Saturday, April 30, 2016

Gill Shines As Allen Records a 2-0 Shutout in Series Opener, Quotes From the Game & Playoff Update

The Allen Americans beat the Missouri Mavericks 2-0 last night before a shocked crowd of 4238 at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena to take a 1-0 lead in their best of seven series. The Americans were led by Riley Gill who recorded 34 saves in the shutout. Prior to last night the Mavericks had not been shutout since the final game of last season (April 11, 2015).

- Allen got on the board early as Greger Hanson tallied his fourth goal of the playoffs just 70 seconds into the game. Maverick's goalie, Josh Robinson, got hung up behind his net and was scrambling back into position when Hanson scored.

- The Americans got an insurance goal early in the second period on the power play when Casey Pierro-Zabotel scored his third goal of the playoffs. Casey batted in a rebound out of  midair on an Eric Roy shot from the point.

- The Americans were able to accomplish all three keys to the game. They got off to a good start scoring the first goal at the 1:10 mark, they won the special teams battle going 1-4 while holding Missouri scoreless in five power play opportunities and the Americans got outstanding goal tending from Riley Gill who stopped all 34 Maverick shots.

- Game two is tonight with a 7:05 pm puck drop.


"Our penalty kill was solid all game.".....Allen coach Steve Martinson

"We need to stay out of the penalty box".....Martinson

"Gill has been really efficient and has been stopping everything that comes his way.".....Martinson

"I think we picked up some momentum when we beat Missouri twice here earlier in the month.".....Martinson

"I thought all of the defensemen played really well in front of Gill tonight and our team defense as a whole was exceptional.".....Aaron Gens who was on the bench with coach Martinson

"Riley Gill was amazing tonight. When he gets in one of those zones, he's really tough to beat.".....Gens

"Our whole goal was to jump on them early, but we have to take away the good things from this game. We had just as many good chances, if not more." .....Maverick's captain Trevor Ludwig

"Giller, for them, played well. He's big and he came out and challenged us.".....Ludwig


- Tonight's game will be the fourth in five nights for the Americans and the one day they didn't play they spent eight hours on the bus traveling to Missouri. The Mavericks have played just once in the last eight days and are definitely the fresher team. It will be interesting to see if the momentum Allen gained with their seventh game overtime victory against Idaho on Wednesday and the 2-0 shutout win over Missouri last night, can overcome the tired legs and sore bodies they will be dealing with tonight.

- Special teams have been a big part of Allen's success all season as they had the best power play in the league during the regular season. They have been even better in the playoffs. With another power play goal last night the Americans power play is ranked #1 at 31% and is over 8% better than any other team in the playoffs. Missouri's power play is at 16.7% after going 0-5 last night.

- Chad Costello is such a key for Allen to be successful. Chad has a point in every playoff game thus far and leads the ECHL in points (tied with 10), assists (9), power play assists (7) and  power play points, (7). It is hard to believe Chad has at least one point in 27 straight games going back to the end of February.

- Referees scheduled for the game tonight are the same as last night, Tyler Puddifant (#28) and Pierre Lambert (#20). The linesmen will be Erik Contino (#92) and Mitch Macpherson (#48).


- San Jose was eliminated from the AHL playoffs last night by the Ontario Reign. The Barracuda lost the game last night 4-1 and the best of five series 3-1. That means Nikita Jevpalovs could be assigned to Allen. If that happens you could expect he would arrive in Allen early next week and be in the lineup for the game on Wednesday.

- Missouri had one player (Kellen Jones) back from the AHL last night and will most likely have more tonight. The names most frequently mentioned are Patrick Cullity and Ross Johnston. Goalie Parker Milner should also be back and could get the start in goal. If these guys are in the lineup tonight it could give the Mavericks a big lift in what is an important game two.

- Visiting teams continue to do well in the playoffs. As the second round kicked off last night, the teams most people picked to make it to the Kelly Cup finals (Missouri & South Carolina)  lost at home. South Carolina lost to Adirondack 5-4. In the other two series the higher seeds won at home. Wheeling beat Reading 4-1 and Fort Wayne beat Utah 6-4. So much for low scoring playoff games.

- Riley Gill is closing in on the ECHL all time record for wins in the playoffs. Riley has won 41 playoff games in his career and needs two more to tie the record.

- This series (Allen vs Missouri) will have many ups and downs for both teams so the most important thing is to stay focused and avoid getting too high on the good days and too low on the bad days. It is one reason having a coach with the experience of Steve Martinson is so important. He has learned many coaching lessons over the past 20 years and always seems to be at his best in the playoffs. 

DID YOU KNOW: In the odd stat category the Americans have won their last three games in Missouri (3-2, 3-2 & 2-0). Allen had 27 shots on goal in all three wins.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Allen vs Missouri Series Preview Including a Novel's Worth of Subplots

The Allen Americans begin round two of the Kelly Cup playoffs tonight in Missouri as they take on the top seeded Mavericks in a best of seven series. There are so many subplots in this series it is hard to know where to start. Here are just a few.

- Allen finished a tough seven game series with an overtime victory against Idaho on Wednesday night. The Americans had to get up Thursday morning and travel 473 miles (by bus) to Missouri where they play the Mavericks tonight (Friday) and Saturday. Will the lack of rest make the Americans a step slower or will the momentum from Wednesday's overtime victory give them extra energy. Not the best scheduling for the Americans.

- Missouri swept their first round series in four games against Quad City and have not played in a week. It is the age old rest vs rust question. Will the week off make the Mavericks complacent or make them stronger.

- ECHL Coach of the Year for 2015-16 is Missouri's Richard Matvichuk who is in his second year as head coach of the Mavericks. He was the assistant coach in Allen for two years (2012-14), working with head coach Steve Martinson who is in his 20th year as a head coach and has won nine championships. I am sure both coaches would say their prior relationship has no impact on this series and it is just another playoff series. Don't buy that. They would both get extra satisfaction from winning this series given their past relationship. This is especially true for Mativichuk who had a disastrous first season in Missouri after leaving Allen. Missouri missed the playoffs, finished 41 points behind Allen, and lost eight of nine games they played against the Americans.  Meanwhile, Steve Martinson won the Kelly Cup against all odds in the Americans first season in the ECHL.

- This season has been a different story as Missouri has been the class of the ECHL, winning the regular season title by 10 points, finished 20 points ahead of Allen and won the season series against the Americans 6-5.

- There has always been a rivalry between Missouri and Allen, especially in the Central Hockey League (CHL) days. Both teams came into the league at the same time but Allen was much more successful on the ice. The Americans went to the championship final in their first season (2010) and won the CHL championship in 2013 and 2014. The Mavericks have never made it to a championship final. They were the regular season champions in 2013-14 and entered the playoff as the #1 seed but lost to #8 seed Arizona in six games. While Allen was the best franchise in the CHL on the ice, the Mavericks were the perennial winners of the Franchise of the Year award which only intensified the rivalry.

- Another subplot to this series is there are three former Allen Americans on the Missouri roster. Bryce Aneloski (2012-13), Scott Howes (2012-013) and Trevor Ludwig (2011-15). When Allen traded Ludwig to Missouri for Tristan King early in the season it definitely created some hard feelings. Trevor was the last player remaining in Allen who had been there for all three championships, his family lives in the DFW area and he wanted to finish his career in Allen. If there was any good news in being traded you would have to assume Missouri was at the top of the list as to where Trevor wanted to play. Missouri coach Richard Matvichuk is a close family friend since he played with Trevor's dad for many years in the NHL. Trevor has known Richard since he was ten years old. Matvichuk, who played defense as a player, coached Trevor during the first two championship seasons when he was the assistant coach in Allen. Being traded to Missouri also gave Trevor a chance to play with his younger brother,C.J. Throw in the fact that Trevor was named the captain of the Mavericks and the Mavericks were the best team in the league there is no doubt everything has worked out well for Trevor. With three former players and the head coach having spent time in Allen you know there is extra incentive to beat the Americans.

- Another subplot to this series comes from a game in Allen on March 9 in which two great players were seriously injured. Aaron Gens broke his ankle when he was clipped by C.J Ludwig. It was Ludwig's second clipping penalty of the game and it led to a four game suspension. Missouri lost their leading scorer, Jesse Root, for the season in the same game when he was injured on slew foot penalty called on Spencer Asuchak. Asuchak was suspended for six games. Ludwig has not played against Allen since March 9. Whether you see the bad blood on both sides carryover to this series remains to be seen.


- While all of the subplots discussed above are interesting, this series will be decided by the players on the ice. In a best of seven series the better team almost always win. If you look at the regular season, Missouri was certainly the better team. Here is the regular season match up between Allen and Missouri.

