ALLEN, TX – With just seven games remaining in the regular season it is the time of year where it is difficult to be a fan especially if your team is going to make the playoffs and everyone realizes the roster needs to improve to make a deep run in the playoffs. I would put the Allen Americans in that category. The playoff roster will be different than the current roster and changes are inevitable. Players that you have watched all season are waived or left off the playoff roster. New players arrive from San Jose, college or juniors just in time to make the playoff roster. For fans that get attached to their favorite player it can be a rough time. It is the time of year when the saying about cheering for the name on the front of the jersey rather than the back of the jersey makes the most sense.

There is no question there is a gap between Missouri and the rest of the teams in the Western Conference so standing pat is not an alternative. From a fans’ perspective it is difficult to see players go or be left off the playoff roster that have been with the team all season. However, coach Martinson’s job is to win which means he will make whatever moves he feels gives the team the best chance to win.

Playoff rosters are due on April 11, but players who are in  San Jose or with any other AHL teams must play five games in the ECHL to be playoff eligible. After the two games against Missouri this weekend the Americans will have just five games remaining.
I always find it interesting to compare stats between last season and this season. I am not sure it provides much insight because the league was structured so much differently last season. In 2014-15 there were just four divisions in the ECHL and Allen played almost all of their games against the teams that came over from the Central Hockey League. That most likely made it easier for the Americans to rack up points and stats.
So with that stipulated, here is a comparison between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 season.

Team Points
– Allen currently has 79 points with seven games remaining. Last season with seven games remaining the Americans had 93 points. Incidentally, Allen finished the season strong last year going 6-0-0-1 in their last seven games.

Team Goals – Allen has scored 199 goals this season. Last season with seven games remaining Allen had scored 260 goals. Allen finished strong last year in the goal scoring department tallying 32 goals in their last seven games for an average of 4.57 goals per game.

Team Shots – Allen has taken 1828 shots this season and converted on 10.8%. Last season with seven games remaining the Americans had taken 2119 shots and converted on 12.2%.

Penalty Minutes – Allen has taken 1100 penalty minutes this season for an average of 16.92 minutes per game. Last season Allen took 1644 penalty minutes for an average of 22.83 minutes per game.

Goals Allowed – This may be the most surprising statistic when comparing the two seasons. Allen has allowed 187 goals this season. Last season with seven games remaining Allen had allowed 190 goals.

Team Plus/Minus –  This may be the biggest difference between last season and this season. Allen finished at a +291 last season. With seven games remaining Allen’s plus/minus is -39.

Chad Costello – Chad leads the ECHL in scoring by 24 points and is having another great season with 91 points (23 goals 68 assists). Last season with seven games remaining, Chad had 107 points (36 goals 71 assists).

Last season, Chad finished strong with 18 points (5 goals 13 assists) in the last seven games. It should be noted that Chad is on pace to end the season with more points than any ECHL leading scorer in the last five years other than his 125 points last season. He also has more assists than any other player in the league has total points.

Gary Steffes – Gary is the second leading scorer on the team this season just as he was last season. He has 40 points (19 goals 21 assists) in 62 games. Last season after 62 games Gary had 71 points (42 goals 27 assists).

Gary had a career year last season scoring over twice as many goals as he has ever scored in season. His production this season is comparable to all of his other professional seasons other than last year.

As the Americans enter the final seven games of the season, keep in mind there are roster changes on the way. All you have to do is look at when the following players played their first game for Allen last season to give you an idea of what is to come.

March 25 – Vincent Arseneau
March 31 – Konrad Abeltshauser
March 31- Joel Rumpel
April 1 -Dyson Stevenson
April 9 – Chris Crane

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Thanks to Mary for today’s question.

Q: Do referees suffer any consequences for bad calls?

A: The biggest consequence for a referee who has continued bad performance as determined by the league is not having his contract renewed. Referees get promoted based on their performance. I have had numerous discussions with CHL and ECHL officials over the years about evaluating referees performance and the one thing in common from all of them is fans and coaches aren’t seen as the best judges of performance.

I spent some time with Bryan Lewis, who had over 1000 NHL games as a referee including nine Stanley Cup Finals, when he was the Referee-in-Chief for the CHL. He was in Allen observing the on ice officiating crew and showed me the chart he used to evaluate the referee. There are numerous factors to being a good referee from skating, positioning, vision, control, and yes calling penalties.

DID YOU KNOW: Chad Costello now has a 24 point lead in the ECHL scoring race. Did you know in the 26 year history of the ECHL the scoring champion has won the scoring title by more than 20 points only four times and Chad set the all time record when he won the scoring title by 45 points last year. Here are the four times the ECHL scoring champion had at least twenty more points than the runner up along with where Chad currently fits in with 7 games remaining.

45 points – 2014-2015 (Chad Costello)
43 points – 1992-1993 (Trevor Jobe)
35 points – 1989-1990 (Bill McDougall)
24 points – 1995-1996 (Hugo Belanger)
24 points – 2015-2016 (Chad Costello)

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