ALLEN, Texas – The Allen Americans are in Kansas City to take on the Mavericks tonight at 7:05 pm in a game Steve Martinson described this way:
“Eight players out of the lineup like we have now is something I have never had before. We need to find a way to get this next big game against Kansas City on Friday.”
– Who are the eight players Martinson was referring to? My count is eight players out with injuries and one (Motte) recalled to the Iowa Wild. Captain Joel Chouinard is the newest player to be added to the injury list. According to Martinson, he expects Chouinard could be out “a couple of weeks.”
– The good news is with so many players missing, Allen should still have a full team take the ice tonight unless someone gets hurt or sick between yesterday and tonight. Zach Pochiro was a full participant in practice yesterday after missing the game on Tuesday and is on the trip. With Chouinard out and the team down to five defensemen, look for Curt Gogol to move to the blueline tonight.
– Kyle Hayton will get the start in goal with Motte still in Iowa. Allen will have Thomas Hodges along on the trip as the emergency backup goaltender (EBUG). Hayton is coming off a 33-save shutout win in Wichita on Tuesday. Kyle had one start against Kansas City back on December 8 and took a 4-3 loss while saving 28 of 32 shots.
– If Wichita is the team Allen has owned (6-2-0-2) even in this season where the Americans winning percentage is .373, then Kansas City is the team that has owned the Americans. Allen’s record against the Mavericks is 1-6-0-0 and most of the losses have not been close. In the seven head-to-head games this season, Kansas City has outscored Allen 32-18 and outshot the Americans 243-207. If there is a silver lining in these stats it is Allen’s lone win against Kansas City came the last time they played (January 2).
– Allen’s six losses to Kansas City all came prior to December 8 when the Americans had lost 20 of 26 games. Allen has earned points in 11 of their last 13 games so they are obviously playing much better hockey. With that said here are some keys for Allen in the game tonight.
– Top of the list of keys is special teams. Tonight will be the eighth of 10 games Allen will play against the Mavericks. In the seven previous games, Kansas City had at least one power play goal in all seven and in five of the seven had multiple power play goals. The total is 13-41 which computes to a penalty kill percentage of 68.3% by the Americans. Allen’s power play against Kansas City in the first seven games was a paltry 3-29 or 10.3%.
– There are two issues in the special teams stats above. The first is how bad Allen has played special teams against the Mavericks. Allen’s penalty kill percentage of 68.3% and power play percentage of 10.3% is a major reason the Americans are 1-6 against Kansas City. Just as important is the fact Kansas City has had 41 power play chances in the seven previous games compared to 29 for Allen.
– Allen is much improved on special teams over the last 15 games. The power play percentage is 24.6% and the penalty kill is 85.5%. If they can duplicate this level of performance tonight, it will go a long way in securing a victory. The Americans also need to do a better job of avoiding stick penalties that result in power play opportunities for the Mavericks. There wasn’t one game in the previous seven games against Kansas City where Allen had more power plays than the Mavericks. If Allen can flip that script they will improve their chances to get a win.
– Another key, as usual, is scoring first. Kansas City has scored the first goal in six of the seven games against Allen. The Mavericks have one of the best records in the ECHL when scoring first (14-2-1-0). A good start by the Americans is another key to the game.
– Here are some other stats that indicate how important it is for Allen to get an early lead and not play from behind. On the road, Allen is 1-8-0-1 when trailing after the first period and 1-14-1-1 when trailing after the second period.
Here is Kansas City’s home record when tied or playing with a lead:
7-1-1-0 Leading after the first period
13-1-1-0 Leading after the second period
7-1-0-0 Tied after the first period
3-0-0-0 Tied after the second period
– If you are looking for players to watch tonight for Allen the leading point scorer against Kansas City has been Zach Pochiro with eight (3G, 5A) but the leading goal scorer has been Spencer Asuchak with four. The leading goal scorer for the Mavericks with five goals in seven games has been #22 David Dziurzynski.
– If the game tonight goes to overtime, advantage Kansas City. The Mavericks are 4-1 in games decided in overtime this season. Allen is 1-4 in overtimes and has lost four straight.
– Over their last 11 games, the best line for Allen has clearly been Shmyr-Bourbonnais-Salituro. If you add up their individual totals in their last 11 games they have combined for 33 points (14G, 19A) and have a plus/minus of +28. If you add up the totals for the top line of Pochiro-Asuchak-Miller it is 28 points (13G, 15A) and a plus/minus of -19.
– The referee schedule tonight is Jeff Parker (#22). The linesmen will be Chris Provost (#50) and Addison Brush (#80).
– There are 12 games around the ECHL tonight including six Mountain Division teams going head-to-head. In addition to Allen at Kansas City, Idaho visits Utah and Wichita is at Rapid City. Tulsa is idle. The Idaho/Utah matchup is a battle between the top two teams in the division. They have split the 10 games they have played this season.
– Florida goalie Jeremy Helvig has won 13 straight games which is tied for the third longest winning streak in ECHL history. Here is the list:
21- Josh Robinson, Missouri, (Nov. 4, 2015 – Feb. 14, 2016)
16 – Jeff Jakaitis, South Carolina, (Feb. 15 – April 2, 2015)
13 – Jeremy Helvig, Florida, (Dec. 5, 2018 – Present)
13 – Daniel Berthiaume, Roanoke, (1994-95)
– Florida won the Brabham Cup last season as the regular season point leader (112 points) and they are well on the way to repeating. The Everblades lead the ECHL in winning percentage at .755. The only other team above .674 is Cincinnati who has a winning percentage of .750. Florida started the season losing five of their first eight games. They have now won 16 of their last 19 games.
– The hottest team in the ECHL right now is Atlanta who is ranked 25th in the ECHL in points (42) and winning percentage (.477). The Gladiators are 9-0-2-0 in their last 11 games. They have won 17 games all season with nine of the wins coming in the last 11 games.
Did You Know?
Haven’t heard anything more about Gary Steffes signing with the Americans. Gary will be in town for the Alumni game which takes place on February 16 so maybe something will happen then. If Gary does come back he needs just seven goals to pass Chad Costello and Greger Hanson to become the Allen Americans all-time goal scorer. Spencer Asuchak is also within seven goals of the leaders. Here are the top five all time goal scorers for the Americans:
98 goals – Chad Costello
98 goals – Greger Hanson
97 goals – Bruce Graham
91 goals – Gary Steffes
91 goals – Spencer Asuchak