Monday, May 30, 2016


COME FROM BEHIND..................WELL, ALMOST!



While Barry is on vacation, the views contained in this blog do not represent Barry, or those of the Allen Americans Organization.

It will take a long time for the large crowd (5540) to forget what they witnessed in the third period of the Allen vs Wheeling 2nd playoff game.  The down and almost out Americans did not quit the game that they were barely playing in. After the second intermission, Allen came back to the ice with a "will give it our best effort" attitude, one which they should have had in the first two periods. Their efforts began and as it started raining outside, it was raining goals inside the arena. Allen fought their way back into the game from a 7-1 deficit and with 9:57 left to play in the third, the score was now 7-6.  The arena was alive and most were sitting on pins and needles in anticipation to see if their team would even up the score and force overtime, or, even better, score 2 more and make a great come from behind victory.   Neither of those two options came to fruition as RED lost by the score of 7-6.  We can all hope that they will take this momentum onto the bus and on the ice in Wheeling. And, yes, we will not soon forget this valiant effort.


And he scores!
(courtesy of scenebyKimberly.com)

The Nailers wasted no time getting on the scoreboard scoring the first 5 goals of the game. They came out fast, physical, and outplayed the Americans in 2 periods.  They dominated special teams play, scoring on 3 power plays and a short handed empty net goal, which proved to be the game winner. Allen was able to narrow the gap in third scoring 5 unanswered goals, narrowing the gap to 7-6.
Game highlights can be viewed in the rewind section of the ECHL website:http://www.echl.com/


Oh no, not again!
(courtesy of Dianne Webster)

It is noteworthy that in 2 consecutive games, the Nailers scored on what appears to be more than just coincidence.  They scored a goal in each game by making a 1 man line change away from the action in the Allen end.  In both instances the substituted Nailer player tallied a goal immediately after the change.

Fun facts about last night game (if there could be anything fun about last night's game):

  • last night's 13 combined goals, tied the record for the Riley/Kelly Cup finals
  • a total of 22 players scored points: 11 for Wheeling, 11 for Allen
  • total of 12 players scored goals, 7-Wheeling, 5-Allen
  • game winning goal came on a second period empty netter
  • each team had a stretch of 5 unanswered goals, Wheeling the first 5, followed by Allen with next 5
  • Greger Hanson extended his playoff leading goals with his 12th goal
  • Gary Steffes also extended his points streak to 7 games

Going to Kelly's after the game?

Coach Martinson's post game comments:
  • did not see third period coming, the first two periods were the worst I can remember
  • third period is all on our players, they decided to play, only thing I said was "go win a period"
  • we surrendered too many 1 timers
  • we failed to block passing lanes 
  • the ending was great, but not quite great enough
  • you can't dig yourself out of that big of a hole
  • came out in third period and didn't fold, did everything we could to win the game
  • Riley Gill will be back on Wednesday, getting Gill back will be a big plus
  • there will be some painful video and some fun stuff to watch
  • will be leaving for Wheeling, by bus, tomorrow afternoon
  • this is going to be a tough series

It was great seeing one of Allen's all time favorites, Daniel Tetrault, in the house for these first two playoff games.


Come home Tetsy!
(photo courtesy of social media)


Wednesday night game Preview:

  • Special teams again will probably determine the outcome of the next game.
  • Wheeling's home power play percentage is 19.6 (22.6 overall)
  • Allen's road power play percentage is 25.6 (27.6 overall).
  • On the other side, Wheeling penalty kill percentage is 81.3 at home (85.7% overall) while Allen is 79.5 on the road and overall.
  • Allen is #1 and Wheeling #2 in overall power play records of the playoffs.
  • When being outshot by opponents, Allen is 4-1-0-0 on the road, and 8-2-0-0 overall.



Did you know:Wheeling's name and logo are a tribute to the city's heritage.  The city is nicknamed the "Nail City" and had a cut nail plant located south of the arena. Their logo mask is not a hockey mask but a mask worn by employees in the cut nail factory.





Sunday, May 29, 2016




ONE DOWN, THREE TO GO FOR "FOURPEAT"


While Barry is on vacation, the views contained in this blog do not represent Barry, or those of the Allen Americans Organization.

THIS IS OUR HOUSE!


Before a crowd of 5,625 enthusiastic fans, the Allen Americans started the game off on the right skate, and started the quest of winning their fourth consecutive championship.  Will they make history this year?  That will be determined upon their efforts in the next few games.  Allen needs to win 3 more games in order to keep the Kelly Cup in their (our) possession.

Game highlights can be viewed on ECHL website: http://www.echl.com/ under the rewind section. 

Although not recognized as one of the three stars of the game, Spencer Asuchak and Casey Pierro-Zabotel spent most of the night in front of the net screening Wheeling's goalie Brian Foster. This pair also won a number of critical faceoffs. 

Both teams were 2-4 on the power play, however, Wheeling did their damage in the third period. We must all remember this team is a dangerous 3rd period team! 

There were a total of 8 penalties called in the game: 5 in the first period, 1 in the second, and 2 in the third.  

With this win, Allen Goalie Jake Hildebrand has a SV% above 90 (.906).  

With this victory Allen leads all playoff teams in winning percentage (.684).
Allen now has 3 consecutive playoff wins.

With their goals last night, Greger Hanson is on a three game goal streak, and Gary Steffes is on a 6 game point streak.



Coach Martinson's post-game comments:
  • Started slow in the first period, gave up the puck too much and forcing too many passes on the power play
  • good to get shorthanded goal back with the power play goal
  • I can't remember the last time we were penalized for too many men on the ice
  • It is going to be a battle tomorrow
  • Tristan King took Dave Makowski's place in the power play, don't want to make too many changes to our power play
  • we were better tonight with puck possession
  • Always good to get first win, it is like scoring the first goal, but it is not as good as winning the last game
  • our conversion of two on ones has not been great
  • the most important thing is we outplayed them tonight, we won the game, and we should have won the game
  • there are things we want to do better tomorrow, we have to learn from our mistakes tonight
  • Wheeling has some skilled forwards and some skilled players, they were basically what we expected

Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie has thrown down the gauntlet to Allen Mayor Steven Terrell and can be viewed here:
http://wtov9.com/news/local/wheeling-mayor-issues-challenge-to-allen-tx-mayor
We anxiously await Mayor Terrell's response!


Thanks to Staffwriter, Patrick Hayslip from the Denton Record-Chronicle for providing coverage of game one.  Hope to see you the rest of the playoffs.  The article can be read at the following:

Many thanks to the Dallas Morning News
Staff Columnist Rick Gosselin for his continued support,  His blog can be read at the following:

Hockey is certainly not a game for the meek.....
(courtesy of Dianne Webster)
or the mild!
(courtesy of scenebyKimberly.com)

Game preview:

Allen will need to keep to their game, and stay out of the penalty box. 

Winners of game 2 of the Kelly Cup finals, have gone on to win the Kelly Cup 20 times vs. 7 losses.  This proves that we need to put forth a serious effort in tonights' game.



Did you know:  There are 22 NCAA schools represented on the combined rosters of Allen and Wheeling.


Friday, May 27, 2016



YOUR DEFENDING KELLY CUP CHAMPIONS VS. WHEELING NAILERS

While Barry is on vacation, the views contained in this blog do not represent Barry, or those of the Allen Americans Organization.


