Friday, March 30, 2018

Allen vs Colorado Game Preview, From Beer League Goalie to NHL Hero in One Day and an Inspiring Story From Former Allen Defenseman Jake Newton Titled, "I Chose Recovery"

It is out of the frying pan into the fire for the Allen Americans. After a big win in a big game against third place Wichita on Wednesday the reward for the Americans is two big games against first place Colorado this weekend.

- The good news is Colorado lost their last game but the bad news is they have won seven of their last eight games which includes two wins over Allen in Colorado on March 17 and 18. The Eagles have a seven point lead for the top spot in the Mountain Division and can clinch the division title with two wins in Allen regardless of what second place Idaho does. Colorado has plenty to play for against the Americans.

- The game tonight (7:05 pm CDT) at the Allen Event Center (AEC) will be the fifth between Allen and Colorado this season. They have split the first four games. The Americans won 5-2 and 5-1 in Allen. The Eagles won 5-4 and 4-3 in overtime in Colorado.

- The head to head stats over the four previous games gives Allen the edge in goals (17-12) and Colorado the edge in shots (131-111). Allen has the better power play at 25% (4-16) compared to 7.7% (1-13) for Colorado.

- Since Allen joined the ECHL in 2014 Colorado has been the one team that has caused the Americans problems. The Americans overall regular season record against the Eagles is 5-7-1-0. The teams have met only once in the playoffs (last season) and that didn't go well for Allen as Colorado dispatched the Americans in six games. The good news is Allen is 2-1-1-0 against Colorado this season and the two wins came at home.

- In roster news Colorado just got two players assigned this week that were playing in the AHL. Goaltender Joe Cannata who leads the ECHL in save percentage (.933) and forward Julien Nantel were with the San Antonio Rampage.  The ECHL's leading goal scorer with 39 goals in 50 games, Michael Joly, will be missing from the Colorado lineup. Joly has been in San Antonio since March 8th. Also missing for the Eagles is all-star rookie defenseman Cliff Watson who was loaned to the Stockton Heat (AHL) yesterday.

- For Allen, recently signed rookies Jared Bethune and Braylon Shmyr will be seeing the division leading and reigning  Kelly Cup champion Eagles for the first time. None of the six Allen players currently in the AHL will be back this weekend. 

Here are the updated stats between Allen and Colorado:

                                     ALLEN                              COLORADO

Team Record               33-27-5-2 (73 points)          44-17-4-2 (94 points)
Division Ranking         4th - Mountain                     1st - Mountain
Conference Ranking   7th - Western                       2nd - Western
League Ranking         13th                                      4th
Last Game                  4-1 Win (Wichita)                 3-2 Loss (Utah)
Goals For                    220                                      241
Goals Against             215                                       200
Power Play                 17.1% (50/292)                    17.5% (50/286)
Penalty Kill                 81.6% (55/299)                     85.4% (37/254)
Most PIM                    Moore (214)                          Ratelle (193)
Leading Scorers:        Pierro-Zabotel (19-46-65)     Register (14-45-59)

-  Here is how Allen and Colorado rank in the ECHL in major statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (20.67) - Colorado 4th (18.39)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 10th (3.28) - Colorado 3rd (3.60)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 15th (3.21) - Colorado 9th (2.99)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 20th (30.96) - Colorado 17th (31.46)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 23rd (36.25) - Colorado 10th (31.67)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 13th (17.1%) - Colorado 11th (17.5%)
Home Power Play %: Allen 12th (18.4%) - Colorado 13th (17.6%)
Road Power Play %: Allen 16th (15.9%) - Colorado 12th (17.3%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 20th (81.6%) - Colorado 7th (85.4%)
Home Penalty Kill %: Allen 10th (84.7%) - Colorado 8th (86.2%)
Road Penalty Kill %: Allen 25th (78.5%) - Colorado 10th (84.5%)

- It is no surprise when the number one team in the division is playing the fourth place team but the stats above show Colorado is better then Allen in goals scored (3.50 vs 3.28), goals allowed (2.99 vs 3.21), shots for (31.46 vs 30.96) and shots allowed (31.67 vs 36.25).

- Special teams could very well decide both of the games against Colorado. Allen may have the advantage in that department. If you look at the overall averages above, Allen's home power play percentage (18.4%) is better than Colorado's road percentage (17.3%). The same is true on the penalty kill where Allen is 84.7% at home and Colorado is 84.5% on the road. Don't forget the head to head stats have Allen at 25% on the power play versus 7.7% for Colorado. Finally, I took a look at how effective both teams have been over their last 10 games on the power play. Allen has a power play goal in seven of their last 10 games with a percentage of 20% (9-45). Colorado has a power play goal in just two of their last 10 games and a percentage of 10% (4-40).

