– The Americans are down to the last two games of the season and it seems appropriate they finish against Wichita, a team Allen has played 68 times since joining the ECHL five years ago. Wichita is one team Allen has played well against this season. The game tonight will be the 13th of 14 games between these teams and the Americans record against the Thunder stands at 8-2-0-2. Allen has won the last six times they have played Wichita. The Americans record in Wichita this season is 4-0-0-2.
– Head to head Allen has the edge in goals (54-37). Wichita has the edge in shots (424-405). If you look at season long averages Allen is #22 in goals per game (2.96) and Wichita is #19 (3.06). If you compare goals allowed per game Allen is #26 (3.73) and Wichita is #25 (3.59).
– Even though Wichita has the best power play percentage in the ECHL (23.8%) Allen has dominated special teams in the six games (all wins) they have played against the Thunder since the beginning of January. The Americans were 10-25 (40.0%) on the power play and 95.2% on the penalty kill (1-21). It is hard to expect those kind of stats tonight but if Allen can win the special teams battle it will go a long way in securing a win. If you look at season long special team stats it is a different story. On the road Allen is 16.9% on the power play and 85.0% on the penalty kill. At home Wichita is 21.3% on the power play and 79.9% on the penalty kill.
– Penalties could play a big part in the game tonight. In their 12 head to head match ups this season Allen and Wichita have had as few as nine penalties for a combined 18 minutes and as many as 33 penalties for 112 minutes. Both teams will be missing key players when it comes to dropping the gloves. Allen will be missing Josh Thrower (injury) and Jake Doty (injury). Wichita will be missing Dyson Stevenson and Pierre-Cedric Labrie who are on loan to AHL teams. These four players have 33 of the 75 (44%) fights their teams have been involved in this season.
– It is not hard to come up with the keys to victory. First, Allen needs to get off to a good start. The Americans don’t do well when they allow the first goal (9-32-0-1) and they don’t do well when trailing after the first period (6-21-0-1). Key number two is stay out of the penalty box. Allen leads the ECHL in minor penalties (409), 10 minute misconduct penalties (22), game misconduct penalties (22) and match penalties (5).
– Dante Salituro has been the leading scorer for Allen against Wichita. He has 17 points (8G, 9A) in 12 games. Braylon Shmyr has 14 points (6G, 8A). Zach Pochiro has 13 points (8G, 5A) in 10 games against the Thunder.
– Spencer Asuchak and Gary Steffes could reach individual milestones this weekend. Spencer needs to play in both games to become an Ironman for the second time. Asuchak is the only player on the team that has played in every game this season. Gary Steffes needs two goals this weekend to become Allen’s all-time career leader in goals. Gary has 97 career goals and is currently tied with Bruce Graham. Chad Costello and Greger Hanson lead with 98 goals.
– Zach Pochiro has fallen to third in the ECHL in goals scored and will need a hot streak this weekend to take back the lead. Zach took the goal scoring lead by scoring a goal in seven straight games but since then has one goal in the last seven games. Adam Pleskach (Tulsa) leads with 37 goals, J.C. Campagna is second with 35 goals and Zach is third with 34 goals. With one goal this weekend Zach will tie Greger Hanson for third place on the Allen all time single season goal list.
– The referee scheduled tonight is Eric Krasnichuk (#20). The linesmen will be Kilian McNamara (#90) and Chuck Schamel #97.
– There are still four playoff spots to be determined so this will be a big weekend for the eight teams that still have a chance to make the post season. The best matchup has to be Atlanta vs South Carolina. They play in South Carolina on Saturday and in Atlanta on Sunday. Whichever team gets the most points in the two games makes the playoffs, the other goes home. If the teams are tied Atlanta makes the playoffs. In the North Division no teams have been eliminated and the bottom five teams are competing for two playoff spots. Manchester and Brampton have a slight lead but anything could happen.
– The #1 seed in the Mountain Division will be determined this weekend between Tulsa and Idaho. Here are the remaining games for both teams. Tulsa has 86 points, Idaho 85.
Tulsa – Kalamazoo (H), Kalamazoo (H), Wichita (H)
Idaho – Utah (H), Utah (A), Utah (A)
– The Idaho vs Utah series this weekend could very well be a preview of the first round of the playoffs. It is likely these teams will end up as the #2 (Idaho) and #3 seeds and play each other.
– There are 12 games in the ECHL tonight. Here is a link to ECHL Today which previews all 12 games. https://www.echl.com/en/news/2019/4/echl-today-april-5
– How good has Cincinnati been both offensively and defensively this season? The Cyclones lead the ECHL in goals scored (277) and in goals allowed (170). Six of the top eight players in the ECHL in plus/minus play for Cincinnati.
DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL scoring leader this season will be Jesse Schultz of the Cincinnati Cyclones who has 80 points and a seven point lead with two games remaining. Last season (2017-18) Shawn Szydlowski was the scoring champion with 79 points. These numbers make you appreciate even more the amazing numbers Chad Costello put up in his three seasons in Allen. Chad was the ECHL scoring champions in 2016-17 (122 points), 2015-16 (103 points) and 2014-15 (125 points).