brampton Beast. The hat trick that night belonged to Chad Costello.

The most goals Allen ever scored and lost a game was on November 23, 2013 at the AEC when they lost to Tulsa 10-8.  It was a strange game for sure. The Americans took a 2-0 first period lead before Tulsa scored seven second period goals. Allen fell behind 8-4 and then scored four unanswered goals to tie the game midway through the third period. Tulsa scored the final two goals of the game to make the final score 10-8. The game had a little bit of everything with eight power play goals, a penalty shot, a shorthanded goal and an empty net goal. There were 34 penalties including eight fighting majors and 11 roughing penalties. Maybe the most ironic thing is Todd Robinson, who six months earlier had won the CHL championship for Allen with a game seven overtime goal against Wichita, was the leading scorer for Tulsa with seven points (2 goals 5 assists).

Friday, December 30, 2016

Allen vs Wichita Preview, Allen Acquires Defenseman Miles Liberati, Clarke Back to Europe & More

The Allen Americans take on the Wichita Thunder tonight in the second of their back to back games before heading home for the longest homestand (eight games) of  season. It would be easy for the Americans to enter the game tonight in a complacent mood after shutting out Wichita 5-0 on Wednesday. After all since joining the ECHL in 2014-15 Allen's record in Wichita is an astounding 15-1-1-2.  Hopefully the team will remember what happened just one week ago in Allen when they clobbered Idaho 6-0 in game one of a back to back and lost game two 3-2. Wichita coach Malcolm Cameron kept the team for 90 minutes after the game on Wednesday going through video. There is little doubt you will see a much more competitive Wichita team tonight. Not sure that will translate into a victory but don't expect another 5-0 type of game.


 - The Allen dominance over Wichita has really come to the fore in the last three games these teams have played. The Americans have won by scores of 6-1, 4-1 and 5-0. When you out score a team 15-2 over a three game period that is dominating. Interestingly Wichita has out shot Allen in these three games by a total of  117-103. There are several reason that account for the disparity between goals scored and shots. Wichita has had more power plays (19-14), when you score goals secondary shots are eliminated so with such a large goal differential Allen has missed out on many secondary shots and Wichita takes a lot of outside shots.


-  How bad has it been for the Thunder? Check out these stats from fellow Team Sin Bin writer Matt Harding, better known as Sin Bin Thunder. Wichita has not scored a goal in the last 127:09 and has just two goals in the last 240 minutes. Wichita has been shutout four times at home this season and all four of the shutouts have come since November 18.


- With a game tonight, a six hour bus ride back to Allen and an early start (5:05 pm) tomorrow night against Utah look for Gill and Murray to split the two games. Haven't heard but my guess would be  coach Martinson will give Riley a lot of say in which game he plays. 


- If you are looking for who might lead the offense tonight the best bet is Chad Costello and Dyson Stevenson. They are one and two in scoring in the head to head match ups with Wichita this season (five games). Chad has nine points (3 goals 6 assists) and Dyson has eight points (2 goals 6 assists).


-  Good starts and special teams have been a key against Wichita. Allen has scored first in all five games against the Thunder. The Allen power play has scored in only two of the previous five games but was 5-10 in those two games. The Allen penalty kill has been phenomenal against the Thunder giving up a single power play goal in 33 opportunities and that was a five-on-three. It is safe to say the winner on special teams tonight will win the game.


- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Kory Chipperfield (#5) and linesmen Russ Coll (#40) and Chase Wilkinson (#68).


OTHER COMMENTS

- The month of January will be a pleasant one for the players, especially those with families. The next eight games between December 31 and January 21 are at home. What is even better is the the games are spread out. Five days between games, four days between games and three days between games over the next three weeks. If the weather cooperates should be plenty of time for golfing, fishing and spending time outside with the kids.
 

- For those interested in the march to the top of the single season penalty minute record, Derek Mathers is about to crack the top 10. Derek has 140 minutes in just 28 games and is currently ranked #11. Next up are Darryl Bootland (145 minutes 2013-14) and Kip Brennan (146 minutes 2010-11).


- Speaking of penalty minute records, Garrett Clarke, who holds the #3 (223 minutes 2012-13) and #4 (205 minutes 2014-15) spot on the all time list announced yesterday he was leaving the Brampton Beast to head back to Europe where he will play for a team in Brasov, Romania. Clarke started the season in Poland  and then returned to Canada to play for Brampton in early October. I contacted Garrett and asked why he was going back to Europe, especially with Brampton playing so well this season. This is what he had to say, "I got a good offer to go back to Europe. It will set me up for an opportunity next year in another league. I put in my time in North America but it is time to move on for good. I had a great time in Brampton and loved my coaches and teammates so it was a tough decision. Brampton might be the best team I have ever played on and they will do some serious damage come playoffs."

Have to admit that is really high praise for Brampton given the fact that Clarke was on two championship teams in Allen (one CHL & one ECHL) but one thing you always know is Garrett Clarke speaks his mind. Wish him the best of luck in Romania.


- I think most of you know I live in an "active adult retirement community" called Heritage Ranch that we affectionately call wrinkle ranch. One characteristic of old folks is they still like to read a hard copy of the newspaper so most take the Dallas Morning News (DMN). For some still unknown reason the DMN stopped including in the sports section the ECHL results and standings. Everyone knows this information can be found on line but wanted to see the ECHL and the Allen Americans included in the DMN. A sizable group of crusaders (old folks) from Heritage Ranch and other season ticket holders enlisted my help, the help of Rick Gosselin and sent a steady stream of emails to the DMN sport's editor asking why the paper had stopped covering the most successful professional sports franchise in the DFW metroplex. I am pleased to report the crusaders have been successful as the DMN started including the ECHL results and standings as of yesterday's edition. Thanks to all the Allen fans that took the time to send emails and a special thanks to Rick Gosselin for his support. Rick from the beginning told everyone who asked him the ECHL information should have never been dropped. 


- The Allen Americans acquired defenseman Miles Liberati yesterday from the Reading Royals. This was to complete the deal that had San Jose assign Matt Willows to Reading in exchange for Zach Hall and future considerations. Liberati is a rookie defenseman who has played in 12 games for Reading and has three assists and six penalty minutes. He was a seventh round draft choice of the Vancouver Canucks in 2013. All scouting reports you read about Liberati mention his skating ability and offensive instincts as his strengths. This deal was announced by Reading yesterday but nothing has been said by the Allen Americans which is unusual as these things are typically coordinated. This most likely means nothing but it could mean there is a problem or another shoe might drop. Stay tuned.



DID YOU KNOW: You may have noticed the Allen Americans have been the recipient of several weekly awards recently with Riley Gill getting back to back Goalie of the Week awards and should get goalie of the Month in a few days and Spencer Asuchak winning the Player of the Week. What you may not know is these awards are based on nominations sent to the league office each week. The nomination process is more than a statistical compilation and Tommy Daniels is the unsung hero in this process as he is the one that writes the narrative that accompanies the nomination. Numbers are certainly an important factor but many times the player with the best numbers doesn't win. Pointing out the importance of the numbers is a big part of who gets selected and Tommy Daniels takes this very seriously. Many a time he has been upset when I stop by his office during the week because the Allen nomination didn't win. And he can always point out in great detail why the Allen candidate was a better choice. Hats off to Tommy for a job well done and being such a great advocate for the Allen players.





