ALLEN, TX – It is game day for the Allen Americans as they take on the Utah Grizzlies tonight (7:05 pm) at the Allen Event Center (AEC) in an attempt to snap a four-game losing streak. It won’t be an easy task for Allen. The team will be missing a bunch of players including both of their goalies as Stephon Williams was recalled to San Jose and Riley Gill is injured. David Makowski will be serving the last of his four-game suspension and the two players on 21-day IR (Mathieu Aubin & Miles Liberati) aren’t eligible to play until Sunday. In addition, Bryan Moore and Olivier Archambault are still in San Jose.

– Roster changes happen so frequently it is difficult to predict from day-to-day what the lineup will look like. If you look back over the first two weeks of the season the roster went from too many forwards to not enough forwards, too many defensemen to not enough defensemen, two experienced professional goalies to a rookie and an EBUG. You can see why coach Steve Martinson‘s job off the ice is so important as he has to adapt to injuries, call-ups, suspensions, etc.

– Here is how the roster shapes up for the game tonight. It will be Jeremy Brodeur in goal with EBUG (emergency back up goalie) Thomas Hodges on the bench. There will be five defensemen and 11 forwards in the lineup if all goes as planned. Newly acquired forward Daniel Leavens is expected to play.

– Barring injuries and no additional call-ups, things will start looking better from a roster point of view after the game tonight. Makowski will be back for the game against Wichita on Friday, Aubin and Liberati will be available Sunday. You never know when players in San Jose might return but that is always a possibility.

– The game tonight at the AEC pits Allen with a record of 3-2-2-0 against Utah with a record of 3-5-0-0. The Americans played three games in less than 48 hours last weekend. The game tonight starts a four-game-in-five-day stretch for Allen.

Game Preview

– Allen has fared well against Utah since joining the ECHL with an overall record (regular season and playoffs) of 12-3-0-0. Last year Allen was 4-0-0-0 against the Grizzlies in the regular season and beat them 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs.

– Here is a comparison between Allen and Utah this season:

Team Record 3-2-2-0 (8 points) 3-5-0-0 (6 points)
Conference Rank 6th – Western 8th – Western
Last Game 4-3 Loss (Tulsa) 4-1 Loss (Worcester)
Goals For/Against 28/22 20/24
Power Play 14.3% (5-35) 5.3% (2-38)
Penalty Kill 90.6% (29-32) 86.5% (32-37)
Most PIM’s Pierro-Zabotel  (3-9-12) Pelech (4-5-9)
Leading Scorer Moore – 21 Howe – 48

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 4th (23.14) – Utah 8th (19.88)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 8th (4.00) – Utah 25th (2.50)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 13th (3.14) – Utah 9th (3.00)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 7th (36.71) – Utah 17th (29.75)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 20th (35.29) – Utah 7th (29.50)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 17th (14.3%) – Utah 27th (5.3%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 5th (90.6%) – Utah 9th (86.5%)

– If you look at the special team stats Allen has a slight advantage in both the power play and penalty kill. Allen’s advantage is even better when you consider they are 4-17 (23.5%) on the power play at the AEC. On the penalty kill, Allen has allowed just one goal at home in 17 opportunities. Shorthanded goals have been a problem for the Americans as they have allowed three in seven games which is tied for the most allowed in the league. On the flip side, Allen has scored three shorthanded goals which is tied for second in the league. Special team play is always a key to victory and if the Americans are to win tonight they will have to capitalize on their special teams advantage.

– Allen has scored the first goal in just two of their seven games and won them both. They have failed to score first during this four-game losing streak. Utah has a record of 3-5 and in all three of their wins they scored first. Another way to look at the importance of scoring first is Allen and Utah have a combined record 6-7-2-0 but their combined record when scoring first is 5-0-0-0. You have to conclude scoring first tonight is crucial.

Greger Hanson will not be in the lineup for Utah tonight. Greger signed with San Diego (AHL) during the off season and was assigned to Utah (ECHL affiliate) to start the season. However, Greger was recalled by San Diego last Saturday so he is not with the Grizzlies.

– The Allen offense is looking to get back on track. After scoring 19 goals in their first three games they have been held to nine goals in the last four games which were all losses. Casey Pierro-Zabotel leads the league in scoring (12 points) and Zach Pochiro is tied for the league lead in goals (6) but they have combined for just one assist in the last two games. The Americans will need all three lines contributing to win tonight.

– Officials scheduled for the game are referee Mike Sheehan (#11) and linesmen Brian Bull (#95) and Lucas Bisbee (#31).

DID YOU KNOW: I mentioned in the post on Monday that the definition of a shot on goal has changed this year so there no longer has to be an intent to score to have a shot counted.

This season, for the first time, clearing or stray passes that end up on goal will be counted as a shot. This has resulted in slightly more shots on goal in the ECHL compared to last season. I was asked if the shots on goal for the Allen Americans have increased. The answer is yes and the shots have increased significantly over last season (16.7%). It is still very early in the season but shots on goal are much higher than any season since the Americans joined the ECHL.

Here are the average shots on goal for each season. At least some of the increase this season is attributable to the new definition of a shot on goal.

2017-18:   36.71
2016-17:   31.44
2015-16:   28.82
2014-15:   32.83

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