The Sin Bin’s Kelly Cup Playoff Coverage is presented by Kalwei Law Firm
Today is the final game preview of the season and there will be enough numbers to make your head spin. The numbers will prove absolutely nothing as if there was ever a game where the past doesn’t predict the future this would be the game. However, whether you are an Allen fan, South Carolina fan or an ECHL fan it is always fascinating to look at the statistics to help figure out who will win the game. There is plenty of ammunition for both teams to say the odds are in their favor.
Here are a few examples:
– Allen hasn’t lost a playoff series in the last three years going a perfect 9-0
– South Carolina has never lost a game seven series in franchise history going a perfect 3-0
– Allen is 7-0 in elimination games under Coach Steve Martinson
– South Carolina has already won two game sevens in the playoffs this year
– The home team is 22-9 all time and 6-1 this year in ECHL game seven playoff games
– The road team has won two of the three game sevens in championship finals history
– Allen has never been under .500 in a playoff series at home and are 1-2 in this series
– South Carolina won the last game seven Kelly Cup final (2009) on the road
– In his 19th year of coaching Steve Martinson has never lost a game seven at home
– Spencer Carbery was a member of the 2009 Stingrays team that won game seven on the road
– Allen is 9-4 at home in the playoffs this year
– South Carolina is 10-3 on the road in the playoffs this year
So grab the ones you like as you can find plenty of reasons why your favorite team should win on Sunday and become the Kelly Cup Champion.
Here is a statistical comparison of Allen and South Carolina looking at the regular season, playoffs and head to head:
Regular Season: Allen (292) – South Carolina (224)
Playoffs: Allen (83) – South Carolina (85)
Head to Head: Allen (16) – South Carolina (18)
Regular Season: Allen (203) – South Carolina (163)
Playoffs: Allen (69) – South Carolina (78)
Head to Head: Allen (18) – South Carolina (16)
Regular Season: Allen (1644) – South Carolina (1065)
Playoffs: Allen (414) – South Carolina (324)
Head to Head: Allen (92) – South Carolina (94)
POWER PLAY (Overall)
Regular Season: Allen (21.9%) – South Carolina (15.3%)
Playoff: Allen (18.2%) – South Carolina (15.9%)
Head to Head: Allen (17.6%) – South Carolina (4.8%)
POWER PLAY (Home)
Regular Season: Allen (21.0%) – South Carolina (16.1%)
Playoffs: Allen (26.2%) – South Carolina (14.6%)
Head th Head: Allen (30.0%) – South Carolina (8.3%)
POWER PLAY (Road)
Regular Season: Allen (22.6%) – South Carolina (14.4%)
Playoffs: Allen (5.3%) – South Carolina (17.6%)
Head to Head: Allen (0.0%) – South Carolina (0.0%)
PENALTY KILL (Overall)
Regular Season: Allen (86.3%) – South Carolina (87.7%)
Playoffs: Allen (85.5%) – South Carolina (79.8%)
Head to Head: Allen (95.2%) – South Carolina (82.4%)
PENALTY KILL (Home)
Regular Season: Allen (86.6%) – South Carolina (86.3%)
Playoffs: Allen (84.9%) – South Carolina (81.4%)
Head to Head: Allen (100%) – South Carolina (100%)
PENALTY KILL (Road)
Regular Season: Allen (86.0%) – South Carolina (89.1%)
Playoffs: Allen (86.0%) – South Carolina (78.0%)
Head to Head: Allen (91.7%) – South Carolina (70.0%)
– What if anything can be derived from all of the info above? Allen has cut down on penalty minutes during the playoffs and in the finals actually has fewer penalty minutes than South Carolina. You would expect not a lot of penalties will be called in game seven however, it is an area where Allen might have an edge. The Stingrays were the #1 ranked penalty killing unit in the ECHL during the regular season at 89.1% but in the playoffs have slipped to 79.8%. Head to head shows an even bigger advantage for the Americans. In the three games in Allen the Americans are 3-10 on the power play while holding South Carolina scoreless at 0-9. Special teams could be the difference maker in game seven.
– It sounds like a broken record but you cannot emphasize enough how important it is which team gets off to the best start and scores the first goal. During the regular season both Allen and South Carolina won 85% of the games when they scored the first goal. In the playoffs Allen is 9-1 when scoring first and South Carolina is 9-6. Allen has struggled in the first period during the playoffs having scored just fifteen goals and allowing twenty compared to the second period when they have scored 29 goals and allowed 29. The third period has been the best for Allen as they have out scored their opponents 36-20. If Allen can get on the scoreboard first it will give them a lot of momentum and keep what should be the loudest crowd of the season in the game.
