If you recall, yesterday in the game preview two of keys to victory were to have the top line continue to score and win the special teams battle given the recent struggles Allen has had with the penalty kill. One out of two of these was good enough to win the game as Allen beat Rapid City 4-3 before a crowd of 3585 at the Allen Event Center in a game that was marred by two Rapid City players suffering head injures (see comments below). On the plus side three of the four goals were scored by the top line with Ian Schultz scoring twice including a shorthanded goal and Jack Combs (his league leading 21st) once. The fourth goal was scored by Garry Steffes (his 19th) who is on the second line but is the second leading goal scorer in the ECHL. Allen lost the special teams battle even though they had one power play goal in their three power play opportunities. The penalty kill unit allowed two goals to Rapid City in five power play opportunities. It was the fifth game in a row the Americans have given up a power play goal as they have allowed seven goals in twenty eight opportunities over the last five games for a penalty kill percentage of 75%. Allen has the day off on Saturday and will play Wichita Sunday afternoon at 4:05. It will be interesting to see the true hockey fans that forgo the Dallas Cowboys game to watch the Americans play.
STEVE MARTINSON'S POST GAME COMMENTS
- Despite giving up two power play goals we were able to win the game. Getting a power play goal right out of the gate was good as we did what we have been talking about in getting shots on net.
- The Combs backhand goal was a nice goal to watch as was his pass to Schultz on the shorthanded goal. We just missed on a couple of other scoring chances.
- It looks like we will be down to 15 skaters as I am sure Clarke will be suspended so I have been on the phone already trying to get another player here. You never like to see a guy get hurt. I just heard the guy is going to be okay so that is good.
- The incident with Gens and Soudek was caused by Soudek slashing and then spearing Gens. Gens went after him and instigated the fight but maybe he will think twice about spearing a guy in the future. On the punch when Soudek got hurt he threw a left hand and Gens threw a right hand and the problem when you are a lefty against a righty is whoever connects first usually wins and Gens got him right on the chin.
- Aaron Gens is having an excellent year playing both sides of the puck. He leads all of our defensemen in scoring and is good defensively and he is our most physical defenseman on top of it. I am real happy with his play. I am going to tell him now he is officially better than his brother (Matt) who played for me in Rockford and Elmira.
- The guys did a nice job of keeping the puck in the Rush end of the rink at the end of the game such that they could not pull the goalie.
- Without looking at the tape to make sure I thought we played better tonight defensively even though we gave up the two power play goals. On both of the power plays goals Rapid City got pucks on the net with screens.
- Aaron Dell wasn't dressed tonight because he has the flu.
- To be successful against Wichita on Sunday we have to play better than we have in the past few games against them. It will help playing at home where we get last change. We just have not been at our best against them lately.
- Both of the points that Jack Combs got last night were examples of why he is so much fun to watch. His no look backhand shot goal was perfectly placed and had everyone in awe. Saw players from both teams looking up at the big screen watching the replay of that sick goal. He was equally impressive on the assist on the shorthanded goal. He never seems to be in a hurry, carried the puck to the point the goalie thinks he is going to shoot, makes a perfect soft pass to Schultz who has most of the net to shoot at.
- There is no way anyone should condone the hit by Garrett Clarke on Jonathan Narbonne and the league will handle that swiftly and would assume with Clarke's history both this year (he was suspended four games in November) and in prior years it will be with a big stick. There has been a lot of conversation about the incident on social media and message boards. What I observed at the game was both the fans and Allen players and staff showing concern for Narbonne. There were as many Allen players that stayed on the ice surrounding Narbonne while he was being treated as there were Rapid City players. Allen trainer Jaime Garcia was the first to reach Jonathan and helped the entire time until Narbonne was removed from the ice. Gary Steffes and Jack Combs stood right at the Zamboni entrance as Jonathan was being taken off (I am certain they were saying a prayer for him) and the fans gave him a big ovation. One of the Allen staff accompanied the ambulance to the hospital. You never like to see things like this happen in a game and the best news of the night was when the word came back from the hospital he was going to be okay.
- Everyone has a different view of what transpires in a hockey fight and it is typically "where you sit is where you stand." Here is my take. The Aaron Gens incident was an entirely different story than the Clarke hit as he was reacting to being speared by Soudek. Aaron Gens is not a player that goes looking for fights. Prior to last night he had a total of 14 fights since 2004 and has never had more than three in any one year. Hockey players know if you spear someone you should expect a reaction. Soudek has had 23 fights since 2008 and had eight fights in one year so he knows how to handle himself. Gens instigated the fight but Soudek got hurt when they had both dropped the gloves and were exchanging punches. Obviously Rapid City was not happy with Gens as evidenced by Daniel Barczuk attacking Gens from behind later in the period.
- Despite Allen having the reputation of being a team that fights a lot and takes major penalties the stats show Allen with 23 major penalties this season while Rapid City has 35 major penalties.
- The shorthanded goal by Ian Schultz was Allen's eight of the year which leads the ECHL. Six different players have have scored shorthanded goals. Greger Hanson has three with Combs, Baker, Ashchak, Schwartz and Schultz with one each.
- With the win over Rapid City last night Allen increased their lead in the Central Division to eight points over Quad City who lost to Missouri and ten points over Wichita who was idle.
DID YOU KNOW: Of the top thirteen players in the ECHL plus/minus rankings seven of them are Allen Americans including Chad Costello at #1 and Trevor Ludwig at #2.