- Utah visited the AEC on November 1st and out shot the Americans 44-24 on the way to a 2-1 victory. With all of the injuries, callups and trades since the beginning of November there are 11 players that were in the lineup for the game on November 1st that will not be in the lineup tonight.
- Allen will continue to play shorthanded with Mike Gunn and Dalton Thrower still serving suspensions. Thrower will complete his three game suspension tonight while Gunn will have four more games to sit out after tonight.
- The good news is David Makowski will be back in the lineup after serving a two game suspension. If everyone plays that is expected to play Allen will have nine forwards and six defensemen available tonight. I did hear after practice yesterday one of the forwards is dealing with an injury that will be a game time decision whether he plays. So best case scenario Allen is one forward short for the game, worst case they will be two short. With a full group of six defensmen you could see Miles Liberati taking regular shifts up front.
- Allen fans will have the chance to welcome #91 Gary Steffes back to the AEC and look to him playing a prominent role. Watching him at practice he is the same hardworking guy that gives maximum effort on every drill and is the last one off the ice. Gary was working with the top power play unit in practice so you can look for his net front presence and abilty to find open space close to the net.
- Jeremy Brodeur should get the start in goal tonight. Look for Jeremy to bounce back from a tough night in Idaho on Friday where he gave up six goals. In his three appearances prior to Friday, Brodeur saved 97 of 102 shots for a save percentage of .951.
- Allen lost their only game to Utah this season but has fared well against Utah since joining the ECHL. Between regular season and playoffs the Americans record against Utah is 12-4-0-0. Last year Allen was 4-0-0-0 against the Grizzlies in the regular season and beat them 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs.
- Here is a comparison between Allen and Utah this season:
Team Record 18-11-4-1 (41 points) 12-14-5-3 (32 points)
Division Ranking 4th - Mountain 6th - Mountain
Conference Ranking 7th - Western 11th - Western
League Ranking 11th 21st
Last Game 5-0 Loss (Idaho) 7-5 Loss (Rapid City)
Goals For 115 95
Goals Against 107 114
Power Play 18.2% (27/148) 11.7% (19/162)
Penalty Kill 82.1% (29/162) 81.3% (28/150)
Leading Scorer Pierro-Zabotel (10-29-39) Pelech (10-23-33)
Most PIM's Moore - 114 Howe - 87
- Here is how Allen and Utah rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:
Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (24.97) - Utah 13th (16.21)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 9th (3.38) - Utah 24th (2.79)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 12th (3.15) - Utah 20th (3.35)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 16th (32.12) - Utah 14th (32.53)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 24th (37.03) - Utah 9th (31.00)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 10th (18.2%) - Utah 24th (11.7%)
Home Power Play %: Allen 5th (20.5%) - Utah 20th (13.3%)
Road Power Play %: Allen 17th (15.4%) - Utah 26th (9.7%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 17th (82.1%) - Utah 20th (81.3%)
Home Penalty Kill %: Allen 4th (87.5%) - Utah 25th (76.2%)
Road Penalty Kill %: Allen 27th (75.7%) - Utah 5th (87.9%)
- One stat that that stands out is goal differential. Allen is +8 (115 for & 107 against) while Utah is -19 (95 for & 114 against). It has been feast or famine for Utah recently. They either have trouble scoring or they score in bunches. Here is a list of goals scored by the Grizzlies in their last 11 games; 5,1,5,6,1,4,1,5,8,0,1,5.
- Allen averages 3.38 goals per game but has not exceeded three goals in their last five games (0,3,2,1,2). Having Makowski back in the lineup should spark the offense especially on the power play.
- If you look at special team stats Allen has a big advanatge on the power play. The Americans power play percentage at home is 20.5% compared to Utah's road power play percentage of just 9.7%. Allen spent a lot of time working on the power play in practice yesterday. That work should pay off in the game tonight.
- I frequently include Allen's almost unbeatable record when scoring the first goal of the game. After all, over the last two season they have won 53 games when scoring first and lost in regulation time just four. Unfortunately two of the four losses came the last two times Allen scored first which was against Wichita on December 30 & 31. I will go out on a limb and guarantee a win if the Americans score first tonight.
- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Mike Sheehan (#11) and linesmen Brian Bull (#95) and Aaron Schacht (#31).
- The San Jose Barracuda won last night beating San Antonio 2-1 at home. They don't play again until Friday. Spencer Asuchak is out of the lineup with an injury.
- Vincent Arseneau is still in Utica and would not forsee him coming back to Allen soon since the Comets have games tonight, Friday, Saturday and Monday.
- Allen fans will have chance to see recently signed defenseman Anthony Calabrese tonight. If you didn't see the story about what could have been a career ending injury he suffered on Thanksgiving day in 2016, I will repost the video below about his injury and battle back to play professional hockey again. Calabrese was loaned to Allen from Pensacola (SPHL) but I noticed on SPHL transactions since he joined the Americans he has been traded by Pensacola to Huntsville. So he is in Allen, his personal belongings are in Pensacola and his team is in Huntsville. Welcome to minor pro hockey. Anthony will be wearing #4 so make sure to welcome him to Allen if you run into him before or after warmups.
- Jack Gulati has been in town the last couple of days along with some of the management team from Reading. Jack will be at the game tonight so you can look for him welcoming fans on the concourse.
- The ECHL announced yesterday that race car driver Tony Stewart will be the coach of the North Division at the All-Star game next week. From a pure hockey standpoint you have to feel for the North Division. They didn't get to have a goalie from their own division as they were assigned a goalie from the Central Division, they get a race car driver as their coach and he will be assisted by the Indy Fuel assistant coach. Not sure if any of that makes a difference in a three-on-three All-Star game and it sure would be fun to have racing icon Tony Stewart as part of your team. Tony will fit right in even if he is not a hockey expert. He can chirp with the best of them and he has been in few scrums in his career. Here are a couple of examples:
- Here is the ECHL announcement on Tony Stewart being the celebrity coach for the North Division at the All-Star game. https://www.echl.com/racing-icon-tony-stewart-named-echl-star-celebrity-coach
- All three teams ahead of Allen in the Mountain Division standings are also in action tonight. Colorado is at home against Rapid City, Idaho is at home against Kalamazoo and Wichita is at Tulsa.
DID YOU KNOW: Chad Costello and Greger Hanson share the Allen Americans franchise record for all-time goals with 98. Both of them now play in the highest league in Germany (DEL) but for different teams. Chad's team (Iserlohn Roosters) will play Greger's team (Krefeld Pinguine) on January 23 in Iserlohn. The odds of it happening are between slim and none but they could return to Allen and break the tie of 98 goals as long as they return by February 15. I would put that in the wishful thinking file, not the realistic file.