Sunday, December 18, 2016

Allen vs Wichita Game Preview, Makowski's Impact, Stevenson's Fight Card and More

The Allen Americans are in Wichita to take on the Thunder this afternoon with a 4:05 pm puck drop. Not sure if you should call the game today a rematch or a grudge match after the teams combined for 136 penalty minutes Friday night in a 6-1 Allen victory. When you schedule six of ten games against the same opponent in a three week period you can't be surprised if things get testy.

- The game on Friday night against Wichita was unique for more than the 10 fighting major penalties. The Americans won 6-1 and the top line (Costello, Asuchak, Hanson) didn't have a goal. Allen had three power play goals and a total of 17 points (6 goals 11 assists) and the top line had just two assists. If the Americans can continue to get more scoring from the second and third lines they will be hard to beat.

- The impact coach Martinson expected when he signed David Makowski was evident on Friday as David had a goal and two assists along with a team leading 11 shots on goal. Martinson's expectation is Makowski will hammer the puck on net and that is exactly what he has done since arriving back in Allen. He has averaged 5.2 shots per game in the five games he has played. As a point of comparison, Greger Hanson leads the team and the entire league in shots on goal with 122 but his average per game (4.4) is lower than Makowski's.

- Makowski is already second on the team in plus/minus with a +8, trailing only Joel Chouinard (+16) in that category. David has been a plus in all five games he has played. When Makowski arrived in Allen five games ago, the Americans were averaging 2.90 goals per game. In the five games he has played, Allen is averaging 4.20 goals per game. It is not all about Makowski but he has certainly contributed.

- Special teams were the difference in the game on Friday as the Allen power play had its best night all season going 3-8. When you consider the power play had only 11 goals in the first 27 games of the season, to get three in one night is remarkable. The power play percentage is still abysmal (11.5%) but it has shown flashes of last year's brilliance recently. Over the last eight games Allen has a power play goal in five of them. In those eight games the power play is 8-40 (20%).

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

                                     ALLEN                               WICHITA

Team Record               14-13-1-0 (29 points)             11-9-0-1 (23 points)
Division Ranking         4th - Mountain                         5th - Central
Conference Ranking   8th - Western                          10th - Western
League Ranking         15th                                          21th
Last Game                  6-1 Win (Wichita)                     6-1 Loss (Allen)
Goals For                    88                                            64
Goals Against             84                                             65
Power Play                 11.5% (14/122)                        18.1% (13/72)
Penalty Kill                  84.0% (21/131)                       87.5% (11/88)
Most PIM                    Mathers (124)                          Melindy (56)
Leading Scorers:        Costello (12-26-38)                  Loiseau (14-10-24)
                                   Hanson (13-16-29)                   Moon (6-11-17)          

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 2nd (20.14) - Wichita 3rd (19.81)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 15th (3.14) - Wichita 16th (3.05)
Goals Allowed per Game: Allen 11th (3.00) - Wichita 14th (3.10)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 5th (33.32) - Wichita 13th (31.81)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 20th (33.46) - Wichita 27th (37.86)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 24th (11.5%) - Wichita 13th (18.1%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 11th (84.0%) - Wichita 3rd (87.5%)

- Allen and Wichita have played three of the 14 games they will play this season with the Americans winning two of the three. You can start to see some trends when you look at the cumulative stats for the previous games. Both teams get more shots on goal than normal. Total shots on goal in the three games actually favors Wichita 119-114. That is an average of 40 shots for Wichita and 38 for Allen, significantly above their average for the season.

- 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 three games against Allen in the last week the Wichita power play is 1-22 and the lone goal was a five-on-three on Friday. The Thunder power play is now ranked #13 at 18.1%.

- It was cold this morning in Allen at 15 but the team woke up to -2 in Wichita. When the Americans left Allen yesterday at 2:00 pm it was 72 degrees. Nothing like a 74 degree temperature change in less than 24 hours to get your attention. Wonder how good the heating system works on Big Red? Incidently, as a followup to the hometown temperatures in yesterday's blog post the coldest I could find this morning was in Baudette, Minnesota where Aaron Gens' mom and dad live. It was -22 with a -38 windchill. Now that is cold! 

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Stephen Reneau (#17) and linesmen Lucas Bisbee (#72) and Chase Wilkinson (#68).


-  I failed to mention yesterday that Zach Hall's goal on Friday was his first professional goal. Zach played two games in Reading before being traded to Allen and had two assists but no goals. Zach is more of a play maker than goal scorer as he averaged close to an assist per game in his last two junior seasons with the Barrie Colts.

- Hockey players make strange bedfellows and nothing explains that more than the relationship with players and fighting. Back in his junior days in the Western Hockey League, Dyson Stevenson had fights with current teammates Tanner Eberle, Travis Brown, and Harrison Ruopp. He even fought Derek Mathers when they were playing in the AHL.  Dyson has fought former Allen Americans Darryl Bootland, Jim McKenzie, Dylan King, Ayrton Nikkel, Jessey Astles, Brett Lyon and Judd Blackwater.  Stevenson holds his own for a guy that probably weighs closer to 175 pounds than the 185 listed on the official roster. He almost always gives up height and weight to his opponent such as Mathers who is three or four inches taller and 60 pounds heavier. What transpired between Stevenson and his former teammate and good friend, Vincent Arseneau, on Friday was beyond the pale. If you heard Dyson's post game interview it went something like this. Thursday evening Dyson invited Arseneau over to his apartment and cooked dinner for his friend. Then on the very next night they not only have a fight but Arseneau takes a four minute boarding call for hitting Stevenson in the back and driving him into the boards. What was Stevenson's reaction? I knew he was going to hit me but I didn't think he would hit me that hard. I am sure I felt like a rag doll to him. I think it was a bit of a cheap shot but I will forgive him because he is my friend. Strange bedfellows indeed.

- According to the website, the year Dyson Stevenson fought Derek Mathers (yes he lost the fight) was 2014-15. Dyson had 20 fights that season and he was outweighed in all 20. In just two of the fights was he outweighed by less than ten pounds. He was outweighed by 30 or more pounds in 11 of the 20 fights and more than 40 pounds in six. Now that is a brave (or foolish) soul.

DID YOU KNOW: Dyson Stevenson does whatever is necessary to help his team and much of what he does isn't reflected in the box score.  He has been in the box score a lot lately as he has seven points (2 goals 5 assists) along with three fights in the last four games.  Did you know in his last year in juniors (2013-14) with the Regina Pats, Dyson led the team with 38 goals and was second in points with 76. He also led the team in fights with 16. His coach was Malcolm Cameron who is now the coach for the Wichita Thunder.

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