                                    ALLEN                              MISSOURI

Team Record:             41-24-3-4 (89 points)          52-15-3-2 (109 points)
Division Ranking:        2nd Central                        1st Central
Conference Ranking:  4th Western                        1st Western
League Ranking:        8th                                       1st
Home Record             22-10-2-2                             29-6-0-1
Road Record              19-14-1-2                             23-9-3-1
Goals For:                   222                                      234
Goals Against:            204                                      162
Power Play:                21.1%                                  17.2%
Penalty Kill:                 86.4%                                  85.0%
Most PIM's                  Stevenson (115)                  C. J. Ludwig (95)
Leading Scorers:        Costello (24-79-103)            Barnes (24-37-61)

- Here is how Allen and Missouri rank among the 16 playoff teams in some statistical categories considering just the playoff game results:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 7th (14.14) - Missouri 10th (12.50)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 12th (2.29) - Missouri 3rd (4.00)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 6th (2.71) - Missouri 1st (1.75)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 4th (30.40) - Missouri 9th (29.50)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 6th (28.57) - Missouri 9th (29.75)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 1st (32.0%) - Missouri 4th (21.1%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 9th (82.8%) - Missouri 3rd (88.2%)

- During the regular season Allen played Missouri 11 times and had a record of 5-6. However, the Americans beat Missouri three of the last four games they played. In the 11 games Missouri outscored Allen 32-25 and out shot the Americans 344-334. Allen was 8-42 (19.0%) on the power play and Missouri was 10-49 (20.4%). Allen took 67 penalties in the 11 games and Missouri took 65 penalties.

- What do all of the statistics mean? They mean there are two very talented teams in this series and the winner will be the team that works the hardest, wins the special teams battle and gets the best goal tending. Goalie Josh Robinson's regular season stats for Missouri were the best in the league. Robinson was 28-2-0-1 with a GAA of 1.88 and save percentage of .931. Riley Gill will carry the load for Allen and the two time Kelly cup champion is always at his best in the playoffs. In the first round against Idaho, Gill had a GAA of 1.96 and save percentage of .933.

- Another factor in this series and maybe in the game tonight is the assignment of players currently in the AHL to Missouri. The Mavericks have 10 AHL players that are playoff eligible. Nine of the players are in Bridgeport and one is with Utica. Both Utica and Bridgeport lost last night and have been eliminated from the AHL playoffs. It is possible some of those 10 players will be in Missouri tonight. The Mavericks saved three roster spots for these players so they could get some talented players back. The most likely additions include Patrick Cullity, Tanner Fritz, Kellen Jones, and Kane LaFranchise who all spent over 30 games in Missouri this season. Depending on how it plays out this could be a game changer for Missouri.

- Allen's affiliate (San Jose Barracuda) lost last night and trail 2-1 in their best of five series against the Ontario Reign. Game four is tonight. If the Barracuda end up losing this series it is possible Nikita Jevpalovs, who is playoff eligible for Allen, could get assigned to the Americans.

- Here is a story about Richard Matvichuk that includes the Missouri perspective on the series with Allen:

DID YOU KNOW: Allen and Missouri have met in the playoffs just one time since their franchises began in 2009. In the 2013 CHL playoffs the Americans beat the Mavericks in game seven of the semi-finals. Game seven was in Allen and the Americans won 7-3 to eliminate Missouri. Brian McMillin and Todd Robinson led the way for Allen with two goals each. The Americans went on to win the championship, beating Wichita in the final with another game seven win in Allen. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Allen Wins Another Game Seven OT Thriller, Martinson's Post Game Comments & Playoff Update

The Allen Americans won another game seven last night as they beat the Idaho Steelheads 3-2 in overtime to advance to the second round of the ECHL playoffs. It was a game in which Allen never led until Tristan King scored the game winner at the 3:28 mark of overtime.

- It certainly wasn't a surprise the Americans won a game seven at home as they have never lost a game seven at home (now 6-0) in the Martinson era. In fact, Martinson has not lost a game seven at home in his entire 20 year coaching career.

- What was a surprise is the way Allen had to win the game. The Americans dominated play in the first period, out shooting Idaho 16-8, but could not get the puck past Steelhead's goalie Philippe Desrosiers. When Idaho scored the first goal of the game at 5:45 of the second period it made you wonder if it was going to be one of those nights. However, as they did in game six, the Americans got the equalizer in quick order after Idaho took the lead. In game six it took Allen 75 seconds, last night Chad Costello scored to tie the game 1-1 just 29 seconds after the Steelheads took the lead. 

- Idaho retook the lead two minutes after Allen had tied the score and went into the second intermission with a 2-1 lead. This despite the Americans dominating puck possession and out shooting Idaho 26-15 over the first two periods.

- A tripping penalty in the third period put Allen on the power play and the league's best power play unit (32%) made Idaho pay as David Makowski scored on a blast from the point to tie the score 2-2.

- When neither team could get the go ahead goal in regulation time and the game went to overtime, Allen fans had a good feeling based on the many game sevens in the past. The crowd went wild when Tristan King got the game winner at 3:28 of overtime.

- Allen now takes on the Missouri Mavericks who happen to be the top seed in the ECHL. Missouri is well rested having not played a game since last Friday. Meanwhile, after their game seven win last night the Americans will get on "Big Red" early this afternoon for the 473 mile bus ride to Missouri. They have games against the Mavericks tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday. Here is the complete series schedule.
Western Conference Semifinals
Game 1 - Fri Apr 29 7:05 PM Allen at Missouri
Game 2 - Sat Apr 30 7:05 PM Allen at Missouri
Game 3 - Wed May 4 7:05 PM Missouri at Allen
Game 4 - Fri May 6 7:05 PM Missouri at Allen
Game 5 - Sun May 8 4:05 PM * Missouri at Allen
Game 6 - Tue May 10 7:05 PM * Allen at Missouri
Game 7 - Wed May 11 7:05 PM * Allen at Missouri


- We had a great comeback tonight. We had a slow start early in the period and turned over the puck but we really out played them in the first period.

- I thought their goalie was unbelievable. The shots that beat him hit posts. We had some great scoring chances but he came up big.

- We talked before the overtime about the little things that make the play. Don't go out thinking about being the hero. If you try to do too much or gamble that doesn't work. We just wanted to stick to our game plan which was to outplay them.

- Our game plan was to get the puck to the point when they were collapsing and they did that a lot. We have a lot of skill at the point. Our defensmen chipped in with three goals in games six and seven. We were not getting a lot of scoring from our three lines so we needed the defense to chip in and they did.

- We will get Vincent Arseneau back on Friday night and he will be well rested so that will help.

- I thought we played our best defensive game of the series tonight of the forwards coming back to play defense. It reminded me of the first year against Wichita when we were out playing them and we stuck with it and stuck with it. We didn't give up scoring chances by gambling and giving up odd man rushes. I thought we played our best defensive game in that respect.

- Riley Gill is playing his best right now. He is in great shape after missing time with an injury. He told his teammates he would be there for them and now it is like last year. We are climbing on his back and saying let's go.

- Now it is off to Missouri. We will leave around noon tomorrow. The Mavericks have a good team, they are a hard working team and they back pressure. They do things right and a key will be to avoid giving them easy scoring chances like we did in that stretch in the middle of the season. 

- Aaron Gens is skating but is not ready to play. He will go on the trip to Missouri and help on the bench as the defense coach. He has been doing that for two years anyway. 

- It was great to see Jamie Schaafsma get both goals in Fort Wayne's game seven win tonight. He has been a stud for Fort Wayne the second half of the season just like he was here in Allen.


- Chad Costello's 25 game assist streak came to an end last night but he had a goal so his point streak continues and stands at 26 games. I am sure Chad is more than happy to trade not having an assist for a goal.

- Fort Wayne finished their comeback last night by beating Cincinnati in game seven by a score of 2-0. Jamie Schaafsma was the hero for the Komets, scoring both goals in the first period.

- Allen and Fort Wayne both avoided upsets by coming from behind to win games six and seven at home after trialing 3-2 in their series. In the Western Conference the teams seeded #1 (Missouri), #2 (Fort Wayne), #4 (Allen) and #6 (Utah) made it to the second round. There were plenty of upsets in the Eastern Conference as the teams seeded #2 (South Carolina), #5 (Wheeling), #6 (Adirondack) and #8 (Reading) advanced to the second round.

- The semi-finals in the west has Allen vs Missouri and Fort Wayne vs Utah. In the East it will be Reading vs Wheeling and South Carolina vs Adirondack.

- So often you see when a player plays against their former team they excel. Tristan King played parts of three season with Idaho from 2010-2013 and came up big against his old team in this series. He had the overtime game winning goal last night, a goal and an assist in the game six win, and led the Americans in goals in the series with three (tied with Hanson).

