Sunday, December 31, 2017

Wichita Turns the Tables With 3-1 Win Over Allen, Game Recap, Martinson Comments, Today's Rematch Preview, Rule 39.5 & Allen's NYE Record in Detail

The Wichita Thunder turned the tables on the Allen Americans last night with a 3-1 victory before an enthusiastic crown of 5614 at Intrust Bank Arena. Friday night Allen overcame the odds coming back to win the game when Wichita had the lead after the first period. Prior to that game the Thunder were a perfect 12-0 when leading after the first period. Wichita overcame the odds last night winning the game after Allen scored the first goal. Prior to last night the Americans hadn't lost a game in regulation all season when they scored the first goal of the game (13-0-1-0).

- It was a typical Allen vs Wichita physical, hard fought game that wasn't decided until the Thunder scored an empty net goal with 55 seconds remaining in the game. There were a lot of penalties (78 minutes) though most were offsetting. Shots on goal were even (41-40), neither team scored on the power play (Allen 0-2, Wichita 0-4) and both goalies played well. Allen killed a long five-on-three power play to start the second period.

- Allen took the lead 1-0 at the 12:32 mark of the first period when Marcus Basara scored (five hole) off a great pass from Alex Guptill. It was Basara's second goal of the season. That was the first and only time the Americans could get the puck in the net even though they had numerous grade A opportunities. The video highlights include many of the missed opportunities by both teams. You can also see the fight between former teammates and defensive partners Mike Gunn and Travis Brown. Pay close attention to the fight and you will notice Brown landed all of the punches because the linesman had Gunn's armed pinned down so he could not fight back.

 - Here is the game recap from the Allen Americans:

- Here is the game recap from the Wichita Thunder:

- I asked coach Martinson for his thoughts after the game and as is often the case after a loss he was brief and to the point. "It is tough to play shorthanded with guys hurt and sick, especially playing three games in four days but the team gave a great effort tonight. It is hard to fathom having only two power plays tonight. Then you see a player shoot a helmet at the referee and it all makes sense."

- In most games both teams take issue with penalties that are and aren't called by the referee and it is always interesting to listen to the home and away broadcasters to hear how the same play can be interpreted in totally different ways. Coach Martinson's comment got me interested in the rule about shooting equipment at the referee. If you haven't seen the play here is my home video version where the Thunder player actually shoots his helmet in the direction of the referee after he took issue with a no call on a play behind the net.

I looked up the rule cited in the boxscore for the game misconduct (39.5) and you can see it appears to indicate the Wichita player should have been given a minor penalty in addition to the game misconduct. I assume that is what coach Martinson was referring to in his post game comment to me. Here is the exact wording from the ECHL rule book. Notice it also allows for supplemental discipline in this situation.

- Abuse of Officials - Game Misconduct Penalty: Rule 39.5 (vi & vii) - Any player, coach or non-playing person who throws or shoots any equipment or other object in the general direction of an official but does not come close to making contact. This action may occur on or off the ice. In general, participants displaying this type of behavior are assessed a minor, then a misconduct and then a game misconduct for this type of behavior. Any player, goalkeeper, coach or non-playing club personnel penalized under this section may be subject to supplemental discipline (fine and/or suspension).


- I am sure there will be two exhausted teams that take the ice this afternoon (4:05 pm) less then 20 hours after they finished the game in Wichita and drove 360 miles through the night to arrive in Allen. And don't forget this will be the fourth game between these teams in the last 96 hours.

- There shouldn't be any surprises when Allen and Wichita meet each other for the fourth time in five days this afternoon. The question is will the style of play be any different with both teams beat up, banged up and exhausted. Olivier Archambault and Miles Liberati did not play last night in Wichita and this is the time of year players get sick as they are in close quarters all of the time. You can look for short shifts this afternoon for sure.

- Allen has the advantage in the three games against Wichita this week on the power play. The Americans are 2-9 (22.2%) and won the two games they scored a power play goal. Wichita is 1-11 (9.1%). If the Americans score at least one power play goal and win the special teams battle they will have an excellent chance of winning the game today. That has been the case in their last four wins.

- It is always important to avoid undisciplined stick penalties and misconduct penalties but even more so today when the team may be playing shorthanded after an exhausting four games in five days. All players but especially the best players need to stay out of the penalty box.

- The Americans have done an excellent job of eliminating the shot deferential that has plagued them recently. In the two games in Wichita the shots were dead even at 64-64. You have to like Allen's chances if they can keep that up in the game today.   


- With the Allen loss to Wichita and Idaho losing in Utah in a shootout last night the Mountain Division standings tightened again. Colorado won and is now nine points clear of the field with an ECHL leading 50 points. Allen and Idaho are tied for second place in the division with 41 points and Wichita is close behind with 40 points.

- Idaho and Colorado are idle today so it's a chance for Allen to gain some ground. It would be really disappointing, after the Americans won the first two games of this four game set with Wichita, if they lose today and end up with a split.

- In AHL action yesterday San Jose beat Manitoba 3-2. The Barracuda are 4-0-0-1 in their last five games. Spencer Asuchak has been a healthy scratch the last two games. Vincent Areseneau was in the lineup for Utica last night after sitting out a game with the flu. Utica was out shot 41-17 but took the game to a shootout before losing to Syracuse 3-2. Vincent didn't have a point in the game but was credited with two shots on goal and took a boarding penalty. San Jose plays Manitoba again today and then doesn't play until Friday. Utica is idle until next Friday. Will have to keep an eye on AHL transactions to see if either player is returned to Allen.

DID YOU KNOW: I mentioned yesterday that Allen has played very well over the years on New Years Eve (NYE). Since becoming a franchise in 2009-10 Allen's NYE record is 7-0. In 2015-16 they did not play on NYE and in 2009-10 they played in Wichita and won 3-0. The Americans NYE record at the Allen Event Center (NYE) is 6-0 and they have dominated NYE games at the AEC.

 Last year it was an 8-4 win over Mathieu Aubin and the Utah Grizzlies. Greger Hanson (who now plays for Utah) was the #1 star of the game with two goals and two assists.

The most memorable NYE game was way back in 2010-11 when Allen spanked the Tulsa Oilers 10-1. Allen scored early and often and had a 7-0 lead by midway in the second period. Dave Bonk led Allen with a hat trick. Bonk and Judd Blackwater each had six points in the game which is still the all time record for points in a game.

You add it all together and Allen has outscored their opponents on NYE at the AEC 35-13. Let's hope there is more of the same today. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Allen Beats Wichita 3-2, Game Recap, Martinson's Comments, Rematch Preview & The Thrower Family Story

There was a lot to like in the Allen Americans 3-2 win over the Wichita Thunder last night before an announced crowd of 5007 at Intrust Bank Arena. It wasn't a good start for the Americans as they gave up the first goal of the game just 66 seconds after the opening puck drop. Bryan Moore tied the score 1-1 midway through the first period but defensive lapses allowed Wichita to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission with a goal 16 seconds before the end of the period. It didn't look good at that point for the Americans because prior to last night the Thunder were a perfect 12-0 when leading after the first period. However, Allen scored two unanswered goals, one by Alex Guptill in the second period and the other by Zach Hall in the third to come away with the victory. Here are some of the positives from the game:

- Allen won the special teams battle. The Americans were 1-3 on the power play but more importantly the #27 ranked road penalty kill unit was great killing all four Wichita power play opportunities.

- Allen shut down the Thunder offense in the last two periods with no goals allowed.

- After allowing an average of 44 shots on goal over the last eight games the Americans limited Wichita to 24 shots on goal and just one shot in the crucial third period.

- Allen won this game with depth. The top scoring forward in the ECHL (Pierro-Zabotel) and the top scoring defenseman in the ECHL (Makowski) were both held off the scoreboard but others stepped up. There were a total of seven points in the game (3 goals 4 assists) and seven different players had points. Moore (11) , Guptill (9) and Hall (2) had the goals with assists by McAuley, Reilly, Basara and Archambault.

- Stephon Williams continued the solid goalie play the Americans have been getting during their seven game point streak, stopping 22 of 24 shots for a save percentage of .917.

- Bryan Moore picked up right where he left off before his game misconduct penalty (December 22) and two game suspension. With the exception of the game on December 22, Bryan has at least one point in every game he has played in since November 19. In 10 games he has 20 points (9 goals 11 assists).

- Joel Chouinard was +1 in the game and expanded his ECHL leading plus/minus stat to +23. Joel has had just one minus game in the month of December and in the last seven games is +16.

