Friday, April 6, 2018

Allen vs Idaho Preview, Makowski Selected to All-ECHL Team and Returns to Allen, Roster Makeover Details, Mountain Division Playoff Series and Dates, Does Toughness Win Championships and More

It's win you're in day for the Allen Americans. It has taken 71 games of a 72 game regular season but the game tonight against the Idaho Steelheads at the Allen Event Center doesn't requires any scoreboard watching. The Americans need to win this game and they are in the playoffs for the ninth time in their nine year history.

- Allen fans got a  double dose of good news about David Makowski yesterday. First thing in the morning the team was notified David was selected to the All-ECHL first team. Then after practice coach Martinson found out Makowski was returning to Allen after missing the last seven games because of a call up to the San Jose Barracuda (AHL). It will be great to have David back in the lineup tonight. Here is the Allen Americans press release announcing Makowski's selection to the All-ECHL team.

- The Allen roster has undergone a major makeover since the beginning of March, especially up front. Check out this list.

April 6 - Mathieu Foget (forward)
April 3 - Gordie Ballhorn (defense)
March 21 - Braylon Schmyr (forward)
March 19 - Jared Bethune (forward)
March 7 - J.C. Campagna (forward)
March 4 - Alexandre Carrier (forward)
March 2 - Jake Paterson (goalie)
March 1 - Thomas Frazee (forward)

The eight players on the list above combined have played fewer games in an Allen jersey this season (66) then Casey Pierro-Zabotel (69). Now that is a late season makeover! Have these moves worked? Allen's record in January and February was 7-15-0-1. In March their record was 9-3-2-0.

- Coach Martinson has a complete roster for the game tonight so there will be plenty of healthy scratches. He will have eight defensemen and 13 forwards to pick from to try and secure a playoff spot. Zach Hall is definitely out and Tristan King is day to day so not sure if he will be available.

- The game tonight will be the ninth of ten games against Idaho this season. Allen is 4-3-0-1 against the Steelheads but it has been an unbalanced schedule with six of the first eight games being played in Boise. There is no love lost between these teams who have combined for 460 penalty minutes in the eight games this season. Then there was the Gary Steffes shenanigans back in January. Idaho claimed Gary in a bluff move hoping he would refuse to report and they would retain his rights and screw the Americans. There is no way Idaho was going to pay his salary which was reported to be in the $1200-$1500 per week range. When Steffes called their bluff and said buy me an airline ticket and I will report they dropped the waiver claim. You can bet Martinson hasn't forgotten those antics.

- The game tonight is huge for the Allen Americans who have a playoff appearance at stake but it won't be easy even though Idaho is safely ensconced as the second seed in the Mountain Division. Allen will be facing the hottest team in the ECHL who has won eight in a row and 10 of their last 11 games. Idaho's goalie, Tomas Sholl, has been quite a story since joining the Steelheads in early March when Idaho lost both of their goalies to the AHL. Sholl started the season in the SPHL but has been phenomenal since joining the Steelheads. How is this for some gaudy stats. Sholl lost his first start (March 7 against Allen) for Idaho in a shootout and has reeled off nine straight wins since. To go along with his 9-0-0-1 record his GAA is 0.88, he has a .967 save percentage and four shutouts. For his efforts Sholl was selected as the ECHL Goalie of the Week in back to back weeks, was runnerup the third week and was just selected as the Goalie of the Month for March.

- Here is the game/series preview written by Brian McCormack of the Idaho Steelheads. Brian is the Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the Steelheads. He does a great job in setting the stage for the games against Idaho:

- Here is a comparison between Allen and Idaho:

                                     ALLEN                            IDAHO

Team Record              34-28-6-2 (76 points)          43-20-4-3 (93 points)
Division Ranking         4th - Mountain                    2nd - Mountain
Conference Ranking  7th - Western                      4th - Western
League Ranking         14th                                     6th
Last Game                  2-1 Loss (Wichita)               4-1 Win (Tulsa)
Goals For                    228                                     236
Goals Against             224                                     181
Power Play                 17.2% (51/297)                   17.5% (56/320)
Penalty Kill                  81.6% (56/304)                   84.1% (53/333)
Leading Scorer           Pierro-Zabotel (19-50-69)   Dahl (20-41-61)
Most PIM's                  Moore - 214                        Nevins - 163

-  Here is how Allen and Idaho rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (19.99) - Idaho 6th (17.66)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 10th (3.26) - Idaho 8th (3.37)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 17th (3.20) - Idaho 4th (2.59)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 20th (31.01) - Idaho 4th (35.77)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 23rd (35.91) - Idaho 3rd (28.51)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 15th (17.2%) - Idaho 13th (17.5%)
Home Power Play %: Allen 11th (18.8%) - Idaho 9th (19.4%)
Road Power Play %: Allen 15th (15.7%) - Idaho 17th (15.5%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 20th (81.6%) - Idaho 11th (84.1%)
Home Penalty Kill %: Allen 12th (84.3%) - Idaho 13th (83.2%)
Road Penalty Kill %: Allen 25th (78.8%) - Idaho 7th (85.0%)