- It is possible both Missouri and Allen will get players assigned if and when their AHL affiliates are eliminated from the AHL playoffs. Missouri's affiliate is Bridgeport and they play game three of their best of five series tonight. Bridgeport lost the first two games of the series at home and must beat Toronto tonight to avoid elimination. Allen's affiliate is San Jose who is tied with Ontario 1-1. They play the final three games in Ontario tonight, Friday and Sunday. 


photo by Dianne Webster

photo by Dianne Webster

photo by
photo by

DID YOU KNOW: There are five former Allen Americans players still alive in the Kelly Cup playoffs. Bryce Aneloski, Scott Howes and Trevor Ludwig in Missouri, Jamie Schaafsma in Fort Wayne and Kevin Young in Reading.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Allen Wins 4-2, Game Seven Tonight, Martinson Comments, Playoff Update, Shots of the Game

One thing Allen fans have learned over the four year tenure of Americans coach Steve Martinson is to never question the heart of a champion. The Americans showed that again last night as they beat the Idaho Steelheads 4-2 in a do or die game six to force a winner take all game seven that will take place tonight (Wednesday).

- When Idaho scored the first goal of the game at 12:57 of the first period you could hear a collective groan at the Allen Event Center (AEC). It could have been because the goal appeared to bounce off an Allen player into the net or it could have been the realization that the team that scored the first goal had won all eight games these teams have played this season.

- The Americans proved this night would be different when they tied the score 1-1 just 75 seconds after the Steelheads took the lead. Tristan King scored his second goal of the playoffs on a great pass from J.P. LaFontaine from behind the net. The first period ended with the score tied 1-1.

- Allen then proceed to score three unanswered goals in the second period on goals by Eric Roy (1), Matt Register (2) and Greger Hanson (3) to put the game out of reach. The Steeleheads got the only goal of the third period to close the gap to 4-2 but Allen held them off for the win.

-  Special teams play has been the key to victory in every game of this series. It has been a simple formula, win the special teams battle and you win the game. Last night Allen was 2-3 on the power play and held Idaho scoreless on their three power play opportunities.


-  When we lost game five in Idaho we had some break downs and they capitalized every time. They alsohad a couple of seeing eye goals. Everything was going their way and we certainly did not play our "A" game.

- It was nice to have home ice tonight and get the match ups we wanted. Riley Gill was good in goal. The first goal Idaho scored was on a shot that was headed wide of the net and bounced off Greger Hanson.

- The power play was good tonight. When Chad Costello is moving on the power play we are always better. We have a lot of defensemen that can shoot the puck from the point.

- Game seven has been good to us in this building so it is great to have game seven at home. We understand what we need to do to win and that is avoid beating ourselves. One of our biggest problems this year has been beating ourselves.


- After 72 regular season and six playoff games the season comes down to who wins tonight. One team moves on to meet the Missouri Mavericks in the second round and one team heads for vacation. You have to like the Americans chances playing game seven at home where they are 5-0 over the last three years. Even more impressive is the fact that Steve Martinson has never lost a game seven at home in his 20 year coaching career.

- After the impressive win last night you can be assured the same line up will in place for game seven tonight. That means Vincent Arseneau, who will be serving the second of his two game suspension, and Danny Federico will not play.

- Getting off to a quick start will be a key tonight. Allen didn't score the first goal last night but they scored right after Idaho took the lead. The odds are the team that scores first will win as that has been the case in eight of the nine games these teams have played this year.

- The other key to victory will be special teams play. Allen is 7-22 (31.8%) on the power play which is the best in the playoffs. The team that has won the special teams battle has won every game in this series.

- The Americans scored four goals last night which was their best offensive output of the series. With three lines that can all score it puts a lot of pressure on the Idaho defense.

- Here is the statistical update of how Allen and Idaho rank among the 16 playoff teams in some statistical categories considering just the playoff game results:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 5th (15.83) - Idaho 8th (13.50)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 14th (2.17) - Idaho 10th (2.83)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 7th (2.83) - Idaho 3rd (2.17)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 7th (29.83) - Idaho 11th (29.00)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 6th (29.00) - Idaho 10th (29.83)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 1st (31.8%) - Idaho 7th (18.5%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 10th (81.5%) - Idaho 16th (68.2%)

- The officiating crew for tonight is the same as last night. With only four penalties called on each team you might expect the same tonight in that they will let the guys play.  The referees will be Peter MacDougall (#26) and Stephen Thomson (#27). Linesmen will be Mitch Macpherson (#48) and Erik Contino (#92).


- It was great to see such a enthusiastic crowd at the AEC last night. The announced crowd was 4931 (though there were not that many in attendance) and to have such great support on a night where the chance for dangerous weather was so high was amazing. There were several tornadoes just 30 miles north of the AEC.

- The team is still upset about the two game suspension given to Vincent Arseneau. I had the opportunity to see a frame by frame replay of the hit from a different angle and it is clear from this replay that Areseneau did not leave his feet to administer the hit. More importantly, the video clip shows as Arseneau lowers his shoulder to check the Idaho player, the player moves his body to the right to avoid the hit and runs into the high stick. Not sure if the ECHL had this view when they made their decision on the suspension because a neutral party would conclude that this was not an intentional targeting of the head and the appropriate call should have been a four minute penalty for high sticking.

- The upsets continue in the ECHL playoffs. While Allen survived last night to force a game seven two other higher seeded teams were eliminated. The #1 seed (Toledo) in the Eastern Conference lost game seven at home to #8 seed Reading by a score of 4-1. In the Western Conference #3 seed Colorado was eliminated as they lost game six at home to #6 Utah by a score of 7-2.

- The only round one series left to be decided are #2 Fort Wayne vs #7 Cincinnati and #4 Allen vs #5 Idaho. Both series are tied 3-3 and game seven takes place tonight. Fort Wayne and Allen were both trailing 3-2 and had to win game six at home to force a game seven.

- The Eastern Conference second round match ups are already decided as it will be Reading vs Wheeling and South Carolina vs Adirondack. Of the top four seeds only South Carolina (#2)  survived the first round. #1 Toledo, #3 Manchester and #4 Florida all lost in the first round.

- The Western Conference second round match ups will be decided tonight. Missouri awaits the winner of the Allen vs Idaho game and Utah will play the winner of the Fort Wayne vs Cincinnati game. Thus far, of the top four seeds, only #3 Colorado has been eliminated.


 Here are some shot of the game:

photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of Dianne Webster

photo courtesy of Dianne Webster

DID YOU KNOW: Chad Costello had another assist last night on the Eric Roy power play goal. It was Chad's 25th straight game (19 regular season & 6 playoff) with an assist. To give you an idea of how impressive this streak is, all you have to do is look at the NHL all time record. The NHL record for the longest assist scoring streak is held by Wayne Gretzky who had an assist in 23 straight games in 1991.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Allen vs Idaho Game Six Preview, Arseneau Suspended, Gens Hits The Ice, University of Alberta

Everyone was focused at practice yesterday, it is do or die, will over skill, and all the other cliches - photo by Dianne Webster

You see "must win" in this blog many times throughout the season and it should really be reserved for games like tonight. When it comes down to win or go home like tonight, that is a must win game. It is what the Allen Americans face tonight (7:05) when they take on the Idaho Steelheads at the Allen Event Center (AEC). Idaho leads 3-2 in the best of seven series so the Americans have to prevail tonight to force a winner take all game seven tomorrow (Wednesday) night.

- This certainly is not strange territory to the Americans who have won three straight championships and have come from behind many times. They are in a precarious position again but in this series have been lacking the firepower compared to past seasons.

- In their three losses to Idaho, Allen has managed just one goal in each game. In the two wins they scored three goals. You add it all up and you are talking about an average of 1.80 goals per game. Only Quad City, who was swept in four games by Missouri, has a lower overage (1.75).  The Americans are going to have to find some offense tonight to be successful.

- Getting off to a fast start in the first period and scoring the first goal is close to mandatory to win tonight. Both of these teams play much better with the lead. They have now played nine times including regular season and playoffs and the team that scored the first goal won all nine games.

- Another key factor in this series has been special teams play. Allen had the best special teams record in the ECHL during the regular season and was looking to capitalize on that advantage in the playoffs. While the power play has been great (26.3%) the penalty kill has been awful, killing off just 79.2% of the power plays and giving up shorthanded goals in games four and five. The team that won the special teams battle has won every game in this series.

- Vincent Arseneau will miss the game tonight as he has been suspended for two games for an illegal check to the head match penalty he received in game five. There is no question Arseneau had his stick up and got the Idaho player in the face. However, if you look at the video on a big screen and slow the hit down you can see that Arseneau does not leave his feet until after the hit and the Idaho player (Radoslav Illo) ducks to the right as Arseneau lowers his shoulder to make the hit. These are both factors (leaving your feet and whether the player that was hit changed positions) to be considered when deciding supplementary discipline. While the team sees the hit one way the league's point of view is Arseneau targeted the head and that necessitates a suspension and the league always prevails. Luckily Illo was not seriously hurt and only missed a couple of shifts.

