|Austin Smith with his first goal and an assist was named the games #1 star - photo by SceneByKimberly.com|
In what was a gut check game the Allen Americans put on a gutsy performance in a 3-1 victory over the Rapid City Rush before a crowd of 4185 at the Allen Event Center last night. Goals by Trevor Ludwig, Brian McMillin and Austin Smith, along with another great performance by goalie Riley Gill, vaulted the Americans into first place in the Central Division of the ECHL. A well deserved day off today (Monday) and then the team will start preparing for home games this weekend (Friday & Saturday) against Brampton. Steve Martinson brought goalie Riley Gill with him to his post game press conference. Here are a few of their comments:
- That was a good weekend! Our winning percentage is climbing and we now lead the division in points as well as winning percentage.
- We have two home games coming up next weekend and we have to keep doing what we did tonight. We had that boneheaded play on the Rapid City shorthanded goal but other than that I thought we were much better defensively. I thought our defensive play improved a little in every game this weekend.
- Riley Gill makes it look easy in goal. He did a great job in all three games. He should have had even fewer goals allowed but we took stick penalties late in the game all three nights which cost us.
- Our penalty kill has been good, we were physical when we needed to be tonight and won battles for the puck.
- The last couple of games we have done an excellent job winning battles for the puck in front of the net and that has resulted in some goals.
- I am excited how the team is playing after the frustrating start to the season when we led the league in goals scored but also lead the league in goals allowed.
- After the second period I emphasized to the guys to keep it simple in the third period. Our team has good skill and we don't need to try and manufacture plays that are not there. The defensemen stayed out of the rush in the third period and we played good defensive hockey.
- We are getting better every game. We are much stronger defensively and are becoming better decision makers.
- The guys had a big meeting earlier in the week and they came out of that meeting with a direction that they set themselves about how they wanted to play. I think as a team we have done a much better job since they had their meeting.
- The defense and I are always talking about letting me see the puck and getting the guys out of the front of the net. Before every face off and between periods we talk about it as it is a point of emphasis all of the time. The guys did a great job tonight and it really helped out.
- On the shorthanded goal Rapid City scored it was frustrating but it is part of hockey. You make mistakes and the guys know better not to do that but that is why you play the game. It was an unfortunate mistake on our part. I was upset so took a little lap to calm myself down. That really is the only way teams are going to beat us, when we shoot ourselves in the foot. That is what Martinson keeps pointing out to us which is keep it simple as we have enough skill to win the game without taking risks and shooting ourselves in the foot. It was nice to get the win tonight.
- It is pretty rare for a goalie the play three games in three days but I am a goalie that likes to play and when I play a lot I am at my best. It was nice to get in a little groove this weekend and hopefully I can keep it going.
- Coach Martinson is tough on us, he demands perfection and that is why he has been so successful in his coaching career. He is the right coach for a skilled team such as we have here in Allen.
- It was quite a task to play three games in three cities in three days and win all three games. The fact of the matter is the team played three games in less than forty eight hours. To be exact it was forty seven hours and fifteen minutes from the start of the game in Missouri Friday night to the end of the game in Allen on Sunday. That definitely deserves an "atta boy" for the entire team!
- One of the keys to the game was getting off to a good start and Allen certainly did that with two early first period goals. Trevor Ludwig got the first goal on a shot from the point on a great pass from Kevin Young. Just 38 seconds later Brian McMillin and Jack Combs went on a two on one rush with Combs making a nifty pass to McMillin who buried the puck. If you noticed after Brian scored he pointed to Aaron Gens and they were both smiling. What you may not have noticed is Gens gave McMillin a shove in the back with his stick out by the red line to propel him forward on the rush. So Gens gets an informal assist on McMillin's goal.
- Jack Combs extended his scoring streak to nine games with the assist on McMillin's goal. Combs is now tied for fifth in scoring in the ECHL with fifteen points. If you look at points per game Combs leads the ECHL at 1.67 points per game.
- Austin Smith had the third goal of the game for Allen and an assist on the Ludwig goal to earn the #1 star of the game. The ECHL official score sheet shows John Ryder as the #1 star. Have heard the new ECHL software the officials use to input information is much different than Pointstreak which was used in the CHL. It doesn't seem it would be that tough to enter the three stars, however, it was wrong in two of the three games this weekend.
- Riley Gill should be the ECHL goalie of the week winning three games in three days and was one of the three stars in all three games. And some pretty stout stats in the three wins. Gill gave up just four goals in the three games for a GAA of 1.33 and stopped 87 of 91 shots for a save percentage of .956. If you consider one of the goals was a six on four power play goal and another was a two on zero shorthanded goal his play could not have been better.
- For the season Riley Gill has given up 13 goals and made 175 saves for a save percentage of .931 which ranks him #2 in the ECHL.
- Special teams usually are the difference in most hockey games and Rapid City had the better statistics for both the power play and penalty kill going into the game. Allen however won the special teams battle as they had a power play goal going 1-3 while Rapid City did not score on seven power play opportunities.
- Special teams were a key for all three wins this weekend as Allen scored a power play goal in all three games. They held their opponents to just one power play goal (the 6 on 4 in Wichita) and killed 18 of 19 opportunities for a kill percentage of 94.7%.
- It was great to win three games this weekend. With six points in three days Allen doubled their point total from six to twelve and now stand alone in first place in the division. However, the hold on first place is very tenuous as the Central Division standings could not be any closer. Allen is in first with 12 points, followed by three teams (Tulsa, Quad City, Rapid City) with 11 points and two teams (Wichita & Missouri) with 10 points. Brampton is in last place with seven points but the Beast have a three game winning streak. Bottom line is with the close standings in the Central Division if the Americans should lose twice this weekend they could go from first place to sixth place.
- Trevor Ludwig has two goals since coming off injured reserve but has only taken six shots for a 33.3% shooting percentage.
- Some interesting things are happening statistically as Allen has started playing better hockey recently. They have been slowly reducing their penalty minutes which is now under twenty minutes per game. They still need to reduce the number of stick penalties they take as they lead the ECHL in minor penalties with over 7.5 per game. The special teams stats are improving as the power play is ranked #11 at 19.1% and the penalty kill is ranked #10 at 84%. Better defensive play has resulted in fewer goals being scored by Allen but the goal differential has increased which is a good trade off. The Americans are still ranked #4 in the ECHL in average goals scored per game at 3.78. There has been a vast improvement in average goals allowed per game as Allen has moved from #26 in the league to #13 with the average goals per game allowed now at 3.11.
- Looking at the Central Division standings can be misleading because some teams have played as many as thirteen games while others have only played nine games. Here is how the teams rank by winning percentage:
.667 - Allen
.550 - Tulsa
.550 - Quad City
.500 - Missouri
.455 - Wichita
.423 - Rapid City
.389 - Brampton
DID YOU KNOW: It was good to have a chance to say hello to Daniel Tetrault on his return to Allen last night. Tetrault is the last remaining active player who played in the Western Professional Hockey League which joined the Central Hockey league in 2001. Daniel played for the Austin Ice Bats in 2000-2001. Tetrault will soon play in his 900th regular season professional game.