Thursday, December 29, 2016

Allen Wins, Another Gill Shutout, Old Time Hockey Returns, Average Attendance by Pro League & More

It was the Riley Gill show in Wichita last night as the Allen Americans shutout the Thunder 5-0 before a disappointed crowd of 3615 at Intrust Bank Arena. The Americans were out shot in the game 42 -29 but Gill stopped all 42 Thunder shots. Any 42 save shutout is remarkable but Gill faced plenty of challenges last night including seven Wichita power plays, a double minor (four minute) power play, a penalty shot, a breakaway and a few odd man rushes. Definitely above and beyond the call of duty.

- Riley Gill has been the MVP of the team so far this season. He has carried the team when they were playing poorly and excelled when they play well. No goalie can be successful without good play in front of them and Gill would be the first to acknowledge that but Riley has been really special. Here are a few statistical examples that prove the point.

Leads the ECHL in GAA at 2.12
Leads the ECHL in save percentage at .938
Leads the ECHL in shutouts with five (no other goalie with more than two)
Has five shutouts in last 11 games
Has had back to back shutouts twice
Hasn't allowed a goal in 156:21
In first back to back shutouts went 150:01 without allowing a goal
Named ECHL goalie of the week back to back
Has won nine of his last 11 starts
Has won five straight road games


- Allen has been getting more balanced scoring recently. Coach Martinson emphasizes depth when putting together a roster and strives to have three lines that can score. Last night was a good example with nine different players getting points and 16 of 18 skaters being on the ice for at least one goal. The goal scorers were Tanner Eberle (5,6), David Makowski (2), Bryan Moore (7) and Zach Hall (2). Check out the video of all the goals, the fights, the penalty shot save and more at ECHL Rewind: http://www.echl.com/


- A couple of very impressive streaks continued last night. David Makowski scored a goal and has now had at least one point in seven straight games. David has not had a minus game since returning to Allen (10 games) and is now +14. Bryan Moore scored a goal for the sixth straight game. That is the longest goal scoring streak in the ECHL this season.


- Tanner Eberle works hard every shift and has a great combination of speed and toughness. The hard work hasn't always paid off in the scoring column so it was good to see him get his first goal in over a month against Idaho in the last home game. The scoring touch was evident again last night as Tanner had two goals and an assist and was a +4.  For his effort Tanner was named the #2 star of the game (Gill was the #1 star).


- The Allen power play is in a mini slump after being almost unstoppable for a few games. The Americans went 10-18 in four games but have gone 0-9 the last two games including 0-4 last night. Allen still won the special teams battle because of an outstanding penalty kill. Wichita was 0-7 on the power play last night and in the five games against Allen this season the Thunder are now 1-33 (3.0%).


- The Americans will have a rare day off in Wichita today before they play again Friday night. It will be a rest and relaxation day for the team. It will probably go something like this. Sleep late, head to the rink for practice at 12:15, take the bus to the local mall for lunch, hang out at the mall and then back to the hotel for an afternoon nap.



STEVE MARTINSON'S POST GAME COMMENTS

- It was good to see a lot of guys on the score sheet tonight. We have three lines capable of scoring and the balanced scoring lately has really helped.

- Our power play didn't score any goals but considering we went four days without skating it was not too bad.

- Gill is a tank! Had to kill seven power plays, a penalty shot and a breakaway and he made it all look easy. His shutout tonight was after four days off and busing all day to get to Wichita. Unbelievable!

- It is good to see Tanner Eberle scoring. I know he has been frustrated. That first goal he scored was a rocket.




OTHER COMMENTS

- With the win last night Allen is now in second place in the Mountain Division with 38 points just two points behind first place Colorado. The points are misleading because Allen has played more games (33) than any other team in the ECHL. Here are the Mountain Division standings ranked by winning percentage. Allen is slowly closing the gap but still in fourth place. The Mountain Division is the most competitive division in the ECHL. The first place team (Colorado) has the lowest winning percentage of any first place team and the last place team (Utah) has the highest winning percentage of any last place team. The gap between first and last place is 15 points in the Mountain Division. The gap is 23 points in the North Division, 23 points in the South Division and 28 points in the Central Division.

.690 - Colorado
.685 - Alaska
.583 - Idaho
.576 - Allen
.450 - Missouri
.431 - Rapid City
.417 - Utah


- Don't forget if you are attending the home game on Saturday it has an unusual 5:05 pm start time. It will be turn back the time this New Years Eve with the Allen Americans first annual Vintage Series New Years Eve Classic. It's "Old Time Hockey" for one night only in Allen featuring Americans throwback jerseys to be auctioned after the game, retro graphics and even a WWII siren replacing the goal horn. I had a chance to see the goal siren yesterday and it is the hand crank siren just like the old days. In talking to Tom Manning (Director, Game Operations) there will also be some special old time organ music to bring you back in the day. Should be a lot of fun.





-  It was announced yesterday Spencer Asuchak was selected as the ECHL Player of the Week. Spencer is no stranger to Player of the Week honors as in his rookie season with Allen (2013-14) he was the Central Hockey League's Player of the Week on January 27, 2014 and again on March 24, 2017. Check out this photo from his junior days with Prince George that was used in one of the Player of the Week stories back in 2014. 

Spencer Asuchak circa 2011


- Hockey is a big part of life for Steve Martinson and his family so if you head to Minnesota over the Christmas break to visit family of course you bring along your skates. Here is a picture of Steve's daughter Lily enjoying a little pond hockey in Minnesota. As you might imagine Lily is an outstanding young hockey player.

Lily Martinson - Minnesota pond hockey



DID YOU KNOW:  Ever wonder how the ECHL attendance compares to the other professional leagues. Here are the 2016-17 averages by league:

17,280 - NHL
5373 -   AHL
3979 -   ECHL
2636 -   SPHL (Southern Professional Hockey League)
715   -   FHL (Federal Hockey League)



 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Allen vs Wichita Preview, Gackle Report, NYE Ticket Winners, Bruce Graham Leads Top 10 Goal Scorers

Christmas break is over for the Allen Americans as they leave this morning for Wichita where they will take on the Thunder tonight and Friday. It is about a six hour bus drive (365 miles) to Wichita which would normally require the team to leave they day before the game. However, because they play Wichita twice, the agreement with the players association is they can leave the day of the game. Coach Martinson will not be on the bus as he will be meeting the team in Wichita.