- With the season on the line, the team struggling offensively, Arseneau serving a suspension and losing 7-1 on Saturday, you can look for some lineup changes tonight. Here are my thoughts on what might happen. Riley Gill has to get the start in goal. He has been the guy for Allen the last two years and gives you the best chance for success. The next decision for coach Martinson is whether to go with six or seven defensemen. Getting Danny Federico back in the lineup will help defensively so going with seven defensemen is the best guess. The penalty kill has struggled so look for Justin Courtnall to be back in the line up to help kill penalties. With Areseneu on suspension, Courtnall back in the line up and if seven defensemen play that means either LaFontaine or Neuber will be the ninth forward. One plays and one sits out. If Martinson does end up going with seven defensemen and nine forwards, one of the defensemen might have to take a shift or two up front. Not sure if any of them have played forward before but Jordan Rowley might be a good choice. Rowley had 24 points in 25 games this season in college as a defenseman and is one of the better skaters on the team.

- Here is how Allen and Idaho rank among the 16 playoff teams in some statistical categories considering just the playoff game results:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 3rd (17.40) - Idaho 8th (14.60)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 15th (1.80) - Idaho 10th (3.00)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 9th (3.00) - Idaho 2nd (1.80)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 7th (30.40) - Idaho 12th (28.40)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 5th (28.40) - Idaho 10th (30.40)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 1st (26.3%) - Idaho 4th (20.8%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 13th (79.2%) - Idaho 16th (73.7%)

-   Referees scheduled tonight are Peter MacDougall (#26) and Stephen Thomson (#27). Linesmen will be Mitch Macpherson (#48) and Erik Contino (#92).


- It was great to see Aaron Gens back on the ice yesterday for the first time since breaking his ankle on March 9. He was at practice doing some lite skating but did not participate in any drills. Here is what Aaron had to say, "It feels great to be back out there with the team. A lot of work ahead but I'm thankful to be at this point and there is nothing like getting back out doing the thing that I love most."
Check out this short video:

- There were two games in the ECHL last night with the higher seeded home teams having to win game six to stay alive. One succeeded and one did not. Florida, the #4 seed in the east lost to #5 seed Wheeling at home by a score of 2-1 and has been eliminated. Wheeling joins Adirondack, South Carolina and Missouri in making it to the second round. 

- The second game last night saw Fort Wayne win game six at home against Cincinnati by a score of 2-1 in overtime. This has been quite a series as Fort Wayne lost the first two games at home and has fought back again and again. Cincinnati has had series leads of 2-0, 2-1, and 3-2 only to see the Komets scratch back to tie the series 3-3. The last three games have gone to overtime and two of the three have been decided in double overtime. Game seven takes place Wednesday in Fort Wayne and you have to like their chances. By the way, former Allen captain Jamie Schaafsma had the primary assist on the game winning goal last night at the 5:30 mark of the first overtime.

- There are three games scheduled tonight and they are all win or go home games. In addition to Allen vs Idaho, the Reading Royals have one more chance to upset the top seed in the east as they take on the Toledo Walleye in game seven. The third game scheduled tonight is Utah at Colorado. Utah leads the series 3-2 so the Eagles must win to keep their hopes alive and force a game seven.

DID YOU KNOW:  Allen defensemen Jordan Rowley and Thomas Carr were college teammates at the University of Alberta and just finished their college careers in March. Idaho's Kruise Reddick (#11) was also a member of that team. A total of six graduating seniors from the University of Alberta team signed to play professionally last month. In addition to the three in the Allen vs Idaho series, two other teammates (Levko Koper & Brett Ferguson) are with playing with Cincinnati and Jordan Hickmott signed with the Toronto Marlies (AHL).

Monday, April 25, 2016

Will They Win Or Will They Lose, Heart vs Head, Playoff Update, Missouri Gets More Stacked This Week

It dawned on me this morning as I was making plans to attend the Allen Americans practice today that this could be the last practice of the season. With back to back games on Tuesday and Wednesday and the Americans needing victories in both to advance, the reality of how quickly this season could come to an end struck home.

It got me to thinking about "will they win" or "will they lose" let me count the ways. Both thoughts keep going through my mind. It is one of those is the glass half empty or half full situations. Check these out. 

- Allen will win because they have never lost a series since Martinson has been the coach (10-0)
- Allen will lose because they have scored just one goal in each of the last two games
- Allen will win because games six and seven are at home
- Allen will lose because they rank #15 of the 16 playoffs teams in average goals scored (1.80)
- Allen will win because they have the #1 ranked power play in the playoffs (26.3%)
- Allen will lose because they have the #13 ranked penalty kill in the playoffs (79.2%)
- Allen will win because they have never lost a home elimination game in franchise history (10-0)
- Allen will lose because they are so inconsistent 
- Allen will win because they have won games six and seven at home the last two seasons
- Allen will lose because they have the worst plus/minus of the teams still in the playoffs (-32)
- Allen will win because they have never lost a game after losing badly like on Saturday
- Allen will lose because all good things must come to an end
- Allen will win because  Martinson has never lost a game seven at home in his career (19 years)
- Allen will lose because they had the lowest regular season point total in franchise history (89)
- Allen will win because they always win when their backs are against the wall.
- Allen will lose because they have not won back to back against Idaho all season (9 games)
- Allen will win because they have the more skilled team
- Allen will lose because they score on 5.9% of their shots in this series while Idaho is at 10.6%
- Allen will win because they have great fan support
- Allen will lose because they have too many young players without playoff experience
- Allen will win because they have never lost a game seven under Martinson (5-0)
- Allen will lose because they are just 3-3 in game sixes at home under Martinson.

Not a complete list but just some of my thoughts on the outcome of this series. Based on past performance there is no question Allen wins the series. Based on this season alone the outcome is in question. Have to admit my heart says they win but my head says they lose. Hope my heart rules the day.


- There were two games yesterday in the ECHL. Reading had a chance to eliminate #1 seed Toledo at home but lost 3-1. The series is now tied 3-3 and headed to Toledo for game seven which is Tuesday night. In the other game, Colorado avoided elimination by beating Utah on the road by a score of 5-2. Utah still leads the series 3-2 with the final two games in Colorado on Tuesday and Wednesday.

- There are two games scheduled tonight and in both cases the higher seeds are trailing 3-2 and have to win game six at home to avoid elimination. Florida is at home against Wheeling and Fort Wayne is at home against Cincinnati.

- Here is a recap of the playoffs. Eight teams will make it to the second round. Three teams have already advanced (Missouri, South Carolina, Adirondack). One series (Toledo vs Reading) is tied 3-3. The other four series are 3-2 and the higher seeded teams are losing in all four. Florida, Allen, Fort Wayne and Colorado all must win two games at home to advance.

- Missouri won the ECHL regular season championship by 10 points and the Western Conference regular season championship by 20 points which was quite an accomplishment. The Mavericks are the only team in the ECHL that swept their first round opponent going 4-0 against Quad City. To say they are a strong team would be an understatement. It will be a case of the rich getting richer later this week when Missouri's AHL affiliate (Bridgeport Sound Tigers) gets eliminated from the AHL playoffs. Bridgeport lost the first two games of their best of five series at home to the Toronto Marlies. The next three games are in Toronto on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. If Bridgeport loses on Thursday and is eliminated, no less than nine players will become available to Missouri because they are playoff eligible. Missouri has a 10th player in Utica who will also most likely be eliminated this week. The Mavericks wisely reserved three spots on their playoff roster for these AHL players. The odds are (if Utica and Bridgeport are eliminated) Missouri will have three of the following players on their roster before the second round begins against Allen or Idaho on Friday. Here is the list with the players position and the number of AHL games they have played this season.

Kyle Burroughs (D) - 31 games
Colin Markison (F) - 39 games
Kane Lafranchise (D) - 37 games
Stephon Williams (G) - 31 games
Tanner Fritz (F) - 19 games
Patrick Cullity (D) - 31 games
Ross Johnston (F) - 39 games
Kellen Jones (F) - 33 games
Matt Finn (D) - 33 games
Loic Leduc (D) - 20 games

This isn't a case of players spending most of the year in the AHL being assigned to Missouri. Most of these players spent a lot of time in Missouri this season and will fit right in with the team. Cullity, Lafranchise, Fritz and and Jones are the most likely players to be added to the roster since they all had at least 33 games in Missouri this season.

