Sunday, April 30, 2017

Allen Loses 5-2, Trail 2-0 as Series Heads to Colorado, Martinson Comments, Playoff Update, Look at Affliate Help

The Allen Americans have had numerous comebacks in the Steve Martinson era on their way to four straight championships including trailing Ontario 3-1 in the Western Conference finals in 2015. However, after losing to the Colorado Eagles 5-2 last night at the Allen Event Center (AEC) before a crowd of 4882 the Americans are in uncharted territory. They have never lost the first two games of a playoff series.

- It was a similar script between the loss last night and the loss in game one. Allen gave up the first goal just 4:46 into the game. The Americans  started the game with a lot of energy and had several chances to take the early lead but were stopped by the Eagles rookie goaltender Lukas Hafner. I mention as a key to every game the first goal is so important and that is especially true in this series. For the record Allen and Colorado now have a record this season when scoring first of 81-4-2-2.

- Even more perplexing than giving up the first goal of the game is Allen's lack of success on special teams. They came into this series with a distinct advantage with a 30% success rate on the power play facing a Colorado penalty kill that struggled in the first round at only 73.7%. The game plan was to make sure there were plenty of power play opportunities and Allen would come out on top. The results in the first two games prove that game plan didn't work. The Americans were 0-4 last night on the power play and are 1-10 (10%) over the first two games. Meanwhile the Eagles scored power play goals in both games and are 2-9 (22.2%).

- The goal scorers for Allen were Gary Steffes (1) and Josh Brittain (2). In my opinion Josh Brittain was the best player on the ice for Allen. He not only had a goal but played Allen Americans style hard nosed hockey all night. If you want to look at all of the goals (except the empty net goal) the highlights are posted at ECHL Rewind. Focusing on the defensive breakdowns that created the goal scoring opportunities might be as instructive as the goals themselves. Here is the link to ECHL Rewind:

- The task gets tougher for the Americans as they now head to Colorado for the next three games trailing 2-0 in the series. Anyone that thinks this series is over doesn't know Steve Martinson. At his post game press conference he was realistic but resolute that his team has the talent to win and will be focused on just one thing and that is winning game three.

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

- If you want a very detailed recap of the game check out this story from Cris Tiller of the Loveland Reporter-Herald which is very well done.


- It is always interesting to listen to coach Martinson's pregame interview with Tom Manning. Here is what Martinson had to say before the game last night.

Here are Steve Martinson's post game comments:

- This obviously is not where we wanted to be. We now have to go into Colorado and win. In order to do that we are going to have to eliminate some of our mistakes. We have to go into Colorado and bring our best game. It is frustrating to be in this position but we have won all year on the road.

- Our first line has to score more even strength. We will get Bryan Moore back in the lineup in Colorado and that will gives us additional speed and our best goal scorer over the last 10 games. I am confident we can win the next game and turn this series around.

- It is not the position we want to be in and it is a little frustrating being down 2-0 at home. But we can go into their place and win. I said last night it is not a best of one and tonight I will say it is not a best of two. We do not want to go down 3-0 as that is something you don't want to be looking at.

- I thought we had a good start tonight but we need to do a better job finishing. We had our chances and it is playoff time so we have to capitalize on those chances.

- Our power play didn't get much done again tonight. I thought the first couple of power plays we were trying to pass the puck into the net rather than shooting it. We need to make better decisions on the power play. We took some shots when there was no net support but their goalie also made some pretty big saves.

- Their four on four goal (second goal) was painful. We turned the puck over and then didn't defend the play well. Belzile is killing us with two goals tonight and the game winner last night. We have to counter with our top guys scoring goals.

- We have been down by two games before and came back. We are the defending champions and we are going to have to play better if we want to get back in this series. Colorado won 17 games straight this season so they know how to win. They are not going to give up anything easy. So we have to go into their place and fight tooth and nail for the win. We have the guys that can do it but they have to do it. Our guys have to step up and makes plays otherwise the season isn't going to be much longer. Don't count us out yet!


- In the other ECHL games last night Florida beat South Carolina 5-2 to even the series at one game apiece. The next three games are in South Carolina. Manchester beat Brampton 4-3 in overtime to even that series 1-1. They now head to Manchester for the next three games. Toledo beat Fort Wayne in overtime to take a 2-0 lead in that series. The next two games will be in Fort Wayne.

- Allen has had a lot of help over the years by getting players from their AHL affiliate for the playoffs. It is typically a big advantage when your NHL and AHL affiliates don't make the playoffs. That is the case this season with the Eagles as both their NHL affiliate (Colorado Avalanche) and AHL affiliate (San Antonio Rampage) missed the playoffs. Allen on the other hand saw both the San Jose Sharks and Barracuda make the playoffs. Colorado's playoff roster has five players that had significant time with their AHL affiliate (San Antonio) this season. Here is the list with regular season games in San Antonio and Colorado.

Sergei Boikov - 63 games San Antonio, 7 games Colorado
Julien Nantel - 59 games San Antonio, 5 games Colorado
Mason Geertson - 36 games San Antonio, 9 games Colorado
Alex Belzile - 45 games San Antonio, 17 games Colorado
Shawn St-Amant - 28 games San Antonio, 35 games Colorado

If you compare this to Allen, they have four players on the playoff roster that spent time with their AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda but the total games played by the fours players was just 15. Mike Brodzinski (9), Harrison Ruopp (3), Bryan Moore (2) and Travis Brown (1). To be fair Allen had other players, most notably Greger Hanson (12 games) who played for non-affiliated AHL teams. Two late season additions for Allen (Alex Krushelnyski & Tyler Barnes) spent significant time in the AHL this season. Alex played 43 games in Binghamton and Tyler 25 games in Rockford.

Colorado has clearly been helped by the players assigned by their AHL affiliate. Most notably Alex Belzile who is the ECHL playoff leader in both goals (8) and points (14). Getting all of these players assigned by San Antonio could carry the Eagles a long way in the playoffs, just has affiliate help has for Allen in the past.

DID YOU KNOW: How big of a hole has the Allen Americans dug for themselves. If you look at all seven game series in NHL history where a team loses the first two games at home here are the odds. The odds say Colorado has a 52.9% chance of winning game three and a 79.3% chance of winning the series. The good news is under Steve Martinson Allen has a record of 9-6 in game three. However, in the CHL (2013 & 2014) Allen was 5-1 but since joining the ECHL the game three record is 4-5. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Eagles Beat Americans 4-1, Martinson Comments, Game Two Preview, Playoff Update & Did You Know

It wasn't a surprise the Allen Americans lost game one of their Mountain Division finals to the Colorado Eagles last night by a score of 4-1 before a crowd of 4451 at the Allen Event Center (AEC) but it certainly was disappointing. After all, the Americans have won 15 straight playoff series under coach Martinson but have a losing record in opening games. After last night Allen's game one record is 7-9.

- The good news is the Americans don't have to wait long to do something about the poor performance last night as they will be back at the AEC for game two tonight at 7:05 pm. More good news is Allen has been dominate in game two over the years with a record under Steve Martinson of 11-4.

- When Colorado scored the first goal of the game last night at the 3:30 mark of the first period the die was pretty much cast. Allen and Colorado are both undefeated in the playoffs when scoring first and if you combine their playoff and regular season scoring first record it now stands at 80-4-2-2. Both of these teams are deadly when they score first.

- The back breaker for the Americans came midway through the second period when they were trailing 3-1. Even with a long (73 second) five-on-three power play they never even came close to scoring.  The power play was supposed to be the secret weapon in this game with the Americans boasting a first round power play percentage of 30% while the Eagles penalty kill was a paltry 73.7% in the first round. Allen was 1-6 on the power play but that was matched by Colorado who ended up 1-5.

- Greger Hanson scored the lone goal for Allen. It was his third of the playoffs which ties him for the team lead with Wade MacLeod and Joel Chouinard. Hanson is also the team leader in points with eight. The video highlights are posted on ECHL Rewind.

- Here is the Allen Americans game recap press release:

- Here is a game recap from the Eagles' hometown paper which captures the essence of how much Colorado took it to the Americans. It also includes several quotes from Colorado coach Aaron Schneekloth.


- It is always interesting to listen to coach Martinson's pregame interview with Tom Manning after the game. Being "ready to go" was the first point Martinson made and you will see from his post game comments that didn't happen.

Here are Steve Martinson's post game comments:

- Obviously this was not the start we wanted. We didn't defend very hard on their goals. They weren't great plays or great shots but they ended up in the net. We have to defend harder and maybe I will put more speed in the lineup tomorrow. I thought at times their forwards looked faster than us.

