Sunday, April 15, 2018

Allen Does it Again on the Road, Takes 2-0 Series Lead, Game Recap, Video Highlights, Martinson's Comments, ECHL Playoff Update, Barracuda Miracle and More Encouraging Stats

The Allen Americans defeated the Idaho Steelheads 5-4 last night before a disappointed crowd of 4612 at CenturyLink Arena. The Americans head home with a 2-0 series lead and the next three games (Wednesday, Friday, & Sunday) in Allen.

- In the story of the game last night the first chapter was just like the game on Friday. Allen had another great start. Just like Friday one of the young guns got the party started. This time it was Jared Bethune who won a puck battle behind the net and scored on a wrap around by bouncing the puck off the pad of Idaho goalie Tomas Sholl.

- It got even better for the Americans five minutes later when Casey Pierro-Zabotel deflected a shot from the point by Joel Chouinard past Sholl to give the Americans a 2-0 lead. At that point it looked like Idaho was in deep trouble. Allen scored on two of their first six shots and had a shot lead of 11-0 before allowing the Steelheads a shot on goal. There was 7:08 left in the first period when Idaho recorded their first shot. Once Idaho took that first shot the script was flipped for the rest of the period. In the last 7:08 Allen took more penalties (3) than shots on goal (1) while Idaho had nine shots and two goals. The period ended with the score tied 2-2 and Idaho with all of the momentum.

- Unlike the game on Friday the Americans fell into some of their old habits after that great start. Turnovers and penalties created ample opportunity for Idaho to take charge but Allen kept working hard and never allowed the Steelheads to take the lead. David Makoswki scored the only goal of the second period even though Allen was outshot 18-7. A 3-2 lead after the second period was a good sign since Allen's record with a second period lead during the regular season was 25-4-0-1.

- Allen got a two goal lead twice in the third period but to Idaho's credit they never gave up and kept coming back but could never get the tying goal. The Americans came away with the victory and that is all that counts but they need to improve for the game on Wednesday. A great start paved the way for the win but consider this, Allen had a two goal lead and a shot advantage of 11-0 when Idaho recorded their first shot. From that point until the end of the game the Americans were outshot 40-13.

- Goal scorers for Allen were Jared Bethune (1), Casey Pierro-Zabotel (1 & 2), David Makowski (2) and Zach Pochiro (1). It was a nice combination of contributions from the new guys and the vets. There were only four assists on the five goals with two going to Braylon Shmyr. Casey had two goals on three shots and was +3. Joel Chouinard had an assist and was +4.

- Allen players occupy the top five spots in the ECHL playoff plus/minus standings:
+7   Joel Chouinard
+5   Casey Pierro-Zabotel
+4   Alex Guptill
+4   David Makowski
+4   Braylon Schmyr

- Braylon Shmyr is tied with five other players for the league lead in points with a goal and two assists.

- Here is the game recap from the Allen Americans:

- Here is the game recap from the Idaho Steelheads:

- Here is the game recap from C.C. Hawkley who covers the Idaho Steelheads for Team Sin Bin:

- Here are the video highlights. The only Allen goal missing is the Zach Pochiro empty net goal that went the length of the ice and proved to be the game winner. Things to note on these goals include how Jared Bethune won the puck battle behind the net before scoring his goal, how Chouinard and Casey worked together on Pierro-Zabotel's first goal, how Makowski's goal rang off the post and Braylon Shmyr's play/pass on Pierro-Zabotel's second goal.

- I had a chance to touch base briefly with coach Martinson this morning before the team caught a very early flight on their way back to Allen. Here are his comments:

"The five-on-three penalty kill early in the third period was a critical kill."

"We got some help when Idaho seemed to get caught up with I want to score more than we need to score."

"We have a few things to work on but obviously we are in a good spot."

"Idaho's third goal was clearly a tip that was head high. It is disappointing with four officials that was missed. You could see their players look right at the referee to see if the goal would be disallowed."


- The Americans had very early flights this morning (around 5:30 am) and are expected to arrive back in Allen around 2:00 pm. They will have a couple of days to prepare for game three on Wednesday. Game three in this series will be a critical game and it goes without saying Idaho will be playing desperate. If the Americans can get a win in game three this could be a short series. If the Steelheads win they will be right back in the series.