Please note the time change for Saturday night!

Finally, after three playoff series, the championship opponents are set. The important thing now is the Americans keep their eye on the prize.

We will not let you "COME AND TAKE IT"

One can be sure that the Nailers will come out strong as they have not competed for the Kelly Cup since 1993.

The Nailers emerged victorious Tuesday night in the final game against South Carolina, scoring first and scoring 3 goals in the first 5 minutes of the third period to decisively defeat the Stingrays 5-2. The Nailers became the first team in ECHL postseason history to win games 6 and 7 of a series on the road.

The Nailers started in the ECHL in 1988 as the Carolina Thunderbirds of Winston-Salem North Carolina.  Wheeling Head Coach Jeff Christian is serving in an interim capacity.  He is the third head coach for the Nailers this season.  Long time coach Clark Donatelli began the season as the head coach but left when he was promoted to head coach for the Nailers AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins in late December.  Donatelli was replaced by Dave Gove, an assistant coach, as interim head coach.  In late April Grove took a personal leave of absence and Christian was named interim head coach.  Christian joined the Nailers in late January as an assistant coach.  Christian served as a player-assistant coach for the Missouri Mavericks in 2010.
 

Comparing the players of the two teams:
  • The average age, height, and weight for Wheeling are 24.36 yrs, 6'0" and 191 lbs, respectively.
  • The average age, height, and weight for Allen respectively: 25.27 yrs, 6;0", and 197lbs.

Wheeling players have accounted for 498 games of AHL experience, and for Allen it is 538 games.

The Nailer's scoring leaders are:

#23. Riley Brace - 5 goals, 15 assists and 20 points
#18. Mathew Malone - 5 goals, 14 assists and 19 points 
#24. Rookie Ty Loney - 6 goals, 7 assists and 13 points
#25. Rookie John McCarron - 8 goals, 10 assists and 18 points
#11. Rookie Cody Wydo - 8 goals, 9 assists and 17 points.

They have also acquired  #16, Derek Army, with 3 goals and 5 assists (Derek is also on the Texas Stars roster).

Rookies Loney, McCarron, and Wydo are having outstanding playoffs. Amongst rookies for the playoffs, these three Nailers rank:
  • 1st, 3rd, and 4th in points 
  • 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in goals
  • 2nd and 4th in assists
  • 1st, 2nd, 3rd in total shots

Allen scorers -
#13. Chad Costello - 4 goals, 20 assists and 24 points
#10. David Makowski - 5 goals, 14 assists and 19 points
#15. Greger Hanson - 11 goals, 6 assists and 17 points
#7.   Eric Roy - 3 goals, 12 assists and 15 points
#18. Casey Pierro-Zabotel - 7 goals, 4 assists and 11 points
#12.  Gary Steffes - 7 goals, 4 assists and 11 points
#16.  Vincent Arseneau - 6 goals, 5 assists and 11 points

Goalies for the Nailers are Frank Palazzese who has played 8 games since coming from the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Penguins.  He has a 2.34 GAA and .909 SV%. Also Brian Foster who has played 13 games with a 2.60 GAA, and .916 SV%. Foster is also from Scranton Wilkes-Barre Penguins.  Foster has won 8 games and Palazzese 4.

These teams when scoring first has Allen at 9-1 and Wheeling is 5-2.

Wheeling has scored more than 40% of their goals in the third period despite having  an almost equal number of shots per period.  The third period could prove critical to the Americans.

Special teams will be a key factor in this series as Allen leads the playoffs at 26.6% overall in the power play (27.5% at home) while Wheeling's penalty kill leads the playoffs at 87.6%, ( a remarkable 93.9% on the road).

Wheeling PIMs average 14.25, Allen's is 13.56.

Wheeling's road playoff record is 6-4-0-0
Allen's home playoff record is 7-3-0-0

As always it will be imperative for Allen not to take the bait for penalties and stick to their game avoiding unnecessary penalties. They have to play smart and, if they do that, your champs will successfully defend the cup.

Our next blog post will be Sunday with post game reviews.



Did you know:  Prince George Cougars general manager Todd Harkins acknowledged  he has met with former NHL defenseman and current head coach for the Missouri Mavericks, Richard Matvichuk, about the team's head coaching vacancy.
Prince George, located about 720 miles N. of Vancouver, plays in the Western Conference of the WHL.





Monday, May 23, 2016

Western Conference Champions....YOUR ALLEN AMERICANS, win in 5 games!

While Barry is on vacation, the views contained in this blog do not represent Barry, or those of the Allen Americans Organization.

"Been there, done that AGAIN"
(photo courtesy of scenebyKimberly)

We think most of us all had a great feeling about the game last night.  We all knew that the boys did not want to mount Big Red and head off to Fort Wayne. Mission accomplished in front of a crowd of boisterous fans (4634)!  Most of us thought it would be a hefty win, but that would not be the case as the Fort Wayne Komets, captained by Jaime Schaffsma would go down fighting, That, in fact, they did.  Hats off to Fort Wayne for challenging our team and only making us stronger going into the Kelly Cup Finals.


The Americans are the fifth defending champions to return to the finals in the ECHL's 28 year history.  They are the first returning champs in the last 22 years. 

Fort Wayne outshot the Americans 172-131 for the series.  However, on the power play, Allen was 8 of 24 (30%), and Fort Wayne was 3 of 20 (15%).  The Komets were bragging on their even strength goals being better than Allen, but the series proved differently as Allen and Fort Wayne were tied at 13. Allen leads the league for playoff points (24) and winning percentage (.667).

Last night's starting goalie for Fort Wayne, rookie Spencer Martin, was playing his first game in over 6 weeks.  


Allen players lead the playoffs in:
  • points - Chad Costello (24)
  • goals - Greger Hansen (11)
  • assists - Costello (20)
  • power play goals  - Hansen, Casey Pierro-Zabotel (5)
  • power play assists - Costello (13)
  • power play points - Costello (16)
Amongst defensemen, David Makowski leads the league playoffs in points (19), power play goals (3), power play assists (10), and power play points (13).

For the rookies, Eric Roy leads the playoffs with points (15), assists (12), and power play points (7).

These above statistics show how well we are coming together as a playoff team.




Coach Martinson's post game comments:
  • I did not like the start but I certainly like the outcome!
  • We are back in the finals, pretty proud of the guys and how they played 
  • Veteran players made significant contributions
  • It is good to have goalies who can step in when the starting goalie goes down
  • Two things I hate about this game is travel, and having to sit players out
  • Balancing defensemen with left shots and right shots is something I have to consider when determining who plays and who sits
  • We had better goaltending and better special teams
  • Our goalie was screened on both first period goals
  • Killing the 5 on 3 was huge
  • It is my daughter's birthday today, and I have not seen her yet (Happy Belated Birthday from the Allen fans)

Lauren Lyssy, one of our very talented photographers, captures Allen's regular season into a video.  Thank you for compiling Lauren, so much fun to look back.


Some photos from last night's game:

Hey Coach, is this enough traffic in front of the net?
(courtesy of Dianne Webster)


Ouch, that hurt Jamie!  Danny Federico being high-sticked!
(courtesy of Dianne Webster)


Two former American's captains meet at mid ice;
(courtesy of Lauren Lyssy)


A special shout out to Ben Seagert and Mike Campos for traveling from Lafayette Louisiana.  It was great seeing you again.  Mike Campos is Sin Bin Icegators.

