Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Allen Prepares for Showdown with Tulsa, The New Look Americans, Allen Signs Rookie Forward Jared Bethune & Allen's Top Ranked Players on ECHL All-Time Career List

The Allen Americans just returned from a 15 day six game road trip and came away with a record of 4-1-1-0. Allen's reward for completing the longest road road trip of the season is a 15 day six game homestand that will go a long way in deciding their playoff fate.

- First up is the Tulsa Oilers on Wednesday night and it will definitely be a playoff atmosphere type of game at the Allen Event Center. The Americans are currently in fourth place in the division just two points ahead of fifth place Tulsa. The game on Wednesday is in essence a four point game because if Allen wins they will be four points ahead of Tulsa and if they loose they will be tied with the Oilers.

- There will be a complete game preview tomorrow but a couple of facts about this last game of the season against Tulsa. Both teams have been playing good hockey recently, Allen is 6-3-1-0 in their last 10 games and Tulsa is 6-2-0-2. The Oilers have been a good road team having earned points in 20 of their 33 road games.

- Even the most diehard Allen fans will need to pick up a lineup card as they enter the Allen Event Center Wednesday night. Goalie Jake Paterson (#39) has played two games in Allen and forward Thomas Frazee (#25) has played just one. Forwards Tristan King (#9), J.C. Campagna (#29), Alexandre Carrier (#33), and Tyler Poulsen (#77) all joined the team on the road.

- Just yesterday it was announced the Americans have signed forward Jared Bethune to an Amateur Tryout Contract. Jared just finished his junior career playing for the Prince George Cougars in the Western Hockey League where he played for former Allen assistant coach Richard Matvichuk. Jared was the leading scorer on the team with 69 points (21 goals 48 assists) and was an alternate captain. Bethune's teammates in the four years he played for Prince George included Colby McAuley and Zach Pochiro. Here is the press release issued by the Prince George Cougars: http://pgcougars.com/article/bethune-obrien-sign-amateur-tryouts-in-the-echl

Jared Bethune

- Here is an interview with Jared from October 2016 which was the start of his third year in Prince George and Richard Matvichuk's first season as the head coach.



 - I saw on social media yesterday that Garet Hunt, who plays for the Jacksonville IceMen, just moved into seventh place on the all-time games played list for the ECHL. Hunt played for years in Stockton until they moved to the AHL, then moved to Alaska until they folded and signed with Jacksonville this year. In addition to ranking #7 on the all-time games played list Hunt is ranked #2 on the all-time ECHL penalty minutes list with 2383 and is just 42 penalty minutes from becoming #1. At 5'9" Hunt may be the best pound for pound fighter in the history of the ECHL.

- Reading about Garet Hunt's ranking on the ECHL all-time list got me wondering about who is the highest ranking player on the all-time list for each category the ECHL tracks that has played in Allen. It has always been a little frustrating looking at all-time offensive categories because there was so much more scoring in hockey 20-30 years ago. Allen has only been around nine years but many players that have played for the Americans have had long ECHL careers. It was fun looking up these stats and I hope you enjoy the results. Here is the highest ranked player on the ECHL career all-time list who has played in Allen:

Games Played - Mathieu Aubin is ranked #7 all-time with 592 games played
Points - Casey Pierro-Zabotel is ranked #29 all-time with 494 points
Goals - Mathieu Aubin is ranked #28 all-time with 192 goals
Assists - Casey Pierro-Zabotel ranks #12 all-time with 348 assists
Penalty Minutes - Darryl Bootland ranks #16 all-time with 1417 penalty minutes
Points Per Game Average - Chad Costello ranks #12 all-time at 1.58 (100 game minimum)

Casey Pierro-Zabotel turned 29 in November and can move way up the all-time list before he hangs up his skates. Casey is less than 100 points from breaking into the top 10 all-time in points. He is currently #12 all-time in assists but is only 43 assists away of from being #3 all-time.

- The Allen Americans will be honoring the Ludwig family at the game on March 24th. Tyler and Trevor are a big part of Allen history winning three championships with the Americans. Their dad, Craig, was a minority owner of the team in 2012-13 and spent time on the ice working with the defensemen as the team won their first championship. It should be a fun night having the Ludwig's back at the AEC. It will also be nice to see Taylor and Holly and hopefully all of the Ludwig kids. Tyler and Taylor have three girls while Trevor and Holly have a girl and a boy. Here are the details about the Ludwig night: https://allenamericans.com/americans-honor-first-family-hockey-dfw/

Craig with Trevor left and Tyler right circa 1988

- Don't forget I have a pair of tickets for the game tomorrow (Wednesday, March 21 at 7:05 PM). I will have a drawing for these free tickets this afternoon, notify the winner and leave the tickets at will call. If you are interested let me know by email (janssenfamily@msn.com). All I need is your name. The tickets are in the second row in Section 100 which is at the end of the rink Allen goes on offense twice. Good luck!

DID YOU KNOW: Chad Costello is ranked #18 on the ECHL all-time career assist list with 343 assists. The only reason Chad is ranked that low is because he has only played 309 games in the ECHL. He is the only player in the top 20 all-time that has more assists than games played.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Allen Finishes Road Trip With OT Loss in Colorado, Game Recap, Road Trip Review, Four Teams for Two Spots - Down the Stretch They Come, Free Tickets & More

The Allen Americans were able to salvage one point in Colorado last night with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Eagles before a crowd of 5109 at Budweiser Event Center. The game was similar to the Friday night loss to Colorado in that the Americans gave up the first goal of the game, were trailing 1-0 after the first period but came back to take the lead. Just like Friday night the Americans couldn't hold the lead. Last night the Eagles tied the score 3-3 with just under four minutes remaining and won the game 47 seconds into overtime. Colorado forward Ryan Olson, who played junior hockey with Dalton Thrower, was the hero for the Eagles scoring the goal that tied the game and the overtime game winner. Olsen also had an assist and a fight with Alex Guptill for the Gordie Howe hat trick.

