ALLEN, Texas – It is game day for the Allen Americans as they return to Wichita after beating the Thunder 4-0 last weekend. It is fair to say the game tonight will be different than the shutout win last Saturday. Here is why:
– Both teams have had a full week of practice to work on systems, special teams, and shortcomings from their opening weekend games. Both teams received four or five contract players from the AHL just prior to opening day. These players have now had time to practice and get accustomed to the style of play in Allen and Wichita.
– Wichita was embarrassed by Allen last week getting shutout 4-0 at home before a crowd of over 10,000. There is no doubt the Thunder will be hyped up tonight and be much more emotionally invested in the game.
– The Wichita power play went 0-for-7 in the 4-0 shutout to Allen, including 0-for-4 in the first period. The Thunder also allowed a shorthanded goal. You can be assured a lot of time was spent at practice this week by the Thunder working on the power play.
Four Keys to Victory
1. Get off to a good start. Score the first goal and/or win the first period. Last season, Allen won 80% of the games/points when they scored first, while Wichita was at 70%. It is highly likely the team that scores first wins the game.
2. Eliminate neutral zone turnovers which turn into shots for the opponent. The Americans were doubled up on shots in their opener in Kansas City allowing 43 and taking 21. The next night against the Thunder, Allen had 34 shots on goal and allowed 35. A big improvement considering they gave up seven power-play opportunities to Wichita. Keeping shots on goal close will be key for the Americans.
3. Win the special teams battle. Allen and Wichita are tied for last in the league in power play success. They are a combined 0-for-17 thus far with the Thunder 0-for-11 and Allen at 0-for-6. Whichever team can break out will be the winner. On the penalty kill Allen was perfect against Wichita in the last game (0-for-7) but the Thunder didn’t give up a power play goal in their first two games (0-for-7). Something has to give on special teams and it will be a key in the game tonight.
4. On average, Allen has more minor penalties than any team in the league with 18 in two games. The Americans have given up 13 power play opportunities and have only had six of their own. To be successful, Allen needs to be more disciplined in taking penalties that give Wichita a power play.
– It will be no surprise to anyone that C.J. Motte will be in goal for Allen after his 35 save shutout against Wichita last Saturday.
– The referee scheduled for the game is Liam Sewell (#7). The linesmen are Chris Provost (#50) and Addison Brush (#80).
– The best news of the day yesterday happened as I drove into the Allen Event Center parking lot and saw a different bus being prepared to take the team to Wichita. I walked over to take a look and ran into Monty Williams who drove “Big Red” for many years before the bus went to Tulsa after the sale of the Americans and he hung up his driving skates and retired. The good news is Monty is coming out of retirement to drive the team bus again. Monty is a beloved member of the Allen Americans family who went above and beyond to keep the guys safe and had to deal with many breakdowns with Big Red. He is a great bus driver but an even greater guy who always has a smile on his face.
– The vehicle Monty will be driving is a 2007 Powerhouse Coach with about 300,000 miles on it. Compare that to Big Red which was built in 1997 and had close to 3,000,000 miles. Powerhouse Coach is a company out of Idaho Falls, Idaho. This is a custom built vehicle on a Volvo truck frame. I had a chance to take a tour of the bus and it is a great setup for the team. Each bunk features its own LCD-TV with DVD player capable of two different satellite feeds and a feed from a central VCR and DVD player. There is more seating and lounge areas than the bus the team used last season.
– There is so much happening at the home opener on Saturday everyone should make plans to attend. Check out this list.
Pink in the Rink with pink ice
Pink cancer awareness specialty jerseys
Live jersey auction right after the game
Post game skate with players
Owner Jack Gulati greeting fans on the concourse as they enter the event center
Debut of the 2018-19 Allen Americans Ice Angels
Attend Dallas Baptist University vs Texas A&M game (2:35 pm) free with your Allen ticket
Pregame 10-year celebration party (4:30-6:30)
Debut of the Marty Dog at All American Dog concession (Section 114)
Did You Know?
Here are a few milestones to monitor:
21 – wins Steve Martinson needs to reach 1000 as a coach
6 – games played Spencer Asuchak needs to move into #2 all-time for the Americans
9 – assists needed by Casey Pierro-Zabotel to move into the top 10 all-time in the ECHL
0 – David Makowski played in his 200th ECHL game last Saturday
5 – Number of points Joel Chouinard needs to have 100 points as an Allen American