DID YOU KNOW: The seven goals scored against Allen in the 7-1 loss on Saturday was the worst playoff defeat in team history (six goals) but it was not the first time a team has scored seven goals against the Americans in the playoffs. Just last season Rapid City beat Allen 7-4 in game five of their series after Allen had won 7-4 in game four. In the 2010 CHL playoffs Rapid City beat Allen 7-2 in game five of the championship final.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Allen Loses To Idaho 7-1, Worst Playoff Loss Ever, ECHL Playoff Update, Hockey In India

Many times this season you have heard from fans and coaches around the Allen Event Center that the most consistent thing about the 2015-16 Allen Americans is their inconsistency. The team proved that again last night in Boise as the Steelheads scored early (2:31, 4:15, 6:36 of the first period) and often (seven goals) to hand the Americans their worst playoff defeat in team history.

- To lose a critical game five by a score of 7-1 is embarrassing to everyone involved. The Steelheads now have a 3-2 series lead and will try to close out the Americans in Allen on Tuesday. If Allen wins game six on Tuesday, game seven will take place Wednesday night. 

- When you lose 7-1 there are no bright spots and that was certainly the case last night. Idaho scored on two of their first three shots and had four goals in the first period while taking just nine shots. The Steelheads were better on the power play going 3-8. Allen was 1-4 on the power play but they also allowed a shorthanded goal.

- The only phase of the game in which Allen excelled was taking penalties. The Americans had 10 infractions for 28 minutes compared to Idaho's six infractions for 12 minutes. One penalty that could effect game six was a match penalty given to Vincent Arseneau early in the third period for an illegal check to the head. The penalty does not carry an automatic suspension but the description of the rule would lead you to the conclusion that supplementary discipline will be forthcoming.  Rule 48.5 states, "The referee at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgement, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head."

- Allen's lone goal was scored late in the second period with Idaho already ahead 5-0. Greger Hanson scored on the power play, assisted by Chad Costello and David Makowski. Hanson had two of the five goals scored by Allen in the three games in Idaho. Costello extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one assist to 24 games.

- After five games Allen has a team plus/minus of -32. The only teams with a worse plus/minus are Quad City (-33) who were swept by Missouri 4-0 and Kalamazoo (-48) who lost to South Carolina 4-1. 

- Winning games six and seven at home is no stranger to Allen as they have done that in each of their last two seasons on the way to the championship. In 2014, Allen beat Quad City twice at home after falling behind in the series 3-2. Last year Allen trailed Ontario 3-1 in the series before winning game five in Ontario and then coming home to win games six and seven.

- If Allen is to win this series they will have to generate more offense. In the three losses to Idaho Allen has score just one goal in each game. Allen is ranked #15 of 16 playoff teams in average goals scored per game at 1.80. 

- Anyone who writes off the Americans after the 7-1 drubbing they took last night does so at their own peril. Steve Martinson coached teams have a history of coming back from adversity and playing the best when their backs are against the wall. While you can certainly argue this team doesn't have the resiliency of the teams from the past, they will not go down without a fight.


- Missouri has been the class of the Western Conference all season and looked good in their first round match up with Quad City sweeping the Mallards 4-0. However, the other top seeds in the West are all trailing in their first round series. Fort Wayne is the #2 seed and trails Cincinnati 3-2, Colorado is the #3 seed and trails Utah 3-1 and Allen is the #4 seed and trails Idaho 3-2. A lot of work to do by the favorites to avoid the upset and a first round exit. 

- Two teams (South Carolina and Adirondack) have advanced in the Eastern Conference and will face each other in the second round. Adirondack was the #6 seed but easily beat the #3 Manchester 4-1. South Carolina is the #2 seed and dispatched Kalamazoo 4-1. In the other first round series in the east the higher seeds are trailing. The #1 seed Toledo trails #8 Reading 3-2 and the #4 seed Florida trails #5 Wheeling 3-2.

- If all of the teams currently leading series 3-2 or 3-1 go on to win you could have a second round where just two of the favorites (Missouri & South Carolina) advance. If that happens they would be heavy favorites to meet in the Kelly Cup final. However, if one of these higher seeded teams like Fort Wayne, Toledo, Colorado, Florida or Allen come back to win their series they will have great momentum going forward and could easily run the table. It should be fun to watch.

- There are just two ECHL playoff games scheduled today. Toledo vs Reading (in Reading) and Colorado vs Utah (in Utah). If the home teams win they advance.

- Aaron Dell stopped 34 shots last night to lead his San Jose Barracuda (AHL) team to a 3-2 win over the Ontario Reign and even the series 1-1. The last three games of this best of five series take place in Ontario starting on Thursday.

- How would you like to play hockey at almost 12,000 feet above sea level. Check out this story about the trials and tribulations of India's national hockey team and playing youth hockey in India:

DID YOU KNOW: Allen was badly beaten in one game in all four of their series last year on the way to winning the Kelly Cup. In round one Tulsa beat Allen 5-1, Allen won the next game 3-1 and went on to win the series. In round two Rapid City beat Allen 7-4, Allen won the next game 4-2 and went on to win the series. In round three Ontario beat Allen 5-0, Allen won the next game 6-2 and went on to win the series. In the Kelly Cup final South Carolina beat Allen 4-1, Allen won the next game 3-2 and went on to win the championship.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Allen Loses 3-1, Series Tied 2-2, Missouri Awaits Winner, Barracuda Lose, Yellow Horn Article

When the Idaho Steelheads scored the first goal of the game last night 50 seconds into the second period you could hear a collective groan from Allen Americans fans. Scoring first has proven prophetic every time Allen and Idaho have played this season (eight times) and it was so again last night as the Steelheads beat the Americans 3-1 to even the best of seven series 2-2. To make matters worse the first goal was a shorthanded goal on a play that started with a clean face off win by Allen in the Idaho zone. Riley Gill made the initial save but Idaho's Kyle Jean was trailing the play and put in the rebound.

- Allen tied the score 1-1 at the 16:53 mark of the second period when Tristan King scored his first goal of the playoffs. King made a nice deflection of a Vincent Arseneau shot from the point. Chad Costello also had an assist on the goal to extend his assist streak to 23 games.

- Just over a minute into the third period a neutral ice turnover led to the to the game winner for the Steelheads. Idaho added an empty net goal to make the final score 3-1.

- Scoring the first goal and winning the special teams battle seems to be great predictors of the outcome of most games. Last night Idaho accomplished both. While both teams struggled on the power play with Allen going 0-4 and Idaho going 0-5, the shorthanded goal by the Steelheads proved to be the difference in the game.

- It is often said one of the best things about losing in being able to do something about it quickly and the Americans will have that chance less than 24 hours after the defeat. The teams play game five tonight with puck drop scheduled for 8:10 pm Allen time.

- It has worked for eight straight games so it is not going out on too big of a limb to say whoever scores the first goal tonight wins the game.

- Referees scheduled for the game tonight are Andrew Wilk (#24) and Mike Sheehan (#11). The linesmen will be Scott DeBaugh (#67) and Andrew Wetzel (#81).


- I didn't have a chance to talk to coach Martinson after the game. To be honest I was at the Dallas Stars game to watch them lose in overtime to the Minnesota Wild in a game that didn't get over until midnight. Martinson's quote in the Americans press release about the game was, "We made a couple of big mistakes and it cost us. Giving up that shorthanded goal really hurt, and our power play didn't do anything to help us."

- Here is a recap of the game from the Idaho Statesman with plenty of quotes from coach Neil Graham.

- The Americans have out shot Idaho in three of the four games in this series including in both of Allen's losses. For the series Allen has out shot the Steelheads 131 -113.

- The number three seems to be a magic number when Allen plays Idaho. In seven of the eight games they have played this season, one of the teams has ended up with three goals and of course all four of the playoff games have end with a final score of 3-1.

- Some interesting results in playoff action around the ECHL last night. Missouri beat Quad City 4-1 to sweep that series 4-0 and now awaits the winner of the Allen vs Idaho series. The Mavericks will have a week off before their next game. Fort Wayne beat Cincinnati 3-2 in double overtime to tie the series 2-2. The road team has won all four games thus far in that series. In what could be a huge upset in the making, the #8 seed Reading Royals beat #1 seed Toledo in Toledo by a score of 5-3 to take a 3-2 series lead. Game six takes place Sunday in Reading.

- The San Jose Barracuda lost the first game of their best of five series against Ontario last night. The score was 2-1 and the game was played in San Jose. Game two is tonight in San Jose. The final  three games of the series will be in Ontario next Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. Nikita Jevpalovs, who is playoff eligible for Allen, had the only goal for San Jose in a losing cause. The lone assist on Nikita's goal went to goalie Aaron Dell.

- Here is a great article about Colton Yellow Horn who played in Allen from 2009-12 and was one of the most exciting players to watch in team history. This story is about Colton traveling the world playing hockey.