-  It has only been a few days without hockey but a reminder on just how well the Americans have been playing recently is in order. The last game before the break was a disappointing 3-2 shootout loss to Idaho at home in which the Americans blew a 2-0 lead. Despite the loss to Idaho, Allen has been playing better hockey for over a month. Check out these numbers:

7-1-1-1 - Allen's record over the last 10 games
5-0-1-0 - Allen's road record since November 26
9-2-1-1 - Allen's overall record since November 26
24-8     - Allen's goals scored and allowed in the last five games
4.1       - Allen's average goals scored per game in December
26.9%  - Allen's power play percentage in December


- The good news is the Americans have been playing much better hockey and are now four games over .500. The bad news for Allen is they are still in fourth place in the Mountain Division when you look at winning percentage. The good play will have to continue by the Americans in order for them to gain ground against the teams (Colorado, Alaska, Idaho) ahead of them in the standings. Remember, with the scheduling idiosyncrasies this season, Allen will not face any of the teams ahead of them for the rest of the regular season.


- A team Allen will see a lot the rest of the season is their opponent tonight the Wichita Thunder. The Americans have played the Thunder four times this season with all four games being played since December 9. They have 10 (six home, four away) games remaining including tonight and Friday in Wichita. Here are the results of the four games played earlier in December.

December 9 - Allen wins 3-0 in Wichita despite being out shot 45-30. Riley Gill with a 45 save shutout.

December 10 - Allen takes a 2-0 lead into the second period in Wichita but loses the game 5-4 in overtime. It was Jamie Murray's first start in three weeks after being recalled by San Jose.

December 16 - This was at home and dominated by Allen in all facets of the game. The score was 6-1 and it was the return of Vincent Arseneau to the AEC. It was the game where there was a line brawl and 136 minutes worth of penalties including six roughing calls, 10 fighting majors, and four game misconducts. Dyson Stevenson was the #1 star and almost had a double Gordie Howe hat trick. Stevenson had a goal, two assists and two fights.

December 18 - Allen wins in Wichita despite being out shot 43-29. Jamie Murray was in goal for Allen and was the difference in the game. That was the game Chad Costello had a part on all four goals as he scored one and assisted on the other three but wasn't one of the three stars.


- In summary Allen has a 3-0-1-0  record against the the Thunder. The Americans have outscored Wichita 17-7 in the four games but Wichita has the edge in shots 164 -143. Allen is 5-21 (23.8%) but all five power play goals came in the last two games. Wichita is 1-26 (3.8%) on the power play.



- Here is an update of the stats comparing Allen and Wichita:

                                     ALLEN                               WICHITA

Team Record               17-13-1-1 (36 points)              11-11-0-1 (23 points)
Division Ranking         3rd - Mountain                         6th - Central
Conference Ranking   6th - Western                          11th - Western
League Ranking         10th                                          22th
Last Game                  3-2 Loss (Idaho)                      4-0 Loss (Missouri)
Goals For                    106                                          65
Goals Against             91                                            73
Power Play                 15.3% (21/137)                       16.7% (13/78)
Penalty Kill                  84.7% (23/150)                       85.6% (14/97 )
Most PIM                    Mathers (133)                          Melindy (63)
Leading Scorers:        Costello (17-30-47)                  Loiseau (14-10-24)
                                   Hanson (15-20-35)                   Moon (6-11-17)          



-  Here is how Allen and Wichita rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 4th (19.47) - Wichita 3rd (19.57)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 11th (3.31) - Wichita 21st (2.83)
Goals Allowed per Game: Allen 5th (2.83) - Wichita 16th (3.17)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 6th (33.13) - Wichita 12th (32.35)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 19th (34.16) - Wichita 27th (37.48)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 20th (15.3%) - Wichita 12th (16.7%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 10th (84.7%) - Wichita 8th (85.6%)


- You can see from the stats above Allen and Wichita are two of the most penalized teams in the ECHL. There is no love lost between these teams but they have played games with very few penalty minutes (26) and some with a lot of penalty minutes (136). The referee tonight is Tudor Floru who was the referee in the 136 penalty minute game in Allen on December 16. It will be interesting to see what kind of game transpires tonight. 


- When Allen played Wichita for the first time (December 9) the Thunder had the #1 ranked power play in the ECHL at 25.5%. In the four games against Allen this month the Wichita power play is 1-26 and the lone goal was a five-on-three power play. The Thunder power play is now ranked #12 at 16.7%.  Allen's power play was 0-5 in their last game against Idaho but prior to that they had scored a power play goal in four straight games going 10-18. There is no question Allen's special teams have been much better than Wichita's recently. If the Americans can capitalize on that advantage tonight it should get them a win.


-  There will be one roster change for the game tonight as Eric Roy will return to the lineup. Eric has been out of the lineup with an injury since November 20. Riley Gill will start in goal for the Americans.    


- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Tudor Floru (#26) and linesmen Chip Excell (#42) and Chase Wilkinson (#68).



OTHER COMMENTS

- Congrats to Spencer Asuchak who has been selected as the ECHL player of the week. Here is the link with all of the details: http://www.echl.com/asuchak-named-sher-wood-hockey-echl-player-of-the-week

- Chris Crane returned to the lineup for the Orlando Solar Bears last night as his team lost to Florida 3-1. Chris missed the last seven games with an injury and had not played since December 3. With the win Florida takes over first place in the South Division standings, two points ahead of Orlando.


- If you want to follow all of the happenings of the Americans affiliates in San Jose you should make sure to follow the Gackle Report (http://www.gacklereport.com/). They cover both the Sharks and Barracuda with columns and podcasts. The Gackle Report should add an Allen Americans tab to their site and cover all three affiliated teams. I would be more than happy to provide the content.


- If you entered the drawing for tickets to the New Year's Eve game I have good news as I have two more tickets to give away. The winner of the four loge (second floor) tickets is Nick Oldfield. The winner of two tickets in Section 100, five rows off the ice on the aisle, is Madison Shields. Your tickets will be at will call later today so you can pick them up anytime from noon today right until game time. You will have to provide identification to claim the tickets. Congrats Nick & Madison and thanks to everyone who entered the drawing.





DID YOU KNOW: In the history of the Allen Americans, scoring at least 25 goals in a season has happened only 10 times. Bruce Graham accounts for three of the 10 and is the only player to accomplish the feat multiple times. The other seven were Gary Steffes, Chad Costello, Nino Musitelli, Colton Yellow Horn, Greger Hanson, Jonathan Lessard, and Alex Lavoie.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

ECHL Attendance Trending Down, On Pace for Lowest in Ten Years - Team By Team Results & More

With the ECHL Christmas break coming to an end and the Allen Americans returning to town for a 6:30 pm practice tonight I thought it would be a good day to take a look at attendance around the league. Not an exciting topic but certainly an interesting one if you are looking at the health of your favorite team and the entire ECHL. What you find when you look at average attendance over time is the ECHL is on pace to have the lowest average attendance in the last ten years and has been trending downward since 2013-14.


The information below is taken from the ECHL website and includes average league wide attendance for the last ten years and a comparison of attendance from last year to this year for each ECHL team.


The figures for this season are obviously based on just the first part of the season as 374 of 972 (38.5%) games have been played this far. Attendance traditionally picks up after Christmas when football is over, weather changes, etc. so the average for this season will definitely improve. The question is, will it exceed last year's average attendance and reverse the downward trend? 

