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ALLEN, Texas – It has been 18 days but game day in Allen has finally arrived and the stakes couldn’t be much higher. The Americans occupy the fourth and final playoff spot in the Mountain Division and take on the Tulsa Oilers who occupy fifth place just two points behind Allen.

– Tulsa will be facing a group of forwards that is almost unrecognizable from the last time these teams played (February 3). Allen has added forwards Thomas Frazee (#25), Tristan King (#9),  J.C. Campagna (#29), Alexandre Carrier (#33), Tyler Poulsen (#77), Jared Bethune and my reporting is there will be another forward announced today. It remains to be seen which five players from this list will join Bryan Moore, Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Spencer Asuchak, Alex Guptill and Zach Pochiro to make up the ten forwards in the lineup tonight. Tristan King is listed as day to day but will not be available tonight.

– Allen is down to six defensemen for a good reason as David Makowski received a well-deserved call-up from the San Jose Barracuda. David was in the lineup last night as the Barracuda played in Tucson and lost to the Roadrunners 4-0. Makowski had three shots (second highest on the team) along with a two-minute penalty for interference and was even on plus/minus. The teams will have a rematch in Tucson tonight.

– There are a lot of ways to compare records between Allen and Tulsa. The broadest way is the overall record which is 31-25-5-2 for Allen and 28-24-3-8 for Tulsa. Allen is 15-8-4-1 at home while Tulsa is 13-12-2-6 on the road. In their last ten games, Allen is 6-3-1-0 and Tulsa is 6-2-0-2. Head-to-head since joining the ECHL Allen’s record against Tulsa is 24-18-3-3 overall and 18-8-2-0 at the Allen Event Center (AEC).

– The game tonight will be the 13th and final time Allen and Tulsa play during the regular season. They have played six times at the AEC and four of the six have been decided in overtime or a shootout. Allen’s record at home against the Oilers this season is 3-1-2-0.

– In their 12 previous meetings Allen has outscored Tulsa 41-35 but Tulsa has the advantage in shots 502-434. The Americans are 11-54 (20.4%) on the power play and Tulsa is 6-44 (13.6%).

– Here is the matchup between Allen and Tulsa:

ALLEN TULSA
Team Record 31-25-5-2 (69 points) 28-24-3-8 (49 points)
Conference Ranking 7th – Western 9th – Western
Last Game 4-3 OT Loss (Colorado) 5-3 Win (Kansas City)
Goals For/Against 210/203 191/201
Power Play 17.2% (47/274) 13.8% (34/247)
Penalty Kill 81.3% (52/278) 83.6% (41/250)
Most PIM’s Moore (191) Kessy (239)
Leading Scorer Pierro-Zabotel  (17-45-62) Sampair (29-24-53)

– Here is how Allen and Tulsa rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (20.97) – Tulsa 6th (17.81)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 8th (3.33) – Tulsa 17th (3.03)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 16th (3.22) – Tulsa 15th (3.19)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 20th (31.19) – Tulsa 2nd (37.10)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 23rd (36.16) – Tulsa 22nd (34.44)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 16th (17.2%) – Tulsa 24th (13.8%)
Home Power Play Percentage: Allen 10th (18.7%) – Tulsa 26th (12.1%)
Road Power Play Percentage: Allen 16th (15.9%) – Tulsa 18th (15.3%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 21st (81.3%) – Tulsa 11th (83.6%)
Home Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 12th (84.5%) – Tulsa 5th (87.2%)
Road Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 25th (78.5%) – Tulsa 22nd (80.5%)

– The most striking stats above are shots on goal. Tulsa is second in the ECHL averaging almost 37 shots on goal per game while the Americans are ranked #23 in the ECHL allowing an average of 36 shots on goal per game.

Against Allen, the Oilers have averaged 42 shots on goal. Steve Martinson talks about the way to reduce shots on goal is to avoid so many turnovers in the neutral zone. If there is no play to be made dump the puck. Puck possession will be key tonight if the Americans expect to win. Allen doesn’t necessarily have to outshoot Tulsa to win tonight, but they need to keep the shot differential close.

