The streak is over for the Allen Americans but an amazing streak it was. Four straight championships, 15 straight playoff series wins and 12 straight elimination game victories all came to an end last night as the Colorado Eagles beat the Americans 4-3 to win the Mountain Division series 4-2 and advance to the Western Conference finals against the Toledo Walleye.
I have been writing this blog for five years and have never witnessed a loss to end the season before last night so I don't have a lot of experience but it is the way the team lost the game and the series that is so disappointing. Here are some of my random thoughts about the game and the series:
- To lose at home after two great road wins in Colorado to get back in the series was the most disappointing. Allen's home record the last two months of the regular season was 12-1-1-0. They finished the playoffs with a four game home losing streak including three in a row against Colorado.
- It is well documented Colorado and Allen are the two toughest teams to beat in the ECHL when they score first. It took just 94 seconds for Colorado to get on the score board last night and it was the fifth time in six games they scored first. Allen won the only game in this series when they scored first (game five) and managed to win game four even though the Eagles score first. Credit to Allen for scoring just 37 seconds after the first Colorado goal last night. This is the last time I will mention this stat (this year) but it says all you need to know about the importance of scoring first, especially as it relates to Allen and Colorado. In the playoffs this year they are a combined 10-1 when scoring first and if you add in the regular season their record is 85-5-2-2.
- As frustrating as it was to watch the first goal scored by Colorado at the 1:34 mark of the first period it pales in comparison to watching Matt Register score the game winner with 69 seconds left in the game. Hockey is a game of mistakes as coach Martinson likes to say and there were several on the game winning and series winning goal. Matt Register was part of Allen's Kelly Cup championship team last season and he has owned the Americans this season. Colorado beat Allen six times this season going 2-0 in the regular season and 4-2 in the playoffs. Matt Register had the game winning goal in four of the six Eagles wins. That is what you call payback.
- Prior to last night Allen had scored three goals and allowed 11 in the second period in 10 playoff games. When the Americans outscored Colorado 2-1 in the second period last night and took a 3-2 lead into the second intermission a victory seemed likely. Allen has owned the third period all season. In the 10 playoffs games prior to last night the Americans had scored 21 third period goals and allowed only four. Last night they were outscored 2-0 in the third period. It was the first time Allen had blown a second period lead in the playoffs and one of the few all season. Between the regular season and playoffs the Americans record when leading after two periods was 36-2-0-1.
- It was disappointing the referees decided to swallow their whistles last night. Officiating isn't the reason Allen lost but the lack of penalties certainly hurt the Americans the way they dominated special teams the last three games of this series. It is hard to believe a team that plays the style that Colorado plays was perfect and didn't have a single rules infraction for the entire game.
- Expectations have always been very high in Allen. After all, the Americans went to the championship finals in their first year of existence, have never missed the playoffs and under Steve Martinson known nothing but championships. Allen is probably the only team in the league that considers anything less than a Kelly Cup a disappointing season.
- The team has had a heck of a season and most fans in other markets would be thrilled to have the success Allen has had this season. The most remarkable thing about the team's success is they were 8-11
at the end of November and in last place in the Mountain Division. From that point the Americans finished the season with a record
41-6-4-2. The Americans went 15-0-1-0 over their last 16 regular season games to overtake Colorado for the top spot in the Mountain Division. Allen finished with 104 points which was #2 in the league trailing Toledo by just two points.
- When Allen lost last night 22 of the 27 teams in the ECHL were already on vacation. Not making it to the ECHL final four/conference finals is certainly painful but the team had an extraordinary season by any measure other than their own.
- Congrats to the Colorado Eagles who have an excellent team and were the better team in this series. To beat Allen three times on the road is quite an accomplishment. The Eagles are a perfect 6-0 in road games in the playoffs and since Toledo will have home ice advantage in the conference finals that excellent road record will come in handy for Colorado.
- Everyone has different reasons for who they support once their favorite teams is eliminated from the playoffs. My reasoning has always been straight forward. If your team beats my team I hope you go all the way. If Colorado goes on to win the Kelly Cup it reflects well on Allen and the entire Mountain Division. It is also nice to see former Allen champions do well once they move on and three of Colorado's key players are former Americans.
DID YOU KNOW: Steve Martinson just completed his 21st year as a head coach. Here are his playoff results for his 21 years of coaching.
10 - won championship
1 - lost in finals
7 lost in second round
2 lost in first round
1 - out of playoffs