 - The penalty kill was really bad on the goal against. Twice we had the opportunity to kill the play and we didn't pressure the puck. Then they throw a wrist shot at the net and we didn't front it or block it and it ends up in the net.

- On the last goal we got beat one player after another because guys aren't moving their feet. We just did not play hard enough to win. We need to get more out of our best players.

- On the power plays we shot a lot of pucks right into the middle of the goalie's chest. The five-on-three was painful. We shot the first one timer into his chest and I think fanned on the second one. That power play was critical because we were down 3-1 and had a chance to get back in the game. We just didn't execute that well when we had our chances.

- I will look at putting Harrison Ruopp in the lineup tomorrow night as he will give us a little more bite. I will also look at putting Tanner Eberle in the lineup. He gives us more speed and is somebody that will go in and finish his checks.

- We don't need to make adjustments to what we are doing. We lost tonight because we didn't move very hard and we didn't defend hard. If you don't defend and don't move your feet and don't have some urgency you don't win at this time of year. We had several point blank shots with an open net and failed to score. If you are not burying your chances you better be very stingy defensively and we weren't.

- We have players that can play better than they did tonight. It is not a best of one, it is a best of seven. We gave away home ice but we have done that before. Hopefully everyone understands what we have to do Saturday night and that is to play harder, battle harder and be tougher to play against. They are all cliches but that is what we have to do.


- It sounds like a broken record but for Allen to be successful in game two tonight they need a better start and they must win the special teams battle. Scoring the first goal of the game is an almost must for the Americans and they have to win the first period even if they don't score first. Allen needs to take advanatge of what has been better special teams play in the playoffs. Allen has a better power play than Colorado (26.9% vs 25%) and the Americans have also been the better team on the penalty kill (90.6% vs 76%).

- During the regular season Allen had the the best plus/minus in the ECHL at +334 while Colorado was only +148. In the playoffs Allen is only +5 while Colorado is leading all playoff teams with +36.

- The officiating crew tonight will be exactly the same as Friday night. The referees will be Kenny Anderson (#16) and Stephen Reneau (#17) and the linesmen will be Lucas Bisbee (#72) and Aaron Schacht (#31).


- In other ECHL action last night it took 99 minutes but South Carolina beat Florida 3-2 in double overtime and the Toledo Walleye beat Fort Wayne 2-1. All four division finals series will be in action tonight. After game one of each series the home teams have won twice (Brampton & Toledo) and lost twice (Allen & Florida).

- It was good news for Allen's AHL affiliate as the Barracuda beat Stockton 5-3 last night in Stockton to take a 2-1 lead in that best of five series. Game four is in Stockton Sunday afternoon. With the San Jose Sharks losing in the opening round of the NHL playoffs they sent down a couple of young forwards (Timo Meier & Marcus Sorenson) to the Barracuda that will really help in the pursuit of the Calder Cup. Here is a great story about how these young players will play a major role in the Barracuda's playoff run. The story also has some honest quotes from coach Roy Sommer.


- Chad Costello was a teammate of Colorado coach Aaron Schneekloth when Costello won the ECHL MVP award in 2012 playing for the Eagles. Chad had 76 points in just 47 games that season. Schneekloth was a high scoring defenseman who was the third leading scorer on that team with 20 goals and 62 points. 

- Allen goalie Riley Gill and Colorado goalie Lukas Hafner both played for the Western Michigan University (WMU) Broncos. Riley was at WMU from 2006-10 and Lucas was there from 2012-16. Gill was a four year starter, played in 111 games and had a save percentage of .914. Hafner was a three year starter, played in 85 games and had a save percentage of .917. It will be fun to watch these two WMU alumni in this series. The rookie got the best of the veteran last night but the series has just begun.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Allen vs Colorado Game Preview, Playoff Update, Allen Champions on All Division Finals Teams

It seems like forever since the Allen Americans finished their first round series against the Utah Grizzlies even though it was just last Saturday. I said earlier this week it was the calm before the storm and the storm arrives tonight. Game one of what should be one of the best series in the entire ECHL Kelly Cup playoffs is tonight as the Americans take on the Colorado Eagles at the Allen Event Center (7:05 pm CDT).

- The lineup for Allen tonight is still uncertain other than Bryan Moore will be out as he still has two games to serve on his four game suspension from the Utah series. Zach Hall missed the last game against Utah, Harrison Ruopp missed the last three games against Utah and Tanner Eberle did not play at all against Utah. Contrary to my reporting earlier in the week that Tanner Eberle would miss the first two games against Colorado it is possible he could be cleared to play tonight.

- The similarities between Allen and Colorado are undeniable as they are both tough, physical, gritty teams with tons of skill and lots of depth. They both have the abilty to play any style necessary to be successful and they both have three lines capable of scoring. As a refresher here is a comparison between the Americans and Eagles. The first number is the regular season stat while the number in parentheses is the stat from the first round of the playoffs in which Allen won 4-1 over Utah and Colorado won 4-1 over Idaho.

Goals Scored (average per game)         
4.08 - Allen            (3.60)
3.68 - Colorado      (4.00)

Goals Allowed (average per game)
2.82 - Allen            (2.00)
2.86 - Colorado      (3.00)

Shots For (average per game)
32.94 - Colorado      (29.60)
31.44 - Allen            (32.40)

Shots Against (average per game)
29.75 - Colorado      (25.80)
34.93 - Allen            (28.20)

Shooting Percentage (goals as a percent of total shots)
12.9% - Allen            (11.1%)
11.1% - Colorado      (13.5%)

Power Play Percentage
24.8% - Colorado      (26.3%)
24.4% - Allen            (30.0%)

Penalty Kill Percentage
84.4% - Allen            (92.6%)
83.4% - Colorado      (73.7%)

+334 - Allen            (+20)
+148 - Colorado      (+21)

Goals Against Average (GAA)
2.76 - Allen            (2.00)
2.80 - Colorado      (2.98)

Save Percentage
.920 - Allen            (.929)
.905 - Colorado      (.884)

- If you look at the stats above it is obvious how even these teams were during the regular season. They were clearly the best two teams in the Mountain Division and both had great seasons. Colorado didn't lose a game between January 25 and March 3 and won 17 games straight which is the second longest winning streak in ECHL history. Allen was able to overcome Colorado in the standings by finishing the season on a streak of 15-0-1-0. The Americans were seven points behind Colorado with eight games remaining. The most remarkable thing about Allen's success is they were 8-11 and in last place in the division at the end of November but from that point on finished the season going 41-6-4-2.

- If you look at the playoff stats above (in parentheses) something does stand out and that is related to the goalie play. Allen has by any measure the best playoff goalie in the history of the league in Riley Gill. He led the ECHL in save percentage during the regular season (.920) and improved to .929 in the first round of the playoffs. The Eagles #1 goalie, Clarke Saunders, is currently on loan to the San Jose Barracuda (AHL).  Goalie Luke Hafner won four straight games against Idaho after Kent Simpson played in game one and lost. The Eagles save percentage during the regular season was .905 but in the first round of the playoffs fell to .884.

- Goalie play could also explain the difference in the penalty kill percentages between Allen and Colorado. The saying goes your best penalty killer is usually your goalie. Allen's penalty kill percentage during the regular season was 84.4% but the Gill playoff effect had it at 92.6% against Utah. Colorado's penalty kill during the regular season was 83.4% but in the playoffs against Idaho fell to 73.7%. If there are a lot of penalties in the game tonight which result in power play opportunities it could prove to be an advanatge for Allen. 

- Special teams is a key in every hockey game. The Americans and Colorado were ranked #2 and #3 in the league on special teams during the regular season. If you break down home vs road regular season special team stats here is how it looks. Colorado had the best road power play in the ECHL at 25.0% but was also good at home at 24.7%. Allen was 27.3% at home and 21.3% on the road. If you look at the penalty kill the Eagles were 82.8% at home and 84.0% on the road. Allen was 82.8% at home and 86.1% on the road.

- Another thing to keep an eye on in this series is who scores first. Colorado and Allen were #1 and #2 in the ECHL during the regular season in winning games when scoring first. Both teams were almost impossible to beat when scoring first. Their combined record was a lofty 75-4-2-2. Based on that stat it is possible every game in this series will be won by the team that scores first.

- It is always interesting to watch the game within the game to see how coach Martinson sets his matchups with last change at home. Who takes faceoffs against Casey Pierro-Zabotel? How does Allen defend against Matt Register who as a defenseman is the Eagles leading scorer (tied) in the playoffs? By the way, Register had the game winning goal in both regular season games between these teams. Which lines play against each other? It is definitely a chess match that will be interesting to follow.

