The Allen Americans were scheduled to leave at 9:00 am this morning heading for Tulsa where they will play the Oilers tonight (7:05 pm) and Sunday afternoon (4:05 pm). The early departure time will have the team arrive in Tulsa (230 miles) at lunch time and they will head directly to the restaurant for lunch.
– Allen will be missing Jordan Topping this weekend. His grandfather is ill and he headed home to spend time with his family. Kayle Doetzel is officially listed as day to day after being injured last weekend but his absence at practice yesterday suggests to me he may not be available this weekend.
– Tulsa will be missing their leading scorer for the weekend. J.J. Piccinich was recalled by San Antonio (AHL) yesterday. Piccinich leads Tulsa with 23 points (7G, 16A) in 21 games. No other player on the team has more than 14 points.
– The game tonight will be the third of 13 times Allen and Tulsa will meet this season. The first two games were played in Tulsa with Allen winning 5-4 on October 12th and 3-1 on November 5th. Tulsa will not visit the Allen Event Center (AEC) until the end of January.
– Tulsa has been inconsistent thus far which has led to their 8-11-2-0 record. The Oilers lead the league in shots per game (37.95) but have a team shooting percentage of just 8.4% which is the third worst in the ECHL. Tulsa has scored 68 goals, tied with Rapid City for the most in the Division but they have allowed 70 goals, the second most in the division. Allen on the other hand has scored 61 goals and allowed 49 and remember the Americans allowed 10 goals in one game. The Oilers have been held to zero or one goal six times but have scored seven or more goals three times.
– The game tonight in Tulsa is the second of six straight road games for the Americans. By December 18th Allen will have played nine of 10 games on the road. Just how good this team is this season will be known by the end of this stretch of 10 games.
– If you look at overall special teams percentages they show Allen at 11.3% and Tulsa at 13.9% on the power play. Their penalty kill percentages are Allen 84.8% and Tulsa at 79.1%. If you look at home vs road percentages it tells a different story. Allen’s road power play percentage is 13.6% compared to Tulsa’s home percentage of 12.2%. The differences are more pronounced on the penalty kill. Allen is #1 in road penalty kill percentage at 94.7% (1-19). At home Tulsa’s penalty kill percentage is ranked #23 at 78.2% (12-55). After a long drought the Americans have scored a power play goal in their last three games. If they can keep that streak alive it will go a long way in getting a victory.
– Allen scored first in the two previous games against Tulsa and the Americans have a record of 8-1 when scoring first this season. Tulsa is 5-2-1-0 when scoring first. As always that first goal will be important.
– If either game this weekend goes to overtime Allen will have the advantage based on their 6-2 record in overtime games. Tulsa has gone extra time three times and lost twice. In the third game they won in a shootout.
– With Piccinich recalled by San Antonio both Tulsa and Allen have three players tied for the team lead in scoring. Miles Liberati, Charlie Sampair and Adam Pleskach all have 14 points for the Oilers. For Allen, Gabe Gagne, Spencer Asuchak and Alex Guptill are tied for the team lead with 16 points.
– Allen has been getting great goalie play no matter who is in goal. You would expect Jake Paterson and Zach Sawchenko will each get a start in Tulsa. Allen’s team save percentage is .917. Tulsa on the other hand has struggled when Devin Williams hasn’t been in goal. Their team save percentage is .886 but Williams has a .912 save percentage. Would expect to see Williams play both games this weekend.
– What a difference a year makes. Rapid City and Reading, two teams that didn’t make the playoffs last season, both won their games last night and now share the ECHL lead with 29 points. Allen, another team that didn’t make the playoffs last season, is in third place with 28 points.
– Two former Allen players signed with new teams this week. Colton Yellow Horn was released by his Austrian team (Graz 99ers) and signed in Slovakia (HK Nitra). He has several boyhood friends on the team including former NHL player Kris Versteeg and former Allen player Judd Blackwater. Kale Kerbashian also plays for Nitra.
– Garrett Clarke, who has battled injuries recently, just signed with Jonquiere Marquis of the LNAH. The LNAH is a lower level professional league based in Quebec. It used to be known unofficially as the toughest hockey league in the world and has many enforcer type players primarily known for fisticuffs. In the press release announcing Clarke’s signing his coach said, “He is a guy that can take care of himself and has a lot of experience in terms of toughness but that is not the first reason he was signed. We have signed a hockey player and we are going to ask him to play hockey.”
– Here is a story written by Justin Cohn about the youth movement in Fort Wayne. It wasn’t by design but Allen has just two vets (Asuchak & Brittain) with O’Donnell and Hedden gone and Register in Iowa. By the way the four youngest teams in the ECHL according to Elite Prospects are Wheeling (23.96), Newfoundland (24.04), Allen (24.10) and Fort Wayne (24.23). In his story Justin covers the pros and cons of having fewer vets and also has some interesting stats on the topic. Check it out here: https://www.journalgazette.net/sports/professional/komets/20191128/komets-seek-success-in-youth
DID YOU KNOW: Tulsa is the one rival from the CHL days that Allen has had a tough time with since joining the ECHL in 2014. Here are the stats:
2-0-0-0 Head to head record against Tulsa in 2019-20
3-9-1-0 Head to head record against Tulsa in 2018-19
27-24-4-2 Last five year record against Tulsa
14-14-2-2 Last five year record against Tulsa in Tulsa
13-10-2-0 Last five year record against Tulsa in Allen