|Fearless shot blocker extraordinaire Brian McMillin broke his knee cap blocking a shot last night - photo by scenebykimberly.com|
After a scoreless first period the Allen Americans turned on their offensive firepower with three goals in the second and third periods to beat the Tulsa Oilers 6-3 last night, disappointing a large crowd of 6130 at the BOK Center. It was a big night for the Allen defense as four of them (Gens, Baker and both Ludwigs) had multiple point games led by Aaron Gens with two goals. Besides Gens the goal scorers in the game were Trevor Ludwig, Steffes, Costello, and Schaafsma. Things got a little ugly in the third period after Allen took a 5-2 lead. The Tulsa broadcaster said it best when he said since Tulsa can't win the game they are trying to extract a pound of flesh from the Americans and send a message for next weekend when the teams play two more times. When it was all over the third period accounted for 96 penalty minutes including six misconduct penalties with one of them being a game misconduct penalty. For the game Allen had a season high 56 penalty minutes while Tulsa had 72 minutes which is also a season high.
The Americans suffered a major loss in the game when Brian McMillin broke his knee cap. Brian was doing what he does best as one of the best shot blockers on the team. He blocked a big shot that hit him in the knee where there is no padding. After a trip to the emergency room in Tulsa where x-rays confirmed the knee cap was broken, Brian returned home with the team. He will have surgery this week and then start the long road to recovery. Knowing Brian who is disciplined, dedicated, and hard working he will do everything in his power to be back in the line up by the end of the season. Aaron Gens posted this on social media last night, "Brian, tons of respect for the heart to block that shot kid. Rest easy, heal fast." I had the chance to talk with coach Martinson after the game and he had this to say, "It is a tough injury and a big loss to the team. Brian is one of our glue guys. He logs lots of minutes for our penalty kill, quietly goes about his business, while providing top defensive play for our team."
I know it is unprofessional to talk personally in a blog, at least that is what the professionals tell me, but I am not a professional and it is my blog so I can say what I want to. Everyone who is a regular reader of the blog knows Brian and his wife Wendy have become close friends of our family and I always kid them they are the grand kids we have never had. Brian and I were planning a fishing trip this morning. As soon as the injury happened I was texting with Wendy and knew it was a serious injury. But the understated Brian, who I am sure was in plenty of pain and dealing with all of the ramifications of this serious injury took the time to text me and made it short and simple, "Not going to make our fishing trip tomorrow." It made me laugh and cry at the same time. I know all of the Allen fans as well as the fans around the league and the hockey world and especially those in northern Minnesota wish Brian a speedy recovery and know he will come back better than ever.
STEVE MARTINSON'S POST GAME COMMENTS:
- We need to manage our puck and positional play decisions better as we are giving up way too many odd man rushes.
- Aaron Dell made some big saves on quality opportunities tonight which really helped out.
- We have so much skill on this team that they can make up for all of our mistakes but after the Christmas break we will need to get refocused on our defensive game.
- While there are things we need to do to get better this team has had a great stretch as we have only lost one game in regulation in the last 18 games. Not bad after losing three of our first six games.
- I am looking forward to a great Christmas and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
- With the win last night Allen now has 36 points and has opened up a nine point lead in the Central Division over three teams tied for second as Quad City, Wichita, and Tulsa all have 29 points. Allen has games in hand (between two and five) on all of the teams in second place.
- Special teams was a difference maker in the victory over Tulsa as the penalty kill was perfect for the fourth straight game and has raised the penalty kill percentage to 90% which leads the ECHL. A 90% penalty kill percentage is considered outstanding. Only one team in the NHL (Chicago Blackhawks) boast a penalty kill percentage of 90%.
- The power play was two for seven and had a third goal just as a power play ended. The Americans had three power play goals in the sweep of Tulsa this weekend.
- As a team the Americans had eighteen points (6 goals, 12 assists) in the game last night. Nice job by the defense as they had eight of the eighteen points (3 goals, 5 assists).
- With his goal last night Gary Steffes regained the ECHL lead in goals over his teammate, Jack Combs, who was held scoreless for only the second time all season. Steffes is #1 with 18 goals, Combs is tied for #2 with 17 goals, and Costello is tied for #4 with 16 goals.
- Chad Costello really closed the gap over his buddy Jack Combs in the ECHL scoring race this weekend. Chad had quite the weekend against his old team as in the two games against Tulsa, Costello had seven points (3 goals, 4 assists). Combs still leads the ECHL in scoring with 42 points but Costello is now just two points behind.
- Tulsa should be happy when the new year rolls around and they can get away from Allen for a while. In the last month Allen has played Tulsa seven times and got points in all seven games. The Americans have won six times and lost in a shoot out once. After playing in Allen this Friday (12/26) and in Tulsa on Sunday these teams will play only one time until the end of March.
DID YOU KNOW: Hockey players are known for their toughness such as laying down in front of slap shots and guys like Brian McMillin do it all of the time. When they get injured their typical response is injuries are part of hockey and I will be okay. But it has to be particularly difficult to get injured during the holidays. The holiday season has been tough on Allen the last two years with Brian McMillin having a major injury this year just before Christmas and last year Trevor Ludwig getting seriously cut on his arm just after Christmas (January 3rd).