|Aaron Dell stopped 36 of 38 shots and was named the games #1 Star - photo by scenebykimberly.com|
The Allen Americans ended their first half dream season in style yesterday easily defeating the Missouri Mavericks 5-2 at the Allen Event Center before a crowd of 4141 dominated by the SpongeBob SquarePants set on Kids' Day. The game was decided early in the first period as Justin Baker scored a power play goal at 1:09, Gary Steffes scored his league leading 24th goal at 3:34 and newly acquired Josef Fojtik got his first goal at 11:08. Chad Costello added two goals in the third period to finish the scoring . The win improved Allen's record against Missouri this season to 7-0. There is no other way to say it other than the teacher (Martinson) schooled the student (Matvichuk) in the first half of the first season in the ECHL. Eighteen years of head coaching experience trumps two years as an assistant/associate coach, an outstanding NHL career and a Stanley Cup. Missouri will get things sorted out and still has a chance to make the playoffs and one thing is for sure and that is Allen fans are pulling for Richard Matvichuk.
It is difficult to comprehend the success of the Americans in the first half. Nobody could have expected Allen to be leading the league in points (59) and winning percentage (.819) at the halfway point of the season especially after being blown out by Tulsa 9-6 in the home opener. With the win yesterday Allen now has the longest win streak in the ECHL this year (nine games) and also the longest home win streak (ten games). Allen's overall record is 28-5-1-2. Since November 9th the home record is 17-1 with the only loss being a an overtime loss to Wichita so the Americans have gotten at least one point in every home game for over two months. Job well done!
STEVE MARTINSON'S POST GAME COMMENTS
- I thought we started out good tonight but I don't think we had the killer instinct after we got the 3-0 lead. Missouri had a bunch of shots in the first period but Dell was really good. Most of their shots were on two shifts. Shots on goal can be deceiving because when you score goals you don't get secondary shots like you do if you don't score goals. We were out playing them even though they had more shots.
- The power play started out with a screen and a shot from the point for a goal but then we got away from that which was frustrating. We gave up a two on one when we were on the power play which Dell stopped and we changed the group and then gave up a shorthanded breakaway. What happened on that play was our defenseman decided to rush their guy after a turnover at the blue line. If he has stayed back it would have been a one on one. I told our guys Dell likes to have a good GAA and save percentage just as much as you like to score. It is frustrating to have that kind of effort and decision making that results in a shorthanded penalty shot goal.
- It wasn't the difference in the game but guys work hard for goals and Ian Schultz had a goal at the end of the game that was in the net that both the referee and goal judge missed and another goal was waived off that was clearly a goal. The guys play hard and want to score goals and you don't get that many so when you get one you want it to count. Because it doesn't make a difference in the game it is easy to say it is no big deal but it is a big deal. They didn't make a difference in the game but if you are the players that made good plays and worked hard to get a goal you like to have credit for the goal.
- It would be nice to have instant replay but it is cost prohibitive in our league to put it in place for all rinks so that is not going to happen. You just hope when you have obvious mistakes it is not the difference in the game. Luckily that was the case today.
- With 19 goals in the three games since Jack Combs left it shows the depth of this team. Other guys are getting more opportunity and that is great.
- Chad Costello is starting to shoot the puck more and is skating with speed which resulted in two goals today.
- What I like is we are first in points at the All-Star break. It was a great first half for the guys. I thanked them for giving me the opportunity to go to Orlando to coach the All-Star game. I owe it to them and they probably happy to get me out of town for a coupe of days.
- I haven't started to look at Indy, Toledo and Kalamazoo yet. I have downloaded some of their games and will take a look this week. I am familiar with some of the players on Indy, Toledo has a real good offensive team with three lines that can all score but they are not very physical at all, and I haven't seen Kalamazoo play for a while. I am expecting us to play well this weekend and everyone should be 100%.
- Right now we are playing some good hockey. Fojtik will get better every day and Valcak should be here Wednesday. I plan on playing Fojtik and Valcak together but I have not decided yet which center I will put with them.
- It has been talked about on this blog several times and by many others but the ECHL All-Star rules need to be changed. Since the game is tomorrow it gives me one more opportunity to rant about the fact that the best team in the league has no player on the team. It is not a conspiracy but just the cockamamie rules but this is how it turned out from an Allen fan perspective. The coach with the best winning percentage (.819) in the ECHL (Steve Martinson) is not the head coach because of some cutoff date. The leading scorer (by 16 points) in the ECHL (Chad Costello) is not on the team because the former leading scorer (Jack Combs) was a teammate and left for Sweden. The game is advertised as a showcase for prospects yet one of the best and arguably the best rookie defenseman in the league (Justin Baker with 7 goals, 19 assist, +18 in 34 games) is left off the team because the former leading scorer (Jack Combs) was a teammate and left for Sweden. And I won't even make the case for the leading goal scorer in the league (Gary Steffes), the second leading scorer in the league for defensemen (Aaron Gens) and the goalie (Riley Gill) with the second most wins in the league (19), third best GAA (2.33) and third best save percentage (.922). If the ECHL is not willing to change the format and/or the rules then quit trying to market the game as an All-Star game. C'MON MAN!
- Rylan Schwartz got a nice shout out on the national NHL television broadcast last night after his brother, Jaden, scored a goal for the St. Louis Blues. Commentator Pierre MCGuire pointed out how Jaden and his brother Rylan were both standout players when they played together at Colorado College.
- Playing in every game in a hockey season is quite an accomplishment and typically only one or two players have done it each year for Allen. They are the Ironmen and at the halfway point there are only four players that have played in all 36 games. Congrats to Chad Costello, Aaron Gens, Jamie Schaafsma and Gary Steffes.
|Gary Steffes scored his league leading 24th goal - photo by scenebykimberly.com|
- Allen is 18-3 at home and has 15 home games remaining. They are on pace to break the ECHL record for home victories in a season which is 30.
- The Allen penalty kill held Missouri scoreless for the seventh consecutive game yesterday. The Mavericks were 0-5 in the game and are now 0-34 against the Americans.
- Had the chance to meet a couple of Missouri fans that made the trip to Allen to cheer on the Mavericks. It was great chatting with Michelle and Mary Ann (hope I remembered the names correctly). Great supporters of the Mavericks. Also met the former Mavericks mascot, Andrew Johnson, who now works as the mascot coordinator for the Dallas Stars.
DID YOU KNOW: Allen is the only Central Division team in the top ten in points in the ECHL. Here is how each team ranks:
#1 - Allen (59 points)
#12 - Quad City (42 points)
#13 - Wichita (42 points)
#14 - Tulsa (42 points)
#21 - Rapid City (34 points)
#23 - Missouri (32 points)
#28 - Brampton (26 points)
|David Rutherford catches a ride with Trevor Ludwig. It didn't end well for Rutherford - photo by scenebykimberly.com|