Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Allen vs Missouri Game Preview, Numerous Roster Changes In The Works, Gill Recognized

It is game day for the Allen Americans as they take on the Missouri Mavericks at the Allen Event Center (AEC) tonight (7:05 pm). It will be another attempt by the Americans to reach the .500 mark. Their current record is 11-12. Reaching .500 has proven to be a difficult task for Allen. Tonight will be the fourth opportunity in the last three weeks for the Americans to even their record. Allen has failed in the first three attempts.

- The game tonight will be the fifth of 13 games between Allen and Missouri this season. In the first four games the Americans hold the edge 3-1. They last met on November 30 in Missouri where Allen came away with a 1-0 victory.

- Missouri comes into the AEC tonight having lost their last three games but they were all very close. In addition to their 1-0 loss to Allen a week ago, the Mavericks lost to Fort Wayne in overtime on Friday and in a shootout to Cincinnati on Saturday.

- Allen has won three of their last four games and looks to keep the momentum going against the Mavericks.

- In their four head to head matches, Allen has the advantage over Missouri in goals (14-8) and shots (138-131). The Americans have also done well on specials teams against the Mavericks especially considering how poor the Allen special teams have been this season. Against Missouri the Americans are 3-16 on the power play (18.8%) and have allowed just one power play goal in 20 opportunities for a penalty kill percentage of 95%.

- Had the chance to touch base with coach Martinson this morning about the roster. Look for numerous changes over the next few days. As expected, Jamie Murray has been reassigned to Allen by San Jose. Matt Willows has been recalled by San Jose for the purpose of being reassigned. There will be at least two or three other announcements in the coming days.

- Riley Gill will be in goal tonight and David Makowski may make his first start since rejoining the team. A decision on his status won't be made until the pregame skate this morning. One forward and one defenseman will have to be a healthy scratch tonight.

- Here is how Allen and Missouri match up:

                                    ALLEN                              MISSOURI

Team Record:             11-12-0-0 (22 points)           8-9-1-2 (19 points)
Division Ranking:        4th Mountain                      5th Mountain
Conference Ranking:  8th Western                       10th Western
League Ranking:        15th                                     21st
Last Game:                 4-2 Win (Tulsa)                   4-3 SO Loss (Cincinnati)
Goals For:                   67                                       62
Goals Against:            72                                        72
Power Play:                10.6% (10/94)                     12.6% (12.95)
Penalty Kill:                82.8% (17/99)                      88.9% (8/72)
Most PIM                    Mathers (115)                      Elbrecht (47)
Leading Scorers:        Costello (7-24-31)               Fox (7-10-17)
                                   Hanson (10-12-22)              Carzo (7-7-14)

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 2nd (18.52) - Missouri 14th (13.35)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 19th (2.91) - Missouri 16th (3.10)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 13th (3.13) - Missouri 24th (3.60)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 9th (32.57) - Missouri 14th (30.85)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 19th (32.83) - Missouri 24th (35.05)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 24th (10.6%) - Missouri 21st (12.6%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 16th (82.8%) - Missouri 5th (88.9%)

- A couple of things stand out when you look at the stats. Both of these teams have struggled on their power play, ranking toward the bottom of the league.  Missouri has one of the better penalty kill units in the league ranked #5 at 88.9%. Despite the overall special team records Allen has done well against Missouri with the power play at 18.8% (3-16) and the penalty kill at 95% (1-20).

- Allen's special teams have been much better recently. The Americans have at least one power play goal in their last three games going 4-12 (33.3%). They have allowed just one power play goal in their last four games going 1-14 (92.9%) on the penalty kill. If Allen's improved special teams play continues it will definitely translate into victories.

- Another key to Allen's recent success is getting off to good starts which is a huge predictor of success. The Americans scored the first goal of the game in just six of their first 19 games. They have scored first in their last four games. Allen's record is 8-2 when scoring first.

- Missouri seems to struggle against teams that play a physical style and that is exactly what the Americans have been doing recently. Look for that physicality to continue tonight led by Derek Mathers.  Mathers has more major penalties (13) than the entire Missouri team (11). With Allen having the advantage of last change at home it will be interesting to see the match ups coach Martinson has planned.

The referee scheduled for the game is Mike Sheehan (#11) and the linesmen are Lucas Bisbee (#72) and Chase Wilkinson  (#68).


- I am sure most of you have seen the announcement from the ECHL that Riley Gill was selected as the goalie of the week. Allen is so fortunate to have Gill in goal. He is a steadying influence on the team and his success in the playoffs is unparalleled. Of all of his records, no doubt the fact that he has won three of the last four Kelly Cups shows how clutch he is. If you haven't seen the ECHL press release here is the link:

- Idaho is at Colorado tonight so if Allen can beat Missouri they will not only get back to .500 they will close the gap on one of the teams ahead of them in the standings.

- The hottest team in the ECHL right now is the Toledo Walleye who has won eight straight games. The coldest team is Utah who has lost nine straight games.

- Only two teams in the ECHL have over 400 penalty minutes. Allen has 426 and Fort Wayne has 413. Only one team has fewer than 200 penalty minutes and that is the Elmira Jackals with 197.

DID YOU KNOW: How bad is Allen's current 11-12 record which translates to a winning percentage of .478. Over the history of the franchise (seven years) Allen's winning percentage averages .676. In order for the Americans to reach a .676 winning percentage they would have to win their next 14 games without a loss. Here are the winning percentages by year with the playoff results in parenthesis. One thing clear from the winning percentages below is once you make the playoffs the regular season winning percentage doesn't mean much. Allen won the Kelly Cup last season with the lowest winning percentage (.618) in team history. In 2011 when the team had the second highest winning percentage in team history (.735) they didn't even make it to the championship final.

2016-17 -   .478 (after 23 games)
2015-16 -   .618 (won championship)
2014-15 -   .756 (won championship)
2013-14 -   .629 (won championship)
2012-13 -   .659 (won championship)
2011-12 -   .659 (lost in first round)
2010-11 -   .735 (lost in third round)
2009-10 -   .695 (lost in finals)

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