– It is game day for the Allen Americans as they take on the Wichita Thunder tonight at the Allen Event Center (AEC) in the only Tuesday night game of the season at the AEC. It will be the first of 13 games (7 home 6 away) between Allen and Wichita this season however, they only play twice before Christmas.

– By most statistical comparisons between Allen and Wichita, it would appear the Americans have a big edge in the game tonight. Allen has won six of their last seven games and are the fourth ranked team in the ECHL. Wichita is in the midst of a three-game losing streak during which they have scored only three goals. They are in last place in the Central Divsion and are ranked #23 in the ECHL.

– What the stats don’t tell you is Wichita always plays Allen tough, especially in Allen. Last season, Wichita was 8-8-0-1 overall against the Americans and in Allen the Thunder won five of eight games. The games were usually close at the AEC but Wichita seemed to find a way to win the close games. Of the five home losses to the Thunder, one was in regulation, three in overtime and one in a shootout.

– Here is a match up between Allen and Wichita:

ALLEN                               WICHITA

Team Record               7-3-0-0 (14 points)               4-6-0-0 (8 points)
Division Ranking         2nd – Central                        4th – Central
Conference Ranking   2nd – Western                       12th – Western
League Ranking         4th                                             23rd
Last Game                  7-2 W (Rapid City)                 2-1 L (Missouri)
Goals For                    33                                              21
Goals Against             22                                             26
Power Play                 12.5% (5/40)                           5.1% (2/39)
Penalty Kill                  94.4% (2/36)                        88.6% (5/44)

Here is how Allen and Wichita rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 23rd (12.70) – Wichita 15th (14.90)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 8th (3.30) – Wichita 27th (2.10)
Goals Allowed per Game: Allen 5th (2.20) – Wichita 11th (2.60)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 19th (12.5%) – Wichita 28th (5.1%)
Penalty Kill Percentage; Allen 1st (94.4%) – Wichita 5th (88.6%)

– Special teams always play a key role and if you look at overall statistics it appears no power play goals will be scored by either team. Both teams have been anemic on the power play but excellent on the penalty kill. However, if you break the special teams down to home and road results the picture is a little different but not much. At home Allen has just one power play goal and is 1-14 (7.1%), but Wichita is even worse having not scored a single power play goal on the road going 0-22. On the penalty kill, Allen is 1-15 (93.3%) at home and on the road Wichita is 5-24 (79.2%).

Going to give Allen the advantage for a couple of reasons. Coach Martinson feels the power play is getting better even though the results aren’t showing it yet. The team spent a lot of time at practice yesterday on the power play. Allen has only played three home games thus far and two of them were on the opening weekend almost a month ago. Look for Allen to improve their power play percentage tonight.

– Allen is 6-0 when scoring the first goal of a game while Wichita is 3-1. Yes, the first goal is a key  tonight. Wichita is 0-2 this season when trailing after the first period and 0-3 when trailing after the second period.

– Allen’s home record is 2-1, Wichita’s road record is 1-4.

– Chad Costello and Greger Hanson lead Allen in points with 10 but if you are looking for players to watch tonight you need to watch all three lines as scoring can come from anywhere. There were some line changes in practice yesterday so would assume you will see that in the game.

– Joel Rumpel has won six straight starts for Allen and with Martinson’s tendency to go with the hot goalie you should expect Rumpel will get the start tonight. With Allen having four games in five days (2 home 2 away) starting Friday night both goalies will get starts this weekend.

– Leading scorers for Wichita are Peter Sakaris (#90) and Andrew Huff (#12) who each have seven points. Huff has six assists in his last five games. Another player to keep an eye on is Kenton Miller (#28) who was just sent back to Wichita from Ontario (AHL) and is expected be in the line up tonight.

OTHER COMMENTS:

– Gary Steffes is still in San Jose and played for the Barracuda on Saturday (no points on two shots) and was a healthy scratch on Sunday as a couple of forwards were sent down from the Sharks. The Barracuda have been struggling in the goal scoring department averaging only 2.22 goals per game which ranks them #25 in the AHL. With Gary being a proven goal scorer, look for him to get a good look by the Barracuda. They have three road games this week (Ontario on Wednesday, San Diego on Friday & Saturday).

– A couple of former Allen players showed up on the ECHL transaction list yesterday. Tanner Eberle was returned to the Quad City Mallards by the Iowa Wild (AHL) and Nolan Descoteaux was released by the Rapid City Rush. Also, goalie Eric Levine, who played briefly for Allen in 2013-14 and was recently released by the Utah Girzzlies has signed with the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the SPHL.

– If you have been following the story of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Flint Firebirds the last couple of days it has been quite a journey. The team made international news when the first year OHL team owner fired the entire coaching staff on Sunday following a come from behind victory, supposedly because his son, who plays on the team, was not getting enough ice time.  All of the players, including the owners son, then quit the team in protest. Within 24 hours the team owner had apologized, re-hired the coaching staff and given the coaches a new three-year contract. Details still need to be worked out in a meeting that will take place today between the players and team executives with the hopes of returning to practice on Wednesday and playing their next scheduled game on Friday. Finally, there has been speculation that a trade is in the works for the owners son.

DID YOU KNOW: Team performance in the third period more often than not separates winners from losers. This season Allen has scored 15 third period goals and allowed just six for a goal differential of +9 . Wichita has scored just three third period goals but has allowed 11 for a goal differential  of -8. Allen’s +9 is the best in the league while Wichita’s -8 is the worst in the league.

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