ALLEN, TX – It is game day for the Allen Americans or should I say it is game morning for the Allen Americans as they take on the Missouri Mavericks in Independence, Mo. with a rare 10:30 am puck drop.
– Early morning hockey is certainly not a rarity as the availability of ice time makes for strange hours both early and late. Youth hockey has early games and there are adult leagues that play at 6:00 am so everyone can head off to work. Even for the Americans skating in the morning is the norm as practice typically starts at 10:00 am. But for the professional hockey player, most of who have a very specific game day routine, today will be unique. What and when they eat along with their physical and mental preparation will be out of sync. It all starts with an early wake-up call and departure for the rink at 8:15 this morning.
– The early start time will not be the only unique part of the game today as the makeup of the crowd will be unique. It is the inaugural “Education Day/School Day” game for the Mavericks where local schools can come to the game and take advantage of all of the educational elements that will be incorporated. Students will receive a hockey-themed workbook and special educational themed videos will air during the game. The in-game contests will have an educational twist as well. There will be many children, teachers and chaperones in attendance at their first hockey game. It all should make for a lot of noise and fun environment for all.
– What won’t be unique about the game is the rivalry between these two teams. Both franchises started the same year in the Central Hockey League back in 2009. While Missouri has been the more successful franchise from a business perspective the Americans have been the better team on the ice. Missouri is still looking for their first championship while Allen has won four and been the runner-up once.
– Since joining the ECHL the Americans are 15-6-1-0 against the Mavericks including a record of 6-3 in Missouri. Even last year when the Mavericks were the best team in the ECHL during the regular season and finished with a record of 52-15-3-2, five of the 15 losses were at the hands of the Americans.
– Both teams have struggled early this season currently ranking fifth (Allen) and sixth (Missouri) in the Mountain Division. Remember, only the top four teams in each division make the playoffs.
– The game today will be the third between Allen and Missouri this season. They will play a total of 13 times. The first two games were played in Allen on October 15 & 16. Allen handily won both games. Riley Gill won the opening night game 6-3 as the teams recorded a total of 86 shots on goal. The next night Jamie Murray stopped 35 Missouri shots on the way to a 4-0 shutout.
– Here is how Allen and Missouri match up:
|Team Record||6-7-0-0 (12 points)||3-7-0-1 (7 points)|
|Division Ranking||5th – Mountain||7th – Mountain|
|Last Game||3-2 Win (Utah)||6-1 Loss (Ft. Wayne)|
|Power Play||7.3% (4/55)||10.4% (7/67)|
|Penalty Kill||80.6% (12/62)||86.0% (6/43)|
|Most PIM’s||Mathers (73)||Elbrecht (32)|
|Leading Scorer||Costello (4-14-18)||Fox (4-6-10)|
Here is how Allen and Missouri rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:
Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 3rd (19.69) – Missouri 13th (14.09)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 14th (3.23) – Missouri 20th (2.82)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 18th (3.23) – Missouri 24th (3.91)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 10th (33.08) – Missouri 5th (34.09)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 24th (36.38) – Missouri 17th (32.09)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 25th (7.3%) – Missouri 22nd (10.4%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 22nd (80.6%) – Missouri 11th (86.0%)
– A couple of things stand out when you look at the stats. Both of these teams have really struggled on their power play. Allen has just four power play goals all season (4-55) but the good news is they have a power play goal in two of their last three games. The Mavericks have seven power play goals all season but four of them have come in their last three games. Watch to see which teams continues their recent success on the power play.
– Another key to this game will be shots on goal. Allen is giving up way too many averaging 36.38 per game while Missouri is one of the better teams in the league in generating shots. In the opening night game, 6-3 loss to Allen on October 15, the Mavericks had 47 shots on goal.
– Missouri seems to struggle against teams that play a physical style so look for Allen to finish their checks and emphasize their physical play. The recent additions of Derek Mathers, Harrison Ruopp, and Alex Guptill make Allen a tougher team to play against.
The referee scheduled for the game is Stephen Reneau (#17) and the linesmen are Lucas Bisbee (#72 and Chase Wilkinson (#68).
– Alex Guptill, who was acquired from Manchester in a trade for Rick Pinkston will make his debut for Allen against Missouri. Here is the press release announcing the acquisition of Guptill: https://allenamericans.com/americans-acquire-former-dallas-stars-draft-pick-from-manchester/
Here is a breakdown of Guptill’s stats:
– With the addition of Guptill it makes a total of 15 forwards on the Allen roster. While some are injured (Neuber, Kerbashian, King) the team can’t and won’t keep that many forwards. I would anticipate a forward to be traded or released soon.
DID YOU KNOW: Allen and Missouri have met in the playoffs twice since their franchises began in 2009. In the 2013 CHL playoffs the Americans beat the Mavericks in game seven of the semi-finals. Game seven was in Allen and the Americans won 7-3 to eliminate Missouri. Brian McMillin and Todd Robinson led the way for Allen with two goals each. The Americans went on to win the championship. Last season Allen beat the number one seeded Mavericks in the second round of the playoffs 4-2. The Americans won the series in game six in Missouri by a score of 5-1 led by Greger Hanson who had two goals and an assist. Allen went on to win their fourth straight championship.