ALLEN, Texas – It is game day for the Allen Americans as they take on the Kansas City Mavericks (7:05 pm) at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. The teams will also play on Saturday night (7:35 pm). The game tonight will be the fifth of eight games between Allen and Kansas City this season. The first four meetings all took place in a 10 day period in December. On December 10 & 11 they split two games in Kansas City and on December 19 & 20 they split two games in Allen.
– If you are a long time Allen fan you know the rivalry between these teams runs deep. They are no longer in the same division so the rivalry may not be as strong as in the past but the history between these teams is unforgettable. Here is a little history lesson on the Allen vs Missouri/Kansas City rivalry:
Both franchises began in the same year (2009-10) and to overgeneralize a bit, Missouri has always been the “darling successful franchise” that could not win, while Allen was always the struggling “financially troubled franchise” that could not lose.
In that very first year, Missouri finished sixth in the conference while Allen went to the championship final eventually losing to Rapid City. In 2013, Allen eliminated Missouri in the playoffs on the way to their first championship. In 2014, Missouri was the best regular season team in the Central Hockey League (CHL) but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the eighth seed (Arizona). Allen, who was the third seed, beat Denver for their second straight championship. Once Steve Martinson arrived in Allen the CHL annual awards seemed to always be the same. Allen would have the championship trophy and Missouri would be the franchise of the year.
– The rivalry really heated up in 2014-15 when Allen assistant coach, Richard Matvichuk, was selected as Missouri’s head coach. It was implied by some that Allen would struggle without Matvichuk who was in Allen for their first two championships. It didn’t take long for skeptics to learn who was the teacher and who was the student. Allen beat Missouri eight straight times before losing to the Mavericks in overtime late in the season. Missouri didn’t even make the playoffs and Allen went on to win their third straight championship and first Kelly Cup.
– 2015-16 may have been the topper for Allen fans as the Matvichuk led Mavericks had a record-breaking season and were the class of the ECHL in the regular season. They had 20 more points than the Americans and were the ECHL’s #1 seed going into playoffs.The Americans easily dispatched Missouri (4-2) in the second round of the playoffs on the way to their second straight Kelly Cup.
– Last season (2016-17) Allen’s record against Missouri was 10-1-2-0 but the Americans had a disappointing playoff run losing to the eventual champions (Colorado) in the second round. Missouri failed to make the playoffs.
– I think rivalries are more for fans than players and coaches. Martinson would always say it was just another game when Allen played Missouri but I think there was extra satisfaction when he beat his former assistant. Most of the current players aren’t even aware of the past rivalry. Matvichuk has moved on to a very successful coaching career in the Western Hockey League (Prince George Cougars). On the ice, there hasn’t been much of a rivalry since the teams have joined the ECHL. Allen’s record against Missouri is 25-8-4-0 overall and 11-5-1-0 in Missouri/Kansas City. Even though much has changed, the rivalry endures.
Who can forget the playoff “poogate” in Missouri when the Mavericks put stinkbait in the Americans locker room and coaches office prior to game six of the 2016 playoffs. The Mavericks were down in the series 3-2 at the time and it was “win or go home” for Missouri. The prank backfired on the Mavericks as the Americans clobbered Missouri 5-1 and eliminated them from the playoffs. Martinson’s quote after the game was, “Don’t throw fuel on the fire unless you want a bigger fire.” Then there was the incident back in 2014 when Allen goalie Mark Guggenberger was fined for tripping the Missouri mascot (Mac).
At least for the fans, the rivalry continues every time Allen and Kansas City play. The one fact Allen fans can and will always point out until the Mavericks do something about it is the Americans have four championships while Missouri/Kansas City has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs.
– Both Allen and Kansas City come into the game tonight trying to get back on the winning track. The Americans have lost 11 of their last 16 games including five of their last six. It is even worse for the Mavericks who haven’t won a game the entire month of February and are on an eight-game losing streak.
– In their four head to head games this season Allen and Kansas City have each scored 12 goals but as is typically the case with Allen opponents, the Mavericks have a big advantage in shots (170-113).
Allen is 50% on the power play (4-8) and Kansas City is 35.3% (6-17) on the power play. Both times Allen lost to Kansas City they allowed three power-play goals.
The four previous games have been pretty tame with a total of 50 penalty minutes for Allen and 52 for Kansas City. There were two fights in the four games. Mike Gunn vs Eric Freschi in Kansas City was the game Freschi got a game misconduct for spitting at Gunn after the fight and was suspended for the incident. The other fight was in the last game (December 20) in Allen when Colby McAuley dropped the gloves with Mavericks forward Mark Cooper.
