Saturday, December 9, 2017

Getaway Day for Allen, Barracuda Bring up Two Players But Only One From Allen, Mavericks Rivalry Revisited, Odd Stat, PIMS by Division, Dell Stats

It is getaway day for the Allen Americans as they will practice late this morning and then get on the bus at 2:30 pm for the almost 500 mile trip to Independence, Mo. Allen will play the Kansas City Mavericks tomorrow (Sunday) at 4:05 pm and again Monday night (7:05 pm) before returning home.

- The Americans will be without Bryan Moore who has been recalled by San Jose. The Barracuda have also signed Emerson Clark of the Jacksonville Icemen. Moore and Clark played on a line together last night as the Barracuda lost to Tuscon at home by a score of 3-1. Someone asked me last night why San Jose would call up a player from Jacksonville rather than one of their contracted players from Allen. Here is my take on why the Barracuda signed Emerson Clark. It starts with the boxscore from the San Jose game on Wednesday when they got trounced at home 6-0 by Stockton. It is embarrassing enough to get beat 6-0 at home but if you look at the penalties San Jose had four minor penalties in the game and nobody stepped up to fight. I know coach Martinson would expect players to show some toughness when losing 6-0 at home and I expect coach Sommer of the Barracuda would expect the same. Bottom line is the Barracuda didn't score and didn't show toughness. Emerson Clark is a perfect fit if you are looking for a player with skill and toughness. He has more goals (8), more penalty minutes (113) and more fights (7) than anyone on the Allen Americans roster. He leads the Jacksonville Icemen in goals and assists. Emerson's 113 penalty minutes leads the entire ECHL. That is why he is in San Jose from my perspective. Here is the San Jose Barracuda press release announcing the arrival of Moore and Emerson.

- With Moore and Emerson added to the Barracuda roster and another player assigned by the Sharks they now have too many forwards on the roster. Wouldn't be surprised to see a forward assigned to Allen as strange as that sounds. I think San Jose is trying to change the mix by adding players with more grit to their game. UPDATE: Per AHL transactions Olivier Archambault has been released form his PTO by San Jose and is returning to Allen.

- I will have a complete game preview on this series between Allen and Kansas City tomorrow. The Americans actually play four of their next five game (2 away 2 home) against Kansas City so thought today would be a good day to revisit the rivalry between these teams which runs deep. They are no longer in the same division so the rivalry may not be as strong as in the past but the history between these teams is unforgettable. Here is a little history lesson on the Allen vs Missouri/Kansas City rivalry:

Both 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 struggling "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 Central Hockey League (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 third straight championship and first Kelly Cup.

- 2015-16 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 ECHL's #1 seed going into playoffs.The Americans easily dispatched Missouri (4-2) in the second round of the playoffs on the way to their second straight Kelly Cup.

- Last season (2016-17) Allen's record against Missouri was 10-1-2-0 but the Americans had a disappointing playoff run losing to the eventual champions (Colorado) in the second round. Missouri failed to make the playoffs. 

- 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 coaching career in the Western Hockey League (Prince George Cougars). On the ice there hasn't been much of a rivalry since the teams have joined the ECHL. Allen's record against Missouri is 23-7-3-0. Even though much has changed the rivalry endures. Who can forget the playoff "poogate" in Missouri when the Mavericks put stinkbait in the Americans locker room and coaches office prior to game six of the 2016 playoffs. The Mavericks were down in the series 3-2 at the time and it was win or go home for Missouri. The prank backfired on the Mavericks as the Americans, who were really pissed off, clobbered Missouri 5-1 and eliminated them from the playoffs. Coach Martinson's quote after the game was, "Don't throw fuel on the fire unless you want a bigger fire."  Then there was the incident back in 2014 when Allen goalie Mark Guggenberger was fined for tripping the Missouri mascot (Mac). See the video below.

 At least for the fans the rivalry continues every time Allen and Kansas City play. The one fact Allen fans can and will always point out until the Mavericks do something about it is the Americans have four championships while Missouri/Kansas City has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs.

- The Americans don't play at home again until they play Kansas City at the Allen Event Center (AEC) on December 19 & 20 which is a Tuesday and Wednesday. There are always a lot of quirks in the schedule but this season seems worse than normal. Check out these scheduling facts:

Allen plays two home games in 36 days between November 13 and December 18.
Allen will play five home games in nine days between December 19 & 27.
Of Allen's next nine home games six are on weekdays with just one on Friday & one on Saturday.
Allen plays on Friday & Saturday five weeks in a row starting December 29th but only once at home.

-  How is this for an odd stat. The Allen Americans are in fourth place in the Mountain Division but have the sixth best winning percentage in the ECHL. Here are the top six teams in the league by winning percentage:

.850 - Wichita
.841 - Florida
.750 - Colorado
.700 - South Carolina
.674 - Toledo
.643 - Allen

- Aaron Dell is quietly having another great season with the San Jose Sharks. He is ranked #1 in the entire NHL among goalies that have played in a minimum of 10 games. He is #1 in GAA (1.93) and #1 in save percentage (.933).

DID YOU KNOW: One way to look at style of play in the four ECHL divisions is comparing penalty minutes. So far this season there have been 9293 penalty minutes assessed for an average of 344 per team. Two divisions (South & Mountain) are way above the average and two (North & Central) are way below the average.

South Division - Five of the seven teams in the division are above the 344 average. There are two teams with over 400 minutes (Florida & Greenville) and two with less than 300 minutes (South Carolina & Norfolk).

North Division - Two of the six teams in the division are above the 344 average. There are no teams with 400 penalty minutes and four teams (Reading, Manchester, Adirondack, Brampton) with less than 300 minutes.

Central Division - Just one team (Indy) is above the 344 average. There are no teams with 400 penalty minutes. Five of the seven teams in the division have 300 or fewer penalty minutes (Toledo, Cincinnati, Fort Wayne, Kalamazoo, Quad City). With 176 penalty minutes Quad City has the fewest in the league.

Mountain Division - Six of seven teams in the division are above the 344 average. Only one team is below 300 minutes (Wichita) while four teams (Colorado, Idaho, Allen, Rapid City) have more than 400 minutes. Allen leads the league with 515 penalty minutes.

It may just be a coincidence but five of the six teams that reached the Kelly Cup finals over the last three seasons have come out of the two division above that play a tougher style of hockey when measured by penalty minutes.

1 comment:

  1. I know it's probably tough to break down the penalties by type, but I sometimes wonder if success in the post season might not have more to do with 'aggressiveness' than 'toughness'. If a team takes a lot of fighting, roughing, boarding, elbows to the head, etc., then that's tough; but I think of stick penalties - tripping, hooking, high sticking - as often being a consequence of aggressive defense. "If you're not taking penalties, you're not trying hard enough" kind of thing.