The Allen Americans had a rare Friday night off as they prepare for back to back games against the Idaho Steelheads who have the best record in the ECHL at 4-0-1-0. Idaho was not as fortunate as they played last night in Wichita and lost to the Thunder 4-3 in overtime. It was a frustrating night for the Steelheads as they out shot Wichita 55-24 but had to score three goals in the third period including two goals in the final 139 seconds of the game to force overtime. The Thunder won in overtime on a goal by Jack Combs, playing in his first game for Wichita.
– The last thing you want when playing three games in less than 48 hours is have game one go to overtime. However, I am sure Idaho was pleased to get one point given they were trailing 3-0 with less than 15 minutes left in the game.
– I assume Idaho headed to Allen by bus right after their game last night. The game ended at 9:49 pm so by the time they got showered and loaded and drove the 360 miles, they would have arrived in Allen around 5:00 am. By Sunday afternoon with an early start (4:05 pm) it will be a tired Steelhead team for sure.
– With their great start and the #1 winning percentage in the ECHL at .900 the Idaho Steelheads are looking at becoming the heir apparent in the Mountain Division to the teams that won four of the last five Kelly Cups (Allen & Colorado). The formula for success thus far for Idaho has been great defense and goal tending. Their top goalie, Tomas Sholl, has played in four of five games with a GAA of 1.94 and a save percentage of .934. Idaho’s second goalie, Colton Point has played in one game with a GAA of 2.00 and save percentage of .939. Sholl was in goal last night in Wichita so you have to assume Allen will see both goalies this weekend.
– While Idaho’s goalie play is a strength, Allen’s is a question mark. Allen lost both of their goalies in the last week with Dereck Baribeau injured and moved to the injured reserve and Jake Paterson being loaned to Iowa. Coach Martinson re-signed rookie Evan Weninger who was in training camp with Allen. Evan played the last 27 minutes including in overtime in Allen’s lone preseason game in Kansas City. The Americans won 3-2 as Weninger stopped 13 of 14 shots for a save percentage of .929. Last season Evan played one game for the Florida Everblades, saved 25 of 26 shots to win the game 1-0. Martinson also acquired Angus Edmond this week. Edmond is contracted with the NHL Anaheim Ducks. Over the last two seasons Redmond has been assigned to five different ECHL teams, played in 45 games with a GAA of 3.50 and a save percentage of .892. I would expect Weninger will get the start tonight because he has been with the team since the start of training camp and has played well in his limited ECHL minutes.
– Allen’s challenge will be to play better defensively by avoiding turnovers and getting pucks in deep. There was an inordinate amount of time spent on this at practice all week. The players know what to do the question is how will they execute. The difference between Allen and Idaho can be explained in just one stat. Idaho is ranked #2 in average goals allowed per game at 2.00. Allen is dead last at #26 allowing an average of 5.00 goals per game.
– Since joining the ECHL, Allen’s regular season record against Idaho is 10-8-4-2. At the Allen Event Center the Americans are 5-2-2-2 against the Steelheads. Idaho is also the team responsible for Allen’s lowest point in their playoff history when the Steelheads came back from a 3-0 deficit to eliminate the Americans in the first round of the playoffs two seasons ago.
– As always scoring the first goal will be critical. Both teams are undefeated this season when scoring first.
– Another key to the game will be special teams. Both teams are struggling to score power play goals. Allen is 1-13 (7.7%) on the power play at home while Idaho is 1-16 (6.3%) on the power play on the road. Allen’s home penalty kill is ranked #12 (82.4%) while Idaho’s road penalty kill is ranked #13 (78.6%). Allen is taking an average of six minor penalties per game while Idaho is taking an average of five. Bottom line is these are two teams with similar results on special teams. Whoever prevails tonight will have a good chance of winning.
– Allen has a full roster so two forwards and two defensemen will be sitting out tonight. Mike Hedden and Shawn O’Donnell were put on reserve so they are most likely to sit out but players can be taken off the reserve at any time. I would also expect defenseman Nick Boka will be in the lineup after being sent to Allen this week by Iowa.
– The referee scheduled tonight is Maxime Primeau (#16) and the linesmen will be Michael Miggins (#47) and Aaron Schacht (#51).
– It was quite a night in Rapid City last night. The Rush were celebrating the 10th anniversary of their CHL championship which long time Allen fans remember because Rapid City beat the Americans in the finals. Last night was the home opener for Rapid City and they beat Utah 4-3. The star of the game was Kelly Klima who was just assigned to Rapid City by their AHL affiliate (Tucson). Playing in his first game, Klima score all four Rush goals. Klima’s dad is Petr Klima who played close to 800 games in the NHL and won a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 1989-90.
– Rapid City is off to a great start with a record of 4-1-1-0 which has them tied for the ECHL lead in points with nine. It is still very early in the season but the Mountain Division looks upside down from last season. Allen and Rapid City had winning percentages of .389 and .479 respectively last season but are at .750 this season. Tulsa led the division at .625 last season and is at just .250 this season which is the worst winning percentage in the ECHL.
– Devan Dubnyk, the Minnesota Wild’s top goalie who has been out with an injury is back at practice but is listed as day to day. The sooner he returns to the lineup the sooner Jake Paterson returns to Allen.
– Vincent Arseneau had two goals last night as Utica beat the Binghamton Devils 5-1. Arseneau was selected as the #1 star of the game. Arseneau has four points (3G, 1A) in six games this season to go along with eight penalty minutes. Utica is 6-0 on the season.
– Jake Doty is still waiting to play in his first game for the Ontario Reign. Ontario is 5-1-1-0 on the season and take on the San Diego Gulls at home tonight.
– Iowa lost to in Tucson last night 3-1. Josh Atkinson and Matt Register were in the lineup and Jake Paterson was the back up goalie. Atkinson has played in seven games for the Wild and has one assist, six shots, no penalty minutes and a -2 plus/minus. Register has played in four games and has one goal, no assists, one shot, two penalty minutes and a -1 plus/minus. Turner Ottenbreit who was loaned to Iowa 10 days ago has not played yet. Iowa plays Tucson again tonight.
DID YOU KNOW: Only two times in ECHL history has a team comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs to win the series.
2018 – Idaho trailed Allen 3-0 and won game four (2-1 in Allen), game five (2-1 in Allen), game six (6-3 in Idaho) and game seven (4-1 in Idaho).
2010 – Cincinnati trailed Reading 3-0 and won game four (6-4 in Reading), game five (5-0 in Reading), game six (6-3 in Cincinnati) and game seven (1-0 in Cincinnati).