Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Sweet Win, Martinson Post Game Comments, Special Teams, Jon Zion

It is easy to say all victories are the same as they are all worth just two points but some are sweeter than others. Yesterday afternoon Allen beat Arizona 3-2 when Greger Hanson scored the game winner one minute and nine seconds into overtime. So what was the sweet part? It came against what coach Martinson describes as a "yappy" team that likes to talk but not back it up, it was the rubber match of a three game series, the Americans scored with nine seconds left in regulation to tie the game, it was in front of a MLK crowd of 4119 including a large number of cheering school kids, and the win moved Allen into a tie for first place in the CHL. Now that is sweet!!


- That would have been a tough one if we had lost the game today. After you play the same team three times in a row you get to dislike them and really want to win. I'm sure they thought they had the win so it was a great ending. It is a fun way to win a game.

- The power play was pretty frustrating this weekend as it disappeared completely (the Americans were 1-14 in the three games). That is why the scores were so close this weekend.

- Defensively I think we played pretty good. They had that four on three goal. The Sundogs have a skilled set of forwards and you don't want to give them a four on three with five minutes to go in the game. It is difficult for our guys as they don't know what a penalty is most of the time because of the inconsistent calls by the referee. 

- We got five out of six points on the weekend and are tied for first place with Rapid City. They obviously have games in hand on us but they will have to win those games in hand.

- We stayed healthy over the weekend which is important. We have the two long term injuries (Lukin & Trevor Ludwig) but otherwise have stayed healthy.

- I think we have the best young team in the CHL. They are getting better and better especially in the defensive zone. Our offense has picked it up and this weekend we did a good job on defense holding down Arizona's shots on goal. I think we are the most physical team in the league and when you combine physical play with the offense we have it makes for entertaining hockey. Our goal is to win and play a style of hockey that is fun to watch. I'm proud of our team being a physical team, winning games, scoring goals and being a fun team to watch.

- The player that I am bringing in is Jon Zion. Zion played for me in Chicago (2011-2012). He is a weight lifter, he is in shape, he has been skating at home. Whether we put him in the line up Friday night I don't know, we might, we will see how he looks when he gets to Allen. He is one of those guys that is a fitness guy so I am not worried about what kind of shape he is in. He is like Brett Skinner on the power play. He gets to the middle of the ice, he has great vision, he makes plays and he passes the puck. Of all of the AA guys I have had that didn't play much in the AHL he is the best. He was the best power play point guy in the ECHL the year I had him in Chicago. He is a left shot who I expect to get to the middle of the ice and lay passes over to Tyler Ludwig for his one timer. I think we will have a better power play once I get Zion in the lineup.  I tried real hard to get Jon last summer but he went to Europe and didn't like the play so came home. He is not a fighter but has trained for years in mixed martial arts.

- Greger Hanson made a great shot on the overtime goal. He never stops moving his feet, he is like the energizer bunny. He just keeps moving his feet, he is feisty, he hits and he competes really hard all of the time. He never takes a shift off and is not happy if he is not scoring.

- Adding Hanson along with Brian McMillin has helped our team. McMillin has helped our penalty kill and is good at taking faceoffs in our defensive zone. I am happy with where the team is at right now.

- Bootland has been in a scoring drought but he is that kind of player that is streaky. We saw that last year. What he needs to do when he is not scoring is do what he did tonight and be physical. He has to be finishing checks and be hard to play against. As long as he is doing that he is helping the team even if he isn't scoring. I thought he was great tonight.


- The three stars of the game were #1 Hanson, #2 Klotz, & #3 McMillin.

- Special teams are usually telling in hockey games and Allen had the advantage over Arizona in both the power play and penalty kill going into this series. One of the reasons all three games went to overtime was Allen could not capitalize on their special teams advantage. The Americans power play was 1-14 or 7.1%. The penalty kill allowed three goals in fifteen attempts for a penalty kill percentage of 80%.

- When Brett Skinner left for the AHL last year I came up with a stat called PPASL (power play after Skinner left) because the power play was very low after he left but the overall percentage still looked pretty good. With Jon Zion added to the mix I will compute a PPAZA (power play after Zion arrived) to see the impact. Stay tuned.

- Rapid City lost to Denver last night (5-2) so Allen and Rapid are now tied for first place in the CHL with 50 points, four points ahead of third place Missouri. The Rush have two games in hand over the Americans. Allen has caught Rapid City quickly as the Americans are 9-0-2 in the last eleven games while the Rush are 5-6.

- Saw this from the CHL and it reminded me how much I have missed Bill McDonald  around the AEC this year. Bill is back home in Thunder Bay. Ontario as the head coach at Lakehead University. Bill's team is 14-6 in conference play and in the hunt for the championship.
 Wichita Head Coach Kevin McClelland has 319 wins in his CHL career tying him with Bill McDonald for sixth on the all-time wins list.  The two-time CHL Coach of the Year has won 132 games with Wichita, won 100 games with Mississippi and 87 games with Colorado.  McClelland will look to pass McDonald on Tuesday night when the Thunder play in Tulsa.

- Congrats to Mike Berube who played in his 200th game as an Allen American in the game yesterday.

DID YOU KNOW: The highest power play percentage in the CHL in the last ten years belongs to the 2009-2010 Odessa Jackalopes at 27.25%. The highest percentage the Americans have ever had is 23.85% which led the league in 2010-2011.

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