The Allen Americans are in practice mode while they await the opening of the second round of the Kelly Cup playoffs which will take place on Friday, May 1st at the Allen Event Center. Their opponent is still to be determined as the Rapid City vs Quad City series had another close game last night with Rapid City winning 2-1 in overtime. Rapid City now has a 2-1 lead in the series. All three games in the series have been one goal games and neither team has scored more than three goals in a game. Games four and five will be Friday and Saturday in Quad City with games six and seven back in Rapid City if necessary.

2015-2016 HOME SCHEDULE:

The Allen Americans released their 2015-2016 home schedule yesterday as the ECHL headquarters gave all of the teams permission to release the schedule any time after 2:00 pm ET. The ECHL will be releasing the entire schedule early next week. Plaudits to the ECHL for getting the schedule out early but have to say the sequencing seems a little strange. Not sure of the rationale for letting each team release their home schedule at their own pace and then the league releasing the away schedules all at once. I am sure many ECHL fans were trying to piece together they away schedules by looking at the other teams in the league home schedules. Have to admit to checking the Alaska Aces web site several times to see if they had released their home schedule yet in the hopes the Americans make a trip to Alaska next year. Unfortunately Alaska is one of a number of teams that have not released their home schedule.

There is a lot to like about the home schedule next year from playing fewer games against the teams in the Central Division, to having more weekend dates to seeing new teams come to the Allen Event Center. Here is what I call a deep dive into the home schedule.

The ECHL set a goal to have no more than six home games against any team in the division and they came very close in achieving that goal. Allen will play Missouri and Tulsa six times and Wichita seven times. This compares with 2014-2015 when the numbers were Tulsa (9), Wichita (8) and Missouri (5).

Allen fans will see eleven different teams including six new teams at AEC next year. Here is a list of the 36 home games by team:
7 games – Wichita
6 games – Missouri
6 games – Tulsa
4 games – Colorado
3 games – Cincinnati
3 games – Evansville
2 games – Utah
2 games – Idaho
1 game – Alaska
1 game – Rapid City
1 game – Quad City

The 2015-2016 home schedule is more favorable than this year with fewer weekday games and more weekend games but there are three fewer prime time Friday night games.

Here is the home schedule for next season by day of week with the change from this year in parentheses:
Monday – 2 games (same as last year)
Tuesday – 1 game (same as last year)
Wednesday – 4 games (one less than last year)
Thursday – 0 games (two less than last year)
Friday – 7 games (three less than last year)
Saturday – 12 games (three more than last year)
Sunday – 10 games (three more than last year)

If you look at the home schedule on a monthly basis it is also favorable as there are a few more home games later in the season after the first of the year when more fans are focused on hockey. There are a few less home games in the prime football playoff season.

Here is a breakdown of the home schedule by month with the change from last year in parentheses:
October – 3 games (+2)
November – 4 games (-1)
December – 6 games (-2)
January – 8 games (-1)
February – 4 games (-1)
March – 8 games (+3)
April – 3 games (same)

Finally, thought it would be interesting to look at the quality of the opponents on 2015-2016 home schedule based their 2014-2015 record. Things can change drastically from year to year in the ECHL so it doesn’t mean the teams with poor records this year will have poor records next year so with that caveat here is what I found:

Five of the eleven teams coming to the AEC next year didn’t make the playoffs this year. Allen will play these five teams 20 of the 36 home games.

Allen will play only two teams at home with a winning percentage above .600. Idaho had a winning percentage this year of .708 and plays at the AEC twice. Colorado had a winning percentage of .625 and plays four times in Allen.

Here is a complete list in winning percentage order with the number of games played in Allen in parentheses:
.708 – Colorado (4)
.625 – Idaho (2)
.569 – Utah (2)
.562 – Rapid City (1)
.562 – Quad City (1)
.556 – Tulsa (6)
.535 – Alaska (1)
.507 – Cincinnati (3)
.507 – Wichita (7)
.451 – Missouri (6)
.271 – Evansville (3)

The second year in the ECHL will see drastic changes for many of the old CHL teams. Allen will still see a lot of Missouri, Tulsa and Wichita in the new Central Division alignment and those rivalries will be ongoing. The rivalry that will be missed the most is with Rapid City who moves to the West Division. The history with the Rush dating back to 2009-2010 is one that will be missed. Luckily, Rapid City will still play in Allen once and the Americans have a couple games in Rapid City but it won’t be like to old days.

Many of the traditional promotion games are on the schedule next year such as Halloween (October 31) and MLK Day (January 18) but New Years Eve is not on the home schedule next year.

OTHER COMMENTS:

In other playoff action around the ECHL last night Wheeling beat #1 seed Toledo 5-4 and leads that series 2-1. Fort Wayne beat Kalamazoo 3-1 and lead the series 3-0. Colorado beat Ontario 4-3 to tie that series 2-2. There are two games tonight (Thursday) with Florida at Orlando and South Carolina at Reading.

Wanted to add my congratulations to Bob Hoffman who has been hired by the Quad City Mallards as Executive Vice President. Bob has many years of experience in minor pro hockey and most recently served as the Central Hockey League’s Director of Operations and Communications from 2007 until last year when the CHL ceased operations. Bob spent many hours helping this fledgling blogger understand everything about the CHL from rules to rosters to policies. Whether it was email, on the phone or in person on one of his many visits to Allen he was always willing to take the time to explain and educate. He doesn’t need it but best of luck to Bob Hoffman in Quad City.

Wanted to post this video about the role of the enforcer in professional hockey. It is an interesting perspective of looking at enforcers from an analytical point of view. The video speaks for itself but my takeaway is not that fighting will be eliminated but guys that can only fight are being phased out of the game. If you haven’t already seen the video it is worth a look.

DID YOU KNOW: During the regular season there was not a single team in the ECHL Central Division that won more games at home than they did on the road.

 

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