Here is the average ECHL attendance over the last ten years:

3930 - 2016-17 (after 374 of 972 games)
4385 - 2015-16
4598 - 2014-15
4706 - 2013-14
4695 - 2012-13
4282 - 2011-12
4339 - 2010-11
4485 - 2009-10
4258 - 2008-09
4174 - 2007-08


If you look at the figures above some of the variation can be explained by teams coming and going from the league. However, the trend over the last three years is certainly downward and as it currently stands, the average ECHL attendance is 776 less per game than just three years ago. When you figure most ECHL teams get an estimated 70% - 80% of their revenue from ticket sales that is significant.


The next step was to look at the individual teams to compare average attendance from last season to this season to see who has lost attendance and who has gained attendance. The list below goes from the teams that have gained the most in attendance from 2015-16 to 2016-17 to those that have lost the most. This compares the number of games the team has played this season to the same number of games last season. The number in parenthesis is the average attendance for this season:

+640   Wichita (4768)
+388  Brampton (3144)
+319  Adirondack (2664)
+309   Kalamazoo (2211)
+302   South Carolina (3150)
+117   Greenville (3352)
+107   Florida (4896)
+49    Fort Wayne (7327)
+43    Reading (3766)
+26   Utah (4643)   
+24   Toledo (7047)
+22    Alaska (3649)
+13    Idaho (3960)
-62    Colorado (4787)
-79    Tulsa (5298)
-178   Wheeling (2454)
-278   Missouri (4650)
-396   Rapid City (3391)
-423   Atlanta (4394) 
-566  Elmira (2332)
-605    Quad City (3454) 
-641  Allen (4047) 
-646   Indy (3084)
-827    Cincinnati (3688)
-919   Norfolk (2366)
-1190   Orlando (4865)
-1258  Manchester (2964) 



CONCLUSIONS

- There are 13 teams with increased attendance over last season and 14 with decreases but the decreases are much larger than the increases. If you add it all together the ECHL average attendance (3930) is down 221 per game league wide. This is a 5.5% decline in attendance when you compare the 374 games played thus far this season to the first 374 games last season. Almost all teams will increase their average attendance as the season progresses, however, the question is by how much?


- Results don't always tie to attendance increases but it is worthy to note the three teams with the biggest increases (Wichita, Brampton & Adirondack) all have higher winning percentages than last season.


- At the other end of the spectrum is Orlando who is tied for the South Divison lead but their average attendance is down 1190 per game. The Solar Bears missed the playoffs last season and changed coaches in November. For a team who has averaged 6055. 6056, 5660 and 6816 over the last four years the 4865 average attendance thus far this season has to be reason for concern. Even with the big decline to 4865 the Solar Bears are still ranked #5 in the ECHL in average attendance.


- Another red flag when looking at the attendance chart above relates to Manchester (-1258) and Norfolk (-919). Both of these teams (along with Adirondack) are former AHL cities who joined the ECHL last season after losing their AHL franchises. To have such big decreases in attendance in the second year of operation has to be concerning. Adirondack is averaging 2664 per game and Norfolk is averaging 2366. While a few franchises have survived averaging less than 3000 (Wheeling, Elmira, Kalamazoo) they are the exception not the rule.


- It always appears the future of the Kalamazoo franchise is in question even though their attendance is up (+309 per game) if compared to this time last year. They were the worst drawing team in the ECHL last season averaging 2298 per game. Their average thus far this year is even lower at 2211. I know the owner of the team also owns the facility so that would drastically change the financial dynamics. The team hasn't averaged over 3000 per game since 2013-14.  


- It will be almost impossible for the seven teams that are averaging 600 or more less fans per game to make up the ground to pass last year's attendance.


- If you look at percentage of increase or decrease you get a little different picture than just looking at raw numbers. Here are the five teams with the biggest average attendance increases and decreases compared to last season (same number of games). I have included each team's winning percentage which shows there is more to sales and marketing success than on ice results. Kalamazoo has the biggest percentage gain in attendance and is ranked #22 in winning percentage. Manchester has the biggest percentage decrease in attendance but is ranked #3 in winning percentage.

+16.3% - Kalamazoo - .431
+15.5% - Wichita - .500
+14.1% - Brampton - .661
+13.6% - Adirondack - .648
+10.6% - South Carolina - .538
-18.3% - Cincinnati - .500
-19.5% - Elmira - .327
-19.6% - Orlando  - .638
-28.0% - Norfolk - .286
-30.0% - Manchester - .690


OTHER COMMENTS

- The Allen Americans players will be returning today from wherever they spent the Christmas break. While some stayed in town many headed elsewhere to be with friends and family. Whether by trains, planes or automobiles the plan is for everyone to meet up for a 6:30 pm practice tonight at Valley Ranch. Assistant coach Lucas Reid will conduct the practice as coach Martinson will meet the team in Wichita tomorrow. He was in Minnesota over the break with his family visiting relatives. The team will leave tomorrow morning on Big Red for the 365 mile trip to Wichita. Allen will play the Thunder tomorrow (Wednesday) night and again Friday night. Not sure why there is a day off between games as according to my Team Sin Bin sources there is no scheduling conflict with the arena (Intrust Bank Arena).


- Allen doesn't return to action until tomorrow night but there are six ECHL games on tap tonight  including Florida at Orlando in a battle for first place in the South Division. Closer to home Missouri is in Tulsa to take on the Oilers.


- The return of professional hockey to Portland, Maine has been rumored ever since they lost their AHL team last season. There was hope an ECHL franchise would be operating for the 2017-18 season but that fell through. Now according to reports there may be a new group interested in an ECHL franchise that would start play in 2018-19. Here is a link to the story: http://www.wcsh6.com/sports/pro-hockey-returning-to-portland-in-2018-19/377636930





DID YOU KNOW: Last season Allen had the best average attendance in franchise history (4571). Comparing attendance after 14 home games last season to 14 games this season the Allen Americans average attendance is 641 less per game. In order to equal last year's attendance, Allen will have to average 4907 per game for the 22 remaining home games. That will be a tall task. Here is Allen's average attendance by season. For a four time champion with back to back Kelly Cups the attendance figures thus far this season are disappointing.

2016-17:  4047 (after 14 home games)
2015-16:  4571
2014-15:  4096
2013-14:  4216
2012-13:  4157
2011-12:  4336
2010-11:  3986
2009-10:  3810 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Some Post Christmas Hockey Humor Through Jokes, Memes & Quotes, Plus the NHL Circa 1917

It is the day after Christmas and the middle of the break for the ECHL so thought before the subject turns back to the serious side of hockey it would be a good day to enjoy some hockey humor for you diehards that read the blog on a daily basis. You may have seen these before but they will hopefully bring a smile to your face or even make you laugh out loud a little bit.




- You are playing worse everyday and right now you are playing like the middle of next week... Herb Brooks





- Street hockey is great for kids. It is energetic, competitive and skillful. And best of all it keeps them off the street... Gus Kyle



 
- American professional hockey players are bilingual, they speak English and profanity... Gordie Howe

- Why is the puck called a puck? Because dirty little bastard was taken... Martin Brodeur




- The top three worst things I have seen in hockey are the invention of the trap, the invention of the morning skate and the invention of the extremely ugly uniform... Brett Hull

- Half the game is mental; the other half is being mental... Jim McKenny




 - When hell freezes over, I'll play hockey there too.

