As the Allen Americans declare themselves ready to take on the #1 ranked Colorado Eagles on Thursday night it is worth taking note of the happenings in the ECHL last night and again tonight.
- Colorado arrives in Allen today having lost in Kansas City 3-1 last night. The Eagles have lost back to back games just once in the last two months so they should also be ready to go tomorrow night against the Americans. Colorado can reflect on their last visit to the Allen Event Center (AEC). It was on May 9, 2017 when the Eagles eliminated the Americans in game six of the second round of the playoffs on their way to the Kelly Cup. It was a game that is hard to forget for Allen fans because the Americans took a 3-2 lead into the third period only to see former Allen player Matt Register score a goal with 69 seconds left to win the game and the series.
- The other game of note last night took place in Tulsa. The Oilers shutout Rapid City 3-0 and are now just one point behind Allen for the final playoff spot in the Mountain Division. Don't look now but Tulsa plays again tonight (Wednesday) at home against Wichita. With a Tulsa win tonight Allen fans will wake up Thursday morning with their team out of the playoffs.
- The only thing in Allen's control is how they play against Colorado Thursday night. Having three days of practice at this time of year is always helpful especially for players such as Zach Pochiro and Vincent Arseneau who missed games with injuries. Zach Hall looks good in practice but it remains to be seen if he will be activated. Coach Martinson will have plenty of options for who is in the lineup against Colorado with 21 or 22 healthy players available.
- It has been quiet on additions and deletions from the roster but you can't expect that to continue for too much longer. The last trade coach Martinson made was Daniel Leavens for Alex Guptill in the middle of December. He doesn't typically keep 22 healthy players so it makes you wonder if he will reduce the roster size when everyone is back and/or make a trade to bolster the roster.
- The overseas deadline for players to return to North America is coming up on February 15 but it is a strange year because many leagues in Europe are taking a three week break for the Olympics and that break starts this weekend. Bottom line is if players are going to return they will be making those decisions right now as their teams go on break.
- Yesterday I talked about a number of former Allen Americans players that are currently playing in the ECHL. It wasn't a complete list because there are so many players that have spent time in Allen that are playing for other teams in the ECHL this season. I was asked to add info on Garrett Clarke and Kale Kerbashian so here goes.
Garrett Clarke - (2012-13 & 2014-16) It is hard to believe Garrett has been a pro for six years and is still only 25. He arrived in Allen as a 19 year old and made quite an impression tallying 223 penalty minutes as a rookie which was the Allen single season record at the time. Clarke is still the all time leader in career penalty minutes in Allen with 432. Since leaving Allen in 2015 Clarke has spent time in Rapid City and Brampton as well as a couple of forays to Europe. This season Garrett signed with the Indy Fuel and has 8 points (3 goals 5 assists) in 33 games. A versatile player he has played some games at forward for Indy. As you might expect the ultimate agitator leads the Fuel in penalty minutes by a large margin. He has 199 PIMs which is 144 more minutes than anyone else on the team. Clarke's 199 penalty minutes not only leads the Indy Fuel but leads the entire ECHL. By his own admission Garrett sometimes doesn't realized when he crosses the line on the ice. He has nine fighting majors this season but what has increased his penalty minutes is three misconduct penalties and five game misconduct penalties. It looks like the playoffs are a long shot for Indy this
season but don't count him out yet. Indy is 7-3 in their last 10 games
and has closed the gap to a playoff spot to seven points.
Kale Kerbashain - (2012-14 & 2015-16) Kale was part of two championships in Allen but has bounced around since those championship years (2013 & 2014). He has played for six different ECHL teams in the last four years including a brief return to Allen last season. Kale didn't sign a contract to play this season until January 3 when he signed with Orlando. He made quite an impact in his first game after not playing for months. He had a shorthanded goal which was the game winning goal, an assist and was named the #1 star of the game. He followed that up with a goal in his second game which Orlando won 2-1. He must be injured because he played in three games (2 goals 1 assist) but has missed the Solar Bears last four games. After a slow start Orlando has played well recently and is currently in fourth place in the South Division. If Orlando does make the playoffs they will have to contend with two of the best teams in the league. Florida is 20 points ahead of Orlando in the standings and South Carolina is 15 points ahead of the Solar Bears.
- Here is the Mountain Division Weekly from the ECHL which includes a couple of factoids about each team and their schedule for the week. https://www.echl.com/mountain-division-weekly-jan-29
- One of the factoids in the Mountain Division Weekly (above) is Allen has outscored their opponents 52-33 in the first period. Just to give you the complete picture in the second and third periods Allen has been out scored by their opponents 54-48 and 52-45. It all adds up to 147 goals for and 144 goals against for a goal differential of +3. Last season at this point (44 games) Allen had scored 161 goals and allowed 126 for a goal differential of +35.
DID YOU KNOW: I will have a complete game preview tomorrow but Allen has not fared well against Colorado at the AEC. The first year Allen was in the ECHL (2014-15) they never played Colorado either in the regular season or the playoffs. In 2015-16, the first time Colorado ever visited the AEC, Allen got beat 8-1. The teams split four games that season at the AEC and didn't play in the playoffs as Allen went on to with their second Kelly Cup. Last season (2016-17) Colorado visited the AEC four times (once in the regular season & three times in the playoffs) and beat the Americans all four times. You add it all together and Allen's all-time record against Colorado at the AEC is 2-6.