Monday, January 26, 2015

Tough OT Loss in Kalamazoo, Martinson Comments, Why This Team is Special

- If you didn't watch or listen to the Allen Americans game on Sunday afternoon and saw they lost in overtime by a score of 4-3 it would be easy to conclude the end of the road trip was successful by getting two points in Toledo on Saturday and one point in Kalamazoo on Sunday. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some losses are tougher than others and the 4-3 overtime loss to the Kalamazoo Wings was one of the toughest of the season. Anytime a team the caliber of the Allen Americans looses a three goal lead it is bad but the way they lost the three goal lead and the game yesterday was the worst. Leading 3-0 midway through the second period on goals by Costello (21), Schultz (17), and Young (5) the team went into self destruct mode. It started when one of the top defensmen on the team (Aaron Gens) took four penalties just thirteen seconds after Allen had taken a 3-0 lead. Gens was called for cross-checking (a questionable call from those in attendance at the game) but proceeded to get an unsportsmanlike conduct (disputing a call) minor, a ten misconduct and a game misconduct for abuse of officials.  In the last 29 minutes of the game Allen proceeded to give up a shorthanded goal, an even strength goal early in the third period, a game tying goal with just 26 seconds left in the game and an overtime goal at the 2:11 mark of overtime for the 4-3 Wings win. The Americans managed to make a long trip home (just over 1000 miles) seem a lot longer.

- It is difficult to call the weekend (playing three games outside the Central Division) a success when getting only three of six points and losing two of three games even with the big win in Toledo on Saturday. It is ironic the games many predicted the Americans would win (Indy & Kalamazoo) they lost and the game many predicted Allen would lose (Toledo) they won. Welcome to sports!

- The team will have the rest of the day off today after they arrive back in Allen (estimated around noon) and then on Tuesday will begin the preparation for the next two games against the Rapid City Rush on Thursday and Friday at the Allen Event Center.

- As you might expect coach Martinson was none to pleased after the game. His comments were brief and to the point, "It was frustrating when we did not protect the lead. Sometimes when this team gets a lead it becomes more important for them to score more goals than win the game. Doing that results in opportunities for the opponent and Kalamazoo capitalized on those opportunities to get back in the the game. It is a shame we lost that game but I have seen it before and it is getting old."

- For the game Kalamazoo out shot Allen 41-26. In the third period and overtime the Wings out shot the Americans 19-6.

- What a difference a day makes. Allen won a great game in Toledo on Saturday at one of the best arenas in the ECHL before a sold out crowd of over 8300. On Sunday a not so great game in Kalamazoo in a rink that was built so long ago (1974) that Steve Martinson played there. The announced crowd for the Sunday afternoon game was just 2723.

- Aaron Gens had an assist on the first goal of the game scored by Chad Costello and is now tied for the ECHL lead in points by a defenseman with 30 points.

- Chad Costello continued his torrid scoring pace getting a part of all three Allen goals (1 goal 2 assists) in Kalamazoo. He now leads the ECHL scoring race by 21 points.

- It is easy to focus on what was an atypical weekend for Allen with the losses in Indy and Kalamazoo but on the positive side Allen actually extended their lead in the Central Division which is now at eighteen points. The Americans also lead the entire ECHL in points (62) and have a three point lead over Toledo and Fort Wayne. Allen also leads the ECHL in winning percentage (.795).

- The last update received about Patrik Valcak he was scheduled to arrive in Dallas today (Monday). If you noticed on the ECHL transactions yesterday he was shown as signed and placed on reserve. 

- It is always difficult to know what makes a team special as you can count on players on all winning teams saying we have a great group of guys and there is great chemistry in the locker room. But this team really does seem to be unique. It is probably a combination of the make up of the team as well as the team leaders both formal and informal. Coach Martinson has mentioned numerous times the players only team meeting early in the season when the record was 3-3 as a turning point. At that meeting the team took responsibility for themselves and the season. With all of the trials and tribulations this season the team has stood together. Even with a great record there are always numerous issues both on and off the ice that can divide a team, have them pissed off at coaches, management and ownership and yes even the fans. This team has found a way through all of that and it is a tribute to the players and their leadership.

- Mike Stern is a friend who writes for and wrote a story this week with the title, "Americans Soar to Top of ECHL at All-Star Break."  It is a good read so go to and read the whole story. A couple of quotes Mike got from players for his story are examples of how tight this group has become and why it is a special group.

“As well as we’re playing, I don’t see us letting up. We’ll keep playing hard every night. What we looked for as kids was to be the best all the time, and we’re still like that. We’re never going to settle until we are the best. (Coach Martinson) and his staff will keep us focused, and we have blue collar, hard working guys who are like a family. The guys on this team go a lot further for each other than on any team I’ve ever played on.” .... Ian Schultz

“For us, winning is a habit, and we want to do the right things all the time because when you do the wrong things, all of a sudden instead of winning by one you start losing by one. We want to stay on top of things all of the time, and we’ll show up every night. We know (the ECHL) is a tough league that will require our best effort every game.” .... Chad Costello

“We score a lot from within six feet of the net because our guys go to the front and bang in rebounds. We have a determined group of guys on the team. We’re not the prettiest, nor are we picture perfect, but we get the job done night in and night out." .... Ian Schultz

At a recent game a player volunteered to me in a private conversation that he has never been in a locker room like this year. Don't remember the exact words but to paraphrase it was something like every single guy in that locker room from Brett Lyon to Chad Costello would fight, if necessary, for this team. It is the tightest group I have ever played with.

DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans lead the ECHL in penalty minutes with 885 in just 39 games for an average of 22.69 per game. This is not however, the most penalized team in Americans history. That honor goes to the 2012-2013 championship team who won the Presidents' Cup while having over 400 more penalty minutes than any other team in the league. Allen had 1571 penalty minutes that season in 66 games for an average of 23.80 per game.

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