- If you would like to check out all of the goals, some great saves and an Alex Guptill fight here is a link to ECHL Rewind:

- Here is the game recap from the Allen Americans:

- Here is the game recap issued by the Wichita Thunder:


- The first two games of the four game set in 96 hours between Allen and Wichita are now in the books and with two wins coach Steve Martinson has to be pleased. Looking ahead to the game tonight (7:05 pm) another win in Wichita will put some distance between Allen and the Thunder. The Americans have shown they play well in Wichita with a record of 3-1 this season. The Thunder has only lost five games in regulation at home all season with three of them coming at the hands of Allen.

- I had the chance to touch base with coach Martinson after the game last night and he mentioned two things that will be important in the rematch tonight. He was pleased with the way the Allen depth kicked in and played a big role in the outcome of the game and expects that to continue. He also said, "We had multiple point blank scoring chances that we did not convert, we need to finish those chances tomorrow (Saturday) night."

- Look for Jeremy Brodeur to get the start in goal tonight and Miles Liberati, who sat out last night, to be in the lineup. These next two games will be the survival of the fittest when you think about the fact from the start of the game tonight in Wichita until to end of the game on Sunday the players will play a minimum of 120 minutes (two games) in less than 24 hours with a six hour bus ride thrown in for good measure.

- Allen has a lot of firepower in the lineup and if they can stay out of the penalty box they will have the advantage. They also need a better first period tonight than last night.

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Andrea Barone (#15) and linesmen Trent Williams (#0) and Michael Houle (#49).


- In action around the Mountain Division last night Utah beat Idaho 6-3. With the Idaho loss and Allen's win the Americans have moved into second place in the division. Colorado beat Rapid City 6-4 and remains seven points ahead of Allen. Here are the current Mountain Division standings with games played in parentheses:

48 points - Colorado (31 games)
41 points - Allen (30 games)
40 points - Idaho (32 games)
38 points - Wichita (30 games)
30 points - Tulsa (30 games)
30 points - Utah (31 games)
16 points - Rapid City (29 games)

- Allen is now tied with Toledo for third in the ECHL in points (41) trailing Florida (45) and Colorado (48). Allen is fourth in the league in winning percentage (.683).

- I received a lot of positive feedback about the blog post on Christmas day ( in which I talked about every player having a unique story and fans don't always know those stories. I try to bring those out when I do the in depth player profiles. I was at practice on Thursday and had the chance to meet Dalton and Josh Thrower's mom (Melanie), dad (Murray) and sister (Danae) who were in Allen for Christmas with the boys. I have said many times one of the the best parts of covering the team is getting to meet the player's friends and family. I had a great conversation with Murray and peppered him with questions about the careers of Dalton and Josh, whether they had ever played together before Allen (the answer is no) and what it was like raising two hockey playing sons. While talking about the connection between the Thrower bothers and several players on the team including Casey Pierro-Zabotel, I brought up to Murray the year (2006-07) Casey played with former Allen player Wade MacLeod in junior hockey and they each had over 100 points in less than 60 games. Casey had 51 goals and 65 assists in 55 games. When I mentioned to Murray that MacLeod came to Allen last season after having a second brain tumor removed he told me that both he and Melanie were cancer survivors. This all happened a few years ago before Dalton was drafted by Montreal and Josh started his career in major juniors in the Western Hockey League. I came home and found this video from 2012 when Dalton was playing for the Saskatoon Blades that tells the story of what the Thrower family has endured. It is a heart warming story that talks about their battle with cancer but also a serious car accident that the family was lucky enough to survive. If you have spent any time talking to Dalton and Josh you know what great young men they are and if you spend time with their parents you know where that comes from. This video from 2012 will give you a peek into the story of the Thrower family and the importance of perseverance and character.

DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans will have quite a tradition to hold up when they play their New Years Eve game against Wichita tomorrow at the Allen Event Center. The Americans have never lost a New Year's Eve game in franchise history with a perfect 7-0 record. Here is the list:

2016-17 - Beat Utah at home 8-4
2015-16 - Did Not Play
2014-15 - Beat Rapid City at home 5-3
2013-14 - Beat Wichita at home 5-3
2012-13 - Beat Quad City at home 4-0
2011-12 - Beat Laredo at home 3-2
2010-11 - Beat Tulsa at home 10-1
2009-10 - Beat Wichita in Wichita 3-0


Friday, December 29, 2017

Allen vs Wichita Game Preview, ECHL Critical Recruiting Date Approaching & Allen is the Only ECHL Team With Two Defensemen in Top Four in Points

It is game day as the Allen Americans are in Wichita to take on the Thunder in game two of their four game set. The Americans won the first game 7-3 on Wednesday night in Allen. Game three is tomorrow (Saturday) in Wichita before heading back to Allen for game four on Sunday (4:05 pm). To clarify the start time on Sunday it is now at 4:05 pm. The game was originally scheduled for a 5:05 pm start but was changed yesterday back to the regular Sunday 4:05 pm start to avoid confusion.

- The big roster change for Allen tonight will be the return of Bryan Moore after a two game suspension. Moore was on a nine game point streak until it was broken in the game he received a game misconduct. In the nine game point streak Bryan had 19 points (8 goals 11 assists). That means in the game tonight Allen will have three players (Moore, Archambault, Pierro-Zabotel) that have been averaging two points a game over their last five or six games. With Moore back in the lineup Allen will have a full contingent of 10 forwards and won't have to dress seven defensemen. So unless someone got sick or injured in the last 24 hours one defenseman will sit out tonight as a healthy scratch.

- Look for Stephon Williams to get the start in goal tonight for the Americans as coach Martinson continues splitting the goalie duties. For Wichita the best guess is Joel Rumpel will get the start. Neither Thunder goalie has played well in the last two games. Shane Starrett has started the last two games for Wichita and didn't make it to the second period in either one. He gave up five goals on 17 shots in 34 minutes of play for a save percentage of .705. Joel Rumpel came on in relief in both games and gave up eight goals on 51 shots in 85 minutes for a save percentage of .843. The last two games are certainly not indicative of the season as Starrett's save percentage is .920 and Rumpel's is .913. It is noteworthy when Allen played Wichita in mid November the Thunder led the ECHL in team save percentage at .933 and Allen was second at .923. Today Allen leads the ECHL is save percentage at .921 while Wichita has dropped to a tie for fourth at .913.

- Playing in Wichita has always been good to the Americans. This season they are 2-1 at Intrust Bank Arena which is excellent when you consider the Thunder's home record is 11-4-1-0. Since joining the ECHL the Americans actually have a better record against the Thunder in Wichita (19-3-1-2) than at the Allen Event Center (17-3-3-1).

Here are the updated stats between Allen and Wichita:

                                     ALLEN                               WICHITA

Team Record               17-7-4-1 (39 points)            18-9-2-0 (38 points)
Division Ranking         3rd - Mountain                     4th - Mountain
Conference Ranking   4th - Western                       5th - Western
League Ranking         7th                                        8th
Last Game                  7-3 Win (Wichita)                 7-3 Loss (Allen)
Goals For                    106                                      102
Goals Against             87                                         85
Power Play                 20.2%                                   21.3%
Home Power Play      22.4%                                   20.8%
Road Power Play       16.7%                                   22.0%
Penalty Kill                 80.6%                                   85.8%
Home Penalty Kill      86.7%                                    82.8%
Road Penalty Kill       70.6%                                    89.8%
Most PIM                    Makowski (80)                     Stevenson (72)
Leading Scorers:        Pierro-Zabotel (10-27-37)     MacMillan (12-11-23)

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (23.03) - Wichita 16th (14.58)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 4th (3.66) - Wichita 7th (3.52)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 11th (3.00) - Wichita 9th (2.93)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 14th (32.79) - Wichita 18th (31.24)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 24th (37.66) - Wichita 19th (33.52)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 5th (20.2%) - Wichita 2nd (21.3%)
Home Power Play %: Allen 2nd (22.4%) - Wichita 6th (20.8%)
Road Power Play %: Allen 15th (16.7%) - Wichita 8th (22.0%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 22nd (80.6%) - Wichita 7th (85.8%)
Home Penalty Kill %: Allen 5th (86.7%) - Wichita 14th (82.8%)
Road Penalty Kill %: Allen 27th (70.6%) - Wichita 4th (89.8%)

- Allen was out shot by Wichita 41-30 on Wednesday even though the Americans won the game 7-3. It was the eighth straight game Allen has been out shot and the seventh time in the last eight games they have allowed 40 or more shots. In those eight games the Americans have been out shot 349-248. Allen has the longest current point streak in the ECHL having at least one point in the last six games (4-0-2-0) despite being out shot by a wide margin. You have to wonder if  this continued shot discrepancy will catch up with them.

