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:
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: http://thesinbin.net/top-three-wichita-thunder-stories-from-2017/
- 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