ALLEN, TX – It is game day as the Allen Americans take on the Utah Grizzlies tonight (7:05) at the Allen Event Center in game two of their best of seven series.

Allen leads the series 1-0 and the odds are already in their favor. If you look at the history of the NHL there is some interesting data on series outcomes in seven game series. In the opening round with a 1-0 lead, the home team wins game two 59.1% of the time and wins the series 72.3% of the time. If Allen wins tonight and takes a 2-0 lead, the NHL data shows the odds of winning the series goes up to 86.4%. Game two’s have been kind to Allen over the years, Steve Martinson‘s record in game two’s in Allen is 11-3.

– My reporting is Riley Gill is okay and may even be able to start the game tonight. If not, he will be ready for game three. With no structural damage, it is just a matter of the swelling and stiffness to abate before he can play.

– It was announced yesterday Gill was selected as the Goaltender of the Year in the ECHL. The league does not reveal vote totals but I would guess this may have been the award that had the highest percentage of votes for the winner as Riley’s stats were the best in the league most of the year. Since the middle of December Riley has not lost a game in regulation. He has won 14 and lost two games in overtime.

– As to other lineup changes for the game tonight you might see different players sitting out as healthy scratches. Miles Liberati and Mike Brodzinski sat out game one. Zach Hall is listed as day to day.

– As for the game itself, there will be adjustments made by both teams. The Americans need to adjust how they get the puck through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone. Coach Martinson also mentioned some defensive adjustments or as he put it get everyone on the same page. Allen was just 1-5 on the power play in game one so you might see a change in the approach or personnel on the power play units.

OTHER COMMENTS:

– Looking at the other first round playoff matchups I noticed several will have a different format than the normal 2-3-2. The strangest is Adirondack vs Manchester which is a 2-5 series. As if the #4 seed Manchester doesn’t have a big enough task defeating the #1 seed Adirondack, after two home games they finish with five on the road. Would assume the availability of their arena caused this to happen.

Two series will have a 2-2-1-1-1 format, something that typically happens when teams are close geographically. Greenville vs South Carolina play and are separated by 205 miles and Toledo vs Kalamazoo are separated by by just 150 miles.

– The final ECHL award will be announced today and that is the Most Valuable Player award. Chad Costello is the heavy the favorite to win having won the scoring title by 34 points. It would be the second MVP award in a row for Chad and the third of his career. In addition to last season, he was the ECHL MVP in 2012 when he played for the Colorado Eagles. Chad is the only player in ECHL history to win multiple MVP awards.  If Chad does win today it will complete quite a week of individual honors for Allen. Chad has already won the scoring title award, Joel Chouinard won the plus/minus award, David Makowski finished second in the voting for Defenseman of the Year, Riley Gill won Goaltender of the Year and Chad may finish the week off with another MVP award. When you consider there are 27 teams in the ECHL that is quite a haul!

– I am sure by now you have heard that owner Jack Gulati announced that he has heard the fans and decided to keep the Allen Americans name. I had a chance to talk to Jack about this issue before and after he made the decision and here is my take on what happened.

The Keep the Coach, Keep the Name campaign was heard loud and clear. Jack’s primary goal was to re-sign Steve Martinson and he got that accomplished last week. After putting the name change to a fan vote and the overwhelming choice was to keep the Allen Americans name, Jack felt he should listen to the fans, stop the voting which was supposed to continue until June 30 and announce the name would remain the Allen Americans. Jack made that decision with the hope the support of the fans along with more resources devoted to sales and marketing will get things turned around. Jack intends to keep his part of the bargain and devote more staff and money to sales and marketing. He has hired the Marketing Department at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota to help put a marketing plan in place. He is also asking fans to help him put more butts in the seats.

With everyone giving it their all over the next year it is hoped the financial picture will be much improved. If it is not, the name change issue will be revisited next year and you can be assured there will not be another fan vote. The Dallas Americans will be born, at least that is my opinion.

DID YOU KNOW: Riley Gill is the winningest playoff goalie in the history of the ECHL but he has lots of company in the playoff record book. Here is a list of current Allen players in the record book related to the playoffs.

Greger Hanson – Tied for third all-time for most goals in one playoff year with 15 in 2016
Greger Hanson – Second all-time for most power play goals in one playoff year with eight in 2016
Gary Steffes – Tied for second all-time for most goals in a final series with six in 2016
Chad Costello – fifth all-time for most playoff assists in a career with 52
Chad Costello – first all-time for most assists in one playoff year with 29 in 2016
Chad Costello – first all-time for most assists in final series with 10 in 2016
Chad Costello – second all-time for most points in one playoff year with 36 in 2015
Chad Costello – third all-time for points in a final series with 13 in 2016

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