|Gary Steffes selected #1 Star, led the Allen Americans to victory with two goals & Gordie Howe hat trick - photo by scenebykimberly.com|
The box score shows Allen defeating Wichita last night 6-4 before a crowd of 4638 who enjoyed the second "Happy Hour All Night" promotion of the weekend at the Allen Event Center (AEC). When Allen scored three goals by Follmer (1) & Steffes (2) in a span of three minutes in the first period it appeared to be another trouncing was about to happen but the Thunder had other ideas and came storming back with three goals of their own in the last six minutes of the first period to tie the score 3-3. Allen then repeated the "we score three, you score three" sequence by scoring the next three goals by Schultz (2) and Costello (1) to put the game out of reach. Wichita scored a meaningless power play goal with eight seconds remaining in the game to make the final score 6-4.
The Americans will have the day off today (Sunday) before taking on the Missouri Mavericks in a rare 1:05 pm start for Martin Luther King day on Monday. Missouri will arrive in Allen hungry for a victory as they lost at home last night to the Rapid City Rush 3-1. It was the six straight loss overall for the Mavericks who have also lost seven games in a row at home. They have fallen to sixth place in the Central Division standings and are now 25 points behind the Allen Americans.
STEVE MARTINSON'S POST GAME COMMENTS
- It was another good win for us tonight. I liked the beginning of the first period a lot better than the end. It was painful giving up the power play goal with eight seconds left in the game. I opted to put out a couple of our physical guys based on who they put out on that power play as I didn't want to get any of our guys hurt. We got caught running down the ice hitting somebody and we didn't stand up at the blue line. We ended up giving up a power play goal which was frustrating because our penalty kill has been good against Wichita.
- I thought Josef Fojtik played well considering he flew sixteen hours over night to get here and arrived just a few hours before the game with very little sleep. He could have scored a few times.
- Our power play was good tonight getting three goals but we could have had more. We were trying to loft saucer passes through the middle of the ice that were getting intercepted rather than shooting the puck. When you score eleven goals in four periods like we did against Wichita you just need to shoot the puck.
- In the last part of the first period when they came back on us I thought we did not play well down low. We thought it was going to be easy after we jumped out to that 3-0 lead and all of a sudden we lose the puck and they get it in front of the net. I thought we were soft on those goals both in the corners and in front of the net.
- The top line played much better tonight with Schultz getting two goals, Costello one and Schwartz with three assists. They could have scored a bunch more. Follmer chipped in with a nice power play goal taking the puck right to the net. There were a lot of positives in the game tonight.
- When we get the other European player (Patrik Valcak) here and if everyone else stays healthy we will have three lines that can all score.
- The Missouri game on Monday will mark the halfway point of the season as it will be the 36th game. You can't use enough superlatives to describe what the Allen Americans have accomplished thus far. They are currently leading the ECHL in winning percentage (.814) and are assured of having the lead going into the All-Star break. They have scored the most goals in the league (152) and allowed the fewest (91) while having the highest average penalty minutes per game (23.43). The Americans have the two longest winning streaks in the league this year. They won eight in a row between November 14 -27 and are currently on an eight game win streak dating back to December 31st. Allen has won nine straight games at home dating back to December 20 which is also the league record this year.
- Probably the most impressive statistic is the Allen record in the last two months. Allen started the season going 3-3 but since that time they have won 24 games, lost in regulation only twice, and in overtime three times. You can never tell what will happen in the second half of the season when you will see a lot more red at home with the jersey switch after the All-Star break but this first half has been without a doubt the best first half in the history of the team. My friend Joe Rozycki, who is the official blogger of the Missouri Mavericks recently assigned "midterm" grades to the Mavericks that included D+ for the forwards, C for the defensemen, D+ for the goalies, F for the power play, C+ for the penalty kill, and D for one ice performance to name a few. It is a lot easier to assign midterm grades to the Allen Americans because it is A+ in all categories. This is the most complete team ever assembled in Allen. The only hope is that they can keep it going in the second half.
- It didn't take long for Chad Costello to take over the ECHL points lead once his buddy, Jack Combs, moved on. With two points last night Chad has leapfrogged Combs and now leads the ECHL in scoring with 57 points. Chad has a 13 point lead over the closest active player, Adam Pleskach from the Tulsa Oilers who has 44 points.
- Gary Steffes was outstanding getting a Gordie Howe hat trick last night with two goals, an assist and a fight. For his effort Steffes was named the #1 Star of the game. Gary now has 23 goals which places him second in the ECHL.
- Leading scorer for the weekend was Kyle Follmer with six points (4 goals 2 assists) in the two games against Wichita. Since joining Allen right after Christmas, Follmer has five goals with all five coming against the Wichita Thunder.
- Wichita scored their first power play goal of the year at the AEC with eight seconds to go in the game. Allen had held the Thunder scoreless for nineteen power plays.
- Central Division teams continued their struggles when playing teams outside the division as both Tulsa and Brampton lost twice already this weekend and Brampton plays Wheeling today. Central Division teams have won only 6 of 26 games against foes outside the division.
- Heard a rumor (nothing official) the Americans have inquired about having a "pucks & paws" day where fans can bring their pets to a game. Other teams have had similar promotions in the past and use it to promote animal foundations, animal rescue and pet adoptions. Stay tuned for details.
- Had a chance to speak briefly to Josef Fojtik in the locker room after the game. While he speaks excellent English I spent most of the time listening to him speak his native language as purely by coincidence a good friend, Milan Smado, who joined me at the game is originally from Slovakia. Milan was kind enough to welcome Josef to Allen and offered to help him get settled. Josef said he was happy to be in Allen, had heard great things about the team, the organization, and the community.
DID YOU KNOW: In the "bet you can't do that again" stat of the weekend, shots on goal for Allen and Wichita were tied in both games and even stranger they were tied at 30 for both games.