ALLEN, TX – It is game day for the Allen Americans as they take on the Idaho Steelheads tonight (8:10 pm Allen time) in game three of their best of seven series.
With the series tied 1-1, game three takes on huge significance unless you look at the statistics. The numbers vary from study to study but the winner of game three in a seven game series wins about 65% of the time. Losing game three and going down 2-1 in the series is certainly not a death knell. About one third of the time, the team that gets down in a series 2-1 comes back to win. The lesson for teams and their fans is obvious, no game counts more in the playoffs than another unless it is the one that creates a handshake line at the end.
– Playing at home in the playoffs has not been an advantage for the Steelheads the last two post seasons. Their record is 3-6. Allen’s record on the road the last two post seasons is 10-9.
– If you want the best indicator of who wins the game tonight go with the team that scores the first goal. Allen and Idaho have played six times this season (four in the regular season, two in the playoffs) and the team that scored the first goal has won all six games.
-With only two playoff games in the books, looking at comparative stats with Idaho is not very meaningful but thought it would be interesting to see how these teams rank compared to all 16 playoff teams. Here is how Allen and Idaho rank among the 16 playoff teams in some statistical categories considering just the playoff game results:
Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 8th (14.00) – Idaho 3rd (16.00)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 13th (2.00) – Idaho 13th (2.00)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 1st (2.00) – Idaho 1st (2.00)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 2nd (35.50) – Idaho 14th (23.00)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 3rd (23.00) – Idaho 15th (35.50)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 2nd (25.0%) – Idaho 9th (16.7%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 8th (83.3%) – Idaho 14th (75.0%)
– The one statistic above that stands out is shots per game as Allen is ranked #2 with 35.50 shots per game. During the regular season Allen had trouble generating shots and was ranked #24 in the league with 28.82 shots per game. The increased shots in the two playoffs games has not translated to goals scored as the Americans have scored on just 5.6% of their shots. During the regular season Allen had one of the highest shooting percentages in the league converting on 10.6 % of their shots.
– Coach Martinson won’t make the final decision on who plays tonight until after the pregame skate, but you can certainly make some educated guesses if everyone is available to play. In the past Martinson usually doesn’t make many changes after a win in the playoffs. That means Riley Gill should get the start in goal. Most likely Danny Federico will be the healthy scratch for the defensemen as Martinson tries to maximize the offensive opportunities. Up front you might see a change. Justin Courtnall, J.P. LaFontaine and Kyle Neuber all bring something different to the ice and one of them will have to sit out. Who it is depends on what kind of game coach Martinson expects.
– Line combinations are very flexible in a Steve Martinson offense as he deals with specials teams and other types of match ups. However, the lines that have played together most often the first two playoff games are Hanson-Asuchak-Stevenson, Costello-Pierro-Zabotel-Arseneau and Steffes & King with LaFontaine, Courtnall or Neuber.
– Referees scheduled for the game are Kenny Anderson (#16) and Peter Tarnaris (#23). Linesmen will be Scott DeBaugh (#67) and Andrew Wetzel (#81).
– There will be watch parties for the game tonight at 5th Street Pizza in Allen and The Franchise in Plano. It is always fun to join your fellow Allen fans at one of the watch parties for playoff hockey.
– There was just one ECHL playoff game last night. Reading (#8 seed) beat Toledo (#1 seed) by a score of 4-2 to take a 2-1 lead in the series. Game four is tonight in Reading.
-There are six playoff games scheduled tonight and a couple of them are worth keeping an eye on. Fort Wayne (#2 seed) plays in Cincinnati (#7 seed) trailing 2-0 in the series. A must win for the Komets. The #3 seed in the East is Manchester who trails #6 seed Adirondack in the series 3-1. Manchester must win tonight at home to avoid elimination.
– The Michigan State Spartans hockey team held their annual awards program on Monday and Allen goalie Jake Hildebrand was honored as the MVP of the team. Jake became the first player in program history to be selected the team MVP four times. Here is a link to the story:http://www.msuspartans.com/sports/m-hockey/spec-rel/041816aab.html
DID YOU KNOW: Riley Gill was the playoff MVP in 2013 as he led the Reading Royals to the Kelly Cup. Riley played every game of the conference finals and Kelly cup finals. Reading beat Cincinnati 4-1 in the conference finals and Stockton 4-1 in the Kelly Cup finals. Riley played in 17 playoff games in 2013 and had a record of 13-3-1. His GAA was 1.91 and his save percentage was .930. He had four shutouts in the playoffs including two in the championship finals. The four playoff shutouts are the second most in ECHL history.