It is game day for the Allen Americans. After a rare two idle days on the road, the Americans will try to add to its win against Kansas City on Tuesday when they take on the Mavericks tonight (7:05 pm CST). Allen can achieve a couple of modest goals with a win tonight. First, the Americans haven’t won back-to-back games since November 12 and 16. Second, with an Allen win and a Utah loss in Rapid City tonight the Americans will escape last place in the Mountain Division. It would be the first time since before Thanksgiving Allen was not in last place. Achieving these two goals would be small but important steps for the Americans who have been playing .500 hockey for the last month.
– It will be a big challenge for Allen tonight when you consider Kansas City has lost one home game in regulation time all season and that was back on November 5. If the game goes to overtime like the game on Tuesday, it becomes advantage Allen. Kansas City has been in four overtime games at home this season and lost all four.
– When I talked to coach Costello early this morning, he didn’t have everything pinned down on the lineup for tonight. Here is what is known as of this morning:
- Liam Finlay will not be in the lineup; he is still day to day.
- Defenseman Xavier Bernard, who just arrived from Belleville and will wear #44 will be in the lineup.
- With nine defensemen on the roster look for one or two to be healthy scratches tonight.
- Goalie Luke Peressini will get the start in goal
- Rookie center Grant Hebert (see profile below) has reported but he may not be in the lineup tonight.
– Both teams were 1-2 on the power play on Tuesday but Allen has struggled on the penalty kill recently. That is an area that needs improvement tonight and this weekend. Allen has given up at least one power play goal in its last six games. The total over the six games is 10-31 for a penalty kill percentage of just 67.7%. Here are the penalty kill stats for Allen the last six games.
- 1-2: Kansas City (1/3)
- 2-5: Wichita (12/31)
- 3-10: Wichita (12/30)
- 2-4: Wichita (12/28)
- 1-4: Tulsa (12/23)
- 1-6: Tulsa (12/22)
– Allen overcame giving up the first goal of the game on Tuesday. It is unlikely the Americans can do that two games in a row. A good start tonight is imperative.
– You often hear the saying in critical games like tonight the best players have to be the best players. Hank Crone has 11 points (4G, 7A) in the last seven games and had a goal and two assists on Tuesday, Jack Combs has 12 points (5G, 7A) in the last eight games and had two assists on Tuesday. Colton Hargrove had two goals and 11 shots on Tuesday and has points in seven of the last eight games including a shorthanded goal. If Allen is to win tonight these three players will play a key role.
GRANT HEBERT PLAYER PROFILE
– Allen announced the signing of rookie Grant Hebert yesterday. Hebert is a 6’3″ 192 pound, left shot center. The 25-year-old started his college career at Robert Morris University (RMU) and transferred to the University of Maine after RMU discontinued its hockey program after the 2020-21 season. RMU is bringing the Division 1 program back in 2023-24.
– Hebert was the third leading scorer for Maine last season but had played sparingly this season. He was the oldest player on the team as a fifth-year senior and I heard the team decided to go with the younger players. Hebert recently left the team to pursue a pro career.
– Here are some of the attributes Hebert possesses as described in various scouting reports:
- powerful skater
- great vision
- ability to carry the puck
- good on faceoffs (led team as a freshman with 55% faceoff wins)
- can play in all situations (PP and PK)
– Hebert comes from a hockey family and his brother and sister joined him at RMU to play hockey in 2020-21 before the school discontinued the program. Here is a story about the siblings and their family from 2018 when they had all committed to RMU: http://burghhockey.com/hebert-siblings-colonial-family/
– Tonight is the beginning of a grueling three games in about 46 hours for the Americans. They start tonight at 7:05 pm in Kansas City. The game will get over at about 9:30 pm and the Americans will pack up and drive the 275 miles to Tulsa. The Oilers do not play tonight so will be at home waiting for the game with Allen. After playing Tulsa tomorrow (Saturday) night in a game I heard will not start until 7:30 pm and get over around 10:00 pm, the team will pack up and drive the 230 miles back to Allen. The Americans will take on Kansas City at 2:05 pm Sunday in a game that will finish around 4:30 pm. That is three games in less than 46 hours including a bus trip from Kansas City to Tulsa to Allen. To make matters worse Kansas City doesn’t play on Saturday. The Mavericks will fly to Allen on Saturday and wait for Allen to return from Tulsa for the 2:05 pm start on Sunday. Even by ECHL standards this schedule seems cruel and unusual.
– I had a couple of requests after my where are they now post yesterday:
J.C. Campagna – after a seven-year pro career and 199 ECHL games, Campagna headed to Europe this season for the first time. He spent part of three seasons in Allen including in 2021-22 when he helped Steve Martinson out when Allen was shorthanded. A call to come help for a weekend turned into 21 games. Campagna scored a goal in his first three games and had 10 goals in 12 games. After starting this season in Tulsa, Campagna signed in early December to play for HC Presov (Slovakia) and has 10 points (5G, 5A) in 12 games along with 39 penalty minutes. His team is in last place in the 12-team league.
Darian Skeoch – Darian signed an AHL deal with Henderson this season and the only way he could get the deal was for Allen to trade his rights to Savannah which is Henderson’s ECHL affiliate. Coach Costello didn’t want to prevent Skeoch from getting an AHL deal, so he traded his ECHL rights to Savannah. Darian has been in Savannah all season and has five points (1G, 4A) in 23 games to go along with 55 penalty minutes. He is also part of the Ghost Pirates on ice leadership as he is wearing an “A” for the team. You have to wonder if Darian doesn’t get a shot in the AHL and becomes a free agent for 2023-24 could he end up back in Allen.
– There are 12 games on the schedule in the ECHL tonight with all but Tulsa in action in the Mountain Division. Idaho is at Wichita with its 12-game win streak on the line. If Idaho wins tonight, it would be its 11th straight road win, which would put them all alone in second place on the all-time longest road win streak. The all-time record is 13. In the battle for last place in the division, Allen is at Kansas City and Utah is at Rapid City. Here is the ECHL Today with the previews: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2023/1/echl-today-jan-6
DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL Stats post today is about the best and worst teams over the last 10 games. Allen is 5-5-0-0 over the last 10 games which places the Americans #4 in the Mountain Division in the last 10 games:
Who’s hot and Who’s not. Records over the last 10 games. Current points percentage is in parenthesis:HOT10-0-0-0: Idaho (.883)8-1-1-0: Jacksonville (.638)8-2-0-0: Fort Wayne (.574)7-1-2-0: South Carolina (.731)NOT1-7-2-0: Savannah (.403)2-8-0-0: Utah (.379)3-7-0-0: Worcester (.609)3-7-0-0: Trois Rivières (.466)3-7-0-0: Rapid City (.500)