Thursday, December 14, 2017

Allen is the Pickle in the Middle, Catching Up with Former Players, Asuchak's Rise in the Record Book, Dyson Stevenson's Allen Fight Card & Videos

The hill got a little steeper for the Allen Americans last night (Colorado & Idaho won) as they are now the pickle in the middle of the Mountain Division standings. The Americans occupy fourth place in the division but the three teams ahead of them are all at least five points ahead. The three teams behind Allen are well behind except Tulsa who is five points in back of the Americans with a chance to close the gap to three points when they host Allen Saturday night.

- Colorado beat Wichita at home last night 4-3 to solidify their hold on first place in the division. Colorado is on one of their famous streaks having gone 13 games without losing in regulation. Wichita who was almost unbeatable early in the season has dropped three straight games.

- The rest of December will be critical for the Americans and will go a long way in determining whether they are going to join the three teams at the bottom of the Mountain Division or the three teams at the top. I say that because in the next two weeks fourth place Allen plays the team five points behind them in the standings and in fifth place (Tulsa) three times. The Americans play the team five points ahead of them in the standings (Wichita) four times.

- Many factors go into how many different players a team uses each season with injuries and call ups the primary reasons. In the last three seasons  Allen's totals were 45, 46 and 41. Thus far this season the Americans have had 28 different players play at least one game. The range for the other teams in the Mountain Division goes from 33 (Rapid City) to 23 (Tulsa).

- Being in the top five all time in any statistical category for the Allen Americans is quite a feat. A lot of times data base websites will only show the top five. Spencer Asuchak just made the list for the first time. He passed Tyler Ludwig in career points. Spencer is at 173 points and needs six more to pass Colton Yellow Horn for fourth all time. Spencer is seven goals away from cracking the fifth spot for career goals currently held by Jarret Lukin (67). He is six assists away from the fifth spot in career assists currently held by Colton Yellow Horn (111). Asuchak is #8 all time in games played (196) but needs only 20 more to make the fifth spot currently occupied by Brian McMillin.

Asuchak will be all over the career top five list by the end of the season but the one record he has a chance to be #1 all time is the one he wants the most. Another Kelly Cup would make four championships in Allen for Spencer. No other player in team history has more than three championships. 

- Here is a new list for you. The top ten scorers in any league in the world of former Allen Americans players. This list courtesy of The years the player was in Allen is in parentheses after their name.

26 points (13 goals 13 assists) - Spencer Edwards (2011-12) who is playing in France
26 points (12 goals 14 assist) - Wade MacLeod (2016-17) who is playing in Germany
26 points (10 goals 16 assists) - Colton Yellow Horn (2009-12) is playing in the Czech Republic
26 points (8 goals 18 assists) - Matt Register (2011-12 & 2015-16) playing in Colorado (ECHL)
25 points (7 goals 18 assists) - Judd Blackwater (2010-11) who is playing in Slovakia
24 points (9 goals 15 assists) - Jake Newton (2011-12) is playing in Finland
23 points (12 goals 11 assists) - Jack Combs (2014-15) is playing in Germany
23 points (7 goals 16 assists) - Austin Smith ((2014-15) is playing in Italy
22 points (10 goals 12 assists) - Alex Krushelnyski (2016-17) is playing in Reading (ECHL)
21 points (7 goals 14 assists - Matt Willows ((2016-17) is also playing in Reading

- Here are some favorite players from the past not on the list above:

 Chad Costello - Chad missed some games because of knee surgery but is now back. Chad has 13 points (5 goals 8 assists) in 18 games. His team (Iserlohn Roosters) is tied for seventh place is a 14 team league.

Alex Lavoie - Alex recently switched teams from Finland to Sweden. He has played four games since joining Timra IK and has scored three goals. His team is in first place in the 14 team league.

Greger Hanson - Greger has been in Utah most of the season but did get called up by San Diego (AHL) for four games earlier in the season. Hanson has played in 18 games for Utah and has 17 points (6 goals 11 assists). Utah is in sixth place in the Mountain Division and it is unlikely they will make the playoffs.

Dyson Stevenson - Dyson is having a great season after being traded to Wichita in the off season. He is the captain of the team, is second in points (17), first in assists (11) and first in penalty minutes (58). Dyson is the only forward on the team that hasn't missed a game and he also leads the team in fights with seven. Stevenson has helped turn Wichita around from a perennial last place team to a Kelly Cup contender. Wichita is currently ranked #3 in the ECHL in points (34) and winning percentage (.739).

Trevor Hendrikx - Trevor plays in the third level hockey league in Germany for a team called EC Harzer Falken. The rugged defenseman has eight points (2 goals 6 assists) in 16 games. His team is in 13th place in the 14 team league. Trevor leads his team in penalty minutes with 57.

