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Importance of Next Seven Games, Allen vs Utah Series Preview, Martinson’s Comments, Consistent Excellence Stats and More

Friday, January 21st
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It seems like I say it every weekend, but Allen begins a critical three game series in Utah tonight. Allen is currently in third place in the Mountain Division but the points percentage from second place Idaho (.574) to fifth place Rapid City (.542) is razor thin. More importantly, if the Americans want to be competitive in the playoffs, they need to climb up the overall ECHL standings. If Allen doesn’t finish in the top tier of teams in the regular season, they have literally no chance of winning the Kelly Cup. The Americans are currently #14 in points percentage (.550) and need to move up to the top five by the end of the season to have a realistic chance of winning the Kelly Cup. Here is where the Kelly Cup champion finished in the regular season for each season since Allen joined the ECHL:

  • #5 – Fort Wayne (2020-21)
  • #3 – Newfoundland (2018-19)
  • #4 – Colorado (2017-18)
  • #3 – Colorado (2016-17)
  • #5 – Allen (2015-16)
  • #2 – Allen (2014-15)

– Six of Allen’s next seven games are against division leaders. After the three-game series this weekend against Mountain Division #1 Utah, the Americans come home to play four games in five days with three of them against the league’s best points percentage team, Newfoundland (.727). It will certainly be difficult, but Allen has to take four points against Utah and Newfoundland and beat Rapid City in the other game next weekend. If Allen doesn’t get at least 10 points from the next seven games, it will be hard to see them competing with the top teams in the ECHL.

– Enough philosophizing about the future, here is a preview of the game tonight (8:10 pm CST). The game tonight will be the third against Utah this season. The first two were in Allen at the end of October and the Grizzlies won them both in games that went to overtime. On October 30, Utah came from behind in the third period to win 4-3 in overtime. The next night Allen had a 4-0 lead before Utah scored four unanswered goals to force overtime, which they won for a 5-4 final score.

– Recent performance shows Allen won eight of nine games and then lost four straight before winning its last game 8-0. Will the team that averaged five goals a game in the wins or the team that averaged 1.4 goals in the losses show up tonight. Utah had a six-game winning streak in December but has lost five of its last 10 games.

– Both teams will be missing some key pieces tonight. For Allen, goalie Antoine Bibeau is still in Seattle, Spencer Asuchak and Nolan Kneen are on loan to the AHL (Charlotte). Utah is missing top goalie Trent Minor, forward Brandon Cutler and Matthew Boucher (ECHL Rookie of the Year) who were recently loaned/recalled to AHL teams.

– When I talked to coach Martinson this morning, he confirmed Spencer Asuchak and Nolan Kneen will stay in Charlotte over the weekend.  Hayden Lavigne will get the start in goal tonight. He has been outstanding with a .961 save percentage in his last three starts including the 8-0 shutout win in Allen’s last game. Allen was short at center with Asuchak in Charlotte and Chad Butcher and Zach Hall injured. The good news is they both back in the lineup tonight. Ben Owen is the one Allen players that will sit out as a healthy scratch. Martinson was well aware of Utah leading the league in shorthanded goals and the need to have the power play adjust accordingly. He also told me he is continuing to talk to Canadian college players that are looking to turn pro.

– If you compare season long stats both teams average 3.4 goals per game, but Allen allows more goals (3.7) than Utah (3.0). Utah averages more shots (32.9 vs 28.2) and allows fewer shots (30.7 vs 35.4) than Allen.

– Comparing away (Allen) and home (Utah) special teams stats the Grizzlies have the power play advantage (18.9% vs 17.2%) while Allen has the better penalty kill (84.2% vs 79.7%). Allen definitely needs to be aware on the power play. The Americans have given up a league leading 12 shorthanded goals and Utah leads the league having scored 13 shorthanded goals.

– Utah is one of the best teams in the league playing with the lead. The Grizzlies are 9-2-0-0 when leading after the first period and a perfect 15-0-0-0 with a second period lead.

– It is likely you will see overtime in this series since both games these team played earlier in the season were decided in overtime. The Americans have struggled losing five of six games that have gone to overtime/shootout. Utah has won three of five.

– Here is the game preview from the Allen Americans:  https://allenamericans.com/media/game-day-preview-americans-at-utah-810-pm-cst/

OTHER COMMENTS

– Spencer Asuchak and Nolan Kneen were in the lineup for Charlotte last night as the Checkers beat Springfield 4-2. They are both expected to be in the lineup again when Charlotte plays at home on Saturday.

– If you watched the Dallas Stars defeat Buffalo last night 5-4 it was good to see Allen Alum, Aaron Dell in goal for Buffalo. Dallas outshot Buffalo 47-24, so it was a long night for Dell, who led Allen to its first championship in 2013. Check out this penalty Dell took last week in a game against Nashville: https://youtu.be/HvtRUl7STqo

– It is a big night in the ECHL with 12 games on tap. It will be interesting to see how Newfoundland plays in Kansas City after the Growlers have had so much time off. In other Mountain Division action Idaho is at Rapid City and Tulsa is at Wichita. Here is the ECHL Today with a preview of all 12 games: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2022/1/echl-today-jan-21

DID YOU KNOW: Consistent Excellence! ECHL teams with the most seasons at .550+ points percentage since 2014-15 (8 seasons):

8 – Florida8 – Fort Wayne7 – Toledo*7 – Idaho*6 – Reading*6 – Allen6 – Utah6 – South Carolina*Did not play in 2020-21

The post Importance of Next Seven Games, Allen vs Utah Series Preview, Martinson’s Comments, Consistent Excellence Stats and More appeared first on Allen Americans Hockey Club.

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