ALLEN, TX – It is finally here, it is game day, it is the home opener and the long drought between games at the Allen Event Center (AEC) is over. You are correct if it seems to you like it has taken forever for this day to arrive. To be precise, it has been 165 days since the Allen Americans played a game at the AEC, a consequence of the second round loss in the playoffs last season. The number of days between games in 2015 was 124 and in 2016 was 128 when Allen won back to back Kelly Cups.
– Two players that will not be in the lineup tonight are Bryan Moore and Olivier Archambault who have joined the San Jose Barracuda. The terminology to describe these promotions are different because Moore is under contract with San Jose and Archambault is a free agent. That is why if you look at the transactions it says Moore was recalled by San Jose and Archambault was loaned to San Jose. The Barracuda are starting a five-game road trip so Bryan and Olivier flew to Cleveland to meet the team. The Barracuda play the Monsters today (1:00 pm EDT) and tomorrow (5:00 pm EDT).
Why are these teams playing at 1:00 pm on a Saturday? The Monsters play at Quicken Loans Arena which is also home to Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers who play the Orlando Magic at home tonight (7:00 pm). It will be one of those quick conversions from hockey to basketball. I read that the plan is for the Barracuda players to attend the Cavaliers game.
– Here is the press release issued by the Barracuda regarding Moore and Archambault. Note the press release refers to Allen as the San Jose “East Coast Hockey League” affiliate. Apparently, the PR department for the Barracuda forgot or doesn’t know the name was changed to just ECHL a mere 14 years ago in 2003. https://www.sjbarracuda.com/news/detail/barracuda-recall-moore-sign-archambault-to-pto
– By the way, the next two stops on the Barracuda road trip are in Texas. They play the San Antonio Rampage next Friday (Oct. 27) and the Texas Stars on Saturday (Oct. 28). If you like hockey road trips you could catch a couple of games with Allen’s AHL affiliate and support Moore and Archambault if they are still with the team.
– I would expect just like last week in Rapid City, both Riley Gill and Stephon Williams will get a game this weekend.
– I mentioned in the game preview that Orlando has much more AHL experience on their roster than Allen (1557 games vs 793 games). I decided to take a look at the numbers in more detail. First of all, Orlando has a much bigger roster according to echl.com as they have 26 players compared to Allen’s 22. Second, Darryl Bootland (382 AHL games) and Sean Zimmerman (274 AHL games) account for 42% of the Solar Bears AHL experience and they are on the 21-day injured reserve so they will not play this weekend. In Allen’s case, there are only 18 players available this weekend with Aubin and Liberati on IR and Moore and Archambault with San Jose. Here is the AHL experience for the 18 players expected to be on the ice tonight for Allen.
204 games – Joel Chouinard
190 – Peter MacArthur
58 – Stephon Williams
54 – Spencer Asuchak
31 – Vincent Arseneau
30 – Alex Schoenborn
17 – Casey Pierro-Zabotel
11 – Tanner Eberle
10 – Eric Roy
9 – Dalton Thrower
7 – David Makowski
6 – Riley Gill
5 – Jaynen Rissling
5 – Zach Pochiro
0 – Mike Gunn
0 – Jonathan Lessard
0 -Zach Hall
0 – Josh Thrower
– The officials for the game tonight are referee Kenny Anderson (#16) and linesmen Brian Bull (#95) and Aaron Schacht (#31). Kenny Anderson will be starting his fourth season as a full-time referee for the ECHL. He is also a referee for the AHL. Anderson is from Elk River, Minnesota and was selected to referee the ECHL all-star game last season. He has also worked the USHL Clark Cup finals and the SPHL Presidents Cup finals.
DID YOU KNOW: When you consider how good the Allen Americans have been since their inception their home opener record is a mediocre 3-5. No matter when you started following the Americans these home opener games from the last eight years will bring back some memories.
2009-10 – 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. The home opener was memorable even though the Americans laid an egg, losing to Corpus Christi by a score of 4-1. Two of the goal scorers for Corpus were Chad Costello and future NHLer Ryan Garbutt. That game is mostly remembered for a melee that broke out after the game was over that ended up with 72 penalty minutes being called. A crowd of 5808 witnessed the first home game in team history.
2010-11 – Allen opened at home against Texas, scored three goals (Alexandre Quesnel, Dustin Donaghy, Judd Blackwater) in the first four minutes of the game and coasted to a 5-2 win. Similar to the year before there were 66 minutes worth of penalties called at the 18:29 mark of the third period including four fighting majors and four game misconducts. Allen got the last laugh as Erik Adams scored an unassisted, shorthanded, empty-net goal with under a minute remaining to seal the victory for the Americans.
2011-12 – Allen’s home opener was against Tulsa and the Americans got beat 4-1. Jim McKenzie scored 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’s home opener was against Arizona and they shut out Sundogs 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.
2013-14 -The home opener was an exciting game but the Americans lost to Wichita 4-3 in a shootout. Ironically the two teams had played the season opener the night before in Wichita and Allen had won by an identical score of 4-3 in a shootout. The home opener was a Sunday afternoon game and Allen took a 2-0 lead into the third period only to allow the Thunder to score three unanswered goals to take a 3-2 lead. Tyler Ludwig got the equalizer with less that three minutes remaining in the game. The game would go to a shootout and Allen could manage just one goal (Kale Kerbashian) in seven rounds before Wichita got the game winner.
2014-15 – The worst home opener ever for Allen as they 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. 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 home opener 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 a home opener win last season as Allen beat Missouri 6-3. Kale Kerbashian had two goals and Riley Gill was peppered with 47 shots.