Mike Campos

The next blog will be finals pre-game when the winner of the South Carolina/Wheeling series is determined.



Did you know: The Bruce Taylor Trophy, is named in recognition of Bruce Taylor who was the founding father of the West Coast Hockey League in 1995.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Allen Wins 6-5 in OT, The Comeback of Comebacks, Coaches Comments, Fort Wayne Stories & More



It was one for the ages as the Allen Americans defeated the Fort Wayne Komets 6-5 in overtime last night before 5602 zealous fans at the Allen Event Center (AEC). Allen erased a 5-2 Fort Wayne lead with three unanswered goals in the third period to send the game to overtime.  There have been plenty of playoff comebacks by the Americans over the years. After all, the overtime win last night was the eighth straight in the playoffs for Allen dating back to the CHL championship in 2014. Other than the comeback in game seven of the 2013 championship when Allen scored two goals in the third period after trailing Wichita 2-0, tied the game with just over two minutes remaining and won the game and championship in overtime, the comeback last night was the most dramatic in franchise history. The win gives the Americans a 3-1 lead in the series.

- It was an unlikely trio that figured in the overtime game winner. Three of the hardest working players on the team are Dyson Stevenson, J. P. LaFontaine and Danny Federico, but combined they scored just 14 goals all season. It was especially gratifying to see them be the heroes with the game winning goal. Stevenson could have shot the puck but made a great pass to LaFontaine who was able to get the puck past the defenseman who was dropping down to block the shot. It was a fitting end to a historical comeback.

- Allen got the victory despite not playing their best hockey. Turnovers in the neutral zone led to many quality Fort Wayne opportunities and odd man rushes. When the Komets took a 5-2 lead midway through the second period coach Martinson made a goalie change, inserting Jake Hildebrand for Riley Gill. It was as much about a momentum change as anything as the goals Gill allowed were defensive breakdowns more than anything.

- Right after he entered the game, Hildebrand was called on to make some big saves as the Komets had back to back five on three power plays. If Fort Wayne had scored at that point it would have given them a 6-2 lead and probably no comeback would have happened. Allen's penalty kill was good all game as the Komets were 1-6 on the power play.

- Fort Wayne certainly made the comeback easier for Allen by taking some untimely, undisciplined penalties at the end of the second period and early in the third period that resulted in two power play goals for the Americans.

- Allen was able to score in a lot of ways as there were pretty goals, ugly goals, set play goals, power play goals and blasts from outside. Goals scorers from Allen were Makowski (3&4), King (4), Hanson (10), and LaFontaine (1).

- Allen rarely loses a game when they score first and win the special teams battle. They accomplished both again last night. The Americans were 3-6 on the power play and raised their playoff leading power play percentage to 25.3%. How good is the Allen power play? The top four players in power play points in the playoffs are all from Allen. Costello (15 points), Makowski (11 points), Hanson (8 points and Pierro-Zabotel (7 points).



POST GAME COMMENTS

-  Assistant coach Jason Deitsch met with the season ticket holders after the game. Coach Martinson told me it was a great win so he thought it would be a good time to have Jason talk to the season ticket holders. Here are some of Jason's comments:

- The first period wasn't bad but the second period was difficult. Being down 5-2 going into the third period was tough. The one thing about our team is we have scored three goals in a period many times and that is the only thing we talked about.

- It helped knowing we had a power play going into the third period. We knew scoring on that power play and cutting the deficit to two goals would be huge. Everyone believed and we sucked it up, made plays and made it happen.

- Switching out the goalies on the power play was to give the power play guys a bit of a rest. Not many coaches do that but Martinson uses that move often. Getting an extra 15-20 seconds of rest can mean a lot for the power play unit.

- Going down 3-1 in a series is tough but to lose after being up 5-2 and having all of that momentum is deflating for any team. Fort Wayne has skilled forwards, beat us on Thursday and could have won tonight. I don't see them changing how they attack us. We need to learn from this game and limit the turnovers that lead to odd man rushes.

- I had the chance to talk to coach Martinson after the game and while he was pleased with the outcome of the game he was not happy with all of the neutral ice turnovers that led to odd man rushes. You can look for even more emphasis in getting the puck in deep when there isn't a play at the blue line. Getting the puck down low and challenging the defense is the best chance for success. When I asked Martinson what he said to the team after the game he said, "I told them they have the heart of a champion." You can never underestimate the heart of a champion.


STORIES FROM THE FORT WAYNE PAPERS:

"K's squander huge lead, lose in OT".....http://www.journalgazette.net/blog/ice-chips/K-s-squander-huge-lead--lose-in-OT-13179517

"After loss, K's still have faith".....http://www.journalgazette.net/blog/ice-chips/After-loss--K-s-still-have-faith-13181261

"Allen didn't like Komets' celebrations".....http://www.journalgazette.net/blog/ice-chips/Allen-didn-t-like-Komets--celebrations-13181439 

"Goalie decision looms large for Americans" - this story is about who is in goal today. Not sure it is a tough decision for coach Martinson as his philosophy is, if you win you play. Would be surprised if Jake Hildebrand isn't in goal today.  http://www.journalgazette.net/blog/ice-chips/Allen-didn-t-like-Komets--celebrations-13181439

"Komets feel Texas heat".....http://www.journalgazette.net/sports/professional/komets/Komets-feel-Texas-heat-13180307

Komets fall apart in third period, lose in overtime".....http://www.news-sentinel.com/sports/komets/Komets-fall-apart-in-third--lose-in-overtime



GAME PREVIEW


- It will be a quick turnaround for all involved with a 4:05 CDT puck drop for game five between Allen and Fort Wayne. The formula for success for both teams is well established at this point. Allen wants to avoid all of the neutral ice turnovers and get the puck in deep and make the Komet defensemen turn for the puck. Fort Wayne wants to avoid penalties and play a five on five game where they feel they have an advantage. It sounds like a simple strategy that would be easy to execute but that has not proven to be the case for both teams.

- There will certainly be roster changes for both teams especially given the quick turnaround. I would expect to see Jake Hildebrand in goal for Allen. Aaron Gens played in his first game in almost three months last night. Playing again today might be a tough ask so you might see Aaron rested today. Spencer Asuchak is day to day but the way he plays the game, with a lot of hitting, I would expect he will not be in the lineup.

- There are a lot of trends happening after the first four games of this series. The team that has scored first has won all four games, Allen has not out shot Fort Wayne in any of their three wins, the visiting team is 3-1 in the series, and the only game the Komets have won is when they took fewer penalties than the Americans.

- Allen has certainly made the most of their power play opportunities in this series. After last night the Americans are 6-20 (30%) on the power play while holding Fort Wayne to 2-16 (12.5%). The only game Allen lost (game three) they did not have a power play goal. It is a pretty straight forward proposition if the Americans wins the special teams battle they should win the game today.

-  The referees scheduled today are Stephen Reneau (#17) and Peter MacDougall (#26). The linesmen will be Charlie O'Connor (#43) and Brent Hooks (#61).