DID YOU KNOW: Three years ago last night Allen lost game six of the Central Hockey League (CHL) semi-finals to the Missouri Mavericks by a score of 6-2. Three years ago tonight the Americans beat Missouri in game seven by a score of 7-3. Brian McMillin had the first and last goals of the game and Todd Robinson also had two goals. Allen went on to meet Wichita in the final which also went to seven games before the Americans won the CHL championship with a 3-2 overtime thriller. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Allen vs Idaho Game Four Preview, Watch Parties, Playoff Update, Sharks & Barracuda Also Play Tonight

The Allen Americans take on the Idaho Steelheads tonight (8:10 Allen time) leading the best of seven series 2-1. If the Americans win, they take a commanding 3-1 series lead with the opportunity to end the series on Saturday night in Boise. If they lose tonight and the Steelheads tie the series 2-2 it will be a dogfight to the end and the series will return to Allen no matter what the outcome on Saturday.

- If past is prologue, which it is not, Allen has an excellent chance tonight. Under coach Martinson, Allen has played game four on the road nine times and has a record of 6-3. And don't forget Idaho is now 3-7 in their last 10 playoff games at home.

- Maybe a better group of stats to look at are the totals of the three games Allen and Idaho have played thus far in the playoffs. Allen has the edge in goals scored (7-5), shots (101-84) and on the power play (4-11 vs 2-9). Idaho has taken more penalties (20-18) and has more penalty minutes (49-45). These stats all point to Allen having an excellent chance tonight.

- Finally, if you look at how Allen and Idaho compare with the other teams in the playoffs, the Americans have an excellent chance tonight. Here is how Allen and Idaho rank among the 16 playoff teams in some statistical categories considering just the playoff game results:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 8th (15.00) - Idaho 4th (16.33)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 12th (2.33) - Idaho 16th (1.67)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 1st (1.67) - Idaho 5th (2.33)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 2nd (33.67) - Idaho 11th (28.00)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 6th (28.00) - Idaho 15th (33,67)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 1st (26.4%) - Idaho 3rd (22.2%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 14th (77.8%) - Idaho 16th (63.6%)

- The most striking of the stats above is how poorly both teams have done killing penalties in this series. In the regular season these were two of the best penalty killing units in the league. Idaho was ranked #2 at 86.5% and Allen was ranked #3 at 86.4%. Penalty killing will most likely be a key in the game tonight.

- Idaho has five players who have two points in the series and their five goals have come from five different player. Chad Costello leads Allen with five points, all assists. Gary Steffes and Casey Pierro-Zabotel lead in goals scored with two.

- It is always interesting looking at statistics in a game preview but the most important factor in determining who will win most playoff games is which team works the hardest. The team that is victorious tonight will be the team with the most "will" and "want" and let's hope that is the Americans. Playing desperate is a big motivator and you can be assured the Steelheads will be playing desperate.   

- Referees scheduled for the game are Kenny Anderson (#16) and Peter Tarnaris (#23) who were also the referees on Wednesday. Linesmen will be Scott DeBaugh (#67) and Ryan Nevins (#86).


- The local paper (Idaho Statesman) had this headline for the game tonight, "Idaho Steelheads back on thin ice: Host Game 4 on Friday" so no bulletin board material like the "Greedy Steelheads want home sweep" the other day. The article about the game tonight is short and sweet. You can check it out here:

- You can join fellow Allen fans at watch parties this weekend which will be attended by players (Aaron Gens & Joel Rumpel) and some of the Ice Angels. Here are the details:

- It is great to have all three San Jose affiliated teams (Sharks, Barracuda, Americans) in the playoffs and they all play tonight. The Sharks have a 3-1 series lead and can eliminate the Kings tonight in Los Angeles. The Barracuda start their playoffs tonight at home against the Ontario Reign. The AHL playoffs are best of five in the first round and the series is 2-3. Ontario is the #1 seed in the division and the Barracuda are the #4 seed.

- There were just two ECHL playoff games last night and they both ended with 3-2 scores. South Carolina beat Kalamzoo at home to take a 3-1 series lead. Kalamazoo took a too many men on the ice penalty in the last minute of the game and the Stingrays scored the game winner 13 seconds into the power play. In the other game, #6 seed Utah beat #3 seed Colorado and has a 2-1 series lead.

- It will be a busy weekend around the ECHL with five games scheduled tonight, six on Saturday and three on Sunday. It is possible that the entire second round field could be set over the weekend however it is highly unlikely. South Carolina and Missouri are both playing two games with big series leads and should send their opponents (Kalamazoo & Quad City) on vacation.

- The road teams lost both games last night but still have a record of 17-11 so far in the playoffs.

DID YOU KNOW: The youngest player on the Americans roster is not one of the guys who  recently completed their college eligibility and were signed by Allen (Jake Hildebrand, Kyle Neuber, Thomas Carr, Jordan Rowley). The youngest  player is Eric Roy who was born October 24, 1994. The oldest player is Chad Costello whose birth date is July 22, 1986. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Allen Beats Idaho 3-1 and Take 2-1 Series Lead, Martinson Comments, Playoff Update & More

The headline in the 150 year old Boise newspaper when the Allen Americans arrived in town read, "Greedy Steelheads want home sweep over Allen Americans."  The story was well written and talked about a talented Allen team and what the Steelheads had to do to be successful but I am sure the Americans took note of the headline. You can check out the story here:

- Idaho doesn't have to worry about a sweep anymore as Allen won last night by a score of 3-1 before a sparse crowd of 2310 at the CenturyLink Arena. The Americans now lead the best of seven series 2-1.

- The Americans got the first goal of the game at the 4:44 mark of the first period when Eric Roy made a perfect pass from the corner to Greger Hanson in the slot, who rifled it home. Allen took a 2-0 lead late in the first period on a David Makowski power play goal. Idaho scored a power play goal early in the second period to cut the score to 2-1. The Americans came back late in the period with their second power play goal of the game as Matt Register scored on a shot from the point to give Allen a 3-1 lead. Neither team was able to score in the third period. You can see all of the highlights/goals by going to the "ECHL Rewind" section of the ECHL website which you can find here:

- Coach Martinson always emphasizes the importance of having offensive minded defensemen who can score and create opportunities by jumping into the play. Last night was a perfect example of this style. The Americans had a total of eight points in the game (3 goals 5 assists). The defensmen accounted for five of the eight points (2 goals 3 assists).

- Chad Costello had assists on both Allen power play goals last night and has now had at least one assist in 22 straight games. The last game Chad played where he did not have an assist was way back on February 21. While this is an all time record it won't be acknowledged as such because the streak covers both regular season and playoff games.

- The best player on the ice for Allen last night was goalie Riley Gill who stopped 37 of 38 Steelhead shots. The Americans were out shot 31-13 in the final two periods and Gill was called upon numerous times to make quality saves. Can't imagine anyone from either team that watched the game who didn't think Riley was the #1 star of the game. It is unbelievable he wasn't given any of the three stars. C'MON MAN!
UPDATE: Heard from a media friend in Boise that Riley was announced as the #3 star of the game but it got recorded incorrectly on the official score-sheet.  

- Scoring the first goal and winning the special teams battle are always keys to victory for the Americans. Last night they accomplished both. The Americans scored the first goal of the game and were 2-3 on the power play while Idaho was 1-3.

- The teams have an off day today and will resume the series Friday night at 8:10 pm Allen time.

- I had the chance to talk briefly with Coach Martinson after the game and he was obviously pleased with the win. He was happy with the excellent first period when Allen out shot 17-7 and took a 2-0 lead. He will spend time today reviewing the video and making whatever adjustments that are necessary for game four. Martinson also mentioned what a solid job Riley Gill had in goal saying, "Riley made most of the saves look routine."


- Riley Gill has allowed just two goals in is two playoff wins. He leads all ECHL playoff goalies in GAA (1.00) and save percentage (.967).

- Allen led the ECHL in power play percentage during the regular season and that has carried over to the playoffs. Allen is ranked #1 with a lofty 36.4%.

- In the odd stat category, the first three games of the Allen vs Idaho series have end with the same score, 3-1.

- Allen and Idaho have now played seven times this season and the team that has scored the first goal has won all seven games. 

- The #2 seeded Fort Wayne Komets had their backs against the wall having lost the first two playoff games at home against Cincinnati. Last night they played the first of three games in Cincinnati and the Komets certainly made a statement that losing the first two games at home doesn't meant this series is over. Fort Wayne demolished the Cyclones 8-0.

- Manchester was the #3 seed in the Eastern Conferecne but became the first team eliminated from the playoffs. They lost to Adirondack last night at home by a score of 3-0. Adirondack wins the series 4-1 and awaits the winner of the South Carolina vs Kalamazoo series to see who they will play in the second round. South Carolina is a huge favorite to beat Kalamazoo as they lead the series 2-1 and the final four games are in South Carolina.

- The other series which is close to being over is Missouri vs Quad City. The Mavericks lead 3-0 with games in Quad City on Friday and Saturday (if necessary).