- The only difference between this and Custer's last stand was Custer didn't have to look at the tape afterwards... Terry Crisp after 10-0 defeat.




- St. Peter and Satan were having an argument one day about hockey. Satan proposed a game to be played on neutral ice between a select team from the heavenly host and his own hand-picked boys. "Very well," said the gatekeeper of Heaven. "But you realize, I hope, that we've got all the good players and the best coaches." "I know, and that's all right," Satan answered unperturbed, "We've got all the referees."




Two boys are playing hockey on a pond in the park in Toronto, when one is attacked by a rabid Rottweiler. Thinking quickly, the other boy takes his stick, wedges it down the dog's collar and twists, breaking the dog's neck. A reporter who was strolling by sees the incident, and rushes over to interview the boy. "Young Leafs Fan Saves Friend From Vicious Animal," he starts writing in his notebook. "But I'm not a Leafs fan," the little hero replied. "Sorry, since we are in Toronto, I just assumed you were," said the reporter and starts again. "Little Jays Fan Rescues Friend From Horrific Attack" he continued writing in his notebook. "I'm not a Jays fan either," the boy said. "I assumed everyone in Toronto was either a Leafs or Jays fan. "What team, do you root for?" the reporter asked. "I'm a Boston Bruins fan." the child said. The reporter starts a new sheet in his notebook and writes, "Little Bastard from Boston Kills Beloved Family Pet."







- At one point during a game, the coach called one of his 7 year old hockey players aside and asked, Do you understand what cooperation is? What a team is?" The little boy nodded in the affirmative. Do you understand that what matters is not whether we win or lose, but how we play together as a team?" The little boy nodded yes. So," the coach continued, "I am sure you know, when a penalty is called, you should not argue, curse, attack the referee, or call him a pecker-head. Do you understand all that?" Again the little boy nodded. He continued, "And when I call you off the ice so that another boy gets a chance to play, its not good sportsmanship to call your coach a dumb asshole, is it? Again the little boy nodded. "Good," said the coach. "Now go over there and explain all that to your mother..."






DID YOU KNOW: The first NHL game was played 99 years ago on December 19,1917. I saw this story from NHL.com about the first NHL games posted on echlforum.com. It is a great message board for engaging other ECHL fans in dialogue, especially if you are not a fan of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. NHL hockey was a different game for sure back in 1917. Here is a link to the story: https://www.nhl.com/news/first-nhl-games-remembered-99-years-later/c-284802546?tid=282169076

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Special Christmas Thank You to Players Past and Present, With Christmas Pictures and Video

On this special day of love, compassion and hope, I want to say Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to all from Barry the Blogger. My wish is for everyone to be able to spend time with family and friends. My thoughts are with those in the military, first responders, and so many others like my labor and delivery nurse daughter who will be working today. I am also thinking this morning about those that have lost loved ones and those who are far away from family.

Today will be light on hockey but heavy on hockey players past and present. The Allen Americans have brought so much joy to the community over the years and the joy is much more than four straight championships and success on the ice. The players and their families have been great ambassadors for the team and the game of hockey. North Texas is lucky to have the Allen Americans.


- You can't miss when writing a Christmas day blog by starting out with a puppy story. It will be a  Christmas to remember for Allen Americans tough guy Derek Mathers who like most tough guys is a super nice guy off the ice. Derek is in Allentown, Pennsylvania for Christmas visiting his girlfriend, Jade, and their newly adopted puppy, whose name is Dallas. Dallas along with his mother and six litter mates were rescued from the recent wildfires in Tennessee by Jade's mom who is very active in helping lost and rescued dogs. The best part of the story is Jade and Dallas will be moving to Allen to join Derek. A big Texas welcome to Jade and Dallas!

Dallas is moving to Dallas
Jade and Dallas will be joining Derek in Allen


As I was reflecting on what to write about on this Christmas Day, I noticed how many messages there are on social media about spending the holidays with friends and families. That is not true for many hockey players as the Christmas break does not allow enough time to get back home. Friends and family all too often are teammates and their families which is great, but not the same as friends and family back home. Being a minor pro hockey player truly is a "hard knock life" and the current season has been a challenge for the team both on and off the ice.

So THANK YOU to all players (and their families) past and present for what you have done for the fans of the Allen Americans both on the ice and in the community. There have been over 200 players in Allen since the franchise started in 2009. It has been quite a ride. One of the benefits of writing a blog is getting to know many of the players and their families and with social media it is easy to feel connected even when they move on. The following is a small sample of Christmas time with players and their families past and present.

The Costello's - 2016 - Camden, Avery, Ashley (front), Chad & Cayne (back)



This was posted in 2014 by the Allen Americans - only Gary Steffes (lower left) remains


Aaron Gens and soon to be Mrs Gens (in July) Kellie Wyatt - 2016





London, Whitney, Harper & Bruce Graham - Nottingham, England 2012


Graham kids 2016 - Harper, Beckett, London




Eric Roy and his girlfriend Alisha - 2016





Nicole, Sawyer & Sutter Schaafsma - 2014


Sutter, Sawyer, Sullivan Schaafsma with mom Nicole where else but at a hockey game - 2016


Jackson Gill loves Santa - 2016

Jackson Gill's first Christmas with Angie, Riley & dog Guinny - 2015






Holly, Beau, Lynden & Trevor Ludwig - 2016
  
Lynden's first Christmas and skate with dad, Trevor Ludwig - 2014

The most famous dog in Allen history, Pearl (@Pearlilicious11), was Phil Fox's "wing dog"



The "original" Jarret Lukin - 2016




- No better way to end today and put a smile on your face than with an Ice Angels Christmas performance. This one is from 2015. Enjoy!






Once again thank you, thank, you, thank you to all players past and present for the sacrifices you have made to follow your dreams and the joy you have brought to the fans in Allen on and off the ice. Your determination on the ice and kindness off the ice is both noticed and appreciated. May this Christmas day be a joyous one for you and yours!

Happy Holidays from Barry the Blogger



Saturday, December 24, 2016

Allen's Christmas Gift to Idaho, It's Time for a Break, Waiver/Trade Freeze, ECHL Standings & More

The Allen Americans gave Idaho an early Christmas present last night as they squandered away a 2-0 lead and lost to the Steelheads 3-2 in a shootout. You could blame the loss on fatigue (they were playing their sixth game in 10 days), looking ahead to the Christmas break or even the officiating but the facts are the Americans were outworked and out played and were not the same team that shutout Idaho 6-0 Thursday night.


- Here is the short version of a game recap. Allen took an early 2-0 first period lead on goals by Tanner Eberle (4) and Ryan Moore (6) but gave one back on a five-on-three power play to make the score 2-1 going into the first intermission. That was the extent of the scoring until Idaho tied it up at the 11:38 mark of the third period. The game went to overtime and both teams had excellent scoring opportunities but could not convert. Idaho won in a shootout. Below are three links that can give you all of the details.