DID YOU KNOW: Dyson Stevenson is fearless and has over 120 fights in his hockey career. He is listed as 6' 0" and 187 pounds on the official Wichita roster but I would bet that is overstated. He is always fighting guys 20-40 pounds heavier than he is. According to the website in 2012-13 when Dyson was still playing junior hockey he had 19 fights and in only one was he taller and heavier than his opponent. The one exception happened to be against a future teammate, Tanner Eberle. The website shows Stevenson a whopping one inch taller and one pound heavier than Eberle. Here is a list of current and former Allen players Dyson has fought in his career with the number of pounds he gave up against each: Tanner Eberle (0), Ayrton Nikkel (15), Jessey Astles (20), Harrison Ruopp (20), Dylan King (15), Travis Brown (8), Jim McKenzie (30), Derek Mathers (46), Brett Lyon (25), Judd Blackwater (10), Darryl Bootland (15), Vincent Arseneau (29) and Garrett Clarke (12). Here are a few of Dyson's fights against players that have played in Allen. The first video is a classic against Eberle, the second is against Derek Mathers who out weighed Dyson by 46 pounds, the third is against Aryton Nikkel and finally a fight with Darryl Bootland.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Individual Stat Leaders This Season & Last Season, New Definition of a Shot on Goal, Historical Overall Penalty Kill Percentages

I know it is always a give away when the blog is posted at 4:00 am so I will fess up I am headed fishing today. It will be the last early morning departure until spring. Since it has been a while and almost one third of the season is completed it's a good time to look at the individual stats and see who are the team leaders. Here goes:


- Below are the team leaders in various statistical categories with the league rank in parentheses:

24 - Casey Pierro-Zabotel (9th)
17 - David Makowski (68th)
16 - Bryan Moore (87th)

7 - Zach Pochiro (61st)
7-  Bryan Moore (61st)
7 - Vincent Arseneau (61st)

19 - Casey Pierro-Zabotel (2nd)
12 - David Makowski (42nd)
12 -  Joel Chouinard (42nd)

Power Play Assists:
9 - Joel Chouinard (4th)
6 - David Makowski (43rd)
6 - Casey Pierro-Zabotel (43rd) 

+7 - Joel Chouinard  (45th)
+7 -  Zach Pochiro (45th)
+7 - Olivier Archambault (45th)

Penalty Minutes:
60 - David Makowski (16th)
58 - Vincent Arseneau (21st)
45 - Bryan Moore (37th)

Shots On Goal:
66 - David Makowski (38th) 
63 - Spencer Asuchak (47th)
60 - Vincent Arseneau (69th)

Points by Defenseman
17 - David Makowski (7th)
15 - Joel Chouinard (13th)
10 - Eric Roy (45th)

Goals by Defenseman
5 - Eric Roy (11th)
5 - David Makowski (11th)
3 - Joel Chouinard (29th)
3 - Miles Liberati (29th)

Assists by Defenseman
12 - Joel Chouinard (10th)
12 - David Makowski (10th)
5 - Eric Roy (74th)

Save Percentage
.926 - Jeremy Brodeur (15th)
.915 - Riley Gill (23rd) 
.914 - Stephon Williams (25th)

- Worthy of note when you look at the stats above, Pierro-Zabotel is #9 in the league in points but no other player is higher than #68. The other stat that sticks out is goals where there is no Allen player ranked in the top 60 in in the ECHL in goals scored.

- If you were wondering how the numbers above compare to last season here is a post from a year ago which shows the team leaders. A lot more players toward the top of the ECHL rankings last season.

31 - Chad Costello (1st)
22 - Greger Hanson (13th)
16 - Spencer Asuchak (56th)

10 - Greger Hanson (15th)
9 - Spencer Asuchak (22nd)
7 - Chad Costello (39th)

24 - Chad Costello (1st)
12 - Greger Hanson (25th)
10 - Joel Chouinard (57th)

+12 - Joel Chouinard (7th)
+3 - Kale Kerbashain (139th)

Penalty Minutes:
115 - Derek Mathers (1st)
42 - Bryan Moore (20th)
33 - Dyson Stevenson (39th)

Shots On Goal:
97 - Greger Hanson (1st)
62 - Chad Costello (21st)
54 - Spencer Asuchak (52nd)

Points By Defensemen:
12 - Eric Roy (15th)
11 - Joel Chouinard (17th)
5 - Aaron Gens (87th)
5 - Micheal Brodzinski (87th)

- Riley Gill is ranked #11 in GAA (2.44), #6th in save percentage (.926), #2 in wins (9), #1 in shutouts (2), #5 in minutes (835) and #4 in saves (428).

- I was asked recently what was the definition of a shot on goal and it is a good question because the definition actually changed this season. The old definition was, "A shot on goal occurs when an attempt by an attacking player, with intent to score a goal, either results in a goal or would have entered the goal if not stopped by the goaltender." The definition has changed for the 2017-18 season and the concept of intent has been deleted. The NHL changed the definition and the other leagues have adopted the change. This season, for the first time, clearing or stray passes that end up on goal are counted as a shot. The new rule is much more straight forward with no room for judgement other than whether the puck would have gone in the goal. Here are a few other clarifying parts of the definition:

- Any effort resulting in a goal is considered to be a shot on goal. 
- Attempts that hit only the crossbar or goalpost, or that are blocked by a forward or defenseman before reaching the net are not considered shots.
- Regardless of where the puck is shot, it is deemed a valid shot if it would have gone in the goal if not for the goalie stopping it. For example, a bank shot from behind the net can be a shot on goal.
- Any penalty shot is considered a shot on goal regardless of whether the attacking player actually puts a shot on net.
- In a shootout, the winning team is credited with one additional shot on goal, though this shot is not credited to any player in particular.

DID YOU KNOW: Yesterday I talked about the Allen Americans road penalty kill. Today let's look at the overall penalty kill percentages by year. Just like the road penalty kill the overall penalty kill is on pace to be the lowest in team history. There is plenty of time to get this turned around.

2017-18:  80.4%  (after 23 games)
2016-17:  84.4%
2015-16:  86.4% 
2014-15:  86.3%
2013-14:  82.1%
2012-13:  85.7%
2011-12:  83.5%
2010-11:  82.8%
2009-10:  83.4%

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Allen Loses to Kansas City 4-1, Game Recap, Three Observations, New Online Auction, Meet ECHL's Top Goalie Charles Williams & Allen's Road Penalty Kill Historical Stats

The Allen Americans lost to the Kansas City Mavericks last night by a score of 4-1 at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena before a Monday night crowd of 3550.

