The headline reads the Allen Americans lost to the Wichita Thunder Sunday afternoon by a score of 5-1 before an ecstatic crowd of 5330 at Intrust Bank Arena. It was the first time the Thunder has beaten Allen in a regulation game at home since December 27, 2014.
- It is hard to overstate the significance of the last two games between these teams. Wichita shutout the Americans 4-0 in Allen Saturday night before the 5-1 drubbing on Sunday. The Thunder came away with two regulation wins, outscored Allen 9-1 and out shot the Americans 76-54. Before these two losses to Wichita, Allen had not lost a game in regulation since December 14.
- Allen has owned Wichita since the teams joined the ECHL in 2014. They played their first ECHL game against each other on October 25, 2014 and Allen beat the Thunder 5-3. Gary Steffes (two goals) and Chad Costello (two assists) were the offensive stars of the game and Aaron Dell was the winning goalie for the Americans. Since that first win in 2014 through the Allen 5-3 win over the Thunder Friday night, 819 days had passed and Wichita had a grand total of two regulation wins. That is two years, two months and 27 days with two regulation wins. The next two regulation wins took a grand total of two days.
- Allen still has an amazing record against Wichita since joining the ECHL (29-4-4-3) including 13-0-0-0 last season and 7-2-1-0 this season, but the decisive Thunder wins the last two days may be an indication of a much closer rivalry in the future.
- Many would point to the fact that Allen is missing 40% of their goal scoring with Hanson, Moore and Marchment in the AHL and Stevenson, Hall, Gens and Brown injured. Allen's #1 goalie, Riley Gill, has been out of the lineup for a month. The reality is all teams go through call ups and injuries and coach Martinson would never use that as an excuse. As he said after the loss to Wichita on Saturday, "We have a good enough team to win even with the missing guys."
- It was disappointing because of budget constraints the team had travel to Wichita on game day and spend all day on the bus. The team should have traveled to Wichita after the game on Saturday but that is not an excuse for losing.
- I say this all of the time and I truly believe it, there is nobody in the Allen Americans organization from ownership, to the front office to the players and the staff that takes a loss worse than Steve Martinson. He has been in over 2000 games as a professional player and coach and it still bothers him a lot when he loses, especially when he feels the team didn't give their best effort.
- I talk to coach Martinson after virtually every game to get his thoughts and comments to share in the blog. Last night was one of those rare occasions I opted to not contact him because I knew there would be nothing he would say that would be fit for print.
- The team will not skate the next two days as they head to Florida for games with the Florida Everblades on Wednesday and Orlando Solar Bears on Thursday and Sunday. Hopefully the roster situation will improve with players listed as day to day (Stevenson, Hall, Gill) back in the lineup. It is also possible one of the players in the AHL (Hanson, Moore, Marchment) could be sent back while the team is in Florida.
- Don't rule out a trade or free agent signing this week. Some players squandered a great opportunity this weekend to step up and show what they could do with so many players out of the lineup. I know coach Martinson thought going into the weekend with a short bench would give some players more minutes in an effort to get them going. That strategy seemed to backfire. Martinson is not very patient when players under perform especially when the team loses like they did the last two games.
- Despite losing two games in a row the Americans are still in first place in the Mountain Division. Idaho is the only team in the top four that won their last game. Here are the current standings with the team's record over the last 10 games in parentheses:
53 points - Allen (7-2-1-0)
53 points - Idaho (7-1-1-1)
50 points - Colorado (4-6-0-0)
47 points - Alaska (5-5-0-0)
38 points - Utah (6-3-1-0)
37 points - Missouri (4-4-1-1)
35 points - Rapid City (4-4-2-0)
- After spending most of January at home the Allen Americans started a
stretch of away games yesterday. Eight of ten games on the road
including two long road trips. The team will fly to Florida for three
games this week before returning home for two games with Tulsa on
February 2 & 3. They then travel to Tulsa for a game on February 4.
Then it is off to Rapid City on the last long bus trip of the season
(1058 miles) where the play the Rush on February 8,10 & 11.
- Terry Ruskowski was fired on Friday as the coach of the Quad City Mallards. I remember doing some research about him for a story I wrote a few years ago and was impressed by the fact he was the captain of three different NHL teams (Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh) and had 237 fights even though he was 5'9" and 168 pounds. Ruskowski has 24 years as a head coach. His team has missed the playoff just one time in the last 16 years. He went to four straight Central Hockey League (CHL) championships between 2004-2007 while head coach of the Laredo Bucks and won two championships. Here is a story about Terry and his impact on the Quad City Mallards. You will notice in the story Ruskowski lives in the Dallas area so it is possible he might show up at the AEC: http://qctimes.com/sports/hockey/professional/minor/metcalf/ruskowski-leaves-lasting-impact-on-mallards-hockey/article_5da48b3e-55f1-54e8-a746-8d053fd4d5bc.html
DID YOU KNOW: Derek Mathers is slowly moving up the single season penalty minutes record list. He has been dealing with a sore hand recently so his penalty minutes/fights have slowed a bit. Here is a list of the top ten players for penalty minutes in a season, with the number of games played in that season in parentheses. The far right shows the number of fights each players had according to dropyourgloves.com.
257: Garrett Klotz - 2013-14 (55 games) 20 Fights
256: Brett Lyon -2014-15 (47 games) 13 Fights
223: Garrett Clarke - 2012-13 (54 games) 12 Fights
205: Garrett Clarke - 2014-15 (57 games) 16 Fights
186: Aaron Gens - 2014-15 (72 games) 8 Fights
185: Brandon Straub - 2009-10 (58 games) 12 Fights
168: Jim McKenzie - 2011-12 (54 games) 7 Fights
163: Derek Mathers - 2016-17 (36 games) 18 Fights
157: Brett Clouthier - 2011-12 (60 games) 10 Fights
146: Kip Brennan - 2010-11 (31 games) 11 Fights