- A good start is always important but even more so against a team like Colorado. To start with the team that has scored first has won every game these teams have played this season. When scoring the first goal of the game Allen and Colorado have a combined record of 52-10-4-2 this season. Both of these teams are best in the first period with Allen out scoring their opponents 68-51 and Colorado outscoring their opponents 76-52. With a a lead after the first period at home Allen is 11-1-1-0. When trailing after the first period at home the Americans are winless (0-4-2-0). The Americans don't want to get behind.

- You can expect two rough and tumble games against Colorado who lead the ECHL with 74 fighting majors this season according to Allen is ranked #3 in the league with 51 fighting majors. It has been feast or famine in the four games these teams have played this season when it comes to fighting majors. In two games there were no fights but on February 1st in Allen there were three fights and on March 18th in Colorado there were two. Other than the two fights in Colorado on the 18th Allen has had just two fights in the last 10 games.    

- Here is the Allen vs Colorado game day preview issued by the Allen Americans: 

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Jeremy Tufts (#6 ) and linesmen Michael Houle (#49) and Addison Brush (#80). It is always interesting to me to check out the background of referees that aren't as familiar to Allen fans. Tufts grew up in Exeter, New Hampshire where his dad was a college hockey coach and his uncle was his high school hockey and soccer coach and is in the New Hampshire Hockey Hall of Fame. Jeremy is in his sixth year making a living as a referee and his fourth doing pro games. This season he is splitting his time between the ECHL and AHL. Tufts was one of three American officials selected to work the World Junior Championships in Buffalo earlier this year. Back in 2016 Tufts wore a GoPro camera for a regular season game between Reading and Norfolk. Check this out as it will give you an idea of how he works a game.


- At least one team chasing the Mountain Division playoffs will get two points tonight because Tulsa is in Wichita to take on the Thunder. Not sure which team Allen fans will be cheering for but I am sure they hope the game is decided in regulation time. Utah, who is holding on to the playoff race by a string is at home against Idaho. They could be eliminated tonight if they lose.

- I came across this story yesterday written by Jake Newton who you may remember played in Allen at the end of the regular season and the playoffs in the 2011-12 season. Jake is one of a number of professional hockey players that have spoken out about dealing with mental health issues by seeking professional help just like you would with a physical issue. It is a real act of bravery in my opinion to share his story in the hopes of helping others.

- Talk about a feel good story, check out this one about goalie Scott Foster who was thrown into the fray as the EBUG last night when the Chicago Blackhawks lost both of their goalies to injury. Starting goalie Anton Forsberg was injured in warmups which gave the start to Collin Delia who started the season with the Indy Fuel where he had a GAA of 4.12 and save percentage of .887 in 10 games. Delia was making his first NHL start but was injured in the third period with a 6-2 lead over the Winnipeg Jets so the EBUG, Scott Foster, played the last 14:01 and stopped all seven shots he faced. Delia got the win and Foster was the hero. Foster is 36 and had never played in a professional game prior to last night for the Blackhawks. According to the website Scott played hockey at Western Michigan University (WMU) from 2002-2006 and after two mediocre years with save percentages of .870 and .881 he played in just one game his last two seasons. Foster's stats on elite prospects shows nothing for the last 12 years but now and forever will show one NHL game with the Chicago Blackhawks with a GAA of 0.00 and a save percentage of 1.000. By the way when Foster left WMU after the 2005-06 season the team brought in a young goalie who started as a freshman and starred for WMU the next four seasons. The young goalie from Minnestoa was none other than Riley Gill. Here is the complete story of Scott's Foster's big day yesterday starting from his nine to five job and ending as an NHL hero. A must read for sure:

Here is Scott Foster's post game interview which will also bring a smile. The guy doesn't take himself too seriously.

DID YOU KNOW: - The Atlanta Gladiators punched their ticket to the playoffs last night when Jacksonville lost to Orlando. Atlanta will be the fourth seed in the South Division and will take on the Florida Everblades in the first round of the playoffs. Atlanta, who has a winning percentage of .486, will have to win all three of their remaining games to avoid being the only team in the playoffs with a losing record. The South Division has two very strong teams at the top in Florida and South Carolina but four of the seven teams in the ECHL with winning percentages below .500 reside in the South Division.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting about Jake Newton's story. I wish him the best.