Nothing has come easy for the 2017-18 version of the Allen Americans so it is no surprise when they had the chance to put some distance between themselves and the other teams they are battling for a playoff spot they came up short. The Americans outshot the Thunder in Wichita last night 38-24 but came away with a 2-1 loss before a crowd of 4436 at Intrust Bank Arena. Allen had numerous quality chances to score but couldn't get the puck past Thunder goalie Shane Starrett until the 12:43 mark of the third period when they were trailing 2-0. Zach Pochiro scored the only goal for the Americans on a slap shot from the goal line.
- Talk about two teams that are evenly matched this season the stats tell the story. Allen and Wichita have played 12 times this season with Allen scoring 36 goals and Wichita scoring 34. Their record against each other is exactly the same at 6-6. There are now 70 games in the books for both teams and they have the exact same number of points at 76. They not only have the same number of points they have the exact same record at 34-28-6-2. One difference between Allen and Wichita is shootout wins which don't count in the first tiebreaker. Allen has three shootout wins while Wichita has just one. It means if these teams end up tied after game 72 on Saturday, Wichita wins the tiebreaker.
- Here is the game recap from Matt Harding who covers Wichita for Team Sin Bin: https://thesinbin.net/wichita-wraps-home-schedule-with-big-win-over-allen/
- Here is the game recap issued by the Wichita Thunder: https://www.wichitathunder.com/news/press-release/thunder-closes-home-schedule-with-win-vs-allen.html
- You can find the video highlight package on ECHL Rewind. The highlights show all of the goals but also many quality opportunities for both teams to score when the goalies made great stops. I counted seven times where Allen was alone in front of the Wichita goalie and couldn't get the puck in the net. https://www.echl.com/
- Coach Martinson had three comments when I asked him for his thoughts on the game.
"We had a lot of chances in the game but we just didn't finish"
"We were not very good and had defensive breakdowns on the two goals Wichita scored"
"I thought their goalie played really well"
- The good news for Allen is despite the loss to Wichita they still control their own destiny. If they win both games this weekend the Americans will be in the playoffs regardless what Wichita and Tulsa do. That doesn't mean Allen fans won't be scoreboard watching tonight hoping Idaho beats Tulsa.
- The Mountain Division standings now have Wichita and Allen tied at 76 points with two games to play. Tulsa has 73 points with three games to play. The Thunder and the Americans have the upper hand because they can get to 80 points while Tulsa has a maximum of 79 points if they win out. It is not quite that simple however because Tulsa has the easiest schedule. Here are the remaining games.
Friday, Idaho ( home)
Saturday, Idaho (home)
Friday, Colorado (away)
Saturday, Colorado (away)
Wednesday, Idaho (home)
Friday, Rapid City (home)
Saturday, Rapid City (home)
- It continues to look like tiebreakers will be needed
to determine who makes the playoffs between Allen, Wichita and Tulsa.
Here is how the tiebreakers look as of this morning.
1st tiebreaker (wins minus shootout wins)
33 - Wichita
31 - Allen
31 - Tulsa
2nd tiebreaker (goal differential)
- I was asked how the tiebreaker would work if Allen, Wichita and Tulsa are in a three way tie after Saturday. The first two tiebreakers are the same as with two teams tied. The third tiebreaker is the higher winning percentage against each other. If two teams remain after the third is eliminated the tiebreakers revert back to step one. The three way tiebreaker will not be needed because the only way Allen can catch Wichita in wins and still have a tie in points (80) is to win both games against Idaho in regulation while Wichita wins twice against Colorado in a shootout. In the unlikely event that would happen Tulsa would be eliminated because the most points they can earn is 79. The bottom line is there is no way (I think) Allen, Wichita and Tulsa can finish the season with the same number of points and same number of wins minus shootout wins. However, the likelihood of two teams tying is very high and it is clear Wichita holds the upper hand when it comes to the first tiebreaker.
- It may be a reflection of how tight the race for the playoffs has become but the rough and tumble Allen Americans have gone from the most penalized team in the ECHL averaging 20 penalty minutes per game to the least penalized team in the last week. Who would have guessed two games against Wichita and two games against Colorado in the last week would produce no fights and Allen would have a combined total of 20 penalty minutes for an average of five penalty minutes per game.
- Allen added defenseman Gordie Ballhorn to the roster for the game last night and will add a center today and that is not the end of the roster changes. It is clear coach Martinson is grinding to improve the roster right to the last game of the regular season. Ballhorn comes to Allen having just completed his junior career with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League. He was an alternate captain and finished the season with 42 points (6G, 36A) and led his team in plus/minus at +37. He wore the #5 jersey last night which hasn't been seen since Aaron Gens was injured wearing that number in Wichita on December 9, 2016.
- The San Jose Barracuda signed two forwards to amateur tryout (ATO) contracts yesterday and released two players back to their ECHL teams. Forwards Sam Warning and Caleb Herbert were released from their professional tryout agreements (PTO). Warning will head to the Florida Everblades who acquired his rights from Quad City at the trade deadline. Caleb Herbert is headed back to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits where he had 20 goals and 47 points in 35 games before being loaned to San Jose. No news on any Allen players returning.
- Zach Pochiro scored the only goal last night for Allen and it was his 18th of the season. It has been quite a comeback year for Zach who scored just three goals last season in Norfolk. Zach has the highest goals per game average on the current team at .45. Olivier Archambault (.68) and Vincent Arseneau (.47) are higher but are in the AHL. Zach missed 30 games because of a hand injury earlier in the season but has scored 39 points in 40 games. He is fourth on the team in plus/minus at +13.
- After their big win against Tulsa on Monday night the Kansas City Mavericks lost to the Indy Fuel 4-1 last night and suffered a big blow to their playoff hopes. They are now in sixth place, one point behind fifth place Kalamazoo and two points behind fourth place Indy. Kansas City has two games remaining while the other two teams have three games remaining. The Mavericks finish the season with two games in Utah.
- Allen will have a couple of days to get ready for two games against Idaho this weekend. Beating the Steelheads once let alone twice will be a tough task for the Americans. Idaho is the hottest team in the ECHL over the last 10 games with a record of 9-1-0-0.
DID YOU KNOW: With Allen's 2-1 loss last night they have now scored 228 goals this season and allowed 224. The Americans high
powered offense over the years has always scored more goals than they
have allowed. Last season Allen finished second in the league scoring
294 goals. This season they are on pace to score 60 fewer goals (234).
Last season Allen allowed the second fewest goals in the league (203).
This season they are on pace to allow 27 more goals (230). Prior to this season Allen has never allowed more than the 204 goals (since joining the ECHL). Here are the
historical goal differential numbers.
Goal Differential (goals for minus goals against)
2017-18: +4 (through 70 games)