ALLEN, TX – Eight points are on the line as the Allen Americans start a four-in-five day homestand tonight. Capturing all eight points is critical if Allen wants to stay in the race for the best record in the ECHL.
The Americans play Indy tonight and Friday followed by Rapid City on Saturday and Sunday. Indy is in last place in the Central Division and is 0-6-1-0 in their last seven games. Rapid City is in last place in the Mountain Division and is 0-4-1-0 in their last five games. On paper, Allen is clearly the better team but many times the Americans have struggled against weaker teams.
– The game tonight will be number four of six games Allen will play against Indy. Allen has won the first three outscoring Indy 18-12. The first time these teams played was at Indy back in October. Spencer Asuchak scored with 47 seconds remaining in the game to send it to overtime and then Chad Costello scored 38 seconds into the overtime as Allen won 7-6. Game two was in Allen on January 7 and the Americans won the game 6-3. That was the game Indy defensemen Chris Williams fought Dyson Stevenson and hit him with what some thought was a cheap shot while Stevenson was down. The teams played again the next night and Allen won the game 5-3 and Derek Mathers called Williams to task for his fight handling of Stevenson.
– Past history may certainly play a part in the game tonight. Allen’s style is physical play, finishing checks and they need to play that way to be successful. If they have to back up their physical play by dropping the gloves that is fine too.
– With the current roster, two players will have to sit out tonight. Coach Steve Martinson put Randy Cure and Derek Mathers on reserve yesterday so you can assume they will be the players sitting out. That would mean Zach Hall and Dyson Stevenson will play and there will be 11 forwards and five defensemen in the lineup tonight. Things could change after pre-game skate so the actual lineup won’t be known until warmups.
– Coach Martinson has mentioned numerous times recently the importance of getting more balanced scoring from the three lines. Allen played their best offensive hockey of the season when Hall was playing with Bryan Moore and Gary Steffes. The top line has been carrying the team recently and having Hall back in the lineup should help spread out the offense. Here is a stat that demonstrates what coach Martinson is talking about. Over the last nine games Costello, Hanson and Asuchak have a total of 48 points. All of the rest of the forwards combined have 43 points.
– Here are some stats comparing Allen and Indy:
|Team Record||32-16-2-2 (68 points)||14-31-2-2 (32 points)|
|Conference Ranking||2nd – Western||14th – Western|
|Last Game||6-5 Win (Rapid City)||7-4 Loss (Brampton)|
|Power Play||21.6% (50/231)||13.6% (18/132)|
|Penalty Kill||83.6% (41/250)||82.5% (28/160)|
|Most PIM||Mathers (212)||Williams (113)|
|Leading Scorers||Costello (28-67-95)
– Here is how Allen and Indy rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:
Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (21.04) – Indy 21st (12.02)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 2nd (3.94) – Indy 26th (2.53)
Goals Allowed per Game: Allen 7th (3.02) – Indy 27th (3.94)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 15th (31.96) – Indy 23rd (29.82)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 24th (34.77) – Indy 27th (36.47)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 7th (21.6%) – Indy 22nd (13.6%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 12th (83.6%) – Indy 14th (82.5%)
– What is obvious from the stats above is Allen is a much better team than Indy. The Americans are ranked higher in every stat and don’t forget the Americans have been much better than their stats over the last couple of months. Maybe the most telling stat is goal differential. Allen has scored 205 goals and allowed 157 for a goal differential of +48. Indy has scored 124 goals and allowed 193 for a goal differential of -69. All Allen needs to do to win the game tonight is play their game. The team needs to remember it is more important to win the game than to score. Be aggressive but don’t gamble and set up odd man rushes. Finish checks but avoid the stick penalties. Make Indy pay if they take penalties with what is a very potent power play. If you can’t make a play don’t turn the puck over in the neutral zone, dump it in and forecheck.
– Allen has one of the highest shooting percentages in the ECHL as they score on 12.3% of their shots. Indy has one of the lowest shooting percentages in the ECHL at 8.4%.
– Officials scheduled for the game are referee Mike Sheehan (#11) and linesmen Chase Wilkinson (#68) and Aaron Schacht (#31). Sheehan was the referee when Allen played Indy at home twice in January. He typically lets the players play but will take control of the game when necessary.
– The ECHL has announced the suspensions for Dyson Stevenson and Rapid City’s Triston Grant for the incident that took place in a game against the Rush last Friday. Dyson received two additional games (three total) but he will serve his two-game suspension on Saturday and Sunday when Rapid visits the Allen Event Center. The ECHL uses the deferred suspension periodically as a way to reduce the likelihood of additional problems. Grant got suspended 12 additional games (13 total) and won’t be eligible to play until March 15.
– Harrison Ruopp was a healthy scratch last night for the third straight game since being loaned to the San Jose Barracuda. The Barracuda are in first place in their division (Pacific) and have won nine straight games. Their next game is Friday night.
– Toledo and Colorado are idle tonight so if the Americans win they will be all alone on top of the Mountain Division standings and Western Conference standings with 70 points. Florida is in action tonight at home against Orlando. If Florida loses in regulation and Allen wins the Americans will have the most points in the entire league.
– Kyle Neuber was at practice yesterday in full gear though he was wearing the “no contact” yellow/gold color. Here is a photo of Kyle working with skating coach Luke Chilcott. My understanding is this is all part of Neuber’s rehabilitation but he is still not ready to play.
DID YOU KNOW: Today is the last day to sign players from overseas. If there are any players that wish to come back to the ECHL, it will have to be done by 3:00 pm EST today. For those of you wishing to see players for which Allen holds their rights like Alex Lavoie, Rylan Schwartz, and Ian Schultz or even free agent Jack Combs return to Allen you can stop wishing in a few hours as the deadline passes at 2:00 pm Allen time.