ALLEN, TX – The Allen Americans defeated the Missouri Mavericks last night 5-1 to advance to the ECHL Western Conference final where they will take on the Fort Wayne Komets. It was a disappointing night for most of the 4678 fans at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena as the Mavericks once again bowed out of the playoffs early.
The Mavericks were the class of the ECHL during the regular season handily winning the Brabham Cup with 109 points. Post season continued to be Missouri’s downfall as it has throughout the history of the franchise. The Mavericks have never advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs in their seven years as a franchise.
For Allen it was their 12th straight series win. Since becoming Allen’s coach at the beginning of the 2012-13 season, all Steve Martinson has done is win. He is 12-0 in Allen. Players, coaches and staff have come and gone but the one constant has been coach Martinson. You never know when the streak will end, it could be next round or next year but it is a remarkable accomplishment.
The game last night was much closer than the final 5-1 score. Allen sent a message at the midpoint of the first period which was a confidence booster for players and fans alike. The Americans scored the first goal of the game (the team that scored first won five of the six games in this series) and they scored on the power play, a power play that had been struggling. ECHL MVP Chad Costello led they way with his third goal and 15 point of the playoffs.
Missouri struck back at the 16:01 mark of the first period when Ross Johnston evened the score. Johnston is a big, tough forward who had a game in the NHL (New York Islanders) just a month ago. Johnston set up camp in front of the Allen goal and rammed home his own rebound.
Allen took a 2-1 lead early in the second period on another power play goal. Casey Pierro-Zabotel poked in his own rebound for his fifth goal of the playoff which was the game winning goal. Allen took the 2-1 lead into the second intermission.
The back breaker for Missouri came at the 1:12 mark of the third period. Dyson Stevenson carried the puck into the offensive zone and drew three Missouri defenders to him and then passed the puck to Greger Hanson on the left wing who put it by Mavericks goalie Josh Robinson.
Two late open net goals by Hanson (his 8th of the playoffs) and Stevenson (his first) finished the scoring.
POST GAME QUOTES:
“Right through our line up starting with Riley Gill and Chad Costello we played a great game. It was a big win for our hockey club”…..Allen coach Steve Martinson
“The power play was really good tonight. We made them pay for undisciplined penalties”….. Steve Martinson
“I thought our positioning in the game tonight was excellent and Riley Gill was outstanding”…..Steve Martinson
“I thought our entire team played great and bought into what coach Martinson was saying. I loved our effort and the team showed they wanted it on every shift”…..Bench coach Aaron Gens
“Game over. Series over. Season over”…..Joe Rozycki AKA SinBinMavs
“It is a big win but we have a lot of work to do heading to Fort Wayne. We are excited and looking forward to the Western Conference final”…..Aaron Gens
“It’s not the ending you wanted to a great season, but it is what it is, obviously it’s frustrating when you lose a playoff series when your ultimate goal is to win a championship. It doesn’t matter if you’re the first team out, or the last team out, it’s frustrating.”…..Missouri Mavericks coach Richard Matvichuk told kansascity.com
“Riley Gill played really, really well, and that’s probably the difference in the hockey game,”…..Matvichuk told kansascity.com
“It hurts. You battle all season to get yourself in a great spot, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be this year. We were prepared and we were ready. They just have a really good team over there. We made some mistakes and they capitalized on the chances that they got.”…..longest tenured Missouri Maverick Andrew Courtney told kansascity.com
“This is a true testament to what their culture is all about. The organizations are very similar in that regard. I am really looking forward to coaching against Martinson. I really look up to what he does and how he handles himself and how he wins. I’ve never had a chance to coach against him. For me being a younger coach, it’s a really good challenge for me personally and I know our guys will be up to the challenge as well.”…..Gary Graham
“They are going to be the best opponent we have faced for sure. It is just a matter of everyone knowing the style of game they are going to play. It is going to be our toughest series so far. They have the speed of a Cincinnati and more size. They can play a similar game to us. They can play a control game or an up tempo fast game or a heavy game. that is what we are like”…..Former Allen captain and current Fort Wayne captain Jamie Schaafsma told jg.com
“They are a tough opponent for sure, They’ll be under control. They have a lot of speed up front and a lot of guys who know how to win. They have big defensemen. Their goalie is really big and you have to beat him side to side. He has proven himself over and over in this league.”
– Riley Gill now stands alone in the ECHL record books as last night was his 44th ECHL playoff victory. Thought is was a nice touch that the former record holder (Nick Vitucci) put out a message on social media congratulating Riley for breaking his record.
– One of the more impressive stats in the series with Missouri is in the four wins Allen allowed just four goals. Just shows what this team can accomplish defensively against a potent offensive team like Missouri that averaged 3.25 goals per game during the regular season.
– Here is a story that was posted in the Fort Wayne Sentinel last last night. The quotes from the Komet’s coach Gary Graham and Jamie Schaafsma above came from this story. Here is the complete story which is titled, “Komets excited to face defending champion Americans” https://www.news-sentinel.com/sports/komets/Komets-excited-to-face-defending-champion-Americans
– The team spent the night in Missouri last night and will travel the 600 miles to Fort Wayne today and begin preparing for game one against the Komets which is Friday at 7:00 pm CDT.
– It will be an interesting series for Fort Wayne captain Jamie Schaafsma who was a big part of the last three championships in Allen and is universally loved by Allen fans. And Allen fans have to be aware of the “Schaafsma Effect” which says if Jamie is on your team you make it to the championship final. He is going for his eight straight championship final which has to be some kind of record. Different teams, different leagues, different parts of the world doesn’t really matter. If Schaafsma is on your team you to go to the final. Let’s hope the Americans can break that streak.
– Here is the schedule for series with Fort Wayne:
Western Conference Finals
ALLEN vs. FORT WAYNE
Game 1 – Fri May 13 8:00 PM Allen at Fort Wayne
Game 2 – Sun May 15 6:00 PM Allen at Fort Wayne
Game 3 – Thu May 19 7:05 PM Fort Wayne at Allen
Game 4 – Sat May 21 7:05 PM Fort Wayne at Allen
Game 5 – Sun May 22 4:05 PM * Fort Wayne at Allen
Game 6 – Tue May 24 7:30 PM * Allen at Fort Wayne
Game 7 – Thu May 26 7:30 PM * Allen at Fort Wayne
* => If Necessary
– There was one other playoff game last night as South Carolina beat Adirondack 4-1 to tie the series 3-3. Andrew Gallant has the recap, here: https://thesinbin.net/vigier-leads-stingrays-to-a-game-7/
– Both Eastern Conference series have been extended to seven games and will be decided tonight. Reading is at Wheeling and Adirondack at South Carolina. The higher seeds (Wheeling & South Carolina) had to win game sixes to force a winner take all game seven.
DID YOU KNOW: Nick Vitucci lost his record for most playoff wins to Riley Gill last night but still holds a more impressive record. Vitucci has the ECHL record for most titles with five. He won four as a players with four different teams and won a fifth as an assistant coach.