ALLEN, Texas – The long wait is finally over. Allen Americans fans have waited 170 days between the disappointing game seven loss in the playoffs to the regular season opener tonight against the Kansas City Mavericks (7:05 pm). It is that time of year when all 27 ECHL teams are excited about their team and have high hopes on what is to come. Tonight starts the journey to see if what looks good on paper will look good on the ice.
– Allen and Kansas City played twice in preseason with the Americans winning both games. It is difficult to draw conclusions from the preseason games because both teams were missing key players each night. With that said, a couple of thoughts from the preseason.
– Allen won both preseason games but fell behind 3-0 in the first game and 1-0 in the second before making a comeback. Falling behind is not the recipe for success. Last season the Americans were 26-6-1-0 when they scored the first goal of the game. When they didn’t score first their record was 9-23-5-2.
– Good starts were a positive last season with Allen outscoring opponents in the first period 70-54 for a goal differential of +16. The Americans were outscored (82-80) in the second period and the third period (88-79) last season. The first goal and winning the first period will be important for both teams tonight.
– Allen finished the two preseason games 2-9 (22.2%) on the power play and 3-14 (78.6%) on the penalty kill. The penalty kill was an Achilles heel for the Americans last season, finishing ranked #20 at 81.6%. Preseason is a small sample size and the penalty kill group had not been fully established so there is not much you can take from the results, however, the penalty kill will be something to watch tonight and during the early part of the season.
– Past isn’t prologued but here is the head to head results between Allen and Kansas City since the teams joined the ECHL.
26-11-4-0 – Allen’s overall record against Kansas City
11-7-1-0 – Allen’s record in games played in Kansas City
15-4-3-0 – Allen’s record in games played in Allen
3-4-1-0 – Allen’s record against Kansas City last season.
– Both teams will be looking to make a big improvement from last season. Kansas City had a record of 34-32-4-2, missed the playoffs, finished sixth in the Central Division and finished 31 points behind division champion Toledo. This season the Mavericks have moved to the Mountain Division. Allen had a record of 35-29-6-2, finished third in the Mountain Division, finished 24 points behind eventual Kelly Cup champion Colorado and made a first round exit in the playoffs. It is only one game but a win tonight is important for both teams to build confidence in their new and hopefully improved team.
In case you missed it yesterday here is the opening day roster for the Allen Americans which totals 24 players. Goalie Andrew D’Agostini was released and forward Ben Duffy was traded to Norfolk to get the roster to 24.
ACTIVE ROSTER (20 players)
|Jeremy Brodeur||C.J. Motte|
|Josh Atkinson||Alex Breton||Joel Chouinard|
|Mike Gunn||Miles Liberati||David Makowski|
|Tate Olson||Josh Thrower|
|Spencer Asuchak||J.C. Campagna||Thomas Frazee|
|Pavel Jenys||Chase Lang||Casey Pierro-Zabotel|
|Zach Pochiro||Dante Salituro||Braylon Shmyr|
|Dalton Thrower||Kevin Sundher|
|Eric Roy||Chad Butcher|
A couple of things to keep in mind when looking at the list. First, players can be moved from the reserve to the active roster anytime so a change could happen as early as today. Second, injured reserve (IR) players must stay on IR a minimum of 14 days. Finally, there are 20 players on the active roster and only 18 can dress for the game so there will be two healthy scratches tonight.
– C.J. Motte is expected to make his first start for the Allen Americans. Motte was just assigned to Allen by the Iowa Wild who signed him to an AHL deal in the offseason. There are a lot of stats you can look at to determine how good Motte has been from a great college career (Hobey Baker finalist) to his time in the ECHL. What stood out to me was how he performed in his limited action when he has had call-ups to the AHL. Here is the list:
2014-15 – four games with Bridgeport with a GAA of 2.49 and .917 save percentage
2016-17 – two games with Charlotte with a GAA of 0.75 and .976 save percentage
2017-18 – three games with Chicago with a GAA of 2.30 and .922 save percentage
2017-18 – six games with Iowa with a GAA of 2.13 and .926 save percentage
– One question I have been asked as opening night arrives is who will join captain Joel Chouinard and player/assistant coach Casey Pierro-Zabotel as alternate captains. I asked coach Martinson that question and he shared with me he has selected Spencer Asuchak, David Makowski and Mike Gunn to wear the “A’s” this season. Congrats to all!
