ALLEN, TX – Before I talk about the Allen Americans, I would be remiss if I didn’t add my congratulations to the USA Women’s Hockey Team for their electrifying 3-2 shootout victory over Canada last night to win the Olympic gold medal.
Everyone knew it would be an epic battle because these teams have been the best in the world for a long time. Canada and the US are the only teams that have ever won gold since women’s hockey became an Olympic sport in 1998. It took a third period comeback last night by the American team and a six-round shootout before a goal by Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson gave the US the victory. Here is the game recap with video of the gold medal ceremony and the game-winning goal which Jocelyne calls her, “Oops I Did it Again” move: https://www.nbcolympics.com/news/gold-last-us-scores-third-period-equalizer-wins-shootout
– Being a proud Minnesotan it is notable that there are seven players on the gold medal-winning women’s hockey team from the great state of Minnesota. An equally amazing feat was accomplished by another Minnesotan along with her Alaskan teammate in women’s sprint freestyle cross-country skiing. Jessie Diggins (Minnesota) and Kikkan Randall (Alaska) won gold. They are the first American cross-country skiers to medal at the Olympics since Bill Koch took home a silver in 1976. Here is the complete story which is a great read: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/sports/olympics/cross-country-usa-jessie-diggins-kikkan-randall.html
– If you haven’t seen Jessie Diggins’ incredible finish to this race with one of the greatest live broadcast calls in Olympic history this is a must watch. Goosebumps are a guarantee and you might shed a tear. https://sports.yahoo.com/can-see-light-epic-gold-medal-finish-equally-epic-broadcast-002435133.html
– Now on to the Allen Americans, who will practice this morning, have a team lunch and then spend about eight hours on the bus traveling 480 miles to Kansas City where they will play the Mavericks on Friday and Saturday.
– It will be a depleted roster that heads north to Kansas City today. Stephon Williams will not accompany the team so Jeremy Brodeur will be in goal for both games. Allen will use an emergency backup goalie (EBUG) on the trip.
– There were only eight healthy forwards at practice yesterday. Zach Hall is injured and Colby McAuley and Alex Schoenborn are in San Jose. Defenseman Miles Liberati will play upfront since there are seven healthy defensemen. It is possible Steve Martinson could bring in a forward from the SPHL or pick up a forward off the waiver wire so the team doesn’t have to play short this weekend.
– San Jose just acquired a forward in a trade for a future draft pick and John McCarthy will return from the Olympics next week, so Allen may get a player back from the Barracuda soon.
McAuley and Schoenborn were in the lineup for the Barracuda last night for the first time since being recalled on Monday. The Barracuda lost to the Ontario Reign 5-2 and remain in seventh place in the eight-team Pacific Division. McAuley scored his first AHL goal in the loss. San Jose plays again tomorrow night (Friday) and then has a week off before they play on March 2nd. The Americans may get a player back after the game tomorrow night.
– I will have a complete preview of the Allen vs Kansas City set tomorrow, but goaltending will be a big key. Allen has split the load between Brodeur and Williams since Riley Gill was injured in the third game of the season. Brodeur has played in 34 games and Williams 32. Jeremy will get both starts in Kansas City out of necessity and his stats speak for themselves. Brodeur has the sixth-best save percentage in the ECHL at .922 and is creeping up the list for most saves. He is now fifth in the league with 1071 saves.
– Kansas City has already set a franchise record by using seven different goalies this season. Currently on the roster are Adam Carlson, a Washington Capitals prospect and Mavric Parks who was just added to the roster. Carlson has played in the last two games for the Mavericks and has 32 ECHL games played over the last two seasons. His GAA in those 32 games is 3.04 and his save percentage is .891. Parks has played one game for the Mavericks and spent most of his two-year pro career in the SPHL. In 41 SPHL games, he has a 3.22 GAA and save percentage of .911.
– In Mountain Division action last night Colorado beat Wichita 2-1 in a shootout and Idaho beat Rapid City 4-2. It is getting more dire by each game for Allen to move up in the standings. They now trail third-place Wichita by seven points, second place Idaho by 12 points and first place Colorado by 18 points. Here are the current Mountain Division standings with games played in parentheses.
74 points – Colorado (53 games)
68 points – Idaho (54 games)
63 points – Wichita (54 games)
56 points – Allen (53 games)
55 points – Tulsa (54 games)
50 points – Utah (53 games)
39 points – Rapid City (52 games)
How much ground has Allen lost in the last two weeks? On February 8, Allen was one point ahead of Wichita, now they are seven points behind. They were four points behind Idaho and now they are 12 points behind. They were 12 points behind Colorado and now they are 19 points behind. Even the teams behind Allen in the standings have gained ground in the last two weeks. Tulsa is +4, Utah is +4 and last place Rapid City is +3. If there is a silver lining in how much ground the Americans have lost in the last two weeks it is if you can lose that much ground in two weeks it is possible to gain a lot of ground in a short period of time.
DID YOU KNOW: With all of the less than stellar stats about this season, I thought it would be good to end with a stat that explains just how good the Allen Americans have been since joining the ECHL. There have been over 80 ECHL teams over the 30-year history of the league — depending on how you count changes in ownership and geographical moves of the same franchise. According to the ECHL, of all of those teams, the highest winning percentage (all seasons) for any team is the Allen Americans who have a .692 winning percentage with a record of 138-55-23.