ALLEN, TX – Christmas break is over for the Allen Americans as they leave this morning for Wichita where they will take on the Thunder tonight and Friday. It is about a six-hour bus drive (365 miles) to Wichita which would normally require the team to leave they day before the game. However, because they play Wichita twice, the agreement with the players association is they can leave the day of the game. Coach Steve Martinson will not be on the bus as he will be meeting the team in Wichita.

–  It has only been a few days without hockey but a reminder on just how well the Americans have been playing recently is in order. The last game before the break was a disappointing 3-2 shootout loss to Idaho at home in which the Americans blew a 2-0 lead. Despite the loss to Idaho, Allen has been playing better hockey for over a month. Check out these numbers:

7-1-1-1 – Allen’s record over the last 10 games
5-0-1-0 – Allen’s road record since November 26
9-2-1-1 – Allen’s overall record since November 26
24-8     – Allen’s goals scored and allowed in the last five games
4.1       – Allen’s average goals scored per game in December
26.9%  – Allen’s power play percentage in December

– The good news is the Americans have been playing much better hockey and are now four games over .500. The bad news for Allen is they are still in fourth place in the Mountain Division when you look at winning percentage. The good play will have to continue by the Americans in order for them to gain ground against the teams (Colorado, Alaska, Idaho) ahead of them in the standings. Remember, with the scheduling idiosyncrasies this season, Allen will not face any of the teams ahead of them for the rest of the regular season.

– A team Allen will see a lot the rest of the season is their opponent tonight, the Wichita Thunder. The Americans have played the Thunder four times this season with all four games being played since December 9. They have 10 (six home, four away) games remaining including tonight and Friday in Wichita. Here are the results of the four games played earlier in December.

December 9 – Allen wins 3-0 in Wichita despite being out shot 45-30. Riley Gill with a 45-save shutout.

December 10 – Allen takes a 2-0 lead into the second period in Wichita but loses the game 5-4 in overtime. It was Jamie Murray‘s first start in three weeks after being recalled by San Jose.

December 16 – This was at home and dominated by Allen in all facets of the game. The score was 6-1 and it was the return of Vincent Arseneau to the AEC. It was the game where there was a line brawl and 136 minutes worth of penalties including six roughing calls, 10 fighting majors, and four game misconducts. Dyson Stevenson was the #1 star and almost had a double Gordie Howe hat trick. Stevenson had a goal, two assists, and two fights.

December 18 – Allen wins in Wichita despite being outshot 43-29. Murray was in goal for Allen and was the difference in the game. That was the game Chad Costello had a part on all four goals as he scored one and assisted on the other three but wasn’t one of the three stars.

– In summary, Allen has a 3-0-1-0 record against Wichita. The Americans have outscored Wichita 17-7 in the four games but Wichita has the edge in shots 164 -143. Allen is 5-21 (23.8%) but all five power play goals came in the last two games. Wichita is 1-26 (3.8%) on the power play.

– Here is an update of the stats comparing Allen and Wichita:

ALLEN WICHITA
Team Record 17-13-1-1 (36 points) 11-11-0-1 (23 points)
Division Ranking 3rd – Mountain 6th – Central
Last Game 3-2 Loss (Idaho) 4-0 Loss (Missouri)
Goals For/Against 106/91 65/73
Power Play 15.3% (21/137) 16.7% (13/78)
Penalty Kill 84.7% (23/150) 85.6% (14/97)
Most PIM’s Mathers (133) Melindy (63)
Leading Scorer Costello (17-30-47)
Hanson (15-20-35)
Loiseau (14-10-24)
Moon (6-11-17)

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 4th (19.47) – Wichita 3rd (19.57)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 11th (3.31) – Wichita 21st (2.83)
Goals Allowed per Game: Allen 5th (2.83) – Wichita 16th (3.17)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 6th (33.13) – Wichita 12th (32.35)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 19th (34.16) – Wichita 27th (37.48)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 20th (15.3%) – Wichita 12th (16.7%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 10th (84.7%) – Wichita 8th (85.6%)

– You can see from the stats above Allen and Wichita are two of the most penalized teams in the ECHL. There is no love lost between these teams but they have played games with very few penalty minutes (26) and some with a lot of penalty minutes (136). The referee tonight is Tudor Floru who was the referee in the 136 penalty minute game in Allen on December 16. It will be interesting to see what kind of game transpires tonight.

– When Allen played Wichita for the first time (December 9) the Thunder had the #1 ranked power play in the ECHL at 25.5%. In the four games against Allen this month the Wichita power play is 1-26 and the lone goal was a five-on-three power play. The Thunder power play is now ranked #12 at 16.7%.  Allen’s power play was 0-5 in their last game against Idaho but prior to that, they had scored a power-play goal in four straight games going 10-18. There is no question Allen’s special teams have been much better than Wichita’s recently. If the Americans can capitalize on that advantage tonight it should get them a win.

–  There will be one roster change for the game tonight as Eric Roy will return to the lineup. Eric has been out of the lineup with an injury since November 20. Riley Gill will start in goal for the Americans.

– Officials scheduled for the game are referee Tudor Floru (#26) and linesmen Chip Excell (#42) and Chase Wilkinson (#68).

OTHER COMMENTS:

Chris Crane returned to the lineup for the Orlando Solar Bears last night as his team lost to Florida 3-1. Chris missed the last seven games with an injury and had not played since December 3. With the win Florida takes over first place in the South Division standings, two points ahead of Orlando.

DID YOU KNOW: In the history of the Allen Americans, scoring at least 25 goals in a season has happened only 10 times. Bruce Graham accounts for three of the 10 and is the only player to accomplish the feat multiple times. The other seven were Gary Steffes, Chad Costello, Nino Musitelli, Colton Yellow Horn, Jonathan Lessard, and Alex Lavoie.

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