Two goals by recently signed Conner Bleackley and great goaltending by recently signed  Justin Kapelmaster led Allen to a 2-1 victory over the Kansas City Mavericks last night before a COVID restricted sellout crowd of 2169 at the Cable Dahmer Arena.

 

– Allen met their goal of a good start when Conner Bleackley scored unassisted at the 9:53 mark of the first period by creating a turnover and immediately putting the puck in the back of the net.  It was the only goal of the first period. Allen’s record when scoring first is now 7-1. Bleackley gave the Americans a 2-0 lead midway through the second period. It was his third goal in just four games since signing with Allen. Kansas City closed the gap to 2-1 just over a minute after Allen had taken the 2-0 lead and the Americans went into the second intermission with the lead. It was a good sign for Allen fans since the Americans haven’t lost a game all season (7-0) when leading after the second period. The third period was scoreless thanks to the Allen penalty kill that had to kill a late penalty when the Mavericks pulled their goalie and had a 6-on-4 advantage.

 

– Allen did not allow a power play goal in the game killing off all four Mavericks opportunities. The Americans improved their league leading road penalty kill percentage to 95.2%. Allen has allowed just one goal in the 21 times they were shorthanded.

 

– The other feel good story from the game was the play of rookie Allen goalie Justin Kaplemaster who stopped 35 of 36 shots for a save percentage of .973. What a great performance by Kapelmaster who was making his first professional start. The win was even sweeter for Justin since it came against the team that released him earlier this season.

 

– Here is the game recap issued by the Allen Americans:  https://allenamericans.com/news/general/americans-win-close-battle-with-kc/

 

– Here is the game recap issued by the Kansas City Mavericks: https://www.kcmavericks.com/en/news/mavericks-defeated-by-allen-saturday-night-2-1

– Here are the video highlights:

 

ALLEN VS TULSA GAME PREVIEW

– It will be a quick turnaround for the Americans as they jumped on the bus right after the game last night and headed to Tulsa (265 miles) where they will take on the Oilers (4:05 pm CST) this afternoon.

 

– While Allen will be tired this afternoon because of the overnight travel it hasn’t been an easy week for Tulsa even though they have been at home. The game this afternoon will be their third in three days and fourth in five days. To make matters worse Tulsa has lost five straight games. A COVID breakout has decimated the team. Since last Tuesday the Oilers have put 11 of their players on the Commissioner’s Exempt List (CEL) and signed six new players just to have a team to take the ice. While they just lost three straight games at home to Indy they have been a scrappy team. Friday night the Oilers outshot Indy 20-4 in the first period and had a 1-0 lead into the third period before losing 2-1 in overtime. Last night Tulsa outshot Indy 43-32 and took a 2-1 lead into the third period before losing 4-2.

 

– The game this afternoon is one of those games that heavily favors the Americans. Yes, Allen played last night but it was their first game in two weeks and they are still fresh and should be better tonight. Allen has won five of their last six games, all on the road. Tulsa is playing with a makeshift lineup and will playing their third game in less than 48 hours. You see this all the time where the more tired shorthanded team on a losing streak surprises the fresher more talented team. Allen will have to be at their best this afternoon to come away with four points on this road trip.

 

– Allen won last night but were outshot by Kansas City 26-12 in the first two periods and 37-24 overall. The Americans will have to do a better job in holding down shots on goal against Tulsa. Despite losing to Indy the last two nights the Oilers outshot the Fuel, the the team with the best record in the ECHL, 82-66. Tulsa is ranked #1 in the ECHL in average shots on goal per game (36.40).

 

– With so many of their good players on the CEL the Oilers have struggled scoring even though they are getting their shots. In their last five games, all losses, Tulsa has scored a total of eight goals (1.6 per game average). Allen only had two goals last night but in their last six games, all on the road, the Americans have scored 21 goals (3.5 per game average). Allen’s goal differential (goals for minus goals against) this season is +14, Tulsa’s is -10.

 

– Special teams should favor the Americans as their #1 ranked road penalty kill (94.5%, 1-21) will be going up against Tulsa’s #11 ranked home power play (10.0%. 3-30). On the power play Allen was 0-3 last night. Tulsa did not allow a power play goal in their last two games against Indy. Coach Martinson usually tweaks the power play when things aren’t working so look for some changes in the power play tonight. The way Conner Bleackley is shooting the puck I wouldn’t be surprised to see him with a bigger role on the power play.

 

– Allen played a different style of game against Kansas City which was a more physical style of play you could call “heavy skill” and you can expect that to continue against Tulsa. The Oilers Mike McKee is one of the ECHL leaders in penalty minutes per game and is always trying to stir things up. Allen has some pot stirrers that weren’t in the lineup that last time these teams met. Will be part of the game within the game this afternoon.

 

– If Allen expects to win in Tulsa they will have to do better job of puck possession. They spent way to much time in their own zone against Kansas City.

 

OTHER COMMENTS

– Indy finally had a game that was decided by more then one goal with their 4-2 win over Tulsa last night. The Fuel have gotten off to an outstanding start with a record of 11-1-0-0. You don’t win 10 of 11 games without being a great team but Indy has certainly had some breaks. They beat Kansas City twice early in the season when the Mavericks were missing a bunch of players with COVID, Indy has four wins against Wheeling who has a .350 winning percentage and just beat Tulsa three straight when they had a bunch of players on the CEL. Indy may continue to pile up the wins as their next eight games are against Wheeling and Rapid City. The Rush’s winning percentage is lower than Wheeling at .333.

 

– With two games canceled earlier the only teams playing today are Allen at Tulsa  and Indy at Wichita. Here is the ECHL Today with a preview of both games: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2021/1/echl-today-jan-24

 

– Having no COVID restrictions certainly helps on Saturday night games. Rapid City (no restrictions) had a crowd of 4417 last night in an arena that holds 5119 for hockey. Kansas City was sold out (with restrictions) with a crowd of 2169 in an arena that holds 5800 for hockey.

 

– He has only played four games but Conner Bleackley is already #5 on the Americans in goals with three. Two of the four ahead of him (Garreffa and McGrew) are no longer with the team. Bleackley is also tied for #5 on the team in plus/minus at +4.

 

– You may have noticed Wichita had seven players assigned by their AHL affiliate (Bakersfield) yesterday. Matt Harding from The Sin Bin reported this was basically a paper transaction since these players were overseas and not on an ECHL roster at the Euro deadline. The AHL had to assign them as a way of clearing a path for the players to be assigned to Wichita at some point.

If I understand this process correctly this paper only assignment will allow these players who did not meet the ECHL rule of returning from overseas by January 2 become qualified to play in the ECHL. I thought the ECHL moved their overseas return date from the normal February 15 to January 2 to help out players in North America because of the shortage of jobs due to COVID. Apparently these players meet the AHL rule for returning from overseas even though it was after January 2 and by doing this paper only assignment they can get around the ECHL rule. So much for saving jobs for players in North America.

 

– If you haven’t had a chance to read Dyson Stevenson’s latest blog post here is a link. He shares how he decided to wear #71 this season:  https://allenamericans.com/news/blog/bubblelife-3-how-i-chose-my-number-this-season/

 

DID YOU KNOW: The Indy Fuel have a record of 11-1 and a points percentage of .917. In the history of the ECHL there has never been a full season when a team finished with a points percentage above .900. There has only been one team in league history that has finished above .800. In 2001-02 the Louisiana IceGators set the all time high in points percentage at .806. Their record was 56-12-4.