Saturday, November 9, 2013

Martinson Post Game Comments, Wichita Struggles, Stats & More

After the 4-3 loss to Brampton Thursday night I am sure alot was said by the coaches, the player leadership, friends and family, as well as the fans. Not sure if any or all of this conversation had an impact on the Friday night play but the Americans played their most complete game of the season beating the Brampton Beast 6-1 before a crowd of 2573 at the Powerade Centre. Let's "check" a few keys to success.

- Goalie Play, check - Bryan Pitton stopped 31 of 32 shots and was named the #1 star of the game
- Special Teams, check - two power play goals (2-7) while allowing Brampton only one (1-8)
- Even Strength Play, check - best game of the season as Allen won the even strength battle outscoring Brampton 4-0 when the teams were even strength.
- Young Guys Deliver, check - five of six goals from the young guys (Lessard with the hat trick, Lavoie & Asuchak).
- Play Tough & Gritty, check, - Garrett Klotz took on Brampton enforcer Andrew Darrigo for the second night in a row and acquitted himself very well. Garrett hasn't lost a fight yet this year.
- Don't Let Ref Get The Best of You, check, - Allen has had those games this year but last night it was Brampton's turn.

- Bryan Pitton lowered his GAA to 2.56 (4th in the league) and raised his save percentage to 92.5%.
- The Americans plus/minus for this game was a lofty +19.
- Jonathan Lessard with his first professional hat trick is now tied for the league lead in goals (8).
With a hat trick last night Jonathan Lessard leads the CHL in goals scored - photo by

- Alex Lavoie with his four point night (1 goal 3 assists) now stands alone atop the CHL scoring list with 17 points (6 goals 11 assists).
- You know your team played well and the goalie was outstanding when he gets the #1 star of the  game while a four point night (Lavoie) is only good enough for the #3 star and a hat trick (Lessard) can only get you #2 star.
- The official attendance of 2573 was an improvement over Thursday (2024) but was still the lowest attended game in the league for the night by almost 1200.

- The team played a very good game tonight. It has taken a while but it was great to see.
- Bryan Pitton was really good in goal for us.
- Another big night for the young guys. We had high expectations for them and they are exceeding our expectations.
- Jonathan Lessard is having fun playing hockey again. Last year he had only one goal in 47 games with three different teams. It proves even good players must be utilized the right way to be successful.
- Garrett Klotz is an intimidating fighter and showed it again tonight.
- The defense played the way we have expected them to play.


- Rapid City (8-0) and Missouri (7-0) both remained perfect with wins last night. They play twice next weekend in Rapid City for what should be a great two game set especially if they both win their games tonight and go into next weekend undefeated.

- Tulsa beat St. Charles 6-4 last night for their third victory in a row and seem to have things turned around. The signing of rookie Adam Pleskach seemed to light a fire under the Oilers. Pleskach has 11 point (5 goals 6 assists) in five games and is already second in the CHL in scoring for rookies right behind Alex Lavoie.

- Quad City beat Denver last night 5-2. Former Allen American Jim McKenzie had two goals and was named the games #1 star.

- Thanks to excellent attendance in Missouri (5800) and Tulsa (5235) last night the league wide average for the year jumped by 134 per game to 3371.

- Without a doubt the most surprising team thus far this season is the Wichita Thunder who have started the year 1-6-3. You can always count on the Thunder to be a contender. I came across the article below written by Jeffery Lutz of the Wichita Eagle which does an excellent job of describing what is going on in Wichita. Despite the poor start Wichita will be in the hunt by the end of the season. They have too good of team and are too well coached to not get this turned around.

Thunder’s McClelland searching for solutions to slow start

  • The Wichita Eagle

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Ten games into the season, Thunder coach Kevin McClelland might feel as if he’s tried almost everything.
Losers of six straight games following two seasons in which it advanced to the Central Hockey League finals, Wichita has already used more players this season than last, 26 to 25.
McClelland is adding offense wherever available, plucking former Thunder forwards Thomas Beauregard and Tomas Klempa off waivers from Tulsa. He’s mixed up lines and defensive pairings and last Sunday went with a group of starters that had combined for one goal all season at that point.
Nothing has worked. In fact, after Wednesday’s loss to Tulsa, a 4-0 defeat to the league’s last-place team following four consecutive one-goal losses, Wichita could be in danger of regression.
With four key players having missed most of the season with injuries – captain Andrew Martens, a defenseman, returned Wednesday – and chemistry slow to develop with drastic roster changes, McClelland believes he is most responsible for the slow start.
“This lies all on me,” McClelland said. “I take full responsibility, and I have to get the job done. I have to make those guys get out there and play hard every night. Whoever is in the lineup has to get the job done. If not, I know that’s my responsibility and I don’t have to look anywhere else.”
The Thunder is falling behind in a league that includes two undefeated teams that aren’t even in first place, Rapid City and Missouri. Those teams, along with second-place Denver, which owns three early victories over the Thunder, are looking up at 7-2-1 Allen’s 15 points.
The urgency is there, but Wichita isn’t making moves out of panic. The team started the season with several players McClelland believed weren’t ready for this level of professional hockey, and he’s weeding them out by adding players who have previous success in the league.
“I’ve been around this long enough to know that you can’t make changes just to make changes,” McClelland said. “It has to be the right decisions for the organization, and no decisions are going to be made like that, a kneejerk reaction. We’re going to tinker a little bit here and there, even like we would do if we were 10-0. We’re still going to tinker because we’re never satisfied.”
The moves so far have leaned toward adding offense – primarily because three injured players, Ian Lowe, Matt Summers and Jesse Dudas, consist of two forwards and a top-scoring defenseman – but goal prevention has been equally concerning. Defenseman Tyler Hostetter, on loan from the Philadelphia Flyers organization, recently took Martens’ spot on injured reserve.
The Thunder has allowed 33 goals, more than every team except St. Charles (34), an expansion team which also has beaten Wichita. Part of that is due to Wichita’s scoring deficiencies aiding opponents’ offenses, but the downturn in physical defense since last season, except from enforcer Garrett Gruenke, has been noticeable.
Though it speaks mostly to Wichita’s 1-6-3 record, the fact that no Thunder player has a positive plus-minus rating also means the Thunder’s stay-at-home defensemen aren’t consistently protecting their zone.
“The only way it’s going to turn around is if we gut it out and the work ethic is at a high level,” McClelland said. “One night we might get a bounce that’s going to turn the fortunes around. Right now we’re a team that’s licking our wounds here. We can’t do anything in the past, we have to move forward.”

DID YOU KNOW: Jonathan Lessard's hat trick last night was the first for the Americans since Jamie Schaafsma got one against Tulsa on 2/10/13. The first hat trick in Americans history was scored by Mike Willemsen on 11/19/2009. Willemsen was signed on November 19th as an injury replacement and got a hat trick in his first game with Allen. He played three more games for Allen, did not have another point and was waived.

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