Those of you who read the blog everyday may wonder what happened yesterday given there was no blog. I actually wrote a story but decided not to post it. I went down the rabbit hole of reliving in great detail all of the obstacles Chad Costello has faced since becoming coach and general manager in May. I covered everything from taking over from the most successful coach in AA history, having to learn all of the ECHL rules and regulations on the fly, being one of the last ECHL teams to find an affiliate, the many injuries (short and long term) and having the fewest NHL/AHL players assigned of any ECHL team.
After I finished the story, I realized how contradictory it was to a conversation I just had with Chad Costello. After the game on Saturday, I spent time with coach Costello and the rest of the coaching staff discussing the game and looking ahead. I came away from that conversation knowing 100% that there is no quit and no excuses coming from the coach’s room. They are totally focused on what they need to do to get the team winning more consistently.
I realized if coach Costello is not making excuses why am I writing about excuses, so I deleted the post.
– It is a new week and a new opportunity for the Allen Americans. The team flew to Kansas City this morning and will play the Mavericks tonight and Friday before traveling to Tulsa for a game on Saturday. The Americans will wrap up the week on Sunday, playing Kansas City at home.
– The good news is none of the players that were sitting out last week stayed home. Allen will be missing Liam Finlay tonight and Zach Pochiro will be sitting out, serving his one game suspension for the instigating penalty he took in the last five minutes of the game on Saturday. Allen will be playing shorthanded tonight but should have a full lineup for the weekend.
– If you like change this week promises to be one of the busiest of the season. The one roster change that is already public (per AHL transactions) is Belleville’s Xavier Bernard, a 6’4″ 203 pound, left shot defenseman has been loaned to Allen. He will meet the team in Kansas City later in the week. Bernard has played 16 games for Belleville this season with one assist and eight penalty minutes.
– Allen will be adding and subtracting several other players during the week. Coach Costello described it as a week with a lot of moving parts. I expect a different lineup for all four games this week.
– Kevin Mandolese will get the start in goal tonight. He has been Allen’s best goalie since being reassigned by Ottawa to Allen on December 8. Mandolese has a record of 3-1 with a GAA of 2.37 and save percentage of .933. You have to assume it is just a matter of time before he is recalled to Belleville.
– You know it is a strange season when Allen plays Utah 12 times this season and Kansas City only six times. Even more strange is five of the six games against the Mavericks will take place this month. Here is the schedule for the six times Allen plays Kansas City this season.
- January 3 – at Kansas City
- January 6 – at Kansas City
- January 8 – in Allen
- January 22 – at Kansas City
- January 25 – at Allen
- April 12 – at Allen
– All attention will be on the Allen vs Kansas City game tonight since it is the only game on the ECHL schedule. Kansas City is in third place in the Mountain Division with a record of 13-11-3-0 (.537). The Mavericks home record is outstanding at 10-1-3-0 (.821). Allen’s overall record is is 9-17-1-0 (.352) and its road record is 5-10-0-0 (.333).
– Here are some stat comparisons:
- Average goals scored per game: Allen 2.9, KC 3.2
- Average goals allowed per game: Allen 3.8, KC 3.4
- Average shots for per game: Allen 29.6, KC 31.6
- Average shots against per game: Allen 34.5, KC 30.3
- Road vs home power play %: Allen 19.4% road, KC 24.6% home
- Road vs home penalty kill %: Allen 78.8% road, KC 79.3% home
– Shane Starrett will likely get the start in goal for Kansas City. He has started the Mavericks last six games. His last five outings he has had save percentages of .941, .969, .947, .943 and .964. Safe to say the game tonight should be a goalie battle the way both goalies have been playing.
– A player to watch for Kansas City is leading scorer (31 points), #12 Jeremy McKenna, who has had the game winning goals in three of the Mavericks last four wins. Allen will counter with its two 30 points scorers, Jack Combs and Hank Cone.
– Both teams are under the league average in winning games after scoring the first goal but are still above .500. Allen is 8-4-1-0 (.654) when scoring first and Kansas City is 7-6-2-0 (.533).
– Allen gave up seven power play goals on 19 opportunities against Wichita last week. That is a penalty kill percentage of just 63%. Allen did score two shorthanded goals on the penalty kill, but the Americans will have to be much better on the penalty kill against Kansas City to be successful.
DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL stats post today is about plus/minus. Allen’s plus minus leader is Chad Butcher at +5. Allen’s all-time single season plus/minus leaders are Joel Chouinard and Chad Costello, the only two players in franchise history to reach +40 in a single season. Chouinard led the league in 2016-17 with a plus/minus of +47. Costello had a plus/minus of +43 in 2014-15, good enough for #3 in the league to go along with his league leading 125 points.
The highest ECHL plus/minus rating since the 1990’s (+49, Peter Sivak, Alaska, 2013-14) could fall this season. Here are the current ECHL plus/minus leaders with 60% of the season remaining:+38: Matt Register, Idaho+24: Cody Haiskanen, Idaho+20: Darren Brady, Idaho+19: Orrin Centazzo, Newfoundland+19: Ryan Dmowski, IdahoThis is another example of the dominant season thus far by the Idaho Steelheads. Idaho has four of the top five leaders in plus/minus. More impressive is half of all ECHL players with a plus/minus greater than +15 (8 of 16) are members of the Idaho Steelheads.