ALLEN, TX – It’s game day for the Allen Americans as they take on the Wichita Thunder, the one team they have played well against this season. The game today will be the 11th of 14 games between these teams, and the Americans’ record against the Thunder stands at 6-2-0-2. Since January 1st, Allen has won four in a row when facing Wichita.
– Head to head, Allen has the edge in goals (41-31). Total shots are almost even (348-349). If you look at season-long averages, Allen is #23 in goals per game (2.82) and Wichita is #20 (3.00). If you compare shots per game, Allen is #19 (30.88) and Wichita is #23 (29.32).
– Allen has dominated special teams in the four games it has played against Wichita since the beginning of January. The Americans are 7-18 (38.9%) on the power play and 100% on the penalty kill (0-13). It is hard to expect those kind of stats tonight, but if Allen can win the special teams battle, it will go a long way in securing a win. If you look at season-long special team stats it is a different story, because Wichita has the best power play in the ECHL at 22.7%. At home Allen is 15.0% on the power play and 80.6% on the penalty kill. On the road the Thunder are at 26.3% on the power play and 82.0% on the penalty kill.
– Both teams have the exact same record over the last 10 games at 5-5-0-0, and both lost their last game. Allen was shutout 4-0 by Tulsa on Tuesday. Wichita lost to Kansas City 3-2 on Friday.
– Penalties will play a big part in the game today. With these teams’ history, you never know what will transpire. In their 10 head to head match ups this season they have had as few as nine penalties for a combined 18 minutes and as many as 33 penalties for 112 minutes. Both teams will be missing key players when it comes to dropping the gloves. Allen will be missing Curt Gogol (suspended) and possibly Josh Thrower (injury) who are second and third on the team in fighting majors. Wichita will be missing Dyson Stevenson (loaned to AHL) and Pierre-Cedric Labrie (suspended) who are first and third on the Thunder in fighting majors, respectively.
– In addition to Gogol being out of the lineup serving his one game suspension, Allen is missing Riley Bourbonnais and Alex Breton who are still on loan to AHL teams. C.J. Motte, Chase Lange and Mitch Maloney are out with injuries. Motte has started practicing and is listed day to day. Kevin Sundher, who has been out since the end of December, has also been practicing and is listed as day to day.
– Allen still has a mathematical chance to pass Wichita in the standings and escape last place, but it is a real long shot. The magic number is seven points. Any combination of seven points won by Wichita, or lost by Allen, will seal the Americans’ fate. To have any chance Allen will have to sweep the four games they have remaining with Wichita, starting with the game today. If Allen wins their remaining seven games, Wichita could lose all four of the games against the Americans, finish the season 4-6-0-0 (they have 10 games remaining) and still finish ahead of Allen. It is like;y not going to happen, but it is mathematically possible.
– Allen has the second-worst record in the league when scoring first. They have scored first in only 26 of their 65 games. The Americans record when scoring first is 14-7-4-1. Wichita’s record when scoring first is 21-10-3-2. When you consider Allen’s record when allowing the first goal is 8-30-0-1, it is clear scoring first is the better option. The Americans have won four in a row against Wichita, and scored first in three of the wins.
– Neither team has played all that well with a lead. At home Allen is 4-6-1-0 when leading after the first period. On the road Wichita is 6-2-2-1 when leading after the first period. If Allen does get a first period lead. you have to like their chances because Wichita is 1-11-1-1 when trailing after the first period on the road.
– Dante Salituro has been the leading scorer for Allen against Wichita. He has 14 points (6G, 8A) in 10 games. Zach Pochiro has seven goals in eight games against the Thunder.
– The referee schedule for the game tonight is Steven Rouillard (#3) and the linesmen will be Chris Provost (#50) and Addison Brush (#80).
– By most any measure, the Mountain Division has not been as strong as the other divisions this season. The North and Central Divisions have no teams with a winning percentage below .500; the Mountain has three. The Mountain Division has the #23, #24 and #27 ranked teams in the ECHL in winning percentage.
The top team in the Central Division has 97 points, in the South Division 95 points and in the North Division 83 points. The top team in the Mountain division has 78 points. The Mountain Division also has a losing record against the other three divisions in inter-divisional play. Here is the Mountain division record against the other divisions:
Central – 19-27-4-3
South – 5-8-0-0
North – 3-7-0-1
– Congrats to the Tulsa Oilers who beat Kansas City 6-2 last night to clinch a spot in the playoffs for the first time since joining the ECHL five seasons ago. The Oilers are in first place in the Mountain Division, three points ahead of Idaho and four points ahead of Utah.
– Utah finally stopped the bleeding after losing four straight to Rapid City and 11 of their last 12 games. The Grizzlies are still in the hunt for the top spot in the division. They trail Tulsa by just four points, and have a game in hand over the Oilers.
– It didn’t take Stevenson long to make his presence known in his first AHL action since the 2014-15 season. Dyson was loaned to Utica where he was reunited with former teammate and good friend Vincent Arseneau. Utica lost to Hartford 5-3 in a game Dyson dropped the gloves on his second shift, and he was the clear winner. Check it out on the game highlights:
– I was informed last night by the Allen Americans unofficial team mom that I have been remiss in my Americans family reporting. Not my strong suit if not reported on HockeyDB or Elite Prospects. Anyway, former Allen captain Mike Berube and his wife Chantal welcomed their third child, Arabelle Rita Rose into the world on Friday. Arabelle joins big brother Brekan and big sister Ellyauna in the Berube clan. Congrats to all!
– In other tardy ,baby news Ashley and Chad Costello are expecting their fourth child, a girl, in August. It will make two boys and two girls for the Costellos. Congrats!
– It is really getting to be crunch time in the ECHL with numerous playoff spots still to be decided. The North Division has three points separating third place and sixth place. The Central Division has three teams within two points battling for the final playoff spot.
– One game to keep an eye on today is Idaho at Orlando. Both teams are in second place in their Division. They are in the midst of a three game series which started last night with the Solar Bears winning handily, 6-2. Orlando and Idaho will play game three on Tuesday. These three games could be a proxy for the strength of the South and Mountain Divisions.
DID YOU KNOW: The last five Kelly Cup champions have come from from the Western Conference, but prior to that four of five were from the Eastern Conference. Has the style of play in the west, where teams are generally more physical, given them an advantage in the playoffs? Is it a coincidence that in every one of the last five Kelly Cup finals, the Western Conference team had more penalty minutes during the regular season than the Eastern Conference finalist, and the Western Conference won all five Kelly Cups? Will the Western Conference win the Kelly Cup for the sixth straight season?