- Here is an Allen vs Colorado game preview from Jay Hay who is a new Team Sin Bin writer covering the Colorado Eagles. Welcome aboard Jay:


- The second round of the playoffs got underway last night in the North Division finals as Brampton beat Manchester at home by a score of 3-2 in overtime.

- The other three division finals series start tonight with South Carolina at Florida, Fort Wayne at Toledo and Colorado at Allen. All of the division finals series are a 2-3-2 format with the exception of Toledo vs Fort Wayne which is 2-2-1-1-1. The Toledo and Fort Wayne rinks are only 100 miles apart.

- In the Western Conference the teams that advanced to the second round went just as they were seeded. In the Central Division #1 seed Toledo takes on #2 Fort Wayne. Same in the Mountain Division where #1 seed Allen takes on #2 Colorado. It is a whole different story in the Eastern Conference. In the North Division #3 seed Brampton takes on #4 seed Manchester. In the South Division it is #1 seed Florida versus #3 seed South Carolina.

- Here is all of the playoff bracket info in graph form courtesy of Robert Ciccotelli:

- Here is a really good preview of all four division finals series from the ECHL. Make sure to click on the "Series Matchup Sheets" as that will take you to lots of additional info/stats on each series:

- In affiliation news the San Jose Barracuda are also in action tonight as they resume their first round series against Stockton. The best of five series is tied 1-1 with the game tonight and Sunday afternoon in Stockton. If a game five is necessary it will be Tuesday in San Jose.

- If you are on Twitter and an Allen fan following Biscuit K9 (@FakeBiscuitK9) is a must. If you like good natured wit and humor Biscuit K9 always comes through. His (yes BiscuitK9 is a he but that is the only hint you get) tweets are never mean spirited but he does make good use of the needle. Last night for instance BiscuitK9 tweeted this after it was announced the New York Islanders were changing their ECHL affiliation next season from the Missouri Mavericks to the new ECHL team, Worcester Railers. Have to admit BiscuitK9's tweet made me chuckle a little. Sorry, not sorry.  He tweeted, "What a season for the Missouri Mavericks, lost their name, lost their playoff spot and now lost their affiliate."

DID YOU KNOW: There are Allen Americans alumni on all teams still in the ECHL playoffs. It is always good to see former Americans, who were part of a championship in Allen, do well elsewhere. Here is a list of players on the other seven teams in the ECHL division finals.

Brampton - Reggie Traccitto
Colorado - Darryl Bootland, Matt Register, Casey Pierro-Zabotel
Florida - Bryce Aneloski
Fort Wayne - Jamie Schaafsma, Kyle Follmer
Manchester - Daniel Doremus, *Rick Pinkston, Tony Turgeon
South Carolina - Danny Federico
Toledo - J.P. LaFontaine

*on playoff eligible list but hasn't played, loaned to Milwaukee (AHL)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Western Conference Stat Comparison Continues, Playoff Bracket Update, Allen's All-Time Games Played List

Nothing new to report from practice as the Allen Americans continue to prepare for the second round playoff matchup with Colorado. Who will play and who will sit out the game for Allen on Friday still has to be determined. Coach Martinson's plan was for a video session before practice today.

- Yesterday I showed how the four Western Conference teams remaining in the playoffs (Allen vs Colorado & Toledo vs Fort Wayne) compared across 11 statistical categories during the regular season. Today I want to add the same data for the first round of the playoffs. The playoff sample size is very small with Allen, Colorado and Fort Wayne playing only five first round games and Toledo seven. With that caveat and caution that the playoff stats may be skewed because of the small sample size, in parentheses below are the playoff numbers so you can compare playoff performance to regular season performance.

Goals Scored (average per game)
4.19 - Toledo          (3.71)         
4.08 - Allen            (3.60)
3.68 - Colorado      (4.00)
3.67 - Fort Wayne  (3.20)

Goals Allowed (average per game)
2.65 - Toledo          (3.57)
2.82 - Allen            (2.00)
2.86 - Colorado      (3.00)
2.92 - Fort Wayne  (2.40)

Shots For (average per game)
34.39 - Fort Wayne  (36.20)
32.94 - Colorado      (29.60)
32.17 - Toledo          (28.86)
31.44 - Allen            (32.40)

Shots Against (average per game)
28.39 - Fort Wayne  (27.40)
28.63 - Toledo          (30.57)
29.75 - Colorado      (25.80)
34.93 - Allen            (28.20)

Shooting Percentage (goals as a percent of total shots)
12.9% - Allen            (11.1%)
12.9% - Toledo          (12.9%)
11.1% - Colorado      (13.5%)
10.6% - Fort Wayne  (8.8%)

Power Play Percentage
25.1% - Toledo          (25.0%)
24.8% - Colorado      (26.3%)
24.4% - Allen            (30.0%)
21.4% - Fort Wayne  (40.0%)

Penalty Kill Percentage
86.8% - Toledo          (82.6%)
84.4% - Allen            (92.6%)
83.4% - Colorado      (73.7%)
82.3% - Fort Wayne  (88.9%)

+334 - Allen            (+20)
+309 - Toledo          (-7)
+273 - Fort Wayne  (0)
+148 - Colorado      (+21)

Goals Against Average (GAA)
2.60 - Toledo          (3.57)
2.76 - Allen            (2.00)
2.80 - Colorado      (2.98)
2.86 - Fort Wayne  (2.25)

Save Percentage
.920 - Allen            (.929)
.908 - Toledo          (.883)
.905 - Colorado      (.884)
.898 - Fort Wayne  (.912)

Record Last 10 Games (regular season)
9-0-1-0 - Allen            (4-1 in first round)
7-2-1-0 - Fort Wayne  (4-1 in first round)
6-3-0-1 - Toledo          (4-3 in first round)
5-5-0-0 - Colorado      (4-1 in first round)

Drawing any conclusions from this data has to be taken with a grain of salt but here are a few observations:

- Toledo gave up almost a goal per game more (2.65 vs 3.57) in the first round of the playoffs than they did during the regular season.
- Fort Wayne's shooting percentage against Quad City in the first playoff round was very low (8.8%) but their power play was almost double (21.4% vs 40.0%) their regular season percentage.
- Colorado struggled on the penalty kill in the first round with a percentage of 73.7%.
- Toledo had a plus/minus during the regular season of +309 but in the first playoff round was -7.
- Colorado had the worst plus/minus (+148) during the regular season of the four remaining teams in the Western Conference but the best plus/minus (+21) in the first round of the playoffs.
- Allen had the best save percentage of the four teams in the regular season (.920) and that continued in the playoffs (.929).
- Toledo and Colorado had save percentages below .900 in the first round of the playoffs much lower than the regular season numbers. Toledo went from .908 to .883 and Colorado went from .905 to .884.


- Florida became the final team to make it to the second round of the playoffs by beating Orlando at home last night by a score of 7-4. After trailing in this series 3-1 Florida became the sixth team in ECHL history to comeback and win. Florida will now take on South Carolina in the South Division finals. If you didn't follow this series it turned around on a brawl that started at the end of game four with 46 seconds remaining. Florida was trailing 3-0 and instigated a fight that ended up with two Florida players getting suspended. The Orlando goalie (Ryan Massa) was injured in the brawl and missed the final three games of the series. I don't pretend to know all of the details but it is clear with the game out of hand Florida wanted to start something. Massa made an ill advised choice to leave his crease and enter the fray. It does appear if you watch the video the Florida players continue to hit Massa in the head while he is at the bottom of the pile. The bottom line is Florida lost two players to suspensions but Orlando lost their goalie for the rest of the series. Massa had led the Solar Bears to a 3-1 series lead with a save percentage .938. With Massa out an untested rookie goalie had to step in for the last three games. Florida scored 14 goals in those three games to complete their comeback. I have seen in the past where a coach was held responsible and fined for a deliberate fight at the end of a game that was already lost but the league apparently didn't take any issue with the end of game four other than the player suspensions. It is sad the way this series ended. If you haven't seen this fight here is a fan video from YouTube which gives a better view of Massa leaving his crease to get involved which was a big mistake. This video is lengthy so you might want to advance it to the one minute mark in the game.  If you watch closely you can also see Massa being hit after he is down on the ice.

- The second round of the playoffs which are the division finals are now set. The games start tonight (Thursday) in the North Division with Manchester at Brampton. The division finals could go as long as May 10. Here is an updated bracket with special thanks to Robert Ciccotelli of the Allen Americans front office who went above and beyond to update the bracket to include the Florida vs Orlando results. Congratulations to all eight teams that made it to the elite eight. I know making it to the second round is not the goal for the remaining eight teams but it is quite an accomplishment in and of itself. The 19 teams sitting at home would all agree.

