ALLEN, Texas – With the last break of the season in the rear view mirror, the Allen Americans are in Kansas City to take on the Mavericks tonight (7:05pm CST). The players had four days off and some went home, some headed to sunny climates, some relaxed in Allen, some went to Super Bowl parties with teammates, and some skated. I saw Spencer Asuchak, Jared VanWormer, and Kayle Doetzel on the ice during the break, but there could have been others as I was only at the rink a couple of days.
ALLEN AT KANSAS CITY PREVIEW
Allen arrives in Kansas City full of confidence, having won four in a row and seven of their last eight games (their only loss coming in a shootout). Two of the wins were against Kansas City, where the Americans beat the Mavericks in a home-and-home series, 8-2 and 8-0.
Kansas City has lost 10 of their last 13 games, but have a record of 2-2-1-0 since their coaching change. The Mavericks played at home last night and beat Wichita, 5-3.
Allen is 3-2-0-0 against the Mavericks this season. The Americans won both games played in Kansas City (8-2 & 4-2). Head-to-head, Allen has outscored Kansas City 25-13 and out shot them 177-158. In the five previous games, Allen’s power play percentage is 26.1% (6-of-23) and Kansas City’s is 9.1% (1-of-11).
The biggest difference between these teams is their offensive production (which you would expect with the first and last place team in the division). Allen has scored 205 goals and is ranked number one in the ECHL, averaging 4.18 goals per game. Kansas City has scored 140 goals and averages 2.92 goals per game.
As is typically the case, both teams do very well when scoring first. Allen is 21-3-1-1 when scoring first, while Kansas City is 16-4-1-0. Maybe more important is the team that scored first won all five games these teams have played this season.
SHORTRIDGE BACK IN (AMERICANS) ACTION
If you have been tracking transactions, you noticed that goalie Andrew Shortridge has returned from his recall to the San Jose Barracuda. Andrew started and lost on Wednesday as San Diego defeated the Barracuda, 4-2. In the loss, Shortridge stopped 31 of 34 shots for a save percentage of .912.
Shortridge was placed on the inactive list yesterday and Cole Fraser has been placed on injured reserve effective back to January 31. Corey Durocher, who has missed the last three games, is with the team in Kansas City.
Things have been pretty quiet on the roster front recently, but I assume that is about to change for several reasons. First, players like Jake Doty and Matt Register that are in the AHL (and need five games in the ECHL to qualify for the playoffs) will be spending time in Allen. Second, it is hard to believe players like Alex Breton, Jake Sadek, and Tyler Sheehy won’t be given an AHL opportunity with the year they are having.
Third, the college season is wrapping up, and players on teams that don’t make the playoffs are becoming available right now (Head Coach Steve Martinson has a history of signing these players). Fourth, the deadline for players returning from Europe is only a week away (February 15) and the dream of Chad Costello returning to Allen for one more playoff run lives on. The odds of this happening are slim to none, but the dream lives on for a miracle until the deadline arrives (FYI, Chad’s team is in 12th place in a 14-team league and will not make the playoffs).
Finally, Coach Martinson typically makes some trades this time of year to improve the roster and the trade wires are active. The trade deadline is March 5. It all adds up to plenty of potential roster changes over the next few weeks.
Turner Ottenbreit scored his first goal as a member of the Iowa Wild last Wednesday. It was the first goal of the game and turned out to be the game winner as Iowa shutout San Antonio, 4-0. Turner was selected second star of the game. Ottenbreit has played in seven straight games since being loaned to Iowa. Matt Register’s playing time has been reduced. Register has played in three of the last seven games.
The Vegas Golden Knights announced this week they have purchased the San Antonio Rampage (AHL) and will move the team to Las Vegas/Henderson area for the 2020-21 season. San Antonio is averaging 5,938 fans per game and would be a great ECHL franchise. It would also put an ECHL team less than 300 miles from Allen.
CATCHING UP WITH FORMER PLAYERS
Had a chance to catch up with Phil Fox this week while his team was practicing at the Allen Community Rink. Phil is the first year coach of a new team, New Mexico Wolves, in the North American Hockey League (NAHL). Steve Martinson’s son, Logan, plays on the team. Phil was part of the 2013-14 Allen team that won the final Central Hockey League championship. Phil is a guy who always wanted to be a hockey coach and is fulfilling that dream as the head coach and general manager of the Wolves.
It has been a tough inaugural season for the team, as they had a late start; they obviously had no returning players and everything they did was the first time. The team has improved as the season has progressed, and Phil is optimistic about next season. To say Phil is an active coach on the ice is an understatement: I saw him pinning players on the boards and jumping in on some drills and, yes, he still has that scoring touch at 34 and looks like he could still play. This week was trade deadline for the NAHL, so GM Phil’s phone was blowing up. Some guys were born to coach, and Phil is one of them.
I also had a chance to talk to Joel Chouinard this week and discuss his business (financial services) now that he has retired from pro hockey. He walked me through the risks I could face including health risks, financial risks and tax risks. We talked about strategies to make sure as a retiree I don’t outlive my money, how to avoid losing purchasing power through inflation, and the increased cost of health care as we grow older. Whether you are 25 or 75, have all kinds of financial advisers or none, you will learn something from Joel and he starts with whatever issues concern you. And along the way you can talk Allen Americans hockey. There is no obligation, so give Joel a call at (440) 527-4939.
It is always nice to support former Allen players after they retire. I know several Allen fans have contracted with Ludwig Pool Service for service and/or repairs on their pool and spa. They do a great job. Call (817) 368-0017 to get connected with them.
DID YOU KNOW…
The Allen Americans currently have points in eight straight games dating back to January 14, with a record of 7-0-0-1. The last time the Americans had an eight-game point streak was at the end of the 2016-17 season.
Follow Barry on Twitter and his personal blog as he follows the Allen Americans as their official blogger. Don’t forget to also follow The Sin Bin on Twitter and Facebook for all additional AHL, ECHL, and SPHL minor league hockey news and insights!