The Allen Americans won’t return to practice until tomorrow to start preparing for yet another important week in the quest to make the playoffs. This week Allen fans will get to see a team outside of the Mountain Division when the Fort Wayne Komets come to town for games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. If you remember the last game Fort Wayne played in Allen, it was one of the most disappointing games in franchise history. It was on June 19, 2021, in the playoffs (Conference finals) which were best of five series. Allen won game one 5-2 and were cruising to a 2-0 series lead in game two with a 4-1 lead going into the third period. Allen self-destructed in the third period and ended up losing the game 5-4 in overtime. Fort Wayne went on to win the series and the Kelly Cup. I have always felt had Allen won that game the Americans would have won their third Kelly Cup. After Fort Wayne beat Allen in the conference finals, the Komets beat South Carolina 3-1 in the Kelly Cup finals.
– If you look at the standings, Allen and Fort Wayne certainly don’t stand out. Fort Wayne is in fourth place in the Central Division and Allen is in fourth place in the Mountain Division with a .500 points percentage. However, these team come into this series as two of the hottest teams in the ECHL. I will have a complete series preview later in the week but check out these stats:
Fort Wayne – The Komets have won six straight games, the longest current streak in the ECHL. They are 8-1-0-1 in the last 10 games, the best record in the league.
Allen -The Americans are 8-2-0-0 over the last 10 games and have won 10 of their last 12 games. Allen did not win more than two games in a row from the beginning of the season to mid-January. In the last three weeks the Americans have had a three-game win streak, a four-game win streak and are currently on another three-game win streak.
– Here is another amazing stat you don’t read about. Liam Finlay is tied for the ECHL lead in game winning goals (GWG) with six. The amazing part is Finlay has his six game winning goals in Allen’s last eight games. That’s six game winning goals in the last 18 days including the GWG in four straight games. This has to be some kind of record, but the ECHL doesn’t track this data.
– What has distinguished Allen’s great play recently is they are averaging five goals per game and scoring is coming from all three lines and from the defense. With that said Allen has four players with more than 20 goals. There are only 11 players in the entire ECHL with 21 or more goals this season and four of them play for the Americans. What these four players are accomplishing is not seen very often. They all have a realistic chance of scoring 30 goals this season and an outside chance at 40. In the history of the Allen franchise only eight players have scored 30 goals in a season. This season alone, Allen could add four more players to the 30-goal list. I asked yesterday about a name for this amazing group of four players that have scored 62% of Allen’s goals this season and got some good ones. Fantastic Four (thanks Paul), Four Horsemen (thanks Derek) and Fearsome Foursome. Any other ideas out there? I know Americans Man has some creative ideas. Let’s see how many we can come up with.
- Colton Hargrove – 18 game point streak, 17 goals in last 17 games.
- Liam Finlay – 10 game point streak, goals in 8 of last 9 games, GWG in 6 last 8 Allen wins.
- Hank Crone – 13 game points streak, 22 points (8G, 14A), leading rookie scorer (55 points).
- Jack Combs – points in 16 of last 18 games, 1st in ECHL in goals (24) and 2nd in points (57).
– Here is the Mountain Division Notebook which will give you some good information about each team and the schedule for the week. Another key week for teams battling for a playoff spot: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2023/2/mountain-division-notebook-feb-6
– You may have seen the video that has gone viral about the oldest (95 years) hockey rink in Saskatchewan which is in the small (population about 190) community of Lang. Two brothers from the town made it to the NHL briefly back in the 1970’s. If you haven’t seen the video here it is, a fun trip down memory lane: https://youtu.be/9pmO0JZyrFY
– Many of you remember Brian and Wendy McMillin from the years Brian played in Allen when he was part of three championship teams. Wendy grew up in Hallock, MN, a small town (population about 900) but went to high school in Roseau, MN (population 2750) where she met Brian and played hockey. Wendy also played hockey in college. Hallock was the first town in Minnesota to have an indoor hockey arena which was built in 1894. This is a great story about the building of this rink. https://history.vintagemnhockey.com/page/show/1182463-hallock-ice-arena
– Here is a story I originally wrote about Wendy McMillin over 10 years ago. She and Brian moved back to Roseau, MN after his pro career and have a two-year-old son who will undoubtedly play all kinds of sports including hockey. This story about Wendy is still relevant today when talking about what it is like playing pro hockey at the AA level. http://allenamericansblog.blogspot.com/2014/02/wendy-mcmillin-hockey-wife-and-sports.html
– DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL Stats post today is about special teams. Allen doesn’t make the outstanding list (105%) when combining PP and PK percentages. Allen’s power play is 21.1% and the penalty kill is 81.8% for a total of 102.9% which is good but short of the 105% to be considered outstanding.
It is not an official stat but a combined power play + penalty kill percentage of 105% is considered outstanding special teams play. Eight ECHL teams currently meet the 105% standard. Here is the list with the team’s ECHL rank in points percentage in parenthesis. All of these teams are currently in playoff positions:108.0% – Idaho (1st)107.4% – Fort Wayne (14th)106.9 % – Newfoundland (2nd)106.9% – Wichita (12th)106.8% – South Carolina (3rd)105.9% – Indy (5th)105.5% – Atlanta (11th)105.0% – Reading (7th)– South Carolina has the best power play percentage (26.0%) and Idaho has the best penalty kill percentage (85.2%).