- While it was disappointing to lose twice in Colorado and see Allen's all time regular season record when visiting the Eagles drop to 1-4-1-0 the one point earned last night may turn out to be crucial and there is no doubt the six game road trip was a huge success. To garner nine of 12 points while going 4-1-1-0 over the last two weeks on the road has put Allen in position to control their own destiny as the season winds down. Allen will spend the rest of the season at home with the exception of one game in Wichita. With eight of their last nine games at home the Americans have a realistic chance of finishing third in the Mountain Division if they play well down the stretch.

- Goal scorers for Allen last night were Tyler Poulsen who scored his first professional goal in front of his family and friends in his hometown, Zach Pochiro (16) and Bryan Moore (18). Here are the video highlights from ECHL Rewind: https://www.echl.com/

- Here is the game recap from the Allen Americans:  https://allenamericans.com/americans-finish-road-trip-4-1-1-lose-overtime-colorado/

- Here is the game recap from the Colorado Eagles: https://allenamericans.com/americans-finish-road-trip-4-1-1-lose-overtime-colorado/


- As the Americans head home on the 850 mile trip from Colorado on the bus that is now officially known as "White Lightning" (I doubt it will ever be as well known as "Big Red") let's look back at the longest road trip of the season.

- If coach Martinson would have been offered nine points before this road trip started and not gone on the trip I am sure he would have taken that deal in a heartbeat. After all, Allen's road record prior to this trip was 12-16-0-1. To finish with a record of 4-1-1-0 on the road trip with a bunch of new players in the lineup and playing shorthanded for some of the games was huge.

- To put the road trip in perspective and show how big of a turnaround it represents, Allen's nine points on the road trip is more points than they earned in the entire month of January (six points). It also ties their points earned in the month of February. Allen hasn't accomplished anything yet but if the Americans make the playoffs everyone will look back at this road trip as the key.

- The Allen special teams play has been much maligned and deservedly so but came to life in the last six games on the road. The power play was 6-24 (25%) and the penalty kill was 2-25 (92%). Something to build on down the stretch.

- The Americans picked up their scoring pace on the road trip averaging 4.33 goals per game but they allowed 3.67 goals per game and gave up four or more goals in five of the six games. Allen was out shot 202-168 on the road trip but the big shot differential came from the first game in Idaho when Allen was out shot 48-25 and the game last night in Colorado when the Americans were out shot 40-28. Improved defensive play will be a must over the last nine games of the season.


- The battle for playoff positions remains very close between Wichita, Allen, Tulsa and Utah. Colorado is pretty much locked in as the #1 seed and Idaho has an eight point lead for the #2 seed. The other two spots will probably go down to the last day of the season. Here are the current Mountain Division standings with games played in parentheses.  

90 points - Colorado (64 games)
81 points - Idaho (64 games)
73 points - Wichita (64 games)
68 points - Allen (63 games)
67 points - Tulsa (63 games) 
64 points - Utah (64 games)
47 points - Rapid City (64 games)

- Here is the remaining schedule for Allen, Wichita, Tulsa and Utah:

Allen (9 games - 8 home 1 away) - Tulsa (H), Kansas City (H), Kansas City (H), Wichita (H), Colorado (H), Colorado (H), Wichita (A), Idaho (H), Idaho (H)

Wichita (8 game - 2 home 6 away) - Kansas City (A), Kalamazoo (A), Fort Wayne (A), Allen (A), Tulsa (H), Allen (H), Colorado (A), Colorado (A)

Tulsa (9 games - 6 home 3 away) - Allen (A), Quad City (H), Quad City (H), Quad City (H), Wichita (A), Kansas City (A), Idaho (H), Rapid City (H), Rapid City (H)

Utah (8 games - 5 home 3 away) - Colorado (H), Colorado (H), Colorado (H), Idaho (A), Idaho (A), Colorado (A), Kansas City (H), Kansas City (H)

- There are several ways to slice and dice the remaining schedule. Allen has the best schedule when looking at home versus road games with eight of nine at home. Wichita has the worst home versus road schedule with only two of eight at home. In terms of ease of schedule Tulsa is the winner with five games at home against the two worst teams in the league (Quad City & Rapid City). Utah has by far the toughest schedule with five of their remaining eight games against Colorado and Idaho.

- Coach Martinson has mentioned he will be adding players this week and I assume that means players coming out of college or juniors. Players could come from anywhere but there always seems to be a lot of Western Hockey League (WHL) guys on the radar screen. The one thing Martinson has said is the guys he is bringing in are top scorers on their team. Should be an interesting week.

- The other thing to look for this week is the possibility of  some of the players currently in the AHL returning to Allen.

- I have a pair of tickets for the game on Wednesday (March 21) at 7:05 PM. I will have a drawing for these free tickets tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon, notify the winner and leave the tickets at will call. If you are interested let me know by email (janssenfamily@msn.com). All I need is your name. The tickets are in the second row in Section 100 which is at the end of the rink Allen goes on offense twice. Good luck!

DID YOU KNOW: With four teams (Allen, Tulsa, Utah & Wichita) competing for two playoff spots there is going to be two disappointed teams in a couple of weeks. Here is how the four teams have fared in the playoffs the last three season. Allen joined the ECHL in 2014-15 along with Tulsa and Wichita and has made the playoffs every year, won two Kelly Cups and was eliminated in the second round last season. Tulsa has not made the playoffs the last two years but did make the playoffs in 2015 losing 4-1 to Allen in the first round. Wichita has not made the playoffs since joining the ECHL. Utah has made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons. They were eliminated in the second round in 2015 and 2016. Last season Allen defeated Utah in the first round of the playoffs 4-1. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Allen Win Streak Snapped in Loss to Colorado, Game Recap, Steve Martinson's Post Game Comments Including New Players Arriving, Rematch Preview, Big Red Under the Weather & More

The Colorado Eagles snapped Allen's six game win streak last night by beating the Americans 5-4 before a sold out St. Patrick's Day crowd of 5289 at Budweiser Events Center. It looked like Allen might defy the odds when they came back from a 2-0 deficit in the second period by scoring three unanswered goals in a span of 115 seconds to take a 3-2 lead into the second intermission. Colorado showed why they are the top team in the division by scoring three unanswered goals of their own in the third period to take a 5-3 lead. Allen scored with 50 seconds remaining to cut the lead to one and had a good scoring chance just before the final buzzer but Colorado prevailed 5-4.

