ALLEN, Texas – I’m not entirely sure where the article is headed today and that is why I started with the title, “This, That and the Kitchen Sink.” I will make it up as we go along. Here goes:
– It is an unusual day for practice at the AEC. There will be one ECHL team practicing but from what I understand that team will be the Utah Grizzlies. Utah plays in Wichita on Wednesday and then will be back in Allen to play the Americans Friday night. The Grizzlies decided to stay in Allen rather than head to Wichita right away after the game on Saturday. While Utah will practice today, the Americans will not be practicing. According to coach Steve Martinson, the team will have a group gym day this morning rather than another on-ice practice. Martinson has said many times he gets tired of yelling at the players for more than three straight practice days and the players get tired of being yelled at. This is especially true at this time of the season with the team not going to the playoffs. Allen will still get in three practices before the next game on Friday against Utah.
– Toledo lost to Fort Wayne last night 2-1 in overtime but the one point the Walleye earned in the loss punched their ticket to the playoffs. There are now seven teams (Newfoundland, Florida, Cincinnati, Toledo, Idaho, Tulsa, Utah) in the playoffs with nine more yet to be determined. The Kelly Cup playoffs will have a first-year team (Newfoundland) and a team (Idaho) that is going to the playoffs for the 22nd straight year, having never missed the playoffs. The Steelheads franchise started in 1997 as part of the West Coast Hockey League and joined the ECHL in 2003-04. Idaho won the Kelly Cup in their first year in the ECHL.
– Fort Wayne’s overtime loss last night was the 19th time this season they have gone to overtime. That is 30% of their games going to overtime. Rapid City has also had 19 games go to overtime. At the other end of the spectrum is Jacksonville, who have gone to overtime just nine times. Maine is the best team in the league with a .800 winning percentage and a combined record in overtime and shootout games of 12-3. The worst team is Adirondack who has a winning percentage of .273 and record of 3-8. Despite their poor overtime record, Adirondack is in second place in the North Division.
– Luckily for the Tulsa Oilers, who will be in the Kelly Cup playoffs for the first time since 2015, they won’t have to worry about shootouts. The Oilers haven’t won a game in a shootout for two years. Tulsa was 0-9 in shootouts last season and with seven games remaining this season, they are 0-2 in shootouts.
– Last season, Michael Joly (Colorado) led the ECHL in goals with 41 and nobody else was close. This season there are three players battling for the league lead in goals. Adam Pleskach is first with 35 goals, Zach Pochiro and J.C. Campagna are tied for second with 34 goals. Pochiro has five games left and the other two have seven games remaining. Who will end up on top and will any of them make it to 40 goals?
– Three teams are tied for the current longest winning streak in the ECHL, Idaho, Tulsa, and South Carolina have won four straight games.
– It looks like Cincinnati will be the highest scoring team in the ECHL this season. The Cyclones have 264 goals, 10 more than second place Florida and 23 more than third place Newfoundland. Cincinnati has six games remaining, one more than the other two. Rapid City will easily be the team scoring the fewest goals. With five games remaining they have scored 154 goals, 17 fewer than any other team.
– If you look at the longest streaks of the season in the ECHL, Allen is on top or tied for the top in three categories:
Dante Salituro – longest assist streak, nine games
Allen – longest road winless streak, 11 games
Zach Pochiro – most goals in one game, four
– Riley Bourbonnais has been loaned to Iowa (AHL) since March 1st and hopefully will stay for the rest of the season. Best case scenario for Allen would be for Iowa to sign Riley to an AHL contract. He has played in seven games, has no points, five shots, two penalty minutes and his plus/minus is -2. Riley has played in seven of 11 games in Iowa. He played in four straight when he was first called up, then was a healthy scratch for the next four games and has played in the last three games. Iowa plays Tuesday, Friday and Saturday this week. They will make the playoffs.
– Alex Breton has been on loan to Springfield (AHL) since March 1 and has played in five of 12 games. He has no points, six shots, and his plus/minus is +2. Springfield plays again on Friday and Saturday. It is highly unlikely they will make the playoffs.
– Allen is winning the battle with Greenville for the worst record in the ECHL. It is not much of a goal but about all the Americans have left. Allen’s winning percentage is .397 with a record of 24-38-4-2 and they have four games remaining. Greenville’s winning percentage is .379 with a record of 22-38-3-3 and they have six games remaining. I know this is overkill but here are the games remaining in the battle for the basement. I bet I am the only one previewing these two teams.
Allen – Utah (H), Wichita (H), Wichita (A), Wichita (A)
Greenville – Jacksonville (H), Orlando (H), Orlando (H), Norfolk (A), Norfolk (A), Norfolk (A)
– The Mountain Division has five of the six most penalized teams in the ECHL but only two of those teams will make the playoffs. While high penalty minute teams have won the last four Kelly Cups (Allen & Colorado), the bottom three in the division in penalty minutes this season will make the playoffs. Who will emerge as the Mountain Division champion in the playoffs? The first round of the playoffs could pit the higher penalty minute teams (Idaho & Utah) against the lower penalty minute teams (Kansas City & Tulsa).
Here are the penalty minutes for the division:
1461 – Allen
1349 – Rapid City
1298 – Idaho*
1152 – Wichita
1110 – Utah*
876 – Kansas City*
864 – Tulsa*
Did You Know?
The optimistic stat of the day. Since joining the ECHL Allen has never lost their final two home games of the season. The Americans were 2-0 in 2014-15 and 2016-17. They were 1-1 in 2016-16 and 2017-18.