- On thing is certain and that is the Allen offense is getting better. So far this month they have been held to less than three goals just once and have scored five or more goals in six of 10 games. The Americans have scored an average of 4.3 goals per game in the month of December while allowing just 2.9 goals per game.

- Special teams will be important to watch tonight. Allen's road special teams percentages are a lot lower than at home, most noticeably with the #27 ranked road penalty kill of 70.6%. In an interesting twist Wichita has lower home specialty team percentages than on the road. Maybe it is best to compare how the Americans and Thunder have fared on the power play in their five head to head games. Turns out both teams are exactly the same at 5-17 (29.4%). If you are an Allen fan looking for the positive it would be the last time Allen played in Wichita (November 19) the Americans were 3-5 on the power play. If you are a Wichita fan looking for something positive it would be the last time Allen played in Wichita the Thunder won the game 6-4 despite giving up three power play goals.

- Head to head in their five previous games Allen leads in goals scored 20-17 but Wichita has the edge in shots on goal 170-165. Allen has taken 27 penalties for 71 minutes while Wichita has taken 25 penalties for 59 minutes.

- You would probably be disappointed if I didn't talk about scoring first and having a lead after the first period. The Americans accomplished both on Wednesday to improve their record when scoring the first goal of the game to 13-0-1-0 and their record when having a lead after the first period to 12-0-1-0. Incidentally, when tied after the first period Allen's record is 4-3-1-1.

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Sean MacFarlane (#4) and linesmen Addison Brush (#80 ) and Trent Williams (#0).


- All four teams at the top of the Mountain Division standings are in action the next two nights. In addition to Allen at Wichita, first place Colorado is at Rapid City and second place Idaho is at Utah.

- Here is a story written by Matt Harding, who covers the Wichita Thunder for The Sin Bin. Matt talks about the past, present and future for the improved Wichita Thunder:

- The Allen Americans are missing some key players up front with Spencer Asuchak and Vincent Arseneau in the AHL along with injuries to Zach Pochiro and Peter MacArthur. There has been no official annoucment from the team about MacArthur and he hasn't been placed on the 21 day IR but from the unofficial reports I have been hearing he will be out a while. As you have seen several times this season the Americans have gone from too many players to not enough players in the same week because of injuries and call ups. Allen could get Asuchak and/or Arseneau back but they are just as likely to lose a player as well. You can be assured general manager Martinson is keeping in contact with agents and players as a contingency plan if he needs to add players. The deadline for players overseas returning to play in the ECHL is not far off (February 15) so look for some good overseas players on teams that will not make the playoffs to migrate back to North America in the next few weeks.

DID YOU KNOW: How important are the defensemen in the Allen offense? Allen is the only team in the ECHL that has two defensemen in their top four scorers. There are 14 teams with no defensemen in their top four in points and 12 teams with one defenseman in the top four but Allen stands alone with two defensemen in the top four. There are only 14 defensemen in the ECHL that have 20 or more points and two of them are in Allen (Makowski & Chouinard). An even better stat is there are only two ECHL defensemen that have a plus/minus rating of +20 or above. The two are Joel Chouinard (+22) and David Makowski (+20). Here are Allen's top four in points:

37 points - Casey Pierro-Zabotel
29 points - David Makowski
23 points - Bryan Moore
20 points - Joel Chouinard

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Allen Wins Round One Over Wichita 7-3, Game Recap, Steve Martinson's Comments, Sporfie Highlights, Several Players Now Lead the ECHL & More

The Allen Americans got off to a fast start last night scoring three unanswered goals in the first period and cruised to a 7-3 victory over the Wichita Thunder. One of the largest Wednesday night crowds ever (4271) at the Allen Event Center (AEC) saw a balanced Allen attack score multiple goals in all three periods. With the win Allen leapfrogged Wichita into third place in the Mountain Division.

Goal scorers for Allen were Zach Hall (1), Mathieu Aubin (6), Casey Pierro-Zabotel (9&10), Colby McAuley (5), Olivier Archambault (5) and Eric Roy (7). You can watch all of the video highlights on ECHL Rewind. Here is the link:

Here are the Sporfie highlights which gives a closer view of the seven Allen goals:

Zach Hall - Watch the great effort by Zach to pick up his own rebound and tap the puck in the net from behind the goal line. It was Hall's first goal of the season. The replay doesn't catch Zach ripping the monkey off his back and throwing it into the crowd.

Mathieu Aubin - This is a great tip by Aubin in front of the net on a shot from David Makowski. Take time to watch this replay once just following Pierro-Zabotel. He didn't figure in the scoring but made the play by screening the goalie and took a lot of punishment to do so. This is a great example of what the net front guys do that many times doesn't show up in the boxscore. 

Casey Pierro-Zabotel - Three great plays on this goal. Archambault controls the puck, skates behind the goal and makes a pass to Chouinard. Joel takes a shot and places it perfectly for a deflection. Casey is one of the best around the net and tips it in.

Colby McAuley - The defensman let's Colby get close and he beats Joel Rumpel high on the glove side, a shot he practices a lot.

Olivier Archambault - Pure Archambault! The guy is dynamic.

Eric Roy - More Archambault magic on this goal. The play starts with Pierro-Zabotel winning the faceoff and passing the puck to David Makowski on the point. Makowski skates to the middle and passes to Olivier who has come to the point and he takes over. He skates to the top of the circle, gives a move like he is going to shoot but passes the puck (with a lot of pace) through the slot right on the stick of Eric Roy who puts it home in an open net. Watch the goalie bite on the subtle head fake by Archambault which opens the net for Roy.

Pierro-Zabotel - This is the Sporfie highlight of the game and you need to watch it several times to see everything that happens. Casey takes a shot, it rebounds right back to him and he takes a second shot, he again grabs the rebound and is now behind the goalie with the puck. All Casey has to do is slide the puck into the net but is goes wide. Both Casey and Joel Rumple can't believe the puck isn't in the net. Pierro-Zabotel looks to the sky but quickly recovers and goes to the front of the net just in time for another Casey tip in. You have to watch this replay once just watching Casey and once just watching Joel Rumpel. Rumpel stays down and grabs his face mask because he thinks Casey scored when the puck went wide. He never does recover when Pierro-Zabotel comes back in front of the net and scores.

- Here is the game recap from the Wichita Thunder: 


Here are the pregame and post game interviews with Tom Manning and coach Martinson and some of the comments the coach made when speaking to the season ticket holders after the game:

 - It was good to see Hall finally score. It was a great second effort on his part and a nice pass from Schoenborn. Basara also made a nice pass to McAuley on his goal.

- It is nice to score seven goals and know you are getting the second leading points per game guy (Bryan Moore) back for the next game.

- I have never seen a player in this league that is as quick as Archambault and sees the ice as well. He is so quick when he makes his moves and you saw that little head fake he made to get everyone moving before he passed the puck to Roy on his goal. He is one of those guys where you have to be ready at all times. It is a lot of fun watching him play.

- Our defense goes "D" to "D" better than any other group in the league if you ask me. We practice that every day with guys in front of the net and it pays off with those tipped goals. We actually work on shots from the point in the air, to sticks in front of the net and that worked tonight.

- We will have an easy practice tomorrow and work on our set breakout and forecheck as we have some new guys that haven't done it in a while. Some of the guys don't need to skate but we need to get some shots for our goalies so we will practice for 30 minutes or so.

- Vincent Arseneau didn't play for Utica (AHL) tonight because he has the flu. (The Barracuda did not play but play Stockton on Thursday at home).   


- The win against Wichita last night was a good start, but only a start with three more games against the Thunder this weekend. The team will have a light practice this morning before heading to Wichita for games on Friday and Saturday. The Americans close out the four game set with Wichita at the AEC on Sunday (5:05 pm).

- The win last night allowed Allen to pass Wichita for third place in the standings but also close the gap on idle Colorado and Idaho. Allen is now just one point behind second place Idaho and seven points behind Colorado. Because Allen has games in hand on Idaho they actually have a better winning percentage. Here are the Mountain Division standings based on winning percentage:

.767 - Colorado
.672 - Allen
.655 - Wichita
.645 - Idaho
.517 - Tulsa
.467 - Utah
.286 - Rapid City

- It was quite an offensive outburst by the Americans last night. The seven goals are the most goals scored all season at home. Allen did have eight goals in their first game of the season in Rapid City. The big offensive night helped several players maintain or take over the ECHL lead in the following categories.

