As the Allen Americans continue to prepare for the last three games of the season which come at home against Rapid City on Thursday and Friday and then on the road against Wichita on Saturday they might be doing a little scoreboard watching tonight. There are two games in the ECHL tonight that impact the Americans as they head into the playoffs. Tulsa is at Wichita and if the Oilers beat the Thunder it will secure a playoff spot and eliminate Wichita. It would narrow Allen’s first round opponent to Tulsa or Quad City. The other game that impacts the Americans is Utah at Idaho. It will be the last game of the season for Idaho and if they lose, Allen will clinch the best record in the Western Conference. If Idaho wins Allen will have to get two points in their last three games in order to have the best record in the Western Conference.
Tanner Eberle who just arrived in Allen and had two goals and two assists in five games is headed to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) where he has signed a PTO. Even though Bridgeport will not make the AHL playoffs it is a great opportunity for Tanner to audition for an AHL contract for next season. Whether Tanner returns before the Bridgeport season is finished (April 19) is uncertain but you can expect Eberle will be in Bridgeport for a while.
Good news as Brian McMillin skated for the first time on Monday since he broke his knee cap just before Christmas.
With Tanner Eberle headed to Bridgeport and Vincent Arseneau serving a one game suspension on Thursday the Americans will be playing with only nine forwards in the game. Have had some questions about the Arseneau suspension and to clarify, an instigator penalty in the last five minutes of the game carries an automatic one game suspension.
Aaron Dell and Gary Steffes both continued their great play in the AHL last night. Aaron had a 30 save overtime shutout as Worcester beat Portland 1-0. Aaron lowered his GAA to 1.80 and raised his save percentage to .935. Gary had another goal, his fourth in seven games since being loaned to Milwaukee, in a losing cause as his team lost to Rockford 5-3. Steffes now has 48 goals this season and a real shot at getting 50. If and when Aaron and Gary return to Allen is dependent on if they make the playoffs and how their teams do in the playoffs. Worcester is currently the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and Milwaukee is the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference.
If anyone is interested in the “Golden Goalie” jersey Riley Gill wore at the Americans game on March 22 it is currently being auctioned by the MeiGray Group. Riley signed the jersey and the auction will end on April 16. The current bid is just $250. You can find the details at auctions.nhl.com.
The ECHL postseason awards schedule was issued yesterday and things get started today with the announcement of the All-Rookie Team where Justin Baker is a candidate. Here is the rest of the schedule:
April 9 – All-ECHL First-Team and Second-Team
April 10 – Sportsman Award & Community Service Award
April 13 – Leading Scorer, Plus Performer of the Year & Rookie of the Year
April 14 – Coach of the Year
April 15 – Defenseman of the Year
April 16 – Goaltender of the Year
April 17 – Most Valuable Player
Not sure how many of the awards will go to the Allen Americans other than the leading scorer and MVP which should go to Chad Costello. For each of the individual awards, the top five are announced (winner, runner-up and the next three) so Allen should be represented in all of the categories, at least they have worthy candidates in all of the individual categories.
Chris Crane, who was assigned by San Jose (NHL) to Allen from Worcester (AHL) this week will play in his first game for the Americans on Thursday. Chris was a seventh round draft pick of the San Jose Sharks in 2010 and signed an entry-level NHL contract with San Jose after his junior year at Ohio State University where he was a two-time Academic All-Big Ten student athlete. Chris was attracted to Ohio State after moving to Ohio at age 10 and becoming a big fan of the Buckeyes’ hockey and football programs. Prior to attending Ohio State, Chris played junior hockey for two years for the Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) and won both the Anderson Cup and Clark Cup in 2009-2010 as USHL regular season and playoff champions. Since turning pro Chris has spent most of his time in the ECHL (San Francisco, Ontario and Missouri) but has played 23 games for Worcester. According to his college bio Chris enjoys playing golf, riding motor cross and surfing. His dad’s name is Claude IV and his mom is Kimberly. Chris has an older sister (Tiffany) and an older brother who is Claude V. And yes, Claude V already has a son named Claude VI.
Here are Crane’s stats from Elite Prospects:
DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans have had 339 power play opportunities this season which is 31 more than anyone else in the ECHL. The Americans have score 74 power play goals which is 26 more power play goals than the ECHL average and 13 more power play goals than any other team in the league.