ALLEN, TX – It is cliche to say during the regular season you take one game at a time and all wins are worth the same two points. That may be true but Allen’s 3-2 overtime win in Utah last night was as gutsy a performance as you could ask for and will certainly help the team going forward. The Americans were tired after the bus breakdown and spending 27 hours just getting to Utah. They were playing short on defensemen with Eric Roy and Travis Brown back in Allen nursing injuries. They had to find an emergency backup goalie after Jamie Murray was recalled by San Jose. They were playing an inspired Grizzlies team that did not want to let Allen sweep the season series in Utah.
– What was the formula for success for the Americans? The most important piece of the puzzle was to put Riley Gill in goal. Riley stopped 38 of 40 shots including a spectacular point blank shot with 13 seconds remaining in the game just to get it to overtime. Allen won three games in Utah in the last two weeks and Gill has been the difference maker. The Americans were outshot in all three games, Utah had at least 40 shots in all three games and yet Allen won all three games. Gill saved 116 of 121 shots over the three games for a phenomenal save percentage of .959.
– Allen’s three goals were scored by Derek Mathers (2), Chad Costello (6) and Harrison Ruopp (1). Greger Hanson had the primary assist on the first two goals. On the first one, Greger took a cross-ice pass from Mike Brodzinski at the blue line, carried the puck up the left wing to the faceoff circle and made a perfect pass to Mathers going to the net on the right side. On the second goal, Hanson made a stretch pass to Costello who was ahead of the defense. The puck went off Chad’s stick and was headed for the corner but he chased it down, shot at a sharp angle from the goal line and the puck went in. It appeared Allen had won the game at the 2:46 mark of the overtime on a goal by Alex Guptill but the referee waived off the goal because of incidental contact with the goalie. With less than a minute left in overtime Gary Steffes got a big faceoff win to the left of the Utah goalie and drew the puck to Ruopp at the point. Ruopp took a couple of steps toward the slot and blasted a slap shot top shelf over the glove of the goalie.
STEVE MARTINSON’S POST GAME COMMENTS
– It is great to start this leg of the road trip with a win especially with all the trouble we had just getting to Utah.
– That was a big shot from Harrison Ruopp to win the game in overtime after a big faceoff win by Gary Steffes.
– Special teams are still frustrating but we just missed a goal on the power play at the end of regulation.
– Even though the team was really tired they played better in the third period than the second.
– The three stars of the game last night were #1 Ruopp for the game-winning goal, #2 Hanson for the two outstanding assists and #3 Gill for his great work in goal. Whoever selects the stars of the game in Utah must not appreciate goalie play. Riley Gill should feel lucky he was selected the #3 star last night. He was the Americans’ best player in all three wins in Utah and could have easily been the #1 star in all three games but has just the #3 star last night to show for his efforts.
– Allen has been very good this season when they get off to a good start and are playing with the lead. They are 5-1 when scoring the first goal of the game and 4-1 when leading after the first period. On the flip side they are 1-8 when trailing after the first period.
– The overtime win was Allen’s third this season to go with one shootout victory. Allen is now a perfect 4-0 when games go beyond regulation. Toledo is the only other ECHL team that has not lost an overtime or shootout game.
– With the win last night Allen improved their record to 8-9 and moved back into a playoff spot in the Mountain Division as they are now in fourth place with 16 points. The Americans have won four of their last six games.
– Colorado moved into first place in the Mountain Division with a 3-2 overtime win in Rapid City last night. It was like an Allen Americans alumni game as Darryl Bootland scored Colorado’s first two goals and was named the games #1 star and Casey Pierro-Zabotel scored the game winner in overtime and was the #2 star.
– If you looked at the ECHL transactions yesterday you got an idea of how long Eric Roy and Travis Brown might be out of the lineup with injuries. Roy was placed on the 21 day injured reserve effective November 16 while Brown was placed on reserve so he can return anytime as soon as he is ready.
– Riley Gill has a GAA of 2.78 which is high for him but that is because he has faced so many shots. Riley is ranked #19 in GAA but his save percentage (.927) is the second best in the league. Allen is 6-3 with Gill in goal, 2-6 in the other games.
– I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving but especially those that will spend the day away from their families. Those like my daughter, Erin, who is a labor and delivery RN at Parkland Hospital and will put in a 12-hour shift today, those serving in the military and so many others including the Allen Americans who are away from their families.
The Americans made it to Boise after the game last night on a different bus. Big Red is stranded in Salt Lake City where repairs are underway. According to Tommy Daniels, the plan was for the bus and the driver (Monty) to stay behind in Utah until the bus is fixed and then join the team in Boise for the trip back to Allen. That will be another nailbiter hoping for good weather, kind mountains and a cooperative Big Red on the 1600 mile trip home.
DID YOU KNOW: Congrats to Chad Costello reached the 600 point mark in his professional career with a goal last night. 390 of those points were scored in the ECHL. Chad’s scoring prowess can be described so many ways. Winning the scoring title by an ECHL record 45 points two years ago was a highlight but here are some other ECHL scoring stats to think about. Chad has played 254 games in the ECHL which ranks him #454 on the all-time list. Even though he is 454th in games played Chad ranks #53 all time in points (390), #39 in assists and #14 all time in plus/minus (+72).