– Who will be the individual heroes in game seven is anyone’s guess. Allen had the leading scorer in the ECHL during the regular season in Chad Costello who had a phenonenal 125 points (41 goals 84 assist) to lead all scorers by 45 points and is due for a big game. Gary Steffes led the ECHL in goals with 44 despite having a nine game call up to the AHL. He had three goals in the first two games in Allen and has not scored since. He tends to score in bunches so watch out if he gets going. Greger Hanson has been the leading scorer for Allen in the playoffs with 29 points (12 goals 17 assists) and has a knack of getting big goals. Chris Crane has been playing great two-way hockey in this series. The big goal could come from last year’s playoff MVP Jamie Schaafsma or Spencer Asuchak. Any of the defensemen could be the hero as they are all capable of putting the puck in the net. If Allen is victorious in game seven it will because of their depth and the hero could be any of the sixteen skaters.
– For the Stingrays the top line of Andrew Rowe, Wayne Simpson and Derek DeBlois has led them in the regular season and during the playoffs. They were great during the regular season but have been outstanding in the playoffs. Check out these numbers:
Regular Season: 55 points (16 goals 39 assists) in 65 games or .85 points per game
Playoffs: 38 points (13 goals 25 assists) in 26 games or 1.46 points per game
Regular Season: 56 points (17 goal 39 assists) in 44 games or 1.27 points per game
Playoffs: 33 points (14 goals 19 assists) in 26 games or 1.27 point per game
Regular Season: 45 points (21 goals 24 assists) in 59 games or .76 points per game
Playoffs: 29 points (11 goals 18 assists) in 26 games or 1.12 points per game
Like the Americans the Stingrays have a team with a lot of depth so the hero may not come from the top line. Joe Devin has 13 goals in the playoffs which ties him for second in the ECHL just one behind Rowe who has 14. The top two defensemen in scoring for the playoffs are from South Carolina not Allen. Drew MacKenzie has 19 points and Michal Cajovsky has 17 points.
– The other big factor in deciding who wins the Kelly Cup will be the play of goalies Riley Gill and Jeff Jakaitis. A great matchup between the current ECHL MVP (Jakaitis) and the former Kelly Cup champion and playoff MVP (Gill). In the first six games of this series Gill has faced 173 shots and allowed 17 goals while Jakaitis has faced 177 shots and given up 14 goals. Here are their stats for the entire playoffs:
Minutes Played: 1108
Save %: .901
Minutes Played: 1652
Save %: .905
– There has been a lot of discussion on social media and message boards about the fact that Allen has had an easier road to game seven of the Kelly Cup Finals than South Carolina. The facts are indisputable and show Allen has played fewer minutes in fewer days. Allen has played 24 games while South Carolina has played 26 games to get to game seven. Allen has been involved in four overtime periods in the playoffs while South Carolina has been in sixteen overtime periods. If you calculate all of this to total minutes played in the playoffs it comes out to 1475 for Allen and 1741 for South Carolina. If you convert the total minutes to games (60 minutes per game) Allen has 24.5 games while South Carolina has 29 games. So the Stingrays have played the equivalent of 4.5 more games than Allen to get to game seven of the finals. If you recall, Allen actually started their first round earlier than the other teams so they have played their 24.5 game equivalents in 55 days while South Carolina played their 29 game equivalents in just 52 days.
Some have said or implied if Allen wins the Kelly Cup it will be diminished because they have had an easier road to the finals. I will take South Carolina coach Spencer Carbery’s point of view on the topic of one team being more tired than another. Carbery said, “If you are tired at this time of year when you are competing for a championship that is pretty embarrassing. I don’t care if you are playing hockey, basketball or soccer, if you can’t get an energy level up this time of year then you don’t belong playing pro sports.”
– No matter what the outcome of game seven, this is a great showcase for two outstanding teams as well as the entire ECHL. After 1008 regular season games and 94 playoffs games the Kelly Cup comes down to one game before a sellout crowd at the Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas.
– The referees scheduled for game seven are Pierre Lambert #20 and Frederic Leblanc #25
DID YOU KNOW: Game seven between Allen and South Carolina will be only the fourth time in ECHL history the championship has gone to a game seven. Prior to this year it happened in 1989, 1999 and 2009. In the very first ECHL championship (1989) there were just five teams in the league and four of them made the playoffs. The championship final series was contested between the #2 seed Johnstown Chiefs and the #4 seed Carolina (Winston-Salem) Thunderbirds. Carolina beat Johnstown 7-4 in game seven on the road to win the championship which at the time was called the Riley Cup.