– If you look at the special teams stats above Allen has a slight advantage. The Americans power play percentage at home is 18.7% while Tulsa is 15.3% on the road. The Allen penalty kill percentage at home is 84.5% while Tulsa is 80.5% on the road. Head to head the Americans are 11-54 (20.4%) on the power play and Tulsa is 6-44 (13.6%). Allen just completed a six-game road trip where they were at 25% on the power play and 92% on the penalty kill. If the Americans can keep up their improved special teams play, they will have a good chance of winning tonight.

– It is a good bet the team that scores first tonight will win the game. That has been the case 11 of the 12 games Allen and Tulsa have played this season.

– Here are a couple of stats worth noting about Tulsa. They are one of the best teams in the ECHL in scoring shorthanded goals. The Oilers have 12 shorties this season and only Florida with 13 has more. However, when it comes to shootouts, Tulsa is by far the worst team in the league. The Oilers are 0-8 in shootout games and have only converted four of 28 (14.3%) shootout attempts while allowing 14 of 28 (50%).

– Officials scheduled for the game are referee Olivier Gouin (#7) and linesmen Cameron Dykstra (#0) and Aaron Schacht (#31). I don’t remember Gouin being in Allen before but he is an experienced referee who also works in the AHL. He has been a referee in the Memorial Cup in the past and also worked the IIHF’s 2017 World Championships.

OTHER COMMENTS

– If you are a scoreboard watcher, you noticed Wichita lost 3-1 to Kansas City last night and remains four points ahead of Allen but the Americans have two games in hand with a chance to cut the Thunder lead to two points with a win tonight. In addition to Tulsa at Allen tonight, Colorado is at Utah and Rapid City is at Idaho.

– Here is a nice article about Olivier Archambault and the success he is having with the Syracuse Crunch. http://auburnpub.com/sports/local/archambault-showing-off-offensive-flair-with-syracuse-crunch/article_4d7f0c9a-1fad-54ba-8548-a1bd7ed4cf30.html

– The article above has a question about Archambault’s future with Syracuse. That question was answered today when Olivier was signed by Syracuse to an AHL contract for the remainder of this season and the 2018-19 season. Congrats to Olivier. Here is the story with all of the details: https://syracusecrunch.com/news/2018/3/21/syracuse-crunch-sign-forward-olivier-archambault-to-ahl-contract.aspx

– You may remember this story I wrote back in September about three members of the Allen Americans family, Britt and Kelley Dougherty and their young son Beckett who has been battling cancer most of his young life. Here is that story from last September.

– If you have been following the Allen Americans since the beginning, you may remember a sales representative by the name of Kelley Sklar. Kelley walked me through the AEC while it was still under construction. Hard hats required but she took me to every nook and cranny of the building. You may also remember the enforcer on that first team was a player by the name of Britt Dougherty. Britt was tough as nails but had to retire after the 2009-10 season because of an injury.

To make a long story short Kelley and Britt met during that first Allen season and fell in love. When Britt retired after the 2009-10 season, he moved home to Swift Current, Saskatchewan and Kelley moved with him. They are now married and have a three-month-old son. Tom Manning shared with me a post that one of Kelley’s friends shared on social media.

Here is the post: “One of my dearest lifelong friends, Kelley Dougherty’s three-month-old son, Beckett Dougherty, was recently diagnosed with Infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. This is a very rare childhood cancer. Kelley and her husband Britt currently live in Swift Current but have transferred Beckett to Toronto (over 20 hours away) in order to get him the best possible care. This will be a long journey for the family and we would love to show them support in any way we can. Please consider making a donation in the link below. More importantly, please pray for this sweet family and their brave little boy. Be one of the thousands of people all over the world praying for Beckett.”

– Fast forward six months to the end of March and Beckett is still in Toronto battling for his life. If you want to track his progress or leave a message of support, you can do so at: https://www.caringbridge.org/public/beckettdougherty

– The Allen Americans are having a fundraiser for Beckett on March 30. If you buy tickets through this link $5 from each ticket will go to Beckett. There will also be a table on the concourse where items will be auctioned. Here is the link where you can get details and purchase tickets. https://allenamericans.com/beckett/

Photo Courtesy: Allen Americans

DID YOU KNOW: Britt Dougherty led Allen with 13 fights in their inaugural season (2009-10) until he got hurt in early February. Like almost all enforcers, he was a great guy off the ice and a fan favorite. Here is one of his more memorable fights from that first season when Britt dropped the gloves with Ryan Tobler of Colorado.

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