- There were certainly some bright spots for Allen as they held Colorado to 23 shots on goal and  scored three power play goals. It was the first time the Americans had scored more than one power play goal in a game in two months (January 19). It was a great comeback with the flurry of goals in the second period.

- On the flip side of the ledger Allen allowed four or more goals for the fourth consecutive game and that is not the formula for success even though it worked in the prior three games. Allen's record when allowing four or more goals is 4-22. Colorado's record when scoring four or more goals is 28-4. Best to not get in a high scoring game with the Eagles. Allen also gave up their ninth shorthanded goal of the season last night.

- Allen lost the third period by a score of 3-1 which has been a pattern this season. Last year Allen was the best in the league outscoring their opponents in the third period 120-59. This season they have been out scored by their opponents 77-66 in the third period.

- Goal scorers for Allen were Eric Roy (13), J.C. Campagna (10&11), and Alex Guptill (26).  Allen's three goals in under two minutes started with a controversial call when David Makowski was cross checked into the goalie. Eric Roy put the puck in the net while the goalie and Makowski were tangled up. You can see in the highlights Makowski was definitely checked into the goalie and he couldn't move because the goalie was on top of him. Here is a highlight package from ECHL Rewind: https://www.echl.com/

- Here is the game recap from the Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/americans-streak-halted-tight-loss-colorado/

- Here is the game recap from the local paper with the title, "Colorado Eagles beat Allen Americans despite controversial call by ECHL officials." http://www.reporterherald.com/sports/ci_31742880/colorado-eagles-beat-allen-americans-despite-controversial-call-echl-officials


"Some goals against you can take because you do things correctly and the other team just makes a good play. All five goals tonight were a result of weak defending. Some guys keep reappearing on the weak side of the goals against."

"The first goal was just a soft wall play where the player used his stick rather than shoulder which resulted in the loss of a puck battle."

" On the second goal the same player turns the puck over on the power play and doesn't back check hard. It should have been a three on three but instead it was a three on two and ended up with a shorthanded goal."

"On the third goal our forward comes out of the box and doesn't fill the defensive position. We ended up with four players on the same side of the ice and their defenseman all alone in the slot. Ratelle makes a great play from his stomach but the player all alone in the slot (Watson) should have been covered."

"On the fourth goal our forward gets knocked down before he can cycle the puck. The high forward has a bad read and should have stayed high. Colorado starts up ice on a four-on-two with no back pressure. That is a hard goal to give up with eight minutes left in the game."

"On the fifth goal we try to beat their defense at the far blue line instead of making a simple pass. It becomes a three-on-one which they miss but their winger wins the battle in the corner against two of our players. He has one goal in 15 games but our defenseman leaves in front of the net and commits to a guy that can't score while leaving the eventual goal scorer all alone in front."

"In summation the five goals against were all derived from mistakes, weak physical play and weak cerebral play. It is not a good time of year to make the same mistakes over and over. We have been weak defensively the last seven periods and it finally caught up with us tonight."

"I have two leading scorers coming to the team with more to follow. How you play in these big games is how I am going to expect you to play in the playoffs. I will have several new players joining the team who will not only be competing for top ice time spots. So we have several players competing for the top ice time positions which ultimately means other players competing for roster spots."   


- The Americans take on the Eagles this afternoon (4:05 pm CDT) in the sixth and final game of this 15 day road trip. I am sure everyone is excited to get home and the road trip is a success no matter what happens today. With that said the two points today are very important in Allen's quest for a playoff spot and also to show they can play with Colorado. With the loss last night Allen's regular season record in Colorado since joining the ECHL dropped to 1-4.

- One key to success this afternoon is a good start. Last night Colorado scored first and their record is 25-4-3-2 when they score first. The Eagles led 1-0 after the first period and their record at home when leading after the first period stands at 15-1-0-1. The team that has scored first has won every game these teams have played this season. Allen needs an early goal this afternoon.

- Allen has allowed 17 goals in the last four games (4.25 per game). They can't expect to win against a team like Colorado unless they can cut down on the defensive mistakes and allow fewer than four goals. Coach Martinson doesn't like to tip his hand on starting goalies but my guess is Jeremy Brodeur might get the start this afternoon.

- Another key is to keep up the good work on special teams. Despite the shorthanded goal last night Allen was 3-6 on the power play, perfect on the penalty kill (0-2) and did a good job of staying out of the penalty box.

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Alex Garon (#9) and linesmen Chase McGee (#40) and Jon Shaw (#76).


- It was overtime night in the ECHL last night as five of the 11 games were decided in overtime. Wichita and Utah both lost in overtime so Allen's regulation loss was not as costly as it could have been. The battle for the playoffs now has Wichita in third place (73 points), Allen still in fourth place (68 points), Tulsa in fifth place (67 points) and Utah in sixth place (64 points). Allen has two games in hand on Wichita and one on Tulsa and Utah. In addition to Allen at Colorado this afternoon Utah is in action at Worcester. Both Wichita and Tulsa are idle.

- Olivier Archambault followed up his game winning overtime goal on Friday with a two goal performance last night as the Syracuse Crunch beat the Laval Rocket 5-2. Archambault was selected as the #1 star of the game both nights. It is safe to say Olivier will not be back in Allen anytime soon. Syracuse has already qualified for the playoffs and has the third best record in the AHL. With a distinct possibility of a long playoff run for the Crunch it appears likely Archambault will not be back in Allen for the playoffs.

