Don't look now but the Allen Americans team everyone expected at the beginning of the season is starting to emerge. Over the last ten games only three teams (Toledo, Colorado, Reading) have a better record than the 7-2-1-0 Allen has posted.
- Last night Allen completed a weekend sweep of the Wichita Thunder with a 4-1 win before a sparse Sunday crowd of 3215 at INTRUST Bank Arena. The Americans used the same formula that has been responsible for much of their recent success. A good start, special teams excellence, a strong third period and great goaltending.
- After a scoreless first period Allen took a 1-0 lead 46 seconds into the second period on a Greger Hanson power play goal. It was the ninth time in the last 10 games the Americans scored the first goal of the game. It was a good sign as Allen's record when scoring first is 12-2-1-0.
- Allen took the 1-0 lead into the second intermission. The third period was a repeat of the game in Allen on Friday when the Americans scored four goals to put the game away. Last night Allen tallied three third period goals scored by Greger Hanson (15), Chad Costello (13) and Bryan Moore (3). Wichita scored their lone goal in the third period to make the final score 4-1.
- Jamie Murray was outstanding in goal for Allen stopping 42 of 43 shots including many of the quality variety. It was certainly a game that will build confidence and momentum for Jamie going forward. Jamie was selected as the #2 star of the game. I heard the guys on the Thunder pregame show say Steve Martinson had given Wichita a gift by starting Murray over Riley Gill in the game. I guess the gift was a diamond in the rough.
- It seems as if whoever selects the three stars of the game in Wichita doesn't like to give all three stars to the visiting team even if it is well deserved. No quarrel with Greger Hanson getting the #1 star as he had two goals and an assist including the game winner. When you stop 42 of 43 shots, give up only one goal and have a save percentage of .977 the #2 star for Jamie Murray seems appropriate. But I have to take issue with giving the #3 star to a Wichita player over Chad Costello. Yes, the Wichita player scored the only goal for the Thunder but he was -1 for the game. All Chad did was have a part in all four Allen goals with four points (1 goal 3 assists) which is a weeks work for most players. His three assists were all primary assists where Chad made the play that led to a goal. Can't imagine it happens very often that your team wins 4-1, you have a point on all four goals and you don't get a star of the game. C'MON MAN!
- Make sure to go to ECHL Rewind and take a look at the game highlights. Kudos to the Wichita Thunder staff for putting together a great set of highlights that include the goals, some great saves by both goalies and the fisticuffs. A few things to look for when viewing the highlights. Watch for great defensive plays by Spencer Asuchak on the Costello goal and by Chad Costello on the Bryan Moore empty net goal. Spencer and Chad stripped the puck from a Wichita player in both cases. Also take note of the sequence of events just prior to the fight between Jake Marchment and Logan Nelson. Nelson was responsible for an injury to Kale Kerbashian and the Americans were going to make him pay. Here is what I think happened, you look at the replay and tell me if you agree. Derek Mathers is lined up next to Nelson on a faceoff, Marchment is taking the draw. Derek challenges Nelson to a fight but he wisely declines but knows he will have to fight because he injured Kerbashian, so agrees to fight Marchment. Mathers and Marchment swap places, the linesman drops the puck and the fight is on. Finally, look closely at the lone Thunder goal. The Americans thought a Wichita player used his stick to push Murray over on that play. It is hard to tell on the replay but you can see Murray falling over. Here is the link for ECHL Rewind: http://www.echl.com/
Here are some post game quotes courtesy of Jeffrey Lutz of the Wichita Eagle (Malcolm Cameron quotes), Matt Harding of Team Sin Bin (Greger Hanson quotes), Steve Martinson and the Allen Americans:
"It was good to see the power play get a couple of goals again tonight. The power play was 5-10 this weekend".....Allen coach Steve Martinson
"Jamie Murray was vet strong in net tonight. I thought their guy pushed Murray over with his stick on the one goal Wichita scored.".....Martinson
"At times I thought we passed up good shot opportunities for some low percentage plays but when we started getting pucks to the net it paid off.".....Martinson
"It was good to see new guys like Moore and Marchment respond to the hit on Kerbashian and stick up for their teammate.".....Martinson
"I look forward to getting Harrison Ruopp back in the lineup the next time we play the Thunder.".....Martinson
"We are the most inconsistent team I have ever seen as far as work ethic. I've never seen anything like it, it's crazy. The brain shuts down when you don't work, and you look at the goals we gave up... we used to be a good third period team, but now we're (not) because we don't work.".....Wichita Thunder coach Malcolm Cameron
"We had so many rushes blow up tonight because guys started to coast, guys started to glide. It's my job to figure out who the guys are that are going to be here when it is all said and done.".....Cameron
"We can beat that hockey team. But you've got to work to do it. You can't give a skilled team that many odd man rushes. Our execution today was so poor.".....Cameron
"I thought it was a tight game so it was huge to get those two power play goals. The first one was a one-timer and the second one was off the rush where Chad Costello made a great play.".....#1 star of the game Greger Hanson.
"Chad Costello is smarter that anyone else on the ice so when he has the puck you have to get open and you know you will get the puck if you are open. It is a challenge but if you do it well you know it will pay off. It is a lot of fun.".....Hanson
"I try to not give up any shooting opportunities and it has paid off this year. I can play better defensively but it has been good thus far.".....Hanson
"It was a good win for us. We got great goaltending from Jamie Murray and we made the most of our special teams to get the win. They have a good team over there with a lot of skilled players on their roster.".....Hanson
"Jamie was spectacular tonight. He was playing with a lot of confidence out there and it showed. We have two guys playing great between the pipes right now and that gives us a chance to win every night.".....Allen co-captain Chad Costello.
- The summary for the two wins against Wichita this weekend shows why the team is playing better hockey and gaining momentum. Allen has scored 10 goals in the two games while allowing just one in each game. The power play was 50% (5-10) on the weekend. The penalty kill gave up only one goal in 12 opportunities and that was a five-on-three. Allen allowed no first period goals, scored the first goal of the game both nights and outscored Wichita 7-1 in the third period.
- Allen has almost single-handedly dismantled the Wichita power play in the last 10 days . In the four games these teams have played since December 9 Wichita is 1-26 on the power play. The Thunder had the #1 power play in the league 10 days ago at 25.5%. After last night they are now ranked #13 at 17.1%.
- Allen's power play is on the upswing. After going 2-2 last night the power play is 10-42 over the last nine games which is 23.8%.
- In the last 10 games the Allen penalty kill is 5-51 for a penalty kill percentage of 90.1%.
DID YOU KNOW: The best and the worst in the ECHL are in record
territory. Toledo has quietly become the dominate team in the league with a
record of 21-4-0-0 for a winning percentage of .840. Toledo is on pace
to shatter the ECHL all-time record of .806 set by the Louisiana
IceGators in 2001-02. Toledo is an offensive juggernaut averaging 4.48
goals per game which is over a half a goal per game higher than any
other team. At the other end of the spectrum is the Norfolk Admirals
with a record of 5-17-4-0 and a winning percentage of .269. The Admirals
are on pace to have the fourth lowest winning percentage in ECHL