ALLEN, TX – The Allen Americans are in Missouri tonight to take on the Mavericks in a game that is very important for both teams for different reasons. Allen is battling Colorado for the top spot in the division. The Americans and Eagles are playing great hockey, tied for the best record in the league over the last ten games (8-1-1-0) and the Americans can’t afford to lose. Meanwhile, Missouri is battling with Utah and Alaska just to make the playoffs and can’t afford to lose.

– In the battle for the top, Allen and Colorado have a combined streak 11-0-1-0. In the battle for the playoffs Missouri, Utah, and Alaska have a combined streak of 0-7-2-1. Allen is six points behind Colorado in the race for #1. Missouri is six points behind Alaska in the race for a playoff spot.

– The bottom line is if Allen loses tonight their hopes of overtaking the Eagles will be pretty much gone. Since Colorado holds the tiebreaker over the Americans the Eagles could go 5-3 over their last eight games and still win the division.

– The task at hand for Allen is to concentrate on the game tonight rather than the playoff implications and that is exactly what they will do. A roster that was overflowing with players left Allen yesterday with no extra players available. Spencer Asuchak, Greger Hanson, and Alex Schoenborn are all playing in the AHL and Bryan Moore was left home because of an injury. That is a lot of firepower that will not be in the lineup tonight.

– The good news for the Americans is there will be plenty of new firepower available to fill the void and eat up more ice time. Wade MacLeod will be starting his fifth game, Tyler Barnes his third and Alex Krushelnyski his first for Allen. Combined they have over 200 games of AHL experience and all three average around a point a game over their ECHL careers.

The game tonight will be the 11th of 13 meetings between Allen and Missouri during the regular season. The final two games will be at the Allen Event Center on March 29 & 30.

– Allen is 8-1-1-0 in the first 10 games these teams ave played this season but that dominance doesn’t mean much at this point. Missouri has lost three games in a row and got embarrassed 5-0 by Quad City in their last outing. The question that remains for tonight is whether the Mavericks will play with the desperation needed to make the playoffs or like a team that already believes they will not make the playoffs.

– Here is how Allen and Missouri match up:

Team Record 41-17-3-2 (87 points) 28-26-3-5 (61 points)
Division Ranking 2nd Mountain 6th Mountain
Last Game 4-2 Win (Wichita) 5-0 Loss (Quad City)
Goals For/Against 252/180 199/206
Power Play 23.4% (63/269) 14.9% (42/282)
Penalty Kill 85.1% (45/302) 83.8% (37/228)
Most PIM’s Mathers (238) Fox (109)
Leading Scorer Costello (31-78-109)
Hanson (33-38-71)
Fox (28-35-63)
Nowick (21-24-45)

–  Here is how Allen and Missouri rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (20.22) – Missouri 14th (13.66)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 2nd (4.00) – Missouri 16th (3.21)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 2nd (2.86) – Missouri 16th (3.32)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 20th (31.60) – Missouri 15th (32.10)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 23rd (34.78) – Missouri 21st (34.00)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 4th (23.4%) – Missouri 22nd (14.9%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 2nd (85.1%) – Missouri 8th (83.8%)

– A fast start is always a good predictor of success for the Americans. They have the second-best record in the league when scoring first (32-2-2-1). Another key to success is special teams and Allen has the advantage ranking #4 on the power play (23.4%) compared to Missouri at #22 (14.9%). Both teams are good on the penalty kill with Allen ranked #2 and Missouri #8 in the league.

– The Allen power play has been the best in the league since December scoring at close to a 30% clip. While the power play has gotten a lot of attention it has been the penalty kill that has shined recently, climbing to #2 in the league at 85.1%. In the last ten games, the penalty kill unit has given up just three goals in 49 chances. The 3-49 translates to a penalty kill percentage of 93.9%. Every bit as impressive as a 30% power play. Job well done by the underappreciated penalty killers.

– If you combine the stats for the ten games these teams have played this season, Allen leads in goals (36-22) but Missouri has the edge in shots (358-279). Allen has a big advantage on the power play as they have at least one power play goal in eight of the 10 games. The Americans are 9-44 (20.5%) on the power play while Missouri is 6-62 (9.7%).

– Allen and Missouri had some low penalty minute games earlier in the season but the recent games have seen 40, 60, 52 and 54 penalty minutes with lots of fisticuffs. Jake Doty has had fights with Mathers (2), Stevenson, Gunn and Brittain in the last three games. All three games were in Missouri and were entertaining for the home crowd but you have to question the tactic as that style of play works to Allen’s advantage. Allen won all three games. It will be interesting to see if Missouri changes their approach tonight but if they want dance partners they will have plenty of choices. Would have to think a Mathers vs Doty rematch is likely.

– The referee scheduled for the game is Corey Chipperfield (#5) and the linesmen are Russ Coll (#40) and John Tallieu (#0).


– Late last night, the Reading Royals President Drew Bell announced his resignation: 

– Heard yesterday that April 1st will be McDonald’s night at the Allen Americans as they take on the Tulsa Oilers. It will be a fitting day to bring back the famous McDonald’s specialty jersey. The final design is not available yet but you can be assured it will look similar to this blast from the past as modeled by NHL goalie Aaron Dell.

Photo: Chip Crail/CHL Photos

– First place Colorado is in action tonight at home against the last place Rapid City Rush. It is not as bleak as it might sound as Rapid City has won three of the last five game these teams have played including two in Colorado.

DID YOU KNOW: The first two rounds of the Kelly Cup playoffs will be played entirely within the division, with the division winner playing the fourth place finisher and the second place team meeting the third place team in the division semifinals. The winner of each series will meet in the division finals, leading to the conference finals and Kelly Cup finals. All series will be best of seven and there will be two referees for all playoff games.

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