– Here is a comparison between Allen and Kansas City this season:
|Team Record||25-22-4-2 (56 points)||25-26-0-2 (52 points)|
|Division Ranking||4th – Mountain||6th – Central|
|Last Game||3-1 Loss (Utah)||3-2 Loss (Florida)|
|Power Play||17.5% (41/234)||19.0% (37/195)|
|Penalty Kill||79.8% (48/238)||78.4% (36/167)|
|Leading Scorer||Pierro-Zabotel (15-40-55)||McMurtry (15-18-33)|
|PIMs Leader||Moore – 173||Elbrecht – 135|
– Here is how Allen and Kansas City rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:
Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (21.72) – Kansas City 18th (13.70)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 8th (3.26) – Kansas City 26th (2.70)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 13th (3.21) – Kansas City 14th (3.26)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 17th (31.55) – Kansas City 15th (31.94)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 23rd (36.74) – Kansas City 9th (30.85)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 11th (17.5%) – Kansas City 5th (19.0%)
Home Power Play %: Allen 10th (19.3%) – Kansas City 9th (19.4%)
Road Power Play %: Allen 15th (15.7%) – Kansas City 9th (15.5%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 23rd (79.8%) – Kansas City 24th (78.4%)
Home Penalty Kill %: Allen 14th (84.4%) – Kansas City 26th (77.6%)
Road Penalty Kill %: Allen 25th (75.0%) – Kansas City 23rd (79.1%)
– One stat that that stands out is goal differential. Allen is +3 (173 for & 170 against) while Kansas City is -30 (143 for & 173 against). Kansas City is ranked #26 in the league scoring an average of 2.70 goals per game. Allen averages over a half a goal per game more than the Mavericks.
– Allen averages 3.29 goals per game for the season but over the last six games has only scored 11 goals for an average of 1.83 per game. Kansas City has averaged just 1.50 goals per game over their last eight games (all losses).
– Which team will be able to generate some offense tonight is the big question. Special teams may very well hold the answer. Both teams have very poor penalty kill units. Allen is at 75.0% on the road and Kansas City is 77.6% at home. In their four previous games, the team that scored the most power play goals won the game. That will likely be the case tonight. It won’t be easy for the Americans who are 2-36 (5.9%) on the power play over their last six games.
– With both teams struggling getting off to a good start by scoring the first goal of the game will be even more important than usual tonight. As a reminder in Allen’s last 13 games the team that has scored first went on to win the game.
– Players to watch tonight for Allen are David Makowski, who has six points (2 goals, 4 assists) in four games against the Mavericks. Bryan Moore has only played in two of the previous games but has four points (2 goals 2 assists). Kansas City’s leading scorer against Allen is Mike McMurtry (six points) but he is currently on loan to the Stockton Heat (AHL).
– Jeremy Brodeur will start in goal for Allen and Thomas Hodges will serve as the back goalie. You may remember when Hodges, who is a Plano West graduate, served as the backup goalie for the NHL Florida Panthers, who were in town to play the Dallas Stars and their starting goalie was injured.
– It is most likely Allen will be short one skater tonight and Miles Liberati will play up front but you never know until game time for sure.
– Officials scheduled for the game are referee Alex Normandin (#26) and linesmen Andy Bethmann (#95) and Michael Houle (#49).
– If you are tracking Mountain Division games to see if Allen is making any progress in the standings there are some matchups tonight that could widen or narrow the point gaps. Wichita is at Utah, Idaho is at Rapid City and Colorado is at Tulsa.
– Both Syracuse (Olivier Archambault) and San Jose (Alex Schoenborn & Colby McAuley) will be in action tonight. Will have to track to see who is in the lineup and if so how they play.
– The San Jose Sharks got beat 7-1 in Nashville last night with Aaron Dell in goal. Dell has struggled in his last five starts with a .855 save percentage. This article from the San Jose Mercury News gives the details and explains why Dell’s recent numbers might make it easier to retain him once he becomes a free agent at the end of the season. https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/02/22/takeaways-sharks-will-be-able-to-keep-goalie-in-free-agency/
DID YOU KNOW: Five of the last seven Kelly Cup MVP’s have played for the Allen Americans. Here is the list including the team they played for when they won the playoff MVP award.
2017 – Matt Register (Colorado)
2016 – Chad Costello (Allen)
2015 – Greger Hanson (Allen)
2013 – Riley Gill (Reading)
2011 – Scott Howes (Alaska)