- Vincent Arseneau was not in the lineup for Utica last night. They play again this afternoon.

- Big Red had another road emergency yesterday on the way from Tulsa to Kansas City which resulted in the game being postponed. The sellout St. Patrick's Day crowd had to come up with other plans and you can assume losing a big gate like that did not make the Mavericks brass happy. The game has been rescheduled for the first Monday in April. Trading out a Saturday night St. Patrick's Day sellout for a Monday night game in April can't be pleasant.

Big Red deserves a happy retirement after 25 years of hard labor!

DID YOU KNOW: Since joining the ECHL in 2014 the Allen defense as been extremely consistent when it comes to goals allowed. In 2014-15 they allowed 203 goals, in 2015-16 they allowed 204 goals and in 2016-17 they allowed 203 goals. This season Allen is assured of setting a record for most goals allowed in a season. With 10 games remaining the Americans have already allowed 199 goals this season.   

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Allen vs Colorado Game Preview, Style of Play Difference Between the Central and Mountain Divisions, Archambualt Scores OT Game Winner and More

The Allen Americans are currently riding their longest winning streak of the season (six games) and their longest road winning streak of the season (four games). With that said the games against division leading Colorado tonight (8:05 pm CDT) and Sunday afternoon (4:05 pm CDT) are very important for a variety of reasons. Here are a few of them.

- Allen has earned eight of eight points in the first four games of the longest road trip of the season. They need to finish the road trip strong before they head home where they will play eight of their last nine games.

- Colorado is the best team in the Mountain Division and has been playing like that recently. The Eagles have won three in a row and are 7-3-0-0 in their last 10 games. As the saying goes if you want to be the best you have to beat the best.

- Colorado could be Allen's first round foe in the playoffs so these games will be a good measuring stick to see how well the Americans are playing.

- Since Allen joined the ECHL in 2014 Colorado has been the one team that has caused them problems. The Americans overall regular season record against the Eagles is 5-6-0-0 and in Colorado the record is 1-3-0-0. The teams have met only once in the playoffs (last season) and that didn't go well for Allen as Colorado dispatched the Americans in six games.

- The good news is Allen has won the only two games against Colorado this season. If you recall there was a period from the end of December to the end of January where the Americans lost 11 of 13 games. Colorado came to the Allen Event Center on February 1st and 2nd leading the ECHL in points and winning percentage. Allen not only won both games, they did so handily by scores of 5-2 and 5-1.

- In roster news Colorado just got two players assigned that were playing in the AHL. Defenseman Cliff Watson had been on loan to the San Jose Barracuda and forward Julien Nantel was with the San Antonio Rampage.  The ECHL's leading goal scorer with 39 goals, Michael Joly, will be missing from the Colorado lineup because he has been recalled to San Antonio (AHL). Allen should have a new player in the lineup who recently completed his collegiate career but will be missing Vincent Aresenau who is on loan to Utica (AHL). 

Here are the updated stats between Allen and Colorado:

                                     ALLEN                              COLORADO

Team Record               31-24-4-2 (68 points)          40-16-4-2 (86 points)
Division Ranking         4th - Mountain                     1st - Mountain
Conference Ranking   7th - Western                       3rd - Western
League Ranking         13th                                      4th
Last Game                  5-4 Win (Rapid City)             6-1 Win (Rapid City)
Goals For                    203                                       222
Goals Against             194                                       184
Power Play                 16.6% (44/265)                    18.7% (50/268)
Penalty Kill                 80.0% (52/271)                     85.2% (34/230)
Most PIM                    Moore (189)                          Ratelle (174)
Leading Scorers:        Pierro-Zabotel (17-42-59)     Joly (39-23-62)

-  Here is how Allen and Colorado rank in the ECHL in major statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (21.00) - Colorado 2nd (18.39)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 8th (3.33) - Colorado 4th (3.58)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 15th (3.18) - Colorado 10th (2.97)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 20th (31.38) - Colorado 16th (31.76)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 23rd (36.31) - Colorado 10th (31.84)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 19th (16.6%) - Colorado 7th (18.7%)
Home Power Play %: Allen 11th (18.7%) - Colorado 12th (18.5%)
Road Power Play %: Allen 19th (14.8%) - Colorado 6th (18.9%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 21st (80.8%) - Colorado 7th (85.2%)
Home Penalty Kill %: Allen 12th (84.5%) - Colorado 6th (87.6%)
Road Penalty Kill %: Allen 25th (77.5%) - Colorado 15th (82.2%)

- It is no surprise when the number one team in the division is playing the fourth place team but the stats above show Colorado is better then Allen in goals scored (3.58 vs 3.33), goals allowed (2.97 vs 3.18), shots for (31.76 vs 31.38), shots allowed (31.84 vs 36.31), power play percentage (18.5 % at home vs 14.8% away) and penalty kill percentage (87.6% home vs 77.5% away). 

- What is most encouraging for Allen is they have averaged 4.50 goals per game over the last six games while allowing an average of 2.83.

- Special teams could very well decide both of these games in Colorado. Allen did score a power play goal in their last game but during this six game win streak they are only 3-24 (12.5%) on the power play and since February 1st they are 6-72 (8.3%). The penalty kill since February is at 83.3% and has been very good in the last six games (88.5%). Allen will need to outperform Colorado on special teams if they are to be successful this weekend. 

- A good start is always important but even more so against a team like Colorado. Both of these teams are best in the first period with Allen out scoring their opponents 64-45 and Colorado outscoring their opponents 69-48. When scoring the first goal of the game Allen and Colorado have a combined record of 48-9-4-2. With a a lead after the first period at home Colorado is 14-1-0-1. The Americans don't want to get behind.

