Photo – Dianne Webster
It is game day in Allen as the Americans take on the Wichita Thunder in the first of two games this weekend. Allen got some good news on the roster front as Braylon Shmyr, Dante Salituro and Johnny McIinnis have all been cleared to play and were full participants in practice yesterday. With seven defensemen and 11 forwards available tonight coach Martinson will have healthy scratches for the first time in weeks.
– One thing for sure is the Americans will have more speed and skill in the lineup with Shmyr and Salituro playing. It will be the first time since November 11 (seven games ago) they have both been in the lineup.
– There are lots of reasons for the Americans to play well in the game tonight being they are playing their biggest rival. Wichita embarrassed Allen in the Americans home opener 4-1. However, nothing should be more motivating than trying to win a game in front of the home crowd. With a home record of 0-6 the Americans have been the only team in the ECHL without a home win for weeks. In the Mountain Division every team has at least four home wins while the Americans sit at zero.
– The game tonight has been much anticipated ever since the home opener loss to Wichita back on October 20. I am sure nobody anticipated these teams would be the two worst teams in the division with long odds to make the playoffs after that home opener loss in October. Here are the facts. Wichita is in sixth place in the division with a record of 6-8-3-1 and 16 points. Wichita is five points out of a playoff spot. Allen is in seventh place with a record of 4-14-0-2 and 10 points. The Americans are 11 points out of a playoff position.
– Wichita is 3-6-0-1 over their last 10 games, Allen is 1-8-0-1. The Americans have lost their last four games while the Thunder won their last game beating Kansas City 5-2 on Tuesday.
– The game tonight will be the fifth of 13 between Allen and Wichita this season. It seems like a long time ago but in their first meeting this season on October 13 in Wichita the Americans shutout the Thunder 4-0 with C.J. Motte making 34 saves. Allen’s record against Wichita this season is 1-1-0-2 so they have actually played the Thunder close when you consider four of Allen’s 10 points after 20 games played this season have come against Wichita.
– The head to head cumulative stats over the four games these teams have played show Wichita with a slight 15-14 edge in goals and 162-145 edge in shots. Allen leads in penalties (39-37) and penalty minutes (110-105).
– As always and especially when Allen and Wichita play, special teams are a key and in this area Wichita has a distinct advantage. Allen’s power play percentage at home is 10.3% (3-29) compared to Wichita’s road power play percentage of 23.1% (6-26). The penalty kills are almost identical with Allen at 80.6% at home and Wichita 80.0% on the road. It will be important for the Americans to stay out of the penalty box unless they take a Wichita player with them.
– Better team defense will be a key to the game but scoring five-on-five will be just as important. The Americans have only nine goals in their last seven games averaging just 1.29 goals per game. Doesn’t matter how good the defense is you can’t win very often scoring one or two goals per game. With Shmyr and Salituro expected back in the lineup it should give the offense a big boost.
– I would assume Kyle Hayton will get the start in goal based on his play in Tulsa on Tuesday when he stopped 33 of 36 shots for a save percentage of .912. It was only his second start of the season and he met the team in Tulsa so he will be more acclimated to the team in this start.
– Scoring first and an overall good start will be key as the Americans try and break their home winless streak. Allen hasn’t been all that good when scoring first (4-3-0-1) but they are still to win a game when their opponent scores first (0-11-0-1).
– The referee scheduled tonight is Stan Szczurek (#15). The linesmen will be Micheal Miggans (#47) and Aaron Schacht (#31).
– There are 11 games scheduled around the ECHL tonight including Tulsa at Kansas City and Utah at Rapid City. Here is the ECHL today with a short preview of all 11 games. https://www.echl.com/en/news/2018/11/echl-today-nov-30
– Would you like free suite tickets for the Allen Americans game on Tuesday. It is against Rapid City and remember it is a day game that starts at 10:35 am. If you are interested give suite owner Ralph Roath a call at 940-442-2560. A great opportunity to see the game from above in the luxury of a suite.
DID YOU KNOW: Allen has always played tough against the Wichita Thunder but the Americans dominance has certainly waned the last two seasons. Here are Allen’s records against Wichita:
1-1-0-2: Head to head in 2018-19
6-6-0-0: Head to head in 2017-18
40-11-4-5: Last five year record against Wichita
19-6-3-1: Allen vs Wichita last five years in Allen
21-5-1-4: Allen vs Wichita last five years in Wichita