Saturday, January 7, 2017

Allen vs Indy Game Preview, Travis Brown Recalled to San Jose, Allen Signs Forward Josh Brittain

It is game day for the Allen Americans as they take on the Indy Fuel tonight after a full week without playing a game. Sometimes when teams have so many days off the first game back can be a struggle. For tonight both teams are in the same boat as Indy last played on New Year's day.

- On paper the game tonight should be an Allen victory as these teams are heading in opposite directions. Allen is playing their best hockey of the season with a record in the last 10 games of 7-1-1-1. Indy is playing their worst hockey of the season with a record in the last 10 games of 1-8-0-1. Unfortunately the game is not played on paper and Allen fans have witnessed plenty of times in the past where teams with poor records cause problems. When you are a four time champion every team that visits the Allen Event Center gives a little bit extra. The old saying that hard work beats skill if skill doesn't work hard is something the Americans need to keep in mind the next two nights against Indy.

- Coach Martinson made a couple of roster moves yesterday. Defenseman Travis Brown was recalled by San Jose last night and forward Josh Brittain was signed and will be in the lineup tonight. San Jose is dealing with some injuries so it will be a great opportunity for Brown who signed with the Barracuda at the beginning of this season to spend time in San Jose. Hopefully he will get some playing time. Travis played three AHL games for St. John's last season while he was a member of the Brampton Beast (ECHL).

- Josh Brittain is a veteran player with 239 ECHL games (64 goals 72 assists)  and 119 AHL games (16 goals 15 assists) under his belt. Allen fans will remember Josh from 2014-15 when he played for Missouri for most of the season before being traded to Ontario. He was recently released by Norfolk and signed by coach Martinson as a free agent after he cleared waivers. For those of you that track transactions you saw Norfolk re-sign Josh and trade him to Allen for future considerations. That is merely a professional courtesy teams do to deal with immigration issues. Coach Martinson signed Brittain to add depth to the team. With the team playing so well recently there is a good chance coach Martinson will be fielding calls from AHL teams looking for help. If one or more of the forwards get loaned to AHL teams having Josh will be invaluable as he can play on any of the lines. This is what  Martinson told me about Brittain, "Josh is big, tough, and can skate. He has scored a lot of goals for multiple teams and can play all three forward positions."

Newly signed Allen forward Josh Brittain

- It has, by his own admission, been a tough road for Josh Brittain since he was drafted in the third round (71 overall) by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2008 NHL draft. Here is a link to an article written last October 27 that tells Josh's story from youth hockey to becoming captain of the Norfolk Admirals this season. Norfolk got off to a horrible start which led to the team make numerous changes including waiving Josh who was the team captain. You often hear the old adage that a fresh start can really help sometimes. Josh Brittain is a 6'5" 230 pound power forward that can skate, score, and will drop the gloves if necessary to stand up for his teammates. He is a tremendous talent and incredible competitor that fits well in the Martinson system. If he comes in with the right attitude of being a team player with a chip on his shoulder to show all the teams that passed on him what he can do he will be a great addition to the Americans. Allen fans have seen it many times in the past where a talented struggling player comes to Allen and thrives. Josh could be another example of that. Here is the link to his story:

- The game tonight will be the second of six games (4 home 2 away) between Allen and Indy. They played in Indy October 29. It was a crazy back and forth game that Allen won 7-6 in overtime. Spencer Asuchak tied the score 6-6 with 43 seconds remaining and Chad Costello got the game winner just 38 seconds into overtime. The goalies were Jamie Murray for Allen and Jake Hildebrand for Indy. Could be a rematch tonight.

- It will be old home week for quite a few Indy players as both goalies (Hildebrand and Eric Levine), forwards Tristan King and Alex Guptill have played in Allen.

-  Harrison Ruopp, Derek Mathers and Riley Gill would all be classified as day to day and won't be  in the lineup tonight. Miles Liberati and Josh Brittain will play for the first time and Jamie Murray will start in goal.

- Indy has really struggled on the road with a record of 3-11-0-2. Allen is 8-6-0-1 at home but  5-1-0-1 in their last seven home games.

- Here are some stats comparing Allen and Indy:

                                     ALLEN                                  INDY

Team Record               20-13-1-1 (42 points)             9-20-1-2 (21 points)
Division Ranking         2nd - Mountain                       7th - Central
Conference Ranking   4th - Western                         14th - Western
League Ranking         6th                                           25th
Last Game                  8-4 Win (Utah)                        6-3 Loss (Brampton)
Goals For                    128                                         80
Goals Against             95                                           124
Power Play                 17.6% (27/153)                       13.3% (11/83)
Penalty Kill                  85.5% (24/166)                       84.1% (17/107)
Most PIM                    Mathers (149)                         Williams (59)
Leading Scorers:        Costello (18-38-56)                 Wideman (12-13-25)
                                   Hanson (20-24-44)                  Shalla (15-8-23)          