OTHER COMMENTS

- As is the case with most seven game series, the players, coaches, fans, writers and bloggers from both sides feel the referees are horrible and favor the other team. It is the reason I rarely write about the officiating in this blog. Yes, the officials make mistakes, sometimes in your favor and sometime not. Most penalties are based on judgement and we are all experts in our own opinion. The best teams are those that understand you play the game as called and you have to be good enough to overcome those calls you disagree with. As a player, focusing on things you have no control of, like penalty calls, is not helpful. Let the coaches deal with that.

- South Carolina took control of the Eastern Conference final by beating Wheeling last night by a score of 3-1. The Stingrays won two of three in Wheeling and head home for the final two games with a 3-2 series lead. Would be surprised if South Carolina didn't make it to the Kelly Cup final for the second straight year. Game six takes place tomorrow (Monday) with game seven, if necessary on Tuesday.

- Chad Costello had four assists in the game last night and now leads the ECHL in playoff scoring with  22 points (4 goals 22 assists). Teams do everything they can to stop him but with little success. Scoring a point a game is a high standard in hockey. Chad has averaged over an assist per game in the playoffs.

- The Americans have won three games in this series and each win was won by a different goalie. (Gill, Rumpel, Hildebrand). A real oddity in playoff hockey.


CELEBRATION PHOTOS

Highest celly jump goes to Eric Roy - photo by Dianne Webster

The thrill of victory - photo by scenebykimberly.com

Lee Hastings interviews the hero & #1 star J.P. LaFontaine - photo by Lauren Lyssy



DID YOU KNOW: In the history of the NHL in seven game series, in the semifinals of the playoffs, when a team has a 3-1 lead and started the playoffs on the road, the record for winning the series is 24-0.


This will be my last blog post for the rest of the playoffs as I will be heading out tomorrow for my annual two week fishing trip to Minnesota and Canada (Ontario). As usual, Ted Hosterman and Mary Betz will fill in while I am gone. They do a terrific job with the blog and I am thankful for their help. They won't be posting every day but game previews, game recaps along with some special interviews will keep them busy.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Allen vs Fort Wayne Game Four Preview, Stories From The Other Side, Playoff Attendance & More

It is game day in Allen as the Americans take on the Fort Wayne Komets in game four of their best of seven series. It seems like every game is critical in this series but tonight really is important as Allen either takes a commanding 3-1 series lead or they squander the 2-0 lead they built by taking the first two games in Fort Wayne and are tied with the Komets 2-2.


- Coach Martinson said after the game on Thursday there would be roster changes for the game tonight. Riley Gill, Aaron Gens, Matt Register, Tristan King and Justin Courtnall sat out on Thursday. Will Riley Gill and Tristan King be back in the lineup after injures have kept them out? Will Aaron Gens get his first start since breaking his ankle in March? Will Justin Courtnall be back in the lineup to bring toughness and help with the penalty kill. Will Matt Register be back in the lineup to help with the power play? The best bets are Gill and King are back but there might be a surprise or two when Martinson makes up his line up card this afternoon. He doesn't make the final decisions until late in the day as he has learned over his many years of coaching that injury and illness can strike at any time.

- The statistical totals after three games show Allen outscoring Fort Wayne 9-7 but the Komets lead in shots 88-76. Allen has taken 20 penalties for 52 minutes while Fort Wayne has taken 25 penalties for 62 minutes. Allen is 3-14 (21.4%) on the power play and the Komets are 1-10 (10.0%). Fort Wayne has outscored the Americans 6-4 when the teams have been at even strength.


- After being called for nine penalties in game one and 14 penalties in game two the Komets had just two penalties in game three. Was this drastic reduction in penalties caused by the way Fort Wayne played or the way the referees called the game. It was probably a combination of both. I talked to several players and they were all in agreement the referees let a lot of stuff go in game three that would normally be called penalties.



- The following is how Allen and Fort Wayne rank among the four remaining playoff teams in some statistical categories considering just the playoff game results:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 4th (13.56) - Fort Wayne 2nd (15.57)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 4th (2.75) - Fort Wayne 1st (3.50)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 2nd (2.38) - Fort Wayne 3rd (2.43)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 4th (29.50) - Fort Wayne 1st (34.93)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 3rd (29.06) - Fort Wayne 2nd (26.93)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 1st (23.2%) - Fort Wayne 2nd (19.7%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 4th (84.6%) - Fort Wayne 3rd (87.5%)
Plus/Minus: Allen 3rd (-5) - Fort Wayne 2nd (+52)


- The team that has scored first has won the first three games and the odds are that will happen again tonight. A fast start is important to both teams along with who performs the best on special teams.

- Leading scorers for Allen in the series are Gary Steffes (3 goals 2 assists) and Chad Costello (1 goal 3 assists). Fort Wayne has three players with two goals (Bourke, Cheek, Embach) and Southhorn leads with three assists.

- The referees scheduled for the game are Peter MacDougall (#26) and Nic Leduc (#14). The linesmen are Charlie O'Connor (#43) and Brent Hooks (#61).


STORIES FROM THE OTHER SIDE

- Here are some stories from Fort Wayne beat writers Justin Cohn and Blake Sebring:

"Komets' defense stepped up".....http://www.journalgazette.net/blog/ice-chips/Komets--defense-stepped-up-13152477

"Corbett solid at both ends in return to ice".....http://www.journalgazette.net/sports/professional/komets/Corbett-solid--at-both-ends-in--return-to-ice-13152436

"Avoiding retaliation penalties vital to Komets".....http://www.journalgazette.net/sports/professional/komets/Avoiding-retaliation-penalties-vital-to-K-s-13152320

"Komets Notes: A second title would mean even more to Nagle".....http://www.news-sentinel.com/sports/komets/Komets-notes--A-second-title-would-mean-even-more-to-Nagle

"Komets' Schaafsma feeling the love in Allen".....http://www.news-sentinel.com/sports/komets/Komets--Schaafsma-feeling-the-love-in-Allen



OTHER COMMENTS

- The South Carolina Stingrays beat the Wheeling Nailers last night to even the series 2-2 in the Eastern Conference final. This series should be called the "third period comeback series" as that has happened in the last three games. After having it done to them twice by Wheeling, last night it was the Stingrays turn. South Carolina scored three unanswered goals in the third period to come away with a 4-2 win. Here are the details courtesy of Andrew Miller: http://www.postandcourier.com/20160520/160529821/stingrays-rally-for-4-2-victory-over-wheeling-even-series-2-2

- The Western Conference finalists (Allen & Fort Wayne) have had much better attendance during the playoffs than the Eastern Conference finalists (South Carolina & Wheeling). The combined average attendance for the Western Conference finalists is 10,302 and for the Eastern Conference it is only 5378. Fort Wayne has a higher average playoff attendance (5457) than South Carolina and Wheeling combined. 




DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans have had different goalies of record in the first three games of the Western Conference final. Riley Gill won the first game, Joel Rumpel won the second game and Jake Hildebrand took the loss in game three. Wonder the last time that has happened?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Komets Beat Allen 2-1, Game Recap, Martinson Comments, Fort Wayne Media Stories & More

The Allen Americans lost 2-1 to the Fort Wayne Komets last night before a crowd of 5075 at the Allen Event Center (AEC). It was a case of soulda, coulda, woulda for the American as they gave up the first two goals of the game, were out shot 37-28, were penalized more, and missed numerous opportunities to score. Allen still leads the best of seven series 2-1 with home games on Saturday and Sunday.

