The Allen Americans continue to get ready to see a lot of the Tulsa Oilers. The ECHL season is about 40% complete and Allen will take on the Oilers for the first time tomorrow night. In the next month the Americans play 16 games and seven of them (44%) are against Tulsa. The Oilers have been a hot and cold team thus far. In 26 games played they have had a five game win streak, four game win streak and three game win streak but they have also had two four game losing streak. Allen has won seven of its last eight games but prior to that had not won more than one game in a row all season.
– The complete preview of the upcoming games with Tulsa will be tomorrow but suffice it to say the Americans are one of the hottest teams in the ECHL right now with a record of 7-1-0-0 over the last eight games. Tulsa is 3-6-0-0 over its last nine games and the three wins were against Iowa (1) and Wichita (2), teams in last place in their respective divisions.
– This morning I was reflecting on this season which was “supposed” to be a return normal with 27 teams playing a full 72 game schedule. After canceling the 2019-20 ECHL season in early March and playing with just 14 teams in 2020-21, the 2021-22 season was something to look forward to with great anticipation. It has turned out to be anything but normal. I have lost track of the numbers but COVID games postponed/rescheduled has to be pushing 50 and that is the least of the problems. The AHL and NHL have had many issues with COVID outbreaks and anytime they need players they look to ECHL teams. Then the NHL instituted a temporary taxi squad through February 5 that decimated some ECHL teams, especially goalies. I have seen much speculation the NHL taxi squads will be in place after the current end date in early February,
– Of the top 20 qualified ECHL goalies (minimum 540 minutes played) by GAA, 12 of them are now gone, having been loaned/recalled to the AHL/NHL. Unfortunately most are not playing but serving in backup roles. You know there is a goalie shortage when backup ECHL goalies are being loaned to AHL teams.
– Teams with a lot of AHL/NHL contracted players have clearly been impacted more than ECHL teams with few contracted players but all teams have been impacted. Many teams have lost two or three of their top scorers. It is safe to say as a whole the ECHL has been decimated.
– Jacksonville, who will be hosting the ECHL All-Star game on January 18, is one of the best turnaround stories in the ECHL this season. Going back to 2013 when the franchise was still in Evansville before it was moved to Jacksonville (2017-18), the Icemen have missed the playoffs every season except in 2019 when they lost in the first round. Last season Jacksonville finished out of the playoffs in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. This season Jacksonville leads the South Division and has the third best points percentage in the ECHL (.667). In the last 10 games the Icemen’s record is the best in the league 9-1-0-0. Jacksonville’s #1, #3 and #4 point scorers have recently been loaned/recalled to the AHL so like many ECHL teams, it will be a challenge going forward.
– Toledo went on the road last night and beat Fort Wayne 7-2. The Walleye have been the best team in the ECHL for going on two months. Since November 14, Toledo’s record is 13-2-0-2. With the win last night, Toledo took over the ECHL lead in points percentage at .731, overtaking Newfoundland who is a close second at .727. These are the only ECHL teams with a points percentage above .677.
– Toledo has gained the top of the standings by being one of the best offensive teams, ranked #2 in goals scored (103) and also one of the best defensive teams, ranked #3 in goals allowed (67). The Walleye goal differential is outstanding at +36. Newfoundland and Jacksonville are tied for #2 in goal differential (+24) followed by Utah at +21.
– I did some research this morning for my ECHL Stats page on the age of the arenas in the league. Here is the info on the year the Mountain Division Arenas opened and also the current name since some have recently changed.
1977 – Rapid City, The Monument
1997 – Utah, Maverik Center
1997 – Idaho, Idaho Central Arena
2008 – Tulsa, BOK Center
2009 – Allen, Credit Union of Texas (CUTX) Event Center
2009 – Kansas City, Cable Dahmer Arena
2010 – Wichita, Intrust Bank Arena