After six games on the road the Allen Americans have a home game tonight for the first time since November 12. CUTX Event Center has not been kind to the Americans thus far this season. Allen's home record is 0-5-0-0 compared to a road record of 5-5-1-0.
- The opponent tonight is Utah who is in town for just one game. It is the first of seven times the Grizzlies and Americans will meet this season, four at home, three away. Allen plays Wichita tomorrow night and then goes back on the road for six games, starting with three games in Utah next Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
- The Allen lineup will have a new look tonight led by goalie Leevi Meriläinen who was just assigned to Allen by Ottawa. It is Leevi's second stint in Allen. He played the opening game of the season in Idaho, made 43 saves with a .956 save percentage to win the game 5-2 despite the Americans being outshot 45-19. Meriläinen is expected to be with Allen for two or three games to get some playing time and then head back to Belleville. The plan all along has been to rotate goalies from Belleville to Allen to get playing time as long as Ottawa and Belleville don't have any injuries.
- In addition to Meriläinen seeing his first action at the CUTX Event Center, Americans will see seven other players for the first time at home (this season):
- #67 Hank Crone, F (Assigned by Chicago Wolves, AHL)
- #6 Johnny Walker, F (Free agent returned from Europe)
- #9 William Provost, F (Acquired in trade with Fort Wayne)
- #16 Joe Gatenby, D (Acquired in trade with Fort Wayne)
- #23 Solag Bakich, F (Acquired in trade with Reading)
- #28 Andrew Jarvis, D (Acquired in trade with Tulsa)
- #44 Nolan Orzeck, D (Acquired in trade with Iowa)
- Who fans won't see tonight is also a long list:
- Chad Butcher - traded to Fort Wayne
- Brayden Crowder - released
- Brandon Yeamans - released
- Colton Hargrove - IR
- Grant Hebert - IR
- Mikael Robidoux - IR
- Ryan Gagnon - IR
- Liam Finlay - IR
- Dalton Gally - IR
- Dalton Skelly - IR
- Ty Farmer - IR
- Here is the lineup for the game tonight:
- 29 McAuley-6 Walker-67 Crone
- 9 Provost-21 Marcinew-19 Puricelli
- 23 Bakich-26 Asuchak-14 Fournier
- 22 Sredl
- 4 Myllari-44 Orzeck
- 27 Allen-16 Gatenby
- 28 Jarvis-20 Williams
- 5 Demin
31 Sinclair (backup)
- Here are weekly press releases from both teams recapping a lot of information that is useful as you get ready for the game tonight:
- Allen Americans Weekly: https://allenamericans.com/news/2023/11/americans-weekly4
- Grizzlies Weekly: https://utahgrizzlies.com/news/2023/11/grizzlies-weekly-utah-won-2-of-3-on-thanksgiving-week
- Here are some stat comparisons between Allen and Utah:
- Allen scores more goals: 3.1 vs 2.8
- Allen allows more goals: 4.8 vs 2.8
- Utah takes more shots: 30.2 vs 28.7
- Allen allows more shots: 44.9 vs 31.4
- Allen has the better power play %: 23.8% vs 20.5%
- Utah has the better penalty kill %: 80.0% vs 77.3%
- Allen average more PIMs per game: 17.81 vs 9.08
- Allen takes more minor penalties: 90 vs 49
- Keys to the game for Allen:
- Allow fewer than 40 shots.
- Win the special teams battle, stay out of the penalty box.
- A good start - Allen is 3-3-1-0 when scoring first, Utah is 5-1-0-0.
- Keep in front of the net clear, if Meriläinen see the puck he stops the puck.
- With Colton Hargrove on injured reserve and out of the lineup long term, he passed the "C" to Kris Myllari in his absence. I talked to Hargrove yesterday and he assured me he will be around the team after his surgery to help in any way he can. You can expect him to be at practice, games and possibly even take some road trips down the road as he recuperates. Myllari brings a ton of leadership skills to the locker room and on the ice. He was voted by his ECHL peers as the best defensive defenseman in the Western Conference. That is quite an honor since he is averaging 1.06 points per game and is leading all ECHL players in power play points (12) and power play assists (10). An Ironman, Kris has not missed a game since he joined Allen in 2020-21.
- Just this week I saw this post on Twitter from an agent I follow. These are top level European leagues still looking for players. You have to assume the high end ECHL forwards, defensemen and goalies are getting calls to go to Europe.
Open jobs in Europe:
- Czech Extraliga - two teams looking for wingers.
- Finland Liiga - two teams looking for wingers.
- Germany - DEL1 and DEL2 - teams looking for forwards and defence.
- KHL - teams looking for defence.
- I am sure most of you saw former Allen Americans forward Sam Laberge made his NHL debut with New Jersey last night. Laberge played in Allen in 2020-21. Current players Spencer Asuchak, Colby McAuley and Kris Myllari played on that team. Laberge was injured and couldn't play in the Western Conference finals against Fort Wayne when Allen lost to the Komets.