Thursday, December 11, 2014

Allen Wins, Combs Goes Off For Four Goals, Martinson Post Game Comments, Combs Interview

If you look at the box score from the game last night it shows a 5-2 win for the Allen Americans over the Quad City Mallards in a game where Allen out shot Quad City 40-27 and you might draw the conclusion it was an easy night for the Americans. Nothing could be further from the truth as Quad City scored the first goal of the game on a power play goal by Kevin Baker and Mallard goalie, Evan Mosher, repeatedly stopped quality shots from Allen. Quad City took a 1-0 lead into the first period break. Jack Combs scored Allen's first goal midway through the second period and the game became the Combs show from that point on as he scored four goals on a night where he took eleven shots. The headlines were all about Jack Combs in the Quad City Times, "Allen's Combs goes off against the Mallards" where writer Bobby Metcalf started out his game recap like this, "The Quad City Mallards had a chance to make a statement against the top team in the division Wednesday night. Instead, Jack Combs mad a statement of his own." Mallard's coach Terry Ruskowski had this to say about Combs performance, "We tried to put our best defensive corps against him but apparently that wasn't good enough, when it is your night it is your night."

Lost among all of the Combs goals was a great goal scored by Justin Baker when he intercepted a clearing pass and walked in and beat the goalie with a top shelf back hand unassisted. The rookie leads all Allen defensemen in goals scored with five.


- It is a good thing Combs showed up tonight. In the first period we had the three penalties right in a row and we were doing a great job on the penalty kill as Quad City could hardly get the puck in our zone and then we tried to make a play shorthanded by shooting the puck up the middle with the forwards leaving our zone. The pass was intercepted and boom it is in our net. That was a little frustrating.

- I felt pretty confident once we got the lead going into the third period as we have been good in the third period lately.

- We will take tomorrow off and then get ready for Brampton on Saturday.

- That line with Schultz, Costello and Combs are fun to watch as they make some great plays that are entertaining for sure. They are like race horses in that you just have to let them run and not hold them back too much.

- I told Costello he should ice his shoulders as he had the second most hits in the game.

- When I was negotiating with Costello in the summer he told me Combs did not like playing in Russia and would come wherever Costello signed. You hear that and you get excited but you are not sure until you get the call that Combs is coming back to North America. Needless to say, it has worked out very well for us.

- Aaron Dell is back and will play Saturday night. Riley Gill has been sick so we will put him on reserve and give him a little rest. Going forward both goalies will play. If all goes as planned Gill will be back in goal on the 19th against Wichita.

- We are taking too many penalties and tonight it cost us as both Quad City goals came on the power play.

- I think we have a team that can compete with all of the teams in the ECHL but we will have to wait until next month to get our chance against some teams outside of our division. Most of the players on our team have been successful in the ECHL. We are not as strong offensively as we were when Asuchak and Smith were here. Keep in mind Schaafsma only has two goals and he will break out soon. McMillin only has two goals and he will score more but he is doing a great job defensively.


- Allen gave up two power play goals last night to break a streak of five games and 31 opportunities without allowing a power play goal. Allen still leads the ECHL in penalty kill percentage at 88.6%.

- Riley Gill had another outstanding game in goal for Allen allowing just two goals both on power plays with one of the power plays being a five on three. Riley leads the ECHL in wins with eleven.

- With their five goals Allen broke a streak of ten games where Quad City did not allow more than three goals. Allen reamins #2 in the ECHL averaging 4.45 goals per game. They are now #3 in goals allowed at 2.65 goals per game.

-  With his four goals last night Jack Combs now has 37 points (17 goals, 20 assists) and extended his league lead in points to six over his linemate Chad Costello who is in second place in the ECHL with 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists). There are several players tied for third place with 27 points.

- The signing of Chad Costello and Jack Combs seems like a no-brainer  now but last summer it was not as obvious. Keep in mind Chad had spent much of the 2013-2014 season on injured reserve (he only played 14 games) which raised some concerns going into this season. It is always difficult paying top end guys a lot of money if there is risk of recurring injuries because if they get reinjured the team is still obligated to pay them. If you recall, Costello came to training camp on a tryout contract before signing a standard players contract.

- The genius of Steve Martinson is his ability to recruit top end talent and also identify players who may not fit in elsewhere that he knows will work in his system. As important as the Costello/Combs signing was, Martinson would probably acknowledge his two best moves of the year were two trades at the beginning of the season. On October 17th everyone was excited about a trade Martinson made with the Wheeling Nailers for two defensemen. The names were Dylan King and Justin Baker. All of the excitement was about King (who retired) who had played in Allen in the past. Baker turned out to be the real gem in the trade. Martinson saw the potential in Baker who was expendable only because Wheeling has a double AHL affiliation and there were contracted guys that were kept ahead of Baker. With the ECHL all star game historically being a showcase for younger players, don't be surprised if Baker isn't chosen as a reserve for the Western Conference all star team if he keeps up his great play.

The second trade Martinson pulled off was acquiring Greger Hanson from Cincinnati for Geoff Irwin on October 22nd. Cincinnati either didn't know what they had or didn't use Greger Hanson the right way but it was a great trade for Allen that is obvious now as Hanson has been one of the top players in the league. He has twenty three points (11 goals 12 assists) in 21 games, is tied for the league lead in plus/minus at +17, leads the ECHL in shorthanded goals with three, and is second in the league (Jack Combs is first) in game winning goals with four. Geoff Irwin has five points (2 goals 3 assists)  for Cincinnati and is a -8.

- Allen had nine minor penalties in the game against Quad City which gives them 144 minor penalties on the year. The average for the ECHL is 108. This is one area that will have to be improved going forward.

- The attendance last night was just 2958 which is disappointing even for a midweek game. The season average has now fallen below 4000 for the first time to 3914. The ECHL average attendance is 4151. Allen ranks #17 of the 28 teams in average attendance.

- Had the chance to talk briefly to Aaron Dell after the game and he is coming back to Allen with a great attitude. His experience in Worcester was a good one including his 1-0 shutout win last weekend. He got great feedback from the coaches and knows he will be headed back to Worcester whenever there are any injuries.

- Tommy Daniels caught up with Jack Combs right after his four goals night to get his thoughts. Here is Tommy's interview:

DID YOU KNOW: Every year since 2009-2010 Jack Combs has played games in the ECHL or CHL and also the AHL. It is just a matter of when, not if he gets a call from an AHL team. With 37 points in 20 games (1.85 points per game) the time is now. C'MON MAN!

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