ALLEN, TX – It is game day for the Allen Americans as they visit the Idaho Steelheads for the first time since the teams met in the first round of the Kelly Cup playoffs last season. While Allen won that series in dramatic style (overtime in game seven) the Steelheads had a 3-2 series lead. The last time these teams played in Idaho was game five of that series and the Steelheads shellacked the Americans 7-1.
– The game today is certainly an important one for Allen as they try to right the ship and get back to .500 after a poor start. Having won four straight championships the Americans are used to having teams giving it a little extra to beat the champs. Idaho sees the game a bit differently since being eliminated by Allen and having a sense of some unfinished business. While the Steelheads have respect for Allen they also acknowledge some extra incentive to beat the Americans tonight.
– Here are a couple of quotes from a story written by Brian McCormack, Director of Media/Community Relations and the voice of the Steelheads.
“I think we have to take it like any other weekend. Obviously, we have some history. They being the team that knocked us out last year, of course, we want to take it to them.”….Joe Basaraba who tied for the team lead in points in last year’s playoffs.
“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a little extra excitement. They have a very good team and they always do. They eliminated us from the playoffs last year. While every game is big and it is still so early yet, there is a bit of added excitement to face a team that eliminated us last year.” …..Idaho coach Neil Graham
– Everyone always points out how many returning players Allen has from their Kelly Cup championship team but with recent roster changes and injuries, there will only be six players on the ice tonight that played in game five in Idaho last year.
– It was announced yesterday that Tristan King has been traded to the Indy Fuel for future considerations. Tristan will be a good fit in Indy and if he can stay healthy he will help the Fuel.
– Both teams come into the game tonight playing well. Allen has won four of their last six games, Idaho four of their last five with the only loss being in overtime. The Americans have also won four of their last five road games.
– Here is a comparison between Allen and Idaho:
|Team Record||8-9-0-0 (16 points)||9-5-2-0 (20 points)|
|Division Ranking||4th – Mountain||2nd – Mountain|
|Conference Ranking||9th – Western||5th – Western|
|Last Game||3-2 Win (Utah)||4-1 Win (Norfolk)|
|Power Play||7.6% (5/66)||26.7 (16/60)|
|Penalty Kill||81.1% (14/74)||84.7% (9/59)|
|Leading Scorer||Costello (6-17-23)||Dahl (7-13-20)|
|PIM Leader||Mathers – 73||Ewanyk – 33|
– Here is how Allen and Idaho rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:
Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 3rd (17.82) – Idaho 6th (17.06)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 16th (3.24) – Idaho 9th (3.44)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 20th (3.41) – Idaho 17th (3.25)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 5th (34.18) – Idaho 12th (32.44)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 21st (34.94) – Idaho 19th (32.69)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 25th (7.6%) – Idaho 2nd (26.7%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 20th (81.1%) – Idaho 10th (84.7%)
– As you can see from the stats above Allen and Idaho are evenly matched with the glaring exception of special teams and especially the power play. Allen has been outmatched on special teams in almost every game preview this season but tonight that difference is significant. Idaho has an overall power play percentage of 26.7% but at home, they are at 31.0%. Allen is at 7.6% overall. When there is a difference of close to 25% in power play percentages it is reason for concern. The Steelheads are 9-29 on the power play at home while Allen is 3-35 on the road. The difference in the penalty kill is not as dramatic but Idaho has the advantage. The Steelhead’s home penalty kill percentage is 86.2% while on the road the Americans are at 75%. If Allen can’t outperform their current special teams, stats it will be a long weekend.
– With Jamie Murray being recalled by San Jose you can expect Riley Gill in goal for both games in Idaho. In addition, Jason Fram, a right shot defenseman who was just assigned to Allen by San Jose will also be in the lineup tonight. Fram was signed by the Barracuda to a one-year AHL deal out of training camp and had played in just two games. Prior to this season, the 21-year-old played 308 games over five years in the Western Hockey League with the Spokane Chiefs. Fram accumulated 187 points (32 goals 155 assists), 118 penalty minutes and was a +42 with Spokane. He fills a void for the Americans as they were down to five healthy defensemen.
– Here is the game preview from the other side written by the voice of the Steelheads, Brian McCormick. An interesting read: https://www.idahosteelheads.com/blog/steelheads-news/preview-they-meet-again/
– The referee scheduled for the game is Kenny Anderson (#16) and the linesmen are Scott DeBaugh (#67) and Ryan Nevins (#86). Puck drop is scheduled for 8:10 pm Allen time.
– I am sure by now most everyone has heard about the passing of Bob Chase, the longtime voice of the Fort Wayne Komets. To say he was a legend would be an understatement. Maybe it is because I like stats but out of all the stories, tributes, and articles I saw yesterday there was one written by Blake Sebring of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel that had these amazing stats about Bob Chase’s 63-year association with the Komets.
“During his tenure, the Komets have gone through five sets of owners, 25 coaches, more than 1000 players and 70 different opposing teams. Of the Komets’ 532 playoff games during their 64 year history, Chase called 526 of them.”
If you haven’t already done so take the time to read Blake Sebring‘s story about the legend and the man, it is a great read. Here is the link: https://www.news-sentinel.com/sports/Fort-Wayne-legend-Bob-Chase-has-passed
– It is a tall order but if the Americans could win both games in Idaho in regulation they could head back to Allen tied for second place in the Mountain Division. Here are the current standings:
21 points – Colorado
20 points – Idaho
17 points – Alaska
16 points – Allen
16 points – Utah
14 points – Rapid City
13 points – Missouri
– I want to add my best wishes to Tristan and Brooke King as they head to Indy. Being a fellow Minnesotan we had some great conversations. Here is the message Tristan posted on social media yesterday, “I am excited to start a new chapter in my career, Brooke and I will be heading to Indianapolis to join the Indy Fuel organization. It is going to be a special feeling playing for a city where my hockey career started when I was only three years old. I want to thank the Allen fans for being so supportive and welcoming during my time with the Americans.”
DID YOU KNOW: All three players that were involved in the series-winning overtime goal in game seven against Idaho last season have moved on in the last 10 days. Tristan King had the game winner and was assisted by Rick Pinkston and J.P. LaFontaine.