A strange thing happened on the way to Allen’s third straight loss and 11th loss in their last 12 games. Sure the final score last night in Utah was 5-3 in favor of the Grizzlies but for the first time ever since I have been writing the blog the Americans met all five keys to the game and still lost. Check it out straight from yesterday’s game preview.
1. Allen will most likely have to score first to have any chance of winning tonight. The Americans record when they don’t score first now stands at 0-10-0-1. RESULT: Mission accomplished as David Makowski scored the first goal of the game at 6:21 of the first period.
2. Another key tonight will be to avoid all of the stick penalties that lead to power play opportunities. You cannot expect to win giving up a bunch of power plays to the Grizzlies. RESULT: Allen had seven power play opportunities while Utah had just four.
3. Allen probably needs to score a power play goal to win tonight, something they haven’t accomplished in the first two games. RESULT: Another gold star as the Americans won the special teams battles going 2-7 compared to Utah’s 1-4.
4. It is hard to find much positive when your team has been shutout twice and in the process gotten outscored 9-0. The one stat that the team can build on in the game tonight is they have kept the shot differential close. In the first game Utah out shot Allen 24-18. The 24 shots allowed by the Americans was the fewest they have allowed all season. Last night the Grizzlies had the edge in shots 39-35. Utah is 9-1-1-0 when out shooting their opponent so Allen is going to have to find a way to out shoot the Grizzlies tonight. RESULT: Another feather in the cap for the Americans as they out shot Utah 39-36. The first time in a month the have out shot an opponent.
5. Allen must find a way to slow down Utah’s top line. It is not realistic to shut them down entirely but the Americans have to do a better job against this lethal trio. Caleb Herbert leads the league with 28 points (16G, 12A) and is on pace to score over 70 goals and 130 points this season. That tells you the kind of start to the season he has had. Herbert’s line mate, Cole Ully, has six assists in the two games against Allen and now leads the ECHL with 18 assists. RESULT: The big three did manage two of the five Grizzlies goals but one was an empty net. The real damage was done by other lines when Utah scored three unanswered goals in the second period to turn a 1-1 game into a 4-1 Grizzlies lead.
– When you have the worst record in the league there is no place for moral wins. However, if you had told me Allen would out shoot Utah, score first, have three more power play opportunities than the Grizzlies, score two power play goals and slow down the hottest line in the league I would have guaranteed a victory. At least in my eyes you know things are going bad when the team accomplishes all of the keys to winning but still loses.
– The story of the game went like this. Allen scored first on a David Makowski power play goal, his third goal of the season. Utah tied the score 1-1 later in the first period and that was the extent of the scoring at the first intermission. As they did on Friday night, the Grizzlies put the game away in the second period scoring three goals in just under eight minutes. The score after the second period was 4-1. Allen scored two goals in the third period to close the gap to 4-3. David Makowski scored his fourth of the season at the 12:19 mark followed by Alex Breton with his third goal of the season at 17:46. Breton’s goal was a 6-on-4 power play goal after a Utah penalty and Brodeur on the bench for an extra skater. Caleb Herbert put an end to the Allen comeback scoring an empty net goal with 33 seconds remaining in the game. It was Herbert’s 17th goal in 16 games. He has five more goals than any other player in the league and has a goal in 14 of the Grizzlies 16 games. Not sure why he is not playing with Utah’s AHL affiliate, Colorado Eagles, where he is under contract.
– Here is the game recap from the Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/americans-rally-in-utah-falls-short/
– Here is the game recap issued by the Utah Grizzlies: http://www.utahgrizzlies.com/team-news/headline-news/?article_id=3595
– Here are the video highlights courtesy of the Utah Grizzlies:
– Steve Martinson’s recap of the three games in Utah was very short. “Painful weekend! Bad gaps and missed defensive coverage contributed to most of the goals.”
– Zach Pochiro was given a game misconduct penalty after the fourth Utah goal at the 15:13 of the second period for shooting the puck into the crowd. The league doesn’t take kindly to that even if it is accidental. A suspension will be forthcoming for sure, just a matter of how long it will be. Hopefully it will be just a one game suspension.
– It has been quite a drought for the Allen forwards. They have not scored a goal in over three games, 184 minutes and 21 seconds to be exact. With all three goals last night plus one assist the defensemen have 47 of Allen’s 131 points this season which is 36% of the points.
– The team will fly home today, have a practice tomorrow and travel to Tulsa on Tuesday to take on the Oilers. Tulsa beat Wichita last night and are on a three game winning streak.
– Jake Doty was selected as the #2 star of the game last night. He has done his job in protecting his teammates. He fought Utah’s tough guy and captain Teigan Zahn on Friday and Jake Marchment last night. These were the first Allen fights in over a month.
– Spencer Asuchak had two assists last night and has taken over the team lead in scoring. He has 16 points (7G, 9A) in 19 games. Tied for second in team scoring with 15 points are rookies Braylon Shmyr and Alex Breton.
– With Allen’s loss to Utah last night and Idaho’s 6-0 win in Rapid City the Americans now find themselves 11 points out of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Mountain Division.
– There are three games on tap in the ECHL today including Kansas City at Tulsa. Kansas City is in third place in the division with 23 points trailing Tulsa by one point and Utah by four. However, because they have played only 14 games the Mavericks have the best winning percentage in the division (.821) and the second best in the ECHL trailing only Toledo (.844).
– Only one team in the ECHL is undefeated at home and that is Toledo who is 5-0. Only one ECHL team has not won a home game this season and that is Allen who is 0-6.
The Cincinnati Cyclones are in rarefied air as they lead the ECHL in average goals scored (3.89) and average goals allowed (2.28). Allen is #25 in both categories scoring an average of 2.47 goals per game and allowing 3.95.
– Close to 25% of the ECHL season has now been completed and the average league wide attendance is 4222 per game. The average attendance last season was 4424. Attendance always picks up after the first of the year so being 200 per game below last season’s average is not reason for alarm. Typically, the average attendance will increase by over 300 per game between Christmas and the end of the season so there is a good chance average attendance will increase this season.
– I always get a lot of questions about players that get called up to the AHL such as C.J. Motte a week ago. Fans want to know why they recall Motte at such a critical time for the Americans. Players that are under contract with the Wild (Motte, Salituro, Lang, J. Thrower) are in Allen for development and when needed by the parent team are recalled. Their salaries are paid for by the Wild while the contract players are in Allen and then the Americans reimburse the Wild $525 per week which is much less than the actual cost. Motte was signed by the Wild and sent to Allen as their fifth/depth goalie specifically for cases when they have an injury in Minnesota or Iowa. Motte has been in Iowa for three games, was the back up twice and got the start on Friday night losing 4-3 in overtime to Manitoba.
DID YOU KNOW: Plus/Minus is not a good stat for a lot of different reasons but it is worthy of note that not a single player is in the plus category this season. Here is the range of plus/minus since Allen joined the ECHL with the number of players in the plus category in parentheses (minimum 20 games):
2018-19: -1 to -11 (after 19 games)
2017-18: +28 to -19 (11)
2016-17: +47 to -6 (19)
2015-16: +11 to -13 (7)
2014-15: +43 to -14 (18)
Here are the plus/minus leaders by season;
2017-18: +28 David Makowski
2016-17: +47 Joel Chouinard
2015-16: +11 Eric Roy
2014-15: +43 Chad Costello