It was just what the doctor ordered to fix the ills of an eight game home losing streak as the Allen Americans tied their highest goal total of the year on the way to a dominating 8-2 win over the Tulsa Oilers before an enthusiastic crowd of 3884 at the Allen Event Center.
Yes, Tulsa was on short rest having to travel from Wichita overnight on Saturday for the Sunday afternoon game but no amount of rest would have prevented the onslaught the Americans brought to the game. Allen never trailed and seven different players scored goals.
The only multiple goal scorer was league leader Gary Steffes who netted his 43rd and 44th goal of the season. The other goal scorers were Tarasuk (2), Follmer (10), Young (8), Asuchak (8), Costello (35), and Tyler Ludwig (16).
The win also clinched the Central Division title for Allen, who become the first team in the league to clinch their division. The win put Allen back in the race for the best overall record in the ECHL. Allen is chasing Florida (93 points) and Toledo (92 points). With 90 points the Americans only trail Idaho (91 points) for home ice advantage in the Western Conference with Allen having two games in hand.
STEVE MARTINSON’S POST GAME COMMENTS:
– I thought we outplayed Tulsa right from the first puck drop but when they got that power play goal toward the end of the first period and then the breakaway goal to make the score 3-2 early in the second period it makes you wonder. However, from that point forward we were in control and outplayed them the rest of the game.
– I put Steffes out on some extra shifts in the third period trying to get him another goal. I wasn’t worried about wearing him down since we don’t play again until Wednesday. We want to win games but we also want to get Gary 50 goals for the season as that would be quite a milestone.
– When we play a puck possession game like we did tonight and our defense has the puck a lot we are good at making plays. We had the puck a lot tonight and maybe that is why we didn’t make many mistakes. Sometimes we get in bad positions when we try to be too offensive minded when we don’t have possession of the puck.
– I have talked to the players as a group and individually about playing better when we don’t have the puck. We have to make better decisions and try not to make plays that are not there and are high risk. Sometimes when you go to make a play and it is not there you have to bail on the play. We struggle to to do that sometime and it gets us in trouble. This is an issue because we have so much skill on our team. But it can’t be about points all of the time.
– A couple of guys in Worcester have been sitting out recently so Worcester is getting guys healthy which will eventually result in getting some guys sent to Allen. I check the transactions every day and will talk to them in the next day or so to see where things are at. We will also get Schultz back from Iowa before the playoffs but I am not sure when that will happen.
– I am not worried about only having one line scoring in the playoffs where if the opponents can shut down one line they can win the game. Costello and Steffes have played together at home recently and of course they are together on the power play but they have not been on the same line most of the year. I am not really looking at the line combinations right now for the playoffs as we have guys that are not here that will be for the playoffs. My goal right now is to win games and get Steffes 50 goals. Since Costello is the best passer on the team Steffes will be with him for now.
– Based on the game tonight I gave the guys the day off tomorrow. We have been on the road a lot and they guys haven’t had a lot of time away from the rink. We can have a good practice on Tuesday before we leave for the game in Tulsa on Wednesday. This is the time of year you really need to monitor the guys to see if they have their legs. We had the day off on Saturday and had good jump today so we will try that approach again and give the guys the day off on Monday. At this time of year in the middle of March the guys have been on the ice a long time.
– It was nice to have a game where it was not so serious on the bench. I was able to have some fun with the guys tonight. It is a long season and I felt confident the way we played the first ten minutes of the game we were going to win so I was kidding around with some of the guys on the bench.
– It is important for us to make a good push the rest of the season. We are no longer in control of having the best overall record in the ECHL but there is a chance. We are in control for first place in the Western Conference and that is important for home ice advantage. All we can do is not concentrate on where we end up but just go out and win the next game.
– I really liked the goal that Gary Steffes scored where he just out muscled the guy on him and went top shelf. Steffes reminds me of Ovechkin in that he can score goals with skill and he can also run over you for a goal. He has a lot of different ways to score but the one goal tonight he just overpowered the guy. The tic tac toe goal between Tarasuk and Valcak was also a great goal to watch.
– I sent the South Carolina coach a message yesterday congratulating him on their 21 game winning streak. It says a lot for the job he has done as they were a .500 club and have now won 21 consecutive games. It is difficult in today’s game to play good enough to win over such a long period of time. He has done an unbelievable job with that team and deserves coach of the year in my mind.
– Had a lot of questions about the jersey that Riley Gill was wearing last night. There is a company by the name of Meigray Group that has working agreements with many professional leagues and teams to sell game worn jerseys. Meigray group has an agreement with the NHL and also the ECHL. Part of the agreement with the ECHL is a “Golden Goalie Program” where on a pre-selected date the starting goalie for each team wears a specialty jersey. This started back on March 5th and ended last night when Gill wore the specialty jersey. After the game the goalies sign the jersey and then it is sent to the Meigray Group to be auctioned off. Not sure when the Gill “golden goalie” jersey will be up for auction but you can check at meigroup.com if interested.
– With his 44th goal last night Gary Steffes has now scored twice as many goals as any other year in his professional career. Prior to this year the most goals he had scored was 22 for the Tulsa Oilers in 2011-2012. Gary is still on pace to get 50 goals for the season. Steffes is also now the second leading point scorer in the ECHL with 73 points trailing only Chad Costello who has 105 points.
– With his 35th goal last night Chad Costello has more goals in a single season than any other player in the history of the Allen Americans with the exception of Gary Steffes.
– Costello and Steffes dominate the ECHL in most scoring categories. Between the two of them they lead the league in points, goals, assists, power play goals, power play assists, game winning goals and insurance goals and in most of the categories it is not even close. Costello has 32 more points than anyone else, he has 20 more assist than anyone else, Steffes has nine more goals than anyone else and eight more power play goals than anyone else. That is domination.
– Other Central Division teams in action on Sunday were Brampton who was beaten by Reading 8-3 and Missouri who lost to Fort Wayne 4-1. In the battle for the basement in the Central Division Brampton has 45 points with eleven games remaining and Missouri has 53 points with ten games remaining. They play each other the last three games of the season with the last two games being in Brampton so it could get interesting.
DID YOU KNOW: The Brabham Cup is awarded to the ECHL regular season champion. It is named after Henry Brabham, who founded the ECHL in 1988-89 with five teams in four states. Brabham, who was the first inductee into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2008, owned three of the original five teams. The dedication of the Virginia businessman was crucial to the league surviving to span from coast-to-coast while advancing 559 players and countless coaches, on-ice officials and front office personnel to the National Hockey League. How important is it to win the Brabham Cup and secure home ice advantage for the playoffs? Only five of the previous twenty six Brabham Cup winners have gone on to win the Kelly Cup.