ALLEN, Texas – When the ECHL issued the 2018-19 schedule Allen fans took note of the three games this weekend. The Americans would be playing the Reading Royals. The two teams owned by Jack Gulati will be going head to head for the first time.
– I am sure nobody believed the Americans would arrive in Reading 27 games into the season as the worst team in the ECHL. When I asked coach Steve Martinson if he approaches the games in Reading this weekend differently he said, “Not other than we need to win. We have been playing teams with the same owners ever since we have been in the league. It is a fun weekend for Jack (owner Jack Gulati) but all business for me.”
– Allen arrives in Reading with a record of 6-19-0-2 and a league-low winning percentage of .259. Reading’s record is 10-7-2-4 with the #12 ranked winning percentage of .565. In an interesting dichotomy, the Royals have the best road record in the ECHL (8-1-0-3) but are tied for last (with Allen) with the fewest regulation wins at home (2). Reading’s home record is 2-6-2-1.
– Reading has won their last three games, all on the road. Last weekend, the Royals visited Newfoundland and beat the top points team in the ECHL 7-5 and 5-3. They have not had the same success at home, losing their last six home games.
– Allen will be trying to snap a four game losing streak. The Americans have been outscored 19-9 over the last four games.
– In addition to missing Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Josh Atkinson, Thomas Frazee and Kevin Sundher, who are all out with injuries, and C.J. Motte, who is called up to Iowa (AHL,) the Americans will be without defenseman David Makowski. Makowski was given a three game suspension yesterday as the result of an unpenalized infraction for an illegal check to the head in the game in Wheeling on Wednesday.
– Allen scores fewer goals and gives up more goals than Reading. The Americans are ranked #26 in average goals scored per game (2.48) and #27 in goals allowed (3.93). Reading is ranked #10 in goals scored (3.26) and #20 in goals allowed (3.43).
– Braylon Shmyr and Spencer Asuchak lead the Americans in scoring with 19 points. Both have seven goals and 12 assists. The team leader in goals is Zach Pochiro with 11 and the team leader in assists is Alex Breton with 13.
– As a team, Allen has a plus/minus of -151 which is the worst in the league. There is no player with a plus rating.
– Special teams start with how many penalties each team takes. Allen leads the league in minor penalties (160) while Reading has taken only 93 minor penalties. In total penalty minutes, Allen has 570 and Reading has 271. Allen’s road power play percentage is 14.5% and the penalty kill percentage is 82.0%. Reading’s home power play percentage is 17.3% and their penalty kill percentage is 77.3%. Special teams will be a key in this series and for Allen to be successful they cannot give up more power plays then they receive. Penalty discipline has to be emphasized.
– Another key in this series will be goalie play. Team defense has been lacking and those deficiencies have not helped, but for Allen to win this weekend the goalies will have to make some stops they shouldn’t make. They will need to make big saves when the defense breaks down. The Americans goalie stats are not good. Jeremy Brodeur has a record of 0-8-0-0 with a GAA of 4.08 and save percentage of .888. Kyle Hayton‘s record is 2-5-0-0 with a GAA of 3.70 and save percentage of .887.
– There is a pretty good chance one or more of the games this weekend end up going extra time. Reading has gone to overtime in 30% of their games. If games go past regulation time Allen has the better record. The Americans are 1-0 in overtime and 2-2 in shootouts. Reading is 0-2 in overtime and 1-4 in shootouts.
– Here is a series preview done by the Reading Royals. In addition to some great stats about both teams you can get start times, promotions info including Teddy Bear toss, SpongeBob specialty jerseys and Ugly Christmas Sweater jerseys. It is a good read: https://royalshockey.com/en/news/2018/9/game-24-preview-allen-at-reading
– I had a chance to check in with Gulati and ask him what it will be like to watch the two teams he owns face off for the first time. Here is what Jack had to say,
“The games this weekend between Reading and Allen are going to be the most exciting games one can watch. For me, I will be at the arena watching all three games.”
“Clearly, I will not be rooting for either team which will be most unusual for me. I guess all I must do is sit on my chair and just take it all in and watch two tough and very talented teams play each other. It is going to be exciting.”
“Last night I took the Allen Americans team out to dinner and everybody was in high spirits. Clearly, I could not give them a motivational talk but I could tell they were in high spirits to do their job, that they take it very seriously.”
– There are 11 ECHL games on the schedule tonight with all seven Mountain Division teams in action. The top five teams in the division are separated by just three points so there can be plenty of shuffling. For example, if everything goes right Rapid City could go from fifth place to second place with a win tonight. Allen, Tulsa and Wichita are all on the road playing teams outside the Mountain Division. Here is the schedule:
Allen at Reading
Tulsa at Indy
Wichita at Fort Wayne
Rapid City at Utah
Kansas City at Idaho
Did You Know?
Reading has one Kelly Cup in team history (2013) and Allen has two (2015 & 2016). One player was a member of all three teams and was a workhorse in all three Kelly Cups. Future Hall of Fame goalie Riley Gill played in 54 games while leading his team to three Kelly Cups. His combined record was 38-15-1 with a GAA of 2.12 and save percentage of .920. Gill was made for the playoffs and that is why he is the winningest playoff goalie in the history of the ECHL.