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:
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: http://thesinbin.net/the-sin-bins-echl-2018-all-star-team-voting/
- 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: http://www.news-sentinel.com/sports/2017/12/26/komets-fans-returning-jersey-collection-to-the-players/
- 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.