ALLEN, Texas – After a well deserved day off on Monday, it is back to practice for the Allen Americans today as they prepare for another weekend of three games in three days. Allen plays Tulsa at home on Friday, in Tulsa on Saturday and then return home for a game against Rapid City on Sunday.
There were three roster changes announced on ECHL transactions yesterday:
Lukas Hafner – Hafner is a 27-year-old goalie Allen obtained in a trade with Fort Wayne. He played for Colorado the last two seasons, winning two Kelly Cups, before signing with Fort Wayne this season. Lukas is a third-year pro and has played 61 ECHL games with a goals against average of 2.98 and save percentage of .902 and a record of 34-17-2-4.
Allen fans may remember the 2017 Kelly Cup playoffs when Hafner led Colorado to the championship. The Eagles played Allen in the second round and two Western Michigan University grads went head to head. Colorado with Hafner in goal took a 3-0 series lead against Allen with Riley Gill in goal. Allen fought back but lost the series 4-2. Hafner’s record in the 2017 Kelly Cup was 14-2 as he led the Eagles to the championship.
Steve Martinson has publicly said several times recently that he wants a goalie that has had success in the ECHL, is not looking to move up to the AHL, wants to establish himself in the DFW area and make connections for his post-hockey career. His recent trade for Lukas Hafner and release of Kyle Hayton could have implications beyond this season. Allen has struggled when C.J. Motte has been called up to Iowa. Allen’s record without Motte in goal is 4-20 so bringing in Hafner is an attempt to have an experienced goalie if Motte is in Iowa but you also have to wonder if Martinson has already had a conversation with Hafner about next season.
Hafner was traded to Allen for future considerations so that could mean anything but you would think for an experienced goalie a player going the other direction would be involved. I was listening to an interview with Fort Wayne coach Gary Graham last night and he was talking about their need for a defenseman as their best defenseman is out of the lineup with an injury. The trade deadline is only 10 days away so it does make you wonder what if anything will happen regarding this trade in the next 10 days.
Kyle Hayton – Hayton was released yesterday and is eligible to be claimed off waivers. Kyle was the goalie of record in 15 games this season with a record of 4-11-0-0, a GAA of 3.53 and a save percentage of .893.
Emerson Clark – Clark was under contract with Toronto (AHL) and assigned to Allen so it was always a possibility he would be recalled. That is what happened because Toronto traded Clark to the Milwaukee Admirals. Emerson played nine games in Allen and had five points (1G, 4A) to go along with 89 penalty minutes.
– Two players that will hopefully be in the lineup this weekend are Joel Chouinard, who has been out with a lower-body injury since February 5, and Alex Ranger, who has not played since February 8.
We’re Goin’ Streakin’!
– Allen has won their last four games which it the longest (tied) winning streak all season. The Americans have won more than one game in a row only three times all season as hard as that is to believe. They won back to back games on October 26 and 27, four games straight between January 11-16 and this current four-game winning streak.
Here is a look at what has been working and what hasn’t been working during this four game winning streak.
– All four game on this win streak have been one goal games if you don’t count two empty net goals. The big difference during this winning streak is Allen’s goal production. The Americans are averaging 2.93 goals per game this season but in the last four games, the average is 5.25. The Americans have scored four or more goals in each game during this win streak.
– During this winning streak, Allen’s goals allowed (3.75) is similar to their season long average (3.67). Since they are ranked #25 in goals allowed, improvement is certainly needed. This current winning streak is attributable to a big increase in goals scored. It is unlikely Allen can continue scoring four or five goals every game.
– Special team percentages during the win streak have been lower than the season-long averages. Allen’s power play this season is at 16.7% but in the last four games, it is 11.8% (2-17). The penalty kill for the season is 83.2% but for the last four games, it is 81.0%.
– Allen has been inconsistent during this four-game win streak. In two games they have blown three-goal leads but to their credit, they have hung in to win the games. The streak has included two regulation wins, an overtime win, and a shootout win.
– The bottom line is anytime you win four straight games, especially this season, you have to be doing something right but the stats show that with the exception of scoring at almost twice their normal rate, Allen is not playing great hockey. It is unrealistic to think any team can average over five goals a game for an extended period of time. Improvement in goals allowed and on special teams will be what extends this winning streak beyond four games.
With a four game winning streak and averaging over five goals per game there are plenty of streaks going into the weekend.
Alex Breton – Alex has a four game point streak. In those four games, he had eight points (5G, 3A) and his plus minus was +8. His five goals included a hat trick.
Dante Salituro – Dante has a six-game point streak (4G, 8A). Since January 13, Salituro has points in 16 of 18 games and assists in 15 of 18. His point total in those 18 games is 26 (7G, 19A).
Riley Bourbonnais – Riley has a five-game point streak (4G, 4A). Since January 13, he has a point in 13 of 18 games and has 21 points (10G, 11A). Three of his 10 goals were shorthanded.
Zach Pochiro – Zach has a goal in three straight games and is just one goal away from joining the Allen 30-goal club. It is a very exclusive group with just six members; Gary Steffes, Chad Costello, Greger Hanson, Bruce Graham, Nino Musitelli and Colton Yellow Horn. Steffes and Costello are also members of the Americans 40-goal club. While Zach is unlikely to reach 40 goals he is on pace to end the season with 37 goals. That would place him third all time behind Steffes (44) and Costello (41).
– More than any other team, the Rapid City Rush will have the opportunity to play spoiler in the Mountain Division. After Rapid City visits Allen on Sunday they will play six straight games against Utah (3 home, 3 away) followed by five straight games against Idaho (2 home, 3 away). Talk about a scheduling nightmare.
There will definitely be some fireworks as Rapid City tries to win against the top two teams in the Mountain Division. By the way, the top three teams in the ECHL in fights are Rapid City (73), Idaho (60) and Utah (59).
– It is always interesting to look at home and road records around the ECHL.
Cincinnati has the best home record and it isn’t even close. The Cyclones home record is 22-1-2-2. The all-time record for home wins is 30 so Cincinnati still has a chance to get to 30 home wins.
Florida has the best road record at 18-8-3-0.
Brampton has five more road wins (15-11-1-1) than home wins (11-11-4-0).
Kansas City is one of three teams with 20 or more home wins (20-8-1-0) but they also have the fewest road wins in the league (7-13-2-1).
Did You Know?
This could be the week Steve Martinson reaches his 1000th win as a coach. You have to coach a long time and more importantly you have to be a great coach to win 1000 games. Martinson is in his 23rd year as a coach and has 10 championships in his previous 22 seasons. He has averaged 44.5 wins per season over his coaching career. Here is a compilation of games won.
50+ 3 times
45-49 11 times
40-44 2 times
34-39 6 times