This Halloween, the Allen Americans look to treat themselves to first place in the league with a win over the Tulsa Oilers as they host their Red River rivals tonight at 7:00 PM. The Oilers (3-1-1) find themselves currently in first by just one point over the Americans (3-1-0) thanks to their overtime loss at the hands of the Quad City Mallards.
Allen is looking to bounce back from their only blemish, a road loss to their bitter rivals, Fort Worth Brahmas on Saturday evening. With a flair for the dramatic, of Allen’s three victories, two came via shootout and the other came from an offensive explosion on opening night.
Allen is led by forward, Darryl Bootland and defenseman, Brett Skinner, each with 6 points. Skinner leads the team in assists with five where Bootland has efficiently netted 3 goals to go with his 3 assists. Darryl currently holds the 2nd best shooting percentage in the CHL where Skinner leads all CHL defensemen in scoring.
The Americans can attribute their early success on the pads of their new goaltender, Steve Silverthorn who was signed during the off season. Currently, Silverthorn is tied in wins with 3 but has the league’s only shutout (opening night) and leads in GAA at 1.89 and of all tenders who have faced greater than 50 shots, trails Quad City’s Joe Palmer by just .003 in save percentage.
Tulsa has heavily relied on fire power as opposed to defense and net minding. The Oilers have split time between Ian Keserich and Dan Bakala with both playing 3 games apiece and Ian having one more win than Dan. However, both have GAA in the three’s and Keserich’s save percentage is teetering on the .900 line.
Gary Steffes (CHL’s player of the week) and Michel Beausoleil lead the CHL in +/- with a +4 and +5 rating respectively and have 13 points between the two.
As minority owner, Craig Ludwig has stated on several occasions, the Americans will be known as a tough team to play against and you will “pay the price to beat us.” With the addition of several physical finishers, the team has had to put a great deal of focus on special teams. Ludwig has even stated that it is estimated half a hockey game these days are played a man-up or man-down.
The Americans have heeded his call and lead the league in every statistical category on special teams (with the exception of shorthanded goals for; they have none). Allen has the most power play goals (9), most times on the man advantage (26) resulting in the highest PP% at 34.62%. Despite also leading in times being shorthanded at 23, Allen has only given up one power play goal, resulting in a PK% of 95.65% (only team in the CHL above 86%).
Tonight should be a “spooktacular” evening (ok, I’ll stop with the puns, I promise) as the best offense goes head-to-head with the best defensive team. At stake: first place…momentum…confidence. The season is has just started, but the implications couldn’t be any hotter.