Casey Pierro-Zabotel - Casey is #1, leading the ECHL in points (37) and assists (27)
David Makowski - David is #1, leading all ECHL defensemen in points (29) and assists (22).
Joel Chouinard - Joel is #1, leading the ECHL in plus/minus (+22)
Olivier Archambault - Olivier is #1, leading the ECHL in points per game (2.25)

- Jeremy Brodeur earned his ninth win of the season and now has a record of 9-2-2-1. He is #2 in the ECHL with a save percentage of .931. 

- If you haven't started voting in the Team Sin Bin's All-Star fan vote here is the link to vote for the Allen nominees, Casey Pierro-Zabotel, David Makowski and Jeremy Brodeur. You can see from the stats above they are all deserving. Remember, you can vote multiple times so keep voting until the voting closes on January 2.

DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans have at least one point in six straight games with a record of 4-0-2-0. That is currently the longest point streak in the ECHL. With their recent success the Americans now have the fourth best winning percentage in the league. Here are the top five:

.804 - Florida
.767 - Colorado
.714 - South Carolina
.672 - Allen
.672 - Toledo 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Allen Readies for Four Games in 96 hours, Allen vs Wichita Game Preview, All-Star Voting, Jersey Giveaway & Allen Hat Tricks

If you had to devise the toughest four game schedule possible for an ECHL team you just might have come up with what the Allen Americans will face over 96 hours starting at 7:05 tonight thru 7:05 Sunday night. Here is the recipe for creating the toughest four days (96 hours) of the season. You start by playing four games in five days the week prior as the Americans did last week.  You pick your team's biggest rival and mix in the fact they are one point apart in the standings. You throw in some travel to spice things up and you make sure some of the travel is after a Saturday night game when you have to travel for six hours overnight for a Sunday afternoon game that starts at 5:05 pm. Sprinkle in the owner of team you will be playing used to own the Americans, the captain of the opposing team used to play for Allen and one of the goalies and a defenseman you will face also played in Allen.

You might call the concoction hot and spicy or fire and ice but you have the ingredients for one helluva four game series with the Wichita Thunder. The teams play in Allen tonight (Wednesday) and Sunday, sandwiched between two games in Wichita on Friday and Saturday.

- The game tonight will be the fifth of 12 between these teams this season. They split the four games they have played thus far. Allen won two of three in Wichita while the Thunder won the only game played at the Allen Event Center (AEC).

- Wichita got off to a great start this season starting with a record of 10-1-1-0 and had the best winning percentage in the ECHL but have struggled recently with a record of 4-6 over the last ten games.

- Both teams have lost players to the AHL but Wichita has been hit much harder than Allen. The Americans are without Spencer Asuchak (San Jose) and Vincent Arseneau (Utica). Wichita is without four key players (Platzer, Chase, O'Brien, Doornbosch) who are in the AHL plus Matt DeBlouw recently left the team to pursue opportunities outside of hockey. Wichita has recently added forwards Nick Bligh (traded from Indy) and Johnny Daniels (traded from Wheeling). UPDATE: Jamie Doorndosch has been released from his AHL tryout contract and returned to Wichita.

- Allen fans will get to see plenty of Wichita captain Dyson Stevenson who is having a great season with the Thunder. Dyson is second on the team in points (8 goals 12 assists) and leads the team in penalty minutes and fights. Stevenson has a goal in his last three games and will be looking to extend that streak tonight. 

Here is a match up between Allen and Wichita:

                                     ALLEN                               WICHITA

Team Record               16-7-4-1 (37 points)            18-8-2-0 (38 points)
Division Ranking         4th - Mountain                     3rd - Mountain
Conference Ranking   5th - Western                       3rd - Western
League Ranking         8th                                        6th
Last Game                  5-3 Win (Tulsa)                     7-4 Loss (Kansas City)
Goals For                    99                                         99
Goals Against             84                                         78
Power Play                 20.0%                                    20.9%
Home Power Play      22.2%                                    20.8%
Road Power Play       16.7%                                    21.1%
Penalty Kill                 80.9%                                   86.2%
Home Penalty Kill      87.5%                                    82.8%
Road Penalty Kill       70.6%                                    91.1%
Most PIM                    Makowski (80)                     Stevenson (69)
Leading Scorers:        Pierro-Zabotel (8-27-35)      MacMillan (12-11-23)

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (23.57) - Wichita 16th (14.64)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 6th (3.54) - Wichita 6th (3.54)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 11th (3.00) - Wichita 6th (2.79)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 12th (32.89) - Wichita 19th (30.89)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 24th (37.54) - Wichita 19th (33.64)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 4th (20.0%) - Wichita 2nd (20.9%)
Home Power Play %: Allen 2nd (22.2%) - Wichita 5th (20.8%)
Road Power Play %: Allen 15th (16.7%) - Wichita 8th (21.1%) Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 21st (80.9%) - Wichita 6th (86.2%)
Home Penalty Kill %: Allen 5th (87.5%) - Wichita 14th (82.8%)
Road Penalty Kill %: Allen 27th (70.6%) - Wichita 4th (91.1%)

- Allen is ranked #24 in shots allowed (37.54) but has been allowing over 40 shots per game in the recent past. If you take the last seven games, shots allowed were 42, 40, 49, 41, 47, 37 & 52. In those same seven games Allen shots on goal were 23, 24, 31, 40, 26, 31 & 43. The Americans were out shot in every game but managed to win four of the seven. If you add it all up Allen was out shot over the last seven games 308-218. Allen averaged 31 shots on goal while their opponents averaged 44 shots on goal. Too many neutral ice turnovers, lack of puck possession and undisciplined penalties all contributed to the disparity in shots. Against a team as good as Wichita the Americans must improve their differential between shots for and against if they expect to win.

- Wichita is historically toward the top of the charts in penalty minutes but this season is ranked #16 averaging under 15 penalty minutes per game. Don't let the numbers fool you as the Thunder are still plenty tough. They have had 26 fights in 28 games compared to Allen with 27 fights in 28 games. Dyson Stevenson leads Wichita with eight fights and Mike Gunn leads Allen with five fights.

- The battle of the special teams will be interesting to watch. Wichita is great on the road with the #8 ranked power play (21.1%) and #4 ranked penalty kill (91.1%). Allen is great at home with the #2 ranked power (22.2%) and the #5 ranked penalty kill (87.5%). As is typically the case special teams will be a key to victory tonight.

- As a reminder of the importance of scoring the first goal Allen's record when scoring first is 12-0-1-0 and Wichita's is 13-3-0-0. A first intermission lead is close to a guaranteed win. Combined Allen and Wichita have a record of 23-0-1-0 when they have the lead after the first period.

-  The Thunder have outscored their opponents 36-21 in the first period, 41-31 in the second period and have actually been outscored 19-24 in the third period. Allen on the other hand has struggled in the second period. The Americans have outscored their opponents 34-24 in the first period and 34-25 in the third period but in the second period have been outscored 30-29.

-  Both teams have been getting great goaltending. They rank #1 and #2 in team save percentage in the ECHL. Allen leads at .921 with Wichita close behind at .917. I would expect two rookies will get the start in goal tonight. Shane Starrett for Wichita with a save percentage of .925 and Jeremy Brodeur for Allen with a save percentage of .932. 

- This four game series against Wichita should be fun to watch with lots of excitement. You can throw Allen's all time lopsided record against Wichita (35-6-4-3) out the window. These four games will be a battle royale, survivor of the fittest, the Hatfield's & McCoy's, Red Sox vs Yankees, Oklahoma vs Texas, Duke vs UNC, Alabama vs Auburn, Celtics vs Lakers, Frazier vs Ali, Andretti vs Foyt, Australia vs New Zealand (rugby) & Nicklaus vs Palmer. Sorry not sorry, got a little carried away with the rivalry thing.

- The referee scheduled for the game is Mike Sheehan (#11) and the linesmen are Aaron Schacht (#31) and Cameron Dykstra (#0).