- This link is a recap of the game as provided by the Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/americans-fall-to-idaho-in-a-shootout/


- Here is the recap of the game as provided by the Idaho Steelheads: http://www.idahosteelheads.com/events/idaho-steelheads-vs-allen-americans-6/#gametab-2


- And last, the link to ECHL Rewind to view video highlights. As I am writing this the Allen vs Idaho highlights have not been posted. They may be posted later today but with the Christmas break underway I doubt it. Just in case here is the link: http://www.echl.com/


- My takeaways from the game last night would include Allen got out shot in all three periods including 11-3 in the third period when the game was hanging in the balance. For the game, the shots were 44-28. It is a rare game when you get out shot that bad and win.


- The special teams that have been winning games recently lost the game last night. The power play was 0-5 including a 1:58 four-on-three at the beginning of the overtime. The penalty kill gave up two goals on six opportunities.


- I had the chance to go over both Idaho power play goals with coach Martinson after the game and feel most impartial observers would conclude that the first power play goal, which was scored on a full two minute five-on-three, should have been a five-on-four power play. The second power play goal was scored after goalie Jamie Murray was interfered with. While these calls were frustrating they weren't the reason Allen lost the game. There are calls in every game that don't go your way. You have to be good enough to overcome what you feel are bad calls. The Americans lost last night because they couldn't score a goal in the last 45 minutes of regular time and in five minutes of overtime.


- Allen had won their only previous shootout game and so last night when the Americans chose to go first and Greger Hanson scored things looked good. However, Idaho scored on their first two attempts. Chad Costello and Gary Steffes both missed so the Steelheads won with out even taking their third attempt. For the record Allen is now 1-1 in shootouts. Hanson is 2-2, Costello and Steffes are 0-1 in shootout attempts. The only other player to take a shootout attempt is Matt Willows (now in Reading) who was 1-1.


OTHER COMMENTS

- It is too bad Allen lost the way they did last night going into the Christmas break but it might have been good timing. You can only imagine what practice would be like after blowing a 2-0 lead and getting outworked like the Americans did last night. It is probably a good thing coach Martinson won't see the team again until he meets up with them in Wichita on the 28th.


- Despite the disappointing loss last night Allen did come away with a point and has at least one point in 11 of the last 13 games. Since November 29 the Americans record is 9-2-1-1. It has been a nice turnaround and something to build on in 2017. Now it is time for the players and staff to forget about hockey for a few days and enjoy their family and friends. Many have scattered around the US and Canada both driving and flying, some have their families and friends visiting Allen and some won't be able to be with family. Hope it is a joyous time for all and they come back next week ready for the "real" season to begin.


- The attendance last night was 4215 and the average attendance for the first 14 home dates is 4047. Last season Allen attendance averaged 4571 for the full season. So as of today the average is 524 per game behind last season. There are still 22 home games remaining and you always hear it said hockey season doesn't begin until after the first of the year when high school football is over and the temperatures go down. If the Cowboys make a deep playoff run there could be some game conflicts which will certainly hurt attendance for the Americans. This team has not been the most stable financially for years and attendance is estimated to be somewhere between 70% - 80% of gross revenue. Just like the team on the ice, Allen fans need to step up after the first of the year to show their support.


- When I got home after the game last night and checked the standings to my surprise Allen was sitting in second place in the Mountain Division with 36 points. It was short lived as Alaska won a late game against Rapid City to jump back into second place. Incidentally, local product and former Allen Americans player Nolan Descoteaux, who now plays for Alaska, was the #1 star in that game. Allen has played more games (32) than any other team in the ECHL so when looking at points it is a little misleading. If you just look at points the Americans are ranked #8 in the ECHL out of the 27 teams. However, if you look at winning percentage which accounts for the discrepancy in games played Allen ranks #16. Here are the Mountain Division standings by points and winning percentage. Remember, top four teams make the playoffs.

40 points:  Colorado
37 points:  Alaska
36 points:  Allen
35 points:  Idaho
27 points:  Missouri
23 points:  Utah
23 points:  Rapid City

.690:  Colorado
.685:  Alaska
.603:  Idaho
.563:  Allen
.482:  Missouri
.411:  Rapid City
.397:  Utah


- Along with the Christmas break where are there are no games or practices between December 24-26, there is a waiver/trade freeze between December 22 (5:00 pm EST) and December 27 (Noon EST). It doesn't mean there isn't work going on behind the scenes and deals being agreed to. They just can't be made official until after the 27th. If past is prologue you can be assured more roster changes are in the works for the Americans but not until after the first of the year.


- I heard through the grapevine that season ticket holders and great supporters of the Allen  Americans, Ryan and Jerrica Stalcup stepped in at the last minute to provide a post game meal for the team last night. I didn't partake last night but I have in the past and the Stalcups put on quite a spread with beef brisket to die for. Stick taps to Ryan and Jerrica.


- As a reminder it is not too late to get your name in for NYE ticket drawing. I have four loge (second level) tickets for the New Years Eve Game against Utah. It is a 5:05 pm start so plenty of time to watch the game and still celebrate afterwards. I will have a drawing for the tickets on Tuesday (12/27). If you are interested let me know via Twitter, Facebook, the Blog, text, in person or by email (janssenfamily@msn.com). All I need is your name and if you want two or four tickets. The tickets are in the end of the rink where the Zamboni enters the ice, close by where the players that aren't playing sit. I will announce the winner or winners in the blog Wednesday morning and leave the tickets at will call. Good luck!



PIC OF THE GAME:

Dianne Webster spends a lot of time at practice and and during the games providing great photos for the team, the league, the players, the fans and writers. Here are a few from the game last night.

An attentive bench watches Dyson Stevenson


Bryan Moore with a goal in his fifth straight game

Ho Ho Ho and a Merry Christmas to all

Greger Hanson clears the zone while falling

Hard work by Jake Marchment leads to Tanner Eberle goal



DID YOU KNOW:  Going into the Christmas break the Allen Americans have lost 15 games. Last season they went into the Christmas break with 12 losses. Two years ago Allen went in to the Christmas break with only seven losses. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Allen Beats Idaho 6-0, Rematch Tonight, Martinson Comments, NYE Ticket Drawing, Costello Milestone & More

It is difficult to know where to start when describing the Allen Americans game last night so let's begin with the Americans defeating the Idaho Steelheads 6-0 before a Thursday night crowd of 3702 at the Allen Event Center (AEC). The Americans used the formula that has been working so well recently by getting off to a good start in the first period, dominating special teams play and outstanding goaltending. Here are the details:

- Allen is 9-2-1-0 in their last 11 games and they have scored the first goal of the game in nine of the 11. The Americans scored the first goal last night and won the first period 1-0. In the last 11 games Allen has been ahead or tied after the first period in ten of them. Why is this important? When the Americans are leading or tied after the first period they have a record of 16-2-1-0.


- Allen has been crushing their opponents on special teams. Last night they were 2-5 on the power play, perfect on the penalty kill (0-5)  and scored a shorthanded goal. Allen has 10 power play goals in the last four games and at one point scored on seven straight power play opportunities. Allen is 10-18 (55.6%) over the last four games and is 14-47 (29.8%) in the month of December.