-  If you are interested in the Idaho perspective of the game last night with some quotes from the Steelheads coach and players check out this article:

DID YOU KNOW:  Idaho won the Kelly Cup in 2007 and the MVP that year was Steelhead's goalie Steve Silverhorn who later (2012-13) was a member of the Allen Americans first championship team. Current Idaho defenseman Corbin Baldwin, who is out with an injury, was also a member of the 2013 Allen championship team.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Allen vs Idaho Game Three Preview, Critical Games for Fort Wayne & Manchester, Gill's 2013 Playoffs

It is game day for the Allen Americans as they take on the Idaho Steelheads tonight (8:10 pm Allen time) in game three of their best of seven series. With the series tied 1-1, game three takes on huge significance unless you look at the statistics. The numbers vary from study to study but the winner of game three in a seven game series wins about 65% of the time. Losing game three and going down 2-1 in the series is certainly not a death knell. About one third of the time, the team that gets down in a series 2-1 comes back to win. The lesson for teams and their fans is obvious, no game counts more in the playoffs than another unless it is the one that creates a handshake line at the end.

- Playing at home in the playoffs has not been an advantage for the Steelheads the last two post seasons. Their record is 3-6. Allen's record on the road the last two post seasons is 10-9.

- If you want the best indicator of who wins the game tonight go with the team that scores the first goal. Allen and Idaho have played six times this season (four in the regular season, two in the playoffs) and the team that scored the first goal has won all six games.

-With only two playoff games in the books, looking at comparative stats with Idaho is not very meaningful but thought it would be interesting to see how these teams rank compared to all 16 playoff teams. Here is how Allen and Idaho rank among the 16 playoff teams in some statistical categories considering just the playoff game results:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 8th (14.00) - Idaho 3rd (16.00)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 13th (2.00) - Idaho 13th (2.00)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 1st (2.00) - Idaho 1st (2.00)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 2nd (35.50) - Idaho 14th (23.00)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 3rd (23.00) - Idaho 15th (35.50)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 2nd (25.0%) - Idaho 9th (16.7%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 8th (83.3%) - Idaho 14th (75.0%)

- The one statistic above that stands out is shots per game as Allen is ranked #2 with 35.50 shots per game. During the regular season Allen had trouble generating shots and was ranked #24 in the league with 28.82 shots per game. The increased shots in the two playoffs games has not translated to goals scored as the Americans have scored on just 5.6% of their shots. During the regular season Allen had one of the highest shooting percentages in the league converting on 10.6 % of their shots.

- Coach Martinson won't make the final decision on who plays tonight until after the pregame skate, but you can certainly make some educated guesses if everyone is available to play. In the past Martinson usually doesn't make many changes after a win in the playoffs. That means Riley Gill should get the start in goal. Most likely Danny Federico will be the healthy scratch for the defensemen as Martinson tries to maximize the offensive opportunities. Up front you might see a change. Justin Courtnall, J.P. LaFontaine and Kyle Neuber all bring something different to the ice and one of them will have to sit out. Who it is depends on what kind of game coach Martinson expects.

- Line combinations are very flexible in a Steve Martinson offense as he deals with special teams and other types of match ups. However, the lines that have played together most often the first two playoff games are Hanson-Asuchak-Stevenson, Costello-Pierro-Zabotel-Arseneau and Steffes & King with LaFontaine, Courtnall or Neuber.

- Referees scheduled for the game are Kenny Anderson (#16) and Peter Tarnaris (#23). Linesmen will be Scott DeBaugh (#67) and Andrew Wetzel (#81).

- There will be watch parties for the game tonight at 5th Street Pizza in Allen and The Franchise in Plano. It is always fun to join your fellow Allen fans at one of the watch parties for playoff hockey.


- There was just one ECHL playoff game last night. Reading (#8 seed) beat Toledo (#1 seed) by a score of 4-2 to take a 2-1 lead in the series. Game four is tonight in Reading.

-There are six playoff games scheduled tonight and a couple of them are worth keeping an eye on. Fort Wayne (#2 seed) plays in Cincinnati (#7 seed) trailing 2-0 in the series. A must win for the Komets. The #3 seed in the East is Manchester who trails #6 seed Adirondack in the series 3-1. Manchester must win tonight at home to avoid elimination.

- The Michigan State Spartans hockey team held their annual awards program on Monday and Allen goalie Jake Hildebrand was honored as the MVP of the team. Jake became the first player in program history to be selected the team MVP four times. Here is a link to the story:

DID YOU KNOW: Riley Gill was the playoff MVP in 2013 as he led the Reading Royals to the Kelly Cup. Riley played every game of the conference finals and Kelly cup finals.  Reading beat Cincinnati 4-1 in the conference finals and Stockton 4-1 in the Kelly Cup finals. Riley played in 17 playoff games in 2013 and had a record of 13-3-1. His GAA was 1.91 and his save percentage was .930. He had four shutouts in the playoffs including two in the championship finals. The four playoff shutouts are the second most in ECHL history.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Practice Update, Fly Away Day, Desrosiers Story, Playoff Attendance, Wichita Update & More

Stopped by practice yesterday and the good news is everyone on the roster (except Aaron Gens) was on the ice and fully participating. Doesn't mean everyone is 100% as they are all bruised and battered at this time of year but everyone is available. The majority of practice was spent on fine tuning the strategy for game three on Wednesday.

- As for Aaron Gens, he is off crutches and in a walking boot and has started his rehab. If all goes well he could start skating in a week to 10 days.

- It is get away day for the Americans as they fly to Boise in two groups. The majority of the team left very early this morning with a smaller group having flights this afternoon. I am sure everyone is thankful and grateful they didn't have to take "Big Red" on a 30 hour bus trip even if they had to get up at 3:30 or 4:00 am this morning.

- The only players not making the trip to Idaho are Gens and goalie Joel Rumpel. Riley Gill will most likely get the start on Wednesday with Jake Hildebrand as the back up. With 20 players on the trip the two healthy scratches won't be decided until Wednesday. It doesn't make sense to decide the healthy scratches early as you never know who might end up sick or ailing.

- Came across this article about Idaho's 20 year old goalie, Philippe Desrosiers written by Sean Shapiro of Two things struck me when reading the story. Desrosiers doesn't lack confidence and Shapiro doesn't have much respect for the ECHL. Have to say I disagree with Shapiro's description of the ECHL, "Playing and starting this season in the ECHL could have been particularly damaging to Desrosiers’ confidence. He’s a highly-touted draft pick surrounded by a collection of hockey journeymen, failed NHL prospects, and hockey lifers committed to bus trips." Check out the complete story here:


- There were two ECHL playoff games last night. Kalamazoo beat South Carolina 5-3 but trail in the series 2-1. The teams now travel to South Carolina for the final four games. This is the series that had a 3-4 format because of building availability.  In the other game last night, Manchester avoided elimination by beating Adirondack 2-1. Adirondack leads the series 3-1.

- Talk about lack of fan support, the two games last night attracted a total of 2659 fans. There were just 1844 in Adirondack and a paltry 815 in Kalamazoo. The ECHL playoff average attendance thus far is 3716 but first rounds are historically low. Allen is averaging 4533 for their two home games.

- The AHL had record attendance this year averaging 5982 per game. The ECHL averaged 4386 per game which was the lowest average since the 2011-12 season when the average was 4282.

- If you have been following social media and message boards since Wichita announced that they would not renew the contract of coach Kevin McClelland you have seen lots of heated opinions on what the problems have been in Wichita. Plenty of blame to go around between the coach, the front office, and ownership and they are all getting their fair share of criticism. Not sure where the truth lies but one concern for all three Steven brothers owned teams (Allen, Tulsa, Wichita) is the abilty to recruit players next season if the reputation is that these teams do not treat the players well because the teams are trying to save money. The hockey fraternity is very small and word travels fast if players feel they are not being treated fairly.

DID YOU KNOW: Saw a tweet from Bruce Graham, Allen's all time leading scorer where he asked, "I wonder what the average height/weight is of the players in this Los Angeles Kings vs San Jose Sharks series. What's more impressive is they all have skill." Here is the answer according to The Kings are ranked #3 in the NHL in height (187.50 cm or about 6'2") while San Jose is #12 in height (186.48 cm or just over 6'1"). In average weight the Kings rank #3 in weight (93.77 kg or about 207 pounds) and San Jose is ranked #5 in weight (93.35 kg or about 206 pounds). Also, San Jose is the oldest team in the NHL (28.52 average age) and Los Angeles is the eighth oldest team in the NHL (27.85). 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Allen & Idaho Evenly Matched, Barracuda Make Playoffs, Bootland Heroics, Missouri Takes 2-0 Lead

- It is a practice day for the Allen Americans as they have a chance to work on adjustments before flying to Boise, Idaho tomorrow to continue their best of seven series with the Steelheads. The series is tied 1-1 with the the first two games being played at the Allen Event Center. The next three games (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday) will take place at CenturyLink Arena in Boise. The arena is a multi-purpose arena built in 1997 at a cost of 50 million dollars with a capacity of 5002 for hockey.

