It is game day in Allen and it is a big one as the Americans take on the Tulsa Oilers in the first Kelly Cup playoff game of the 2014-2015 season. As the only series to start tonight all eyes will be on Allen, the #1 seed in the Central Division. While it is the first ECHL playoff game for the Americans it will be the sixth straight year they have been in the playoffs with the first five years being in the Central Hockey League. Allen has never missed the playoffs since the franchise was established in 2009-2010.
Allen and Tulsa are very familiar with each other having played seventeen times during the regular season. Twelve of the seventeen games, however, were played before January 1st. Allen’s record against Tulsa was 12-4-0-1. If you look at the most recent games the Americans played the Oilers four times in the month of March and won all four.
Here is a statistical comparison:
Team Record: Allen (49-14-6-4) – Tulsa (37-29-3-3)
Points: Allen (106) – Tulsa (80)
League Rank: Allen (2nd) – Tulsa (15th)
Goals For: Allen (292) – Tulsa (248)
Goals Against: Allen (203) – Tulsa (244)
Goal Differential: Allen (+89) – Tulsa (+5)
Team Plus/minus: Allen (+291) – Tulsa (+75)
Team PIM’s Per Game: Allen (22.8) – Tulsa (18.8)
Record Last 10 Regular Season Games: Allen (8-0-1-1) – Tulsa (4-4-2-0)
Special teams are always critical in the playoffs and overall Allen has one of the best special teams in the ECHL but if you look at head to head stats the Allen advantage is not so great:
Power Play (overall): Allen 21.9% – Tulsa 15.0%
Power Play (home): Allen 21.0% – Tulsa 13.9%
Power Play (away): Allen 22.6% – Tulsa 16.2%
Penalty Kill (overall): Allen 86.3% – Tulsa 81.0%
Penalty Kill (home): Allen 86.6% – Tulsa 78.4%
Penalty Kill (away): Allen 86.0% – Tulsa 83.6%
Power Play (vs opponent): Allen 15.1% – Tulsa 13.8%
Penalty Kill (vs opponent): Allen 86.3% – Tulsa 84.9%
The official ECHL release of all of the playoff rosters will be out this afternoon but teams have been given permission to release them so you might see releases from some teams being issued before the ECHL release.
Allen got a big lift yesterday as Gary Steffes has returned from his stint with Milwaukee (AHL) just in time for the playoffs. Milwaukee still has a chance to make the AHL playoffs but it is a slim one at best. Milwaukee played last Friday and won’t play again until this coming Friday so it is possible if they are still in the playoff hunt they could bring Gary back for the Friday night game in Milwaukee. However, if the Toronto Marlies beat the last place Iowa Wild tonight they will eliminate Milwaukee from the playoffs and Steffes will definitely stay in Allen.
Chad Costello and Gary Steffes played together in Tulsa in 2010-2011 and have been a pain in the backside against their former team this year combining for 24 goals and 24 assists. The leading scorer for Allen against Tulsa is Costello who has thirty one points (15 goals 16 assists) in the 17 games. Gary Steffes has nine goals and eight assists for Allen in fourteen games against Tulsa. T.J. Caig leads the way for the Oilers with eighteen points (7 goals 11 assists).
The referee for the game tonight is Peter Tarnaris (#9) who is very familiar to Allen fans from his many years in the CHL. Tarnaris donned his officiating sweater when he was only 12-years-old. He advanced quickly through the grassroots levels and graduated to Tier One Junior Hockey at the delicate age of 15 working in both the NAHL and USHL. With fifteen years of experience and still in his 20’s you may see Tarnaris at the higher levels in the years to come.
Here is the schedule for the series with Tulsa:
Game 1: Tuesday, April 14th at Allen Event Center 7:05 p.m.
Game 2: Wednesday, April 15th at Allen Event Center 7:05 p.m.
Game 3: Friday, April 17th at BOK Center 7:35 p.m
Game 4: Saturday, April 18th at BOK Center 7:35 p.m.
*Game 5: Tuesday, April 21st at Allen Event Center 7:05 p.m.
*Game 6: Thursday, April 23rd at BOK Center 7:05 p.m.
*Game 7: Sunday, April 26th at Allen Event Center 4:05 p.m.
Steve Martinson is in his nineteenth year as a head coach and his playoff record is something to behold. Here are a few of his playoff accomplishments:
18 – the number of times Martinson has made the playoffs in 19 years as a head coach
8 – the number of championships Martinson has won as a head coach
2 – the number of times a Martinson coached team has lost in the first round of the playoffs
1 – the number of times a Martinson coached team have lost a game seven in the playoffs
This year is a great opportunity to go on a playoff road trip and support the team when they play in Tulsa (Friday & Saturday) which is only 230 miles from Allen. The Oilers have put together a great deal for Allen fans where everyone can sit together so whether you are putting together a group or are by yourself everyone will be seated in the same area. There are two options for tickets. Section 120 center ice seats in the area of the Allen bench are $25 (face value $38) and seats in the end of the rink (Sections 102-103) where Allen exits and enters the ice are $15 (face value $22). There will be a group picture taken of all Allen fans on the ice before the game both nights but you will have to arrive early (5:45) for this event (details later). The Oilers will also be setting up a “High Five Tunnel” where Allen fans can watch warmups and wish the guys good luck as they leave the ice after warmups (details later). To get these special Allen Americans tickets you need to call or email Todd Streets or Emily Chambers from the Tulsa Oilers. You can reach them by calling 918-632-7825 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
A great story by Rick Gosselin in the Dallas Morning News (front page of the sports section) today about the intern program with the Allen Fire Department. I am sure it will get a lot more publicity than the story in this blog on the same topic published back in December. It is in the archives on the right dated December 17, 2014 if you want to check it out. Notice the same pictures in both stories.
Have had some questions on when the schedule for next year will be released. ECHL Director of Communications, Joe Babik shares that the release date is different each year but it will be released sometime between now and the end of May. Stay tuned.
The ECHL Coach of the Year will be announced today. The favorite has to be Toledo first year coach Derek Lalonde who guided the Walleye to the biggest turnaround in ECHL history with a 58 point improvement over last year. The other favorite would be South Carolina coach Spencer Carbery as the 33 year old in his fourth year as head coach guided his team to all time records for consecutive games won (23) and consecutive road wins (13). The announcement will include the winner, the runner up and three other finalists. Steve Martinson with the second best record in the ECHL and a dominating performance in the Central Division in the first year in the ECHL deserves to be one of the finalists.
Here is a nice recap of the 2014-2015 season in pictures which is on YouTube. There is no credit given to the photographers but know some of these pictures were taken by scenebykimberlycom (aka Kimberly) and Lauren Lyssy who are regular contributors to the blog.
First year head coach, Brent Hughes, of the Brampton Beast was fired yesterday. Hughes was the assistant coach under Mark DeSantis last year and took over as head coach when DeSantis left to join the Rapid City Rush as an assistant to Joe Ferras.
DID YOU KNOW: Allen has won back to back championships under Steve Martinson but their record in game one of all playoff series the last two years is 1-5. In game two Allen’s record is 6-0.