The Allen Americans have seen plenty of ups and downs this season and it continues. First and foremost is coach Chad Costello will be away from the team taking caring of a family matter. Everyone’s thoughts and prayers are with Chad and his family. The Americans will be putting out a statement on this matter this afternoon along a photo of a special helmet sticker they will be wearing.
– Assistant coach Aaron Gens takes over while Chad is gone and will be behind the bench for the three games against Tulsa this weekend. Coach Gens is very capable of taking on this role. He has won championships as a head coach in youth hockey as recently as last season. As the Americans assistant coach, he is very involved on a day-to-day basis. Gens and Costello actually share the same office.
– Allen hasn’t had any players loaned to AHL teams all season. AHL contracted players have gone back and forth but not Allen signed players. That all changed yesterday when goalie Luke Peressini was loaned to Belleville and forward Hank Crone was loaned to Ontario. The goal when young players sign in Allen is to put them in position to get an opportunity at the next level. With numerous injuries in Ottawa and Belleville, Peressini will get his first experience in the AHL. All Allen signed players are free agents and can be loaned to any AHL team. Hank Crone’s stats speak for themselves, and stats get you noticed. The Ontario Reign came calling and the rookie Crone will get his first opportunity in the AHL.
– Given Allen has three games in three days this weekend and plays three games in Utah next week the Americans had to find a backup goalie rather than go with an EBUG, since it is unknown how long Peressini will be in Belleville. Yesterday the Americans signed Justin Kapelmaster who has bounced around a lot but is a capable goalie. Allen fans will remember Kapelmaster from the 2020-21 season when he played 19 games for the Americans with a 2.96 GAA and .905 save percentage. Kapelmaster’s stats since turning pro in 2020-21 include 39 ECHL games (GAA 2.89, Save % .907) and three AHL games (GAA 1.55, save % .943).
– Luckily Allen gets Mikael Robidoux and Zach Pochiro back from suspension so the Americans will have a full lineup. Gavin Gould will move up to replace Crone. Here is the expected lineup:
- Kaplemaster (backup)
– As I said yesterday Tulsa and Allen have always played each other close. Allen is 2-3-0-0 against Tulsa this season and over the last five years the Americans record against Tulsa is 25-24-4-0. Allen has been playing the better hockey recently. Over the last 10 games the Americans have the best record in the Mountain Division (7-3-0-0), Tulsa has the worst (4-5-0-1). Allen’s home record is 6-8-1-0 compared to Tulsa’s road record 3-8-3-0.
– Overall stats are also very close. Both teams give up an average of 3.6 goals per game. Allen scores 2.9 goals per game, Tulsa averages 2.8 per game. Allen has scored 109 goals and allowed 135 for a -26 goal differential. Tulsa has scored 131 goals and allowed 102 for a goal differential of -29.
– As always special team will play a key role this weekend. The Allen penalty kill has been great recently, but the Americans need to be more disciplined. Allen has taken more minor penalties (225) than any team in the ECHL. Allen leads Tulsa in every category of penalties and if combine them all the totals are 254 penalties for Allen and 205 for Tulsa. Even though the Oilers have the #27 ranked power play in the league (14.3%) compared to Allen’s #14 rank (19.6%) staying out of the penalty box will be key in this series.
– Allen has the better record when scoring first. Allen is 12-5-1-0 (.694) and Tulsa is 7-7-1-1 (.500). With that said a good start will be important tonight and in this three-game series. These teams have a combined record when leading after the first period of 16-7-0-1 and when leading after the second period of 17-3-2-0.
– If any games go extra time, it is advantage Allen. The Americans are 2-1 in overtime and 1-0 in shootouts. Tulsa has the second worst record in the league in extra time games. The Oilers are 2-6 in overtimes and 0-1 in shootouts.
– It is going to be a tough series emotionally for the Americans with coach Costello being away from the team and the leading scorer and winningest goalie on loan to the AHL. It will require everyone to step up and provide leadership on and off the ice for the team to be successful.
– Hank Crone’s 10 game point streak is on hold with his promotion to the AHL but Colton Hargrove will be trying to extend his 12-game point streak tonight and continue his goal a game average which stands at 11 goals in 11 games.
