There were certainly some skeptics when the seven Central Hockey League (CHL) teams were absorbed by the ECHL just before the start of the season and very few people thought the eventual Kelly Cup winner would come out of the Central Division. The Allen victory last night was in a way for all of the teams in the Central Division.
I have so many thoughts about the game and the series not sure where to start so will do what comes easiest and that is random thinking and writing, so here goes.
- The South Carolina Stingrays should be congratulated on a historic season. You never want to get blown out in a championship final but the game last night should not diminish one bit the phenomenal success the Stingrays had this season. They set records that will stand for many years to come. Congrats to the players, coaches and entire franchise. Spencer Carbery is a young coach (33) who Steve Martinson voted as ECHL coach of the year. Look for him to be coaching at a higher level in the near future.
- Steve Martinson always says in big games your best players have to be your best players and that sure happened in game seven. ECHL scoring champion Chad Costello (125 points) and ECHL leading goal scorer Gary Steffes (44 goals) figured in all six Allen goals. Costello got the first and third goals for Allen along with an assist. Steffes scored the fourth goal for Allen which was the goal that chased ECHL MVP goalie Jeff Jakaitis from the game after just 26 minutes. Steffes also had two assists for a total of three points. Add in the stellar play of goalie Riley Gill, assists by Jamie Schaafsma on both Costello goals and the veterans really stepped up in game seven.
- There was plenty of help from some of the new guys as Vincent Arseneau had two goals and Chris Crane, who played with great energy throughout the series, had a goal and two assists. For the record the six goal scorers for Allen were in order, Costello (8), Arseneau (6), Costello (9), Steffes (13), Crane (10), Arseneau (7).
- Congratulations to Greger Hanson who was selected as the playoff MVP as he led Allen in scoring with 29 points (12 goals 17 assists) and had three game winning goals. Having to wear a full face mask seems to be a lucky charm as both Greger and Brian McMillin in 2013 won the playoff MVP award after having teeth knocked out and wearing a mask/cage during the playoffs.
- One of the best pictures of the night was one where all of the fans who attended the game from the old CHL teams gathered for a picture on the ice. To see Missouri, Wichita, and Tulsa fans in their team jerseys and the friendships between the fans was nice to see. Don't get me wrong some of the best comments on social media went something like this, "Congrats Allen for the great win tonight and bringing home the Kelly Cup, I was cheering for you as you did the Central Division proud. Now I am going back to disliking you and hope you don't win again."
- One of the most enjoyable parts of watching the team win a championship is the reaction of their families and friends. The tears of joy, celebrations, and pictures are very special and are memories that will be cherished forever.
- Many players go through their entire professional career without winning a championship and winning just one is an amazing accomplishment but to win three in a row rarely happens especially with the same team. Just four players have been in Allen for all three championships and a special stick tap to them. Congrats to Trevor Ludwig, Tyler Ludwig, Brian McMillin and Jamie Schaafsma.
- Here are some quotes from near and far about the game and the championship:
"In this series I didn't think we played our best game. It didn't surprise me tonight we scored six goals. We don't need a lot of scoring chances to score, so it was just good timing.".....Steve Martinson
"We talked about wanting to play more of our game. We got caught playing a little too safe. It was awesome that we got back into our game with puck control, scoring chances and offense.".....Chad Costello
"It's pretty special to win my second Kelly Cup, especially in a tight series like this in seven games. It was a mental and physical battle the whole playoff series.".....Riley Gill
"I am in disbelief and shock as there are not many other adjectives to describe that game. We completely failed to execute for some reason in every facet of the game. That is a tough pill to swallow in game seven of the championship. It is not what you want to see."..... South Carolina coach Spencer Carbery
"This was a really special team and I love those guys. We have been through so much and for the first time since I quit playing I wanted to be part of the group. I wanted to be in the room.".....Spencer Carbery
"Every game in this series has been low scoring and close and to have this in game seven. I can't believe it.".....Chad Costello
"We played our puck possession game, our defense held the puck more and were able to pull guys out of position. It is the way we play and I thought it was our best game of the season.".....Steve Martinson
"This is awesome. A three peat for Allen is incredible. A sold out barn tonight, it was so loud with the best crowd of the year. It was just great.".....Riley Gill
"Win one in the CHL, solid. Win two in a row in the CHL, impressive. Join ECHL and win third in a row in the first season, priceless. Congrats Allen! #proudCHLer." .....long time CHL goalie Tim Boron
"Congrats on the win boys! #partytimenow #3peat #enjoy".....Jonathan Lessard
"Still don't like them that much but huge congrats to the Allen Americans for winning the Kelly Cup. What an accomplishment!".....Sebastien Thinel, long time Odessa and Missouri player
"Congrats to the Allen Americans on the Kelly Cup #3peat #RockYourRed".....Alex Lavoie
"This has turned into the Riley Gill show, Allen goalie is really stellar.".....Scott Eisberg, Sports Director for WCIV-TV channel 4, the ABC affiliate in Charleston who was at the AEC to cover game seven.
"Congrats to the Americans on the ECHL championship! #3peat #champions #welldeserved #Americans".....Mike Berube
"South Carolina won 23 games in a row, beat teams in the playoffs that earned 96, 105 and 107 points and didn't win the championship. it is really hard to do win folks.".....Jason Guarente who covers the Reading Royals for the Reading Eagle
"I've always said I've had the same team for 19 years now. Just different names on the front and back. But it has been the same team.".....Steve Martinson
"Coaching and talent go a long way, regardless of your league - as the Allen Americans prove on an annual basis.".....Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News
"It took just one season for Allen to conquer a new league.".....Ryan Gerbosi, Dallas Morning News
- Steve Martinson has said numerous times the affiliation this year with San Jose and Worcester was the best he has ever had. It was nice to see all of the messages coming from the teams and the fans in San Jose and Worcester. The late season additions from Worcester (Crane, Rumpel, Schwartz, Arseneau, Abeltshauser) shows the strength of the affiliation. Saw where someone had pointed out 14 of the 22 goals Allen scored in the final series with South Carolina were scored by players that spent time in Worcester during the season.
- What can you say about the record of Steve Martinson. He has now won nine championships in 19 years as a head coach and in three years as the Allen coach has never lost a playoff series (10-0) or a game when his team could be eliminated (8-0). He is out of fingers for championship rings as he has two as a player in addition to the nine as a coach. He is the best recruiter in the business and has a way to get players to play to their potential which is a deadly combination. It isn't easy playing for him as he is old school for sure but if you want a coach that has developed a winning formula, play for Steve Martinson. It is impossible for me to understand why the team ownership has not extended his contract and given him a long term deal. He obviously deserves it but it also is in the best interest of the team and team ownership. C'MON MAN! GIT-R-DONE!
- if I know Steve Martinson and I do, he has already taken calls and made calls to agents and players to start the recruitment process for next season. There are so many reasons to play in Allen as the recruiting tool kit is overflowing with tools but you can add ECHL champion as another recruiting tool. It will be a good summer of recruiting for coach Martinson.
- With the official attendance last night of 6125 for the 95th playoff game and number 1103 overall the season comes to an end with a new ECHL attendance record of almost five million. To be exact the attendance was 4,979,066.
- There are a lot of thank yous to be handed out but will save that for tomorrow which will be the last daily blog post of the season.
DID YOU KNOW: In the odd stat of game seven there was not a single player on the Allen roster that had just one point in the game. It was either zero points or multiple points for everyone on the roster. With six goals and seven assists that is hard to do. The multiple point scorers were Costello, Steffes and Crane with three and with two points Schaafsma and Arseneau.