- Team Sin Bin is giving fans a chance to vote for the ECHL All-Star team. They have selected candidates by position and division and fans can vote for their favorite players. The Allen players on the list of nominees are Casey Pierro-Zabotel, David Makowski and Jeremy Brodeur. You can vote as many times as you want and the voting ends on January 2. The Allen players are already way behind in the voting so all Allen fans need to start voting and remember you can vote multiple times. Here is the link: 

- When it comes to the actual selection for the All-Star team that is done by a vote of the coaches, team captains, media relation directors, broadcasters, and members of the media. Each team will have one representative and in Allen's case the all-star player will miss the traditional MLK game that is scheduled at the same time as the All-Star game. So the question is who will represent Allen at the All-Star game? There are several worthy candidates on the Allen roster and you could make a case for each one but my vote would go to David Makowski. Being a stats guy the stats tell the story:

- Second leading scorer on the team as a defenseman with 26 points (7 goals 19 assists)
- Second on the team in assists (19)
- Leads the team in penalty minutes (80)
- Leads the team in shots on goal (90)
- Leads the team (tied) in power play goals (3)
- Leads the team (tied) in power play assists (9)
- #1 in points per game among all ECHL defensemen (1.08)
- #1 (tied) in points among all ECHL defensemen (26
- #1 (tied) in shorthanded points among all ECHL defensemen (2) )
- #2 (tied) in plus/minus (+18) among all ECHL defensemen (Chouinard leads with +19)
- #2 (tied) in assists among all ECHL defensemen (19)
- #4 in shots among all ECHL defensemen (90)
- #4 (tied) in power play assists among all ECHL defensemen (9)
- #5 (tied) in goals among all ECHL defensemen (7)

- If you haven't seen this story written by Blake Sebring of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel it is a real feel good story. It is about a couple who are big Fort Wayne Komets fans and their decision to return some of the 42 jerseys they have bought over the years to the players that wore the jerseys. Here is the link:

- Allen has an opportunity to make up some ground on the three teams ahead of them in the Mountain division standings this week. While Allen and Wichita are playing four games this week, Colorado and Idaho play only two games.

DID YOU KNOW: Vincent Arseneau had the first hat trick of the season recently (December 16) for the Allen Americans. Last season Allen had six hat tricks led by Bryan Moore who had three, Greger Hanson with two and Chad Costello with one. The Americans had zero hat tricks in the first 33 games of the season and then had five hat tricks in the next 24 games. Bryan Moore had two hat tricks in one week. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

ECHL Attendance Trending Down But Some Good News Behind the Numbers - Team By Team Results, Who's Up & Who's Down

With the ECHL Christmas break coming to an end it is time for the annual early 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 but there is some good news in the numbers.

The figures for this season are obviously based on just the first part of the season as 382 of 972 (39.3%) 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? Last season between Christmas, when the average was 3930 and the end of the season the average attendance increased by 321 from 3930 to 4251. This season at the Christmas break average attendance is 4041. If the average increases as much the rest of the year as was the case last season (+321) the ECHL will reverse the downward trend in attendance.

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.


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

4041 - 2017-18 (382 of 972 games played)
4251 - 2016-17
4385 - 2015-16
4598 - 2014-15
4706 - 2013-14
4695 - 2012-13
4282 - 2011-12
4339 - 2010-11
4485 - 2009-10
4258 - 2008-09

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 four years is certainly downward and as it currently stands, the average ECHL attendance is 665 less per game than just four years ago. When you figure most ECHL teams get an estimated 60% - 70% of their revenue from ticket sales that is significant.

The next step is 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 average attendance from 2016-17 to 2017-18 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:

+1003 Tulsa (6158)
+713   Cincinnati (4429)
+638   Orlando (5298)
+512   Kalamazoo (2692)
+425   South Carolina (3548)
+366   Idaho (4271)
+268  Toledo (7435)
+260   Colorado (4997)
+249   Fort Wayne (7474)
+187   Florida (4083)
+178  Adirondack (2898)
+103   Greenville (3491)
+46    Utah (4718)
 000   Jacksonville (5463) - first year
 000   Worcester (4574) - first year
-20     Wheeling (2551)
-87     Indy (3144)
-89     Brampton (2978)
-183   Norfolk (2160)
-299   Allen (3814)
-417   Wichita (4351)
-467   Quad City (3183)
-493    Rapid City (2758) 
-496    Kansas City (4376)
-546    Manchester (2712)
-981   Reading (2744) 
-1464  Atlanta (2930) 

- 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. Orlando is on the percentage increase list with a .450 winning percentage while Manchester is on the percentage decrease list with the best winning percentage in the North Division (.667).

Five largest percentage increases:
+23.5% - Kalamazoo - .580
+19.5% - Tulsa - .536
+19.2% - Cincinnati - .611
+13.7% - Orlando  - .450
+13.6% - South Carolina - .714

Five largest percentage decreases:
-33.3% - Atlanta - .467
-26.3% - Reading - .517
-16.8% - Manchester - .667
-15.1% - Rapid City - .286
-12.8% - Quad City - .333


- It is hard to show up on any improvement list when you consistently draw big crowds. A special acknowledgement to Fort Wayne who is averaging 7474 in attendance and Toledo who is averaging 7435. They are far and away the league leaders in attendance. These two teams are so successful they would rank #6 and #7 in the AHL in attendance.

- The ECHL average is better this season (4041) than last season (3930) at the Christmas break partially because of two teams dropping out (Elmira & Alaska) and two new teams starting up (Jacksonville & Worcester). Elmira (2300) and Alaska (3623) had a combined average for all of last season of 5923. They have been replaced by Jacksonville (5463) and Worcester (4574) with a combined average of 10,037.

- One cause for concern is the number of teams averaging fewer than 3000 per game. That number is at nine compared to Christmas break the last two seasons when the number was four. Certainly some of the nine teams will improve their average to above 3000 by the end of the season but at this point there are more teams averaging less than 3000 than in the past. Here is the list.

2978 - Brampton
2930 - Atlanta
2898 - Adirondack
2758 - Rapid City
2744 - Reading
2712 - Manchester
2692 - Kalamazoo
2551 - Wheeling
2160 - Norfolk

- If you look at the nine teams on the list above some are of more concern than others. Wheeling and Kalamazoo survive even though they almost always average less than 3000. Kalamazoo has actually led the league in percentage increase year over year both this season and last season. The biggest concern just looking at the numbers is Manchester who averaged 4622 their first year in the league (2015-16), 3580 last season and is averaging 2712 this season. Rapid City has experienced declining attendance since joining the ECHL in 2014-15 when the Rush averaged 3856. Since then the attendance has dropped to 3717 (2015-16), 3321 (2016-17) and now stands at 2758. Noteworthy because of the huge drop in attendance from last season are Atlanta (-1464) and Reading (-981).

- There are some good news stories as well. Congrats to the Tulsa Oilers who have ridden an opening night crowd of 12,845 to an average attendance increase of 1003 per game. A year ago Orlando was at the bottom of the list averaging 1190 fewer than the year before. This season the Solar Bears are close to the top of the list averaging 638 more per game than last season. Cincinnati is another big mover going from -827 last Christmas to +713 this season. A swing of over 1500 per game is impressive.

- There are 13 teams with increased attendance over last season, 12 with decreases and two new teams. Most all teams will increase their average attendance as the season progresses, however, the question is by how much?

- It will be almost impossible for the seven teams (Wichita, Quad City, Rapid City, Kansas City, Manchester, Reading, Atlanta) that are averaging at least 400 fewer fans per game to make up the ground to pass last season's attendance.

DID YOU KNOW: In 2015-16 Allen had the best average attendance in franchise history (4571). It has been downhill since then. In order to equal last season's average attendance (4340) the Americans will have to average 4715 per game over the final 21 home games. Here is Allen's average attendance by season. The asterisks indicate the seasons Allen won the championship.

2017-18:    3814 (after 15 home games)
2016-17:    4340
*2015-16:  4571
*2014-15:  4096
*2013-14:  4216
*2012-13:  4157
2011-12:    4336
2010-11:    3986
2009-10:    3810 

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Christmas Day Thank You, Some Food For Thought When Criticizing Players, A Story About Life, Hockey & Lessons Learned

I have been contemplating what to write about on Christmas morning for over a week now and have been struggling between being thankful and expressing that sentiment or talking about a few things that have been on my mind lately which may be a downer on this glorious day. I woke up this morning still not sure what to do but as I checked social media, which I always do to get the latest news before writing the blog, I had a private message. That message informed me that a close childhood friend had just lost her son, who fell in the bathroom, struck his head and died. He was 45 and left his wife and two young children behind.

That message was a signal that said to me to say what was on my mind. So today there will be no stats, no charts, no quotes and no keys to the game. I want to cover two topics. I want to say thanks and also talk about something that has been on my mind recently.


- This isn't going to be a laundry list that covers everyone but there are a few groups of people I wish to thank:

1. Thanks to all of you that take the time to acknowledge what I write each day. It probably talks to my insecurities but a like, a share or a comment on Facebook, a retweet, a quote tweet, a like or a comment on Twitter is like a pat on the back. I appreciate it so much when you stop me at games to chat or just say how much you enjoy the blog. The emails, text messages and comments at the end of the blog are all read with great interest and much appreciation.

