It has been 163 days since I have said this, it is game day for the Allen Americans. Sure it is “just” a preseason game but there are many subplots to this first game of the season. Here are a few.
– Some players will be released after these two preseason games so if they get a chance to play it will be with the hope they make a good impression. These are players that will most likely end up in the SPHL.
– There are more good players at this training camp than ever before. Players who signed contracts in the summer who expect to be with the team on opening day. There are more than a few of these players fighting for a roster spot. How they perform in practice every day is important, but how they play in preseason games may determine if they are released or traded.
– Even the top end players who know their roster spot is assured are competing for which line or defensive pairing they will play with. Power play time is still an open competition and the preseason games could have an impact on who ends up on the top power play units.
– It is just preseason but there is little doubt coach Martinson wants to win the games as that is just the way he rolls.
– There were plenty of fights in the first preseason game last year which ended up with four ejections. I wouldn’t predict a repeat of that situation but there will be dance partners on both teams willing to drop the gloves.
– Most players will play in both preseason games. The teams agreed to expand the number of skaters so 12 forwards and six defensemen will dress for the game. The Americans traded rookie forward Tyler Poulson to Rapid City yesterday so that leaves 13 forwards in camp. There are 10 defensemen in camp so there will be more of them on the sidelines each game.
ALLEN VS KANSAS CITY GAME PREVIEW
– I have documented many times the history between these two franchises that were established at the same time (2009-10). It has been quite a rivalry even though Allen has had more success on the ice with four championships while Kansas City is still seeking their first.
– Allen’s record against the Mavericks last season was 3-4-1-0. Since joining the ECHL (2014-15) the Americans record against Kansas City is 26-11-4-0 including 15-4-3-0 at home.
– Allen played Kansas City in their two preseason games last year. The games were in Allen with the Mavericks winning the first game 3-1 and the Americans winning the second game 3-2. Game one was a penalty filled game (110 minutes) with three roughing penalties, six fighting penalties and four game misconduct penalties. Game two was much calmer with a total of 16 penalty minutes. It did have an exciting end as Kansas City tied the game 2-2 with 2:22 remaining in the game but Bryan Moore scored the game winner less than a minute later with 1:35 remaining.
– Here are what I call some fun facts about these teams:
Allen’s roster has played 1324 games for the Americans in the past
Kansas City’s roster has played 673 games for the Mavericks in the past
Allen’s roster has 516 games played in the AHL
Kansas City’s roster has 624 games played in the AHL
Allen’s average age is 24.04 which is fourth youngest in the league
Kansas City’s average age is 25.08 which is the 10th oldest in the league.
Allen’s youngest player is 21, the oldest 29
Kansas City’s youngest player is 21, the oldest 32
Allen has 19 players from Canada, eight from the US
Kansas City has 14 players from the US, 11 from Canada and one from Slovakia
– Three things to watch for in the preseason games:
1. Team speed – the new players have added a lot of team speed to the lineup
2. Power play – who will get power play time. The power play under performed last season at 17.1% and needs improvement.
3. Rookies – Rookies will be a big part of the team’s success. Pay special attention to this group.
– Rookie forward Tyler Poulson was traded to Rapid City yesterday. In the ECHL transactions Allen deleted Poulson as a trade to Rapid City but did not add a player from Rapid City. You would have to assume that means there is not a player headed from Rapid City to Allen.
– The ECHL announced yesterday they will be testing video replay in four arenas this season (Boise, Kalamazoo, Toledo and Worcester). The video replay will be available in four specific circumstances related to goals. Here are the details: https://www.echl.com/echl-to-test-video-replay-during-2018-19-season-in-four-arenas
– If you have a half or partial season ticket plan you can pick up your tickets tomorrow (Saturday) at the Allen Event Center. Enter through the Team Store. Full Season Ticket Booklets won’t be available until next week.
DID YOU KNOW: How hard is it for ECHL teams to keep their top scorers? Here is a breakdown of where the top 20 ECHL scorers from 2017-18 are playing this season.
8 – re-signed with same ECHL team
7 – signed overseas
2 – signed with different ECHL teams
2 – are playing in AHL
1 – retired
The seven players who signed overseas were the #1, #4, #5, #7, #9, #10 & #11 scorers in the ECHL last season.