ALLEN, TX – I had a chance to stop by practice yesterday and talk to coach Martinson about the upcoming weekend games with Wichita. Practice was the typical early in the week practice with a lot of drills that emphasized skating, going full speed the length of the ice. Today the team will work on the defensive breakdowns in their own zone that came up last weekend and also spend time working on the power play. As for the games with Wichita, coach Martinson shared they are important for a couple of reasons. Wichita is playing good hockey so it is always good to measure yourself against the best teams. Second, when you play teams in your own division that are ahead of you in the standings it is important to close that gap and not let them get further ahead.

– The power play percentage is now up to 15.7% (ranked #17) thanks to a great night last Saturday. The box score originally showed Allen going 3-8 in the game but that was later changed and all four Allen goals in the 5-4 shootout loss to Idaho came on the power play. The Americans were 0-3 on the power play Sunday afternoon but coach Martinson said he would not spend time analyzing those because the team was so tired after playing three games in three days. So many key players logged a lot of ice time because of all the special teams play both power play and penalty kill.

– I spent some time talking to Zach Pochiro during practice yesterday. Zach is out of the line up on injured reserve with a broken finger. We covered a lot of topics from growing up in Las Vegas to playing Under 16 hockey in California to playing junior hockey in Canada in the Western Hockey League. Zach was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL draft by the St. Louis Blues and he talked about that story. It is a dream of all young hockey players to get drafted by the NHL but in Zach’s case, it was a real dream come true as he was drafted by his favorite team. While he was raised in Las Vegas, Zach was born in St. Louis and the Blues were always his favorite team. Zach shared with me what it was like to go to development camp with the Blues where there was a lot of off ice training which included a lot of work in the weight room. When Zach was drafted he was 6’2″ and 150 pounds soaking wet. The weight room was not his friend. Later he attended the Traverse City rookie camp and received excellent feedback as he surprised some folks with what the “tall skinny rail” could do on the ice.

Zach also shared how much he enjoys playing in Allen for coach Martinson with the style of play and expectations of winning. I asked Zach about his injury and he said it happened in a scrum in front of the net when he was slashed but he didn’t think it was intentional. I also asked him if he thought the emphasis the ECHL is placing on slashing calls this season has had an effect on the game. He said without a doubt it has had a big impact on how games are played.

– After my conversation with Zach Pochiro at practice, it piqued my interest in looking at the possible effects of more slashing calls this season. I started by looking at the data on the ECHL website. I first looked at penalty minutes and found that on average each team is taking close to two more penalty minutes per game over last season. Two minutes doesn’t sound like a lot but over a season that represents close to 4000 additional penalty minutes league-wide. I then decided to look at the number of minor penalties rather than overall penalty minutes. Turns out the ECHL average is .84 minor penalty more per game than last season. Again, it sounds like a small number but over the course of the season, it would mean over 1600 more minor penalties.

– I decided to compare goals and shots year over year. Last season there were two ECHL teams that averaged over four goals per game and so far this season there are three. Last season there were seven teams that averaged less than three goals per game and this season there are five. Last season two teams averaged more than 35 shots per game while this season (thus far) there are five teams averaging more than 35 shots per game including two teams averaging over 40. Last season there were four teams that averaged less than 30 shots per game while thus far this season there are nine.

– After looking at all the data above I knew what I really needed was the number of slashing penalties called this season versus last season to see the impact of the emphasis on the slashing rule. Unfortunately, that info doesn’t exist on the ECHL website. Then last night I remembered an old friend from back in the CHL days who always kept penalties by type and referee. He would take the info from each game and compile it throughout the season. His name is Joe Alsman, better known as @MavsFanJoe and his team was the Missouri Mavericks (now Kansas City). Joe is now the stat guru for #TeamSinBin. I contacted Joe last night and sure enough, he still keeps the data and within a couple of hours sent me all of the information. The answer is yes indeed the emphasis on the slashing rule has had a big impact on the number of slashing calls. Thanks to Joe Alsman for providing this information.

– Last season (2016-17) through November 14th there were 158 games played and the referees called 194 slashing penalties. That is an average 1.23 slashing penalties per game. This season (2017-18) through November 14 there were 160 games played and the referees have called 497 slashing penalties for an average of 2.61 slashing penalties per game. That equates to a year over year increase of 112.2% per game.

– The Wichita Thunder lost their second game of the season last night losing at home to the Kansas City Mavericks 2-1 in overtime. The Mavericks got the game winner 19 seconds into the overtime period. The Thunder record is now 10-1-1-0. They are tied for first place in the ECHL in points (21) and lead the league in winning percentage (.875). Wichita’s road record is a perfect 5-0 and their home record is 5-1-1-0. Here is a game recap courtesy of Matt Harding from Team Sin Bin: https://thesinbin.net/thunder-offense-stymied-in-goaltending-dual

– The Americans will leave around noon on Friday to make the trip to Wichita where they play the Thunder on Saturday (7:05 pm CST) and Sunday (4:05 pm CST). I know a lot of Allen fans are making the trip. It makes for a good road trip with the early game start on Sunday.

DID YOU KNOW:  Who has scored the most game winning goals for the Allen Americans over the last two seasons, 2015-17? Here are the top five.

9 – Chad Costello
9 – David Makowski
8 – Eric Roy
7 – Greger Hanson
5 – Gary Steffes

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