The October schedule for the Allen Americans is certainly unique from the past in that five of six games this month are at home. Allen’s opponent this weekend at the Allen Event Center (AEC) will be the Utah Grizzlies.
– The biggest unanswered question is what will the Allen lineup look like when the Americans take the ice tonight. With three goalies, seven defensemen and 13 forwards on the roster, five players will not be dressed for the game. Here is the breakdown by position:
Goalies – Dereck Baribeau and Jake Paterson are the goalies for the Americans and you would have to expect Baribeau will get his first start in goal tonight. He was slowed in training camp by a cut on his foot but is ready to go. With the number of players on the roster it will be difficult to keep the third goalie, Evan Weninger.
Defensemen – There are seven defensemen on the roster so one will have to sit out tonight. Coach Martinson took Ben Owen off the reserve yesterday so my guess is Ben will play tonight and newly signed defensemen, Theo Calvas, will sit out.
Forwards – This is the biggest area of uncertainty going into the game tonight. With 13 forwards available there will be some tough decisions for Martinson to decide which 10 forwards will play.
– You will want to look for the ECHL transactions this afternoon (usually out around 4:15 pm) to see what moves Steve Martinson makes today. It could include any combination of trades, releases, adds and deletes from reserve or placing a player on injured reserve.
ALLEN VS UTAH PREVIEW
– After losing their first two games of the season to Idaho on the road, the Utah Grizzlies righted the ship on Wednesday in Wichita with a dominating 7-1 win over the Thunder. They arrive in Allen with renewed confidence for games tonight (Friday) and Saturday.
– Given the season Allen had in 2018-19, they played Utah better than other division opponents. The Americans record against the Grizzlies was 5-6-0-0. The five wins against Utah was 20% of Allen’s total wins all season. Since joining the ECHL, Allen in 16-11-0-0 against Utah including 8-5-0-0 at the AEC.
– Special teams will be a key and the game tonight will feature the top two Mountain Division penalty kill units. The Americans penalty kill is still at 100% after two games (0-7). Utah is at 92.9% (1-14) after three games. Both penalty kill units will be tested tonight. Utah’s power play was 2-7 (28.6%) in their last game. Allen’s power play was 2-5 (40%) in their last game.
– The Americans are in an unfamiliar territory ranked #25 in average penalty minutes per game (7.00). Utah is ranked #8 averaging 16.33 penalty minutes per game. Staying out of the penalty box might prove to be the difference in the game tonight.
– Not sure what the lines will be for Allen but one group that has been good in practice is rookie Josh Lammon (#15), and second year pros Jordan Topping (#11) and Jason Salvaggio (#18). They work hard, have good chemistry and don’t seem to care who scores. If this line is together tonight keep an eye on them.
– Scoring first is always key and even though the sample size is small Allen and Utah are yet to lose when scoring first. The ECHL stat when scoring first this season is close to historical averages. The team that scored first has a record of 17-4-2-0 to earn 78.3% of the points.
– Allen is ranked #13 in shots for per game (33.50) and #11 in shots allowed per game (31.50) for a shot differential of +2. Utah is ranked #11 in shots for per game (34.00) and #7 in shots allowed (28.33) for a shot differential of +5.67.
– The referee scheduled for the game is Steven Sailor (#5) and the linesmen will be Micheal Miggans (#47) and Jordan Solomon (#78).
– With a win tonight Allen has a chance to do something they have done only once since joining the ECHL in 2014, that is start the season 3-0.
– Talk about extremes, the Newfoundland Growlers have scored five power play goals in 12 opportunities for a lofty power play percentage of 41.7% but have given up four power play goals in 12 opportunities for a paltry penalty kill percentage of 69.2%.
– Getting off to good starts is key to success. Two teams (Allen & Idaho) have a chance to move their record to 3-0 tonight. At the other end of the spectrum Norfolk and Kansas City will be trying to avoid starting the season 0-3.
DID YOU KNOW: It is only two games but the Allen penalty kill is still at 100%. It looks like there are numerous penalty killers on this team which helps on those nights with lots of penalties. By spreading the penalty kill among more players it keeps everyone fresher. Here are the historical penalty kill percentages for the Allen Americans. The asterisks represent the championship seasons. It is no coincidence that the top three seasons in penalty kill percentage all ended with championships.
PENALTY KILL %