It is game day for the Allen Americans as they will take the short bus ride (230 miles) to Tulsa and take on the Oilers tonight (7:05 pm). It will be a quick stop in Tulsa as the Americans will get back on the bus right after the game and go another 275 miles and overnight in Kansas City. Allen plays the Mavericks on Saturday night (7:05 pm).

 

– Allen lost two of three games to the Oilers in the past week splitting two games at home and losing in Tulsa. The best game of the three for the Americans was not the lone win but the 4-2 loss in Tulsa. In the 6-3 win at home a week ago, the American were outshot 48-24 including 19-4 in the third period, gave up two power play goals and a shorthanded goal. Allen scored three goals (one empty net) on five shots in the third period while goalie Antoine Bibeau stood on his head stopping all 19 Tulsa shots.

 

– In the 4-2 road loss in Tulsa last Saturday the shots were much closer (favored Tulsa 33-27) and the game was tied 2-2 midway through the third period. Tulsa scored the game winner at the 13:24 mark and an empty net goal with 23 second remaining. Allen took one penalty in the game which was a coincidental roughing penalty. All in all it was a good game for Allen despite losing the game.

 

– You add together Allen’s best game against Tulsa was on the road, the fact that Allen has a better road record (.577) than home record (.500) and the addition of Darian Skeoch, Tyler Poulsen, Zach Hall and Andrew Jarvis to the lineup and you have reasons for optimism tonight. With Antoine Bibeau in goal, Allen always has a chance to come away with a win, even if Bibeau has to steal one. Bibeau’s record is 6-2-0-0 with a GAA of 2.83 and save percentage of .925.

 

– Tulsa will also have some roster changes since the game in Allen on Wednesday. The Oilers top defenseman and team leader, Mike McKee, has been loaned to San Diego. Tulsa’s top goalie, Daniel Mannella, who has a record of 9-3-0-1, GAA of 2.38 and save percentage of .915, was released from his AHL PTO yesterday, so you have to assume he will be in goal for Tulsa tonight.

 

– If you add up the stats from the three games against Tulsa in the past week the Oilers have a slight edge in goals (11-9) but a huge advantage in shots (132-73). Tulsa takes a lot of perimeter shots so Allen doesn’t need to outshoot the Oilers but it must keep the shot totals close.

 

– Allen is 3-12 (25%) on the power play against Tulsa but also gave up a shorthanded goal. Tulsa is 4-10 (40%) and that is in just two games as the Oilers had no power play opportunities in its win over Allen at home. Tulsa’s power play has been anemic all season scoring just 15 goals but four of them are against Allen. Put another way Tulsa’s power play percentage against Allen is 40% and against the rest of the league it is 13.4%. If the Americans expect to win tonight they must win the special teams battle and that means doing a much better job on the penalty kill.

 

– If you are looking for players to watch tonight the veterans have led both teams in scoring in this series. Adam Pleskach has always played well against Allen. He has two goals and six assists in 17 games excluding the three games against the Americans. In the three Allen games he has six points (2G, 4A). Allen’s top scorers in the Tulsa series are Jack Combs (1G, 4A) and Chad Costello (3G, 1A).

 

– When I talked to coach Martinson this morning, he reaffirmed his plan to get the four players that have been out of the lineup back in tonight. Things can always change but that is the plan. Two players will stay home. Ben Owen is one and Martinson was still undecided on the other one. I asked Martinson if he would make any changes on special teams and he reiterated what he has said before and that is, “We work a lot on special teams in practice and we need to make smarter decisions on special teams, it is more of an issue of better execution.”

 

OTHER COMMENTS

– Rapid City went on the road and beat Wichita last night by a score of 4-1. It was a strange game as Wichita took just one penalty but had five power play opportunities of its own. Here are the Mountain Division standings after last night:

  • .636 – Utah
  • .597 – Idaho
  • .550 – Tulsa
  • .537 – Allen
  • .515 – Rapid City
  • .484 – Kansas City
  • .424 – Wichita

 

– Allen has only played 27 games so points percentage changes quite dramatically. If Allen wins tonight its points percentage will improve to .554 and will move into third place in the division. If the Americans lose in regulation their points percentage will drop to .518 and they could be in sixth place.

– Utah and Idaho are battling for the top spot in the Mountain Division and are in the midst of playing each other six straight times. The first three games were in Idaho and the Steelheads won two (one in a shootout). The next three are in Utah starting tonight. FYI, next weekend Allen will be in Utah (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) for an important series.
– The gap in games played is getting wider and wider. After Monday’s MLK games several teams will hit the halfway point of 36 games played (Rapid City, Utah, Atlanta). Newfoundland will still be at 22 games played and isn’t scheduled again until next weekend.
– There are 11 games on tap in the ECHL tonight. Here is the ECHL Today with a short preview on all of them: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2022/1/echl-today-jan-14

DID YOU KNOW:  In the last five ECHL seasons just one goalie has finished with a GAA below 2.00 (1.86, Parker Milner, SC, 2017-18). Two goalies, both from Idaho, are below 2.00 thus far this season.

1.66 – Matt Jurusik
1.92 – Jake Kupsky
The all-time best GAA is 1.64 set by Ryan Zapolski, (South Carolina) in 2012-13.
Here is the top ECHL GAA the last five seasons:
2.29: Evan Buitenhuis, Wichita (2020-21)
2.14: Tomas Sholl, Idaho (2019-20)
2.12: Devin Williams, Tulsa (2018-19)
1.86: Parker Milner, South Carolina (2017-18)
2.08: Landon Bow, Idaho, (2016-17)