ALLEN, TX – I had the chance to attend practice yesterday and spend a few minutes with coach Martinson afterwards. From my untrained eye the guys had a great practice and you could sense the team was in good spirits but also focused on the task at hand. The coaches were emphasizing a lot of basic hockey 101 principles such as practicing with speed just as you play in the game, get in position to win puck battles and the importance of staying out of the penalty box and avoiding stick penalties.

Nikita Jevpalovs, who has been assigned to Allen by San Jose, was not at practice. He was scheduled to arrive last night and should be at practice today. Nikita will most likely be on a line with Vincent Arseneau and Chad Costello.

Aaron Gens was a full participant in practice though he was dressed in the no contact yellow jersey.

–  As to roster changes for the game on Wednesday, it is too early to make those decisions except Jevpalovs will be in the lineup. There are a couple of players dealing with bumps and bruises so final decisions on who plays and who sits out will not be made until Wednesday. What is known is two forwards, two defenesmen (including Gens) and one goalie will not dress on Wednesday.

– Several readers have asked about Chad Costello being moved to reserve yesterday when the ECHL transactions came out. Chad is fine and will be in the lineup on Wednesday just as he has in every Allen game for the last two years.

– Coach Steve Martinson did share with me that San Jose Barracuda head coach, Roy Sommer, will be in Allen this week to watch the Americans play Missouri. Martinson has said many times the relationship he has with the San Jose organization is the best he has had in his 20 years of coaching. To have coach Sommer come to Allen provides a great opportunity for all of the players, not just those contracted by San Jose, to show what they can do.

Sommer just finished his 18th season as an AHL head coach, a tenure spent entirely with the San Jose Sharks organization. On February 10, he became the winningest coach in American Hockey League (AHL) history when he reached 637 wins. He has coached over 120 players that have gone on to play in the NHL. Sommer knows what it is like to play minor pro hockey. He did have a three game stint in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers in 1980-81 and had one goal and a fight. However, the majority of his ten year professional career was spent in the International Hockey League (IHL) and Central Hockey League (CHL). It will be great to welcome coach Sommer to the Allen Event Center.

– If you google “Roy Sommer hockey coach” you can find many articles that will give you  more background about the coach but this story about his son, Marley from 2014 is very insightful and touching:

San Jose Barracuda Head Coach Roy Sommer. Image Courtesy: San Jose Barracuda


After posting the plus/minus stats for all teams remaining in the playoffs thought is would be interesting to look at some of the other stats to see how the teams stack up.

Goals Scored (average per game)
4.13 – Utah
3.78 – Fort Wayne
3.57 – South Carolina
3.40 – Missouri
3.38 – Wheeling
3.00 – Reading
2.86 – Adirondack
2.22 – Allen

Goals Allowed (average per game)
1.83 – Missouri
2.00 – Adirondack
2.29 – South Carolina
2.33 – Fort Wayne
2.67 – Allen
2.78 – Reading
3.25 – Wheeling
3.63 – Utah

Shots For (average per game)
37.78 – Fort Wayne
35.14 – South Carolina
30.11 – Allen
30.00 – Wheeling
29.75 – Utah
28.67 – Missouri
28.22 – Reading
24.29 – Adirondack

Shots Against (average per game)
22.43 – South Carolina
27.78 – Fort Wayne
28.17 – Missouri
28.22 – Allen
28.89 – Reading
30.14 – Adirondack
31.38 – Utah
31.50 – Wheeling

Shooting Percentage (goals as a percent of total shots)
13.9% – Utah
12.2% – Missouri
11.8% – Adirondack
11.3% – Wheeling
10.6% – Reading
10.2% – South Carolina
10.0% – Fort Wayne
7.4% – Allen

Power Play Percentage
27.8% – Allen
21.9% – Missouri
21.3% – Fort Wayne
19.4% – Reading
16.7% – Utah
15.6% – Adirondack
15.0% – Wheeling
13.8% – South Carolina

Penalty Kill Percentage
91.5% – Fort Wayne
91.2% – Adirondack
87.1% – South Carolina
85.7% – Missouri
84.3% – Wheeling
82.5% – Reading
81.1% – Utah
81.0% – Allen

+45 – South Carolina
+33 – Fort Wayne
+29 – Missouri
+19 – Adirondack
+14 – Wheeling
+11 – Utah
+11 – Reading
-32 – Allen

Goals Against Average (GAA)
1.83 – Missouri
1.96 – Adirondack
2.06 – Fort Wayne
2.29 – South Carolina
2.65 – Allen
2.78 – Reading
3.25 – Wheeling
3.33 – Utah

– Finally, I tallied up the rank for each team in every category to get a overall score. The lower the score the better. If you finished first in every category you would get a final score of nine. Here are the results:

25 – Fort Wayne
26 – Missouri
31 – South Carolina
37 – Adirondack
48 – Utah
50 – Allen
52 – Wheeling
52 – Reading

– What distinguishes the top three teams from the rest is they tend to be above average in almost every category.

Fort Wayne has only one score below #4 and that is in shooting percentage which they make up for by being #1 in shots taken per game.

Missouri also has just one category where they are in the bottom half and that is “shots for” per game but they make up for that by being #1 in goals allowed.

South Carolina is #8 in power play percentage and #6 shooting percentage but rank no lower than third in the other seven categories.

Series matchups could certainly create different outcomes but based on the nine categories above you would conclude Fort Wayne, Missouri and South Carolina are big favorites to advance to the conference finals.

DID YOU KNOW: When Allen won the Central Hockey League (CHL) championship in 2014 they scored no power play goals in the championship final against Denver. It was the only time that had happened in the CHL. The Americans were 0-26 in the series but won the championship in five games.

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