Sunday, January 15, 2017

Allen vs Missouri Preview, History of the Americans & Mavericks Rivalry From Poogate to the Mac Trip

If you are a diehard Allen fan hoping for a postponement of the game today between Allen and Missouri so you could stay home and watch the Dallas Cowboys, the bad news is the Mavericks arrived in Allen at 5:30 am this morning. Puck drop this afternoon will be 4:05 pm.

- Allen was the only ECHL team not in action last night so they will be the more rested team today. Missouri played in Wichita last night and lost 7-5 to the Thunder. The game didn't get over until 10:43 pm as it started one hour late because there was a WWE wrestling show in the afternoon and they had to convert the arena back to hockey. The Mavericks not only got a late start out of Wichita but had to deal with some marginal weather as ice storms were moving across Kansas and Oklahoma.

- There is no more intense rivalry than the one between Allen and Missouri. Their franchises began in the same year (2009-10) and to overgeneralize a bit, Missouri has always been the "darling successful franchise" that could not win, while Allen was always the "financially troubled franchise" that could not lose. In that very first year Missouri finished sixth in the conference while Allen went to the championship final eventually losing to Rapid City. In 2013 Allen eliminated Missouri in the playoffs on the way to their first championship. In 2014 Missouri was the best regular season team in the CHL but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the eighth seed (Arizona). Allen, who was the third seed, beat Denver for their second straight championship. Once coach Martinson arrived in Allen the CHL annual awards seemed to always be the same. Allen would have the championship trophy and Missouri would be the franchise of the year.

- The rivalry really heated up in 2014-15 when Allen assistant coach, Richard Matvichuk, was selected as Missouri's head coach. It was implied by some that Allen would struggle without Matvichuk who was in Allen for their first two championships. It didn't take long for skeptics to learn who was the teacher and who was the student. Allen beat Missouri eight straight times before losing to the Mavericks in overtime late in the season. Missouri didn't even make the playoffs and Allen went on to win their first ECHL Kelly Cup championship.

- Last season may have been the topper for Allen fans as the Matvichuk led Mavericks had a record breaking season and were the class of the ECHL in the regular season. They had 20 more points than the Americans and were the #1 seed in the playoffs while Allen was the #4 seed. The Americans easily dispatched Missouri in the second round of the playoffs on the way to their second straight Kelly Cup.

- I think rivalries are more for fans than players and coaches. Coach Martinson would always say it was just another game when Allen played Missouri but I think there was extra satisfaction when he beat his former assistant. Most of the current players aren't even aware of the past rivalry. Matvichuk has moved on to a very successful first year coaching in the Western Hockey League and the Mavericks have gone from first to worst this season. On the ice there hasn't been much of a rivalry since the teams have joined the ECHL. Allen's record against Missouri is 17-7-1-0. Even though much has changed the rivalry endures. Whether it is unfounded rumors the "darling franchise"  is moving up to the AHL and the Americans are financially strapped once again, the playoff poogate (yes I know it was stinkbait) drama from last season or the Allen goalie tripping the Missouri mascot (Mac) back in 2014, this rivalry is real and will continue into the future.

- I always remember the saying, "Since most of us live in the past a description of the present sounds like the future to us." Thanks for letting me take a trip down memory lane. That wasn't intended but just came flowing out. Let's get on to the future which is two games against the Mavericks today (Sunday) with a 4:05 pm puck drop and tomorrow (Monday) with a 1:05 pm puck drop.

- The game today will be the sixth of 13 games between Allen and Missouri this season. The Americans have a 4-1 record in the first five games, have outscored Missouri 18-8 and outshot the Mavericks 177-164. Head to head Allen  is 4-21 (19.0%) on the power play while Missouri is 2-27 (7.4%).

