ALLEN, Texas – Yesterday, I called the final 14 games of the season the quest for fifth place in the Mountain Division by the Allen Americans. That quest starts with home-and-home games against the Tulsa Oilers, Friday in Allen and Saturday in Tulsa. If the Americans beat the Oilers on Friday, the game on Saturday in Tulsa will take on more significance because Allen Head Coach Steve Martinson will be going for his 1,000th win.

With the exception of Idaho, the Americans will play all of the other teams in the Mountain Division in the last 14 games of the season, ranging from four games against Tulsa and Wichita to just one with Rapid City. As a reminder, here is Allen’s record this season against the other teams in the division.

Kansas City: 1-7-0-0
Tulsa: 2-6-1-0
Idaho: 2-1-3-0
Rapid City: 3-2-0-0
Utah: 4-4-0-0
Wichita: 6-2-0-2

I will have a complete game preview tomorrow, but the biggest challenge for the Americans against Tulsa can be captured in looking at shots for and shots against stats. Tulsa is ranked #1 in the ECHL in average shots taken per game (35.95) compared to Allen, who is ranked #19 (30.90). To go along with taking the most shots, the Oilers are also ranked #1 in allowing shots, giving up an average of 25.88 shots per game. This compares to Allen, who is ranked #26 allowing an average of 36.07 shots per game. It computes to a shot differential of  +10.07 for Tulsa and -5.17 for Allen. Tulsa and Allen have played nine times this season and the Oilers have out shot the Americans in all nine. Tulsa’s total shots advantage is a staggering 351-230.

The top two teams in the Mountain Division (Idaho and Utah) lost last night. Idaho lost to Kansas City 4-3. The Steelheads are just 4-5-1-0 in their last 10 games. Utah lost at home to Maine by a score of 4-1. The Grizzlies have now lost six straight games.

Idaho has the best winning percentage in the Mountain Division at .625. The leaders in the other divisions have winning percentages of .769 (Cincinnati), .705 (Florida) and .704 (Newfoundland). If the Mountain Division expects to win yet another Kelly Cup, the teams at the top will have to play better in the last month of the season so they can go into the playoffs playing their best hockey.

Three players that have stood out for Allen recently are Alex Breton, Dante Salituro, and Riley Bourbonnais. All of them had points in every game of the current four-game win streak.  Breton had eight points (5G, 3A), Salituro 10 points (3G, 7A), and Bourbonnais had seven points (3G, 4A). All three of these guys deserve time in the AHL; it would be nice to see one or more of them get that shot.

Haven’t done this for a while, so thought it might be instructive to take a look at Allen’s stats leaders with 14 games remaining in the season. Below are the team leaders in various statistical categories, with the league rank in parentheses:

Points

49 – Zach Pochiro (23rd)
47 – Dante Salituro (28th)
40 – Adam Miller (54th)

Goals

29 – Zach Pochiro (2nd)
17 – Riley Bourbonnais (52nd)
16 – Spencer Asuchak (65th)

Assists

33 – Dante Salituro (10th)
26 – Adam Miller (45th)
25 – Alex Breton (49th)

Plus/Minus (Games played for Allen)

+10 – Riley Bourbonnais (76th)
+2 – Alex Ranger (232nd)
+1 – Gary Steffes (277th)
+1 – Curt Gogol (277th)

Penalty Minutes

110 – David Makowski (22nd)
99 – Zach Pochiro (27th)
98 – Jake Doty (28th)

Fighting Majors

12 – Curt Gogol (7th)
10 – Jake Doty (14th)
5 – Josh Thrower

Shots On Goal

173 – Zach Pochiro (18th)
154 – Dante Salituro (25th)
147 – David Makowski (39th)

Points by Defensemen

39 – Alex Breton (2nd)
26 – David Makowski (25th)
24 – Joel Chouinard (32nd)

Goals by Defensemen

14 – Alex Breton (1st)
10 – David Makowski (10th)
5 – Joel Chouinard (46th)

Assists by Defensemen

25 – Alex Breton (7th)
19 – Joel Chouinard (29th)
18 – Josh Atkinson (35th)

Save Percentage

.913 – C.J. Motte (9th)
.893 – Lukas Hafner (32nd)

You may remember years ago when NHL star defenseman Seth Jones for the Columbus Blue Jackets was just a kid living in Dallas and playing between periods of an Allen Americans game. Here is a story Seth just wrote for the Player’s Tribune about his mom and his hockey career. At one point in the story, Seth said:

“Oh man, she (his mom) is going to read this, Player’s Tribune, you should talk to her about all of this, because she is going to say I am lying.”

The Tribune took Seth up on his suggestion and talked to his mom, which makes this story so much better. A must read, for sure, with the title: “Mom, Don’t Read This”.

DID YOU KNOW

Looking at the individual stats above, the one that stands out is plus/minus. Since joining the ECHL back in 2014, Allen’s plus/minus has ranged from +334 (2016-17) to -11 (2015-16). This season, only the Rapid City Rush have a worse plus/minus than Allen. Here are the bottom five in plus/minus.

-233   Rapid City
-208   Allen
-167   Greenville
-150   Norfolk
-134   Atlanta

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