2. There are a large number of fans just like myself that devote a great deal of time to the Allen Americans because of their love of hockey and the team. They are by and large an all voluntary army that are overworked and underappreciated. Writers, photographers, bloggers, fan club members, broadcasters, interns, coaches and fans that help make the organization successful. Whether you are a fan that takes a player to lunch or dinner, a fan club member that takes players to and from the airport, a photographer that stays up past midnight on game nights to send images of the game, an intern that writes game recaps, a writer that spends many hours writing a feature about the team, a fan club member that tends to the fan club table at the game, a fan that cooks a meal for the team or many other examples too numerous to mention, your effort is both noticed and appreciated. I salute all of you.

3. The players and coaches are the reason this blog has had whatever success there has been. Access is the key to providing useful information when you are writing new content seven days a week. I have said this before but it bears repeating, I have never had a player say no to a question, an interview or a request for information. They are all great ambassadors for the Allen Americans. It goes without saying the access I have been given by coach Martinson is what is unique about the blog. Between his duties as a coach and general manager and a dad with two teenagers playing elite level hockey he is very busy. He is always willing to return a phone call, answer questions and share information on and off the record. And he does this win or lose. My thanks to all the players and coaches.


- I read a story the other day that reinforced something I have been thinking a lot about lately as it relates to players and fans.

- I have always taken an interest in the social sciences and what makes people tick. I am certainly not an expert but my undergraduate degree, thanks to the University of Minnesota, is in social work. Jack Gulati and I were classmates as we found out when he bought the Allen Americans. I say we were classmates but what that means is we attended the school at the same time along with over 40,000 other students. We actually never met in college.

- What I am about to talk about is not intended to engender a debate but merely to share my opinion and I am an expert at my own opinion.

- My premise is as much as fans think they know players they really don't have much of a clue. Each player has a unique story that has shaped them as a player and a person but fans don't know that story and don't have a right to know it. Everything from culture to country has a big impact on how everyone develops. Did a player grow up poor where they couldn't afford equipment, were they from a broken family, small town or big city, how many siblings, who were their role models all play a big factor in who they are today. Can you imagine the trials and tribulations of moving away from home, many times far away, at 14, 15, 16 years of age. That has to be difficult for for the most well adjusted kid even with great hockey talent. For many the hockey dream ends while they are still teenagers and many drop along the way. A very few make it to the professional ranks and are lucky enough to end up in Allen, Texas.

- Fans don't know the disappointment that all of these players have felt along the way. Rejection has been a way of life as skilled as these guys are and rejection is never easy. Can you imagine what it would be like in your job to get a promotion and then sent back to your old job because you weren't good enough and have that happen over and over again. Can you imagine at your job breaking your hand or suffering a concussion and when you return your boss says sorry, I gave your job to someone else. Can you imagine if your boss could say you are out of a job with no notice and for any reason.

- Fans don't know what struggles players have to deal with from financial responsibilities to substance abuse issues to loneliness from being away from family. Can you imagine what it is like to be one hit or one injury away from losing your livelihood and having a physical problem you will deal with the rest of your life.

- In the six years I have been writing the blog I have heard so many heartbreaking stories from players who couldn't be at home when a close relative was dying or passed away, a player who was traded a week after his fiance joined him and the day she found a job, a player who was traded when his wife was six months pregnant and a family that couldn't afford to travel to Allen to watch their son win a championship. Then there were those serious injuries that ended the season for key players.

- If you are still reading this I am sure for some of you the thought has crossed your mind of give me a break. These guys are not being forced to play hockey, they are making a living playing a game and have a pretty cushy job. You sometimes hear fans say if I pay my hard earned money to buy tickets that gives me the right to say anything I want about any player.

- I don't question anyone's right to be critical. My opinion is be critical of the penalty kill or defensive play or shots on goal allowed but if you are a fan of the team don't be critical of a player and make it personal. You don't know the the impact that criticism has on the player and/or the player's family when they see something negative on social media. Maybe the old adage of if you can't say something nice best to not say anything at all.

- If you question why the coach doesn't trade or waive a player you are questioning the judgement of a guy with 22 years of experience and 10 championships. I learned a long time ago how little I know about hockey and what you see on the ice looks very different if you go thorough a play in slow motion video with coach Martinson, looking at every player on the ice and what they did and didn't do.

- So my plea on this Christmas Day is if you are a fan of the Allen Americans and more generally in life, be careful when you use social media and publicly put a player down, question their abilty and wonder why they haven't been traded because you don't know their story. Leave that assessment to the coaching staff who know what they are talking about.

- I urge you to read the story below and watch the video that is embedded in the story. It is what inspired me to share my thoughts on this subject. My point is you never know what each and every member of the Allen Americans has gone through to get to this point in their career and you don't know what they are dealing with today.  Love and support is what everyone needs and that is what I think the Allen Americans hockey family should provide for all of the players.

This article is just an example of one story and it has so many life lessons included. Remember, there are 24 unique stories on the Allen Americans team that may be just as compelling in their own way.

"Life, Hockey and Lessons Learned," a story about Craig McCallum:

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Allen Beats Tulsa 5-3, Recap of a Game to Remember, Martinson's Comments, Who's Hot, Who's Not, Jersey Auction Results, Shorthanded Hat Tricks

In one of the more entertaining games you will ever see the Allen Americans beat the Tulsa Oilers 5-3 last night before a happy crowd of 4163 at the Allen Event Center (AEC). You would have thought there was a full moon given all the strange happenings in the game. To start with it was the longest home game of the year at close to three hours (2:48).  Considering the game didn't go into overtime that is quite the feat since Allen has played seven overtime games at the AEC this season. Here are a few reasons the game went so long and some other memorable facts.

- The referee called 32 penalties in the game and there was only one fight. The referee called a staggering 26 minor penalties and each team had eight power play opportunities.

- The one fight in the game will be one to remember as the goalies squared off at center ice. Stephon Williams and Jake Hildebrand put on quite a show and got the fans and both benches excited. With the starting goalies being tossed from the game Allen took immediate advantage scoring on Tulsa backup goalie 47 seconds after the goalie fight.

- Jeremy Brodeur was great in relief of Stephon Williams stopping all 22 shots he faced and came away with the win. Tulsa's back up goalie stopped 11 of 13 shots and took the loss.

- Because of all of the power plays the goalies faced a barrage of shots, totaling 95 for the game. Tulsa had the advantage 52-43.

- Allen scored first and took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission which all but assured victory. The Americans are now 12-0-1-0 when scoring first and 11-0-1-0 when leading after the first period.

- It looked like another second period collapse by Allen early in the second period after Tulsa came back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead. However, two late second period goals on great plays by Pierro-Zabotel and Archambault turned the tide back in Allen's favor.  

- When you are playing the fourth game in five days, your team is dead tired and you have been playing shorthanded you expect the best players to be the best players. Casey Pierro-Zabotel (2 goals 1 assist), Olivier Archambault (2 goals 1 assist) and David Makowski (3 assists) led the team in scoring. Makowski was a +3 in the game and also had the hit of the year against Tulsa's leading scorer Charlie Sampair. Sampair left the ice and did not return so hope he will be okay. Captain Joel Chouinard was a +3 in the game and has charged up the league plus/minus chart over the last five games. Joel is +12 over the last five games and +19 for the season. That is tops in the ECHL for defensemen and number three overall.

- Goal scorers for Allen were Casey Pierro-Zabotel (7&8), Mathieu Aubin (5) and Olivier Archambault (3&4). Check out this great highlight package that includes all of the goals, the goalie fight and an amazing Brodeur save.

- Here are the five Allen goals as seen through the Sporfie highlights:

1. Casey Pierro-Zabotel - Lot's to watch on this replay. Zabby starts with a clean win off the faceoff, then watch him position himself in front of the goalie. Finally, Makowski's shot goes off his leg.

2. Mathieu Aubin - Aubin positions himself in front of the net raises his stick to call for the puck from Eric Roy, Roy sends the puck toward the net and Aubin tips it home:

3. Pierro-Zabotel -  Great shot that shows the art of the top shelf backhand from in close. Sweet!

4. Olivier Archambault - Watch Archambault skate through four Tulsa defenders and bury the puck. The guy is dynamic.

5. Archambault - Speed and skill is a dangerous combination.


- Here is Steve Martinson's pregame interview with game host Kayla McLain:

- Here are some of coach Martinson's post game comments:

- It really helped to get the two power play goals in the first period to take a 2-0 lead.

- We talked about how important it is with a short bench that our top guys have to step up and that is what we saw tonight. Archambault, Pierro-Zabotel, Makowski, Chouinard and Roy came up with big plays when we needed them. Everyone else chipped in too but the top guys led by example.

