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Allen Americans

Battle for the West Begins Tonight in Allen

Battle for the West Begins Tonight in Allen

ALLEN, Texas – There are many key games in a 72 game ECHL regular season but the game tonight, when the Americans take on the Wichita Thunder at the Allen Event Center, is a big one for sure. With all of the issues Allen has dealt with this season, they can still finish first in the Western Conference but that can’t be accomplished unless the Americans win tonight.

Wichita/Allen Preview

The stats show Allen has 6-3-1-0 record against Wichita this season and the Americans have won the last three times these teams have played at the AEC. Not sure the stats tell the story of this game as this is a game where the team that wants it more will win because first place at stake.

However, here are a few stats comparing the teams:

– Allen has the best home record in the conference (23-7-2-1) and Wichita has the best road record in the conference (22-8-3-1). Four of Wichita’s road losses have come in Allen.

– Allen has scored more goals than Wichita (224-215) but the Thunder have allowed fewer goals than the Americans (182-193).

– Both teams are hard to beat when they score first with a combined record of 61-15-3-1. Allen’s points percentage when scoring first is .780. Wichita’s points percentage when scoring first is .795. The first goal tonight may very well predict who wins the game.

– Allen has the second-ranked power play in the ECHL (20.7%) while Wichita is at #13 (14.7%). The teams switch places on the penalty kill with Wichita ranked second (86.3%) while Allen is ranked 11th (81.2%). Both teams can look at recent history against each other and feel encouraged. The last time they played Allen had three power-play goals (3-7) and Wichita had two power-play goals (2-6)

– Four of the 10 games these teams have played against each other this season have gone to overtime and one went to a shootout. Allen won two of the three games that were decided in overtime and the lone shootout game. You will remember the shootout as it went eight rounds and 16 skaters before Zane Franklin scored the game winner.

– Allen will get a boost with Tyler Sheehy in the lineup for the first time since he was recalled by Iowa (AHL) at the end of January. Sheehy is the reigning ECHL Rookie of the Year and ECHL MVP runner-up. Last season he led the league in assists and all rookies in points, assists, power play assists, and power play points. Tyler has only played in two games since the end of March and will be playing himself into shape in the three games before the playoffs begin so don’t expect too much. You can bet he will be on the power play at some point tonight.

Matt Register will also be back in the lineup tonight after not making the trip to Rapid City. A rested and healthy Register for the playoffs will be key for the Americans. Register holds many ECHL playoff records that he will add to this season.

– Allen will be missing some key players in the game tonight but exactly who won’t be known until later today. Next man up will be the motto of the day for this important hockey game.

Coach’s Corner

“We are in control of our own destiny and the game tonight is a big one. We can finish in first place but we have to take care of business tonight.”

“We have been good on puck possession in almost every game. The key to success is being smart defensively and not create opportunities for the opponent. We need to stay aggressive but not gamble on low percentage plays.”

Jake Paterson will get the start in goal tonight.”

“We have quite a few players listed as day-to-day and I won’t know until after the pregame skate this morning who will be in the lineup. We may have to wait until Friday to get any of the players back.”

Did You Know?

Here is the ECHL Stats post from today. You will note two Allen Americans on the all-time playoff points list. Register will add to his many playoff records when he participates in the Kelly Cup playoffs for the eighth time starting next week. Matt is the all-time leader in playoff games played (124) and assists (69) in addition to being tied for second in points (94). The future Hall of Famer also has three Kelly Cups on his resume.

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    Barry Janssen covers the Allen Americans for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @allenamericans1.

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