It is game day for the Allen Americans as they begin the most important three game series of the season, against the Toledo Walleye. When you talk about raucous crowds the Walleye fit the definition when it comes to the ECHL. It will be a scene seldom seen in the Mountain Division as a crowd of well over 7000 will pack the Huntington Center tonight. The Huntington Center, which opened in 2009, has a listed capacity of 7389 (8300 with standing room). Friday night crowds in Toledo typically get to the SRO level.
– Allen could have a points percentage as low as .500 or as high as .549 after this three game series in Toledo. The difference between looking at avoiding last place or fighting for second place in the Mountain Division. If the Americans can leave Toledo with a points percentage close to what they have as they arrive, it will be a successful weekend. To do so, Allen will have to earn three points from the three games.
– Here are some comparative stats between the #1 ranked Toledo Walleye with a .703 points percentage and the #13 ranked Allen Americans with a .526 points percentage.
- Record: Allen 27-24-6-1, Toledo 40-16-1-2
- Last 10 games: Allen 6-3-1-0, Toledo 6-4-0-0
- Current streak: Allen 2-0-0-0, Toledo 2-0-0-0
- Goals scored: Allen 193, Toledo 220
- Goals allowed: Allen 199, Toledo 164
– It is clear when you look at season long records that Toledo has been the better team. However, over the last eight games Allen is 6-2-0-0 and Toledo is 5-3-0-0. Toledo hasn’t won more than two games in a row since February 25.
– This series will see Allen having the strongest group of forwards in the lineup this season. Eight players are averaging .90+ points per game including five averaging more than a point per game. The key to this series for Allen will be team defense. With all of the offensive fire power upfront, can the Americans be aggressive without taking chances that end up creating odd man rushes for Toledo.
– Toledo will see a lot of goalie Luke Peressini in this series. In the month of March, Luke has been arguably the best goalie in the ECHL. He has faced 244 shots in eight games and stopped 230 of them. His record is 6-2 and his save percentage is .943.
– Special teams will play a key role in this series and Allen will have to have the discipline to stay out of the penalty box since Toledo has a lethal power play. The Walleye have scored on 30 0f 103 power play opportunities at home for a league leading home power play percentage of 29.1%. Allen’s road power play percentage is 18.8% (21-112). In the month of March (8 games) the Americans have given up 19 power play opportunities which is an average of just 2.4 per game. That is the kind of discipline Allen will need to sustain against the Walleye.
– As strong as the Toledo power play is at home, its penalty kill is one of the worst in the ECHL. The Walleye home penalty kill is ranked #23 at 76.6%. Allen’s road penalty kill is ranked #8 at 83.0%.
– Scoring first is always a stat worth looking at in series preview. Allen has scored first in 52% of its games (30 of 58) and the Americans record when scoring first is 17-9-3-1 for a points percentage of .633, Toledo has scored first in 63% of its games (37 of 59) and the Walleye have a record when scoring first of 31-5-1-0 for a points percentage of .851. Odds are pretty overwhelming, if the Americans give up the first goal of the game they will likely lose.
– Toledo and Allen are similar in both teams are led by veteran players. TJ Hensick and Chad Costello are the oldest players on their team, are captains of their respective teams, lead their team in points and are tied for second in the ECHL scoring race with 65 points. Hensick is 36 and Costello is 35. Some other examples:
- Jack Combs (34) – leads team in points per game (1.15), second in points (55)
- Spencer Asuchak (30) – 2nd in goals (21), 3rd in points (49)
- John Albert (33) – tied for team lead in goals (21)
- Matt Berry (29) – leads team in points per game (1.39)
Both teams rely on veteran leadership on and off the ice. These players will have a lot to say about who wins this series.
COACH’S CORNER WITH STEVE MARTINSONI had a chance to talk to Steve Martinson before pregame skate this morning. Here are his comments from today and yesterday about the series with Toledo:“I won’t know until after our skate this morning if Darian Skeoch will play tonight. If he plays we will have two forwards as healthy scratches. If Skeoch can’t play, Jared Bethune will help out at defense and we will have one healthy scratch.”“We have three lines that can score. All three lines will get a chance on the power play and the line that is going best will get additional power play time.”“Luke Peressini will get the start in goal. He has been as good as any goalie in the league this month.”“It will be a good atmosphere in Toledo with big crowds filling the arena. Both teams will be able to feed off the crowds.”“Toledo has a very good power play and we will have to be aware of who is on the ice and how we want to play against them.”“I look at this series as a battle of two teams that are similar. High end, veteran, skilled teams.”
“Toledo has been #1 in points percentage for a long time, but how teams play down the stretch is important. The series will be a good test to see where we are at.”
“Our forward group is the best we have had all season. All three lines are capable of scoring on every shift.
“This series is like a playoff series for us. To beat good teams like Toledo we will have to play consistent, disciplined hockey at both ends of the ice.”
OTHER COMMENTS- It is a big night in the ECHL with 13 games on tap. The only team not playing is Kansas City. The Mountain Division games have Allen at Toledo, Wichita at Idaho and Tulsa at Utah. Here is the ECHL Today with the previews of all 13 games: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2022/3/echl-today-march-25
– Forward Hayden Hodgson became the 26th former ECHL to make it to the NHL this season. Hodgson made quite a debut last night, playing for Philadelphia. He had a goal, an assist, four hits and was +3 in the Flyers 5-2 win over St. Louis. Hodgson bounced around the ECHL for several years playing for Florida, Manchester, Wichita, Reading, Wheeling and Utah before signing with Lehigh Valley (AHL) this season. He was third on his team in scoring when he was called up to Philadelphia. Hodgson is 26 years old and has always been a tough player that hits, but can also skate. Here is the ECHL press release: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2022/3/hodgson-makes-nhl-debut
– Players to watch in the Toledo series are the two players vying for the ECHL scoring championship. Here are the top five ECHL scoring leaders going into the weekend:
- 68 points – Will Graber, Fort Wayne
- 65 points – Chad Costello, Allen
- 65 points – TJ Hensick, Toledo
- 64 points – Darik Angeli, Kansas City
- 64 points – Zach O’Brien, Newfoundland
DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL Stats post today is about teams with 20+ home and road wins. Allen has 15 home wins and 12 road wins. With seven home games and seven road games left, the Americans only chance to win 20 games will require them to go 5-2 in the remaining home games.
Four ECHL teams have 20+ home wins and one team has 20+ road wins. Here are the 20+ win teams along with those teams that are close to reaching the 20 win plateau:HOME WINS23 – Atlanta22 – Idaho21 – Cincinnati20 – Fort Wayne19 – Toledo19 – Utah19 – KalamazooROAD WINS21 – Toledo19 – Newfoundland19 – Florida