- Here is how Allen and Missouri match up:

                                    ALLEN                              MISSOURI

Team Record:             23-13-1-1 (48 points)          13-17-1-4 (31 points)
Division Ranking:        1st Mountain                       7th Mountain
Conference Ranking:  2nd Western                       12th Western
League Ranking:        4th                                       24th
Last Game:                 5-3 Win (Wichita)                7-5 Loss (Wichita)
Goals For:                   144                                     104
Goals Against:            104                                      123
Power Play:                18.9% (31/164)                    13.0% (21/162)
Penalty Kill:                84.6% (28/182)                     86.1% (17/122)
Most PIM                    Mathers (158)                       Elbrecht (64)
Leading Scorers:        Costello (20-44-64)               Fox (11-17-28)
                                   Hanson (20-25-45)               Nowick (10-17-27)

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (20.47) - Missouri 20th (12.40)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 4th (3.79) - Missouri 19th (2.97)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 3rd (2.74) - Missouri 19th (3.51)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 7th (32.97) - Missouri 15th (32.06)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 20th (34.08) - Missouri 23rd (34.54)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 10th (18.9%) - Missouri 22nd (13.0%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 10th (84.6%) - Missouri 6th (86.1%)

- A couple of things stand out when you look at the stats. Allen takes a lot more penalties than Missouri averaging eight more minutes per game. Head to head this season the Americans have taken only two more minutes (62-60) in penalties. The referee for the game is Tudor Floru and for whatever reason there seems to me more rough stuff and action behind the play when he is the referee. Toughness is not a Missouri strength as they have only 16 major penalties all season compared to Allen with 48. Derek Mathers has more major penalties (18) and fights this season (17) than the entire Missouri team combined. You would have to assume there will not be a lot of penalties in this game but you never know. Missouri seems to struggle against teams that play a physical style and that is exactly what you can expect from Allen today.

- Allen won on Friday despite giving up the first goal of the game and having a horrible night on the penalty kill as Wichita was 3-7 on the power play. That will have to improve to come away with a victory today.

- The Allen power play has been outstanding recently including going 2-4 against Wichita on Friday. Missouri has a good penalty kill (86.1%) and they don't take a lot of penalties. With this combination it may be difficult for the Allen power play to be a factor today.

- Jamie Murray will be in goal for the sixth straight game while Riley Gill recovers from an injury. Jamie has won his last five starts. Coach Martinson  mentioned at his post game press conference on Friday Kale Kerbashian might be in the lineup today.

- The game today is another one of those where if Allen plays up to their potential they will win. The Americans are 9-0-0-1 in the last 10 games while Missouri is 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 games. The Mavericks played hockey until almost 11:00 pm last night, lost the game and then had to travel 365 miles overnight to Allen, arriving at 5:30 am. Allen had the day off yesterday and will have the fresher legs. Pretty hard to come up with an excuse if Allen loses today other than a lack of effort. 

The referee scheduled for the game is Tudor Floru (#26) and the linesmen are Rick Rivera (#59) and Chase Wilkinson  (#68).


- Colorado clobbered Idaho in Boise last night by a score of 9-3 and created another three way tie at the top of the Mountain Division. Allen, Colorado and Idaho have played the same number of games (38), have the same number of points (48) and the same winning percentage (.632). It is the first time all season Allen has the best (tied) winning percentage in the division.

- Colorado and Idaho are idle today so an Allen victory will have them all alone in first place in Mountain Division with the most points and best winning percentage. The Americans have climbed a steep mountain to get to the top of the Mountain Division. At the end of November Allen had a record of 8-11-0-0 and were in last place in the division. Since that time Allen's record is 15-2-1-1.  Very impressive.

- The Mountain Division continues to be the most competitive in the ECHL.  The points difference from first to last place is 17 points compared to the Central Division (20 points), South Division (27 points) and North Division (28 points). The last place team in the Mountain has 31 points (Missouri & Rapid City), the last place team in the Central has 27 points (Indy), the last place team in the South has 26 points (Norfolk) and the last place team in the North has 21 points (Elmira).


DID YOU KNOW: If you look at the ECHL standings and compute average points per team by division (total points per division divided by number of teams) the Mountain Division is the best in the league. here are the average points:

40.7 - Mountain Division
40.1 - South Division
40.0 - Central Division
38.8 - North Division


  1. It's a shame that today's game doesn't start at 7:05 to give both the Missouri Mavericks a break and the Allen fans an opportunity to watch the Cowboys and then come to the game as far as I know there's nothing going on at the AEC tonight so Shifting the start time back 3 hours would have been doable

  2. Missouri fans got a break. Chiefs game didn't start until after the Americans game was over.