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Allen vs Utah Preview, Mountain Division Standings, Top Defensemen Duos and More

Sunday, March 19th
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Allen takes on the Utah Grizzlies this afternoon in the rubber match of the series that has seen the Americans win 7-4 on Thursday and lose 2-1 in a shootout on Friday. It is a critical game for both teams, made even more so by the results of games last night. Wichita beat Kansas City 3-1 and Rapid City beat Tulsa 3-1. The standings are so close now only two points separate second place from fifth place. Here are the standings by points with games remaining in parenthesis for the five teams competing for three playoff spots.

  • 62 points – Kansas City (12)
  • 61 points – Utah (13)
  • 61 points – Wichita (11)
  • 60 points – Allen (14)
  • 57 points – Rapid City (13)

– Back at the end of December when Allen was in last place in the division, coach Costello set a goal of winning every series saying, “we need to win two of three games every week.” The Americans need a win this afternoon to meet the goal. How has Allen fared in meeting Costello’s goal? Here are the results of each series since January. Some series were only two games.

  • 2-1: Kansas City
  • 1-1: Tulsa
  • 2-1: Wichita
  • 2-0: Kansas City
  • 2-1: Tulsa
  • 3-0: Utah
  • 1-2: Fort Wayne
  • 2-1: Florida
  • 2-1: Utah
  • 2-0: Rapid City
  • 0-2: Idaho

You add it all together including the first two games this week and the Americans record is 20-10-0-1 which is a points percentage .683.  The goal of winning two of three games is a points percentage of .667, so Allen has met the goal. If the Americans continue to play at a .667 pace over the final 14 games they will make the playoffs and be higher than the fourth seed.

– The game this afternoon will be the 12th and final game of the regular season against Utah. Allen’s record over the first 11 games is 7-2-1-1. The Americans lost the first two games against Utah on November 9 and 11. Since then the Americans are 7-1-0-1 against the Grizzlies.

– What does Allen need to do the get a win today? A combination of the offense from Thursday and defense from Friday would do the trick. Here are a few keys to the game with the stats to back them up:

  • A good start – The team that scored first has won eight of the 11 games between Allen and Utah this season. Utah is one of the very best teams in the ECHL playing with a lead. The Grizzlies are 12-1-0-0 with a lead after the first period and 22-1-0-0 when leading after the second period. Allen does not want to be playing from behind this afternoon.
  • Special teams – If you look at the six games Allen and Utah played since February 1st, prior to this week, the Americans had a big advantage on special teams. Allen had at least one power play goal in all six games with a power play percentage of 34.4% (11-32). Utah’s power play percentage in the six games was 13.8% (4-29). In the first two games this week the Allen power play has been blanked (0-11). Utah has not been much better (1-7). Special teams success is often a game of adjustments. Will Allen adapt and adjust to get the power play back on track?
  • Shot differential has not meant much in the first two games in this series. Allen was outshot 51-35 on Thursday and won the game. The Americans had a 41-32 shot advantage on Friday and lost the game. With that said Allen’s record when outshooting the opponent is very good (11-4-1-1).

– The game this afternoon is one of nine home games where the two-referee system will be utilized. Referee Austin O’Rourke (#10) who was the lone referee in the first two games of the series will be joined by Jake Jackson (#16).

– Allen could end the week tied for second place with a win today. With a loss Allen could end the week one point from sixth place. Yes, indeed every game is important.

– Here is the game preview issued by the Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/media/final-meeting-of-the-regular-season/

OTHER COMMENTS

– Yesterday I posted about the QMJHL banning fighting. Here is a story about the approach the other two major junior leagues in Canada (WHL and OHL) are taking on this issue: https://www.sportsnet.ca/juniors/article/will-ohl-whl-follow-qmjhls-move-to-ban-fighting/

– Two more teams qualified for the Kelly Cup playoffs last night. Newfoundland and Indy join Idaho, Toledo and Cincinnati to make up a group of five that will likely produce the winner of the Kelly Cup. The Western Conference has the three hottest teams in the ECHL in Idaho, Toledo and Cincinnati. Idaho is still on pace to have the best season in the history of the league. Toledo is in the midst of the second longest winning streak in league history and Cincinnati has a current point streak of 15-0-1-1. These are the best three teams in the league by points percentage, Idaho (.825), Cincinnati (.725) and Toledo (.710). No other team in the league has a point percentage above .700.

– Belleville has a record of 5-0-2-0 over the last seven games and moved into the fifth and final playoff spot in its division. Ottawa has lost five straight and is pretty much out of the playoff race. I would not expect any help coming to Allen for the playoffs.

DID YOU KNOW: Top scoring duos (most points) among ECHL defensemen this season:*97 points (22G, 75A): Matt Register & Owen Headrick, Idaho.74 points (13G, 61A): Garrett McFadden & Mason Millman, Reading.70 points (10G, 60A): Mike Brodzinski & Luke McInnis, Orlando.69 points (12G, 57A): Michael Joyaux & Brennan Kapcheck, Newfoundland.*Matt Register is #1 in the ECHL in scoring by defensemen with 49 points (8G, 41A) and Owen Headrick is #2 with 48 points (14G, 34A).

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