- The Komets were led by forward Mike Embach who had both Fort Wayne goals. Embach, who played for Steve Martinson in 2011-12 (Chicago Express), scored at the beginning of the first period (4:11) and the end of the second period (19:18). Embach missed an open net from about 25 feet after Allen had pulled the goalie. He not only missed the hat trick but the puck caromed around the boards and gave Allen one last opportunity to score.

- It appeared as if the Komets had taken a 3-0 lead in the third period but the goal was disallowed when the referee ruled that Jamie Schaafsma had made incidental contact with goalie Jake Hildebrand. The rules states, "If an attacking player initiates any contact with the goalkeeper, incidental or otherwise, while the goalkeeper is in the crease, the goal will be disallowed."

- When Gary Steffes knocked in a rebound midway through the third period and cut the score to 2-1 it breathed fresh air into the team and the fans. It was Gary's third goal and fifth point of the series. While Allen had opportunities, they could not get the equalizer even after pulling goalie Jake Hildebrand.

- The game was every bit as physical as the first two games in the series but the referees seemed to take a "let them play" attitude. Fort Wayne took 23 penalties in the first two games but were called for just two last night and one was a coincidental penalty. Allen was 0-1 on the power play. The Komets were 0-4.

- Both teams can use a day of rest before resuming battle on Saturday. Alex Belzile and Shawn Sydlowski  needed help from the trainer to get off the ice after play was stopped because they were hurt. Spencer Asuchak and Vincent Arseneau went to the bench hurt for Allen. Everyone but Asuchak continued to play. Spencer left the ice after his injury and came back in the third period to give it a go but left the ice again and did not return.



STEVE MARTINSON'S POST GAME COMMENTS

- I don't think we had the same jump tonight. Some guys weren't on their A game. I will make a couple of changes for Saturday night to get more speed in the lineup.

-  We had a couple of open nets, the goalie made some great saves and we didn't get the puck upstairs. We had pucks around the crease, we just need to get them in the net.

- We didn't get a lot of chances because they are defending pretty hard but we didn't make the most of the chances we had.

- I thought Hildebrand made some good saves in the game. I didn't think our goalie cost us the game at all. 

- Our penalty kill has been good. The only power play goal they have was a four on three when our penalty killer was in the box. The haven't scored on a five on four power play yet.

- We have to start better on Saturday night. We have to play hungrier and this time of year when you get opportunities you have to make them. That is the difference in the game. They scored on their opportunities, we did not.


OTHER COMMENTS


- It is always interesting to see the game reports from the other side and with the great coverage from the Fort Wayne media there is always plenty to read. Here are a few examples:

"Embach's 2 goals lead K's to win".....http://www.journalgazette.net/blog/ice-chips/Embach-s-2-goals-lead-K-s-to-win-13148710

"Komets were different tonight".....http://www.journalgazette.net/blog/ice-chips/Komets-were-different-tonight-13149973

"Embach gets Komets back in it".....http://www.journalgazette.net/sports/professional/komets/Embach-gets-Komets-back-in-it-13149702

"Disciplined, determined Komets cut into Americans' series lead".....http://www.news-sentinel.com/sports/komets/Disciplined--determined-Komets-cut-into-Americans--series-lead


- The Wichita Thunder will officially announce their new coach at a press conference this afternoon. The Wichita Eagle has already posted a story that the new coach will be Malcolm Cameron. Cameron followed Steve Martinson as the coach of the Elmira Jackals when he left after the 2009-10 season. Cameron was let go by Elmira part way through his inaugural season. He last coached in 2014 for a junior team in Canada.  Here is the story.  http://www.kansas.com/sports/other-sports/wichita-thunder/article78721462.html


 GAME PHOTOS

Referee waives off Komet's third goal - photo by scenebykimberly.com

A pileup at the goal mouth - photo by Lauren Lyssy

Going to the net, literally- photo by Dianne Webster



DID YOU KNOW: Fort Wayne coach Gary Graham is a hometown guy. He played high school hockey in Fort Wayne, started coaching youth hockey there and started with the Komets as an unpaid volunteer assistant coach. He was part of three championships in four years with the Komets and then was hired by Pensacola of the SPHL as their head coach in 2012-13. He won the SPHL championship in his first season. He was then hired as the Fort Wayne head coach in 2013-14. Graham has made the playoffs in all three seasons as the Komet's head coach and has advanced past the first round all three seasons.




Thursday, May 19, 2016

Allen vs Fort Wayne Game Three Preview, Team Photos, Nailers Take 2-1 Lead & Is Red Better

It is game day in Allen as the Americans take on the Fort Wayne Komets at the Allen Event Center (AEC) with puck drop scheduled for 7:05 pm. A great oppourtinty for the Americans to take a 3-0 lead in the series, however, it will take an all out effort against an excellent Fort Wayne team that will be playing desperate.


- Had a chance to attend practice yesterday and for the first time in the playoffs all 23 rostered players were skating and full participants. It doesn't mean everyone is 100% healthy. At this time of year, after almost 90 hockey games, everyone is dealing with bumps and bruises or worse but everyone is available to play.


- A couple of themes that came out of the first two games of this series are related to special teams and even strength goals. The statistical totals after two games show Allen outscoring Fort Wayne 8-5 but the Komets lead in shots 51-49. The big discrepancy is in penalties as Allen has taken 15 penalties for 42 minutes while Fort Wayne has taken 23 penalties for 58 minutes. Allen is 3-13 (23.1%) on the power play and the Komets are 1-6 (16.7%).


- If you break down the 13 goals scored in games one and two, Fort Wayne has a 4-3 lead in even strength goals and Allen has a 3-1 lead in power play goals. In addition, Allen has a short handed and empty net goal.


- The following is how Allen and Fort Wayne rank among the four remaining playoff teams in some statistical categories considering just the playoff game results:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 4th (13.80) - Fort Wayne 2nd (16.46)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 4th (2.87) - Fort Wayne 1st (3.62)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 2nd (2.40) - Fort Wayne 3rd (2.54)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 4th (29.60) - Fort Wayne 2nd (34.77)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 3rd (28.53) - Fort Wayne 2nd (26.85)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 1st (23.5%) - Fort Wayne 2nd (21.0%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 4th (83.6%) - Fort Wayne 3rd (87.3%)
Plus/Minus: Allen 4th (0) - Fort Wayne 2nd (+43)


- If you look at home vs road special teams stats it is quite different than the overall percentages. Remember, Fort Wayne is 4-1 on the road in the playoffs with their only loss coming in round one against Cincinnati in overtime. The Komets have the best road power play percentage in the playoffs (30.8%) compared to Allen's home power play of 20.7%. The Komets have also been excellent on the road killing penalties allowing 2-26 (92.3%). Allen has been great killing penalties at home allowing 2-22 (90.9%).


- Special teams is always a key factor in who wins but in this series it seems even more so. Whether Fort Wayne can stay out of the penalty box and whether Allen can execute on the power play will go a long way in determining the outcome of the game tonight. Justin Cohn from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette talked about this very issue in his most recent story, "Komets need to stay even".....http://www.journalgazette.net/sports/professional/komets/Komets-need-to-stay-even-13120273


- Chad Costello had this to say about the keys to victory in game three tonight:




- Fast starts and the first goal is also a good predictor of the outcome in playoff games. Allen is 8-1 when scoring first and Fort Wayne is 6-2. The Americans and Komets have a combined record of 11-2 when leading after the first period and are a perfect 13-0 when leading after the second period. Getting the first goal and maintaining the lead is key.


