ALLEN, Texas – One of the reasons Allen has had a good start to the season is the play of the goalies. To be successful in today’s ECHL it takes good defense and two good goalies. Allen has had the luxury of having two of the best in Zach Sawchenko and C.J. Motte who are both #1 goalies. Sawchenko has a record of 5-2 with a GAA of 2.55 and save percentage of .926. Motte is 3-1 with a GAA of 2.52 and a save percentage of .915. Allen’s team save percentage ranks #2 in the league. Here are the six teams with a team save percentage higher than .905:
- .928 – Wichita
- .922 – Allen
- .914 – South Carolina
- .914 – Florida
- .909 – Tulsa
- .908 – Utah
– The demand for goalies this season is off the charts because of the pandemic. The NHL has required each team to have an extra goalie on the active roster or the taxi squad. As AHL teams start their training camps they also are planning on carrying three goalies. An extra goalie for each NHL and AHL team computes to 60 goalies not available to ECHL teams. In the past, most NHL and AHL teams would carry two goalies and have a fifth goalie with their ECHL affiliate who could be recalled in there were injuries.
– Coach Martinson assumed he would lose San Jose contracted goalie Zach Sawchenko when the AHL started to get ready for their season and that happened as he left for Barracuda training camp yesterday. In anticipation of Sawchenko getting recalled Martinson signed rookie Frank Marotte to back up C.J. Motte. In a sign of the demand for goalies, Marotte was signed to an AHL deal by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers before he even arrived in Allen. Martinson then signed rookie Justin Kapelmaster to back up Motte.
– Things went from bad to worse yesterday when C.J. Motte was loaned to Bridgeport (AHL) and coach Martinson was on the phone to find a replacement. He has come to terms with a veteran goalie who he will pair with rookie Kapelmaster.
– There is a possible silver lining in losing two goalies (Marotte & Motte) to the same AHL team (Bridgeport). Here is the logic. If Marotte and Motte are signed to AHL deals by Bridgeport they are no longer AHL free agents so they can’t go to any other AHL team. Allen has the rights to both players so the only ECHL team they can be sent to is Allen. Bridgeport has injured goalies so when all the goalies are healthy Allen should get a goalie back. As a bonus, it could save some salary cap money. If Motte would return to Allen as a Bridgeport contracted goalie he would only cost $525 against the salary cap, much less than his salary before being loaned to Bridgeport.
– It is hard to overstate the impact of losing the four players Allen lost yesterday. Both goalies, the team leader in points, the team leader in plus/minus, and the two players tied for second in goals. Losing Zach Sawchenko, C.J. Motte, Joe Garreffa and Jake McGrew will be quite a challenge for Allen to overcome.
– Coach Martinson always talks about when players leave it is an opportunity for other players to get more ice time and he is confident others will pick up the scoring lost with Garreffa and Mcgrew being recalled. Remember Stevenson and Asuchak will be back in the lineup, Bleackley and Laberge will be back up to speed and Martinson is bringing in another top AA forward.
– So far none of the Iowa Wild contracted players have been recalled but it might be just a matter of time. According to elite prospects, Iowa has only six defensemen on their roster so may need to add a blueliner.
– It is hard to look ahead but when it becomes playoff time it is important to remember that players that have started the season in Allen and end up playing in the AHL will be qualified for the ECHL playoffs. The AHL season is scheduled to end on May 16 and it is still undetermined what their playoffs will look like. The ECHL regular season won’t end until June 6 so you can expect a flood of AHL players on ECHL rosters come playoff time.
– The pandemic has created a lot of financial hardships for ECHL players with teams opting out, games being canceled, and the uncertainty of playing the full season and playoffs. I came across this article about the financial issues facing AHL players whose contracts are prorated with some teams playing as few as 24 games. They also must provide their own lodging. A good read: https://nypost.com/2021/01/16/ahls-financial-situation-growing-dire-because-of-covid-19
– Joe Garreffa leaves the Allen Americans as the top rookie in the ECHL. He is #1 in points (13), tied with teammate Jake McGrew for #1 in goals (6), #2 in assists (7), #1 in power play goals (2), and #1 in power play points (5). He is fun to watch and you can tell he loves to play the game, the typical rink rat.
– Florida is the most penalized team in the ECHL averaging 17.64 PIMS per game. Tulsa is the least penalized team averaging 9.42 per game. Over a 72 game season, these averages would equate to 1270 PIMS for Florida compared to 678 PIMS for Tulsa. Allen’s PIM would be 1105 based on their current average.
– By the time Wednesday rolls around Allen will have added five players to the roster and lost six players in 10 days. It shows why general manager Martinson is sometimes more important than coach Martinson.
– Allen’s special teams have been steadily improving. The goal for excellent special teams is to exceed 105% when you add the power play percentage and penalty kill percentage together. The Americans were in the mid 90% earlier in the season but have improved to 102.1%.
DID YOU KNOW: Here is Allen’s combined power play and penalty kill percentage for every season in franchise history. It is no coincidence the three best years were the three seasons Chad Costello played in Allen and quarterbacked the power play.
POWER PLAY %
- 2020-21: 102.1% (thru 11 games)
- 2019-20: 99.9%
- 2018-19: 98.4%
- 2017-18: 98.7%
- 2016-17: 108.8%
- *2015-16: 107.5%
- *2014-15: 109.4%
- *2013-14: 102.8%
- *2012-13: 104.6%
- 2011-12: 102.4%
- 2010-11: 106.7%
- 2009-10: 100.3%
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Barry Janssen covers the Allen Americans for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @allenamericans1.