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Allen vs Idaho Preview, ECHL Even Strength Goal Leaders, NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament and More:

Friday, March 24th
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It is a unique night for the Mountain Division as all seven teams are in action but three are playing teams outside the division. That means there could be a lot of movement in the standings since five division teams could win or lose tonight. Here is the schedule:

  • Idaho at Allen
  • Rapid City at Fort Wayne
  • Wichita at Iowa
  • Tulsa at Kansas City
  • Cincinnati at Utah

– It will be another huge challenge for the Allen Americans tonight (7:05 pm) as they take on Idaho in game two of the three game series. The Americans lost game one 5-3 on Wednesday which was the sixth straight loss against Idaho this season. Allen has been in many of the games for a while, but the fact is all of the losses have been by two or more goals (7-4, 5-1, 5-2, 6-4, 5-0, 5-3). The Americans haven’t given up fewer than five goals all season to Idaho, that will have to change tonight for Allen to be victorious.

– Allen will be playing shorthanded again tonight with Colton Hargrove (suspension), Jack Combs (bereavement leave), and Chad Butcher (injured reserve) out of the lineup. These three players represent 3.5 points per game which is a big hit. It will take a full 60-minute effort to stay with Idaho.

– Allen got off to a great start on Wednesday. The Americans had several grade A chances before scoring the first goal of the game at the 15:37 mark. At the time Allen had a 10-4 shot advantage. From that point Idaho outshot Allen 9-0 the rest of the period and took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. This is why a full 60-minute effort is the only way Allen wins tonight.

– I went back and looked at the head-to-head stats in the six games against Idaho and most are one-sided as expected, but there were a couple of surprises along the way:

  • Allen has been outscored 34-14.
  • Allen has been outshot in all six games by a total of 226-169.
  • Allen scored first in three of the six losses.
  • Allen is #2 in the league in PIMS (1125 minutes) and Idaho is #27 (708 minutes) but in the six head-to-head games the power play has been a wash. Allen is 7-24 (29.1%) and Idaho is 7-23 (30.4%).
  • Allen scored first in three of the six games but never had a lead after the first period. Idaho has outscored Allen 13-3 in the first period.
  • Allen was outscored 10-5 in the second periods and 10-4 in the third periods.

– Here are some conclusions from the head-to-head stats:

  • Scoring first is great, which Allen has done three times against Idaho, but the Americans need a sustained effort the entire first period. Idaho led after the first period in five of the games and the sixth was tied. Idaho outscored Allen 13-3 in the first periods. The bottom line is the games have been over by the end of the first period because Idaho plays so well with the lead.
  • Idaho has had the lead after the second period in five of the six games, the other one was tied after the second period. Allen has to have the lead or at least a tie after the second period. Remember, Idaho’s record when leading after the second period is 41-1-0-0.
  • Power plays have been even (four per game average) in the head-to-head games with both teams having a lot of success. The penalty kill will be a key for Allen tonight. Idaho was 2-3 on the power play on Wednesday night with key penalty killers out of the lineup. The penalty kill will have to be better tonight.
  • Allen has been outshot in all six games against Idaho so I would normally say a key to the game tonight is outshooting the Steelheads. However, one of the oddest stats in the league is Idaho’s record when they get outshot by an opponent, a prefect 12-0-0-0. Idaho doesn’t get outshot that often but when they do they never lose.

– Allen has no extra players available so the lineup tonight should be the same as Wednesday. The only possible change could be in goal, but with a day of rest I would expect Chase Perry will get the start as he has in the last four Allen games. In those four games Perry has saved 147 of 159 shots for a save percentage of .925.

– The referee scheduled for the game is #6 John Lindner who was also the referee on Wednesday. He called four penalties on Allen and five on Idaho, all minor penalties.

OTHER COMMENTS

–  Hank Crone leads the ECHL with 40 goals and still has 12 games left to play. Based on his average goals per game over the entire season he would add another eight goals in the last 12 games. He has a legitimate shot at 50 goals. The last two 50 goal scorers in the ECHL were in 2008-09 and 2000-2001. Every other 50 goal scorer in the history of the league (40 of them) happened before the turn of the century.

–  The NCAA men’s hockey tournament is now taking place at four regional locations around the country. Starting with 16 teams, each regional site of four teams will host two rounds and produce one team for the final four which takes place in Tampa . One of the four regional sites is in Fargo, ND where the overall #1 seed, University of  Minnesota, played its opening round game last night against Canisius. Since I grew up in the Twin Cities area (Bloomington) and graduated of the University of Minnesota I have followed the Gophers for almost 65 years. I came across this recap of Minnesota’s win last night and was captured by the creative writing, but also the message of how teams have to win games at this time of the season. The best line from the story is, “Gophers toss the pretty, embrace the gritty to get one step closer to the shiny stuff.” A great read for fans, players and teams as the ECHL playoffs approach. From Jess Myers:  https://www.inforum.com/sports/college/myers-gophers-toss-the-pretty-embrace-the-gritty-to-get-one-step-closer-to-the-shiny-stuff

– There are 13 games on the ECHL schedule tonight with some interesting cross division battles between teams headed for the Kelly Cup playoffs. Reading is at Toledo with the Walleye’s 18 game win streak on the line. The North Division vs South Division battle that sees Newfoundland visit Florida will be another game to keep an eye on. Here are the ECHL Today previews on all of the games. https://www.echl.com/en/news/2023/3/echl-today-march-24

DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL Stats post today is about even strength goals. Great to see Allen’s two super rookies on this list. Scoring even strength goals are so important for success of any hockey team.

The ECHL best goal scorers this season not counting power play and shorthanded goals. ECHL leaders in even strength goals:27 – Hank Crone, Allen26 – Charlie Gerard, Reading23 – Liam Finlay, Allen23 – Matt Marcinew, Rapid City22 – Shawn Boudrias, Fort Wayne22 – Brandon Hawkins, Toledo

The post Allen vs Idaho Preview, ECHL Even Strength Goal Leaders, NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament and More: appeared first on Allen Americans Hockey Club.

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