3-2 is the new favorite number combination for Allen Americans fans. For the second game in a row the Allen Americans beat the South Carolina Stingrays 3-2 in overtime and now have a 3-2 series lead with a chance to win the Kelly Cup in game six tonight at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The hero in the game last night, which started an hour late because of a storm related power outage, was Greger Hanson who took a great pass from Konrad Abeltshauser and scored the game winner from the left circle at 5:25 of overtime to send most of the 4184 fans that attended the game out the doors wondering why the Stingrays can’t win at home.
The Stingrays should ask that game six be played in Allen because their home playoff record now stands at 4-8 compared to an almost unbeatable road record which is 10-3. Seven of South Carolina’s twelve home games have gone to overtime. Their home overtime record is just 2-5 and they have lost five of their last six home overtime games.
South Carolina got on the scoreboard first with the only goal of the opening period when Patrick Gaul was able to swat the puck in the net after a scramble in front of Riley Gill. Allen tied the score 1-1 with the only goal of the second period as Jamie Schaafsma got his fifth goal of the playoffs putting in a shot taken by Chris Crane. Crane scored the go ahead goal, his ninth, early in the third period assisted by Schaafsma and Steffes but the ECHL’s leading scorer in the playoffs, Wayne Simpson, tied the score for the Stingrays 2-2 at the 16:05 mark to send the game into overtime. Allen held the Stingrays without a shot in the OT until Abeltshauser took a pass from Kevin Young and joined the rush. Konrad came up the middle of the ice with speed and caught several South Carolina players flat-footed, made a perfect pass to Hanson who was wide open and Greger buried the shot past goalie Jeff Jakaitis for the win.
As dangerous as South Carolina has been on the road it is important for the Americans to approach the game tonight just like a game seven. You know the Stingrays will leave everything on the ice and the Americans need the same level of energy and intensity to avoid bringing the series back home for game seven.
STEVE MARTINSON’S POST GAME COMMENTS:
– That was a “big money” play by our two European players (Hanson & Abeltshauser). Konrad made a great play up the middle of the ice with a perfect pass to Greger who knows how the finish.
– That is a pretty good feeling when you see the puck hit their net in overtime.
– I thought that was our best game of the series. We can still improve but we had a lot of quality chances in the game tonight.
– We now have the advantage of last change in game six which is really big when you have to contend with the Stingrays top line.
– I voted for Spencer Carbery as ECHL coach of the year as both he and his team have done an outstanding job this season. I like to think I am pretty smart when it comes to these situations as well. We will have to be ready for South Carolina’s best game tomorrow (Wednesday) night.
SPENCER CARBERY’S POST GAME COMMENTS:
– That was a tough game and it is very disappointing.
– On the game winning goal our player got stretched out in the neutral zone and they made a “D” to “D” pass and Abeltshauser was able to gain the middle of the ice and he was coming with a ton of speed and catches a bunch of our guys flat-footed and attacked through the middle. That play is tough to defend but we have seen it before.
– This game was frustrating not only because we lost in overtime again but just the process tonight. We didn’t have what I thought some of our guys would have on a night like tonight. We were not hard enough and that was disappointing. I thought we would be way harder at times during the game tonight and just weren’t.
– I am not into excuses so if you are tired this time of year when you are competing for a championship that is pretty embarrassing for a professional athlete. I don’t care if you are playing hockey, basketball or soccer. If you can’t get an energy level up this time of year then you don’t belong playing pro sports.
– If I am playing in the game tomorrow night (Wednesday) there isn’t an ounce of anything left in my body when I finish the game. I absolutely lay everything I have on the line in this building. That is what you hope you see tomorrow from our group. The series is really irrelevant at this point. It is more about what we do on home ice tomorrow night and what we leave out here and then we will live with the result.
– “Of course it’s frustrating that we can’t win at home. It’s tough that we haven’t been able to win at home because our fans have come out and given us great support. It just seems like one bounce goes their way and that is it. I know everyone in our locker room believes we can still get it done…..South Carolina Stingrays captain Andrew Rowe.
– “Konrad (Abeltshauser) made an unbelievable play at the blue line. I got some room in their zone and was lucky to score”……Greger Hanson
– “I thought we had some pretty good energy after Wayne’s (Simpson) goal and had a chance to win it in regulation”…..Andrew Rowe.
– Both teams continue to struggle on the power play as neither has had a power play goal in the last three games. South Carolina does not have a power play goal in the entire series (0-18). Allen is 3-14 in the series but on the road in the playoffs are just 2-35 (5.7%).
– A fast start and first goal would be huge for Allen tonight. Allen is 6-0 when leading after one period and 5-4 when trailing after one period. South Carolina is 6-4 when leading after one period and 2-4 when trailing after one period.
– With the Kelly Cup on the line tonight I was reminded of what some of the players have shared in the past about mottos or sayings. When Jamie Schaafsma was a kid he had a poster on his wall that said, “I play to win” and Kevin Young always embraced the saying, “Win Your Last Game.” Jamie’s wife, Nicole tweeted one year with the championship on the line, “If you are not first, you are last, tonight is the night.” All of these capture how the Americans should approach the game tonight, that this is the last game of the season. The series isn’t important, it is what you do tonight.
– Over the years coach Martinson has used many hockey quotes and several of them are appropriate for a game as important as the one tonight.
“Remember, hard work beats skill when skill doesn’t work hard”.
“Don’t try and manufacture plays that aren’t there”.
“Trying to do too much is just a code word for dumb player”.
“All we need is for everyone to play their best, nothing more than that”.
DID YOU KNOW: According to the ECHL the Allen vs South Carolina series is the eighth time in ECHL history the finals was tied 2-2. The winner of game five in the previous seven finals has gone on to win the Kelly Cup.