- You don't see a goalie fight very often, they are not used to that and it is a risk for them of getting injured. When goalies fight it sparks both teams and you could see that on both benches.

- We will take the six of eight points over the last four games with the lineup we have had, a really short bench and the intensity of the games. We will take a couple of days off and then get ready for Wichita. Moore will miss one more game and we will get McAuley back so that will help.


- Allen gained some ground in the Mountain Division standings as Kansas City beat Wichita 7-4 and Rapid City beat Idaho 3-1.  Here are the current Mountain Division standings with games played in parentheses:

46 points - Colorado (30 games)
40 points - Idaho (31 games)
38 points - Wichita (28 games)
37 points - Allen (28 games)
30 points - Tulsa (28 games)
28 points - Utah (30 games)
16 points - Rapid City (28 games)

- If you were wondering which Mountain Division teams have been playing the best recently here are the points earned over their last 10 games. Maximum would be 20 points:

17 points - Colorado
14 points - Allen
14 points - Idaho
13 points - Tulsa
11 points - Utah
8 points - Wichita
2 points - Rapid City

- The ugly Christmas sweater jerseys proved to be very popular and not so ugly after all. Here are the top five from the online auction:

$1020 - Josh Thrower
$965 - Stephon Williams
$705 - Bryan Moore
$705 - Dalton Thrower
$626 - Miles Liberati

- Tommy Olczyk of the Indy Fuel made history last night with a hat trick made up of all shorthanded goals. He joins Shawn Sydlowski, Jame Hicks and Chad Costello as the only players in ECHL history to accomplish that feat. It was a lucky day for Chad Costello on 12-12-12 when his Colorado Eagles visited the Las Vegas Wranglers. Check out Chad's shorthanded hat trick:

- The Christmas break is so short and most players live so far away they don't get to be with their families for Christmas. Some players are lucky that their family can join them in Allen for Christmas and such is the case with Mathieu Aubin. I had the pleasure to meet Mathieu's dad, Normand, after the game last night. When Mathieu signed with Allen back in September I wrote a brief introduction and found out his dad was quite the hockey player. When I had a chance to talk to Normand for a few minutes last night and asked about his hockey playing days and amazing numbers he was very humble saying those were different times. I don't care what the times were if you average over a goal a game and over two points a game for your entire junior career in the QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) that is significant. Normand is a QMJHL legend with 258 goals in 254 games. He is #5 all time in QMJHL goals. By the way he is in good company as #1 on the list is Mike Bossy, #8 is Mario Lemieux and #10 is Guy Lafleur.

- Here is what I wrote back in September: Like many hockey players from Canada, Aubin comes from a hockey background. His dad, Normand, was a third round draft choice (#51 overall) of the Toronto Maple Leaf in the 1979 NHL draft. He played in 63 NHL games in his career. Normand had some sick numbers in his junior career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). In his NHL draft year (1978-79) he had 149 points (80 goals 69) assist in 70 games. For his junior career (254 games) he averaged 2.03 points per game. An even more amazing stat is he averaged just over a goal per game scoring 258 goals in his 254 junior career. I would say Mathieu comes from good hockey "stock".

DID YOU KNOW: For the last word today I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and my hope for a prosperous New Year. I am thankful for the large Allen Americans family and blessed that I can be a small part of that family through the blog. My special thanks to the players and coaching staff who make sacrifices by being away from family throughout the season. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Another OT Loss for Allen, Game Recap, Martinson's Comments, Video Highlights, Allen vs Tulsa Rematch Preview & ECHL Leaders by Percent of Team's Goals

For the second straight game the Allen Americans lost in overtime at home. Last night a depleted Americans team came back from 1-0 and 3-2 deficits but could not get the game winner in overtime. A crowd of 4102 at the Allen Event Center (AEC) watched as long time Allen nemesis, Adam Pleskach, scored a natural hat trick for the Oilers and led them to a 4-3 overtime victory. Pleskach has been tormenting the Americans at the AEC going all the way back to the Central Hockey League days. I am sure if the young Allen players had been around over the last five years Pleskach would be the last guy they would leave alone at the side of the net for two easy tap in goals as happened last night.

- Allen certainly dealt with some diversity in the game last night and to their credit continued to battle to come away with one point. Vincent Arseneau (loaned to the AHL), Colby McAuley (family emergency) and Zach Hall (injury) weren't in the lineup, Peter MacArthur left the game with a shoulder injury and didn't return and Bryan Moore was given a major penalty and game misconduct penalty for slashing at the beginning of the third period. For most of the third period and overtime the Americans were playing with seven forwards.

- Goal scorers for Allen were Marcus Basara (1), Alex Schoenborn (4) and Eric Roy (6). If you want to watch all the video highlights from ECHL Rewind here is the link:

- Here are the three Allen goals from the Sporfie App:

Marcus Basara - This is Basara's first professional goal. Casey Pierro-Zabotel makes a great back door pass to Marcus.

Alex Schoenborn - Some times it is better to be lucky than good. Alex was trying to make a backhand pass but the puck went off two Tulsa defenders and slid slowly through the legs of goalie Jake Hildebrand.

Eric Roy - A patented Eric Roy laser beam shot from just above the circle tied the score 3-3 at the 13:16 mark of the third period.

Here is the game recap issued by the Allen Americans complete with post game quotes from Miles Liberati and Marcus Basara.


- I am not in the Christmas spirit right now. That game was frustrating because we took some bad penalties and that hurt us because we are short players. Then we get an injury and get a guy tossed out of the game.  We ended up having to juggle the lines a lot. Tulsa made a mistake in overtime and we didn't capitalize, then we made a mistake and gave them a scoring chance and they put it in the net.

- I thought it was great the way we game back in the third period. We had one power play in the second period where we generated a lot of chances but could not get the puck in the net and on the goal that Roy score to tie the game 3-3 we scored just after the penalty expired.

- With MacArthur and Moore out of the game at the end I was just trying to get through the overtime to the shootout. On the Tulsa game winner we had two defensemen on the ice and when Tulsa crisscrossed we didn't play it right and they put it in the net. That is what happens in overtime, if you make a mistake you give the opponent an easy scoring chance.

- MacArthur won't play tomorrow and with Areseneau and McAuley gone it will be an opportunity for some of the new guys to get more ice time and step up.

- I thought we were night and day better tonight than in the loss to Kansas City on Wednesday. We didn't have as many turnovers tonight. We had 20 turnovers in the first two periods against the Mavericks. It was probably the most painful game of the year for me to be behind the bench. So yesterday everyone came in on their day off to watch all of the turnovers. We were a lot better tonight with more outside speed and had more chances and fewer turnovers.


- The best thing about losing the game last night in overtime is the Americans don't have to wait long to do something about it as they have a rematch with Tulsa tonight (7:05 pm).

- The Americans will have to defend better if they want a different outcome. They made mistakes with their best players on the ice. They can't give up the kind of scoring chances they did on the first two Pleskach goals, leaving him wide open at the net.

- Allen and Tulsa have played seven games this season and the team that scored first has won all seven games. Enough said.

- The boxscore from last night shows Allen 0-4 on the power play and Tulsa 0-5 but you can give the edge to Allen on special teams. The penalty kill unit killed a five minute major early in the third period with Tulsa leading 3-2. That was a big kill. Eric Roy's game tying goal was not counted as a power play goal but was scored right as a penalty expired.

- On the power play Allen is 21.9% at home and Tulsa is 13.8% on the road. Allen also has the edge on the penalty kill with a percentage at home of 87.5% versus Tulsa with 80.6% on the road. Allen needs to use their special teams advanatge against the Oilers to be successful.

- There is a possibility and my guess a probability Bryan Moore will be suspended for the game tonight. A major slashing penalty which results in an injury and a game misconduct is not an automatic suspension but a suspension can be assessed at the Commissioner's discretion. Given Moore is a repeat offender and plays for Allen, he won't be given any breaks by the league.

- Allen could start the game tonight with 50% of their goal production over the last six games out of the lineup (Arseneau, Moore, McAuley, MacArthur). Next man up will be the theme of the day for sure.

- Look for Stephon Willams to get the start in goal tonight for the Americans.

- The officials tonight will be the same as last night. The referee scheduled for the game is Mike Zalcman (#24) and the linesmen are Aaron Schacht (#31) and Eli Rivera (#59).


- In other Mountain Division action last night Wichita and Idaho won while Colorado lost in overtime. Allen maintains their fourth place spot in the division but now trails third place Wichita by three points, second place Idaho by five points and first place Colorado by nine points. All four teams are in action again tonight.

