ALLEN, TX – It was a sight for sore eyes at the Allen Americans practice yesterday to see 12 forwards and seven defensemen practicing and nobody wearing the yellow no-contact jersey. The only skater missing was Zach Pochiro who is still a few weeks from returning after hand surgery.
– The Allen roster seems to ebb and flow between not enough players and too many players on a weekly basis.
For the game tomorrow night in Tulsa, three players will stay home. Playing in Tulsa is unique because it is the only away game the Americans can travel to the day of the game and return home after the game. The rule in the collective bargaining agreement is, “An overnight stay shall be required when the distance to be traveled one way to a stand-alone game exceeds 325 miles.” The distance to Tulsa is 230 miles so it falls well within the 325-mile limit. Wichita is the next closest away destination but it is 360 miles from Allen.
– Because he doesn’t need extra players for an up and back same day game, two forwards and one defenseman won’t be making the trip to Tulsa.
– If I had to characterize practice yesterday it would be plenty of skating in 2-on-1 and 3-on-1 drills and some work on neutral zone play but it was also a fun practice for the players with a lot of smiles and good-natured chirping. I asked Steve Martinson about this after practice and he said when you have a lot of practice days (the team has played only four games in the last 20 days) it is important to have some fun practices.
– The light schedule will be over for Allen starting next week. The schedule has them playing four games in five days all at home. The Americans play Kansas City on Tuesday and Wednesday then play Tulsa on Friday and Saturday. The following week after the Christmas break Allen plays Wichita four times (2 home 2 away) in five days. When you add it all up, in the 13 days between December 13 and December 31 the Americans will play eight games, a far cry from four games in 20 days.
– There will be a complete game preview tomorrow but a couple things to keep in mind as the Americans prepare to take on the Oilers Saturday night. Tulsa plays at home tonight for the first time since November 4 and will take on the defending champion Colorado Eagles. Tulsa just finished a 14-game road trip that started on November 5th. The Oilers are in fifth place in the Mountain Division (five points behind Allen) but have played a very unbalanced schedule thus far. Tulsa has played 17 road games and only six home games. They won their last two road games against a couple of good teams in Toledo and Cincinnati.
– If you plan to drive to Tulsa or watch the game on ECHL TV the Oilers will be wearing “Ugly Christmas Sweater” jerseys and it is also “Teddy Bear Toss” night.
– There will be plenty of ECHL action to track with 13 games on Friday and Saturday but the most intriguing matchup for Allen fans will take place in Boise, Idaho as the Steelheads play two games against the Wichita Thunder. The teams are tied for second place in the Mountain Division with 34 points (five points ahead of Allen). Idaho has won their last two games while Wichita has lost their last three games. Adding to the intrigue is this will be the first meeting between these teams this season and they both have plenty of players willing to drop the gloves.
– I have talked many times recently about the Allen Americans special teams play and how important it is to team success. One way to measure special teams success is by combining the power play percentage and penalty kill percentage with the goal being greater than 105%. Teams with a combined percentage of 105% will make the playoffs. Allen has always been at or near the top of the ECHL in this stat. Allen has plenty of time to get to 105% by the end of the season but they certainly have a ways to go. Here is the combined percentage since the Americans joined the ECHL.
2014-15: 108.2% (PP 21.9% – PK 86.3%)
2015-16: 107.5% (PP 21.1% – PK 86.4%)
2016-17: 108.8% (PP 24.4% – PK 84.4%)
2017-18: 99.2% (PP 18.8% – PK 80.5%)
– The Allen Americans weekly auction is still underway and will close Sunday night at 9:00 pm CST. Some great deals on autographed pucks in a case, autographed mini-helmets, jerseys and sticks in various price ranges. Mini helmets with bids as low as $29 and autographed sticks at $79. Check it out at https://one.bidpal.net/goamericans/welcome
– I had a chance to talk to Allen assistant coach Jason Deitsch yesterday after practice. Jason had a storied career as a player and is accustomed to winning. He attended college at St. Norbert and was a three-time American Collegiate Hockey Association All-American. Jason was selected as St. Norbert’s MVP three times leading the team to their conference championship all four years he was there. Deitsch played professionally for eight seasons and won championships with the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL), Texas Brahmas (CHL) and Allen Americans (CHL). A natural leader, Jason was the captain of his college team as well as the Texas and Allen championship teams. He retired after Allen won their first championship (2012-13) and is now a fireman in McKinney.
DID YOU KNOW: I got a question from a long time season ticket holder who asked why Stephon Williams doesn’t scrape the ice in the crease after the ice has been resurfaced. Have you noticed that? Thanks to Gary here is the answer from Stephon Williams.
After I recorded Williams answer to the question I asked Riley Gill why he and most other goalies opt to scrape the ice. The two goalies were the only ones in the locker room and we had an interesting conversation that was educational for me.
First of all, scraping the ice in the crease has nothing to do with the puck which is something I thought was done to reduce friction at the start of each period. The primary reason for scrapping the ice or not scraping the ice is the feel the goalie gets when sliding from side to side on their pads. As Stephon explains in the video, he likes the ice real slippery when he slides side to side. Riley, on the other hand, feels it is easy to lose control when sliding from side to side on fresh ice so he scruffs it up. Riley also mentioned sometimes there is still water in the crease when the period starts and if you slide you get your equipment wet. Scraping the ice helps clean up the water. Thanks fellas for a little Goalie 101 on ice scraping.