It is Friday night, it is hockey night, coaches, players and some fans would say it is just the 50th game of the 72 game ECHL regular season, NOT! It is Allen vs Missouri, Martinson vs Matvichuk, a team Allen has owned this year (7-0), a team Allen beat on the way to the 2013 championship, and yes, even a goalie fined for tripping "Mac" the Mavericks mascot.
Even with all of the past history of this rivalry you might think it would be diminished by the fact Allen is the #1 ranked team in the ECHL standings with 74 points and Missouri is 32 points back with just 42 points which ranks them #24 in the league. Nothing could be further from the truth as both Allen and Missouri have plenty of reasons to want the game tonight. Here are a few of them:
- Missouri is fighting just to make the playoffs and this home game will be critical after a four game losing streak on the road.
- Allen is trying to right the ship after losing their fourth straight home game on Wednesday.
- This will be last time Missouri plays Allen at home and they are yet to win a game. The Mavericks are 0-7 overall and 0-3 at home against the Americans.
- Allen will want to show they are the better team inspite of having a vastly different roster from the team that has gone 7-0 against the Mavericks this year. There are five players (Dell, Asuchak, Hanson, Schultz, Schwartz) from the Allen roster who are currently playing in the AHL and of course Jack Combs who had ten points in five games against Missouri is no longer with the team.
- Coach Matvichuk (as well as the other coaches) had their heads shaved because the team played well in the last home stand winning five of seven games. He will want that great play at home to continue.
- Allen will start JP Anderson, who was just assigned by San Jose to Allen yesterday from the Worcester Sharks. The Americans will want to put in a good defensive effort to support Anderson and avoid a high scoring game which has been the case recently. Riley Gill has been given a much needed break and is not with the team. Josh Trimberger is the back up goalie.
- These teams don't like each other based on all of the past history and Missouri is sick and tired of losing to Allen and will do anything to win this game. It will be hard fought, there will be plenty of tough guys on the ice from both teams willing to chirp and challenge. It should be interesting.
ALLEN VS MISSOURI TEAM COMPARISON
- There are a lot of stats you can look at to compare these teams
from Allen being 7-0 against Missouri this year, to their records over
the last ten games (Allen 5-3-1-1, Missouri 4-6-0-0) to the overall
records (Allen 34-8-3-3, Missouri 19-25-2-2).
Allen is ranked #1 in the ECHL in goals scored per game at 4.18 while
Missouri is #26 at 2.56. In goals allowed Allen is #6 at 2.82 and
Missouri is #21 at 3.23.
- Special teams will most
likely play a key role in the game tonight and Allen has a big edge in
special teams play. On the road Allen has the second best power play in
the league at 23.0%. Missouri has the #26 ranked power play at home at
only 11.4%. If you look at the penalty kill Allen is #1 in the ECHL on
the road at 90.6% and Missouri is #9 at home at 86.1%. In the seven
head to head games Allen is 6-36 (16.7%) on power play
opportunities while Missouri is scoreless in 34 power play
opportunities. That is right, Missouri has not scored a power play goal on Allen all year going 0-34. Advantage Allen.
- With the loss of firepower having five guys in the AHL and no Combs it will be extremely important for the Americans to think defense first which they have done against Missouri in the past. Here are the goals scored by the Mavericks in the seven games against Allen this year. 1,0,2,1,3,1,2.
- There is a lot of scoring missing from when Allen played Missouri earlier in the season but the two top scorers will be in the lineup tonight. Chad Costello has 14 points in the seven games against the Mavericks this year and Gary Steffes has a total of seven goals against the Mavericks having scored a goal in six of the seven games.
- With all of the players loaned to the AHL it gives more ice time and opportunity to players like Jesse Messier and Nolan Descoteaux who were healthy scratches on Wednesday and Tyler Barr who just joined the team from the SPHL.
- Don't be surprised if you see one or two of the high scoring
defensemen taking shifts at forward tonight. Since coach Martinson has
not been happy with all of the odd man rushes and breakaways that have resulted in goals he may look to play some defensemen at forward
because it appears to him they would like to be forwards. The team
already has forwards that have played defense (Clarke, Follmer,
Schaafsma). Martinson thinks he could flip some high risk players for
more defensive ones and probably still have plenty of goals to win the
Bottom line is Allen would seem to have a big advantage going into the
game tonight. After all, they have won seven in a row against Missouri outscoring them 29-10 in those seven games. The winning formula remains the same
and that is out work Missouri, be aggressive but don't gamble, get back
defensively to avoid odd man rushes and take advantage of being the
better team on special teams. You can throw what has happened in the past out the window as these are different teams, with different players that will both be highly motivated for different reasons.
- Ian Schultz played his second game for the Iowa Wild (AHL) last night and they lost for the second time. Keep in mind Iowa is the worst team in the AHL by ten points and they have lost seven games in a row in including 4-1 and 4-2 in the two games Ian has played. His totals for the two games was 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 penalty minutes, 3 shots and 0 plus/minus. What is disguised in all of those zeros is the fact Schultz played great defensively in the two games. He was one of only two players that did not have a negative plus/minus for the two games.
- It will be an extra busy night tonight for Allen fans as in addition to watching or listening to the Allen vs Missouri game everyone will be tracking several AHL games as Providence (Asuchak) takes on Leigh Valley, Worcester (Dell & Schwartz) takes on Norfolk and Oklahoma City (Hanson) plays Adirondack. Good luck boys!
- Former Allen American Kale Kerbashian (2012-2014) has continued his torrid scoring pace having at least one point in every game he has played for Rapid City since being traded by Evansville. Kale has the longest current points streak in the ECHL. He has scored in ten straight games dating back to January 17.
- Nothing new on the Jack Combs situation. As of yesterday he had not agreed to report to the Stockton Thunder who currently hold his rights.
- Was reminded by a post on social media from Tommy Daniels that I forgot to mention yesterday when talking about single season records that Chad Costello has already surpassed the Allen Americans all time single season record for assists. Chad recorded his 55th & 56th assists of the season on Wednesday against Wichita to break the record of 55 assists set by Colton Yellow Horn in 2010-2011. Can't even imagine what this record will look like by the end of the season with Chad breaking it in just 49 games.
- The on ice officials tonight will be referee Stephen Thomson (#27), linesmen Russ Coll (#39) and Chip Excell (#42).
DID YOU KNOW: Haven't given an "attaboy" to the Allen Ironmen for a while, those that have played in all of the games thus far (49) which is a difficult feat. There are still four of them and they deserve recognition. Congrats to Ironmen Chad Costello, Aaron Gens, Jamie Schaafsma and Gary Steffes.