- Many fans are using social media and other methods to get the word out about the Allen Americans and make sure there is a big crowd this weekend and for the rest of the playoffs. Here is the second round schedule for the Allen vs Colorado series. All start times are central daylight time, that is the time in Allen when all the games will start. Tell all your friends and relatives they have to get tickets for this series. It should be epic. If you know anyone that has never been to an Allen playoff game and would like to attend I will provide free tickets for Friday and Saturday. I have six tickets (two together & four together) for each game. First come first serve until they are gone. Just email me at

Game 1 at Allen - Friday April 28th (7:05 pm)
Game 2 at Allen - Saturday April 29th (7:05 pm)

Game 3 at Colorado - Wednesday May 3rd (8:05 pm)
Game 4 at Colorado - Thursday May 4th (8:05 pm)
Game 5 at Colorado - Sunday May 7th (4:05 pm)

Game 6 at Allen - Tuesday May 9th (7:05 pm)
Game 7 at Allen - Wednesday May 10th (7:05 pm)

DID YOU KNOW: Since the Allen Americans franchise started in 2009-10 they have played 544 regular season games. Yet with the nature of AA hockey, players come and go all the time. Only 24 players in the history of the Americans have played 100 games with the team and just six have played 200 games. Here are the six that have played 200 or more games in Allen.

247 - Tyler Ludwig
238 - Jarret Lukin
229 - Mike Berube
216 - Chad Costello
215 - Brian McMillin
200 - Gary Steffes

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Practice Update, Playoff Update, Allen, Colorado, Fort Wayne & Toledo Compared, Allen's All-Time Ironmen

It was a playoff style practice for the Allen Americans yesterday as coach Martinson, goalie coach Thomas Speer and skating coach Luke Chilcott put the team through the paces as they prepare for the division finals series against the Colorado Eagles. Back check drills, breakout drills and other system tweaks to adapt to how Martinson wants to attack Colorado. Tanner Eberle was a full participant at practice yesterday for the first time in a month though he was wearing the no contact yellow jersey. Tanner will not play this weekend. A couple of other players were not skating yesterday but should be available by Friday.

-  One of the many similarities between Allen and Colorado is they can be successful playing a skill and speed game or a rough and gritty game or a combination of the two. For those that think the series between Allen and Colorado will be a penalty filled slug fest, they may be right but the series could also be more of a battle of skill and will. After the first round of the playoffs Allen is ranked #6 in average penalty minutes per game (15.00) and Colorado is ranked #12 (10.20). Much different than their #1 and #2 ranking during the regular season.

- Two more teams punched their ticket into the second round of the playoffs last night. Manchester beat Adirondack 6-5 in overtime to win their North Division series 4-2. Hats off to Manchester who not only knocked off the #1 seed in the division, they did it having just two home games because of facility availability. Manchester will face Brampton in the North Division finals. The other team that advanced last night was Toledo who beat Kalamazoo 3-1 in the seventh game of their Central Division semi-final. Home ice advantage proved to be important in that series as the home team won all seven games.

- The only first round series not complete is in the South Division where Florida beat Orlando last night 6-4 at home to force a game seven which is tonight in Florida. Orlando had Florida on the ropes with a 3-1 series lead and game five at home. Florida has fought back to tie the series 3-3 and has to be the favorite at home tonight. If  somehow  Orlando can pull out a win tonight it will be a clean sweep for the lower seeds in the Eastern Conference. The #1 and #2 seeds in the North Division have been eliminated as well as the #2 seed in the South Division. Only Florida, who is the #1 seed in the South Division and the Eastern Conference has a chance to advance.

- It is a different story in the Western Conference as all four higher seeded teams advanced to the second round. The #1 seed in the Central Division (Toledo) will take on #2 seeded Fort Wayne. In the Mountain Division #1 seed Allen takes on #2 seed Colorado.

-  The "Barry the Blogger Matrix" was spot on in predicting the first round winners in the Mountain Division so thought I would give it a try to predict who will be the winners in the second round and advance to the Western Conference finals. This matrix is a way to compare teams across a number of statistical categories and then come up with an overall score. Can't say the "Barry the Blogger Matrix" is a good predictor of Kelly Cup success as it had Fort Wayne vs South Carolina in the finals last season.

- Below is how the four remaining teams in the Western Conference playoffs compare in 11 statistical categories. This uses regular season stats only. Fairly easy to see the strengths and weaknesses of each team. 

Goals Scored (average per game)
4.19 - Toledo
4.08 - Allen
3.68 - Colorado
3.67 - Fort Wayne

Goals Allowed (average per game)
2.65 - Toledo
2.82 - Allen
2.86 - Colorado
2.92 - Fort Wayne

Shots For (average per game)
34.39 - Fort Wayne
32.94 - Colorado
32.17 - Toledo
31.44 - Allen

Shots Against (average per game)
28.39 - Fort Wayne
28.63 - Toledo
29.75 - Colorado
34.93 - Allen

Shooting Percentage (goals as a percent of total shots)
12.9% - Allen
12.9% - Toledo
11.1% - Colorado
10.6% - Fort Wayne

Power Play Percentage
25.1% - Toledo
24.8% - Colorado
24.4% - Allen
21.4% - Fort Wayne

Penalty Kill Percentage
86.8% - Toledo
84.4% - Allen
83.4% - Colorado
82.3% - Fort Wayne

+334 - Allen
+309 - Toledo
+273 - Fort Wayne
+148 - Colorado

Goals Against Average (GAA)
2.60 - Toledo
2.76 - Allen
2.80 - Colorado
2.86 - Fort Wayne

Save Percentage
.920 - Allen
.908 - Toledo
.905 - Colorado
.898 - Fort Wayne

Record Last 10 Games (regular season)
9-0-1-0 - Allen
7-2-1-0 - Fort Wayne
6-3-0-1 - Toledo
5-5-0-0 - Colorado

- Finally, I tallied up the rank for each team in every category to get an overall score. The lower the score the better. If you finished first in every category you would get a final score of 11 and if you finished last in each category the score would be 44. Here are the results:

18.5 - Toledo
23.5 - Allen
33.0 - Colorado
35.0 - Fort Wayne

 - Based on the matrix you would pick Toledo as a heavy favorite over Fort Wayne and Allen as the favorite over Colorado. While this is an interesting way to look at regular season performance it is not a very good way to pick outcomes in the second round of the playoffs.

- A simpler way to compare matchups is to look how the teams fared in head to head games. Allen played Colorado just two times in the regular season and lost both. The Americans lost in Colorado 4-3 on November 9th and at home 5-4 on December 14th. Former Allen player and ECHL Defenseman of the Year, Matt Register, had the game winning goal in both games. They were both power play goals.

- Toledo and Fort Wayne played six times during the regular season and Toledo dominated. The Walleye had a record of 5-1 against the Komets and outscored Fort Wayne 26-12.

DID YOU KNOW:  I think one of the more undervalued statistics there is has to do with players that never miss a game. I call them the Ironmen and they are few and far between. In AA hockey with limited rosters and salary cap/budget issues having a player that plays every game in a season is something special and valuable. That means playing with injuries, no AHL call ups and answering the bell each and every game. Thought today would be a good day to honor all of the Ironmen in Allen history. One thing to keep in mind is when the Americans first started in the CHL (2009-10) they only played 64 games in a season. It was then expanded to 66 games and since joining the ECHL (2014-15) it is 72 games. Congrats to all Allen Ironmen past and present!

2016-17 - Chad Costello, Joel Chouinard
2015-16 - Chad Costello
2014-15 - Chad Costello, Aaron Gens, Jamie Schaafsma
2013-14 - Spencer Asuchak, Daniel Tetrault, Mike Berube
2012-13 - Jamie Schaafsma, Jason Deitsch
2011-12 - Jason Deitsch
2010-11 - Colton Yellow Horn, David Strathman
2009-10 - Bruce Graham, Christian Gaudet

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Calm Before the Storm, More Allen vs Colorado Similarities, Playoff Update, Oldest Players

All was quiet around the Allen Americans locker room yesterday as coach Martinson told the team he didn't want to see them yesterday. The only activity was a couple of players getting treatment and one player, Tanner Eberle, taking the ice to shoot some pucks after his cast was removed from an injury he sustained on March 25. Tanner is not yet cleared to play but he can start practicing.

- The other activity yesterday was coach Martinson in his office breaking down video and developing a game plan for the upcoming series with Colorado. Martinson often talks about practicing three days in a row as the maximum for efficiency or as he likes to say I get tired of yelling at them after three days and they get tired of listening to me yell after three days. The extra day off the ice yesterday to rejuvenate was the best use of time during this rather lengthy period between the end of the first round and beginning of the second round of the playoffs. 

