ALLEN, Texas – Finally, after over nine months, it is game day for the Allen Americans as they will travel to Tulsa to take on the Oilers at 7:05 pm CST. Tulsa is the only ECHL destination within 325 miles which is the cutoff for same-day travel with no overnight stay. Tulsa is 235 miles from Allen. The team left Allen at 1:00 pm and will return to Allen immediately after the game.
With 20 players (18 skaters and two goalies) dressed for the game, no extra players will accompany the team. Here are the expected line combinations and defense pairings:
#29 Mychan – #22 Sheehy – #44 Franklin
#8 Garreffa – #26 Asuchak – #71 Stevenson
#17 VanWormer – #15 Mackin – #11 Kielly
#27 Laberge – #19 Lavoie – #18 McGrew
#43 Register – #5 Beaulieu
#4 Ottenbreit – #14 Lancaster
#20 Carroll – #25 Kneen
#31 – Motte
#34 – Sawchenko
– Not sure if it is an advantage or disadvantage at the start of the season but Tulsa opened their season last night at home. The Oilers came back from a 2-0 deficit with two third-period goals but lost the game in a shootout. Attendance in the cavernous BOK Center, which holds over 17,000 for hockey, was 2672. It is so great to have hockey back even with reduced capacity limits.
– Allen’s record against Tulsa last season was 7-3-0-0. Over the last five years, Allen’s overall record against Tulsa is 27-20-3-0. In road games against Tulsa, the Americans record is 15-11-1-0.
– One key to the game tonight for Allen will be shots on goal. Tulsa is always one of the better teams in the league in shots on goal. Last season they led the ECHL in average shots per game. In the first period last season, the Oilers outshot their opponents 789 – 627, while Allen had 662 shots on goal in the first period and allowed 663. Allen gave up 35+ shots in six of the 10 games against Tulsa last season and twice gave up over 40 shots. The Americans can’t give up 40 shots on goal and expect to win.
– Another key tonight is being ready to play and getting off to a good start. Teams that score first win about 75% of the games in the ECHL. Last season, the team that scored first won all ten games Allen and Tulsa played.
– Special teams will be another key to the game against Tulsa. Last season on the power play Allen was ranked ninth (18.5%) and Tulsa was ranked 19th (15.6%). On the penalty kill, Allen was ranked 15th (81.4%) and Tulsa was ranked tenth (83.2%). In their 10 head-to-head games last season, Allen was 7-42 (16.7%) on the power play while Tulsa was 3-32 (9.4%). Sometimes, it takes a few games to see how good the special teams will be, but this is an area where coach Steve Martinson has high expectations. There are a lot of good special teams players on the Allen roster. If you win the special teams battle you usually win the game.
– Allen fans will definitely be watching a new team tonight. Just four players (Asuchak, Lancaster, Ottenbreit, Sheehy) in the lineup tonight were in the opening game lineup last season. There will be seven rookies in the lineup with six of them playing in their first professional game. They all have outstanding backgrounds and plenty of experience but playing your first pro game has to come with a lot of excitement and some nerves. This should be a fun group to watch.
In Other News…
– I had the chance to check out the ECHL new streaming service FloSports last night and was impressed with the quality of the broadcasts and how easy it is to move around to different games. The service includes all ECHL games plus a number of college conferences.
– It was so good to see the ECHL with a successful return action last night. Here is my ECHL Stats and Information post this morning. You can get new posts each day if you give ECHL Stats and Information a “like” on Facebook or a “follow” on Twitter.
What a great opening night for the ECHL. The sound of fans in the stands. FloSports makes it easy to switch between games. Three of the five games went to overtime with two being settled in a shootout. Even with reduced attendance, the ECHL is back baby! A great showcase for pro hockey and the only game in town right now. Congrats to all! Here is the attendance for the five games played last night. As a comparison the number in parenthesis is the team’s opening day attendance last season:
3570 – Rapid City (4589)
3430 – Florida (7551)
2700 – South Carolina (7543)
2672 – Tulsa (6439)
2011 – Indy (4450)
Did You Know?
