For Allen Americans fans the final week of the season has finally arrived. This will be the shortest season in team history (176 days) but it seems like the longest season in team history. The longest season in team history (233 days) was the Americans first Kelly Cup championship (2015) and it seemed like the shortest season ever.
– You can focus on who will win the regular season championship (Cincinnati) or the five teams left to secure a spot in the playoffs but my laser focus is avoiding that last place spot in the ECHL standings. Here is more info than you would ever want to know about the quest for the best of the worst. It is Allen vs Greenville with everything on the line this week. The Americans are clearly the favorites to come out on top in the battle for the bottom as they have 56 points with two games remaining while the Swamp Rabbits have 52 points with three games remaining.
– All remaining games for both teams are on the road. Allen’s road record is 10-19-3-2. Greenville’s road record is 10-21-1-1. Both teams will be playing the team just ahead of them in the standings who are also eliminated from the playoffs. The Swamp Rabbits will play Norfolk on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Greenville’s record against Norfolk this season is 1-4-0-0. The Americans play Wichita on Friday and Saturday. Allen’s record against Wichita this season is 8-2-0-2.
– If Allen and Greenville end up tied in points the Swamp Rabbits will come out on top based on the first tiebreaker which is wins minus shootout wins. Allen has 25 wins and a shootout record of 4-2 so for the tiebreaker only 21 wins count. Greenville is 0-3 in shootouts so their 23 wins all count.
– The bottom line is Allen’s magic number is three points. Any combination of three points lost by Greenville or gained by the Americans will give Allen better record. Remember, victory is sweetest when you have tasted defeat and Allen has tasted plenty of defeat this season. Small victories are better than none so if it happens celebrate this small victory.
– Riley Bourbonnais and Alex Breton have now been on loan to the AHL for one month. They have both found success at the next level and stand a good chance of getting AHL deals for next season. Here are the details:
Bourbonnais – Riley has played in 10 of 14 games since being loaned to Iowa. He played in the first four games once he arrived in Iowa, then sat out four games and has played in the last six Wild games. Bourbonnais scored his first AHL goal last Wednesday. Riley’s total for the 10 games played is one goal, no assists, six shots, two penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of -2. Iowa should make the playoffs but have lost five straight games.
Breton – Alex has played in seven of 14 games since being loaned to Springfield. He scored his first AHL goal on Saturday. Breton’s totals in his seven games played in Springfield are one goal, no assists, nine shots, two penalty minutes and he has a plus/minus of +4. Springfield will not make the playoffs.
– The number of teams that have punched their ticket to the playoffs is now up to 11. Here is the list. Back in November (Thanksgiving) I predicted the 16 playoff teams based on the standings at that time under the historical fact that 80% of the teams in the playoff positions at Thanksgiving will make the playoffs. The teams with an asterisks were predicted to make the playoffs in November.
So far so good as 100% of the 11 teams that have made the playoffs were in playoff positions back in November. Several of the five teams remaining to make the playoffs were not in a playoff position at Thanksgiving. I will have a complete recap once all 16 playoff teams have been determined.
– Tulsa made a real statement yesterday shutting out third place Utah 6-0. That loss pretty much ended Utah’s hope of obtaining the #2 seed in the Mountain Division. First place in the division is now between Tulsa and Idaho. The Oilers lead Idaho in points (86-85) and winning percentage (.632-.616). Tulsa has four games remaining, Idaho just three. Tulsa is 8-2-0-0 in their last 10 games, Idaho is 5-4-0-1. If you look at the stats and the schedules (see below) it looks good for Tulsa to finish first and get the reward of home ice advantage for the first two rounds in the playoffs.
Tulsa – Kansas City (A), Kalamazoo (H), Kalamazoo (H), Wichita (H)
Idaho – Utah (H), Utah (A), Utah (A)
DID YOU KNOW: If anyone tells a Swamp Rabbit has to do where bunnies live remember it is April 1. Here is the real story:
Greenville changed their name from the Road Warriors to Swamp Rabbits in 2015 as part of a rebranding effort. What is a Swamp Rabbit? Back in the 1920’s there was a railroad (Greenville and Northern Railway) that linked Greenville with the coal fields of Tennessee which became known as the “Swamp Rabbit” by locals who would use the freight train as a means of transportation to picnic in northern Greenville County. The Swamp Rabbits name is very familiar in Greenville. The old railroad bed is called the Swamp Rabbit Trail. At the time of the name change there was already a Swamp Rabbit cafe, inn, and brewery and even Swamp Rabbit Crossfit. The team’s general manager had this to say when the decision was made about the name change, “We needed to have an identity that was more relevant to Greenville. We wanted to find something we felt was a real tie to the community. The Swamp Rabbit moniker is something you see every day in Greenville.”