- The team will have a hard practice today and then ease up some and work on system drills Wednesday and Thursday. When you have coached for 21 years, made the playoffs 20 times and won 10 championships coach Martinson has the playoff preparation figured out.

- I talked yesterday about how similar Colorado and Allen are as they were the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the ECHL in penalty minutes with over 1400 each. Another stat that ranks them #1 and #2 is scoring first in a game. The league as a whole is at 74.5%  when scoring first. That is the team that scores first in a game gets 74.5% of the possible points. During the regular season Allen and Colorado were by far the best in the ECHL. The Eagles were #1 at 93.4% and Allen was #2 at 92.2%. What that translates into as far wins and losses is a combined 75-4-2-2. Quick starts and scoring first is always a key to any game but with these two teams you can usually head home after the first goal and know the outcome.

- Another similarity when comparing these teams during the regular season is outstanding special teams. They aren't #1 and #2 in the ECHL on the power play as the best in the league belongs to Toledo at 25.1%. However, they are right behind with Colorado at #2 (24.8%) and Allen at #3 (24.4%).

- When you combine power play percentage and penalty kill percentage you can get a barometer of how good a team is on special teams. The magic number teams strive to achieve is greater than 105% combined. Toledo comes in at #1 in the ECHL at 111.9% but #2 is Allen (108.8%) and #3 is Colorado (108.2%).

- One special teams stat where Allen and Colorado are very dissimilar is related to shorthanded goals. Colorado scored a league leading 20 shorthanded goals this season. That was five more than any other team. When you think the Eagles only gave up 51 power play goals all year and the penalty killers scored 20 shorthanded goals that is an excellent penalty kill unit. Allen was at the other end of the spectrum as they allowed 13 shorthanded goals during the regular season. Only Utah with 14 allowed more shorthanded goals than Allen.

- Enough stats for one day. Still a lot of time to cover more over the next four days before this series gets underway on Friday night. My point today is this should be a heck of a series between two teams that have a lot in common. Tomorrow I will apply the "Barry the Blogger Matrix" to the four remaining Western Conference teams to see who comes out on top. Allen, Colorado and Fort Wayne are already in. The fourth team will be either Kalamazoo or Toledo. They play tonight in Toledo in a winner take all game seven.


- Two more teams made it into the division finals last night and in both cases #3 seeds beat #2 seeds. Brampton was at Reading and beat the Royals 3-1 to take that North Division series 4-2. They await the winner of the Manchester vs Adirondack series. In the South Division South Carolina shutout Greenville 4-0 at home to take that series 4-2. The Stingrays await the winner of the Florida vs Orlando series.

Here is the current ECHL bracket with five teams into the second round and three left to be decided. The games on tap tonight include: Manchester is at Adirondack leading 3-2 in the series. Orlando is at Florida leading 3-2 in the series. Kalamazoo is at Toledo with the series tied 3-3.

- Here here is a story written by Kevin Lytle of talking about the upcoming series between Allen and Colorado. With the talk of  Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Darryl Bootland and Matt Register being former Allen Americans it is sometimes forgotten that Chad Costello spent two years in Colorado and won the ECHL MVP award playing for the Eagles in 2012. Kevin talks about Chad's time in Colorado:

DID YOU KNOW: The oldest player on the Allen Americans is Riley Gill who is 32. The oldest player on the Colorado Eagles is Darryl Bootland who is 35. Did you know the oldest player in the ECHL is David Ling who plays for the Brampton Beast and is 42 years old. Ling was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the seventh round of the 1993 NHL draft. Here is a story about Ling's 22 year professional career.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Allen vs Colorado Equals Toughness & Grit, Reflections of Success in Allen, Playoff Update & Schedule

The Allen Americans have four days to rest and prepare for what will be one of the most grueling series you can imagine. Their opponent, the Colorado Eagles, also have four days to rest and prepare for one of the most grueling series you can imagine. There is no love lost between Allen and Colorado and in some ways they are very similar. They are tough and gritty, they will finish their checks and they have plenty of players willing to drop the gloves. Since joining the ECHL in 2015 the Americans and Eagles have taken turns as the most penalized team in the league. Over the last three years Allen has averaged 1422 penalty minutes per year and Colorado has averaged 1433. Colorado has averaged 86 fights per year and Allen has averaged 78. Typically in the playoffs there won't be as much fighting as during the regular season but you can be assured this series will be the survival of the fittest and depth will be important.

- The one thing that is very different about Allen and Colorado is playoff success.  Allen hasn't lost a playoff series since Steve Martinson became coach in 2012. Allen has won 15 straight playoff series, four championship including the last two Kelly Cups. The Colorado Eagles are in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since joining the ECHL in 2011. They were eliminated in the first round of their last five ECHL playoff appearances. Add the fact that three players on the Eagles roster (Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Matt Register, Darryl Bootland) won championships in Allen and you have a Colorado team that is very motivated. If this series lives up to expectations it should be one for the ages.

- There will be plenty of time over the next three days to wade through all sorts of statistical information about Allen and Colorado but today is a good time to pause and reflect on just how fortunate the fans of the Allen Americans have been over the last five years. I say this all of the time but to win four straight championships, all on home ice, is a lifetime worth of success for most fans. Just getting to the second round of the playoffs is an amazing feat and if the Americans don't win another playoff game it is a successful season though you would never convince Allen fans, players and coaches of that. My point is Allen has already made it to the "Elite Eight" of the ECHL playoffs. If it wasn't for the fact Allen has won four straight championships that would be considered a big success to make it to the top eight of a 27 team league. It shouldn't be the case but only in Allen is anything less than a Kelly Cup considered a disappointing season.

- Three teams have advanced to the second round of the playoffs thus far and they are all from the Western Conference. Allen, Colorado and Fort Wayne all won their series 4-1. Only Toledo, who is the #1 seed in the league has struggled in the first round. The Walleye are tied with Kalamazoo 3-3 with the deciding game seven in Toledo on Tuesday. Hope it isn't the kiss of death but Toledo has already posted their schedule for round two against Fort Wayne. The schedule comes with the obligatory asterisk that says *if the Walleye advance past the Division Semifinal, but still a cause for concern for the superstitious.

- Anything could happen in the Eastern Conference as all four series are 3-2 with the higher seeded team trialing in all four. Manchester, Brampton, Orlando and South Carolina are all looking for upsets. Everything will be decided by Wednesday evening.

- There are two playoff games tonight both in the Eastern Conference. Brampton is at Reading (Brampton leads 3-2) and Greenville is at South Carolina  (South Carolina leads 3-2).

- The ECHL dictates at the start of the playoffs the time frame for each round and then the teams involved work out the specific dates within those time frames. All series are best of seven. If your favorite team is still in the playoffs the dates for the division finals are April 28 to May 10, the conference finals are May 12 to 24 and the dates for the Kelly Cup finals are May 26 to June 7. 

DID YOU KNOW: The Kelly Cup has been awarded to the ECHL playoff champion since 1997. In that time only two teams have won it three times (Alaska & South Carolina) and three teams have won it twice (Cincinnati, Idaho, Allen). Eight teams have won the Kelly Cup once and 49 different teams have played in the ECHL for at least one season since the inception of the Kelly Cup and never won a championship.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Allen Wins 4-0, Takes Series 4-1, Martinson Comments, Allen vs Colorado Round 2 Schedule, Gill Records & More

The Allen Americans, led by goaltender Riley Gill, shutout the Utah Grizzlies 4-0 last night to advance to the second round of the Kelly Cup playoffs where they will take on the Colorado Eagles.

- Allen won the series 4-1 against the Grizzlies by sweeping three games in Utah after splitting the first two games in Allen. The series win was the 15th straight for the Americans since Steve Martinson became coach and general manager.

- Allen followed an all too familiar formula to win last night. They scored first which is almost a guaranteed win. The Americans were 3-0 when scoring first in this series and for the season the record now stands at 43-2-2-1. Allen excelled on special teams in the series win over Utah. The only game the Americans lost (game two) was the only game they didn't score a power play goal. Last night Allen was 1-3 on the power play while holding Utah to 0-7. For the series Allen was 6-20 (30%) while Utah was 2-27 (7.4%). You won't lose many games when you dominate special teams the way Allen did against Utah.

- Not sure if it is conditioning, will or skill or some combination of each but Allen owned the third period in this series. Last night Allen outscored Utah 2-0 in the third period. For the series here is the scoring by period:

1st period - The teams tied with four goals apiece
2nd period - Utah outscored Allen 6-1
3rd period - Allen outscored Utah 13-0

- Balanced scoring continued last night with three of the four goals being scored by defensemen. Allen scored 18 goals in the series and 12 different players scored goals. Joel Chouinard had two goals last night and joins Wade MacLeod as the team leader in the playoffs with three goals.