- The referees scheduled tonight are Andy Thackaberry (#22) and Peter Tarnaris (#23). The linesmen will be Charlie O'Connor (#43) and Brent Hooks (#61).



OTHER COMMENTS

-  Photographer Dianne Webster took the official team photo this week and shared a few of the unofficial photos as well. Check these out:

Smile boys

General Manager, Coach and team photo setup man

Look close, coach Martinson asked Arseneau to put on his glasses for this one



- In the Eastern Conference final the Wheeling Nailers beat the South Carolina Stingrays last night and now lead the series 2-1. Game four is Saturday in Wheeling. Andrew Miller from the Charleston Post and Courier has the complete details in his story, "Stingrays blow another third period lead: Nailers rally to win, 2-1".....http://www.postandcourier.com/20160518/160519353/stingrays-blow-another-third-period-lead-nailers-rally-to-win-2-1



- Saw this on social media but not sure where it originated.  It was in reference to the eight game suspension handed out to Texas Ranger second baseman Rougned Odor. Funny but true.

Punch someone in the face:
NBA - 20 game suspension
MLB - 8 game suspension
NFL - 2 game suspension
NHL -  5 minute penalty and do it again next period 



DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans will be wearing their red jerseys tonight and there is some research that suggests that, in itself, gives them an advantage. Thanks to Joe McMahon, Account Executive for the Americans for passing along this interesting story: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/6097954/Why-teams-in-red-win-more.html

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Practice Update, Martinson's Comments on Warmup Dustup, Stories From Around the ECHL & More

- It was a practice day for the Allen Americans yesterday as they prepare for game three against Fort Wayne on Thursday. The best news of the day was to see Aaron Gens practicing without the no contact yellow jersey. He is now ready to go and just needs to find a way to crack the lineup. Tristan King was skating for the first time since being injured in the Missouri series. It is possible Tristan could be available by the weekend.

- Here are some photos from practice courtesy of Dianne Webster:








Note: The rest of this blog post has black text on a white background. Obvious operator error by me that I can't figure out how to correct. Sorry if it causes a problem in seeing or reading the info. Will hopefully have it resolved by tomorrow.


- The ECHL announced the following fines yesterday as a result of the incident in warmups on Sunday. Allen’s Dyson Stevenson and Spencer Asuchak and Fort Wayne’s Gabriel Beaupre have each been fined an undisclosed amount as a result of their actions during pre-game warm-ups. In addition, both the Allen and Fort Wayne coaches and organizations have been put on notice that any further incidents during warm-ups will result in additional discipline. Here is what Allen coach Steve Martinson had to say about the incident.  "Our players got tired of the their guys warming up on our side of the ice. It happened in both games. In 20 years of coaching I have not seen anything like that. Our position is very clear, if something happens to a Fort Wayne player on our side of the red line it is on Fort Wayne. There will probably be more collisions if they keep warming up on our side. Now that the league has made it clear to both teams there will be a fine if players cross the red line, that should be the end of the problem."

- The Komets will arrive in Allen today and they will be taking the bus. No, not the 1000 miles the Americans travel on Big Red. The account I saw said Fort Wayne will travel by bus to Chicago (150 miles) and then fly to Dallas. 

- Here is the latest story from Justin Cohn of the the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. A view from the other side titled, "Down 0-2, Komets not opposed to extra time off".....http://www.journalgazette.net/sports/professional/komets/Down-0-2--Komets-not-opposed-to-extra-time-off-13104388

- After the Rougned Odor incident with Jose Bautista of Toronto, Brian McCormack, Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the Idaho Steelheads talked to Steelheads coach Neil Graham about the baseball fracas and how it relates to fighting in hockey. It is a great read. http://www.idahosteelheads.com/blog/steelheads-news/speaking-steelheads-scraps/

- Below is a story written by Blake Sebring (news-sentinel.com) that talks about the "Black Aces" in hockey which refers to those players in the playoffs that are healthy scratches and not in the lineup. They are a key component to every team and must always be prepared to step in when needed. Here is Blake's story, "Komets' Black Aces adding more than depth".....http://www.news-sentinel.com/sports/komets/Komets---Black-Aces--adding-more-than-depth

- The Eastern Conference finals resume tonight as South Carolina is at Wheeling. The series is tied 1-1. It will be interesting to see how the the Stingrays rebound after blowing a three goal lead in the last six minutes of game two and then losing in double overtime. Check out this story written by Andrew Miller from The Post and Courier in Charleston, "Stingrays put Game 2 collapse behind them as series shifts to Wheeling.".....http://www.postandcourier.com/20160517/160519451/stingrays-put-game-2-collapse-behind-them-as-series-shifts-to-wheeling


DID YOU KNOW: When a team is ahead 2-0 in a seven game series, the historical victory probabilities are definitely on their side. Based on all major sports, the team with the 2-0 lead has a record of 617-77 and has won the series 88.9% of the time. However, when a team is ahead 2-0 they have won game three just 48.3% of the time (335-359). If you look just at NHL history in Conference finals when a team starts on the road and has a 2-0 lead the record is 18-1 (94.7%) to win the series and 11-8 (57.9%) to win game three.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Allen Prepares For Big Game Three, Stories From the Fort Wayne Beat Writers & SinBinMavs


After a road trip to Fort Wayne that could not have been more successful the Allen Americans arrived home yesterday afternoon a little after 2:00 pm. Having a 2-0 series lead made the 1000 mile bus trip more enjoyable than normal. It will be back at practice today as the Americans prepare for another critical game on Thursday. Coach Martinson mentioned in his post game comments after game two a couple of things that will be key to game three on Thursday. First, the team will have a couple of days to prepare. Steve Martinson is the master of adjustments which is part of the reason his teams are so difficult to beat in seven games series. Second, Martinson talked about the game on Thursday being a big game. If Allen can win and go up 3-0, they will have Fort Wayne in a position where it will be close to impossible to come back. If Fort Wayne wins they will be right back in the series.

- How big would a 3-0 series lead be for Allen? Check out these stats. In the three major sports (MLB, NBA, NHL) in a seven game series with a 3-0 lead, the record is 330-5 or 98.5%. If you look just at the NHL the team with a 3-0 lead has a record of 178-4 or 97.8%.

- The Fort Wayne Komets have great fan support as they led the ECHL in attendance this season, averaging 7484 per game which was 500 more per game than second place Toledo. The Komets also get great coverage from the local media. The number of stories being written about the Allen vs Fort Wayne series is impressive and the envy of those in Allen. Fort Wayne has a metro area population of just over 400,000 but has both a morning (The Journal Gazette) and evening  (The News-Sentinel) newspaper.

- Justin Cohn covers the Komets for the Journal Gazette which has an on line site at journalgazette.net. Justin is one of just a few reporters around the ECHL that goes on the road to cover the team. He will be in Allen for all three games this week. Here are the stories Justin has filed just in the last three days. You need to take the time to read all of them as they are informative, insightful and have lots of quotes from players and coaches.