- You can expect two rough and tumble games against Colorado who lead the ECHL with 70 fighting majors this season according to hockeyfights.com. Allen has been called for 51 fighting majors. Colorado had six fights in their last game (Sunday) against Rapid City. Allen also played Rapid City in their last game (Wednesday) but there were no fights. When Colorado visited Allen at the beginning of February there were no fights in the first game but three in the second game.       

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Alex Garon (#9) and linesmen Chris Wilson (#88) and Robert Keltie (#83).


-  Allen received no help last night as Wichita and Tulsa both won. In the battle for the playoffs Wichita is in third place (72 points), Allen is in fourth place (68 points), Tulsa is in fifth place (67 points) and Utah is in sixth place (63 points). All four teams are in action tonight on the road with Allen at Colorado, Utah at Manchester, Tulsa at Kansas City and Wichita at Rapid City.

-  Olivier Archambault had the overtime game winner for the Syracuse Crunch last night as they beat Springfield 3-2. Archambault's goal was spectacular. Here is the game recap with a great description of the game winning goal:  https://syracusecrunch.com/news/2018/3/16/syracuse-crunch-crunch-victorious-in-overtime.aspx

- Here is a link to a video of Archambault's goal if you haven't already seen it. Even if you have seen it it is worth another look.  t.co/QHOy8ZUOIy 

- Colby McAuley also had a goal last night for the San Jose Barracuda but it was in a losing cause as they lost to Bakersfiled 8-4. Vincent Arseneau played for Utica and had all zeros across the score sheet. Alex Schoenborn and Stephon Williams did not play in the San Jose loss to Bakersfield.

DID YOU KNOW: The style of play is very different between the two divisions in the Western Conference. The Central Division has just one team with over 1000 penalty minutes, four teams with less than 800 penalty minutes and two teams with less than 700 penalty minutes. The Mountain Division has six teams with over 1000 penalty minutes with the seventh team at 920 penalty minutes. The question is will the style of play have an impact come playoff time. What is true is the last three Kelly Cup champions have been big, tough, physical, finish your check teams with high penalty minutes who wear down opponents in long playoff series.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Vincent Arseneau Loaned to Utica, Steve Martinson's Philosophy on Loaning Players, Team and Individual Stats and More

 Vincent Arseneau was loaned to the Utica Comets (AHL) yesterday and joins four other players (Archambault, Schoenborn, McAuley and Williams) on assignments to AHL teams. Whenever these assignments take place I typically get questions about the whys and wherefores. Hopefully this will answer some of the rules and philosophy regarding players in Allen going to AHL teams.

- The first distinction is between players on AHL contracts and those that are not. Schoenborn, McAuley, Williams, Makowski, Asuchak and Moore are all under contract with San Jose so they can only be called up by that team. The same is true for Jake Paterson who is under contract with the Milwaukee Admirals and Thomas Frazee who is under contract with the San Antonio Rampage. Players that do not have an AHL contract are free agents and can be loaned to any AHL team and that is the case with Oliver Archambault and Vincent Arseneau.

- Coach Martinson feels it is important to loan players and talks about that when he is recruiting his team. Some coaches manage to not loan players at all and some only want to loan players to their AHL affiliate. That is not Steve Martinson's philosophy. Sometimes the timing is awful when players are loaned and it leaves the Americans shorthanded but it is important for players to know Allen is a place where their development comes first. As coach Martinson told me when I asked him about Arseneau being loaned to Utica, "I've always tried to compare loaning players to investing in the stock market. The day to day transactions can be very painful but the long term is better and helps to have a healthy environment for players to develop. You don't want your whole team looking to be called up but you also want players that are driven to get better."

Martinson went on to say, "It is hard to pay a lot of players enough money to give up their dream to play in the NHL and I could never afford that. Players that are asked to do that should look at Bobby Robins. Bobby played one year in the AHL after college but five years later I loaned him to Providence (AHL). Fast forward three years and he played in the NHL. We are losing Arseneau at a tough time but this may be the organization that gives him an avenue to the NHL. I didn't play in the NHL until I was 28 and it was with my fourth organization. In Allen we really want to win but we are not going to sacrifice players future to do it. When players play the game right and deserve a chance it is rarely convenient timing but that is the league we are in. I am working hard at adding players to our roster."

- Martinson's approach to loaning players is just another one of many reasons he can recruit great players and why he has won 10 championships.


It has been a while so I thought today would be a good day to take a look at the individual stat leaders. Below are the team leaders in various statistical categories with the league rank in parentheses:

Games Played:
61 - Joel Chouinard
61 - Casey Pierro-Zabotel
60 - Josh Thrower

59 - Casey Pierro-Zabotel (11th)
54 - Alex Guptill (17th)
51 - David Makowski (25th)

25 - Alex Guptill (17th) 
18 - Vincent Arseneau (50th)
17 - Bryan Moore (69th)
17 - Casey Pierro-Zabotel (69th)

42 - Casey Pierro-Zabotel (4th)
41 - David Makowski (7th)
32 -  Joel Chouinard (16th)

Power Plays Goals:
7 - Joel Chouinard (12th)
6 - Eric Roy (23rd)
6 - Alex Guptill (23rd)

Power Play Assists:
18 - David Makowski (3rd)
15 - Joel Chouinard (6th)
11  - Casey Pierro-Zabotel (23rd) 

+25 -  David Makowski (16th)
+23 - Casey Pierro Zabotel (19th)
+21 - Joel Chouinard  (21st)

Penalty Minutes:
189 - Bryan Moore (4th)
124 - David Makowski (20th)
107 - Alex Guptill (33rd)

Shots On Goal:
204 - David Makowski (11th)
161 - Thomas Frazee (41st)
152 - Alex Guptill (61st)

Points by Defenseman:
51 - David Makowski (2nd)
42 - Joel Chouinard (4th)
27 - Eric Roy (36th)

Goals by Defenseman:
12 - Eric Roy (3rd)
10 - David Makowski (10th)
10 - Joel Chouinard (27th)