The Allen Americans all-time opening night record is 7-4. They are 4-3 at home and a 3-1 on the road. No matter when you started following the Americans opening night games always bring back memories. Here is a recap of all 11 opening night games:
2009-10 – In the first game in team history Allen won 1-0 in Arizona. Christian Gaudet scored the only goal of the game late in the first period assisted by Bruce Graham and Nino Musitelli. Charlie Effinger was in goal for Allen and Chris Whitley was on the bench. Allen started on the road the first season because the Allen Event Center was not completed. The Americans played their first seven games in franchise history on the road. They returned to Allen after those first seven games 5-1-0-1.
2010-11 – Allen opens at home against Texas, scores three goals (Alexandre Quesnel, Dustin Donaghy, Judd Blackwater) in the first four minutes of the game and coasts to a 5-2 win.
2011-12 – Allen opens at home against Tulsa and gets beat 4-1 with Jim McKenzie getting the Americans’ only goal with just over a minute left in the game. Most notable in that game was a Gordie Howe hat trick by Tulsa’s Gary Steffes who had a goal, an assist, and a fight with Allen’s Scott Langdon.
2012-13 – Allen opens the season at home and shuts out Arizona 4-0. Scott Howes had two goals in the game. The other goal scorers were Adam Pineault and Darryl Bootland. Steve Silverthorn was in goal and the backup was a rookie by the name of Aaron Dell. Dell would play sparingly the first few weeks of the season but eventually, take over the starting role and lead the Americans to their first championship. Whatever happened to that Dell guy?
2013-14 – Allen opened the season in Wichita and beat the Thunder 4-3 in a shootout. Allen had a 3-0 lead midway in the game on two goals by Darryl Bootland and one by Jonathan Lessard but let Wichita come back. The hero in the shootout was Kale Kerbashian who scored in the fifth round to win the game.
2014-15 – The worst opening night ever for Allen as they opened at home and got beat by Tulsa 9-6. Greger Hanson was the lone bright spot for Allen with a whopping 11 shots on goal, four points, and a hat trick. Aaron Dell was in goal for the Americans and gave up seven of the nine goals. Whatever happened to that Dell guy? Actually, it was Dell’s only regulation loss in the 12 games he played for Allen that season. By the end of January, he was in the AHL on his way to the NHL.
2015-16 – Another opening night loss as the Quad City Mallards came to the Allen Event Center and beat the Americans 2-1. Allen’s lone goal was scored by Garrett Clarke with assists going to Justin Courtnall and goalie Joel Rumpel. You didn’t see those three in the boxscore very often let alone on the same play.
2016-17 – It was an opening night win as Allen was at home and beat Missouri 6-3. Kale Kerbashian had two goals and Riley Gill was peppered with 47 shots.
2017-18 – It was an opening night like no other as the Americans went on the road and beat the Rapid City Rush 8-3. The eight goals is the most ever scored by the Americans in a season opener. The five-goal margin of victory is the largest ever in a season opener and the first goal of the season was a shorthanded goal scored by Jonathan Lessard. Lessard and Zach Pochiro each had two goals for the Americans.
2018-19 – Allen opened the season in Kansas City and took it on the chin with a 5-1 loss while being outshot 43-21. The game was tied 1-1 after the first period as Casey Pierro-Zabotel scored the Americans’ only goal of the game. Over the last two periods, the Mavericks outshot Allen 32-14 and outscored the Americans 4-0. The #1 star of the game with a goal and two assists for the Mavericks was Jared VanWormer who would go on to become captain of the Allen Americans.
2019-20 – Allen opened the season at home against Rapid City and came away with a 3-2 overtime victory. Jordan Topping tied the score 2-2 with 91 seconds left in the game and then got the game-winning goal at 2:58 of overtime.
For all things Allen Americans, follow Barry Janssen on Twitter @AllenAmericans1. For the latest stats and trends in the ECHL, follow @ECHLStats. And for the latest news on your favorite AHL & ECHL team, “Like” The Sin Bin on Facebook!