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Tough Travel Day Ends with a Loss, Game Recap, Video Highlights, ECHL Expansion, Rookie Numbers for All ECHL Teams and More

Thursday, February 23rd
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It was another one of those terrible, horrible no good very bad days for the Allen Americans yesterday that rivaled winter storm Big Red bus stories from years ago. A major winter storm traveling across Utah caused the cancellation of Allen’s flight Tuesday evening and many flights heading to Salt Lake City yesterday. Through sheer perseverance by splitting the team into two groups, they all arrived in time to play a game though the start was delayed until 9:30 pm Allen time. To add insult to injury the Americans staged a big comeback after trailing 4-0 to close the gap to 4-3 before falling 5-3 to the Grizzlies. Allen and Utah are now tied for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Mountain Division.

– As I mentioned in the series preview yesterday, Utah is the toughest team in the league playing with the lead. The Grizzlies scored the only two goals of the first period. Allen had plenty of opportunities in the first period with two breakaways and a couple of wide-open nets missed. The score at the end of the first period was 2-0 but Allen was not being outplayed. The downside to the 2-0 lead is Utah is the only team in the ECHL that has not lost a game all season when leading after the first period.

– When Utah took a 4-0 lead by midway in the second period it looked like the long day of travel for the Americans had caught up with them. However, in a 90 second period the Americans made Utah pay as they did in the series against the Grizzlies a couple of weeks ago, on the power play. Allen scored three power play goals, two of them 5-on-3, from 13:52 to 15:12 of the second period to get back in the game. Utah took a 4-3 lead into the second intermission. Another reminder of how good Utah is when playing with the lead. The Grizzlies record when leading after the second period is now 18-1-0-0.

– It wasn’t that Allen didn’t have opportunities to tie the game in the third period. The Americans outshot Utah 15-6 but could not score an even strength goal as there were no penalties on either team in the third period. Allen pulled goalie Luke Peressini at the 18:36 mark but didn’t manage a single shot on goal. Utah scored an empty net goal with 27 seconds remaining in the game to make the final score 5-3.

– Goal scorers for Allen were Colton Hargrove (28), Liam Finlay (25) and Hank Crone (28). Jack Combs had an assist so the “Four Sure Gang” all scored. They accounted for six of Allen’s seven points in the game. Not sure if this has ever happened in the ECHL before but there is now a three-way tie between Crone, Combs and Hargrove for the league lead in goals with 28. Next on the leader board is Liam Finlay who is tied for fourth place with 25 goals. There are seven ECHL players with 25+ goals, four of them play for the Allen Americans.  Here are the video highlights with all of the goals and many of the missed opportunities by the Americans. https://www.echl.com/en/video/2023/2/allen-americans-vs-utah-grizzlies—feb-22-2023-6EeMuWYr

– Here are the game recaps from both teams.

Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/media/game-recap-americans-rally-falls-short-3/

Utah Grizzlies: https://www.utahgrizzlies.com/en/grizzlies-news/fizer-steals-show-in-utah-s-5-3-win

– The teams will take the day off today before resuming the series tomorrow night. The highlight of the game for Allen last night was the power play which was 3-5. Over the last four games in Utah the Americans power play is 9-26 for a whopping power play percentage of 33.3%.

– What hurt Allen last night was its inability to score an even strength goal despite outshooting Utah 39-26 and having numerous grade A opportunities.

– The stats show how hard it is to come from behind against Utah. The Grizzlies have lost just one game all season when leading after the first or second period. in the last four games against Utah the team that scored first won the game. A good start will be critical for Allen on Friday and Saturday.

OTHER COMMENTS

– Except for a win by Idaho, the Mountain Division standings continued to tighten last night with Kansas City and Allen losing and Utah winning. Here are the current Mountain Division standings by points and points percentage with games remaining in parenthesis:

  • 81 points, .810 – Idaho (22)
  • 56 points, .560 – Wichita (22)
  • 50 points, .521 – Kansas City (24)
  • 49 points, .490 – Utah (22)
  • 49 points, .490 – Allen (22)
  • 45 points, .459 – Rapid City (23)
  • 42 points, .447 – Tulsa (25)

Idaho’s .810 points percentage is higher than the all-time ECHL record of .806. The Steeleheads are not winning with a ton of contract players. The are in the middle of the pack with five contract players. However, Idaho is one of the three teams in the league with the fewest rookies on the roster, four.

– All of the streaks I talked about yesterday were extended in the game last night:

  • Jack Combs has scored in 15 straight games (24 points). That is the longest current streak in the league.
  • Hank Crone has scored in 13 straight road games (21 points). That is every road game he has played in since December 23.  It is the longest road point streak in the ECHL this season.
  • Colton Hargrove has scored in 12 straight road games (21 points) dating back to January 3.
  • Not a streak but an amazing stat. Hargrove’s goal last night extends his goal per game average of scoring a goal per game all the way back to December 31. He now has 24 goals in the last 24 games.

– Matt Register leads the ECHL in plus/minus at +49. No ECHL player has finished a season with a higher plus/minus since 1991-92. His +49 would be the third best plus/minus all-time.

– There is talk of an ECHL expansion team to Albuquerque, NM. Here is a video from the local TV station talking to one of the potential owners. Incidentally, the NAHL team that is referred to in the piece, New Mexico Ice Wolves, is coached by former Allen Americans forward Phil Fox, he is also the general manager of the team. The pro team referenced in the video, New Mexico Scorpions, were established in the WPHL in 1996 and finished in the Central Hockey League (CHL) the year before Allen joined the CHL. https://youtu.be/DwBmW31UkYQ

DID YOU KNOW: Rookies play a key role in the ECHL. Here is the number of rookies on each ECHL team’s 22 player roster (20 active, 2 reserve). These numbers do not include rookies on injured reserve. Note there are high ranking teams with very few rookies and high-ranking teams with a lot of rookies. Look for these numbers to rise over the next month as colleges and junior teams finish their seasons and players turn professional.4: ATL, IDH, KC5: RC6: CIN, FW, JAX, MNE, TOL8: ALN, FLA, IND, NOR, ORL, SAV9: ADK, KAL, UTA, WHL, WIC, WOR10: GVL, NFL, TUL11: IA, REA, SC13: TR

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