It is game day for the Allen Americans as they are in Wichita to take on the Thunder for the fourth straight game. Allen will play Wichita 14 times this season (7 home, 7 away), more than any other team. After tonight, Allen won’t see Wichita again until the middle of December. It is still very early in the season, but the game tonight is key for the Americans. If they win their record will improve to 3-2-0-0 (.600) and they will be in the top two or three in the division. If Allen loses, its record will drop to 2-3-0-0 (.400) and they will be out of a playoff position.
– Here are the cumulative stats from the first three games against Wichita:
- Goals: Allen outscored Wichita 8-6
- Shots: Allen out shot Wichita 93-74
- Power Play: Allen was 2-9 (22.2%), Wichita was 4-18 (22.2%)
- Penalties: Allen took 27 penalties for 81 minutes; Wichita took 18 for 41 minutes
– Good starts and special teams are always keys to winning. The team that scored first has won all three games against Wichita. While both teams have the exact same power play percentage (22.2), Wichita has twice as many opportunities as Allen. In the 2-1 loss to the Thunder on Saturday the Americans were 0-1 on the power play, Wichita was 2-6. Special teams will likely determine the winner tonight.
– I had a chance to talk to coach Costello yesterday to get his keys to the game.
- “We need to continue to be a team that is hard to play against, but we need to learn to do so without taking penalties.”
- “We have generated more scoring chances than our opponent in every game thus far. We need to start cashing in on more of those chances.”
- “I like the way our team competes hard for loose pucks; we need to continue that tonight.”
- “One thing we have talked about is staying confident with the puck and managing it at the blue line. Sometimes the right play is getting the puck in deep and using our speed to get it back.”
- “Sometimes you have to have an eat with your hands mentality.” (See below*)
- “At times we try to make plays that are too hard, low percentage plays. I love how creative our players are, but as they are still building chemistry, shots and players driving the net are a better option right now, over the pretty play.”
- “Luke Peressini will get the start in goal and we will be using an EBUG as our backup.”
*Thanks to coach Gens for the interpretation of this quote: “That means get down and dirty and score greasy goals as opposed to pretty silverware, which means easy, pretty goals.”
– If you are looking for players to watch tonight it is a big group for Allen. Five players are averaging a point per game against Wichita (Combs, Saucerman, Crone, Myllari, Finlay). Wichita’s top scorers with two goals and three points each are #17 Stefan Fournier and +29 Brayden Watts. Wichita has scored a total of six goals in the three games against Allen, Fournier and Watts have four of them.
– When you consider Allen will play their fourth straight game against Wichita tonight, and it seemed there was some unfinished business at the end of the game on Sunday, you could expect some gloves dropping in this game. It all depends how the game goes, but there is little doubt Nico Blachman will be asking Fournier to dance. Fournier was doing the chicken dance the last time these teams met in Wichita. It will be a different type of dance tonight, if he is willing.
– The referee scheduled tonight is #8 Tyler Hascall. Allen had Hascall twice last season and won both games. The most memorable was a game in Toledo on March 25. The Americans were outshot 44-20 but won the game 4-3. It was the rarest of games as Hascall did not call a single penalty on either team.
– There will be some noticeable changes in visiting team player safety for the game tonight.
- There will be a guard sitting in the seats the entire game to keep the peace.
- There have been changes made to the railings.
- My understanding is the fan that caused the issue the last time Allen played in Wichita has been banned from the arena.
– Allen players that are not with the team in Wichita:
- Injured Reserve: Asuchak, Young
- Injured: Flodell, Baylis
- Suspended: Robidoux
– There are 11 games scheduled in the ECHL tonight including six of seven Mountain Division teams. In addition to Allen at Wichita, Utah is at Kansas City and Rapid City is at Idaho. Tulsa is idle tonight but will play Wichita at home on Saturday and in Wichita on Sunday. Here is the ECHL Today with previews of tonight’s games. https://www.echl.com/en/news/2022/11/echl-today-nov-4
– There were several rule changes made for the 2022-23 season that have been flying under the radar.
- For the first time, nine home games for each ECHL team will use the two-referee system. Two referees have only been used in the playoffs in the past. Why just nine home games instead of all of them? It is pure and simple the cost.
- A new rule requires coaches and officials to meet one hour prior to the start of the game in the hopes that these meetings create relationships that can help eliminate heated moments in the game.
- The wording in the rule book on faceoffs was changed to allow the attacking center to choose who puts their stick down first. Previously the attacking center always had to put his stick down first. The idea behind the rule change is not all centers think putting their stick down second is an advantage. The new rule gives the attacking center the choice of who puts their stick down first. This rule change is one more opportunity to increase offense.
DID YOU KNOW: Last off-season, three ECHL teams reached into the locker room and moved a player (their captain) directly into the head coaching position. It is still very early, but the three have had varied results thus far. Here are the records:6-0-0-0: Jordan Smotherman, Worcester2-2-0-0: Chad Costello, Allen0-4-0-0: Pete MacArthur, Adirondack– Worcester has the best record in the league and is two wins away from equaling the ECHL all-time record for wins to start a season.– Adirondack is one of two teams (Iowa the other) that are winless.