Allen fans have learned over the years to expect almost anything when the Americans play Wichita. From pregame brawls to game seven overtime for a championship, these teams have played close to 150 times over the years and developed quite a rivalry.
– The box score shows a relatively easy win for the Americans last night. Allen took a 4-0 lead and cruised to a 5-3 win before a crowd of 4095 at the CUTX Event Center. The game.however was anything but a cruise. Neither coach seemed pleased with the officiating that saw 19 penalties called, two match penalties,16 power plays and six of the eight goals scored by special teams.
– Allen scored the first two goals of the game even strength. Jackson Leppard scored early in the first period (3:48) and Jack Combs scored late in the first period (19:00). Every goal after the first period for both teams was scored on special teams. Wichita scored all three of its goals on the power play going 3-10. Allen was 2-6 on the power play and also added a shorthanded goal.
– Among the 19 penalties called in the game were two match penalties. Early in the third period Wichita forward, Mark Liwiski, was given a match penalty for an illegal check to the head. The rule cited (48.5) states. “The referee at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgement, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head.”
Late in the third period (17:26) Allen’s Mikael Robidoux was given a match penalty for a deliberate attempt to injure. The rule cited (21.1) states in part, “A match penalty shall be imposed on any player who deliberately attempts to injure or deliberately injures an opponent in any manner. A match penalty will automatically be reviewed and is subject to a fine and/or suspension upon review by the VP of Hockey Operations.
I assume both of these players will be suspended, but for Robidoux, who is a repeat offender and has already been suspended for 14 games and six games this season and just returned to the lineup, this could be a real disaster. Coach Costello has talked many times about the aggressiveness and energy Robidoux brings to the lineup. It is clear he will never be given a break by the league. I am not convinced his match penalty would have been a match penalty if it was anyone else in the league. You have to hope for the best for Robidoux but expect the worst when the league makes its decision after reviewing the game. Little doubt there will be some suspensions. Could be more than one for Allen. There are some early games today (3:00 pm EST) so I would expect the ECHL press release announcing suspensions from around the league will be out this morning.
– With 16 power plays it seemed like the entire game was played on special teams, so it was difficult for either team to find any rhythm. However, the Americans two even strength goals in the first period were key to the victory. With a 2-0 lead after the first period Allen never looked back and when Ryan Gagnon scored a shorthanded goal early in the second period (1:44) and Aiden Brown scored a power play goal a few minutes later the game was essentially over. All of the Allen penalties later in the game led to three Wichita power play goals to make the final score closer than it should have been, but Allen came away with a big win. The teams will play again tonight (6:05 pm) for the third time this week. It will be an important two points for both teams.
– Goal scorers for Allen were Jackson Leppard (2), Jack Combs (16), Ryan Gagnon (3), Aidan Brown (10) and Hank Crone (14). Here are the video highlights with all of the goals but none of the extracurricular activities that will lead to suspensions: https://www.echl.com/en/video/2022/12/wichita-thunder-vs-allen-americans—dec-30-2022-B3642vPx
– Here are the game recaps from the teams:
- Allen recap: https://allenamericans.com/media/americans-jump-on-wichita-early-in-5-3-win/
- Wichita recap: https://www.wichitathunder.com/en/news/thunder-winning-streak-stopped-on-friday-night
– Despite all of the penalties and giving up three power play goals it was a good game by the Americans. From coach Costello’s perspective it was the best game of the season for the Americans. His quote from the game recap press release, “We played our best game of the season. We got the early jump on them and forced them to play our game. We needed this after a tough loss on Wednesday. If we come out and play the same way tomorrow, we will win this series.”
– After all of the penalties last night, including the two match penalties which will likely lead to suspensions for the game tonight, it makes you wonder will the hard feelings carryover. You would think that would be the case, but more often than not against Wichita, a high penalty game does not repeat itself in back-to-back games. The referee scheduled tonight, Cameron Fleming, is the same as last night so it remains to be seen how he calls the game.
– Another good start by the Americans will be a big key in the game tonight. The team that scored first won both games in this series and the odds are that will happen again tonight.
– Kevin Mandolese had another great outing last night, stopping 20 of 23 shots. The three goals he allowed were all power play goals. He came up big time and time again before Allen got the big lead. Mandolese will get a rest tonight. Logan Flodell will get the start in goal and Luke Peressini will be the backup.
– You have to appreciate the Americans out shooting Wichita in the game last night. The final tally was 32-23. Anytime you can hold a team like Wichita to 23 shots when they have 10 power plays it is a great team effort. FYI the winners in the first two games of this series had the shot advantage, another key to victory tonight.
– Jack Combs led Allen last night with three points (1G, 2A) and his line mate, Hank Crone had a goal and an assist. Crone leads the team with 33 points followed by Combs with 32 points. They are ranked #6 and #7 in the ECHL scoring race. Crone has a two-point lead as the top scoring rookie in the ECHL.
– Idaho kept its streak going last night beating Utah (on the road) by a score of 4-1. The Steelheads have now won 10 straight and 17 of 18 games. Idaho’s winning percentage is up to .875 (24-3-0-1). In second place with a .729 winning percentage is South Carolina. Cincinnati is in third place with a .712 points percentage. That is a huge lead at this point in the season.
– With the win last night Allen gained some ground on the two teams closest to the Americans. The current Mountain Division standings:
- .875 – Idaho
- .621 – Wichita
- .519 – Kansas City
- .500 – Rapid City
- .423 – Tulsa
- .407 – Utah
- .365 – Allen
– A busy schedule around the ECHL today with 13 games on tap. Here is the ECHL Today with the previews: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2022/12/echl-today-dec-31
DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL Stats post today is about attendance again, but a different perspective. Allen’s average attendance after last night is 3609 which is ranked #15, but did you know Allen’s average attendance is better than seven AHL teams.
A few examples of teams that could clearly move to a higher league based on what the franchise has accomplished in average attendance:– Three ECHL teams have average attendance over 7000 per game (Toledo – 7474, Fort Wayne – 7324, Jacksonville – 7187). They all have a higher average attendance than 29 of the 32 AHL teams.– Huntsville leads the SPHL in average attendance at 5409, a higher average attendance than 20 of 28 ECHL teams.