"Komets lose in overtime, fall in 0-2 hole".....http://www.journalgazette.net/blog/ice-chips/K-s-lose-in-overtime--fall-in-0-2-hole-13080405

"Komets captain (Jamie Schaafsma) talks about Allen's antics".....http://www.journalgazette.net/blog/ice-chips/K-s-captain-talks-about-Allen-s-antics-13081573

"Komets can't draw too much on Cincinnati experience" (Fort Wayne won in round one against Cincinnati after losing the first two games at home).....http://www.journalgazette.net/blog/ice-chips/K-s-can-t-draw-too-much-on-Cincinnati-experience-13081619

"Rough stuff starts before faceoff".....http://www.journalgazette.net/sports/professional/komets/Rough-stuff-starts-before-faceoff-13081528

"OT loss puts Komets in 0-2 hole".....http://www.journalgazette.net/sports/professional/komets/OT-loss-puts-Komets-in-0-2-hole-13081302

"No decision yet from ECHL" ( a story about the fallout from the fracas in warmups).....http://www.journalgazette.net/blog/ice-chips/No-decision-yet-from-ECHL-13092765

"Komets down but not out".....http://www.journalgazette.net/blog/ice-chips/Komets-down--but-not-out-13093104 

"Komets know how to dig out of hole".....http://www.journalgazette.net/sports/professional/komets/Komets-know-how-to-dig-out-of-hole-13093083

"Meurs gives Komets spark".....http://www.journalgazette.net/sports/professional/komets/Meurs-gives-K-s-spark-13092561



- Blake Sebring covers the Komets for the News-Sentinel and you can find his work at their online site, news-sentinel.com. Here are some of Blake's stories from the last few days. More great work from the Fort Wayne beat writers.

"Komets notes: Martinson, Schaafsma expected playoff showdown".....http://www.news-sentinel.com/sports/komets/Komets-notes--Martinson--Schaafsma-expected-playoff-showdown

"Komets notes: Despite tons of titles, Martinson never gets chance to move up".....http://www.news-sentinel.com/sports/komets/Komets-notes--Despite-tons-of-titles--Martinson-never-gets-chance-to-move-up

"Komets winning the fights but are losing the bigger battle".....http://www.news-sentinel.com/sports/komets/Komets-won-the-fights-but-are-losing-the-bigger-battle

"Komets' Belzile talks and plays a good game".....http://www.news-sentinel.com/sports/komets/Komets--Belzile-talks-and-plays-a-good-game


-  Hopefully you took the time to read all of the stories above if you haven't seen them before. I know those of you on social media have access to these stories but it is impressive to put them all together in one place. It is a great body of work by Justin and Blake. These are stories just from the last three days by these two writers and Fort Wayne gets great radio and television coverage as well. The Americans can only dream of coverage like this from local media.


OTHER COMMENTS

- If there is any fallout from the incident during warmups in Fort Wayne on Sunday it should be announced by the ECHL sometime today. I would not expect any suspensions from this incident as some have conjectured.  

- It was quiet around the ECHL last night and will be again tonight. The Eastern Conference final will resume tomorrow (Wednesday) night with South Carolina at Wheeling. That series is tied 1-1.

- Home is still a non factor when you look at all of the playoff games in the ECHL thus far. Home teams have a losing record of 37-38. The Allen Americans are 5-2 at home. 

- Joe Rozycki, aka "SinBinMavs"  writes an end of the year story about the Missouri Mavericks each season. I always sympathize with Joe who has seen his team disappoint in the playoffs year after year. I have been lucky enough in the four years of writing the blog to have never seen the Americans lose the last game of the season. The amazing regular season the Mavericks had this year is something to behold but it only made the playoff loss to Allen that much worse. Here is a great story where Joe captures his feelings and those of most Missouri fans in a piece he calls "The Sound of Silence" and uses the famous Simon and Garfunkel song as a metaphor. http://thesinbin.net/the-sound-of-silence/




DID YOU KNOW: It is still a long way off but it is certainly possible that Allen and South Carolina could meet in the Kelly Cup final just as they did last year. If that should happen it would be the first time in ECHL history the same teams have met in the final two years in a row.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Allen Beats Fort Wayne 3-2 in OT, Takes 2-0 Series Lead, Martinson's Post Game Comments & More

 Gary Steffes scored the game winner just 56 seconds into overtime to give the Allen Americans a 3-2 victory over the Fort Wayne Komets last night. With the win, Allen takes a 2-0 series lead and heads home for the next three games (Thursday, Saturday, Sunday). Getting a split on the road is always considered a success so taking a 2-0 lead against a team as talented as Fort Wayne is a great accomplishment. But nobody should be thinking about a series win at this point. If you recall, Fort Wayne lost their first two games at home in the first round against Cincinnati and came back to win the series in seven games.

- Riley Gill left the game early in the second period with an injury. Riley was replaced by Joel Rumpel who played great in relief and got credit for the win.

- Chad Costello got Allen on the scoreboard first with a power play goal at the 8:50 mark of the first period. It was Chad's fourth goal of the playoffs. Scoring first has been a key for Allen in the playoffs. They are now 8-1 when scoring first.

- Allen took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission but it did not last long as Fort Wayne scored just 22 seconds into the second period. The Komets then took a 2-1 lead on a power play goal at the 8:41 mark of the second period. Allen got the momentum back with 30 seconds left in the period on a Vincent Arseneau goal, his fifth of the playoffs.

- Neither team managed to score in the third period which sent the game to overtime tied 2-2. Gary Steffes was again the best player on the ice and got the game winner in overtime. In the two games this weekend Gary had two goals, two assists, was a +4 and was selected the #1 star in both games. Coach Martinson always says in the playoffs your best players have to be your best players. Gary stepped up and led the way at both ends of the ice.

- Greger Hanson missed the game last night as he was attending graduation activities for his wife, Andrea, who graduated from law school at Wake Forest University.  Congrats to Andrea!

- Coach Martinson mentioned in his pregame interview that the team was making some adjustments after reviewing the videotape from the first game. The adjustments must have worked because the Americans played a much more even game. There were not as many odd man rushes and the Americans limited the Komets to just 25 shots.

- One aspect of the game that was not working for the Americans was the power play. The best power play unit in the ECHL was just 1-8. Fort Wayne was 1-4.

- So much for my prediction that both teams would try to stay out of the penalty box. A total of 23 penalties for 64 minutes were called including six fighting majors. It was by far the the most penalty minutes of the playoffs for any game Allen has played. It looked like trying to be more physical was part of the Fort Wayne game plan. That is usually not the formula for success against a Steve Martinson coached team.

- There was a great crowd in attendance (5779) at the Memorial Coliseum last night. Fort Wayne gets great fan support as they led the ECHL in attendance during the regular season, averaging 7484 per game.

- The team hopped on Big Red right after the game for the long trip (almost 1000 miles) home. The team should arrive back in Allen early afternoon on Monday.