- It is difficult to make a case for Allen based on the stats above. You rarely see one team have the better stat in every category and that is the case with the exception of a small difference in a couple of the special team stats. Allen's differential between goals scored and allowed is +.06, Idaho's is +.78. Allen's differential between shots for and against is -4.90, Idaho's is +7.26. Allen has the edge on the power play 18.8% (at home) vs 15.5% for Idaho (road). Idaho has the edge on the penalty kill 85.0% (road) vs 84.3% for Allen (home).  Idaho has scored 10 shorthanded goals, Allen has scored seven. Idaho has allowed four shorthanded goals. Allen has allowed 10.

- Allen has taken more penalty minutes (1399) than Idaho (1236) but if there is a silver lining for the Americans it is in minor penalties. Idaho has taken 408 minor penalties while Allen has 377. It will be interesting to see how the game goes tonight. The referee assigned has historically not called a lot of penalties and Allen has been very disciplined recently averaging only five penalty minutes per game over their last four games.

- As always scoring first and playing with a lead will be very important tonight. In seven of the eight meetings between Allen and Idaho this season the team that scored first won the game. They have a combined record when leading after the first period of 40-6-1-1. They have a combined record when leading after the second period of 54-5-0-2. Playing from behind is not a good sign for either team.

- The goalie battle should be something to watch tonight. The last time these teams met, Jake Paterson stopped 47 of 48 shots and won the game in a shootout for Allen by a score of 2-1. Tomas Sholl stopped 23 of 24 shots for Idaho but gave up shootout goals to Alex Guptill and Casey Pierro-Zabotel to take the loss. That game was the first for Sholl in Idaho and Paterson's third for Allen. It sets up quite the rematch tonight. 

- Both teams will be missing key team leaders tonight who played the last time these teams met. Allen will be missing alternate captain Vincent Arseneau who has provided toughness (92 penalty minutes) and scoring (18 goals) in 38 games with the Americans. Arseneau is on loan to Utica (AHL). Idaho captain Jefferson Dahl does the same for the Steelheads with 61 points and 113 penalty minutes in 61 games. Dahl is on loan to the Cleveland Monsters (AHL).

- The referee scheduled for the game is Mike Sheehan (#11) and the linesmen are Aaron Schacht (#31) and Brian Bull (#95).


- It hasn't been widely publicized but some of the playoff dates for the first round in the Mountain Division have already been set. The #1 seed (Colorado) will actually start on the road in a series that will have to be 2-3-1-1. Because of building conflicts whoever plays Colorado will get the first two games at home. Games #3, #4 and #5 will be in Colorado on April 18, 20 and 21. If Allen makes the playoffs and gets Idaho in the first round the series would be the more traditional 2-3-2 with games #1 and #2 in Idaho on April 13 and 14. 

- Heard a rumor Chad Costello and family are back in Texas and will be at the game tonight. Hope some of that Costello power play karma will be in the AEC tonight for the Americans.

- Not sure if Mathieu Foget, who was just signed to an amateur tryout contract (ATO), will be in the lineup tonight but he was at practice yesterday. Foget just finished his junior career with the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) after being traded from the Ottawa 67's in January. The 5'8 175 pound right shot speedy forward had 38 points (11G, 27A) in 31 games for Mississauga. Mathieu played two seasons at Merrimack College in Massachusetts before returning home to play junior hockey for the Ottawa 67's. Here is an interview from a year ago where Foget talks about his move from college to junior hockey.

- There are five ECHL playoff spots still to be determined and four of them could be filled tonight. Allen, Wichita, Cincinnati and Worcester could all clinch tonight.

- Not that you need to be reminded but Wichita is at Colorado tonight and Tulsa is at home against the Rapid City Rush. If Tulsa loses they are out and even if they win they are out if Wichita and Allen win.

DID YOU KNOW: All seven teams in the Mountain Division have over 1000 penalty minutes. The total number of teams in the other three divisions combined that have over 1000 penalty minutes is seven. Does toughness help win in the playoffs where you play teams in best of seven series? The last three Kelly Cup champions have finished the regular season ranked #3, #5 and #1 in penalty minutes. Colorado and Florida are the two division champions in the top five in penalty minutes. Will they keep the streak alive?      


  1. Great to see Makowski back in Allen, looking forward to seeing our new guys tonight as well

  2. Well, I'll have to wear my Tulsa jersey tonight to put the bad ju-ju on Tulsa! HA!

  3. Nervous, nervous, nervous! Go Red, please!