- Thought a good start this morning would be to see how the Americans performed compared to the keys to the game. After Allen beat Kansas City 3-2 Sunday afternoon the prognosis for the game Monday night was as follows:

Allen will be tempting fate if they don't improve their performance in the game Monday night. The Americans will have to close the gap between shots taken and shots allowed if they expect to win. If Allen can score first and win the special teams battle they will win the game.

- Let's take a look at the three keys:

Score first - Allen didn't score first or second or third as the Mavericks had a 3-0 lead before Vincent Arseneau scored the Americans only goal of the game midway through the third period. When Allen scores first their record is 10-0-0-0. When the Americans don't score first their record is 3-7-2-1.

Shots for & against - Allen was out shot last night 40-24 and it is hard to win games when being out shot by such a large margin. The Americans got away with it Sunday afternoon when they won despite being out shot 42-23. Allen played six periods in Kansas City and didn't out shoot the Mavericks in any of them. The Americans were fortunate to split the two game series after being out shot in all six periods by a total of 82-47.

Win special teams - The good news is Allen was 1-2 on the power play last night and scored on 50% of their opportunities in the two games against the Mavericks. The bad news is they only had two power play opportunities in the two games. Kansas City was called for no minor penalties on Sunday and just two last night. The other bad news is the Allen penalty kill continues to kill the team's chance for success. Last night the Americans gave up three power play goals in five opportunities. You will not win many games when your penalty kill percentage is 40% as it was last night. The penalty kill performance has been going down hill for a while which is unusual for a Steve Martinson coached team. The road penalty kill percentage, which was already the worst in the league, has now dropped to 70.0%.

- Given the stats above it is fair to say it was good to get a split in Kansas City. The team has been battling some adversity recently and has persevered through a lot of injuries. Allen has just one game in the next seven days so they will have time to heal and also have plenty of practice time to work on system issues that have been causing breakdowns. I had several Allen fans send messages about how poorly the team played in Kansas City. Sometimes it it best to take a step back and look at the stats. The stats say Allen has the second best record in the Mountain Division over the last ten games with a record of 7-3-0-0.

- Vincent Arseneau had the lone goal for Allen last night. It was his seventh goal of the season. Arseneau has been the most consistent goal scorer for the Americans recently. His seven goals have all come in the last 10 games. Three of the seven goals were game winners.

- Here is the game recap issued by the Allen Americans:

- Here is the game recap from the Kansas City Mavericks:

- The only comment I received from coach Martinson after the game was short and sweet, "Our forwards didn't generate any offense." I opted for no followup questions if you get my drift.


- The Mountain Division remains close with four teams fighting for the top spot while the three teams at the bottom are fighting to save their season. Tulsa has made some gains recently and are within striking distance of Allen for the fourth and final playoff spot. Tulsa is still five points behind but has a chance to cut the margin to three when they entertain Allen at home on Saturday. Here are the current Mountain Division standings with games played in parentheses:

35 points - Colorado (23 games)
34 points - Wichita (22 games)
32 points - Idaho (25 games)
29 points - Allen (23 games)
24 points - Tulsa (23 games)
21 points - Utah (25 games)
14 points - Rapid City (22 games)

- There is a new batch of items posted on the Allen Americans online auction site. Some great options for stocking stuffers and Christmas gifts that aren't expensive. Among the items are autographed pucks in a case (Brodeur, Williams, Gill, Moore & Makowski and autographed mini-helmets (Pierro-Zabotel, Gunn, Arseneau plus several from the goalies including one Gill, Williams & Brodeur all signed). This auction will close on Sunday (9:00 pm CST). If you just want to browse the items here is the link (no credit card required).

Manchester Monarchs Charlie Williams - ECHL's leading goalie

- One of the downsides to so many teams in the ECHL and an unbalanced schedule is fans miss out on seeing great players from the Eastern Conference. Manchester Monarchs goalie Charles Williams is a good example. Rookie Williams leads all ECHL goalies in GAA (1.98) and save percentage (.936). He has a great back story as he switched colleges for his fifth year of eligibility (medical redshirt) moving from Ferris State to Canisius. As a senior at Ferris State he played in only 15 games with a 3-5-1 record and GAA of 3.48. Williams thought he could do better by transferring to another school and trying to rekindle his career. He transferred to Canisius for his final year of eligibility and to work on his master's degree in sports administration. All Williams did at Canisius was backstop the team to a conference title, finish the season with a GAA of 1.82, a save percentage of .943 and garner a Hobey Baker nomination. As Williams, who grew up in Detroit, told the College Hockey News, he hopes to be a leader for young black kids, similar to the positive influence players like Willie O'Ree, the first African-American to play in the NHL and long time NHL goaltender Kevin Weekes had on him. In Michigan, Williams participated in "Hockey in the Hood," where he learned about the game directly from his role models. Check out this story from earlier this year about Charles Williams background and final year in college. Being a rookie and having the best goalie stats in the league, Allen fans can look forward to seeing him in the ECHL All-Star game next month if he doesn't get called up to the AHL.

DID YOU KNOW: The Allen penalty kill performance has been going down hill for a while which is unusual for a Steve Martinson coached team. Allen is always near the top of the rankings for penalty kill percentage. It is definitely not a system issue, it is an execution issue that will get straightened out. How bad is the current 70.0% road penalty kill? Here is Allen's road penalty kill percentage since joining the ECHL.

