Sunday, January 21, 2018

Allen Road Woes Continue, Lose 5-3 to Fort Wayne, Game Recap, Martinson's Comments, Rematch Preview, Steffes Released by Idaho, Allen's Historical Road Record

The Allen Americans lost to the Fort Wayne Komets 5-3 last night before a sold out crowd of 10479 at the Memorial Coliseum. It was Allen's third straight loss and their eighth loss in the last 10 games. The Americans scored first, had a 1-0 lead after the first period, a 2-1 lead after the second period but still found a new way to lose. Prior to last night Allen was a perfect 7-0 on the road and 15-0-0-1 overall when having the lead after the second period.

- The second period has been Allen's undoing recently but last night it was the third period. Just like the loss in Indy on Friday the Americans allowed three goals in three minutes to turn a 2-2 game into a rout.

- The Allen formula for defeat had a familiar ring as the #23 ranked team in the ECHL in shots allowed once again gave up over 40 shots, 42 to be exact. The Americans had 33 shots on goal.

- Special teams cost Allen dearly. The leagues worst road penalty kill failed again giving up two power play goals. The Americans had the #2 ranked power play in the league going into the game but were 0-7 against Fort Wayne's #1 ranked home penalty kill unit.

- The goal scorers for Allen were Casey Pierro-Zabotel (11), Olivier Archambault (13) and Bryan Moore (14). Here are the video highlights:  

- The Fort Wayne Komets are fortunate they not only get great fans support but have beat writers from not one but two local papers. Blake Sebring covers the Komets for the News-Sentinel and Justin Cohn covers them for The Journal Gazette. They both do a great job so check out their game recaps complete with post game quotes:

Blake Sebring's game recap:

Justin Cohn's game recap:

- Here is the game recap from the Allen Americans:

- Here are coach Martinson's post game comments:

"We played a solid first half and had several good chances to score more."
"We got hurt by special teams again going 0-7 on the power play while they were 2-6."
"We jumped up shorthanded in a nonscoring situation only to turn the puck over that led to a breakaway goal for them."
"Two key turnovers led directly to goals for them."
"We are going to need to play with less mistakes in order to win on Sunday." 


- The Americans finish up their three games in three days road trip with a rematch against Fort Wayne this afternoon. It is a 4:00 pm CST puck drop and the Americans are in desperate need of a win. The trip home is long (975 miles) in the best of circumstances but it will be extra long if they head home going 0-3 on the road trip.

- There are some positives to take from the game last night in that the Americans got off to a good start by scoring the first goal, they won the first period 1-0 and they out shot the Komets 13-12 in the first period. Allen needs to sustain that kind of effort and avoid the lapses that allowed their opponents to score three goals in three minutes in each of the last two nights.

- Coach Martinson talks about lack of puck possession, turnovers and the poor penalty kill after almost every games. It is hard to see Allen winning this afternoon if these three areas don't show improvement.

- Allen and Fort Wayne couldn't be farther apart when it comes to penalty kill stats and the game today will most likely be decided on special teams. The Komets have the #1 home penalty kill percentage at 90.4% while Allen has the #27 ranked road penalty kill percentage at 73.1%. Allen has given up 25 power play goals on the road while Fort Wayne has allowed only eight power play goals at home.

- Goaltending has been a strength for Allen all season but both goalies were pulled in their starts this weekend. They are now ranked #28 & #29 in the ECHL in GAA at 3.13 & 3.15. Much of the high GAA number is attributable to the fact the Americans allow so many shots. Not sure who will get the start in goal today (probably Brodeur) but Allen needs one of those stand on your head efforts to break out of this losing streak.

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Alex Garon (#9) and linesmen Jesse Marquis (#90) and Jake Davis (#91).


- With Allen's recent poor performance they are falling further behind in the race for second place in the Mountain Division. Luckily for the Americans only the Colorado Eagles are playing great hockey right now. It is certainly premature to be talking playoffs but the way Colorado is playing you would not want to be the fourth seed and face the Eagles in the first round. Here are the current Mountain Division standings with games played in parentheses. Remember, the top four teams make the playoffs and the top two get home ice advantage in the first round.

60 points - Colorado (38 games)
52 points - Idaho (40 games)
49 points - Wichita (39 games) 
45 points - Allen (40 games)
38 points - Tulsa (40 games)
37 points - Utah (40 games)
28 points - Rapid City (38 games)

- One way to look at what teams are playing the best is to compute points earned over the last 10 games. Here are the results for the Mountain Division.

17 points - Colorado
12 points - Rapid City
12 points  - Idaho
11 points - Wichita
9 points  -  Utah
8 points  - Tulsa
4 points  -  Allen

That is a lot of ground lost by the Americans in a short period of time.

- If Allen can salvage a win today in Fort Wayne they will gain some ground because both Idaho and Wichita are idle. Colorado plays at Tulsa.

- You may have noticed in the ECHL transactions yesterday that the Idaho Steelheads released Gary Steffes yesterday and he is eligible for waiver claims again. The Steelheads obviously realized bringing in Gary was not in their best interest so they released him before he ever reported. My understanding is they are still on the hook to pay him for the week after they claimed him through the completion of the waiver process today. Now that Gary has been released by Idaho he could be claimed by any another team. That claim has to be filed by 2:00 pm today.  The odds are Gary will clear waivers, become a free agent and could sign with any team at any time. Since he is retired and working for FCA Hockey in Minnesota he is not interested in signing with any team but would like the option to come back to Allen if a short term need arises in the future.

It seems like common sense would imply that when a player is being waived with the highest salary in the ECHL there is a purpose behind the transaction. Add that the player has a full time job with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the waiving team has retired his number and it is pretty clear what is going on. After what happened with Idaho it is hard to believe any other team would be dumb enough to claim Steffes now. We will have the answer this afternoon. 

DID YOU KNOW: With the loss last night in Fort Wayne the Allen Americans now have a losing record on the road. Allen has never had a losing road record this late in the season. Historically Allen has been a great road team. Since Steve Martinson became coach, Allen has never had a losing road record and in some years the road record was better than the home record. With 15 road games still to be played the Americans have more road losses than the entire season in 2016-17, 2014-15 and 2012-13. Here is Allen's road record for each season since Martinson became the coach.

2017-18:   10-11-0-0  (after 21 of 36 road games)
2016-17:   24-9-2-1
2015-16:   19-14-1-2
2014-15:   24-8-1-3
2013-14:   19-12-2-0
2012-13:   20-8-5-0