The biggest news coming out of the Allen Event Center (AEC) last night was not the Americans 5-3 victory over the Wichita Thunder. It was coach Steve Martinson‘s response to a question at his postgame press conference/meeting with season ticket holders. When asked about his contract status going forward Martinson had this to say, “If I am going to move I need to consider my daughter is still playing hockey and my son will most likely be in juniors. I will probably wait until after the regular season is over, then talk to some other teams and make a decision about what is the best thing to do.” I talked to coach Martinson after the press conference and he did verify he has been given permission to talk to other teams. He also mentioned he needs to make the decision about where his daughter will play hockey next year by the end of May.
– Coach Martinson’s comments answered a few questions about his future at least in my mind. First, he is not under contract after this season and is a free agent and can go anywhere. Second, he plans on testing the market by talking to other teams before he makes a decision on his future. Third, and this is more an opinion than anything, Steve Martinson will return to Allen if he can get a long-term contract that matches what he can get elsewhere. It looks like all the cards are on the table at this point. It is going to be a nervous few weeks for Allen fans until this is resolved.
– Allen beat Wichita 5-3 last night in a game that both the coach or players felt was not their best effort. It is hard to complain when the Americans are on a six-game win streak but they have fallen into some bad habits recently and that was evident again last night. Allen got off to a good start scoring two goals in the first period and took a 3-0 lead on a great set play off the faceoff just six seconds into the second period. The Americans let Wichita back in the game in the third period before scoring a couple of goals to put the game out of hand. The Americans were outshot 29-16 in the final two periods and 40-26 for the game.
– Third period breakdowns have happened in the last three games. This is out of character for Allen as they are by far the best third period team in the league. They have scored 99 of their 248 goals this season in the third period and allowed just 51 for a third period goal differential of +48. As a comparison, the Americans have scored 67 first period goals and allowed 63 for a goal differential of +4 and in the second period they have scored 74 goals and allowed 59 for a goal differential of +15.
– Goal scorers for Allen were Travis Brown (3), Derek Mathers (7), Joel Chouinard (9), Wade MacLeod (2) and Greger Hanson (33). The video highlights of the game have not been posted to ECHL Rewind but should be later today. All of the goals will be great to see again but pay particular attention to the Chouinard goal at the beginning of the second period as it was an interesting set play that relies on a faceoff win and a lot of moving parts. The Hanson goal will also be one to look at several times.
STEVE MARTINSON’S POST GAME COMMENTS
– I am glad we won but I have been in better moods. I didn’t like our second period and I didn’t like our third period even more. We were up 3-0 and Riley Gill would like to get a couple more shutouts and the defensive play wasn’t there.
– I thought Tyler Barnes made some really good moves on the rush but I am sure he would like to have that breakaway back. He is going to be a really good player for us.
– The goal at the start of the second period was a set play. You have to win the draw to make it work. After we scored Dyson Stevenson looked at me and said you have been trying that play for three years, it is about time we scored. I just told him I had to have the right guys out there.
– With the roster we have now, our options are really good to play any way we want to play. We have plenty of skill and also plenty of grit. We are in good shape going into the playoffs to play any way we want to play. We will have three lines all capable of scoring that will also be tough to play against.
– Bryan Moore will be okay. He has a minor injury so I will rest him tomorrow night.
– We have some players more concerned about scoring right now. That is their top priority rather than playing well defensively. That has cost us goals against in the last few games. What I need to do is create more power play units so the guys that are only thinking about scoring don’t get as much power play time.
– Alex Krushelynski will be here Sunday and I will start out playing him with Moore. They are friends, played together last season in Utah and say they have good chemistry together. I have lots of line combination options I am thinking about.
– I thought we missed Spencer Asuchak tonight and his net front presence. It is a great opportunity for him but it his hard to replace a 6’5″ player that can skate and play the front of the net like he does.
– We were good on the penalty kill (0-5) but a big part of our penalty kill was Gill especially in the second period.
– The rematch with Wichita takes place tonight and the Americans will be wearing specialty jerseys benefiting HopeKids of North Texas. If you noticed the jersey owner Jack Gulati was wearing last night when he dropped the puck, it was a preview of the specialty jersey the team will wear tonight. It was great to see Jack in the concourse greeting fans before the game. There were smiles, hugs and thank yous all around. How refreshing to see an owner interacting with the fans the way Gulati does. It just makes you want to pull for him to be successful.
– Despite the third period problems last night Allen did a lot of things right that led to victory. They scored the first goal of the game and now have a record of 31-2-2-1 when scoring first. The Americans also took advantage of their superior special teams. Allen was 2-3 on the power play while Wichita was 0-5. If Allen can win the special teams battle tonight and make more of a commitment to defense they should win the game handily and avoid yet another specialty jersey night jinx.
– Officials scheduled for the game are referee Andrew Wilk (#24) and linesmen Erik Contino (#89) and Lucas Bisbee (#72). This is the exact same crew that worked the game last night.
– Colorado beat Utah 5-2 last night so the Americans remain four points in back of the Eagles for the top spot in the Mountain Division with 10 games to play.
– Missouri lost 3-2 in Quad City last night and trail Utah by one point behind and Alaska by five points for the final playoff spot in the Mountain Division.
– Greger Hanson kept two scoring streaks alive last night. He has points in the last 11 games and has a goal in his last five home games.
– Chad Costello had two assists last night to raise his league-leading point total to 108. Chad has a 31 point lead in the scoring race. He has at least one assist in his last seven games.
DID YOU KNOW: At the end of November, the Allen power play was ranked #26 in the ECHL at 7.8%. Since that time the Allen power play percentage is the best in the league at 29.3%. Allen has gone from #26 to #4 in the ECHL power play rankings and now has an overall power play percentage of 23.0%.