Assists by Defenseman:
41 - David Makowski (3rd)
32 - Joel Chouinard (9th)
15 - Eric Roy (68th)

2.48 - Jake Paterson
3.07 - Jeremy Brodeur
3.14 - Stephon Williams

Save Percentage
.926 - Jake Paterson
.920 - Jeremy Brodeur
.908 - Stephon Williams


-  Here is how the Americans rank in the ECHL in some critical statistical categories:
Points - 68 (13th)
Winning percentage - .557 (12th)
Goals scored - 203 (9th)
Goals against - 194 (12th)
Goal differential - +9 (10th)
Penalty minutes - 1281 (1st)
Power play - 16.6% (19th)
Penalty kill - 80.8% (21st)
Shorthanded goals for - 6 (17th)
Shorthanded goals against - 8 (13th)
Ave. goals scored per game - 3.33 (9th)
Ave. goals against per game - 3.18 (15th)
Ave shots for per game - 31.38 (20th)
Ave shots against per game - 36.31 (23rd)
Shooting percentage - 10.5% (5th)
Save percentage - .913 (4th)
Attendance - 4004 (15th)


-  Goal differential (goals for minus goals against) is a key statistic when looking at team success. The Americans are 85% through the season and their goal differential is +9. Last season the Americans finished with a goal differential of +91. The five teams that have already qualified for the playoffs (Florida, South Carolina, Toledo, Fort Wayne, Colorado) have goals differentials ranging from +38 to +79.

- If you look at the stats above and notice Allen has the fifth best shooting percentage in the ECHL and the fourth best save percentage it should make for great offense and defense. The problem is the Americans don't generate enough shots (ranked #20) and they give up too many shots (ranked #23). 

- It is important to look behind the numbers as it relates to penalty minutes. Allen has taken 1281 penalty minutes this season which is 141 more than any other team in the league and 697 minutes more than the least penalized team in the ECHL (Reading). However, when you look at power play opportunities allowed the Americans are fifth having been shorthanded 271 times. Idaho and Orlando have given up the most power play opportunities (308).

- Allen doesn't have the most minor penalties or major penalties but have far and away the most misconduct penalties and game misconduct penalties. The Americans have 20 misconduct penalties (10 minute) and the next closest is Florida with 14. Allen has 14 game misconduct penalties. No other team in the league is in double digits in game misconducts. Coach Martinson talks about penalty discipline all of the time and the stats show it is an area in need of improvement coming down the stretch.

- Special teams have certainly been perplexing for much of the season. Allen has given up more road power play goals (32) than any other team in the league.

- One thing of note is the offensive contribution of the defensemen. David Makowski is third on the team in scoring (51 points) and Joel Chouinard is fourth (42 points) Allen is the only team in the ECHL that has two defensemen in the top four in scoring.

- The Allen Americans "Iron Men" are down to two. Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Joel Chouinard are the only players that have played in all 61 games this season.

- Allen has 11 games remaining in the regular season and currently has a winning percent of .557. They have eight games remaining against teams with winning percentages above .557 and three games remaining against teams below .557. Of the Americans 11 remaining games they have four against Colorado (two at home), two against Idaho (both at home), two against Wichita (one home one away), two against Kansas City (both at home) and one against Tulsa (at home).

DID YOU KNOW: Earlier in the season the Allen Americans were on pace to have the most penalty minutes in team history put have reduced their penalty minutes a lot over the last month. Here are the penalty minutes for each year since Steve Martinson arrived in Allen. The 2017-18 number is a projection based on average penalty minutes per game in the Americans 61 games this season. One thing of note is Allen won the Kelly Cup in 2016 when they had their lowest number of penalty minutes and in 2015 when they had their highest number of penalty minutes.

2017-18:   1512
2016-17:   1432
2015-16:   1189
2014-15:   1644
2013-14:   1498
2012-13:   1571

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Allen Wins 5-4, Win Streak Reaches Six, Game Recap, Martinson's Comments, New Player Arrives Today, What has Changed for Allen and Pochiro's Rapid City Success Stats

The Allen Americans beat the Rapid City Rush 5-4 last night before 2055 fans at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center to extend their winning streak to six games. To describe the game as a back and forth affair would be an understatement. Allen scored first just over five minutes after the opening puck drop and that is always a good sign for the Americans. They have won every game this season against Rapid City when scoring first (6 for 6) and their overall record when scoring first is 24-5-1-0.

- It is a credit to the Rush, who were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs last night and are going to finish last in the division, that they work hard and never give up. Here is the scoring sequence in the game to prove the point. Allen took a 1-0 lead but Rapid City scored the next two goals to lead 2-1. Allen scored two goals in a 14 second span to take a 3-2 lead at the end of the second period which was another good sign for Allen fans since the Rush are 0-12 when trailing after the second period at home.

- Nobody bothered to tell Rapid City the game was over when they trailed 3-2 after the second intermission. The Rush tied the score 3-3 at the 2:47 mark of the third period, Spencer Asuchak put Allen ahead 4-3 on a power play goal but Rapid City answered to tie the game 4-4 with just over three minutes remaining. Allen finally took the lead for good with 74 seconds remaining in the game on a goal by J.C. Campagna, his first since joining the Americans last Friday.

- There are definitely some areas for improvement as the Americans head to Colorado to wrap up their six game road trip with two games against the Eagles this weekend. Giving up four goals is not a formula for success. Allen's record when allowing four goals this season is 4-21 but it just so happens three of the four wins have come in the last three games. Allen's old nemesis of full puck possession turnovers leading directly to goals bit them a couple of times last night.

- There was a lot more good than bad in the game and anytime you can come away with a road win in the ECHL it is a good night. Allen has now won four straight road games, their longest road streak all season by a factor of two. There were a lot of things that made the night a success for the Americans including scoring the first goal of the game, out shooting the Rush, scoring a power play goal which have been hard to come by, staying out of the penalty box and getting big contributions from the new guys.  Thomas Frazee scored two goals and was credited with 12 shots on goal which was one third of Allen's total shots. J.C. Campagna scored the game winner with 74 seconds in the game and has a point in all three games he has played for Allen.

