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Allen vs Idaho Game Four Preview, Big Four Stats, ECHL Rookies Excel and More

Friday, May 12th
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It is game day for the Allen Americans, and it couldn’t be more important other than if it was an elimination game. If Allen loses tonight and falls behind 3-0, they will need the comeback of comebacks to win the series. Not impossible, but close. It has happened just twice since the league was established in 1988. Allen fans are very familiar with 3-0 comebacks as the last one happened in the division finals against Idaho in 2018. The Americans took a 3-0 lead before losing four straight games to the Steelheads.

– The only other time a team came back from a 3-0 deficit was in the 2010 conference finals when Cincinnati trailed Reading 3-0 before winning four straight games. It was a big win as Cincinnati went on to win the Kelly Cup, beating Idaho in the finals. Cincinnati currently trails Toledo 3-0 in the Central Division finals and will need the 2010 magic to survive.

– In the 6-2 loss on Wednesday, Allen took a bunch of penalties late in the game after the score was 5-1. Three misconducts and a total of 34 penalty minutes after the game was decided. Evidently the team was trying to send a message, but it ended up with the league suspending Spencer Asuchak for the next two games. The Americans have no room for error from a roster perspective. If they lose any more players, which my reporting indicates is likely, Allen will be playing short tonight. I hope to get the lineup early this afternoon with the lineup details for tonight.

– It goes without saying the keys to the game tonight would be doing the opposite of the loss on Wednesday. As a reminder Allen was outshot 56-23, gave up the first goal, trailed 1-0 after the first period, 3-0 after the second period and gave up two power play goals. Allen will not win if it doesn’t turn these stats around.

– During the regular season Allen was carried by the big four of Crone, Combs, Hargrove and Finlay. The group finished #1, #2, #6 and #18 in the league in points and #1, #2, #6 and #9 in the league in goals. Thus far in the playoffs they are ranked #37, #56, #56 and #77 in points and #9, #23, #89 and #176 in goals. As a group the big four averaged 5.51 points per game during the regular season ranging from 1.52 to 1.30. In the playoffs this group is averaging 2.51 points per game ranging from .75 to .50. Their production is down 54% from the regular season. Style of play would predict scoring would go down in the playoffs, but if Allen is going to dig out of the hole they are in, trailing in the series 2-0, the big four will have to play a bigger role.

– With Asuchak suspended, all healthy players will be in the lineup tonight. That means Justin Young will return after sitting out for the first time in the playoffs on Wednesday. Young has become a defensive specialist and I am sure you have heard the coaches say he is one of the best penalty killers in the league. Penalty killing is about more than one player, but it is notable Allen gave up one power play goal in the seven playoff games Young was killing penalties and two power play goals in the one game he was a healthy scratch.

– If I have learned anything from the many conversations I have had with coach Costello during the playoffs it is his desire to win. There is no doubt he is totally focused in winning just one game and that game is tonight. This comment from before the series against Idaho began captures his passion.

“I feel the same way now as when I took this job, it is championship or fail. That is the culture in Allen and that is how I feel going into this series with Idaho. That is the expectation. It doesn’t mean if we don’t win the championship the season is a failure. But it means we will die trying to win the championship and in no way are we satisfied with what we have accomplished thus far.”– The referees scheduled for the game tonight are different from Wednesday. The referees will be #38 Trevor Wohlford and #16 Jake Jackson.

OTHER COMMENTS

– The Reading Royals insured all four division finals would not end up in sweeps with a 6-3 win over Newfoundland last night. After losing three straight games at home, Reading went to Newfoundland and beat the Growlers. The series is now 3-1 with game five in Newfoundland on Saturday. Interestingly, the road team has won every game in this series.

– There are three games on the schedule tonight with two of them elimination games. Here is the ECHL Today with the previews: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2023/5/echl-today-may-12

  • South Division: #4 Florida leads #2 Jacksonville 3-0 and plays at home.
  • Central Division: #2 Toledo leads #1 Cincinnati 3-0 and plays at home.
  • Mountain Division: #1 Idaho leads #2 Allen 2-0 and plays at home.

– Playoff hockey is in full swing. The NHL’s first team to make the final four, Carolina, advanced to the Eastern Conference finals last night. The ECHL could see two teams advance to conference finals tonight. The AHL is just starting division finals. You will see many teams eliminated this weekend and next week. Hope your favorite team isn’t one of them.

– Toledo is the only undefeated team in the ECHL playoffs with a perfect 7-0 record. Newfoundland (7-2), Florida (7-2) and Idaho (6-2) have the next best record with two losses. No team has ever won the ECHL championship and gone undefeated. Alaska came the closest. In 2011 Alaska won the Brabham Cup (regular season championship) and lost just one game on the way to the Kelly Cup.

– Three of the four likely conference finalists have double digit goal differentials (goals for minus goals against).

  • +18  Toledo
  • +17  Newfoundland
  • +11  Florida
  • +8   Idaho

DID YOU KNOW: Rookies are having a huge impact in the ECHL Kelly Cup playoffs. Here are some of the rookies leading the entire league thus far in the playoffs. All but one (FW) are still alive in the playoffs:Points: Jacob Gaucher, REA (13)Assists: Jonny Tychonick, NFL (10)GAA: Sebastian Cossa, TOL (1.25)Save %: Ryan Fanti, FW (.959)PP Goals: Trenton Bliss, TOL (5)Plus/Minus: Michael Joyaux, NFL (+10)Defensemen Goals: Mikko Kokkonen, NFL (3)

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