QUOTES FROM THE GAME

"Gill will be okay. he just got hit by a shot".....Coach Steve Martinson

"It was a great game winning overtime goal by Gary Steffes. He has probably scored 20 of those forehand one timers. Open ice was scarce but we won a battle for the puck along the wall which started the winning play. Heads up passes by Federico and Rowley".....Martinson

"Costello's power play goal was a highlight goal."....Martinson

"Fort Wayne defended hard and the ice got bad at the end of the periods so the power play didn't win the game.".....Martinson

"The issue in warmups was about  Fort Wayne warming up on our side of the red line. Our players got tired of their guys warming up on our side of the ice. I can't remember a team crossing the red line so many times. My guess is after tonight it will be a fine to warm up on the other team's side.".....Martinson

A little warmup scrum - photo courtesy of Mike Holum


"Joel Rumpel played strong and it was good to see him get the win. Riley already has the record for most playoff wins in the history of the ECHL, so he probably didn't mind.".....Martinson

"Now we have a couple of days to get prepared for a big game three on Thursday.".....Martinson

"Gary Steffes was a beast this weekend. He played hard at both ends of the ice and he was rewarded for it.".....Allen broadcaster Tommy Daniels

"I thought we played a really solid game tonight. Everybody bought into the system and gave it everything they had.".....Allen bench coach Aaron Gens

Those games are tough to win after taking the first game on their ice. To put them down two games is huge.".....Gens


DID YOU KNOW:  In their 12 straight series wins and three championships under coach Martinson the Allen Americans have never won the first two games of a series on the road. They have won the first two games of a series only twice and they were both at home. In 2015 against Tulsa and in 2014 against Brampton. 










Sunday, May 15, 2016

Allen vs Fort Wayne Game Two Preview, The Final Four Playoff Stats, Young Retires, Gill's Records


The Allen Americans take on the Fort Wayne Komets tonight (5:00 pm CDT) in game two of the ECHL Western Conference final. It will be a chance for the Americans to come home with a 2-0 series lead and a chance for the Komets to even the series 1-1. Games three thru five take place in Allen next week (Thursday, Saturday, Sunday).

- Allen came away with a 5-3 win in game one but had just one good period, scoring three goals in the first. Fort Wayne played poorly in the first period and could not dig out the 3-0 hole they created even though they played better in the final two periods. Both teams will be talking about playing a full 60 minutes of hockey tonight and the team that accomplishes that will come out the winner.

- Allen has lived and died on their power play all season and that was certainly the case in game one when they had two power play goals as well as a shorthanded goal. Allen's road power play percentage is now at a lofty 29.0%. While the Komets have a good overall power play percentage (20.7%) they have struggled at home where they have only converted on 12.5% of their chances.

- The Americans have done an excellent job of staying out of the penalty box in recent games. Excluding offsetting penalties, Allen is averaging just three penalties per game over the last five games. In game one of this series the Americans had five power play opportunities compared to just two for the Komets. Staying out of the penalty box (unless you take somebody with you) will be a point of emphasis for both teams.

- Fort Wayne outscored Allen 3-1 in game one when the teams were at even strength.  Generating offense when even strength will be another key to the game today.

- The referees scheduled today are Stephen Reneau (#17) and Tyler Pudifant (#28). The linesmen will be Patrick Richardson (#82) and Ryan Madsen (#57).


PLAYOFF STATS

Below is how the four teams remaining in the playoffs stand in ten statistical categories. Fairly easy to see the strength and weaknesses of each team. 


Goals Scored (average per game)

3.75 - Fort Wayne
3.36 - South Carolina
3.13 - Wheeling
2.86 - Allen

Goals Allowed (average per game)
2.07 - South Carolina
2.43 - Allen
2.50 - Fort Wayne
3.07 - Wheeling

Shots For (average per game)
35.58 - Fort Wayne
35.13 - Wheeling
33.36 - South Carolina
30.07 - Allen

Shots Against (average per game)
25.36 - South Carolina
27.17 - Fort Wayne
28.79 - Allen
32.13 - Wheeling

Shooting Percentage (goals as a percent of total shots)
10.5% - Fort Wayne
10.1% - South Carolina
9.5% - Allen
8.9% - Wheeling

Power Play Percentage
25.0% - Allen
20.7% - Fort Wayne
19.1% - Wheeling
17.5% - South Carolina

Penalty Kill Percentage
88.9% - South Carolina
88.0% - Wheeling
87.3% - Fort Wayne
84.2% - Allen

Power Play Goals Scored
15 - Allen
13 - Wheeling
12 - Fort Wayne
10 - South Carolina

Plus/Minus
+76 - South Carolina
+52 - Fort Wayne
-5  -  Allen
-16 - Wheeling 

Goals Against Average (GAA)
1.91 - South Carolina
2.28 - Fort Wayne
2.42 - Allen
2.79 - Wheeling


- Finally, I tallied up the rank for each team in every category to get an overall score. The lower the score the better. If you finished first in every category you would get a final score of ten. Here are the results:

20 - South Carolina
20 - Fort Wayne
28 - Allen
32 - Wheeling


OTHER COMMENTS

-  Chad Costello is the ECHL overall playoff leader in points (17), assists (14), power play points (11) and power play assists (9). Casey Pierro-Zabotel is the leader in power play goals (5). Greger Hanson is second in goals scored (9). David Makowski leads all defensemen in power play goals (2), power play assists (8) and power play points (10). Riley Gill is first in wins (9) and second in saves (325) and save percentage (.931).

- The Wheeling Nailers were held scoreless by the South Carolina Stingrays for the first five periods of their Eastern Conference final. The Stingrays shutout the Nailers 3-0 in game one and were leading 3-0 in game two with less than six minutes left in the game. After being held scoreless by South Carolina for 115 minutes over two games, Wheeling scored three goals in less than five minutes to send the game to overtime. The Nailers then won the game 4-3 in double overtime. Welcome to playoff  hockey. With the series tied 1-1 the teams now head to Wheeling for the next three games (Wednesday, Friday, & Saturday). 

- Kevin Young, who was part of Allen's Kelly Cup championship team last year, announced his retirement from hockey this week after his Reading Royals team was eliminated from the ECHL playoffs.  It was not a surprise as those who know Kevin best were aware this season would be his last. The 33 year old defensman played in over 600 professional games in a storied career that took him from his hometown in White Rock, British Columbia to play professionally in England, France, Germany and the Netherlands.  Kevin won the Dutch Championship (2005-06). He also won the Central Hockey League (CHL) Championship as a member of the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs in 2010-11 and of course last year he won the Kelly cup with Allen. Kevin was voted the CHL's Most Outstanding Defenseman 2012-13 when he played for the Wichita Thunder. He also met his future bride, Becky, when he played in Wichita. Kevin will be moving to Wisconsin (close to the Illinois border) to pursue a career in real estate. Wishing Kevin and Becky the best of luck in the future and thanks for the memories. I know Kevin loves to play golf and worked hard at the game in the off season when he was in Allen. Have a feeling his handicap will be in the single digits soon if it isn't already there.
Kevin & Becky Young


DID YOU KNOW: Riley Gill just set the all time ECHL record for playoff wins (45 and counting). Riley's name is all over the record book when it comes to the playoffs as he is known as a goalie that plays his best when it comes playoff time. Here are a few examples:

- First all time for ECHL playoff wins (45)
- Tied for the all time record for Kelly Cup final wins (8)
- Second all time for playoff appearances (73 games)
- Second all time in playoff minutes played (4193)
- One of just five goalies with multiple Kelly Cup championships
- Second all time for playoff shutouts in one year (4)
- Kelly Cup playoff MVP 2012-13