ALLEN, Texas – It is game day for the Allen Americans as they take on the Grizzlies in the first of three games in Utah. The teams play tonight, take the day off tomorrow for Thanksgiving and play again on Friday and Saturday.
– Under normal circumstances you might think going on the road to play the top team in the division (tied) might be a success if Allen could get half of the available points but these are not normal circumstances for the Americans. They find themselves with the worst winning percentage in the ECHL (.313) and are seven points out of a playoff spot.
– You can still say it is early in the season and there is plenty of time to get things back on track but the facts are after the game on Sunday just over 25% of the season will be completed. If Allen wins only one of the three games in Utah they would have to have a winning percentage of .632 the rest of the season to make the playoffs based on the average number of points (79) it takes to make the playoffs.
– The Americans had the only practice they will have in ten days on Monday. This time of year with games and travel and a holiday thrown in, practice time can be hard to find. The good news is the three newest players; Greg Chase, Mitch Maloney and Jake Doty were able to get in a full practice before the team departed for Utah. I did have a chance to meet Doty briefly after practice and confirmed with him he goes by Jake, not Jacob. He will be wearing #37.
– The team met up very early Tuesday morning at the Allen Event Center to get to the airport for their flight to Salt Lake City. They didn’t have ice time and had a free afternoon. They will also have the day free on Thursday.
– The Allen roster changes on a daily basis and the good news is Josh Thrower and Zach Pochiro made the trip with the team to Utah. You wouldn’t think they would be on the trip if they weren’t expected to play at some point in the three-game series.
– With goalie C.J. Motte in Iowa, the Americans brought Thomas Hodges on the trip and he will be the EBUG (emergency backup goalie). That means it will be the Jeremy Brodeur show in goal.
– This series in Utah pits Allen with a record of 4-10-0-2 against Utah with a record of 9-2-3-0. All four of Allen’s wins have come on the road (4-4-0-2). The Grizzlies home record is 5-1-1-0.
– Allen has fared well against Utah since joining the ECHL with an overall record of 11-5-0-0. In games played in Utah, the Americans record is 7-2-0-0.
Here is how Allen/Utah stack up:
|Team Record||4-10-0-2 (10 points)||9-2-3-0 (21 points)|
|Division/Conf. Ranking||7th Mtn/12th West||2nd Mtn/4th West|
|Last Game||2-0 Win (Tulsa)||4-0 Win (Indy)|
|Leading Scorer||Shmyr (7-8-15)||Herbert (13-10-23)|
|Power Play||15.5% (11/71)||26.5% (18/68)|
|Penalty Kill||84.6% (12/78)||87.5% (7/56)|
|PIMs Leader||Makowski – 64||Zahn – 43|
– One of the biggest challenges for the Americans in this series will be finding a way to slow down #40, Caleb Herbert, who leads the ECHL in scoring with 23 points (13G, 13A) in 13 games. Averaging a goal a game is very impressive and even more impressive is he has at least one goal in 11 of his 13 games.
– A big key to this series will be special teams play. Utah has the best power play in the ECHL (26.5%) and it is even better at home (27.3%). The Grizzlies have the #4 ranked penalty kill in the league (87.5%) but it has not been as good at home (82.8%). Allen’s road power play is 19.0% and their road penalty kill is 87.2%. It will be important for the Americans to avoid minor penalties that give Utah a man advantage. Allen has taken 94 minor penalties this season, Utah has taken just 68.
– With the addition of Doty to Allen’s lineup, you can expect he will make his presence known and will be trying to keep order on the ice and prevent Utah from taking any liberties. Utah is toward the top of the ECHL list for fighting majors (15) while Allen is toward the bottom with six fighting majors. Remember, five of the six fights for the Americans came in one game. Teigan Zahn leads the Grizzlies with six of their 15 fighting majors. You would have to think the odds of Doty and Zahn dropping the gloves are very good.
– A good start will be crucial in this series and by a good start, I mean scoring the first goal. Utah has a first-period goal differential of +8 (18 for 10 against) and has scored first in 10 of their 14 games with a record of 7-1-2-0. Allen’s first period goal differential is -1 and they have scored first in just six of their 14 games. Allen’s record when they don’t score first is 0-8-0-1.
– Another key to the series is shots allowed which has been a problem for the Americans all season. Even in the 2-0 win in Tulsa in their last game, the Americans gave up 42 shots. Allen is last in the ECHL in average shots allowed at 39.88 per game. Utah is one of the best in the league ranked #3 allowing 27.93 shots per game. If you combine this stat with the fact Utah has a much better shooting percentage (11.6%) than Allen (8.4%), it is not likely the Americans can win if they are out shot by the Grizzlies. Utah is 4-0-0-0 when out shooting their opponent at home. When the Grizzlies are out shot by opponents at home their record is 0-1-2-0.
– The referee scheduled tonight is Chris Pontes (#12) and the linesmen scheduled are Andrew Collins (#49) and James McKenna (#96).
– I came across this video titled “So God Made a Hockey Mom” and immediately thought of some of the Allen Americans hockey moms I have met over the years and still keep in touch with today. Some may not be hockey moms yet but they are soccer moms and hockey wives that have spent plenty of time juggling many balls while their husbands played hockey. When I watched this video I specifically thought of Nicole Schaafsma, Janelle Snowden, Ashley Costello and Levi Pierro-Zabotel who all have husbands who spend time on the road and children heavily involved in hockey. If you haven’t seen this video it is a great tribute to hockey moms.
Did You Know?
Since the 2016-17 season the top three ECHL defensemen in total points all have a connection to the Allen Americans and if you look at total goals by defensemen three of the top four have Allen connections. Here is the list.
Total points by ECHL defensemen since 2016-17
141 – Matt Register
110 – David Makowski
101 – Joel Chouinard
Total goals by ECHL defensemen since 2016-17
37 – Matt Register
32 – Jordan Henry (Brampton)
29 – David Makowski
28 – Eric Roy