It has been two weeks but it is finally game day for the Allen Americans as they are on the road to play the Kansas City Mavericks tonight (7:05 pm CST). Six players that were with the Americans the last time they played will not play tonight. Seven players on the ice tonight did not play in Allen’s last game. Four of the seven were recently signed, goalies Jake Paterson and Justin Kapelmaster, defenseman Will Lochead and forward Colby McAuley. In addition Spencer Asuchak will be back in the lineup after being injured in a game on January 1 and Dyson Stevenson will return after being injured in his first shift of the season on December 12. Defenseman Phil Beaulieu also returns after being out of the lineup since December 18.
– Three of Allen’s top six scorers will not be in the lineup tonight. Joe Garreffa and Jake McGrew were recalled by San Jose and Matt Register is not on the trip. There is plenty of skill to pick up the slack and it is clear the lineup tonight will be the “heavy” lineup Martinson was planning for this season. This will be the toughest lineup to play against Allen has had all season.
– I am sure the plan is to get both goalies a game this weekend and it makes sense that Justin Kapelmaster will get his first pro start tonight. Jake Paterson just arrived in Allen while Kapelmaster has practiced all week. Another factor may be the fact that Kapelmaster was released by Kansas City so starting against the team that released you may be a consideration when Martinson decides who gets the start tonight.
Allen: 8-3-0-0 (.727)
Kansas City: 4-6-1-1 (.417)
Allen’s road record is 4-2-0-0
Kansas City’s home record is 1-3-1-0
Allen – Garreffa (6G, 7A), Mackin (5G, 6A), Sheehy (2G, 9A)
Kansas City – Reid (7G, 7A), Estephan (4G, 10A), Scheidl (5G, 4A)
Allen – PP overall (14.9%), PP road (17.4%), PK overall (87.2%), PK road (94.1%)
Kansas City – PP overall (24.0%), PP home (26.7%), PK overall (87.2%), PK home (90.0%)
Special teams are always important but the stats above show how the game tonight will pit the #1 ECHL road penalty kill (Allen 94.1%) against the ECHL #2 ranked home power play (Kansas City 26.7%). The winner on special teams will most likely win the game.
Another thing to keep in mind is Allen has a shorthanded goal in their last three games so they can apply offensive pressure when they kill penalties.
– Scoring first is always a key to the game. The combined record of Allen and Kansas City when scoring the first goal of the game this season is 9-1-0-1.
– A challenge for Allen will be how everything fits together with so many players that have not played together or are just getting back to playing. When you consider four players on the roster including both goalies have not played a game this season, Stevenson has played one, Beaulieu has played two, Bleackley has played three and Laberge has played six it is hard to expect everyone will be at the top of their game. This is even more of a reason to expect Allen will play a “heavy” game tonight.
– The Americans will head to Tulsa after the game (265 mile) where they will play the Oilers at 4:05 pm CST on Sunday. Tulsa has had a COVID breakout with 10 players being added to the Commissioner’s Exempt List in the last four days. Tulsa signed a bunch of players just to keep playing. They lost to Indy 3-2 in overtime last night and will play the Fuel again tonight.
– The AHL released their schedule yesterday with the regular season running from February 5 to March 15. The AHL normally plays a 76 game schedule but this season teams will play between 24-44 games with each team deciding the number of games to play. There will be a lot of variation on games played even within each division. Here are a few examples of the number of games AHL teams are playing that may be of interest to Allen fans:
Iowa – 34 games including 12 against the Texas Stars
San Jose – 40 games and will start playing their home games in Tuscon
Bridgeport – 24 games (two Allen goalies, Motte and Marotte are loaned to Bridgeport)
Texas – 38 games
Rockford – 30 games (Allen has the rights to Gabe Gagne who plays for Rockford)
Ontario – 38 games (Allen has the rights to Jake Doty who plays for Ontario)
– Two more ECHL games were canceled late yesterday (Greenville at Orlando). A total of 18 ECHL games have now been cancelled and a total of 108 players have been placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List (CEL). Remember, teams are not required to put players on the CEL unless they want to exclude them from the roster and salary cap.
– With all of the cancellations it will be another sparse night with only three games on tap tonight. Saturday the biggest drawing night of the week so teams hate losing a Saturday game. Allen is at Kansas City, Indy at Tulsa and Utah at Rapid City. The number of games played by ECHL teams varies from 9 (Wichita) to 14 (Florida, Tulsa, Rapid City). Standings this season will be based on winning/points percentage rather than points earned because all teams will not play the same number of games.
DID YOU KNOW: Three former Allen Americans are on the Mavericks roster, goalies Joel Rumpel and Andrew Shortridge and defenseman Corbin Baldwin. It would be a great matchup to see Rumpel who played for Allen and against Kapelmaster who was released by Kansas City. I think both would like to play against their old team.