70.0%  -  2017-18 (through 23 games)
86.1%  -  2016-17
85.0%  -  2015-16
86.0%  -  2014-15

Allen is on pace to have the worst road penalty kill percentage of any team since they joined the ECHL. Here is the worst road penalty kill percentage in the ECHL for each season since the Americans joined the league.

70.0%  -  2017-18  (Allen)
74.1%  -  2016-17  (Tulsa)
75.9%  -  2015-16  (Utah)
73.6%  -  2014-15  (Gwinnett) 


Monday, December 11, 2017

Allen Beats Kansas City 3-2, Game Recap & Preview of Rematch Tonight, Martinson's Comments & Allen's Balanced Scoring

The Allen Americans beat the Kansas City Mavericks last night 3-2 before a crowd of 4226 at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. The more you watch this team the more you appreciate their success. The Americans have won five of their last six games with a cobbled together line up, that was the case again last night. Bryan Moore was called up to San Jose earlier in the week but Allen got Olivier Archambault back in return but he did not play because of an injury. He is day to day. Goalie Stephon Williams, who was going to start in goal, was injured in warmups so Jeremy Brodeur got the last minute start and Allen's 42 year old bus driver, Kevin St. Pierre, who was a pro goalie for many years, got off the bus and filled in as the EBUG (emergency backup goalie). Marcus Basara, who was sitting at home and just signed by Allen, hasn't played in two weeks was in the lineup. Peter MacArthur and Vincent Arseneau were playing for the first time in two weeks. The Americans ended up playing with only nine forwards and an extra defenseman.

- Allen didn't have a single power play (Mavericks had two), they were out shot in all three periods for a game total of 42-23 and they didn't score the first goal of the game but thanks to some great goaltending by Jeremy Brodeur and tenacity from the entire team the Americans found a way to win.

- Goal scorers for Allen were Peter MacArthur (5), Alex Schoenborn (3) and Mathieu Aubin (4). MacArthur picked up his own rebound to score, Schoenborn batted in a puck out of midair for his goal and Aubin's goal came on a great cross ice pass from Schoenborn.

- Here is the game recap issued by the Allen Americans:

- Here are the game observations (three of them) from the Kansas City Mavericks:


- It was great to get the win tonight. The first period shots were 16-4 for them but we had many opportunities and missed the net a lot.

- We got solid goaltending from Brodeur which we needed since we allowed 42 shots.

- I think we will get stronger each day this week. There were five guys in the lineup in this game that have had limited practice time the last two weeks. They will get stronger every day.

- I don't know why a penalty wasn't called on their second goal at the end of the game.


- Here is a replay of the Mavericks second goal that Martinson was referring to in his post game comments. It sure looks like interference as the Mavericks #34 (Hunter Smith) bull rushes Spencer Asuchak to clear a lane for a shot from the point. Interference is defined as when a player uses his body to "pick" or "block" to impede the progress of an opponent (non-puck carrier) with no effort to play the puck. As coach Martinson often says it is easier to complain when you win the game. You can judge for yourself.

- Jeremy Brodeur was the #1 star of the game stopping 40 of 42 shots. Brodeur has won his last four starts and improved his record to 5-1-1-1. His save percentage is now .929 which is ranked #4 in the ECHL.

- Alex Schoenborn was selected as the #2 star of the game with a goal and an assist. He made a great play on his goal knocking the puck in the net out of midair. Alex had gone 11 games without a goal and if you watched the game you saw him grab the monkey off his back and toss it away. Schoenborn's goal was great but his assist on Aubin's goal was even better. He came up the left side of the ice and threaded a prefect pass through two defenders right on Aubin's stick. Aubin finished the play putting the puck in the back of the net.

- I know the three stars of the game aren't important especially when the team is on the road but I want to award a special Barry the Blogger star to Mathieu Aubin for his performance last night. Hard to believe you could be involved in all three of your team's goals in a 3-2 victory, have a goal and two assists, have the game winning goal and be a +2 and not get one of the stars of the game.

- Hats off to Mike Gunn who stood up for his new teammate (Marcus Basara) after he was driven into the boards by the Mavericks Eric Freschi. Mike took exception to the check (no penalty was called) and made Freschi pay. Gunn was given an instigator penalty as well as a five minute major for fighting. Freschi was given a five minute major for fighting and a game misconduct under rule 23.9. I looked up this rule and it covers a myriad of situations one of which is spitting on or at an opponent or spectator. I went back and looked at the replay and sure enough you can see Freschi spit at Mike Gunn. Real classy move.

- The only other Mountain Division team in action yesterday was Wichita who lost to Kalamazoo 3-2. Wichita has lost their last two games and fallen to second place in the standings behind a hot Colorado Eagles team who is 9-0-1-0 in their last 10 games. Allen has the second best record in the division over the last 10 games (7-2-0-1).  


- The Americans and Mavericks square off again tonight (7:05 pm CST) in the only game scheduled in the ECHL.

- Allen will be tempting fate if they don't improve their performance in the game tonight. The Americans record when being out shot by their opponent is 5-4-1-1. Last night Kansas City had 19 more shots on goal than Allen. The Americans will have to close the gap between shots taken and shots allowed if they expect to win tonight.

- Special teams were a non factor last night as referee Mike Sheehan called very few penalties. There will be a different referee tonight and you can expect a different type of game with more power play opportunities. If Allen can score first and win the special teams battle they will win the game.

- The referee scheduled for the game is Stephen Reneau (#17) and the linesmen are Addison Brush (#80) and Michael Houle (#49).

