Friday, May 18, 2018

A Chat With Steve Martinson, 2018-19 Allen Schedule, Kelly Cup Update, Bus Driver Monty Williams Retires, Special Teams Cost Allen in Playoffs

-  There is going to be an open house at the Allen Event Center (AEC) tomorrow (Saturday) from noon until 2:00 pm. The team will be unveiling their 10th Anniversary logo and coach Steve Martinson will be having a question and answer session with fans from 1:00 - 2:00. It will be worth the trip to the AEC to hear what Martinson has to say about the just completed season and his plans for next season including what I would describe as a shift in philosophy. Come loaded with your questions and plan on being both better informed and also entertained. For those that can't make it I will share his comments in my next blog post. Here is the news release issued by the Americans on the 2018-19 schedule and the open house on Saturday.

- If you had a chance to take a look at the schedule for next season or read the "deep dive on the schedule" I posted the other day you have to be excited for what is in store for Allen Americans fans in 2018-19. There are many factors to consider when putting together a schedule and in my opinion this year is the best ever. It is well balanced, the games against Tulsa and Wichita are spread out, the schedule is travel friendly, there are fewer games at home during football season and there is a  heavy dose of home games late in the season. For the first time there will be the battle for the "Jack Gulati Cup" with five games (2 home, 3 away) against Reading. Here is the "deep dive" post if you haven't seen it:

- If you have been tracking the Kelly Cup playoffs you know that the final four consist of three division champs (Florida, Adirondack, Colorado) and one second place team in Fort Wayne. It may not be true in other leagues but in the ECHL the champion is almost always a team that is #1 or #2 in their division during the regular season. Only once in the last 10 years has the Kelly Cup champion finished lower than #2 in their division.

- Fort Wayne leads Colorado 2-1 with a chance to close out the series at home with games tonight and Saturday. The Komets playoff power play is ranked #1 at 25.5% which is 6.5% higher than second place. Colorado has been involved in the most overtime games in the playoffs (5) and is 4-1 in those games. Fort Wayne is 1-2 in overtime games.

- Florida has a 2-1 lead in their series against Adirondack with games four (Friday) and five (Saturday) in Adirondack. The key stat in this series might be who scores first. During the playoffs Adirondack is 8-0 when scoring first while Florida is 9-0.

- One group at the Allen Event Center that doesn't get the recognition they deserve is the staff that takes care of the ice in the main rink and the community rink. They take a lot of pride in their work and operate under trying circumstances many times. They are as big a part of the Allen Americans team as anyone and are greatly appreciated by the team and the coaches. Job well done!

- You may have seen on social media that bus driver Monty Williams has decided to hang up his "driving skates" and retire. Monty spent the last six years on the hockey bus first as the secondary driver on long trips and then as the primary driver after Scott Alexander passed away. Monty had to deal with all of the problems with Big Red and went above and beyond the call of duty many times. You won't find anyone more loved in the organization than Monty. Dyson Stevenson captured it best when I asked him for a statement after he was traded to Wichita last season, "I made a real close friend that I will miss everyday especially when I am on the bus and that is Monty Williams. He kept us safe on that shitty bus and still had time to be the most generous guy in the world!"

DID YOU KNOW:  If there is one stat that helps explain Allen's first round playoff loss to Idaho it would be special teams. Of the 16 teams that made the playoffs, Allen's power play was ranked #15 at 8.3% and the penalty kill was ranked #13 at 81.3%. The Americans power play in the four games in Idaho was 0-13.

In 2017 Allen lost to the eventual Kelly Cup champion Colorado Eagles in the second round but their special teams were outstanding. The power play was ranked #3 at 24.4% and the penalty kill was ranked #2 at 90.0%.

The last time Allen won the Kelly Cup (2016) they had the #1 ranked power play in the playoffs (27.2%).

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