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The Challenge and Details Behind the Grind of a Seven-in-Ten Stretch

ALLEN, Texas – The logistics ECHL teams have to deal with are many times mind-boggling. Here is an example of those logistics using the Allen Americans schedule over the next 10 days and the rest of December. While it is what it is and all teams have similar stories, it does seem like cruel and unusual punishment for these professional athletes. In my opinion, playing seven games in 10 days with all of this travel puts their health at risk with a much higher chance of injury.
The Allen Americans left the Allen Event Center early this morning (around 4:00 am) embarking on the toughest part of their 2019-20 schedule that will have them play seven games in the next 10 days with plenty of travel thrown in for good measure.
Here is what the next 10 days hold for the Americans:
– Today is a long travel day starting with a wake-up call around 3:00-3:30 am to catch a 6:00 am flight with a stop in Baltimore on the way to Albany, NY. Arrival in Albany early afternoon and a bus ride to Glen Falls (90 minutes). Turner Ottenbreit, who has been in Iowa for the last three weeks, will meet the team in Albany.
– The Americans will take on the Adirondack Thunder tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday where they will see two former players. Casey Pierro-Zabotel leads Adirondack with 10 goals. Alexandre Carrier, who played briefly for Allen in 2017-18, is also with the Thunder.
– The game on Friday has a regular 7:00 pm EST start, but the Saturday night game has an early start (5:00 pm EST, 4:00 pm Allen time) because after the game the Americans have to bus to Brampton which is 400 miles away. They will play Brampton at 4:00 pm EST on Sunday. Three games-in-three days is always a challenge, but throw in 400 miles on a bus between games two and three and it is beyond reasonable. If there is a silver lining in the Sunday game against Brampton, it is the fact that the Beast will also be playing three games in three days with travel. Brampton will be in Reading on Friday and Saturday and their Saturday game doesn’t start until 7:00 pm EST. Their bus ride back to Brampton is just as long if not a bit longer. A couple of tired teams will meet on Sunday afternoon.
– Two former Allen players are on the Brampton roster; Daniel Leavens, who is the second-leading scorer for the Beast with 24 points (10G, 17A) and Matt Foget who played briefly in Allen in 2017-18.
– After the Sunday game in Brampton, the Americans have two days off before playing Worcester on Wednesday. They would typically leave right after the Sunday game and bus overnight to Worcester. Several players from the Toronto area will have friends and family at the Brampton game on Sunday and they asked if the team could overnight in Brampton instead of leaving right after the game for Worcester. Coach Steve Martinson agreed, so the team will travel to Worcester on Tuesday, a trip of over 500 miles.
– Allen plays Worcester (7:05 pm EST) on Wednesday where they will meet up with the Americans leading scorer from last season, Dante Salituro. Dante has six points (4G, 2A) in seven games since joining the Railers a month ago.
– The road trip ends in Worcester on Wednesday, December 18 but the schedule doesn’t get any easier. The Americans will travel home from Boston on Thursday and start another three games-in-three days on Friday. Allen will play the second place Rapid City Rush at home on Friday and Saturday and then travel to Wichita to play the Thunder on Sunday.
– It is exhausting just writing about what this team will go through over the next 10 days. If the Americans can get through these next seven games in good health and perform well, it will set them up for the second half of the season. Having two great goalies that can share the workload and possibly steal games when the team doesn’t play well is a great asset in stretches like this.
– Don’t forget after the Christmas break the Americans finish December with three games against Idaho, the first two in Boise and the New Year’s eve game in Allen.
– Here are the winning percentages of the teams Allen plays the rest of December. The number in parenthesis is the number of games Allen plays each team:
.660 – Rapid City (2)
.646 – Brampton (1)
.558 – Idaho (3)
.540 – Wichita (1)
.520 – Adirondack (2)
.310 – Worcester (1)

Other Comments/Thoughts:

– Even though the Americans were winning early in the season, their goal differential (goals for, minus goals against) was not very good primarily because of one game when they gave up 10 goals. Allen’s goal differential has been improving ever since.
Here are the top ECHL teams in goal differential which is a good indication of team success. It is no coincidence the top team in each division is also the top team in goal differential.
+32   South Carolina Stingrays
+20   Newfoundland Growlers
+18   Allen Americans
+16   Cincinnati Cyclones
– Yesterday I mentioned some players (Guptill and Sadek) leading the ECHL in various plus/minus stats.
Here are a couple of the other players leading the ECHL:
Gabe Gagne – Tied for the league lead in game-winning goals with five.
Tyler Sheehy – Tied for the points lead for rookies with 24 points (8G, 16A)
– With two higher penalty minute games recently, the Americans have passed several teams in average penalty minutes per game. Allen is now averaging 11.54 minutes per game which ranks them 18th.
– As Allen heads out on this four-game road trip a reassuring stat is the Americans have the second-best road winning percentage in the league at .727.

Did You Know?

Allen will play four games against North Division teams in the next six days. So far this season Mountain Division teams have played just one game against the North Division. Utah lost to Newfoundland at home 4-3 in overtime.
For all things Allen Americans, follow Barry Janssen on Twitter @AllenAmericans1. For the latest stats and trends in the ECHL, follow @ECHLStats. And for the latest news on your favorite AHL & ECHL team, “Like” The Sin Bin on Facebook!

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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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