- Here is a game preview issued by the Kansas City Mavericks:

DID YOU KNOW: Allen is averaging 3.50 goals per game this season which is less than last season when the Americans averaged 4.08 goals per game but more than the 3.08 goals per game they averaged in 2015-16 when they won the Kelly Cup. What makes the team this season unique is the balanced scoring. The Americans don't have a single goal scorer in the top 60 in the ECHL but they have more players with three or more goals (15) than any other team in the league.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Allen vs Kansas City Game Preview, Roster Update, Some Strange ECHL Games Last Night, Dell Shines Again, Is the Tide Turning With Allen's Rivals

It is finally game day for the Allen Americans as they take on the Kansas City Mavericks this afternoon (4:05 pm CST) at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. If it seems like a long time since the Americans last played a game (6-2 win over Rapid City) that's because it has been a long time. Eight days between games is unheard of but the Americans haven't played a game since a week ago yesterday. Having eight days off between games is so rare it has never happened before in the history of the franchise.

- The long break between games could be just what the doctor ordered for an Allen team that was really dinged up. For the first time in a long time coach Martinson will be sitting players today that are healthy scratches. Dalton Thrower, Peter MacArthur and Connor Reilly should be available after being injured. Vincent Arseneau will return from a three game suspension. The Americans have also signed free agent Marcus Basara who was in training camp with Allen. Here is a link that provides some background on Basara from a blog post in September.

- Allen lost Bryan Moore this week when he was recalled by the San Jose Barracuda but in what was a surprise to many Allen fans Olivier Archambault was released from his tryout contract (PTO) by the Barracuda and has returned to Allen. Archambault played two games in Allen (October 13 & 14) and was then loaned to San Jose and has been there ever since. He played in 12 games for San Jose and had five points (2 goals 3 assists).

- Archambault only played those two opening weekend games for Allen before heading to San Jose but in those two games he had seven points (2 goals 5 assists) and was +7. Having played in only two of 21 games for Allen his stats are amazing. Here is how Archambault ranks on the team for season totals after playing just two games.

26th - Games played (2)
15th - Goals (2)
13th - Points (7)
10th - Assists (5)
3rd - Plus/Minus (+7)
1st - Points per game (3.50)

- The game this afternoon will be the first of eight games (4 home 4 away) between Allen and Kansas City this season. Four of the next five Allen games are against the Mavericks. Today and tomorrow in Kansas City and then December 19 & 20 in Allen. After those four games the teams will not meet again until the end of February.

- Allen and Kansas City have both had up and down season thus far. Kansas City is in fourth place in the Central Division with 24 points and Allen is in fourth place in the Mountain Division with 27 points. The Americans have been playing the better hockey recently having won their last two games and in the last 10 games are 7-2-0-1. Kansas City has lost their last two games and is 5-5-0-0 in their last 10 games. The Mavericks have struggled at home (3-6) while the Americans road record is 6-4. Since joining the ECHL in 2014 Allen's record in Kansas City is excellent at 10-4-1-0.

- Here is how Allen and Kansas City match up:

                                    ALLEN                             KANSAS CITY

Team Record:             12-6-2-1 (27 points)           12-11-0-0 (24 points)
Division Ranking:        4th Mountain                      4th Central
Conference Ranking:  5th Western                       8th Western
League Ranking:        11th                                    16th
Last Game:                 6-2 Win (Rapid City)           3-1 Loss (Wichita)
Goals For:                   74                                       68
Goals Against:            63                                       78
Power Play:                18.2% (18/99)                    16.9% (14/83)
Penalty Kill:                82.0% (18/100)                   78.3% (18/83)
Most PIM                    Makowski (58)                    Elbrecht (64)
Leading Scorers:        Pierro-Zabotel (5-19-24)     McMurtry (10-14-24)

-  Here is how Allen and Kansas City rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (24.52) - Kansas City 19th (13.57)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 7th (3.52) - Kansas City 18th (2.96)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 10th (3.00) - Kansas City 18th (3.39)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 11th (33.48) - Kansas City 16th (31.70)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 23rd (35.38) - Kansas City 15th (31.74)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 11th (18.2%) - Kansas City 15th (16.9%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 18th (82.0%) - Kansas City 25th (78.3%)

- A couple of things stand out when you look at the stats. First, Allen ranks a little higher in every statistic with the exception of shots against per game. Second, both of these teams have struggled on their penalty kill, ranking toward the bottom of the league.  If you look at road vs home penalty kill percentages both teams are even worse. At home Missouri is ranked #26 with a penalty kill percentage of 68.8%. On the road Allen is ranked #27 with a penalty kill percentage of 72.1%. Staying out of the penalty box is key to any game but the way both teams kill penalties even more so today.

- The Americans have at least one power play goal in three of their last four games going 4-18 (22.2%). However, they have allowed two or more power play goals in three of their last four games going 8-24 (66.7%) on the penalty kill. Can't emphasize enough the importance of specials teams this afternoon.

- Another key to Allen's recent success is getting off to good starts which is a huge predictor of success. The Americans have scored the first goal in four of their last five game. Allen's record when scoring first this season is 10-0. Kansas City's record when scoring first is 6-4.

The referee scheduled for the game is Mike Sheehan (#11) and the linesmen are Addison Brush (#80) and Michael Houle (#49).


- I mentioned on Friday Allen could wake up Sunday morning having a must win game against Kansas City because the teams above the Americans in the Mountain Division standings were playing weaker teams on Friday and Saturday. The outcome could have been worse as both Idaho and Wichita had losses but Allen is still looking up from fourth place this morning needing a win. Tulsa got back in the mix by winning two games and find themselves just three points out of a playoff spot.  The good news for Allen is the entire Mountain Division is idle with the exception of Wichita (plays today) while the Americans play two games. A chance for Allen to gain some ground. Here are the standings as of this morning.

