ALLEN, TX – You have probably heard by now that Spencer Asuchak has been loaned to Allen by the Chicago Wolves (AHL). There isn’t a name out there that creates as much excitement among Allen fans as the guy affectionately known as “Assman” by his teammates.
– When Spencer signed a one way contract with Chicago this past off season, Allen fans assumed and hoped they would never see him back in Allen again. That is the nature of seeing players you love to watch in Allen get an opportunity at the next level. As much as you want to see them back with the Americans, your hope is you don’t see them again. By Asuchak’s own admission it has been a rough year in Chicago so returning to Allen is an opportunity to play a lot of minutes and get back in the groove.
– Spencer is already in Anchorage, practiced with the team yesterday and will be in the lineup tonight. He brings so much to the team because he can play in every situation. He is a big body (6’5″ and 230 pounds) who is a physical guy that thinks defense first but has the ability to score a point a game. He creates traffic in front of the net on the power play and is an outstanding penalty killer.
– Whether Asuchak is in Allen for a couple of weeks (five games qualifies him for the playoffs) or the rest of the season remains to be seen but you can be assured he will be a big contributor both on and off the ice.
– Had a chance to catch up with Spencer last night in Anchorage and he is delighted to be back with the Americans. Here is what he had to say, “I am really excited to get a chance to play again and I’m going to do whatever I can to to help the boys win. It feels good to be home and back in red with the best fans in all of hockey.”
– How much does Spencer like playing in Allen? This is what he said to his hometown paper about playing in Allen last year after winning the Kelly Cup. “It was the most fun I’ve ever had. We had a great group of guys and a really good team. It was a great experience and I will never forget it.”
– Lost in all of the excitement with Spencer Asuchak returning to the Allen Americans is the other big “A” returning to the lineup and that is Vincent Arseneau. Arseneau was activated from injured reserve yesterday and will play tonight. Arseneau has been out since being injured on December 19. He brings both toughness and scoring to the lineup.
– It might take a couple of games for Asuchak and Arseneau to get up to speed after not playing for a while but they certainly strengthen the lineup in more ways than one.
ALLEN VS ALASKA GAME PREVIEW:
– The Allen Americans play the first of three games against the Alaska Aces tonight. The teams will play again on Friday and Saturday. It will be a much different lineup for Allen with Arseneau and Asuchak in and Jonathan Parker out (traded to Brampton). Reggie Traccitto, who Allen got in the trade for Parker, has not yet joined the team so that means the Americans will go with 11 forwards and just five defensemen tonight.
– I had the chance to check in with coach Martinson and asked about playing with 11 forwards and five defensemen. He had an interesting comment which was, “With 11 forwards we will be able to play four lines which makes it difficult for the home team to match lines.” One thing is clear and that is every line on the ice for Allen will have the ability to score.
– Here is a statistical comparison between Allen and Alaska:
|Team Record||28-16-2-1 (59 points)||17-24-2-3 (39 points)|
|Division Ranking||2nd – Central||4th -West|
|Conference Ranking||4th – Western||12th – Western|
|Last 10 Games||7-2-1-1||4-6-0-0|
|Last Game||5-3 W (Wichita)||5-2 L (Idaho)|
|Power Play||20.8% (36/173)||19.6% (28/143)|
|Penalty Kill||86.3% (25/182)||81.6% (30/163)|
|Leading Scorer||Costello (18-46-64)||Sivak (9-26-35)|
|PIMs Leader||Stevenson (83)||Hunt (164)|
– Here is how Allen and Alaska rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:
Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 4th (16.36) – Alaska 9th (15.11)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 9th (3.00) – Alaska 23rd (2.63)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 12th (2.74) – Alaska 21st (3.17)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 26th (27.60) – Alaska 2nd (34.07)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 15th (39.94) – Alaska 13th (29.74)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 2nd (20.8%) – Alaska 4th (19.6%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 5th (86.3%) – Alaska 21st (81.6%)
– The goals and shots stats above are very telling. Allen struggles in getting shots averaging 27.6 per game (ranked #26) while Alaska is ranked #2 with over 34 shots per game. However, if you look at goals scored Allen is ranked #9 and Alaska is ranked #23. The reason for this is that Allen has the second best shooting percentage in the ECHL at 10.8% while Alaska has the second worst shooting percentage in the ECHL at 7.7%.
– Special teams are always important and both Allen and Alaska have good special teams that are statistically equal. Allen’s road power play is 23.5%, Alaska’s home power play percentage is 23.1%. On the penalty kill, Alaska is 82% at home and Allen is 84.1% on the road. Winning the special teams battle is an obvious key to victory in this series.
– One Alaska player to keep an eye on is their tough guy, #24 Garet Hunt, who has accumulated 164 penalty minutes in just 35 games to lead the ECHL in PIMS (tied with Darryl Bootland). His numbers are a little skewed as he had a 34 penalty minute game early in the season and a 32 penalty minute game on January 30 for which he received a three game suspension. If he plays, tonight will be Hunt’s first game back after sitting out the last three games on suspension.
– Key players for Alaska include goalie Troy Redmann who has played in 35 games this year and has the second most minutes played in the league (2058) and defenseman William Wrenn (#19), who leads all ECHL defensemen with 29 assists and is the second leading scorer on the Aces.
– Don’t forget if you plan on watching or listening to the game that puck drop is not until 10:15 pm Allen time.
– The officials scheduled for tonight are referee Tyler Puddifant (#28) and linesmen Steve Glines (#44) and Travis Jackson (#65).
DID YOU KNOW: Spencer Asuchak has played just 94 regular season games with the Allen Americans but is already the career leader in shorthanded goals with seven.