ALLEN, TX – The Allen Americans beat the Orlando Solar Bears last night by a score of 6-2 but the topic of conversation after the game was the health of Riley Gill who was carried off the ice in a neck brace and backboard after being crashed into by two players with 6:11 remaining in the game.
The good news is the trip to the hospital ended up being precautionary, Riley did not have to spend the night in the hospital and his wife, Angie reports, “He is doing really good.” That is the best news from the game as the incident looked really scary when it happened.
– As for the game itself, Allen had a strong first period holding the Solar Bears to just three shots on goal while tallying 12 of their own but the Americans could not finish on several excellent opportunities and the game was scoreless at the first intermission. Two Allen goals early in the second period was all the Americans needed as they had leads of 2-0, 4-1 and the final of 6-2.
– Special teams continue to be the tale of two stories. The penalty kill was perfect killing off nine Orlando power play opportunities including two long 5-on-3 power plays. The penalty kill unit has given up just one goal (1-18) over the first three games for a 94.4% penalty kill percentage. They not only kill penalties but they have scored three shorthanded goals including two last night.
As for the power play the results have been just the opposite of the penalty kill even though Allen did manage one power play goal last night. The Americans were 1-7 against the Solar Bears and over the first three games are now 1-16 for a power play percentage of 6.3%. You know things are completely “bass-ackwards” when after three games the Allen power play unit has one goal and the penalty kill unit has three shorthanded goals.
– For those that were concerned Allen would have trouble replacing all of the scoring that did not return this season the team has answered that question over the first three games. The Americans lead the ECHL in scoring and their 6.33 goals per game average is a full goal over Wheeling who is in second place averaging 5.33 goals per game.
– Goal scorers for Allen were Zach Pochiro (4 & 5), Tanner Eberle (1), Jonathan Lessard (3), Casey Pierro-Zabotel (2) and David Makowski (1). Pochiro and Makowski had the shorthanded goals and Lessard got the power play goal.
– The rematch between Allen and Orlando is this afternoon with a 4:05 pm puck drop. Allen will attempt to keep a streak alive that started way back on February 19. That is the last time the Americans lost a regular season game in regulation. Their record since then is 18-0-1-0.
– Special teams will continue to be a key to the game and this afternoon will certainly be a hard-fought game. After the game last night you can expect the Americans will be very hard to play against today. Both teams have struggled on the power play. Allen’s power play percentage is 6.3% (1-16) but Orlando’s is even worse at 0.0% (0-15).
– Maybe the most telling stat between these two teams is goals for and against. Allen is averaging 6.3 goals per game while allowing 2.7. Orlando is averaging 3.5 goals per game while allowing 5.0.
-The officials for the game this afternoon are the same as last night. The referee is Kenny Anderson (#16) and the linesmen are Brian Bull (#95) and Aaron Schacht (#31).
– I had the chance to talk briefly with Steve Martinson after the game and as you might imagine his main concern was the health of Riley Gill as he was getting updates from the team doctor, the hospital and Riley’s wife, Angie.
Martinson did mention how well the penalty kill unit is performing even though there was a breakdown on the first Orlando goal which was technically even strength but was scored just four seconds after a penalty expired. He also talked about the power play but felt it is just a matter of time before it comes together. After having Chad Costello quarterbacking the power play the last three years it will take some time but Martinson didn’t sound worried at all. He has had a top three ranked power play unit all five years he has coached in Allen.
As I left Martinson’s office shortly after 11:00 pm he was all alone, everyone had left and general manager Martinson was working on lining up an EBUG (emergency back up goalie) for the game this afternoon. Welcome to the world of AA hockey.
– Both as a team and individually the Americans are off to a great start with three straight wins. Here are some stats from echl.com The team leads the league in goals (19), goal differential (+11), goals per game average (6.33), penalty minutes average per game (34), and shorthanded goals (3). Individually Casey Pierro-Zabotel leads the ECHL in points (9), assists (7) and plus/minus (+12). Zach Pochiro is tied for second in points (8), first in goals (5) and second in plus/minus (+11).
– The Americans have certainly played well over their first three games and will only get better. When you consider Vincent Arseneau and Peter MacArthur were missing last weekend and Bryan Moore and Olivier Archambault (currently with San Jose) are missing this weekend the depth on this team is off the charts.
– Bryan Moore was in the lineup for the Barracuda yesterday as they lost to Cleveland 4-1. Bryan had a strong game as he was not on the ice for any of the Cleveland four goals, he had two shots on goal and a two-minute penalty. Olivier Archambault did not play as he was a healthy scratch. San Jose plays Cleveland again today (5:00 pm EDT).
DID YOU KNOW: Have to admit when I saw the official attendance last night (4871,) I was disappointed. When there is a lot of time to sell the home opener and it is on a Saturday night and you see the effort given by all involved from the front office staff to the players to the fans you have high expectations. Things won’t get any better today as the Americans go up against a Dallas Cowboys game that starts at 3:05 pm CDT.
Here is the Allen home opener attendance over the past six years with the day of the week in parentheses:
2017-18: 4871 (Saturday)
2016-17: 5062 (Saturday)
2015-16: 4745 (Friday)
2014-15: 5006 (Friday)
2013-14: 4911 (Sunday)
2012-13: 4853 (Saturday)