- The goal scorers for Allen last night were Travis Brown (1), Joel Chouinard (2&3), and Wade MacLeod (3). You can see all of the goals and highlights at ECHL Rewind. Here is the link:

- Here is the Allen Americans recap of the games:

- Here is the game recap from the Salt Lake Tribune with quotes from Utah coach Tim Branham:

- I asked coach Martinson for his assessment of the series with Utah and here is what he had to say, "We started out slow in the series but our skill and experience eventually kicked in. Credit to the Utah goalie who played really well and made big saves  every night. Riley Gill just calms things down in our end. You could see it was going to take a lot to beat him. Utah had several six-on four chances tonight but couldn't get the puck past Gill." 

- The Americans fly home from Salt Lake City this morning and will have the day off before starting to prepare for round two of the Kelly Cup playoffs against the Colorado Eagles who also advanced last night by eliminating the Idaho Steelheads in five games. There will be plenty of time this coming week to talk about this matchup but the story lines are endless. The two best teams in the Mountain Division going head to head in a best of seven series to see who advances, the two most penalized teams in the ECHL, former Allen Champions Darryl Bootland, Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Matt Register are just a few of the subplots in this series. Here is the schedule. All start times are central daylight time, that is the time in Allen when all the games will start. Tell all your friends and relatives they have to get tickets for this series. It should be epic.

Game 1 at Allen - Friday April 28th (7:05 pm)
Game 2 at Allen - Saturday April 29th (7:05 pm)

Game 3 at Colorado - Wednesday May 3rd (8:05 pm)
Game 4 at Colorado - Thursday May 4th (8:05 pm)
Game 5 at Colorado - Sunday May 7th (4:05 pm)

Game 6 at Allen - Tuesday May 9th (7:05 pm)
Game 7 at Allen - Wednesday May 10th (7:05 pm)


- In other ECHL playoff action last night Fort Wayne beat Quad City 3-2 and won that series 4-1. The Komets now await the winner of the Toledo vs Kalamazoo series to see who they will play in round two. Toledo leads that series 3-2. Game six takes place this afternoon in Kalamazoo. Unless Kalamazoo can pull off an upset the top four seeds in the Western Conference will advance to round two.

- It is a different story in the Eastern Conference where the lower seeded teams are leading in all four playoff series. In the North Division #1 seed Adirondack is down 3-2 to #4 seed Manchester. This is the series where the last five games are all being played in Adirondack. In the other North Division semi-final #3 seed Brampton leads #2 seed Reading 3-2. This is the best opening round series in the league as the first five games have all been decided by one goal with two going to overtime. Brampton won last night 2-1 but it took over 35 minutes of overtime to get the game winner. In the South Division #1 seed Florida is on the brink of elimination by #4 seed Orlando. The Solar Bears lead the series 3-1 and the one victory by Florida was in overtime. Game five is this afternoon in Orlando. In the other South Division semi-final #3 seed South Carolina has a 3-2 lead over #2 seed Greenville.

- The chance for all three San Jose affiliated teams (Sharks, Barracuda, Americans) to win championships was dashed last night as the Sharks were eliminated by the Edmonton Oilers. The Barracuda play Stockton this afternoon in the second game of their first round series against Stockton. They have a 1-0 lead in the best of five series. While a Stanley Cup is now out of the question a Calder Cup and Kelly Cup are still in play for the San Jose family.

DID YOU KNOW: Riley Gill's 30 save shutout last night was the seventh playoff shutout of his career to go along with 18 regular season shutouts. Riley has eight shutouts this season (seven regular season, one playoff) which is the most of his career. Gill sets an ECHL career record every time he starts a game and wins a game. He now has 84 career playoff appearances (old record was 80) and 51 playoff wins (old record was 43). The one career record Riley does not own is most playoff minutes played in a career. Gill is at 4739 which is 102 minutes behind all time leader Nick Vitucci's 4841. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Five Goal 3rd Period Propels Allen, Lead Series 3-1, Martinson Comments, Game Five Preview & More

Trailing 1-0 after two periods the Allen Americans exploded for five third period goals to defeat the Utah Grizzlies 5-1 last night before a disappointed crowd of 4498 at the Maverik Center. With the win the Americans have a 3-1 series lead and a chance to close out the series tonight (8:05 pm Allen time).

- Special teams have been a key to victory all series and that proved to be the case again last night. Allen had only three power play opportunities but cashed in on two of them. Allen's first two goals came by way of the power play. The Americans were perfect on the penalty kill not allowing a goal on the three Utah power plays.

- A hallmark of Steve Martinson coached teams is never giving up and that has been proven over and over this season with many third period comebacks. If you look at the regular season, goals for and against by period proves the point. During the regular season the Americans outscored their opponents in all three periods but the margins were very different. In the first period it was 80-66, the second period 85-72 and in the third period 120-59. In this playoff series with Utah the Grizzlies have had the lead in all four games only to succumb to Allen comebacks. Utah has outscored Allen in the first period 4-2 and in the second period 6-1. However, Allen has dominated the third period by scoring 11 goals and allowing the Grizzlies zero.

- Team depth is another attribute of this Allen team and balanced scoring has been the result. The Americans have had 11 different players score the 14 goals in this series. Chad Costello is tied for the team lead in points (5) but hasn't scored a goal. No player has more than two goals.

-The goal scorers last night were David Makowski (1), Eric Roy (1), Greger Hanson (2), Wade MacLeod (2) and Alex Krushelnyski (1). You can check out all the goals at ECHL Rewind. Here is the link:

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

- Here is a game recap from the Salt Lake City Tribune:

- Finally a game recap from


-  Our power play got us going just as it has all year. We had traffic in front of the goalie and were pounding shots from the point.

- The veteran guys led the way tonight. All four goals (excluding the empty net goal) were lasers.

- We have a lot of depth and proven scorers on this team. Goals can come from everyone and we have three lines that are a threat to score on every shift.

- In the third period our proven scorers made their young defensemen pay.


-  With four playoff games now in the books here is a comparison between Allen and Utah.

                                     ALLEN                              UTAH

Series Record              3-1                                    1-3
Goals For                     14                                     10
Goals Against              10                                      14
Goal Differential          +4                                      -4
Plus/Minus                   +5                                      -8
Shooting %                  10.9%                                9.0%
Goals Scored Ave.       3.50                                   2.50
Goals Allowed Ave.      2.50                                   3.50
Power Play                   29.4% (5/17)                     10.0% (2/20)
Penalty Kill                   90.0% (2/20)                      70.6% 17/14)

- Two stats that jump out in this series are special teams and third period production. As mentioned above Allen has been outstanding in the third period outscoring Utah 11-0. The Americans had the second best special teams in the ECHL during the regular season and that has certainly been the difference maker in this series. Remember, the team that has scored the most power play goals has won all four games thus far. Allen has scored on five of 17 power play opportunities which is a 29.4% success rate. Utah has converted on two of 20 chances for a 10% conversion rate. The inverse of these numbers are the penalty kill percentages with Allen at 90% and Utah at 70.6%. If Allen can continue this trend they will be in good shape tonight to get another victory.

- During the regular season Allen was outshot by their opponent in 42 of their 72 games though their record in those 42 games when they were outshot was an outstanding 31-6-3-2. This series against Utah has been unique as Allen has outshot the Grizzlies in all four games. The totals are 129 shots for the Americans and 111 for the Grizzlies. 

- The referees tonight will be the same as last night, Andrea Barone (#15) and Jonathan Sitarski (#23). The linesmen will be Andrew Collins (#49) and Kollin Kleinendorst (#35)


- Don't look now but guess who is leading the entire ECHL playoffs in plus/minus? Yes, it is none other than Joel Chouinard who is +7. Between the regular season and playoffs Joel is now at a cool +54.

- Every playoff game Riley Gill plays sets a new record and last night was no exception. His win in Utah was the 50th of his storied ECHL career. No other goalie in ECHL history has more than 43 playoff wins.

- Allen had a great comeback win last night but it pales in comparison to what Colorado did in Idaho. The Eagles scored three times in the last 2:28 including the game tying goal with nine seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime. Colorado then scored 41 seconds into overtime to win the game 6-5. When you have a 5-2 lead with 2:28 left in the game and lose there is no recovering for Idaho in this series. Colorado now leads the series 3-1 with a chance to close it out tonight. Here is a recap of the Idaho nightmare courtesy of the Idaho Statesman:

- It is never good to get ahead of yourself but it looks like the Mountain Division will come down to the matchup everyone was predicting. Allen and Colorado both have 3-1 series leads and home ice advanatge. They both play tonight with a chance to close out the series on the road knowing that games six and seven will be at home if necessary.