– The reason Luke Peressini was needed in Belleville is because Kevin Mandolese was recalled to the Ottawa Senators. Ottawa goalie, Cam Talbot, exited the Senators game on Wednesday with a lower body injury. Mandolese was called up on Thursday. Talbot is expected to be out until after the NHL All-Star game. Ottawa has three games before the All-Star break. Mandolese joins the list of players that spend time in the ECHL, AHL and NHL in one season, but Kevin may hold the record because he has been in all three leagues within three weeks.
– Justin Kaplemaster is more remembered by Allen fans for the one period he played in the Kelly Cup playoffs. It was against Allen in the 2021 Kelly Cup playoffs when he was with Fort Wayne. Allen was about to take a 2-0 lead in the best of five series. The Americans were ahead 4-1 going into the third period and Fort Wayne inserted Kapelmaster for the third period. Fort Wayne came back and won that game 5-4 in overtime in one of the worst collapses in Allen playoff history. Kaplemaster didn’t play a single playoff minute in the six games before that one period plus overtime, or the four games after as Fort Wayne beat South Carolina to win the Kelly Cup. Kapelmaster played just one period but helped turn around a series that would have likely gone to Allen without that great comeback.
Here is what I wrote about the game on June19, 2021 that could have cost the Allen Americans their third Kelly Cup.
– The second period was all Americans as they outshot Fort Wayne 16-12 and outscored them 2-0 and had one goal disallowed that many thought was a good goal. Instead of a 5-1 lead after the second period Allen had a lead of 4-1. I am sure most everyone saw this game in the win column for Allen when you consider in its 10-game win streak dating back to May 28 the Americans allowed three goals in an entire game just once let alone in one period. If truth be known, though I am sure they would never admit it, the Komets also thought the game was lost. With the score 4-1 going into the third period, Fort Wayne inserted former Allen goalie, Justin Kapelmaster, into the game presumably to give starter Dylan Ferguson a rest. Kapelmaster hadn’t played a single minute in Fort Wayne’s first six games of the playoffs. To his credit, Justin did his job stopping all eight shots that came his way, but the game turned on what was happening at the other end of the ice.
– As Fort Wayne beat writer, Justin Cohn, posted after the game, The Komets had one of the most remarkable victories of their 69-year history.” The Americans self-destructed defensively, and Fort Wayne came roaring back. The first goal at the 7:56 mark cut the score to 4-2 but the gut punch was two goals within 54 seconds to tie the game. To add insult to injury the goal that tied the game came on the power play, the only power play of the game. Allen had plenty of opportunity to put the game away on the power play but failed to convert on seven attempts. Fort Wayne wasn’t much better missing on its first five power play attempts but came up big when it counted. Allen’s power play is now dead last in the playoffs at 8.0% (2-25).
– It is a big night around the ECHL with 26 of 28 teams in action. All seven Mountain Division teams will play. The games: Tulsa at Allen, Wichita at Idaho, Rapid City at Utah and Wheeling visits Kansas City. Here is the ECHL Today with the previews: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2023/1/echl-today-jan-27
DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL Stats post today is about the league 20 years ago. What isn’t included is the playoff MVP for the Kelly Cup champions, Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies. The playoff MVP was former Allen assistant coach Kevin Colley who was part of the 2015-16 Americans Kelly Cup championship. In the 2003 playoffs Colley had 20 points (13G, 7A) in 17 games.
ECHL History: In 2002-03 the ECHL was celebrating its 15th anniversary. Here are some highlights:– Macon transferred to Lexington and renamed Lexington Men O’ War. Mobile and New Orleans granted voluntary suspension, making ECHL a 27-team league.– Teams played a 72-game schedule.– Brian McKenna named President/CEO. He would serve in that role for 16 years, until 2017-18.– Former Johnstown center Brett McLean becomes 200th player to play in the National Hockey League after playing in the ECHL when he made his debut with the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 10.– League name changed from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19.– Former Cincinnati goaltender Corey Schwab becomes sixth former ECHL player to have name engraved on Stanley Cup as member of New Jersey Devils.– Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies won the Kelly Cup.