ALLEN, Texas – The Allen Americans finished their four-game series against Tulsa yesterday with a 5-3 loss before a crowd of 2688 at the BOK Center. Allen earned five of eight possible points in the series with a record of 2-1-1-0 which is pretty good when you consider the Americans were down eight players due to call-ups and injuries. To lose eight players in a few days just before four games in five days series is a tall task. To get two wins, both by shutout, is a tribute to the hard work and effort put in by the Americans. In talking to coach Steve Martinson this morning, he was pleased with how the team stepped up in this series and played like a team with full commitment and work ethic. Even in the loss yesterday, Martinson liked the effort from the team to tie the score 3-3 after getting behind 3-1.
Sunday @ Tulsa
Allen once again got off to a great start yesterday scoring the first goal at the 3:57 mark of the first period. Allen has played Tulsa eight times this season and scored the first goal in all eight games. Unfortunately, scoring first against Tulsa has not been the magic elixir it has been against other opponents. The Americans record when scoring first now stands at 17-3-1-0 but in the odd stat of the day, three of the four losses have been at the hands of the Tulsa Oilers.
After Allen took the early 1-0 lead Tulsa responded with three unanswered first period goals to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission. It did not look good at that point as the Americans record when trailing after the first period is 1-7.
Allen was able to tie the score 3-3 midway through the second period but that is as close as they got and were behind 4-3 at the second intermission. Allen had some good pressure in the third period but was unable to get the equalizer. Tulsa scored an empty-net goal to make the final score 5-3.
Goal scorers for Allen were Scott Conway (4), Zane Franklin (4), and Josh Lammon (8).
Special teams played a key role in the loss to Tulsa. The Oilers took the momentum away from Allen’s early 1-0 lead by scoring on their first two power-play opportunities. For the game, Tulsa was 2-5 on the power play while Allen was 1-5. Since the beginning of February, the Americans have allowed more than one power-play goal just three times and lost all three games. The penalty kill has improved recently with a 91% kill percentage in the seven games this month prior to last night. Overall Allen’s penalty kill is still ranked 11th at 80.2%.
Here are the video highlights from the Allen Americans YouTube Channel:
What’s to Come for Allen
Allen now has to get ready for three games against Rapid City on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. It may sound like an easy task playing the last-place team in the Western Conference three times at home. Look closer and you will find Rapid City is playing the best hockey in the ECHL right now. The Rush have points in seven straight games on a record of 6-0-0-1.
The Americans will have a day off today to rest and recuperate and will have a light practice tomorrow. The only injured players that might be available on Wednesday are Jesse Mychan and Colby McAuley.
This is the time of the year when colleges are finishing their seasons so you can be sure general manager Martinson is scouring his list of college guys, talking to agents, and trying to find the right fit. I also know after losing the players from San Jose, Martinson is looking at other opportunities to bring in contracted NHL/AHL players to improve the team. Not sure anything will get done this week but it is a possibility a player or two could be added to the roster. Martinson made it clear to me he is not going to add players just to have more players on the roster, he is looking for the type of player that will come in and have an impact.
The next six weeks will be a great opportunity for Allen to make up ground and take the lead in the Western Conference. Between Wednesday night and May 5, the Americans will play 19 home games and just three road games (one trip to Rapid City). This is clearly the sweet spot of the schedule for Allen after all of the road games early in the season. To give you an idea of the opportunity this presents for the Americans, their road points percentage this season is .565 with a record of 13-10-0-0 compared to their home points percentage of .818 with a record of 8-1-2-0.
The Tightening Western Conference Playoff Race
Fort Wayne lost three straight to South Carolina over the weekend and the top three spots in the Western Conference have tightened, so has the fight for the fourth playoff spot. I included this about the standings yesterday, “The points percentage difference between #1 ranked Fort Wayne (.719) and #7 ranked Rapid City (.500) is just .219 percentage points. Just a week ago the difference was .349 percentage points.” After the Fort Wayne loss yesterday the difference is now down to .176. The season is over 50% complete and any team could still win the conference. Buckle up!
The current Western Conference standings:
.676 – Fort Wayne
.671 – Wichita
.647 – Allen
.542 – Utah
.527 – Tulsa
.514 – Kansas City
.500 – Rapid City
Penalty Minute Leaders
Zane Franklin leads Allen in average penalty minutes per game at 2.03. Here is the ECHL Stats post from this morning with the ECHL leaders. A couple of familiar names that spent time in Allen on this list:
ECHL bad boys and tough guys. Leaders in average penalty minutes per game (minimum 15 games). The group has had a total of 26 fights. The number of fights for each player is in parenthesis:
4.96 – Arvin Atwal, Florida (4)
4.19 – Ian McKinnon, Jacksonville (7)
3.82 – Kyle Neuber, Florida (4)
3.33 – Mike McKee, Tulsa (6)
3.18 – Cole Fraser, South Carolina (5)
FYI, averaging 4.96 penalty minutes per game over a full season would be 357 minutes.
Did You Know?
Six ECHL teams have a defenseman as one of their top four in points this season, Fort Wayne, Greenville, Orlando, Tulsa, Wheeling, and Allen. Allen is the only team in the ECHL that has two defensemen in the top four scorers. Here is Allen’s top four:
30 points – Corey Mackin
25 points – Les Lancaster
24 points – Jesse Mychan
23 points – Matt Register