35 points - Colorado
34 points - Wichita
32 points - Idaho
27 points - Allen
24 points - Tulsa
21 points - Utah
14 points - Rapid City

-  There were a couple of strange games in the ECHL last night. The top team in the league by winning percentage (Wichita) was playing one of the worst teams in the league (Indy) and to put it mildly the Fuel lit up the Thunder by a score of 7-1. It was the first regulation loss of the season for Wichita on the road. You will want to check out the video highlights at ECHL Rewind as two former Allen Americans dropped the gloves 17 seconds into the game (Dyson Stevenson vs Garrett Clarke).

- It was even stranger in Fort Wayne for former Allen captain Jamie Schaafsma. Just 92 seconds into the game Jamie was on the ice when a delayed penalty was called on Quad City. Fort Wayne goalie Micheal Houser left his net to give the Komets an extra attacker. Fort Wayne had several shots on Quad City goalie C.J. Motte and then Jamie Schaafsma, who was on the side wall, tried to pass the puck back to a defensman on the blue line. The puck ended up bouncing off the boards all the way down the ice into the Komets goal. The story ended well for Jamie as the Komets won the game 5-3 and in ironies of ironies Schaafsma finished the scoring with an empty net shorthanded goal. I can just hear Jamie telling his buddies in 25 years about the time he scored an empty net goal 92 seconds into a game and another one with 56 seconds remaining in the game. By the way, since Quad City goalie C.J. Motte was the last to touch the puck before Schaafsma shot it into his own net, Motte got credit for the goal. The video highlights are at ECHL Rewind. Here is the link:

- Things just keep getting better for Aaron Dell. Last night he recorded a 41 save shutout as the Sharks beat Vancouver 5-0. Here is another great story about the game last night and how Dell has established himself as a top notch goalie in the NHL.

- If you watched the Dallas Stars game last night the winning goalie in the Las Vegas Golden Knights 5-3 win over the Stars was Maxime Lagace, a name familiar to Allen fans. Lagace spent time with Missouri in 2014-15 and Idaho in 2015-16. I remembered Allen doing well against Lagace so decided to look up the stats and indeed the Americans faced him three times and won all three games. In December of 2015 Allen beat him in Idaho 4-0. Riley Gill had a 29 save shutout that day. In January of 2015 when Lagace was playing for Missouri he started two games against Allen. In the first game Allen won 4-3 in overtime with Riley Gill in goal. Josh Brittain tied the score for Missouri in the third period and Gary Steffes got the game winning goal for the Americans at the 1:15 mark of overtime assisted by Chad Costello and Jack Combs. Lagace started again 10 days later in Allen against another future NHL goalie, Aaron Dell. Dell got the win as the Americans beat Missouri 5-2. Lagace took the loss and was chased early by Allen. He gave up three goals on six shots and was replaced at the 11:08 mark of the first period. You add it all together and Lagace lost all three games he started against Allen and had a save percentage of .855. Maxime got his break in Las Vegas early in the season when they had numerous goalie injuries. He has played in 14 games for the Golden Knights and has a GAA of 3.79 and a save percentage of .872. 

DID YOU KNOW:  Could the tide be turning? Since joining the ECHL in 2014 the Allen Americans have feasted on their three closest rivals (Tulsa, Wichita, Kansas City). Over half of the Americans games have been against these three teams. Here is Allen's record against Tulsa, Wichita and Kansas City since joining the ECHL excluding this season. 

33-4-4-3   -   Wichita
23-7-3-0   -   Missouri/Kansas City
28-14-2-3 -   Tulsa

84-25-9-6 - TOTAL

Here is Allen's record so far this season:

2-2-0-0   -   Wichita
0-0-0-0   -   Kansas City
2-2-1-0   -   Tulsa

4-4-1-0   -   TOTAL


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Getaway Day for Allen, Barracuda Bring up Two Players But Only One From Allen, Mavericks Rivalry Revisited, Odd Stat, PIMS by Division, Dell Stats

It is getaway day for the Allen Americans as they will practice late this morning and then get on the bus at 2:30 pm for the almost 500 mile trip to Independence, Mo. Allen will play the Kansas City Mavericks tomorrow (Sunday) at 4:05 pm and again Monday night (7:05 pm) before returning home.

- The Americans will be without Bryan Moore who has been recalled by San Jose. The Barracuda have also signed Emerson Clark of the Jacksonville Icemen. Moore and Clark played on a line together last night as the Barracuda lost to Tuscon at home by a score of 3-1. Someone asked me last night why San Jose would call up a player from Jacksonville rather than one of their contracted players from Allen. Here is my take on why the Barracuda signed Emerson Clark. It starts with the boxscore from the San Jose game on Wednesday when they got trounced at home 6-0 by Stockton. It is embarrassing enough to get beat 6-0 at home but if you look at the penalties San Jose had four minor penalties in the game and nobody stepped up to fight. I know coach Martinson would expect players to show some toughness when losing 6-0 at home and I expect coach Sommer of the Barracuda would expect the same. Bottom line is the Barracuda didn't score and didn't show toughness. Emerson Clark is a perfect fit if you are looking for a player with skill and toughness. He has more goals (8), more penalty minutes (113) and more fights (7) than anyone on the Allen Americans roster. He leads the Jacksonville Icemen in goals and assists. Emerson's 113 penalty minutes leads the entire ECHL. That is why he is in San Jose from my perspective. Here is the San Jose Barracuda press release announcing the arrival of Moore and Emerson.

