ALLEN, TX – It is game day for the Allen Americans and it is a strange one for several reasons. It is the only Thursday game of the season, home or away. The Americans will be playing Colorado for the first time all season, the last Mountain Division team for Allen to play. After playing Tulsa 11 times, Wichita 10 times, Idaho seven times, Rapid City five times and Utah twice it is finally time to see the Kelly Cup champs.
– The strangest thing about today is the Allen Americans find themselves outside of a playoff spot for the first time all season. Tulsa beat Wichita 6-3 at home last night and leaped over Allen into fourth place in the Mountain Division. Allen has never been on the outside looking in at the playoffs this late in the season since Steve Martinson became the coach. To be fair Allen has two games in hand over Tulsa and a chance to get back into fourth place and the playoffs with a win tonight against Colorado.
– It won’t be an easy task for Allen going against the Eagles tonight. After all , olorado is the best team in the ECHL and has more points (66-47) and a better winning percentage (.767-.534) than the Americans. Colorado is 7-3 in their last 10 games while Allen is 3-7.
– What works in Allen’s favor is they are at home, they are well rested having not played since last Saturday, they have some momentum from breaking their losing streak with a 5-2 win over Wichita in their last game and they will have their best lineup in a long time on the ice tonight.
– Steve Martinson has mentioned Zach Pochiro and Vincent Arseneau will get better with each game after sitting out with injuries. They have both had a good week of practice and should be standouts in the game tonight. Zach Hall was a full participant in practice yesterday and will be activated at some point this weekend but not necessarily for tonight. Activating Hall may require other roster changes since he would make the 22nd healthy player.
– Jeremy Brodeur has started the last two games for Allen and had save percentages of .951 and .931. Even though coach Martinson has rotated goalies all season I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes with the hot hand and Brodeur gets his third straight start in this critical game against Colorado. With three games in the next three days both goalies will see action.
– Several readers have asked about the status of Gary Steffes. Because of his work commitments and the number of healthy players now available he will not be joining the team anytime soon. Don’t count him out, however, for another stint in Allen later in the season if the need arises.
Here are the updated stats between Allen and Colorado:
|Team Record||21-18-4-1 (47 points)||31-8-4-0 (66 points)|
|Division Rank||5th – Mountain||1st – Mountain|
|Last Game||5-2 Win (Wichita)||3-1 Loss (Kansas City)|
|Power Play||19.7% (38/193)||19.1% (37/194)|
|Penalty Kill||80.0% (40/200)||84.9% (26/172)|
|Leading Scorer||Pierro-Zabotel (12-36-48)||Joly (33-15-48)|
|PIMs Leader||Moore (129)||Ratelle (121)|
– Here is how Allen and Colorado rank in the ECHL in major statistical categories:
Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (22.52) – Colorado 2nd (19.79)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 9th (3.34) – Colorado 2nd (3.93)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 17th (3.27) – Colorado 5th (2.88)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 15th (32.30) – Colorado 20th (31.21)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 23rd (37.07) – Colorado 12th (31.51)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 5th (19.7%) – Colorado 9th (19.1%)
Home Power Play %: Allen 4th (20.6%) – Colorado 6th (19.6%)
Road Power Play %: Allen 12th (18.7%) – Colorado 13th (18.4%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 22nd (80.0%) – Colorado 6th (84.9%)
Home Penalty Kill %: Allen 8th (85.6%) – Colorado 3rd (87.8%)
Road Penalty Kill %: Allen 27th (74.0%) – Colorado 17th (81.1%)
– The most important stats above are goals scored and allowed where Colorado scores more than Allen (3.93 vs 3.34) and allows fewer goals than Allen (2.88 vs 3.27). That translates to a goal differential of +3 for Allen (147-144) and +45 (169-124) for Colorado. Big advantage for the Eagles.
– Allen does have a slight advantage on special teams when you look at the percentages. Allen’s home power play percentage is 20.6% compared to Colorado on the road of 18.4%. Allen’s home penalty kill is 85.6% compared to Colorado on the road of 81.1%.
– A good start is always important but even more so against a team like Colorado. Both of these teams are best in the first period with Allen outscoring their opponents 52-33 and Colorado outscoring their opponents 50-29. With a lead after the first period, Colorado is 19-2-0-0 so the Americans don’t want to get behind.
– Even with a lead after the second period, Allen needs to be careful as Colorado has outscored their opponents 53-43 in the third period while Allen has been outscored 52-45 in the third period. Allen is 1-10-2-0 when trailing after the second period, Colorado is 4-6-0-0.
– A big key for Allen tonight is to find a way to control the most prolific goal scorer in the league in #16 Michael Joly. If the Americans can keep him off the score-sheet they will have a good chance of winning. That is what Kansas City did on Tuesday night when they beat the Eagles 3-1. It will be easier said than done as Joly has been held scoreless only five times all season and never in back to back games. He has scored 33 goals in 35 games this season. This is the second year in the league for the 22-year-old and he has 56 goals in 64 games. Joly has 13 goals in his last 10 games. If you are attending the game tonight keep an eye on #16 every time he takes the ice.
– Officials scheduled for the game are referee Stephen Reneau (#17) and linesmen Brian Bull (#95) and Cameron Dykstra (#0).
– It is a light schedule around the ECHL tonight with just three games on the schedule. In addition to Colorado at Allen, Rapid City is at Kalamazoo and Atlanta visits Jacksonville. With a win tonight, Allen can move back into fourth place in the Mountain Division and gain two points on all the teams ahead of them in the standings.
Here are the current Mountain Division standings with games played in parentheses.
66 points – Colorado (43 games)
54 points – Idaho (44 games)
51 points – Wichita (42 games)
48 points – Tulsa (46 games)
47 points – Allen (44 games)
42 points – Utah (45 games)
32 points – Rapid City (43 games)
– It has been a tough slog for the San Jose Sharks affiliated teams. Allen has fallen to fifth place in the Mountain Division and out of a playoff spot. The Barracuda are out of the playoffs in seventh place in the Pacific Division. The Sharks are still in the playoffs and are in second place in the Pacific Division but lost last night to Detroit (2-1 in a shootout) and have now lost four straight. The Sharks winning percentage is .600 with the Barracuda at .538 and the Americans at .534. This compares to last season (2016-17) when the winning percentages were .722 (Allen), .699 (Barracuda) and .604 (Sharks).
DID YOU KNOW: Allen was eliminated by Colorado in the second round of the playoffs last season and went on to win the Kelly Cup. In the regular season, these teams were ranked #1 and #2 in penalty minutes in the ECHL. Allen had 1432 minutes and Colorado had 1415. When it came to crunch time in that playoff series, the teams either turned into angels or the referees decided to swallow their whistles. Allen was called for two penalties in game five and three penalties in game six. That was nothing compared to Colorado who was called for one penalty in game five and none in the series-deciding game six.