-  The penalty kill was perfect last night going 0-5. Over the last four games the penalty kill has scored more goals than they have allowed. In the last four games the penalty kill has allowed just one goal in 21 opportunities (95.2%) and they have scored two shorthanded goals. The one goal allowed was on five-on-three.


- Riley Gill had a 33 save shutout last night. It was his fourth shutout in his last 10 games. He has twice as many shutouts as any other goalie in the league. Both goalies have been great recently as combined they have allowed five goals in the last four games.


- Allen scored six goals last night. It was the third time in the last four games the Americans have tallied six goals. During this four game win streak they have outscored their opponents 22-5. All three lines have been scoring but the top line of Costello, Asuchak and Hanson has been unstoppable. They combined for eight points last night (3 goal 5 assists) and now have a season total of 110 points. They have 40% of the points scored by the entire team this season.


- Goal scorers for Allen were Spencer Asuchak (13) on the power play, Joel Chouinard (2), Bryan Moore (5) shorthanded, Chad Costello (16), Costello (17) on the power play and Gary Steffes (7). You can check out all of the goals and the best save of the game by Riley Gill with two seconds remaining to preserve the shutout at ECHL Rewind. Here is the link: http://www.echl.com/


- The teams will meet again tonight (7:05 pm) for their fourth and final time in the regular season. With back to back games I would think you will see Jamie Murray in goal tonight. Jamie had a great game in is last start stopping 42 of 43 shots. That was last Sunday in Wichita in a 4-1 Allen win.


- Chris Pontes (#2) will be the referee again tonight. The linesmen will be Rick Rivera (#59) and Aaron Schacht (#31).


- Coach Martinson gave a couple of the injured players (Harrison Ruopp & Aaron Gens) permission to start their Christmas break early and head home. Ruopp was flying home but Gens was driving the 1225 miles to his hometown in northern Minnesota so getting an early start definitely helped. Coach Martinson's plan is to leave right after the game tonight and drive 13 hours through the night back to his hometown outside of Minneapolis so his family can spend time with his mom and relatives in the Twin Cities area. The Christmas break starts after the game tonight and the players will have Saturday, Sunday and Monday off. The team has a practice on Tuesday night (6:00 pm) and then leaves for Wichita Wednesday morning. Got the distinct feeling in talking to Martinson, who will meet the team in Wichita on the 28th, that if any players have trouble making the practice on Tuesday night because they are traveling back to Allen, all will be forgiven.


STEVE MARTINSON'S POST GAME COMMENTS

 -  I am heading to Minnesota after the game tomorrow so a good thing about the win tonight is I don't have to look at a lot of video.

- Obviously the special teams were really good again tonight.  Riley was great in goal and got his fourth shutout. He has been amazing.

- We put Dyson at defense in the third period as tomorrow is our sixth game in nine nights so I was trying to keep the defense as fresh as possible. I thought Stevenson did a great job. He liked that flip pass he tried a few times. He did say after the second period he was going to teach the defensemen how to make that flip pass correctly. Now we will have to set up a play when he does that flip so we have someone going for it.

- It was a good win but we have to get a good nights sleep and be ready for tomorrow night. It will be a tough game tomorrow.

- All three lines are contributing and making plays but the top line is really going right now. Costello has 17 goals. It is nice to see Chad shooting the puck.

- It is a lot more fun playing good hockey as we go into the Christmas break.

- The referee told me our own guy knocked the stick into Makowski that caused the cut. Steffes gave their player a little push and then he swung his stick up right at Makowski. If you look at the video it is pretty clear it was intentional. You have to be in control of your stick.



OTHER COMMENTS


- Allen players dominate the current ECHL scoring streaks. Bryan Moore has the longest goal scoring streak (four games), Greger Hanson the longest assist streak (six games) and Chad Costello has the longest point scoring streak (11 games).


- Congrats to Chad Costello who reached another milestone last night scoring his 200th professional goal. Chad has been a big part of the Americans 9-2-1-0 record over the last 11 games. In those 11 games he has scored at least one point in each game. Here are just of few of his recent accomplishments:

Two goals, one assist last night
Goals in seven of the last eight games
10 goals in last eight games
13 points in last five games
points in 20 of last 21 games
leads league in scoring with 47 points (17 goals 30 assists)
leads scoring race by eight points


- You can expect coach Martinson to start getting calls from AHL teams looking for help. With the Americans playing great and scoring a lot it is probably just a matter of time. Scoring points always gets you noticed by AHL teams and Allen has plenty of players scoring  points.


- The season it not yet half over so things could change but the Mountain Division it starting to look like a four team race. There is now an eight point gap between Idaho in fourth place and Missouri in fifth place. The gap to sixth place Rapid City is 10 points and to seventh place Utah it is 12 points. After the game tonight the Allen Americans will not play any of the other top four teams (Colorado, Alaska, Idaho) the rest of the regular season.


- I have four loge (second level) tickets for the New Years Eve Game against Utah. It is a 5:05 pm start so plenty of time to watch the game and still celebrate afterwards. I will have a drawing for the tickets on Tuesday (12/27). If you are interested let me know via Twitter, Facebook, the Blog, text, in person or by email (janssenfamily@msn.com). All I need is your name and if you want two or four tickets. The tickets are in the end of the rink where the Zamboni enters the ice, close by where the players that aren't playing sit. I will announce the winner or winners in the blog Wednesday morning and leave the tickets at will call. Good luck!


DID YOU KNOW: Among ECHL players with more than 250 games, Chad Costello ranks fourth all-time in points per game. Here are the top five in average points per game. The last year they played in the ECHL is in parenthesis:

1.80 - Trevor Jobe (1998-99)
1.74 - Victor Gervias (2003-04)
1.64 - Phil Berger (1999-2000)
1.54 - Chad Costello (2016-17)
1.49 - John Spoltore (1999-2000)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Allen vs Idaho Preview From Two Perspectives, Players From the Past, Playoff PP & PK Stats

The Allen Americans take on the Idaho Steelheads tonight and tomorrow night at the Allen Event Center (AEC) to finish their season series. The teams played twice in Idaho at the end of November with Allen losing both games (3-2 & 5-2).

- Allen and Idaho are two evenly matched teams that have been playing well. Allen has won their last three games and is 7-2-1-0 in the last 10 games. Idaho has won their last two games and is 5-4-0-1 in the last 10 games. They are tied in the Mountain Division standings with 33 points (Idaho has three games in hand).

-  Idaho has not been a good road team as they are 4-5-1-1 on the road but 11-4-1-0 at home. Allen has been good on the road (10-7-1-0) but are only 6-6-0-0 at home. Should make for a couple of interesting games for two teams that had an epic first round playoff battle last season. Let's hope that vibe of winning games six and seven with a dramatic overtime win in game seven returns to the AEC the next two nights.