- With Moore and Emerson added to the Barracuda roster and another player assigned by the Sharks they now have too many forwards on the roster. Wouldn't be surprised to see a forward assigned to Allen as strange as that sounds. I think San Jose is trying to change the mix by adding players with more grit to their game. UPDATE: Per AHL transactions Olivier Archambault has been released form his PTO by San Jose and is returning to Allen.

- I will have a complete game preview on this series between Allen and Kansas City tomorrow. The Americans actually play four of their next five game (2 away 2 home) against Kansas City so thought today would be a good day to revisit the rivalry between these teams which runs deep. They are no longer in the same division so the rivalry may not be as strong as in the past but the history between these teams is unforgettable. Here is a little history lesson on the Allen vs Missouri/Kansas City rivalry:

Both franchises began in the same year (2009-10) and to overgeneralize a bit, Missouri has always been the "darling successful franchise" that could not win, while Allen was always the struggling "financially troubled franchise" that could not lose. In that very first year Missouri finished sixth in the conference while Allen went to the championship final eventually losing to Rapid City. In 2013 Allen eliminated Missouri in the playoffs on the way to their first championship. In 2014 Missouri was the best regular season team in the Central Hockey League (CHL) but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the eighth seed (Arizona). Allen, who was the third seed, beat Denver for their second straight championship. Once coach Martinson arrived in Allen the CHL annual awards seemed to always be the same. Allen would have the championship trophy and Missouri would be the franchise of the year.

- The rivalry really heated up in 2014-15 when Allen assistant coach, Richard Matvichuk, was selected as Missouri's head coach. It was implied by some that Allen would struggle without Matvichuk who was in Allen for their first two championships. It didn't take long for skeptics to learn who was the teacher and who was the student. Allen beat Missouri eight straight times before losing to the Mavericks in overtime late in the season. Missouri didn't even make the playoffs and Allen went on to win their third straight championship and first Kelly Cup.

- 2015-16 may have been the topper for Allen fans as the Matvichuk led Mavericks had a record breaking season and were the class of the ECHL in the regular season. They had 20 more points than the Americans and were the ECHL's #1 seed going into playoffs.The Americans easily dispatched Missouri (4-2) in the second round of the playoffs on the way to their second straight Kelly Cup.

- Last season (2016-17) Allen's record against Missouri was 10-1-2-0 but the Americans had a disappointing playoff run losing to the eventual champions (Colorado) in the second round. Missouri failed to make the playoffs. 

- I think rivalries are more for fans than players and coaches. Coach Martinson would always say it was just another game when Allen played Missouri but I think there was extra satisfaction when he beat his former assistant. Most of the current players aren't even aware of the past rivalry. Matvichuk has moved on to a very successful coaching career in the Western Hockey League (Prince George Cougars). On the ice there hasn't been much of a rivalry since the teams have joined the ECHL. Allen's record against Missouri is 23-7-3-0. Even though much has changed the rivalry endures. Who can forget the playoff "poogate" in Missouri when the Mavericks put stinkbait in the Americans locker room and coaches office prior to game six of the 2016 playoffs. The Mavericks were down in the series 3-2 at the time and it was win or go home for Missouri. The prank backfired on the Mavericks as the Americans, who were really pissed off, clobbered Missouri 5-1 and eliminated them from the playoffs. Coach Martinson's quote after the game was, "Don't throw fuel on the fire unless you want a bigger fire."  Then there was the incident back in 2014 when Allen goalie Mark Guggenberger was fined for tripping the Missouri mascot (Mac). See the video below.

 At least for the fans the rivalry continues every time Allen and Kansas City play. The one fact Allen fans can and will always point out until the Mavericks do something about it is the Americans have four championships while Missouri/Kansas City has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs.

- The Americans don't play at home again until they play Kansas City at the Allen Event Center (AEC) on December 19 & 20 which is a Tuesday and Wednesday. There are always a lot of quirks in the schedule but this season seems worse than normal. Check out these scheduling facts:

Allen plays two home games in 36 days between November 13 and December 18.
Allen will play five home games in nine days between December 19 & 27.
Of Allen's next nine home games six are on weekdays with just one on Friday & one on Saturday.
Allen plays on Friday & Saturday five weeks in a row starting December 29th but only once at home.

-  How is this for an odd stat. The Allen Americans are in fourth place in the Mountain Division but have the sixth best winning percentage in the ECHL. Here are the top six teams in the league by winning percentage:

.850 - Wichita
.841 - Florida
.750 - Colorado
.700 - South Carolina
.674 - Toledo
.643 - Allen

- Aaron Dell is quietly having another great season with the San Jose Sharks. He is ranked #1 in the entire NHL among goalies that have played in a minimum of 10 games. He is #1 in GAA (1.93) and #1 in save percentage (.933).

DID YOU KNOW: One way to look at style of play in the four ECHL divisions is comparing penalty minutes. So far this season there have been 9293 penalty minutes assessed for an average of 344 per team. Two divisions (South & Mountain) are way above the average and two (North & Central) are way below the average.

South Division - Five of the seven teams in the division are above the 344 average. There are two teams with over 400 minutes (Florida & Greenville) and two with less than 300 minutes (South Carolina & Norfolk).

North Division - Two of the six teams in the division are above the 344 average. There are no teams with 400 penalty minutes and four teams (Reading, Manchester, Adirondack, Brampton) with less than 300 minutes.