– If you didn’t see the notification put out by the Americans the season ticket books for full season ticket holders have arrived. Any season ticket holder (full, half, partial) can pick up their season tickets at the Team Store today (Friday) and next week from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The hours for Saturday are noon to 5:00 pm. On Sunday pickup hours will be 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.
– The ECHL announced opening day rosters for all teams yesterday. Here is the link: https://www.echl.com/news/2018/10/echl-announces-2018-19-season-opening-rosters
– Here are the former Allen Americans that made the opening day rosters around the ECHL. The players with an asterisk were in the just completed training camp with Allen but have only played for the Americans in the preseason.
Adirondack – Peter MacArthur
Brampton – Reggie Traccitto
Florida – Matt Foget, Mitch Vandergunst*
Fort Wayne – Jamie Schaafsma
Kalamazoo – Jake Hildebrand
Norfolk – Chris Crane, Ben Duffy*
Orlando – Mike Brodzinski, Alex Schoenborn, Colby McAuley
Rapid City – Steve Tarasuk, Garrett Klotz, Tyler Poulsen
Reading – Alex Krushelnyski
Toledo – Matt Register, Bryan Moore
Tulsa – Steve Kaunisto
Wichita – Dyson Stevenson
Worcester – Tyler Barnes
DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans opening night record is 6-3. They are 3-3 at home and a perfect 3-0 on the road. No matter when you started following the Americans these games will bring back some memories.
2009-10 – In the first game in team history, Allen wins 1-0 in Arizona. Christian Gaudet scored the only goal of the game late in the first period assisted by Bruce Graham and Nino Musitelli. Charlie Effinger was in goal for Allen and Chris Whitley was on the bench. Allen started on the road the first season because the Allen Event Center was not completed. The Americans played their first seven games in franchise history on the road. They returned to Allen after those first seven games 5-1-0-1.
2010-11 – Allen opens at home against Texas, scores three goals (Alexandre Quesnel, Dustin Donaghy, Judd Blackwater) in the first four minutes of the game and coasts to a 5-2 win.
2011-12 – Allen opens at home against Tulsa and gets beat 4-1 with Jim McKenzie getting the Americans only goal with just over a minute left in the game. Most notable in that game was a Gordie Howe hat trick by Tulsa’s Gary Steffes who had a goal, an assist and a fight with Allen’s Scott Langdon.
2012-13 – Allen opens the season at home and shuts out Arizona 4-0. Scott Howes had two goals in the game. The other goal scorers were Adam Pineault and Darryl Bootland. Steve Silverthorn was in goal and the backup was a rookie by the name of Aaron Dell. Dell would play sparingly the first few weeks of the season but eventually, take over the starting role and lead the Americans to their first championship. Whatever happened to that Dell guy?
2013-14 – Allen opened the season in Wichita and beat the Thunder 4-3 in a shootout. Allen had a 3-0 lead midway in the game on two goals by Darryl Bootland and one by Jonathan Lessard but let Wichita come back. The hero in the shootout was Kale Kerbashian who scored in the fifth round to win the game.
2014-15 – The worst opening night ever for Allen as they opened at home and got beat by Tulsa 9-6. Greger Hanson was the lone bright spot for Allen with a whopping 11 shots on goal, four points, and a hat trick. Aaron Dell was in goal for the Americans and gave up seven of the nine goals. Whatever happened to that Dell guy? Actually, it was Dell’s only regulation loss in the 12 games he played for Allen that season. By the end of January, he was in the AHL on his way to the NHL.
2015-16 – Another opening night loss as the Quad City Mallards came to the Allen Event Center and beat the Americans 2-1. Allen’s lone goal was scored by Garrett Clarke with assists going to Justin Courtnall and goalie Joel Rumpel. You didn’t see those three in the box score very often let alone on the same play.
2016-17 – It was an opening night win as Allen was at home and beat Missouri 6-3. Kale Kerbashian had two goals and Riley Gill was peppered with 47 shots.
2017-18 – It was an opening night like no other as the Americans went on the road and beat the Rapid City Rush 8-3. The eight goals are the most ever scored by the Americans in a season opener. The five goal margin of victory is the largest ever in a season opener and the first goal of the season was a shorthanded goal scored by Jonathan Lessard. Lessard and Zach Pochiro each had two goals for the Americans.