ALLEN, TX – The Allen Americans lost to the Idaho Steelheads 3-2 last night before a crowd of 4,730 at CenturyLink Arena. If you would like a goal-by-goal description, check out this link that is the official press release from the Allen Americans (https://allenamericans.com/americans-fall-to-idaho-in-a-close-one-3-2/). What I want to do this morning is share some random thoughts about the game and the team.
– Idaho scored the first goal of the game on one of the flukiest (definition = obtained or achieved more by chance than skill) goals you will ever see. The Idaho player was just trying to rim the puck along the side boards and behind the net. He blasted the puck from just inside the red line down the side boards, the puck hit a glass support and took a crazy hop past Riley Gill. The goal was described by Idaho broadcaster Brian McCormick as “an absolutely insane ricochet off the glass that skips by the blocker of Gill. There is nothing he could have done about that.” When things are going badly, the bounces don’t go your way.
– Scoring the first goal of the game is so critical to success but the Americans have only been able to accomplish that six times in 18 games. Allen’s record when scoring first is 5-1. When the opponent scores first their record is 3-9.
– The Americans did an excellent job on the penalty kill last night as they successfully killed off all six Idaho power play opportunities. The Steelheads came into the game with a home power play percentage of 31% so holding them to 0-6 was great.
– Allen’s power play looked like it had come to life on their second power play of the game. Coach Steve Martinson had four forwards out with Greger Hanson on the right point. The goal was one of those beautiful feeds by Chad Costello from the left side of the net, through the slot to Hanson who was sneaking in from the point. Greger was at the faceoff dot and one-timed the puck backdoor for the goal. At that point the power play was 1-2 but things went downhill after that. The Americans had five more power plays and went 0-5 and to make matter worse, gave up another shorthanded goal. The Americans were again playing four forwards on the power play with Matt Willows at the left point. Willows turned over the puck at the point and Idaho’s Kyle Jean skated the length of the ice to score shorthanded. It was the sixth shorthanded goal allowed by Allen this season, the most of any team in the ECHL.
– Allen was outshot in the game 26-22 but did a great job of limiting shots especially considering Idaho had six power play opportunities. Allen is ranked #21 in the ECHL giving up an average of 34.44 shots per game.
– Defenseman Jason Fram, who was just assigned to Allen by San Jose, scored his first professional goal last night, deflecting in a shot by Joel Chouinard. Chouinard went right into the net after the goal to retrieve the puck for Fram. Jason was a big time scoring defenseman in the Western Hockey League. In his last three junior seasons, playing for Spokane, Fram had 165 points in 197 games.
– The teams meet again tonight with an 8:10 pm (Allen time) puck drop. Just as last night, the referee will be Kenny Anderson. The Americans have had Anderson as their referee more than any other referee this season. Tonight will be the fifth time Anderson has been the referee for an Allen game. The Americans are 0-4 when he is the referee. Anderson likes to call a lot of penalties so the Americans need to adapt accordingly. In the 18 games, Allen has played this season there have been 10 or more penalties called five times. Three of the five were games refereed by Anderson.
STEVE MARTINSON’S POST GAME COMMENTS
– We played a more physical game tonight as some of the guys stepped up physically. We need to finish checks and be hard to play against if we want to be successful.
– Our power play is costing us games. We are not getting good shots. We got that one power play goal but then turned around and gave up another shorthanded goal.
– I played five defensemen and 11 forwards tonight. I will go back to six defensemen tomorrow night.
– Watching the replay of the Mathers hit it appeared to be a clean hit that the Idaho player turned away from to avoid. Getting called for a five minute major at that point in the game was unfortunate.
– The 3-2 loss to Idaho created a bunch of ties in the Mountain Division. Idaho is tied for the top spot and Allen is now in a three-way tie for fourth place. Here are the current standings:
22 points – Colorado
22 points – Idaho
19 points – Alaska
16 points – Allen
16 points – Rapid City
16 points – Utah
13 points – Missouri
– Rapid City beat division leading Colorado last night (in Colorado) 4-3 in a shootout. Rapid City was recently in last place in the division but has been on quite a streak recently. They have won five of their last six games with the only loss being in overtime.
– Aaron Dell was in goal for San Jose yesterday as the Sharks beat the Islanders 3-2. It was Dells’s fourth NHL appearance (three as a starter and one in relief). His win-loss record is now 2-1, his GAA is 1.93 and his save percentage is .931. Some pretty impressive work by the former Allen American.
– In closing, I wanted to share my opinion on where the team is at now that 25% of the season is complete. The team has certainly underperformed for a team that coach Martinson said was as talented as he has had in Allen. Bringing back so many players (15) from last year’s Kelly Cup championship team may in retrospect not have been the best strategy. I know other coaches have been quoted as saying bringing back too many players after winning a championship can work against the team sometimes. After the poor start, Martinson wasn’t about to let more time pass without making changes and that is what he has done in the last two weeks with the departure of Rick Pinkston, J.P. LaFontaine, Chris Crane and Tristan King. To be clear, these players weren’t moved because they were the problem. When you make trades you have to give up someone the other team wants so good players get traded. With the recent roster changes (Alex Guptill, Harrison Ruopp, Bryan Moore, Jason Fram) hopefully the team can maintain their skill, become a little tougher to play against and improve their puck possession time. Make no mistake Martinson will continue to make roster moves. My opinion is this team is playing better and will only improve as they get a few more games with the new group. When Kale Kerbashian, Eric Roy and Travis Brown return to the lineup and the guys get a lot of home cooking in December and most of January, you could see them go on a run.
– The only away games the Americans have from December 1st until January 25th are with Missouri (1), Tulsa (1) and Wichita (5). During this same period, they will have 15 home games.
DID YOU KNOW: The Americans have been outscored in the first period 25-13. The most goals any other team in the league has given up in the first period is 19. Allen’s first period goal differential (-12) is also the largest in the ECHL. The next closest is Norfolk at -8.