- In addition to Allen and Colorado winning last night here are the other results. South Carolina won 4-2 in Greenville and lead the series 3-2. Toledo beat Kalamazoo 3-2 at home to take a 3-2 lead in that series. Quad City avoided elimination beating Fort Wayne 3-2 in overtime at home. Fort Wayne now leads the series 3-1.

- The schedule tonight has Manchester at Adirondack (Manchester leads the series 3-1), Florida at Orlando (Orlando leads 2-1), Fort Wayne at Quad City (Fort Wayne leads 3-1), Reading at Brampton (series is tied 2-2), Allen at Utah (Allen leads 3-1) and Colorado at Idaho (Colorado leads 3-1). With four of the six games potential elimination games most likely the end of the season for one or more teams tonight.

- Congrats to Allen affiliate San Jose Barracuda who opened their AHL playoff series last night by shutting out the Stockton Heat 4-0 at home. They play game two of this best of five series on Sunday. Meanwhile the Sharks have a must win game at home tonight as they take on Edmonton trailing in the series 3-2. 

DID YOU KNOW: In case you were wondering Allen's playoff record in the 14 game fives since Steve Martinson became coach it is 9-5. When Allen has had a chance to close out a series in game five their record is 5-2. According to the the website Who Wins if you look at the first round of every NHL seven game playoff series in history when a team leads 3-1 and started the playoffs at home the visiting team in game five wins 55.2% of the time but they win the series 85.1% of the time. The stats are clearly in the Americans favor.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Allen vs Utah Preview, Moore Suspended Four Games, 2017-18 Home Schedule Released, Stats Tell All

The Allen Americans take on the Utah Grizzlies tonight at the Maverik Center in game four of their best of seven series. The Americans have a 2-1 series lead with a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead with a win and or will be in a fight to the end with a loss.

- The Americans will be without the services of forward Bryan Moore who was suspended for four games yesterday for an intent to injure cross check in Allen's 4-2 win on Wednesday. Here is the ECHL release announcing the Moore suspension along with three others.

-  If you are an Allen fan you have heard coach Martinson say numerous times how important it is to not retaliate when an opposing player does something that you feel is wrong. Take his number and settle the dispute by challenging the player later. I know coach Martinson emphasized this with the team prior to the start of this series. To be fair to Moore if you watch the video replay which is still on ECHL Rewind ( you can see Utah's Phil Pietroniro check Bryan very low. Even though a penalty wasn't called Moore didn't like the low hit to his knee. At that point in the game you have to have the discipline to skate away and deal with the situation later. I am sure coach Martinson let Moore know it was an unwise decision retaliate when he did.

- There was lots of discussion on social media about the four game suspension for Moore and no suspension for Utah's Tim Daly for a major spearing penalty that included a game misconduct. The big difference was Moore's penalty was a head shot that caused injury to a player. Coach Martinson has been a big advocate for coming down hard on penalties targeting the head. Pietroniro was not seriously injured and will most likely play tonight but he was clearly injured. Daly's penalty was a dirty play that could have resulted in serious injury but did not. He did the same thing to Alex Krushelnyski in game one and wasn't even called for a penalty. You could certainly argue a one game suspension for Daly was appropriate but the ECHL didn't see it that way.  Sometimes the ECHL suspends players indefinitely and waits to see if the injured player will miss games. They chose not to do that in Moore's case and gave him four games right away. You could argue four games is too severe and many Allen fans have done just that but when you have a non hockey play that results in a head area injury the league tends to come down hard on the player. The bottom line is Moore put himself in a position to be suspended and Allen is rarely given the benefit of the doubt so they will live with the ECHL decision and move on.

- With Moore out of the lineup tonight it means Gary Steffes who was a healthy scratch on Wednesday will be back in the lineup. Gary Steffes has been a prolific goal scorer in the last two runs to the Kelly Cup with 13 goals each year. It says a lot about the depth of the Americans that they can add the player with the second most goals in the ECHL in the 2015 and 2016 playoffs to the lineup. Wouldn't be surprised at all of Steffes gets a goal tonight.

- With three playoff games in the books here is a comparison between Allen and Utah.

                                     ALLEN                              UTAH

Series Record              2-1                                     1-2
Goals For                     9                                        9
Goals Against              9                                         9
Goal Differential           0                                        0
Plus/Minus                   -5                                       +3
Shooting %                  9.6%                                  11.1%
Goals Scored Ave.       3.00                                   3.00
Goals Allowed Ave.      3.00                                   3.00
Power Play                   21.4% (3/14)                     11.8% (2/17)
Penalty Kill                   88.2% (2/17)                      78.6% 3/14)

- If you look at the stats above the teams are very even in this series. The big regular season advantage Allen had in every category has disappeared. During the regular season Allen had a +91 goal differential while Utah was -15. Allen was +334 in plus/minus compared to Utah at -91. Allen scored a goal more per game and allowed a half a goal per game less than Utah. All of those advantages have disappeared with the exception of special teams. It is a small sample but Allen clearly has the better special teams play thus far. Allen needs to stay out of the penalty box and take advantage of the power plays when they get them.

- I mentioned yesterday the team that has scored first has won the first three games of this series and the team that won the special teams battle has won the first three games. Don't see any reason to bet against that formula in the game tonight.

Tonight the referees will be Andrea Barone (#15) and Jonathan Sitarski (#23). The linesmen will be James McKenna (#96) and Kollin Kleinendorst (#35)


- The Allen Americans have released their home schedule for next season and it is a lot of the same. Orlando is the only new team coming to the Allen Event Center. The Americans open the season  with two games against the Solar Bears on October 21 & 22.  Allen plays just eight different teams in their 36 home games. It is clear more games have been scheduled within the division. Here is the list of teams with the number of games played at the AEC:

7 games - Tulsa
6 games - Wichita
5 games  - Rapid City
4 games - Kansas City
4 games - Colorado
4 games - Utah
4 games - Idaho
2 games - Orlando

Here is a calendar with all 36 home dates.

- In ECHL play last night Manchester beat Adirondack 2-1 to take a 3-1 series lead in the most surprising results thus far. Manchester only has two home games in this series and has to play the last five games in Adirondack. The series is not over by any means but the Monarchs certainly have the Thunder on the ropes. Reading won in Brampton last night 3-2 and tied that series 2-2. This is a very close series with the first four games all decided by one goal. Orlando beat #1 seed Florida twice on the road and had a chance to take a 3-0 series lead last night at home but lost to the Everblades 5-4 in overtime.

- In addition to Allen at Utah (Allen leads series 2-1) the other games on tap tonight are South Carolina at Greenville (series tied 2-2), Kalamazoo at Toledo (series tied 2-2), Fort Wayne at Quad City (Fort Wayne leads series 3-0) and Colorado at Idaho (Colorado leads series 2-1).

DID YOU KNOW: If you like to look at the odds when predicting who will win the game between Allen and Utah tonight there is some good news and bad news. I mentioned yesterday that in the 14 playoff series under coach Martinson, Allen is 10-4 in game fours. However, if you look at the first round of every NHL seven game playoff series in history when a team leads 2-1 and started the playoffs at home the visiting team in game four wins only 45.9% of the time but they win the series 69.7% of the time. As usual with statistics whether Allen wins or loses tonight there are stats to back up the outcome.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Allen Wins, Takes 2-1 Series Lead, Martinson Comments, Video Highlights & Sharks Organization Finds Success at All Levels

The Allen Americans beat the Utah Grizzlies 4-2 last night to take a 2-1 series lead and reclaim home ice advantage. Allen tallied the only goal of the first period, relinquished the lead allowing two Utah goals in the second period and won the game with three unanswered goals in the third period.

- It was a penalty filled game with a total of 15 power play opportunities. Utah's Tim Daly was given a game misconduct for spearing and in a separate incident Allen's Bryan Moore was given a match penalty for high sticking. Neither of these penalties come with automatic suspensions but both come with the ominous phrase, "supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion" so it remains to be seen if additional discipline will be forthcoming.

- Allen won the special teams battle as they went 2-7 on the power play while holding the Grizzlies to 1-8. The Americans also scored an empty net shorthanded goal with six seconds remaining in the game.

- Allen delivered on two keys to the game. They scored first and that has been magic this season as the Americans have won over 90% of the games when they score first. In this series the team that has scored first has won all three games. The other key to the game was winning the special teams battle which Allen accomplished. Just like scoring first, the team with the most power play goals has won each of the first three games.