- Officially Allen lost the special teams battle again last night going 0-2 on the power play while Idaho was 1-4. However, Allen's second goal was scored three seconds after an Idaho penalty expired so technically it wasn't a power play goal but was scored before the Steelhead player got back in the play. 

- Here is the story of the San Jose Barracuda directly from the AHL website:

"The San Jose Barracuda completed one of the most unlikely turnarounds in American Hockey League history on Saturday night, clinching the 16th and final spot in the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs. San Jose defeated Stockton, 2-1, and then watched San Diego drop a 6-3 decision in Tucson, sending the Barracuda into the playoffs for the third straight spring. On the morning of April 4, San Jose sat in eighth place in the Pacific Division and trailed the Gulls by 10 points. But the Barracuda won their final six games in a row while San Diego stumbled to six losses in their last seven outings. San Jose, which advanced all the way to the Western Conference Finals in 2017, will meet Tucson in the Pacific Division semifinals."

- Congrats to the Barracuda who passed four teams in the final 10 days of the season to make the playoffs. San Jose's success means Allen will not see Colby McAuley anytime soon. San Jose's first round playoff dates will be announced at noon. The first round in the AHL is best of five. Vincent Arseneau's team (Utica) is also in the playoffs and will play the top team in the AHL (Toronto Marlies) in the first round.

- Here is a brief recap of where the eight ECHL first round playoffs are at:

North Division
#1 Adirondack vs #4 Worcester - This series is a 1-2-2-1-1 format as these teams are only about 180 miles apart and there must be some scheduling issues. The series is tied 1-1 with home teams getting shutouts in the first two games. Game three is today in Worcester.

#2 Manchester vs #3 Reading - This series is the typical 2-3-2 format and Manchester has the lead 2-0 winning the first two games at home. Both games had the exact same score (3-2) and both went to double overtime. Two heart breakers for Reading who scored first in both games. The series now moves to Reading for game three on Monday.

South Division
#1 Florida vs #4 Atlanta - This series is a 2-3-2 format and is yet to get underway. The first two games of the series, in Florida, will take place on Monday and Tuesday.

 #2 South Carolina vs #3 Orlando - This series is a 2-3-2 format and has been the surprise of the playoffs thus far. South Carolina had 29 more points than Orlando in the regular season and head to head was 7-3-0-1 against the Solar Bears. However, Orlando has taken a 2-0 series lead winning in South Carolina 2-0 and 2-1. The series now heads back to Orlando for game three on Thursday.

Central Division
#1 Toledo vs #4 Indy - Another 2-3-2 format which has Toledo ahead 1-0. It took double overtime for Toledo to win game one at home. Game two is today in Toledo.

#2 Fort Wayne vs #3 Cincinnati - This 2-3-2 series opened in Fort Wayne last night with the Komets winning 4-3. It took double overtime to get the win and former Allen captain Jamie Schaafsma was the hero with the game winning goal after 26:29 of overtime. Game two of this series is today.

Mountain Division
#1 Colorado vs #4 Wichita - This format is 2-3-1-1 and will actually start in Wichita because of scheduling conflicts is Colorado. Game one and two will take place this afternoon and tomorrow (Monday) night.

#3 Allen vs #2 Idaho - Allen has a 2-0 series lead in this 2-3-2 format series. Game three is in Allen on Wednesday.

- Idaho goalie Tomas Sholl has to be wondering how he can beat the Allen Americans. Sholl has played 12 games for Idaho since joining them in early March, winning nine and losing three. All three losses have been to Allen. In 12 games Sholl has allowed only 18 goals but 10 of the 18 have been scored by Allen. His save percentage in the three games against Allen is .861. His save percentage in the nine games against other opponents is an outstanding .968.

DID YOU KNOW: Since I ended the blog with some reassuring statistics yesterday thought I would do the same today. After two games in the Allen vs Idaho series the Steelheads have not led in either game. Allen has never lost a series under coach Steve Martinson when leading 2-0. Finally, in the NHL there have been 360 seven game series where one team has taken a 2-0 lead. The team with the 2-0 series lead has won the series 86.4% of the time.

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