It is game day as the Allen Americans are down to their last two home games of the season. Allen takes on the Utah Grizzlies tonight on Steve Martinson Bobble Head Night. A little over a month ago Utah visited Allen for three games as the top team in the Mountain Division with a record of 31-15-4-1 and winning percentage of .657. Allen swept those three games 7-5, 4-2 and 5-4. Last weekend the Americans split two games with Utah at the Allen Event Center (AEC). The game tonight will be the last of 11 games against Utah this season. The Americans are 5-5-0-0 in the first 10 meetings. Allen lost the first four times these teams met, were outscored 17-3 and were shutout three times. The Americans have won five of the last six times these teams have played and outscored Utah 28-21.
– The Grizzlies have lost 14 of their last 17 games and have fallen to third place in the division with a winning percentage of .576 and record of 34-24-4-4. Utah is currently seven points behind first place Idaho, six points behind second place Tulsa and seven points ahead of fourth place Kansas City. Unless something unusual happens the Grizzlies will enter the playoffs as the #3 seed in Mountain Division.
– If you look at season long stats Utah averages 3.3 goals per game, Allen just 2.9. Utah allows 3.0 goals per game, Allen 3.8. Utah’s record when scoring first is 25-6-3-2. Allen’s record when scoring first is 15-7-4-1.
– As always special teams will be key tonight. Head to head Allen is 7-47 (14.9%) on the power play, Utah is 13-54 (24.1%). If you look at season long stats and compare Utah’s road stats to Allen’s home stats the advantage goes to the Grizzlies on the power play (21.9% vs 16.3%) and on the penalty kill (86.4% vs 79.1%). These stats show how important it will be for the Americans to stay out of the penalty box.
– Allen has struggled on the penalty kill since Riley Bourbonnais and Alex Breton were loaned to AHL teams and it is clear at this point they won’t be returning to Allen this season. The Americans have given up at least one power play goal in their last eight games and in half of the eight games surrendered multiple power play goals. During that time the Americans penalty kill percentage is 69.0%. (13-42).
– It is always hard to predict how much rough stuff will happen when Allen plays Utah. Both teams have plenty of players willing to drop the gloves. According to the website hockeyfights.com Utah is second in the ECHL in fighting majors with 59 compared to Allen’s 37. These teams have played five times at the AEC since February 22 and there have been a total of three fights.
– David Makowski practiced for the first time all week yesterday but it is not a certainty he will play tonight. If Makowski can’t play Allen will be two players short with only 14 skaters. Coach Martinson was working on getting a couple of reinforcements for the weekend but nothing has been announced so it is wait and see.
– As a reminder, games lost due to injuries are now well over 400. While Makowski will be a game day decision definitely not playing is Zabotel, Frazee, Gunn, both Throwers, Lang, Maloney, and Sundher.
– The referee scheduled tonight is Jeff Parker (#22) and the linesmen will be Michael Miggans (#47) and Aaron Schacht (#31).
– Make sure to get to the AEC early tonight if you want one of the 1500 Martinson bobble heads the Americans will be giving out. Doors open at 6:05 pm. If you are not interested in the bobble head still arrive in time for the pregame ceremony honoring Steve Martinson’s 1000th win. After practice yesterday I asked coach Martinson about what would take place and as you might imagine he was much more focused on beating Utah than the ceremony but he said and I quote, “There will be a short ceremony prior to the game and they will play clips throughout the game.”
– Greenville lost at home to Jacksonville last night by a score of 2-1 in the only game scheduled in the ECHL. The loss helps Allen in the goal of avoiding the worst record in the ECHL. The Americans have a four point lead (54-50) over the Swamp Rabbits but have played one more game than Greenville. While Allen is taking on Utah tonight Greenville will be playing Orlando at home.
– This will be a huge weekend around the ECHL in determining the final nine teams to make the Kelly Cup playoffs. There are 12 games tonight, 13 on Saturday and eight games on Sunday. Here is a great breakdown of the playoff races with magic numbers and more written by Matt Harding from The Sin Bin. https://thesinbin.net/race-for-the-kelly-cup-playoffs-40/
– The AHL season doesn’t end until April 14 while the ECHL playoffs start on April 10. This can create a dilemma for ECHL coaches when they are putting together their playoff rosters which are due to the league office on April 8. Do they save roster spots for qualified players that are playing in the AHL? If an AHL affiliate isn’t making the playoffs it is a big advantage because their ECHL affiliate will know who they will get back. But what if ECHL coaches are not sure if their AHL affiliate is going to make the playoffs or if their affiliate goes into the AHL playoffs as a lower seed and will likely lose in the first round. It is always difficult for ECHL coaches to save valuable roster spots and then not have the player in the AHL available.
– There are several parts to the playoff roster which can have a maximum 23 players. A team can have up to 20 players on the active roster and three on the reserve list. The active roster has to have a minimum of 19 active and available (not injured or recalled) players. Finally, teams provide a list of players who meet playoff eligibility but are on recall to the AHL. As these recalled players become available, as long as it is prior to the conference finals, they can be added to the roster up to the maximum of the 23 player limit. Let’s use Allen last season as an example. Their playoff roster had 19 on the active roster and two on reserve for a total of 21, so the Americans had two slots saved for AHL players. The Americans submitted a list of five players (Vincent Arseneau, Olivier Archambault, Colby McAuley, Alex Schoenborn, Stephon Williams) who were eligible but were in the AHL. As these players became available Allen could add two and only two to the roster. Unfortunately, none of the five players were available before Allen was ousted in the first round.
DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans season will end on April 6 which is the earliest in team history but only by a few days. In 2011-12 Allen lost in the first round of the CHL playoffs and their last game was April 10. The latest Allen has played was their first Kelly Cup when they won the championship on June 14. Here is the last game for all 10 Allen seasons.
2018-19 – April 6
2017-18 – April 25
2016-17 – May 9
2015-16 – June 9*
2014-15 – June 14*
2013-14 – May 10*
2012-13 – May 11*
2011-12 – April 10
2010-11 – May 8
2009-10 – May 4