- Goal scorers for Allen were Bryan Moore (2), Zach Hall (1), Greger Hanson (1) and Spencer Asuchak (1). You can see all of the goals, many great saves by both goalies, some big checks and a couple of the penalties including the high sticking match penalty on Bryan Moore at ECHL Rewind. Here is the link:

- Here is the complete game recap from the Allen Americans:

- I had a chance to touch base with coach Martinson after the game and get his take on the win. Here is what he had to say, "It was a tough night for special teams. We need to do a better job to zero in on our scoring chances. I can't remember a team that flails and falls as much as Utah. While they are falling they still manage to look at the referee to see if he is buying their dives. It is not playoff hockey. Playoff hockey is supposed to be a battle of physicality, skill and will."

- The teams have the day off today before the series resumes tomorrow (Friday) with a 8:05 pm puck drop Allen time. Game five is also in Utah on Saturday night.


- In other playoff action last night Kalamazoo beat Toledo 8-5 to tie the series 2-2, Fort Wayne beat Quad City 4-3 in overtime to take a commanding 3-0 series lead and Colorado won in Idaho 4-2 to take a 2-1 lead in that series.

- There are three ECHL playoff games tonight. Manchester is at Aditondack (Manchester leads the series 2-1), Florida is at Orlando (Orlando leads the series 2-0)  and Reading is at Brampton (Brampton leads the series 2-1).

- Steve Martinson talks frequently about the affiliation he has with the San Jose Sharks and Barracuda and says it is the best affiliation he has ever had. Affiliations can be good or bad and it is clear Allen's is one that benefits all three teams. It means you look after the interest of each other, not just yourself. It is easier to say than to do. Here is a story about the affiliation titled, "Sharks Organization Finding Success at All Levels" that describes what the relationship means up and down the line.

DID YOU KNOW: Past isn't prologue but game four has been critical to Allen in their four straight championships. Playing almost all game fours on the road over the last four years Allen has a record of 10-4. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Allen vs Utah Game Preview, Playoff Update & More

It is game day as the Allen Americans take on the Utah Grizzlies in game three of their best of seven series. The series is tied 1-1 and game three has taken on greater importance after Utah beat Allen 4-1 on Friday at the Allen Event Center.

- Allen should feel comfortable at the Maverik Center as they won all three games they played in Utah during the regular season. However, those games were all played back in November.

- The one roster change that is almost certain is having Zach Hall return to the lineup. That most likely means one forward will sit out as a health scratch. You could also see changes on defense. Mike Brodzinski and Miles Liberati were healthy scratches the first two games of this series. With Allen struggling offensively in game two you might see one or both of them inserted in the lineup.

- As a reminder of how these teams performed in the regular season here is a comparison between Allen and Utah.

                                     ALLEN                              UTAH

Team Record              49-17-4-2 (104 points)          36-29-5-2 (79 points)
Goals For                    294                                        225
Goals Against             203                                        240
Goal Differential         +91                                        -15
Plus/Minus                  +334                                     -91
Shooting %                 13.0%                                    9.6%
Goals Scored Ave.      4.08                                       3.13
Goals Allowed Ave.    2.82                                       3.33
Power Play                 24.4%                                    16.4%
Penalty Kill                  84.4%                                   83.7%

- The team totals after two playoff games show Utah has the lead in goals (7-5) but Allen has the lead in shots (62-54). Allen is 1-7 (14.3%) on the power play while Utah is 1-9 (11.1%). Allen has taken 12 penalties for 27 minutes and Utah has taken 10 penalties for 23 minutes.

- Good starts and success on the power play are always keys to victory for the Americans. Allen's record during the regular season when scoring first was outstanding at 40-2-2-1. The Americans scored first in game one of this series and went on to win the game. In game two Utah scored first and went on to win the game. The Americans power play was around 30% the last two months of the season but is only 1-7 in this series. That has to improve.

- While the game tonight is certainly important you would not put it in the must win category. Three times in the last two Kelly Cup championships Allen fell behind 1-2. Last year against Wheeling in the finals and in 2015 against Ontario in the Conference finals and in the Kelly Cup finals against South Carolina. While not necessarily a must win the Americans certainly need a win to get back on track.

Tonight the referees will be Oliver Gouin (#9) and Tyler Puddifant (#28). The linesmen will be Andrew Collins (#49) and Kollin Kleinendorst (#35).


- The other games on tap tonight are Toledo at Kalamazoo (Toledo leads 2-1), Fort Wayne at Quad City (Fort Wayne lead 2-0) and Colorado at Idaho (series tied 1-1).

- Here are the results from the games last night. Adirondack beat Manchester 3-1 (Manchester leads the series 2-1), Kalamazoo beat Toledo 6-4 (Toledo leads the series 2-1), South Carolina beat Greenville 6-1 (the series is tied 2-2) and Brampton beat Reading 2-1 (Brampton leads the series 2-1).

- It was a tough attendance night last night. Here is the attendance for the four games played.

2430 - South Carolina
2325 - Adirondack
2218 - Brampton
1139 - Kalamazoo

- The San Jose Sharks came out of their offensive drought (shutout twice in a row) in style last night defeating Edmonton 7-0 to tie the series at two games apiece. Here are the details:

DID YOU KNOW: Allen's record over the last four seasons in game three is 8-6. Since joining the ECHL the Americans' game three record is 3-5.

PS: Sorry for the early post. I'm going fishing!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Practice Update, Fly Away Day, Playoff Attendance, Allen's Career PIM's Leaders, Kalamazoo Captain Suspended

The best thing about practice yesterday for the Allen Americans was the return of Zach Hall. He wasn't wearing the no contact jersey, he was a full participant in practice and looked good. Hall will be ready to go when the Americans take on Utah tomorrow night in game three of their playoff series.

- One of coach Martinson's many quotes over the years is you can't control what the other team does, all you can do is control how you react to what the other team does. Practice yesterday seemed to be focused on a lot of system issues and drills. Lot's of trips to the white board hanging over the glass at center ice followed by drills to practice what was discussed. Adaptability is one reason Martinson has been so successful in the playoffs over the years.

- The practice yesterday was key as the team will not have any ice time today and tomorrow will be a short pregame skate. With three games in the next four days coach Martinson felt it was best not to have practice either before the team leaves for Salt Lake City or after they arrive.

- Not sure if the travel logistics changed this year because of new ownership but they seem to be much better than last year. Here is what I wrote one year ago as the team was headed to Idaho for game three of their first round series,  "It is get away day for the Americans as they fly to Boise in two groups. The majority of the team left very early this morning with a smaller group having flights this afternoon. I am sure everyone is thankful and grateful they didn't have to take "Big Red" on a 30 hour bus trip even if they had to get up at 3:30 or 4:00 am this morning." This year the Americans are traveling all together as a team and their flight is just after noon.

- Everyone on the playoff roster will be traveling with the exception of Tanner Eberle who is still recovering from his injury. From what I understand Eberle still has another week before his cast will be removed and then will have some rehab time before he is cleared to play.


- In the only ECHL playoff game last night the South Carolina Stingrays liked home ice after going down 2-0 in Greenville. South Carolina hammered Greenville 6-0 and outshot them 44-25. None of the games in this series have been close. The Swamp Rabbits won the first two games 6-3 and 4-1 and then the Stingrays won 6-0 last night. Game four of this 2-2-1-1-1 series is tonight before the teams travel back to Greenville for game five.

- The other teams in action tonight are Manchester at Adirondack with Manchester leading the series 2-0, Toledo at Kalamazoo with Toledo leading the series 2-0 and Reading at Brampton with the series tied 1-1.

- The ECHL announced yesterday that Kalamazoo captain Ben Wilson has been suspended indefinitely for an incident in the Wings game against Toledo on Saturday. Wilson repeatedly cross checked Walleye defenseman Simon Dennis seven times in an incident that has received nationwide attention. Ben Wilson played briefly for Allen in 2011-12 and has been with Kalamazoo since 2013. This was his first season as captain of the team. Here are the details from sports writer Mark Monroe from the Toledo Blade:

- It is still very early in the playoffs with no team having more than two home games and many to still have their first home playoff game. With that said there are three teams averaging less than 3000 per game (Reading, Florida, South Carolina) and three teams averaging over 5000 (Toledo, Fort Wayne, Colorado). Allen averaged 4673 for their first two home dates.

DID YOU KNOW: Derek Mathers played in 59 games for the Allen Americans this season and set the all time single season penalty minute record with 274 minutes. Did you know Derek is now fourth on the franchise career penalty minute list. Here are the top five:

432 - Garrett Clarke
326 - Trevor Hendrikx
280 - Darryl Bootland
274 - Derek Mathers
273 - Aaron Gens