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (20.66) - Indy 23rd (12.03)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 6th (3.66) - Indy 25 (2.50)
Goals Allowed per Game: Allen 2nd (2.71) - Indy 26th (3.88)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 6th (32.91) - Indy 24th (28.94)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 20th (34.06) - Indy 25th (35.03)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 10th (17.6%) - Indy 21st (13.3%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 7th (85.5%) - Indy 13th (84.1%)

- What is obvious from the stats above is Allen is a much better team than Indy. The Americans are ranked higher in every stat and don't forget the Americans have been much better than their stats over the last month. Maybe the most telling stats is goal differential. Allen has scored 128 goals and allowed 95 for a goal differential of +33. Indy has scored 80 goals and allowed 124 for a goal differential of -44. All Allen needs to do to win the game tonight is play their game. The team needs to remember it is more important to win the game than to score. Be aggressive but don't gamble and set up odd man rushes. Finish checks but avoid the stick penalties. Make Indy pay if they take penalties with what is a very potent power play. If you can't make a play don't turn the puck over in the neutral zone, dump it in and forecheck.

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Mike Sheehan (#11) and linesmen Brian Bull (#49) and Aaron Schacht (#31).

- Here are Josh Brittain's career stats courtesy of hockeydb:

Josh Brittain

Left Wing -- shoots L
Born Jan 3 1990 -- Milton, ONT
[27 yrs. ago]
Height 6.05 -- Weight 231
Drafted by Anaheim Ducks
- round 3 #71 overall 2008 NHL Entry Draft

Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2006-07 Kingston Frontenacs OHL 54 5 12 17 38 -2 2 0 0 0 0
2007-08 Kingston Frontenacs OHL 68 28 23 51 106 -14 ----------
2008-09 Kingston Frontenacs OHL 27 17 7 24 31 3 ----------
2008-09 Barrie Colts OHL 41 15 13 28 65 6 5 1 2 3 4
2009-10 Barrie Colts OHL 12 3 5 8 29 -2 ----------
2009-10 Plymouth Whalers OHL 56 12 12 24 101 6 9 1 0 1 5
2010-11 Syracuse Crunch AHL 13 0 1 1 48 1 ----------
2010-11 Elmira Jackals ECHL 38 3 8 11 92 2 4 1 0 1 2
2011-12 Syracuse Crunch AHL 38 2 4 6 37 -2 ----------
2011-12 Elmira Jackals ECHL 9 5 0 5 4 -3 ----------
2012-13 Fort Wayne Komets ECHL 31 13 14 27 34 10 ----------
2012-13 Norfolk Admirals AHL 43 11 8 19 69 -1 ----------
2013-14 Hershey Bears AHL 20 3 1 4 26 3 ----------
2013-14 Reading Royals ECHL 36 14 12 26 20 8 4 2 0 2 4
2014-15 Kalamazoo Wings ECHL 12 3 1 4 17 3 ----------
2014-15 Missouri Mavericks ECHL 46 15 15 30 73 -5 ----------
2014-15 Ontario Reign ECHL 15 4 8 12 35 12 10 1 0 1 12
2015-16 Indy Fuel ECHL 24 4 3 7 48 -1 ----------
2015-16 Rockford IceHogs AHL 5 0 1 1 13 0----------
2016-17 Norfolk Admirals* ECHL 28 3 11 14 31 -5

I have two tickets for tonight's game (7:05 pm) that are in section 100, five rows off the ice on the aisle. They are in the end of the rink where Allen is on offense twice. The first person that emails me at can have the tickets. They will be left at will call by 5:30 pm tonight. Include in your email the name of the person picking up the tickets at will call as they will have to show picture ID to claim the tickets. If you don't hear back within 30 minute of sending your email you can assume you were not the first person.

DID YOU KNOW: It is always interesting when a new player arrives, who has some toughness, to check out if they have fought any players on the team. Turns out Josh Brittian has dropped the gloves with Derek Mathers and Harrison Ruopp. The Mathers vs Britton fight took place back in March 2012 when Derek was playing for Adirondack (AHL) and Josh was with Syracuse (AHL).  It was Derek's first professional fight other than in preseason and it was rated a draw by Can't find the video so will have to ask the guys about the tilt.

Josh has played with many NHL players over the years in juniors and when he was part of the Canadian under 18 team that won the 2008 World Championship by beating the Russians in Russia. One of the guys Josh played with in 2009-10 playing in the Ontario Hockey League for the Plymouth Whalers was the Dallas Stars' Tyler Seguin. As a 17 year old Seguin led the team in scoring with 106 points (48 goals 58 assists) in 63 games. Seguin had twice as many goals as any other player on the team. Josh pitched in with 12 goals that season. Looks like Josh will have a hookup for Stars tickets now that he is playing in Allen.

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