ALLEN, Texas – It is finally game day for the Allen Americans as they haven’t played since March 3 when they beat their opponent tonight, Utah, at home 5-3.
– The game tonight will be the sixth of the season between Allen and Utah but it is only the beginning. In a schedule that is hard to figure out, the Americans will play Utah 18 times (8 home, 10 away), more than they play Wichita (11 times) and Tulsa (13 times). Given the pandemic, it is a surprise that Allen is playing Tulsa and Wichita fewer times than normal, while playing Utah and Rapid City (16) more times than normal. Playing one team (Utah) 18 times in a season is an all-time record.
– Allen’s overall record is 17-9-1-0 (.648) and Utah’s overall record is 13-10-3-5 (.548). The Americans road record is 10-8-0-0 and Utah’s home record is 8-3-1-3.
– Allen has played well against Utah with a record of 4-1 against the Grizzlies this season. The last time the Americans were in Utah they won two of three games. Over their last 10 games both teams have almost identical records with Allen at 4-5-1-0 and Utah at 4-5-0-1. More recently Allen has won two of its last four games including a win over Utah while the Grizzlies have lost four straight games (all on the road).
– Just like this weekend, Allen visited Utah for three games in three days at the end of January. The Americans won the first game 5-2 and the second game 3-2 in a shootout before losing game three 4-3.
– Head-to-head stats (5 games) show Allen with the edge in goals (18-12,) but Utah with the edge in shots (153-135). Allen’s power play is 3-19 (15.8%) against the Grizzlies. Utah’s power play is 5-19 (26.3%) against the Americans.
– Special teams are always a big key, but even more so in this three-game series against Utah. The challenge will be how Allen’s penalty kill unit can stop Utah’s power play that is the second-ranked power play in the league converting on 27.0% (17-63) of its opportunities at home. Allen has one of the worst penalty kill percentages in the league with a road percentage of just 78.1% (14-64). On the flip side, Allen has the advantage. The Americans road power play is 13-70 (18.6%,) compared to Utah’s home penalty kill of 12-52 (76.9%).
– The best predictor of who will win tonight and every night is scoring the first goal. The team that scored first has won all five games these teams have played this season. Allen’s point percentage when it scores first is .875 with a record of 14-2-0-0 while compared to Utah at .692 with a record of 8-3-1-1.
– Two of the previous five games between these teams went extra time with both ending in Allen victories in shootouts. If the game goes beyond regular time tonight, the odds favor the Americans. Allen is 1-1 in overtime games and 2-0 in shootouts. Utah is 1-3 in overtime games and 0-5 in shootouts.
– Utah has one the best power plays in the ECHL, but struggles scoring even strength. Allen scores 76% of its goals even strength. Compare that to the Grizzlies who score 62% of their goals even strength.
– Allen’s roster will be as healthy and strong as it has been in several weeks. The players recently assigned by San Jose have had a chance to get in some practices in Allen and all of the players that were out with COVID have returned. I could see coach Steve Martinson rotating players this series so more will be rested and just play two of the three games. Especially those players coming back from COVID.
– Utah had recently lost several players to its AHL affiliate (Colorado) but they got three forwards assigned by Colorado yesterday; Ty Lewis, Nick Henry and Travis Barron. Lewis has played five games for Utah this season and has seven assists. Henry played two games with Utah in February and had four goals in two games. This is Barron’s first assignment to Utah. To make room for these players from Colorado the Grizzlies released former Allen forward, Braylon Shmyr.
– Some of the top rookies in the ECHL will be in action in this series. Utah’s Matthew Boucher leads all rookies in points (22) and Allen’s Joe Garreffa is second among all ECHL players in average points per game at 1.13 (minimum 15 games). Utah’s 19-year-old rookie defenseman, Hunter Skinner, the 4th round pick of the New York Rangers in 2019, is tied with Les Lancaster for most goals in the ECHL by defensemen (7). Allen’s rookie defenseman, Phil Beaulieu, has only played 18 games but is sixth in points (8), fifth in plus/minus (+6), and seventh in points per game (.44) among rookie defensemen.
Did You Know?
ECHL leaders in games, points, goals, and assists since the start of the 2018-19 season with current/last ECHL team:
165 – Adam Pleskach, Tulsa
162 – Michael Pelech, Indy
161 – Andrew Cherniwchan, South Carolina
161 – Frank Hora, Greenville
146 – Jesse Schultz, Greenville
142 – Adam Pleskach
135 – David Vallorani, Brampton
134 – Micheal Pelech
70 – Nic Pierog, Indy
64 – Adam Pleskach
62 – Andrew Cherniwchan
60 – Spencer Watson, Indy
97 – Jesse Schultz
97 – Michael Pelech
86 – Shawn Szydlowski, Fort Wayne
86 – Shane Berschbach, Toledo