- It will be a big lift for the team if Zach Hall, Eric Roy or Harrison Ruopp return to the line up tonight. After playing two skaters short in Tulsa on Tuesday it would be nice to have a full contingent tonight. Coach Martinson said it was possible all three could be available but no decision will be made until after pregame skate this morning.


- Here is a comparison between Allen and Idaho:

                                     ALLEN                              IDAHO

Team Record               16-13-1-0 (33 points)             15-9-2-1 (33 points)
Division Ranking         3rd - Mountain                        3rd - Mountain
Conference Ranking   6th - Western                          6th - Western
League Ranking         9th                                           9th
Last Game                  6-3 Win (Tulsa)                       5-2 Win (Rapid city)
Goals For                    98                                           92
Goals Against             88                                           84
Power Play                 15.0% (19/127)                       24.3 (25/103)
Penalty Kill                  84.9% (21/139)                      83.0% (18/106)
Most PIM's                  Mathers (131)                        Dodero (66)
Leading Scorer           Costello (15-29-44)                Dahl (9-20-29)
                                   Hanson (15-18-33                   Luciani (10-14-24)

-  Here is how Allen and Idaho rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 2nd (19.97) - Idaho 6th (17.11)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 14th (3.27) - Idaho 9th (3.41)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 9th (2.93) - Idaho 13th (3.11)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 6th (33.20) - Idaho 13th (31.93)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 21st (33.87) - Idaho 19th (33.00)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 20th (15.0%) - Idaho 2nd (24.3%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 10th (84.9%) - Idaho 18th (83.0%)


- As you can see from the stats above Allen and Idaho are evenly matched with the glaring exception of the power play and that stat is misleading because the Allen power play has been on fire recently. The Americans power play has scored on their last seven attempts, is 8-13 (61.5%) over the last three games and is 12-42 (28.5%) in the month of December. In the month of December the Idaho power play is 7-30 (23.3%). As is usually the case special teams will be a key to victory in the two games with Idaho. If the Americans can come anywhere close to their recent performance on special teams there is no reason they can't come away with four points.

- A good start has been a key to the Americans better play over the last month. They won in Tulsa on Tuesday after giving up the first goal of the game but that doesn't happen very often. Allen's record when they score first is 12-2-1-0. In the games where they don't score first their record is 4-11-0-0.


- Here is a preview of the two game series with Idaho from the other side written by the voice of the Steelheads, Brian McCormick. An interesting read: http://www.idahosteelheads.com/blog/steelheads-news/preview-lone-star-series/


- Officials scheduled for the game tonight are referee Chris Pontes (#2) and linesmen Brian Bull (#49) and Aaron Schacht (#31).



OTHER COMMENTS

- One thing you can't do as the general manager of a hockey team is spend a lot of time second guessing decisions made to trade, release or not sign players. There are so many considerations when making these decisions other than on ice performance. Housing and insurance costs, veteran status, salary demands, injury history/reliability, and being a team player in the locker room are just a few of the considerations other than on ice performance. Then there are the circumstances where you need a certain type of player and you trade a good player to get what you need at the time. While general managers can't spend time following what has happened to players that have moved on, fans often do. I happened to notice that Rick Pinkston scored a goal the last two nights for Manchester and it piqued my interest in how some of the players from last season's championship team that have moved on to other ECHL teams are doing.

Rick Pinkston - Rick was never known as a goal scorer so seeing he scored the last two nights for Manchester got me to looking. Turns out they are his only two goals of the year. Rick has five assists (three from his days in Allen) to go along with the two goals. Rick is on a good team as Manchester is leading the North Division.

Chris Crane - Chris had a total of five goals in his first four games after being traded to Orlando but has been out with an injury since December 3. He has missed the last nine Orlando games. Orlando is in second place in the South Division.

Casey Pierro-Zabotel - Casey is having an outstanding season with Colorado after signing with the Eagles in the off season. He leads the team with 34 points (10 goals 24 assists). He is third in the league in assists. Colorado is in first place in the Mountain Division.

Daniel Doremus - Daniel played 11 games for Allen last season before being recalled by San Jose where he spent the rest of the year. He had three points (1 goal 2 assists) in Allen. This season Doremus is playing in Manchester and is the third leading scorer on the team with 23 points (4 goals 19 assists) in 26 games.

Tristan King - Tristan played in seven games for Allen and had a goal and an assist before being traded to Indy. He has played in eight games for Indy and has not scored a goal. He does have three assists. His plus/minus in Indy is -10. Indy is one of the worst teams in the ECHL and are in last place in the Central Division, fourteen points out of a playoff spot.

Matt Register - Matt is having an outstanding season reminiscent of his Defenseman of the Year performance in 2013-14 with the Ontario Reign. Matt leads all ECHL defensemen in points (28), Assists (20), power play points (11), shots (87) and game winning goals (5). He is second in goals (8), second in power play assists (9), and third is plus/minus (+17). Matt and Pierro-Zabotel are a big reason the Eagles are the second best team in the ECHL with 40 points.

Vincent Arseneau - Arseneau signed in Wichita in the off season but has been plagued by an injury that kept him out of the line up for six weeks. He has been effective when he has played but has only appeared in seven games. He has four goals and three assists in the seven games. Wichita is in fifth place in the Central Division and nine points out of a playoff spot.

J.P. LaFontaine - J.P. is playing in Elmira and his stats are remarkably similar to his time in Allen. Lafontaine played nine games in Allen and had one goal, two assists and was a +5. He has played 10 games in Elmira and has one goal two assists and is a +5. J.P. leads the team in plus/minus. Elmira is in last place in the North Division already 14 points out of a playoff spot.


DID YOU KNOW: I heard a conversation recently about whether it is better to have a good power play or a good penalty kill to succeed in the playoffs. I decided to take a look at the last five Kelly Cup champions to see what their special team stats were during the playoffs in order to determine if that might help answer the question. In all five seasons the Kelly Cup champion had a better power play percentage than their finals opponent. However, in 2016 Wheeling had better penalty kill percentage (84.3% vs 80.2%) than the champion (Allen) and in 2014 Cincinnati had a better penalty kill percentage (89.9% vs 85.5%) than the champion (Alaska). It is not very scientific but in this small sample you could conclude a better power play percentage predicts the Kelly Cup champion 100% of the time but a better penalty kill percentage predicts the champion only 60% of the time. Here are the stats for the last five Kelly Cup champions with their finals opponent's percentage in parenthesis:


                                   Power Play %        Penalty Kill %   

2016: Allen                27.2% (21.7%)       80.2% (84.3%)
2015: Allen                18.8% (16.7%)       84.8% (79.1%)
2014: Alaska              17.9% (12.8%)       85.5% (89.9%)
2013: Reading            14.3% (8.4%)         84.6% (84.0%)
2012: Florida              18.6% (12.1%)       86.4% (85.9%)

 I am sure many of you remember in 2014 Allen won the Central Hockey League championship by setting a record. The Americans did not score a single power play goal in the finals against Denver. They were 0-26. However, for the entire playoffs Allen was 20.6% on the power play compared to Denver's 17.3% so the theory still holds up. Denver was 94.9% on the penalty kill compared to Allen's 85.5%.