Friday, January 13, 2017

Allen vs Wichita Preview, Missouri's Potential Travel Problems for Sunday, Elmira Coach Fired & More

It is game day for the Allen Americans as they take on the Wichita Thunder tonight (7:05 pm) at the Allen Event Center (AEC). Allen has feasted on the Thunder going all the way back to 2013 when the Americans won their first championship in a thrilling game seven overtime victory at the AEC. There is dominance and then there is dominance. Check out these Allen records against Wichita:

27-2-4-3 - Record since joining the ECHL in 2014-15
13-0-0-0 - Allen's record last season versus Wichita
5-0-1-0 - Allen's record this season against Wichita

- Wichita arrives in Allen with a record of 1-8-1-0 over their last 10 games. They have been shutout in four of their last five home games including 1-0 to Indy on Tuesday. The last two times Allen played Wichita (December 28 & 30) the score was 5-0 and 9-0.

- Don't expect an easy path to victory tonight despite the Americans having a record of 9-0-0-1 over the last 10 games. Allen will be playing without Greger Hanson, Jake Marchment, Dyson Stevenson, Riley Gill, Aaron Gens and Kale Kerbashian. Hanson (20 goals) and Marchment (11 goals) are now playing in the AHL and represent 22% of Allen's goals this season. The roster is so depleted look for a defenseman to move up to play forward tonight.

- Despite their poor record and struggles to score at home the Thunder have been producing goals on the road. In their last four road games (three of them losses) they have scored 3,3,4 & 4 goals.

- There have been numerous roster changes since Allen last played the Thunder. Just in the last two weeks Wichita has traded Logan Nelson to Rapid City, Martin Nemcik to Utah, Daulton Leveille to Brampton and Nathan Moon to Toledo.

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

                                     ALLEN                               WICHITA

Team Record               22-13-1-1 (46 points)             12-17-1-1 (26 points)
Division Ranking         1st - Mountain                         6th - Central
Conference Ranking   2nd - Western                         13th - Western
League Ranking         3rd                                           24th
Last Game                  5-3 Win (Indy)                         1-0 Loss (Indy)
Goals For                    139                                          82
Goals Against             101                                         109
Power Play                 18.1% (29/160)                       13.2% (14/106)
Penalty Kill                  85.7% (25/175)                       84.1% (21/132)
Most PIM                    Mathers (156)                          Tesink (72)
Leading Scorers:        Costello (22-42-62)                  Loiseau (15-11-26)
                                   Hanson (20-25-45)                   Marcotte (6-9-15)          

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (20.41) - Wichita 2nd (19.29)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 3rd (3.76) - Wichita 23rd (2.65)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 2nd (2.73) - Wichita 20th (3.52)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 6th (32.92) - Wichita 11th (32.13)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 21st (33.89) - Wichita 27th (36.81)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 9th (18.1%) - Wichita 21st (13.2%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 9th (85.7%) - Wichita 11th (84.1%)

- You can see from the stats above Allen and Wichita are the two most penalized teams in the ECHL. There is no love lost between these teams but they have played games with very few penalty minutes (26) and some with a lot of penalty minutes (136).  Keep in mind these teams have played six times thus far but five of the games were in Wichita. The lone game in Allen was a 6-1 Americans win on December 16.  In that game there were 102 penalty minutes in the second period alone. Four players were given game misconduct penalties including Mike Gunn and Gary Steffes for Allen. There were three fights happening at the same time. By the time the game was completed, referee Tudor Floru had issued 33 penalties for 136 minutes. Mike Gunn had 29 penalty minutes which is the second most penalty minutes in one game in the ECHL all season. The most penalty minutes in a single game this season is 31 by Vincent Arseneau which also happened in a Allen vs Wichita game on December 30. The game tonight certainly has the possibility of a penalty filled affair especially if the game isn't close. 

- Nothing explains the rise and fall of Allen and Wichita since they played their first game on December 9 more than a look at special teams. On December 9th Wichita had the best special teams in the ECHL ranked #1 (25.5%) on the power play and #2 (90.5%) on the penalty kill while Allen was #24 (11.1%) on the power play and #15 (83.0%)  Remember, the informal way to measure special teams is to add together the power play and penalty kill percentages. Anything above 105% is considered excellent and anything under 100% is disappointing. Wichita was outstanding with a league leading 116% while Allen was at a disappointing 94.1%. Fast forward a month and Wichita is now ranked #21(13.2%) on the power play and #11 (84.1) on the penalty kill while Allen is #9 (18.1%) on the power play and #9 on the penalty kill (85.7%). Adding the two percentages together Wichita has gone from 116% to 97.3% which is a decline of 18.7%. Allen has gone from a total of 94.1% to 103.8% for an increase of 9.7%.

- Allen has played Wichita six times this season, won five times and lost in overtime in the sixth. If you look at the last four games Allen has won by scores of 6-1, 4-1, 5-0, and 9-0. In addition to outscoring the Thunder 24-2 over the last four games Allen is 8-20 (40%) on the power play. The Americans have only given up one power play goal to Wichita all season (1-37) for a penalty kill of 97.3%.

-  There will be one addition to the roster for Allen tonight as Harrison Ruopp will return to the lineup. Harrison has been out with an injury since December 14. Jamie Murray will start in goal for the Americans.    

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Lucas Martin (#29) and linesmen Aaron Schacht (#31) and Lucas Bisbee (#72).


- Weather in Oklahoma and Kansas may create a problem. There is a possibility an ice storm could make it difficult for Wichita to get home after the game tonight. The Thunder play Missouri at home tomorrow night and the weather could also cause problems for Missouri getting to Allen overnight on Saturday for the Sunday afternoon game (4:05 pm). A postponed game on Sunday afternoon wouldn't be all bad since so many fans will be staying home to watch the Cowboys play Green Bay. It is always difficult to predict ice storms but it is supposed to start around noon tomorrow in Wichita. I heard if the temperature is two degrees below what is expected the forecast goes from .5 to .75 inches of ice to 1-2 inches. Yikes!

- It was announced yesterday that Tristan King, who started the season in Allen, was traded by the Indy Fuel to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. King played 17 games in Indy and had two goals and seven assists.

- Wichita traded their second leading scorer, Nathan Moon, to the Toledo Walleye yesterday. Wichita had acquired Moon in a trade with Rapid City on November 15.

- The Elmira Jackals announced this morning that they have fired coach David Leger after a 7-20-5 start. Player/Assistant coach Mike Duco will be behind the bench when Elmira takes on Reading tonight. Here is a link to the press release issued by Elmira:

- Allen will have to win tonight to stay in the lead in the Mountain Division. The two teams tied with Allen atop the division with 46 points play each other. Colorado is in Boise to play Idaho and the winner of that game will take the lead in the division with 48 points. Allen will need a win to keep up.

DID YOU KNOW: Put this in the odd stat category. Allen is 5-0-1-0 against Wichita this season, shut out the Thunder four times, outscored them 31-7 yet Wichita has out shot Allen 231-209. The way you get a stat like that is because of outstanding goaltending. Riley Gill and Jamie Murray have a combined save percentage against Wichita of .970.

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