- The goblins almost got the Americans last night as they gave up a two goal lead late in the game, were out shot 26-4 in the 3rd period and overtime, and won the game (4-3) as a defenseman (Tyler Ludwig) got the only goal in the shootout as the Tulsa goalie appeared to make the stop but slide into the goal with the puck under his pads. Strange indeed! It is a two point victory in the books and that is what counts as the Americans remain on top of the standings with 11 points.
- My guess is the team will be in for a long practice today both in video review and time on the ice. Tulsa had it highest shot production (45) of the season and at the same time gave up the fewest shots (25) of the year. Some of this disparity is related to penalties late in the game (more on that later) but as coach Martinson has said in the past, it was an ugly win.
- Had a chance to talk to the coaches briefly after the game and as was obvious as they left the ice they were not happy with how the game was officiated. They also felt Tulsa beat us at our own game of winning puck battles down low. Steve Martinson said, "I thought our forwards were weak down low, we didn't win enough battles. Tulsa forwards outplayed our forwards especially the second half of the game. Bryan Pitton made some great saves in regulation and in the shoot out."
- As you all know I don't like to talk about referees as I think calls even out over time and the CHL is a training ground for young referees just like it is the starting point for a lot of young players hoping to move up. However, there are some patterns developing with this particular referee that the league needs to address. First the facts:
* The Americans have had this referee three times this year and in all three games have given up two or more goal leads late in the game to send the game into overtime.
* There have been more penalties called against Allen than the opponent in the third period and overtime in all three games, 6-2, 11-9, 5-1 for a total of 22 penalties against Allen and 12 against the opponents.
* In the three games this referee has called eight penalties in overtime with six of them against Allen.
* If you look at all games in the CHL that went to a shoot out so far this year the total is seven. This referee has three of them (all with Allen) and the other four have been different referees. This referee has called eight penalties in overtime in his three shootout games while in the other four shoot out games there has been a total of only one penalty called.
My conclusion: The CHL needs to take a hard look at whether this referee is making some rookie mistakes just like young players do and they can be corrected quickly or is it time to tell the referee he needs to develop more at a lower level of hockey just like coaches have to tell young players all of the time when they release them. Players I have talked to feel this referee calls too many penalties on both sides that should not called. This is especially true late in the game and in overtime. Enough said. I feel better now.
- Darryl Bootland with a goal and Alex Lavoie with an assist continued their scoring streaks as Booter has scored in in all six games thus far and Lavoie is on a five game scoring streak.
- The plus/minus differential continues to grow between Allen and the other undefeated teams. Here are the figures:
Rapid City: +29
This statistic shows how much improvement is need in even strength play. The game against Denver on Friday will be a good test for the Americans against the highest scoring team in the CHL.
- Nice touch by the Americans to present Todd Robinson with his championship ring before the game. And did you notice in the first period he had the exact same shot as the one that won the championship last year. Fortunately he shot this one wide but it was a real flashback to the most famous goal in American's history.
- The standings continue to look like the haves and have-nots as there are four teams that have not lost (Allen, Denver, Rapid City & Missouri) while the other six teams (Brampton, Wichita, Quad City, St. Charles, Arizona, Tulsa) are all under .500. Tulsa is currently in last place with only two points in five games. They are a much better team than their record shows so look for them to get it turned around. Wichita is also under performing but that won't last for long.
- Props to Tyler Ludwig for representing all of the D-men in scoring the game winning goal and the only goal in the shootout. Nine high powered forwards get stoned by the goalies from both sides and the lone defenseman in the shoot out gets the game winner. When asked by Lee Hastings if he was surprised to be called on for the shootout Tyler said, "I've been doing pretty well in practice on shootouts."
- The penalty kill was perfect again last night and has not given up a power play goal in the last four games. For the season they have only given up two goals in 41 opportunities for a unbelievable 95.12%.
- Attendance continues to be an issue around the league. Here are the figures from last night:
Allen - 3956
Arizona - 1719
Denver - 929
St. Charles - 844
I know sales/marketing departments will say it is early and things don't pick up until later in the year. It also should be noted the higher drawing teams (Wichita, Rapid City & Tulsa) have only had two home games and Missouri is yet to have a home game. However, with two teams averaging under 2000 per game (St. Charles 1578 & Denver 1410) the league-wide average after 25 total games is 3171 which is down 535 per game from last year. I know the average will improve but the question is will it exceed last years average attendance?
DID YOU KNOW: The single season record for plus/minus for the Americans took place in 2010-2011 when Dave Bonk was a plus 27 and David Strathman was a minus 13. The NHL single season record is Bobby Orr (1970-1971) on the plus side with a plus 124 and Bill Mikkelson (1974-1975) on the minus side with a minus 82.