Central Division - Just one team (Indy) is above the 344 average. There are no teams with 400 penalty minutes. Five of the seven teams in the division have 300 or fewer penalty minutes (Toledo, Cincinnati, Fort Wayne, Kalamazoo, Quad City). With 176 penalty minutes Quad City has the fewest in the league.

Mountain Division - Six of seven teams in the division are above the 344 average. Only one team is below 300 minutes (Wichita) while four teams (Colorado, Idaho, Allen, Rapid City) have more than 400 minutes. Allen leads the league with 515 penalty minutes.

It may just be a coincidence but five of the six teams that reached the Kelly Cup finals over the last three seasons have come out of the two division above that play a tougher style of hockey when measured by penalty minutes.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Practice Update, Roster Update, Team Statistics, Why a Must Win Weekend for Allen & A Plus/Minus Discussion With ECHL Rankings

The Allen Americans were hard at work during practice yesterday as they prepare for two games in Kansas City on Sunday and Monday. Some strange scheduling for sure driven by the availability of the arena where an indoor soccer team plays tonight. The Americans will head to Kansas City Saturday afternoon and play at 4:05 pm on Sunday and 7:05 pm on Monday.

- It was good to see Peter MacArthur and Connor Reilly back at practice after recent injuries. Dalton Thrower, Zach Hall and Riley Gill are still listed as day to day and it remains to be seen when they will return. Zach Pochiro had successful surgery on his hand on Tuesday and those type of injuries typically have an eight week recovery time. 

- This is the time of the season where it starts to be difficult to find players to sign if a team is looking to add to their roster. Injuries mount up across the league, players leave for Europe and there are more call ups as NHL/AHL have injuries. Each week it becomes harder and harder to find players to sign. I am sure this is something coach Martinson has to be contemplating with Jonathan Lessard leaving to play in France and Zach Pochiro out long term. Martinson has enough forwards (11) today but does he want to gamble there won't more injuries or call ups over the next couple of weeks. If he is going to add a depth player he will have to do that sooner rather than later because fewer and fewer players will be available.

- Because of the way the schedule is this weekend the Allen Americans could wake up in Kansas City Sunday morning having a must win game against the Mavericks. The three teams above Allen in the standings (Wichita, Colorado, Idaho) will be favored to win their games against teams with losing records. Wichita plays in Indy on Saturday against the last place Central Division team. Colorado is at home for games tonight and Saturday against Rapid City, the last place team in the Mountain Division. Idaho is at home for two games against Utah, a team that has one win in their last 10 games. If the favored team wins all of these games, which is very likely, the standings will look like this Sunday morning:

36 points - Wichita
35 points - Colorado
34 points - Idaho
27 points - Allen 

If Allen doesn't win in Kansas City a tight four team race could become a tight three team race for the top spot in the Mountain Division.

- The Allen Americans have now completed 30% of the season. Thought today would be a good time to provide an update on some team stats. Here is how the Americans rank in the ECHL in some critical statistical categories:

Goal differential - 7th (+11)
Average PIMS per game - 1st (24.52)
Overall power play - 11th (18.2%)
Home power play - 8th (20.4%)
Road power play - 21st (15.6%)
Overall penalty kill - 17th (82.0%)
Home penalty kill - 2nd (89.5%)
Road penalty kill - 27th (72.1%)
Shorthanded goals for - 3rd (4)
Shorthanded goals against - 15th (4)
Ave. goals scored - 7th (3.52)
Ave. goals against - 10th (3.00)
Ave shots for per game - 11th (33.48)
Ave shots against per game - 23rd (35.38)
Shooting percentage - 10th (10.4%)
Save percentage - 3rd (.916)
Attendance - 14th (3781)

If you compare the stats above to the last time I posted them which was one month ago a few things stand out. The power play has improved from 13% to 18.2% but the penalty kill has gone in the opposite direction falling to 82% from 89.6%. The road penalty kill is the worst in the league at 72.1%. Along with a declining penalty kill percentage the penalty minutes have increased over the past month going from an average of 20.73 per game which was #5 in the league to 24.52 minutes per game which is #1. One stat that has remained constant over the last month is team save percentage which is ranked #3 in the league at .916.

- Had a regular reader of the blog ask for more of the old videos so here is one that shows some great stick handling:

DID YOU KNOW:  Ever since the NHL adopted plus/minus as an official stat back in 1967 it has been criticized as an individual stat. The definition of plus/minus is a player is awarded a "plus" each time they are on the ice when their team scores an even strength goal or a shorthanded goal and given a "minus" every time they are on the ice when their opponent scores an even strength or shorthanded goal. Critics of the stat argue plus numbers are awarded to players that make little or no contribution to a goal being scored and minus numbers are given to players that were doing their job defensively. A good player surrounded by weaker players will likely have a poor plus/minus number while a weak player playing with stronger players can have a good plus/minus number. Studies have estimated 30% - 40% of the of the plus/minus marks are given to players that had no impact on the play. If you look at team plus/minus numbers however it gives a better idea how good a team is playing. Here are the ECHL teams with a plus/minus over +50.

+124 - Wichita
+104 - Florida
+56 - Colorado
+53 - Allen
+52 - Toledo
+51 - Fort Wayne

You may wonder how Allen could be in fourth place in their division and but have the fourth best plus/minus number in the 27 team ECHL. If you look behind the numbers Allen has feasted on the Rapid City Rush. They have played Rapid City four times and in those four games are +24, +15, +15 & +14 for a total of +64. If you eliminate the four games against the Rush the plus/minus is -15 against the rest of the teams Allen has played this season.