- Spencer Asuchak (goal and assist) and Alex Guptill (two assists) continued their scoring streaks which is now six games. Zach Pochiro had a goal for the third straight game and will be sad there are no more games against Rapid City this season. Zach was the leading scorer for Allen against the Rush this season (4 goals 8 assists) even though he only played in six of the eight games.

- Goal scorers for Allen were Thomas Frazee (12&13), Zach Pochiro (15), Spencer Asuchak (11), and J.C. Campagna (9). The video highlights are on ECHL Rewind: https://www.echl.com/

- Here is the game recap issued by the Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/americans-win-sixth-row-beat-rapid-city-5-4/

- Here is the game recap issued by the Rapid City Rush: http://www.rapidcityrush.com/news/?article_id=1003

- Tommy Daniels interviewed coach Martinson after the game. Here are some of Martinson's comments:

"I thought we had some guys that didn't play very well when we got the lead tonight. We kept getting back and that was good but we have to be smarter when we have a lead."

"The new guys played well. Frazee got a couple of goals and he has been overdue I thought. Campagna moves his feet well and has made plays and he was a little but snake bit the first couple of games so it was good to see him score."

"Right now we can't have any excuses because we need every two points we can get. You have to learn to play with the lead. We didn't support the puck very well on the breakout and we ended up with turnovers that ended up in the back of our net. I am going to have to show video to some guys to make sure they get how to play with a lead."

"We have had a lot of players out of the lineup this season with callups, injuries and suspensions." Getting some continuity and three lines that can score going down the stretch is important. We have a new player coming tomorrow and some more coming after the weekend."

"We are in control of our own destiny and that is what you want at this time of year."

"The good thing is we will get to Colorado early to get acclimated to the altitude. I think that will help for Saturday night."


- Martinson mentioned a new player will be joining the team today in Colorado. I know he has been working all week recruiting players that are just finishing their college careers. I would guess that would be where this new player is coming from. He also mentioned more players coming after the weekend. It could be new players or there might be players coming or going to AHL teams. Stay tuned.

-  What has changed for the Americans during this six game win streak? After wading through all of the stats here is what I noticed. Allen is scoring more, averaging 4.5 goals per game but their shots per game have not increased. What has improved during the win streak is the shooting percentage (14.1% compared to the season average of 10.5%) and depth scoring. In the last six games 12 different players have goals and that list does not include Makowski or Chouinard who have not had a goal during the win streak.

- Special teams has also played a big part in the winning streak. Maybe the most important factor is Allen is taking fewer penalties averaging almost seven minutes fewer per game. The power play had a goal last night but has still under performed over the last six games at 12.5% (3-24) but the penalty kill has been a difference maker at 88.5% (3-26).

- The other change during the win streak is the goalie as Jake Paterson has been in goal for all six games. Jake has cooled off the last three games but came up with big saves at key times. His save percentage in his first three games was .958. In the last three games it was .880. Allen has given up four goals in their last three games and still won. When they play Colorado, the top team in the division, this weekend the Americans will have to find a way to reduce the goals allowed if they expect to win. Colorado's record this season when they score four or more goals is 27-4.

- With the win last night Allen is now just two points behind Wichita for third place in the division. They are three points ahead of fifth place Tulsa and six points ahead of sixth place Utah. The schedule for the weekend has Allen in Colorado (Saturday & Sunday), Tulsa has a home and home series with Kansas City (Friday & Saturday), Wichita is at Rapid City (Friday & Saturday) and Utah is at Manchester (Friday & Saturday) and Worcester (Sunday). Some critical games for these four teams fighting for two playoff spots.

- Fort Wayne won last night and joins the list of teams that have guaranteed themselves a spot in the playoffs. The others are Florida, South Carolina, Toledo and Colorado. 

DID YOU KNOW: Sometimes players play well against certain teams and that has been the case with Zach Pochiro when Allen plays Rapid City. He was Allen's leading scorer (4 goals 8 assists) against the Rush this season even though he only played in six of the eight games. Zach has 31 points in 31 games this season and 12 of his points (39%) have come in his six games against the Rush. Pochiro has 16 assists this season and eight of them (50%) have been in the six games against Rapid City. Finally, Zach's plus/minus this season is +20 good for fourth on the team. He was +13 in the six games against the Rush so 65% of his plus/minus is courtesy of Rapid City.  

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Allen vs Rapid City Game Preview, ECHL Announcements, Popular Player Released and First Tie Breaker Stats

The Allen Americans will try and extend their five game win streak tonight (8:05 pm CDT) as they take on the Rapid City Rush at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. It will be the eighth and final meeting of the season between these teams and the first time the Americans have been in Rapid City since the opening weekend when they beat the Rush 8-3 and 5-3.

- Allen has won five games in a row and is battling for a playoff spot. Rapid City has lost six in a row, will finish last in the division and is playing for pride and jobs for next season. Of their previous seven games this season Allen has won six, outscored the Rush 35-20 and out shot Rapid City 264-238. Since joining the ECHL Allen's overall record against the Rush is 21-7-1-0 and in Rapid City it is 10-3-0-0.

- To make matters worse for Rapid City they had their top goalie (Adam Vay) and forward Pavel Jenys called up by their AHL affiliate (Iowa Wild) on Monday. UPDATE: Adam Vay has been returned to Rapid City ahead of tonight's game against Allen. ECHL All-Star Dante Salituro and  top defenseman Matt Caito have been with the Wild for a couple of weeks. Allen will be missing Olivier Archambault, Alex Schoenborn, Colby McAuley and Stephon Williams who are all on AHL assignments.

