ALLEN, TX – When you are a fan of a team like the Allen Americans who have won three straight championships, there is no such thing as a moral victory especially when playing at home.
So the 3-1 loss to Missouri last night before a great crowd of 5179 at the Allen Event Center who braved tornado and flash flood warnings to support the Americans was disappointing to say the least. However, if you analyze the game, Allen was able to cause some problems for the Mavericks that they were unable to do the last time these two teams met, when Missouri out shot Allen 42-18 and won the game 4-1. Here are a few of the positives.
– Allen would end the game with 33 shots on goal. It was only the second time in the last 10 games the Americans have had at least 30 shots on goal. They accomplished this against a team that ranks second in the league in the fewest allowed shots on goal. Definitely an improvement.
– The Americans were able to get the Mavericks to play their type of game. Missouri takes very few penalties. Going into the game they were the least penalized team in the ECHL, averaging less than 10 penalty minutes per game. They had been involved in just four fights all season compared to 33 for Allen. Last night the Mavericks took more penalties than Allen, had 20 minutes in penalties (including two fights) and gave the Americans four power play opportunities. The bad news is Allen could not capitalize on the power play going 0-4.
– The Americans played well despite missing many players. Teams expect injuries and call ups and Allen has had more than their share. Greger Hanson and Daniel Doremus are with the Barracuda (AHL) and have been gone for a while now. Rick Pinkston was just called up to San Jose so he did not play last night. Then you have Casey Pierro Zabotel, Joel Rumpel and Vincent Arseneau out with injuries. These are all key players. What is unusual is to have players quit the team in the middle of the season. It was certainly a surprise when Justin Baker, who was on the ECHL all rookie team last year and logged a lot of minutes for the Americans, decided to quit the team. Then a real shocker over the Christmas break when Ian Schultz decided to quit the team and went home.
STEVE MARTINSON’S POST GAME COMMENTS:
– I thought we had a pretty good start except for Missouri’s first goal. It was a play where several mistakes were made. The forward could have played the puck but got cute and thought the defenseman was going to get it and then the defenseman ran into the referee and then the center didn’t back check so they had an odd man rush. It is tough when you give up that kind of play in the first few minutes of the game.
– We were able to tie the game up but did not score on our power play opportunities. That was frustrating. A couple of times our players got rid of the puck in the corner with their back turned before anybody came to them. In that situation you have to hold the puck and try to make a play. In big games the power play has to be better than it was tonight.
– On Missouri’s second goal we got caught on the ice for about a minute and a half and then the Mavericks got a change as the puck was in their end by their bench. They got fresh legs on the ice and kept moving the puck around until we made a mistake. It looked like maybe Gill was screened on the shot.
– It was a game we could have won, but we didn’t. We had some good chances to score but couldn’t put the puck in the net. It was frustrating for sure.
– We need production from our top players to win games and that has not been consistent. Our third line has not scored much and we have not done well on the power play. That has been the difference.
– The two odd man rushes when they scored was the difference in the game. Missouri didn’t give us any odd man rushes.
– There were a lot of positives in that game and we definitely have to play better. But the game we played tonight would win us a lot of games.
– Ian Schultz quit the team. He sent me a text the other day telling me he didn’t want to play hockey anymore. He is tired of playing and it was no longer any fun.
– We now have to do well on the road for the next four games. We are leaving now for Wichita and will return to Allen after the game tomorrow and then go back to Wichita for the game on Wednesday and then on to Missouri and Quad City.
– With the loss to Missouri, the Americans are still in second place in the Central Division but are now 14 points behind the Mavericks. Allen needs to be concerned about Tulsa who beat Wichita last night and moved to within four points of the Americans. Tulsa has played three fewer games than Allen.
– It was great to see Trevor Ludwig get his championship ring before the game last night. As captain of the Mavericks, who are having a great season, he has a legitimate chance to win his fourth consecutive championship this year.
– With a roster spot open after Ian Schultz left the team, coach Martinson has signed left wing Casey Thrush who played college hockey for the University of New Hampshire.
– The Missouri Mavericks flew to Dallas rather than taking the bus. They had a 6:00 am flight back home this morning. Seems like this has become more of a trend around the league that the Americans will not follow since they own their own bus.
ALLEN VS WICHITA GAME PREVIEW:
The Americans left immediately after the game last night for Wichita where they will play today at 5:05 p.m. CST. The game will be the third of 13 games between these teams this year. Allen won the first two meetings winning in Allen 5-2 on November 10th and in Wichita 3-0 on November 17th.
– Here is a comparison between Allen and Wichita:
Team Record 16-12-1-0 (33 points) 7-18-0-3 (17 points)
Division Ranking 2nd – Central 4th – Central
Conference Ranking 2nd – Western 14th – Western
League Ranking 7th 27th
Last Game 3-1 L (Missouri) 2-1 L (Tulsa)
Goals For 85 52
Goals Against 86 91
Power Play 19.2% (23/120) 7.7% (8/104)
Penalty Kill 83.9% (19/118) 84.1% (20/126)
Here is how Allen and Wichita rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:
Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 2nd (19.24) – Wichita 13th (14.82)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 14th (2.93) – Wichita 28th (1.86)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 17th (2.97) – Wichita 21th (3.25)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 10th (19.2%) – Wichita 28th (7.7%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 11th (83.9%) – Wichita 10th (84.1%)
– Special teams always play a key role and this is an area where Allen has an advantage. In the two games they have played against the Oilers this year, Allen is 4-14 (28.6%) on the power play while Wichita is 0-9 (0.00%). The Oilers have the worst power play percentage in the league (7.7%) and are on pace to set a new ECHL record for fewest power play goals in a season which is 28. At their current pace, Wichita will get just 20 power play goals.
– Both teams have been struggling as Allen has lost five of their last six games. Wichita has lost 10 of their last 11 games. Both need a victory real bad.
– Leading scorers for Allen are Chad Costello with 38 points (11 goals 27 assists), Eric Roy with 19 points (6 goals 13 assists) and Jonathan Parker with 18 points (9 goals 9 assists).
– Leading scorers for Wichita are Andrew Huff with 14 points (7 goals 7 assists) and Peter Sakaris with 13 points (4 goals 9 assists).
– Officials scheduled for the game are referee Stephen Reneau (#17) and linesmen Chuck Schamel (#97) and Terry Saunders (#82).
DID YOU KNOW: Defenseman Dallas Ehrhardt who played for Allen in 2013-14 recently signed with Dijon in the French League. He joins Brian McMillin who also plays for Dijon.