- Last night was a good night for former Allen Americans. In addition to goalie Jake Hildebrand leading Tulsa to a win, Joel Rumpel did the same for Wichita stopping 25 of 26 shots as the Thunder beat Kansas City  4-1. Dyson Stevenson scored his seventh goal of the season in that game. Greger Hanson scored the first goal of the game, which he did so often in Allen, for the Utah Grizzlies as they beat Colorado 5-4 in overtime. The goal was Greger's ninth of the season.

- Vincent Arseneau didn't take long to make his presence known playing his first game since being loaned to the Utica Comets (AHL). Arseneau scored the first goal of the game for Utica in the first period. The Comets ended up losing the game to the first place Toronto Marlies but Vincent was selected the #3 star of the game.

- Today is the last day if you are interested in bidding on the Christmas specialty jerseys the Americans will be wearing tonight. There are still plenty of jerseys where the bid is at or close to the minimum bid. You don't need to register to check out the bidding and get all of the details. Here is the link:

- Had a question about whether coach Martinson could add players to the roster since the team is so shorthanded. It is very unlikely because the ECHL is currently in their Christmas break where teams can't trade or waive players until next Wednesday at noon. Players can still be loaned/assigned/recalled between the ECHL and AHL however that option is unlikely.

- Allen has had seven games this season go past regulation (four against Tulsa). The American have won one game in overtime and lost four. They have been in two shootouts with one win and one loss.

DID YOU KNOW: The player providing the most offense (goals) for their team looks a lot different than just looking at the ECHL goal leader list. I saw this stat for the NHL and decided to take a look for the ECHL. Here are the ECHL players with the highest percentage of their team's goals. For the Americans the leader is Vincent Arseneau who has scored 11.7% of the Allen goals.

19.7% - Sam Warning (Quad City)
19.0% - Justin Danforth (Cincinnati)
18.1% - Phil Lane (Atlanta)
17.7% - Michael Joly (Colorado)
17.6% - Mike McMurtry (Kansas City)
17.6% - Justin Taylor (Kalamazoo)


Friday, December 22, 2017

Allen vs Tulsa Game Preview, Arseneau Loaned to Utica, Why the Americans & Barracuda are Strange Bedfellows, Why Dell May Get Traded & Martinson's Win Milestone

The Allen Americans welcome Tulsa to town tonight for the first of two games against the Oilers this weekend. The game tonight will be number seven of 13 times these teams will play during the regular season. In the six previous games Tulsa won the first three and Allen has won the last three. Three of the six games have gone to overtime.

- Vincent Arseneau will not be in the line up tonight as he has been loaned to the Utica Comets (AHL). A well deserved promotion for the free agent (he can be loaned to any AHL team) who has been playing outstanding hockey. He just came off a streak where he scored 10 goals in 10 games and he has been hitting everything in sight. Utica will play at home tonight against the Eastern Conference leading Toronto Marlies.

- Allen's record against Tulsa this season is 3-2-1. Last season it was 11-3-0-0. Since joining the ECHL it is 31-16-2-3. Allen's record against the Oilers at home since joining the ECHL is 17-7-1-0.

- Allen has played Tulsa six times this season so head to head stats start to be meaningful. Each team has won twice at home and once on the road. Allen has won two of the three games that weren't decided in regulation (once in overtime and once in a shootout). The combined stats for the six games shows Allen with a slight edge in goals (17-16) but to no surprise Tulsa has the edge in shots (251-215). Neither team has been effective on the power play, Allen is 3-22 (13.6%) and Tulsa is 2-15 (13.3%).

- Here is the match up between Allen and Tulsa:

                                     ALLEN                                TULSA

Team Record               15-7-3-1 (34 points)               11-9-3-3 (28 points)
Division Ranking         4th - Mountain                         5th -Mountain
Conference Ranking   6th - Western                          9th - Western
League Ranking          9th                                          16th
Last Game                  4-3 Loss (Kansas City)            4-2 Win (Wichita)
Goals For                    91                                            77
Goals Against             77                                            81
Power Play                 20.4%                                      11.9%
Home Power Play      23.3%                                       5.9%
Road Power Play       16.7%                                       14.7%
Penalty Kill                 79.7%                                       80.4%
Home Penalty Kill       86.6%                                      82.4%
Road Penalty Kill        70.6%                                      79.4%    
Leading Scorer           Pierro-Zabotel  (6-24-30)         Sampair (11-7-18)
Most PIM's                  Makowski (66)                         Bleackley (44)

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (21.88) - Tulsa 15th (14.65)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 6th (3.50) - Tulsa 19th (2.96)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 11th (2.96) - Tulsa 13th (3.12)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 14th (32.58) - Tulsa 1st (37.65)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 24th (37.00) - Tulsa 21st (34.50) 
Power Play Percentage: Allen 5th (20.4%) - Tulsa 25th (11.9%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 23rd (79.7%) - Tulsa 21st (80.4%)

- The most striking stats above are shots on goal. Tulsa leads the ECHL averaging almost 38 shots on goal per game while the Americans are ranked #24 in the ECHL allowing an average of 37 shots on goal per game. Against Allen the Oilers have averaged close to 42 shots on goal. After the loss on Wednesday coach Martinson talked about the way to reduce shots on goal is to avoid so many turnovers in the neutral zone and just inside the offensive blue line. If there is no play to be made dump the puck. Puck possession will be key tonight if the Americans are going to keep Tulsa under 40 shots on goal.    

- If you look at the stats above Allen should have the edge on the power play and the penalty kill. On the power play Allen is 23.3% at home and Tulsa is 14.7% on the road. Allen also has the edge on the penalty kill with a percentage at home of 86.6% versus Tulsa with 79.4% on the road. Allen needs to use their special teams advanatge against the Oilers to be successful.

- Allen lost on Wednesday for the first time all season after scoring the first goal of the game. With that said it is a good bet the team that scores first tonight will win the game. That has been the case in all six games Allen and Tulsa have played this season.

- As for the starting goalie tonight it will most likely be Jeremy Brodeur since Coach Martinson has been splitting games when both are healthy. 

The referee scheduled for the game is Mike Zalcman (#24) and the linesmen are Aaron Schacht (#31) and Eli Rivera (#59). I always enjoy trying to find out a little background when there is a referee assigned that I am not familiar with and such is the case with Mike Zalcman. He is from Connecticut and his dad was a long time referee. Zalcman was a referee for the NHL's Traverse City Prospect Tournament this past September. Here is a video from a couple of years ago that gives you a little background on tonight's referee.


- There are 11 games on tap in the ECHL tonight. The three teams ahead of Allen in the standings are all in action and will be favored to win. Colorado is at home against Utah, Wichita is at home against Kansas City and Idaho is in Rapid City to take on the last place Rush.

- Tanner Eberle scored the game winning goal last night as Jacksonville beat Atlanta 4-3. Tanner has a goal in three of the last four games.

- The San Jose Barracuda lost to last place Bakersfield 4-3 in a shootout last night to fall to seventh place in the Pacific Division standings. Spencer Asuchak has been in the lineup for all three games since being recalled by the Barracuda. He has yet to crack the scoreboard. The Barracuda play again tonight at home against Texas.

- Even though they are affiliated Allen and San Jose play a different style of hockey. The Barracuda are dead last in the AHL, ranked #30 in penalty minutes with 257. The AHL penalty minute leader (Belleville Senators) has 588 penalty minutes. Allen on the other hand leads the ECHL, ranked #1 with 569 penalty minutes. The ECHL team with the fewest penalty minutes is Quad City with 220. At least when it comes to penalty minutes the Allen Americans and San Jose Barracuda are strange bedfellows.

- Aaron Dell and the San Jose Sharks won 5-4 in overtime last night beating the Vancouver Canucks. It was just the second time Dell has allowed four or more goals this season. Here is a story written by Paul Gackle of the San Jose Mercury News that talks about the possibility of trading Dell, who will be an unrestricted free agent after this season and will be a hot commodity if the Sharks allow him to hit the open market this summer. The Sharks may not be able to spend the money to meet Dells' price tag to sign him so a trade before the NHL trade deadline (February 26) may be their best option. Here are the details:  

DID YOU KNOW: The Dallas Stars shutout the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 last night to give coach Ken Hitchcock his 800th career win. Hitchcock is third all time behind Scotty Bowman (1244) and Joel Quenneville (868). It put in perspective for me what Steve Martinson has accomplished in AA hockey. If my numbers are correct Martinson now has 958 wins and will probably hit the 1000 win milestone early next season. More importantly he has 10 championships to go along with all of those wins. How fortunate for the Allen Americans organization and fans they are able to have Steve Martinson as their coach and general manager.