- Here is how Allen and Rapid City match up so far this season:

                                     ALLEN                                RAPID CITY

Team Record               30-24-4-2 (66 points)            20-36-3-2 (45 points)
Division Ranking         4th - Mountain                       7th - Mountain
Conference Ranking   7th - Western                        13th - Western
League Ranking         14th                                        26th
Last Game                  7-4 Win (Utah)                       6-1 Loss (Colorado)
Goals For                    198                                        166
Goals Against             190                                         228
Power Play                 16.5% (43/260)                      15.7% (34/216)
Penalty Kill                  81.0% (51/268)                      82.6% (46/265)
Most PIMs                   Moore (189 minutes)             Klotz (109 minutes)
Leading Scorer           Pierro-Zabotel (17-41-58)      Sivak (20-28-48)

-  Here is how Allen and Rapid City rank in the ECHL in key statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (21.25) - Rapid City 8th (17.11)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 10th (3.30) - Rapid City 26th (2.72)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 15th (3.17) - Rapid City 25th (3.74)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 20th (31.30) - Rapid City 27th (28.61)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 23rd (36.32) - Rapid City 21st (34.21)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 18th (17.0%) - Rapid City 21st (15.7%)
Home Power Play %: Allen 11th (18.7%) - Rapid City 24th (13.9%)
Road Power Play %: Allen 20th (14.6%) - Rapid City 9th (17.8%)
Penalty Kill Percentage; Allen 21st (81.0%) - Rapid City 15th (82.6%)
Home Penalty Kill %: Allen 12th (84.5%) - Rapid City 14th (83.3%)
Road Penalty Kill %: Allen 25th (77.7%) - Rapid City 16th (81.8%)


- The special teams stats above show both teams are struggling but if you look at recent performance it is a different picture. During their five game win streak Allen is only 10.5% (2-19) on the power play but 91.3% (2-23) on the penalty kill. During Rapid City's six game losing streak they are 11.8% (2-17) on the power play but just 70% (6-20) on the penalty kill. Allen needs to capitalize on special teams if they expect to win.  

- Both of these teams have plenty of players willing to drop the gloves and Rapid City just signed former Allen tough guy Garrett Klotz after he was released by Kansas City. Klotz had two fights in Colorado on Sunday as the Rush lost 6-1 to the Eagles. There were 10 fighting majors in that game. The last time Allen played Rapid City (March 3rd) there were three fights in the game. Allen will  probably be playing tonight with only nine forwards. They have been playing hard nosed hockey without a lot of fights the last few games. That may be the formula for success tonight.

- A good start in the game tonight will be key for both teams. In six of the seven games they have played this season the team that scored first won. On the road Allen is 9-3 when leading after one period and 3-9 when trailing after the first period. At home Rapid City is 8-4 when leading after one period, 1-6-1-0 when trailing after one period and 0-11 when trailing after two periods.

- Allen's goal distribution during their five game win streak is five goals in the first period, nine in the second period and five in the third period. 

- If you are looking for players to watch in the game tonight number one would be Zach Pochiro who has feasted against the Rush. Zach has averaged over two points a game in the five games he has played against Rapid City with three goals and eight assists to go along with a plus/minus of +12. Bryan Moore has five goals in seven games against Rapid City and Casey Pierro-Zabotel has 10 points (2 goals 8 assists). For Rapid City keep an eye on leading scorer Peter Sivak (#91) and Daniel Leavens (#23) who always seems to do well against his old teammates.

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Andrea Barone (#15) and linesmen Cade Bloomenrader (#91) and Chase Wilkinson (#59).


- Jake Paterson was one of the runners up for ECHL Goalie of the Week last week. Jake was 3-0-0 with a GAA of 2.35 and a .926 save percentage. Alex Guptill was a runner up for Player of the Week. Alex had six points in three games (2 goals 4 assists).

- In case you didn't see the news release issued by the ECHL yesterday it was full of news. St. John's, Newfoundland was approved as a new franchise and will start play in 2018-19. Not that Allen will have to play in St. John's but it is 3000 miles from Allen. Quad City will cease operations after this  season and the area could be without hockey for the first time in 23 years. Allen recently traded future considerations to Quad City for Tristan King and that could have been a player at the end of the season. With the Mallards folding the Americans will save whatever that future consideration was as part of the King trade. Finally the ECHL announced new division realignments. Kansas City is back in the Mountain Division after one year in the Central Division to replace Colorado who is moving to the AHL. Here is the news release with the details:  https://www.echl.com/board-governors-approves-changes-2018-19-season

- Here is an article about the history of hockey in St. John's, the ownership group, the affiliation with the Toronto Maple Leafs and other background info: http://www.thetelegram.com/sports/hockey/its-a-done-deal-st-johns-to-join-echl-beginning-next-season-193190/  

- Darryl "Booter" Bootland was released by the Orlando Solar Bears yesterday and if he doesn't get claimed off of waivers it could be the end of the line for the 36 year old veteran with over 900 pro games under his belt including 32 NHL games. Bootland was part of two championship teams in Allen and won the Kelly Cup in Colorado last season. He has always been a fan favorite wherever he has played and went out of his way to interact with his young fans. If this is the end of his playing career he will be missed.

- Marcus Basara, who Allen traded to Wheeling for forward J.C. Campagna was released on Monday.

- With four teams (Wichita, Allen, Tulsa, Utah) fighting four two playoff spots in the Mountain Division it is a good time to remember the first tie breaker if teams are tied is regular season wins excluding shootout wins. Here are the shootout records for the four teams with their adjusted wins in parentheses:

1-2  -  Wichita (31 wins)
3-2  -  Allen (27 wins)
0-8  -  Tulsa (27 wins)
2-6  -  Utah (23 wins)

Allen has 12 games remaining, Utah 11, Wichita 10 and Tulsa 10.

DID YOU KNOW: Last season Allen had seven forwards that played at least 50 games for the Americans. So far this season there is only one (Casey Pierro-Zabotel) and the most that will reach that number is three. Point being the Allen Americans had a more consistent lineup up front last season.