ALLEN, Texas – The Utah Grizzlies flipped the script on the Allen Americans yesterday, winning the final game of their three-game series 4-3 before a Sunday afternoon crowd of 1088 at the Maverik Center. The Americans fly home today having earned four of six points this weekend and finishing their ten straight road games with a record of 8-2.
The Grizzlies did to Allen what the Americans did to them in the first two games. Utah scored first, held Allen scoreless in the first period, and took a lead (2-0) into the first intermission. Allen was able to get back to within one goal a couple of times during the game but could never tie the score. A reminder of how important a good start is for success even for a team as talented as the Americans, Allen’s record when scoring first is 10-1, when they don’t score first, their record is 2-3. When the Americans have a lead after the first period, their record is 8-0. When they trail after the first period, their record is 1-2.
The goals scorers for Allen were Spencer Asuchak, Matt Register, and Jesse Mychan. Asuchak’s goal, his second of the season, was scored on a penalty shot early in the second period and cut the score to 2-1. There have been six penalty shots awarded in the ECHL this season. Asuchak’s penalty shot goal yesterday was the first successful one all season.
Register scored his second goal of the season on the power play at the 8:24 mark of the second period to cut the score to 3-2. Jesse Mychan scored his team-leading eighth goal on the power play with five minutes remaining in the game to cut the score to 4-3. Allen pulled goalie Jake Paterson and had a couple of good opportunities but could not get the equalizer.
Allen’s three goals came on a penalty shot and two power-play goals. The team struggled to create offense at even strength. To be fair, there was a lot of time spent on the power play and penalty kill by both teams. It is probably a factor of playing three games in three days, but total penalties increased each game with the same referee for all three games. Friday night had seven penalties for 14 minutes, Saturday night increased to 11 penalties for 28 minutes and yesterday ended with 15 penalties and 38 minutes.
The Americans did manage two power-play goals yesterday but were unable to score on a long 5-on-3 power play in the second period with a chance to tie the game. For the three-game series, the power play was a respectable 3-14 (21.4%). The Allen penalty kill had a tough weekend giving up four goals in the three games. The Americans were the top-ranked road penalty kill unit when they arrived in Utah with a percentage of 95.5%, having allowed one goal in 22 opportunities. Allen leaves Utah ranked fourth in road penalty kill percentage (86.1%). In the three games in Utah, the Americans gave up four power-play goals in 14 opportunities for a penalty kill percentage of 71.4%.
Here are the video highlights with all of the goals including Asuchak’s penalty shot goal and Colby McAuley‘s one-sided fight.
Allen heads home today to get ready for three straight games against Wichita, Wednesday, and Friday at home, and Saturday in Wichita. The Americans and Thunder have been the two best teams in the Western Conference. Allen has won six of their last seven games, Wichita has won five of six. This will be a critical three-game series for both teams with first place in the conference at stake.
In talking to coach Steve Martinson there will be work on special teams and faceoffs at practice this week along with some systems issues that need work.
How the AHL moves forward on their return to play may be made public this afternoon after the league’s Board of Governors meeting. AHL teams will break camp this week as they start the regular season on Friday. In the last two weeks, over 40 players went from the ECHL to AHL training camps. Look for the trend to reverse this week as some of the extra players at AHL training camps get assigned to ECHL teams.
After a busy ECHL schedule over the weekend, there are just five teams with a points percentage above .600. Indy leads at .833 followed by Allen (.750), Wichita (.731), Florida (.706), and South Carolina (.679). As a reminder, a team with a regular-season points percentage below .600 hasn’t won the Kelly Cup since 2012 when Florida finished seventh in the regular season with a points percentage of .590 and went on to win the Kelly Cup.
I had a question asking if there are any places Allen fans can go to watch road games. In past years there were various watch party options. I checked with team President Mike Waddell and he tells me he has been working on this issue and hopes to have an announcement very soon. With the pandemic, many bars are closing early and with limited capacity, they may be reluctant to spend advertising dollars on watch parties. Stay tuned.
Did You Know?
There have been 101 games thus far in the ECHL with just six penalty shots awarded which computes to 5.9% of the games with a penalty shot. With just one being successful (Asuchak) the success rate this season is 17%.
In the shortened 2019-20 season, 797 games were played and 39 penalty shots awarded which is 4.9%. Of the 39 penalty shots, nine were successful with a success rate of 23%.
For all things Allen Americans, follow Barry Janssen on Twitter @AllenAmericans1. For the latest stats and trends in the ECHL, follow @ECHLStats. And for the latest news on your favorite AHL & ECHL team, “Like” The Sin Bin on Facebook!