The long wait is over for Allen fans as the 14th home opener in franchise history takes place tonight at the CUTX Event Center. Some facts about the home openers over the years.
- In year one (2009-10) the arena was still under construction when the season began so Allen played its first seven games on the road. The home opener took place on November 7 and the Americans lost to Corpus Christi 4-1. Here is a trivia question for you. Who scored the third goal for Corpus Christi in that game and what was his number. The answer is #61 Chad Costello.
- It is hard to forget the home opener last season. Allen suffered its worst shutout ever (7-0) and it was to the opponent tonight, Wichita. Allen goalie Alex Gravel had to play the entire game for the Americans because Allen had to use an EBUG (Thomas Hodges).
- Prior to last season the worst home opener ever was in 2014-15 when Allen got beat by Tulsa 9-6. Greger Hanson was the lone bright spot for Allen with a whopping 11 shots on goal, four points and a hat trick. Aaron Dell was in goal for the Americans and gave up seven of the nine goals. It was Dell’s only regulation loss in the 12 games he played for Allen that season. By the end of January, he was in the AHL on his way to the NHL.
- 2016-17 was another memorable home opener. The Americans beat Missouri 6-3, but it took a heroic effort from Riley Gill who faced 47 shots. The game winning goal was scored by Chad Costello
- Allen’s earliest and latest home openers happened in successive years. In 2019-20 the home opener was on October 11 and the following year, with the season delayed because of Covid, the home opener wasn’t until December 12.
- Allen’s all-time record in home openers is 6-7. Interestingly, when Allen won championships in 2014, 2015 and 2016 it lost the home opener.
– The game tonight will be the second of four straight games against Wichita. The Americans beat the Thunder 5-3 last Saturday in Wichita and will play them again on the road next Friday (November 4) after games tonight and tomorrow afternoon in Allen.
– Wichita played Tulsa at home last night and fell behind 2-0 in the first three minutes of the game but came back to win 5-3. Tulsa out shot Wichita 52-32. The game ended at 9:40 pm. so it was a long night for the Thunder as they traveled to Allen for the games against the Americans tonight and Sunday afternoon (2:05 pm).
– It is a very small sample size comparing stats between Allen and Wichita, but they have surprisingly similar stats. Here are a few examples:
- Both teams are 1-1, though Allen’s are road games, Wichita’s are home games
- Both teams are averaging 4.0 goals per game
- Both teams’ penalty kill percentage is 75%
- Wichita has a slight edge in power play percentage (28.6% vs 27.3%)
- Allen has the edge in goals allowed (3.5 vs 4.0)
- Neither team has scored or allowed a shorthanded goal.
- Allen averages 7.0 minor penalties per game, Wichita 6.5.
– Scoring first is always a big key. In the ECHL this season teams that score first have a record of 28-9-3-1 which is a points percentage of .732. In the first two games of the season, Allen gave up the first goal in Tulsa and lost, scored the first goal in Wichita and won.
– Allen has the second oldest team in the ECHL with an average age of 26.41. Wichita averages over two years younger per player and is the third youngest team in the league with an average age of 24.32.
– Wichita has six players assigned from San Jose and they had a big part in the Thunder win last night. The winning goalie (Strauss Mann) was just assigned to Wichita. The #1 star of the game was another assigned player, power forward Dillon Hamaliuk who had three points (2G, 1A). He spent the entire 2021-22 season with the Barracuda. He wears #28 and is a player to watch this weekend. San Jose sent its first round (#31 overall) 2020 draft choice (Ozzy Wiesblatt) to Wichita this week, but as soon as he arrived, he was recalled without playing a game.
– Another Wichita player to keep an eye on tonight is #17 Stefan Fournier, who was shown as one of the two extra forwards (not on the top three lines) last night. Fournier has a goal in each of Wichita’s games and was taunting some Allen players last Saturday. Would expect he gets plenty of attention tonight.
– Allen’s leading scorers with four points in two games are #23 Colton Saucerman (2G, 2A) and #15 Liam Finlay (1G, 3A). Defenseman Saucerman is tied for the ECHL lead is scoring by defensemen. Finlay’s three assists is tied for second among all ECHL rookies.
– Allen will be playing this weekend without captain Spencer Asuchak who will be serving his two-game suspension. Ashchak is suspected to be out of the lineup a long time recovering from an injury he suffered in Tulsa last Friday. If you are wondering who will wear the “C” while Asuchak is out of the lineup the answer is nobody. Allen will go with three alternate captains (A) during Asuchak’s absence.
– The Americans got some good news yesterday as goalie Logan Flodell has been returned to Allen from the Belleville Senators. No need to use an EBUG tonight. Luke Peressini will get the start tonight.
– Coach Costello has found a way to have a pretty full lineup for the game tonight, despite the salary cap problems. By my calculation, Allen will have 16 skaters, 10 forwards and six defensemen, with Jared Bethune playing up front. The players that will miss the game are:
- Spencer Asuchak (suspended/injured)
- Mikael Robidoux (suspended)
- Stephen Baylis (injured)
- Andrew Durham (on reserve)
– By the looks of the ECHL standings, the Mountain Division is distinguished by its parity early in the season. It is the only division without an undefeated team and one of two divisions without a winless. Three teams (Idaho, Rapid City, Utah) are 2-1 and three (Allen, Kansas City, Wichita) are 1-1. Tulsa (1-2) is the only team in the division with a losing record.
– Another 12 games on tap tonight around the ECHL. Tulsa is the only Mountain Division team that is idle. Here is the ECHL Today with a preview of all of the games. https://www.echl.com/en/news/2022/10/echl-today-oct-29
DID YOU KNOW: Home ice is normally a big advantage for ECHL teams. Last season (2021-22) just three teams had a losing record at home while 15 teams had losing road records.It is a small sample size but one ECHL division has struggled mightily at home this season. Here is the points percentage and home record by division, thus far in 2022-23:.625 (5-3-0-0): Mountain Division.625 (7-4-1-0): North Division.600 (5-3-2-0): South Division.227 (2-8-0-1): Central Division