- One thing apparent from the games Allen and Idaho have played in the regular season and the first two playoff games is these teams are evenly matched. They have played a total of six times (regular season and playoffs) and each team has won three games with two games being decided in extra time. Allen has scored a total of 16 goals, Idaho has 15 goals. Shots are 169-160 in favor of Allen. Despite both teams having excellent penalty kill units (ranked #2 & #3),  both teams have done well on the power play. Allen is 6-19 (31.6%) and Idaho is 5-26 (19.2%). The Idaho number includes one game where they were 1-9. Exclude that game and they are 4-17 (23.5%) on the power play against the Americans.

- The bottom line is you can expect the series to be close and momentum to go back and forth. Would expect at least one of the games in Boise to go to overtime.

- It will be interesting to see what players travel to Idaho tomorrow. With a three game series it makes sense to have all hands on deck in case of injury so you would assume everyone will travel that is healthy with the exception of goalies. Pretty sure just two goalies will make the trip. Heard the team will travel in two groups to Boise with one flight leaving early in the morning and one in the afternoon. Would assume the rookies will have the early wake up call.


- Congrats to the San Jose Barracuda who beat Stockton last night in the last game of the season to qualify for the playoffs. Aaron Dell led the way for the Barracuda with a 41 save shutout as San Jose won the game 6-0.

- It is nice to see the entire San Jose organization (Sharks, Barracuda, Americans) in the playoffs. The Barracuda take on division leader Ontario in the first round. Game one is April 21st and it is a best of five series with game five scheduled for May 1st. I share those dates for those of you on Nikita Jevpalovs watch.

- It is great for playoff hockey that the San Jose Sharks are taking on the Los Angeles Kings in the first round. They have one of the best rivalries in the NHL. Now their AHL affiliates will play each other in the first round as the Ontario Reign take on the San Jose Barracuda. If you are wondering about the ECHL affiliates meeting in the playoffs it is possible but it would have to be in the Kelly Cup final. The Kings ECHL affiliate is Manchester who plays in the Eastern Conference and of course, Allen is the ECHL affiliate of the Sharks and play in the Western Conference. Both teams are in the playoffs so it is possible even if it isn't probable. Manchester trails 3-0 in their first round series against Adirondack.

- It was quite a night last night for former Allen American Darryl Bootland who led his team to a 5-4, three overtime victory in Colorado over the Utah Grizzlies. Bootland scored the go ahead goal for the Eagles in the third period only to have Utah tie the score later in the period to send the game to overtime. "Booter" then scored the game winner at 2:31 of the third overtime. For his efforts, Bootland was awarded the #1 star of the game. It was a critical win for the Eagles as they evened the series 1-1 and head to Utah for the next three games.

- In the only other playoff action last night,  Missouri beat Quad City 2-1 to take a 2-0 lead in the series. They now go to Quad City for the next three games. The #8 seed Mallards have given the top seed Mavericks all they can handle in the first two games. Quad City has out shot Missouri in both games and has a 70-52 shot advantage. Despite the courageous effort by the Mallards this series looks like it will be a short one. In case you forgot, the winner of this series will take on the winner of the Allen vs Idaho series in the next round.

- After getting off to a horrible 0-7 start the home teams have made quite a comeback. However, the away teams still have a winning record and are 10-7 thus far in the playoffs. Three teams (Kalamazoo, Fort Wayne, Manchester) went 0-2 at home.

DID YOU KNOW: The Idaho Steelheads are named for a species of seagoing rainbow trout native to Idaho streams and rivers and popular with local anglers. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Allen Evens Series With Idaho, Martinson's Post Game Comments, McClelland Out in Wichita & More

After game one, coach Steve Martinson said the Allen Americans needed to play smarter, create more traffic in front of Idaho goalie Philippe Desrosiers and make better decisions when on the power play to win game two. Mission accomplished as Allen beat Idaho Saturday night by a score of 3-1 before an enthusiastic crowd of 4825 at the Allen Event Center (AEC). The Americans evened the best of seven series at 1-1 and head to Boise on Tuesday for the next three games (Wednesday, Friday, Sarturday). Puck drop will be at 8:10 pm (Allen time) for all three games.

- Allen scored first at the 17:54 mark of the opening period as Gary Steffes scored his second goal of the playoffs on a great pass from Vincent Arseneau. Scoring the first goal is always a good sign as the Americans win 85% of games when they score first. Allen made the score 2-0 early in the second period on a power play goal by Casey Pierro-Zabotel. Chad Costello had an assist on the goal which was the 21st game in a row in which Chad had an assist. It doesn't count towards the all time record (which is 20) because the last two games of the streak have been in the playoffs.

- Idaho got on the board late in the second period and Allen took a 2-1 lead into intermission. The Americans re-established their two goal lead (3-1) when Pierro-Zabotel scored his second goal of the game at the 7:32 mark of the third period. Officially, the goal was scored at the exact time an Idaho penalty expired but that may get changed as the penalty had not expired when the puck went in the net. Allen played solid defense the rest of the game and the Steelheads could not generate any quality shots even when they pulled their goalie at the end of the game.

- Allen out shot Idaho 34-22 for the game and 11-5 in the critical third period. In the first two games the Americans have out shot Idaho 71-46.

- The Americans will get a well deserved day off today (Sunday) even though there will be ice available for those that wish to skate. There will be a full practice on Monday and then the team flies to Boise on Tuesday.


- I liked the way we played in the third period after we turned the puck over a few times in the last part of the second period. We let them get back in the game a little bit in the second period but in the third period we stopped turning over pucks, got the puck low, and avoided sending pucks into the slot that were kind of hope plays. The way we played in the third period is the way we need to keep playing.

- Our power play was much better tonight. The last goal should have been scored a power play goal which put us 2-4 on the night.

- We need to drive to the outside and get guys to the net. That is what Arseneau did on the Steffes goal. We need more of that. That was a great goal and I really liked that play.

- Riley Gill was good in goal tonight. I will have a discussion with Thomas Speer (goalie coach) but I expect to play Gill in Idaho on Wednesday. Usually what I do in the playoffs is if you win and even if you lose and play good you get another start. The loss in game one was not Hildebrand's fault but Gill has worked really hard to get himself ready to play and I thought tonight was a good opportunity to get Riley in a game.

- It helped having Eric Roy back in the lineup tonight. He has a good stick, he is steady, he doesn't throw pucks away and he doesn't gamble. Eric has become a solid all around defenseman. He is a good player and he always has a smile on his face.

- I switch up the defensive pairings based on the situation. There is a lot of strategy on who I play together and who I play in different situations. That is why you don't always see the same guys together.


- After starting the playoffs going 0-7 the home teams fared much better last night going 5-2. Three teams have dug themselves a big hole. Manchester is the #3 seed in the east but trails #6 Adirondack 3-0 with game four in Adirondack on Monday. The #2 seed in the east is South Carolina, who has to play the first three games of the series on the road in Kalamazoo because their building isn't available. The Stingrays lead the series 2-0 with game three on Monday. In the west, the #2 seed is Fort Wayne who lost twice at home to #7 seed Cincinnati. Fort Wayne now heads to Cincinnati for the next three games trailing 0-2 in the series. All of the other series are tied 1-1 with the exception of  #1 seed Missouri who has a 1-0 lead over #8 seed Quad City. They play game two this afternoon (Sunday).

- Wichita has parted ways with coach Kevin McClelland who has been the Thunder coach for six years. He took the team to the Central Hockey League finals in 2012 and 2013. The 2013 loss to Allen in overtime in game seven after having a 2-0 lead with just over 12 minutes remaining in the  game,  was particularly disappointing for the Thunder. Wichita has not made the playoffs since 2013 and had the worst record in the ECHL this season. Here is the complete story as reported by Jeffrey Lutz of the Wichita Eagle which includes some interesting quotes from owner Rodney Steven.

- The Allan Cup is the trophy awarded annually to the national senior amateur men’s ice hockey champions of Canada. The Bentley Generals just won the Allan Cup beating the South East Prairie Thunder 4-3 in overtime in the final. Former Allen player Ian Schultz plays for Bentley and scored a power play goal in the third period to send the game to overtime. Congrats to Ian and his teammates. Here is the complete story from the Winnipeg Free Press:

Here are some photos from the game last night courtesy of Lauren Lyssy:

Here are some photos courtesy of

DID YOU KNOW: The Americans are playing in their 11th series under coach Steve Martinson. It is well documented that Allen often loses the first game of a series. Here is Allen's record for the first four games in all playoff series since Steve Martinson has been coach:

Game 1:   3-8
Game 2:   10-1
Game 3:   6-4
Game 4:   7-3