The Allen Americans play the Utah Grizzlies 18 times this season, more than any other team on the schedule. Games nine, 10 and 11 of the 18 games will be played in Allen tonight, Friday and Saturday. This three game series is key for both teams who are currently in third (Allen) and fourth (Utah) place in the Western Conference. Allen has a points percentage of .622 and wants to catch Wichita (.655) for second place and home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Utah (.563) wants to catch Allen but also has to worry about Tulsa (.524) and Rapid City (.512) pushing the Grizzlies out of the final playoff position.
– In the first eight games between Allen and Utah the Americans have a record of 6-2-0-0. The record is a bit misleading when you consider one of Allen’s wins came in overtime and two came in shootouts. Incidentally, the two shootout wins against Utah are the only shootouts Allen has been involved in this season.
– Head to head stats in the previous eight games show Allen with the advanatge in goals (29-23) and shots (276-232). Over the previous eight games Allen’s power play was 4-31 for a power play percentage of 12.9%. Utah’s power play was 1-29 for a power play percentage of just 3.4%.
– Special teams as always will play a key role in this series. It is notable the Americans have not allowed a power play goal to Utah in the last seven games. The Grizzlies lone power play goal against the Americans came in the first game they played on December 18. It is well documented how much the Allen power play has struggled at home ranking dead last in the ECHL at 10.9% (6-55). The Americans did manage a power play goal in their last game and the two recent additions (Chad Butcher and Steve Owre) will see power play time in the series. The power play could be a difference maker in this series.
– While head to head stats favor Allen if you compare overall home and road special teams stats Utah is better. Allen’s home penalty kill is ranked #6 (86.3%) while Utah’s road penalty kill is ranked #5 (83.9%). Allen’s home power play is ranked #14 (10.9%) while Utah’s road power play is ranked #5 (18.8%).
– Allen wins 77.1% of the points when they score first and Utah wins 70.6% so scoring first will be important. In the previous eight games between the Americans and Grizzlies the team that scored first won seven times. Allen won once when they didn’t score first.
– Here is the latest roster update from Steve Martinson:
– Frank Marotte will get the start in goal tonight
– Chad Butcher will play in two of the three games against Utah and it is still undecided which game Chad sits out.
– Martinson is expecting to sign a defenseman today and the player could arrive as soon as Sunday. Another Western Hockey League alum coming from the college ranks.
– Minnesota Wild has signed its first round draft choice (#12 overall) from 2019. Forward Matt Boldy just completed his hockey season with Boston College. The Hobey Baker Award finalist will report to the Iowa Wild. When Boldy reports which is scheduled for next week, an Iowa forward could be assigned to Allen.
– Jesse Mychan will be undergoing suregery and will miss the rest of the season.
– Nolan Kneen is out indefinitely with a chance he could be ready for playoffs but that will not be determined for some time.
– Both teams will be missing top scorers from the head to head games this season. Jesse Mychan had 11 points (6G, 5A) in eight games against the Grizzlies. Utah’s rookie defenseman Hunter Skinner had seven points (3G, 4A) but is currently in the AHL.
– Players to keep an eye on tonight include Utah’s rookie (#10) Matthew Boucher who is leading all ECHL rookies in points and is the current Rookie of the Week. Last week in four games against Tulsa Boucher had four goals and four assists.
– For Allen, players to watch in this series are Les Lancaster who has averaged a point a game (1G,7A) and Corey Mackin who has four goals against Utah. The series will also be the first action for #19 Chad Butcher and #8 Steve Owre.
– The referee tonight will be #25 Andrew Bruggeman who is the current recipient of the top award voted on by his peers, an annual award given to an on ice official for contributions and dedication to the league officiating staff. Bruggeman began officiating when he was 12 years old.
– There are two other games in the ECHL tonight as Florida visits Orlando and Jacksonville is at Wheeling. Friday night all 14 ECHL teams will be in action.
– Florida leads all ECHL teams with 17 home wins followed by Indy with 13. Allen and Wichita lead the league with 13 road wins.
– Here is a stat that tells you how close the ECHL is right now. There is only one team that has won more than two straight games. Greenville has won three straight.
DID YOU KNOW: Longest ECHL winning streaks the last five season:
9 – Florida (2020-21)
11 – Newfoundland (2019-21)
10 – Toledo (2018-19)
10 – Florida (2017-18)
17 – Colorado (2016-17)