ALLEN, Texas – Even the magic of scoring the first goal of the game 23 seconds after puck drop could not save the Allen Americans as they lost to Greenville last night by a score of 6-4. After giving up 21 shots in the third period on Friday night, the second-most shots allowed in the third period in the ECHL the season the Americans followed it up by giving up 22 shots in the first period last night, the second-most shots allowed in the first period in the ECHL all season. Giving up 43 shots in two successive periods and being outshot 43-12 is not a recipe for success. Too many defensive zone turnovers and poor special teams performance were the keys to the loss last night.
Greenville scored three goals in the first period onslaught after Allen took the early 1-0 lead and the Americans could never recover. They managed to tie the score 3-3 in the second period but that is as close as the Americans could get. Allen certainly had plenty of opportunities as Greenville was assessed a five-minute spearing penalty after the Americans cut the lead to 5-4 at the 13:29 mark of the third period. Allen couldn’t capitalize and as they were about to pull the goalie towards the end of the five-minute major the Americans took a penalty of their own. The Swamp Rabbits scored a power-play empty-net goal to make the final score 6-4.
Allen struggled on special teams in this series but last night was the worst. The Americans gave up three power-play goals for the first time all season. Greenville was 3-5 on the power and in the three-game series went 5-14 for a power-play percentage of 35.7%. Allen was 1-6 on the power play last night and 2-14 (14.3%) in the series.
Goalscorers for Allen were Les Lancaster (7), Dyson Stevenson (1), Joe Garreffa (7), and Josh Lammon (7). Lancaster now leads all ECHL defensemen in goals. Garreffa is tied for second for most goals by a rookie even though he missed 12 games when he was called up to San Jose.
Here are the video highlights from last night. Pay close attention to the second goal in the highlight package as it had me wondering what happened. Greenville is on the power play and you will see Les Lancaster lose his stick. As the play continues, Stevenson gives his stick to Lancaster and as he gets close to Lancaster’s stick he picks it up and then just drops it. The player Dyson was covering makes a pass and Greenville scores. When I watched the play it made me wonder why Stevenson picked up Lancaster’s stick and immediately dropped it.
I asked Steve Martinson about the play and he told me the referee told Dyson as he picked up the stick if he didn’t drop it he would get a penalty. When Martinson asked for an explanation after the goal he was told it is a penalty to give your stick to another player and then pick up that player’s stick. Martinson said he told the referee “I have never heard of that rule” and the players at the end of the bench that heard the explanation all were in agreement they had never heard of that rule either.
Before the second period, the referee changed his explanation and told Martinson he thought the stick was broken.
There is plenty to find fault with the games in Greenville but there is little reason to dwell on that series when you consider almost 40 percent of the players were playing their first game for the Americans. Going forward there is plenty of reason for optimism. Allen now has 10 NHL/AHL contracted players on the roster, six arriving in the last 10 days and they will get better as they have time to practice with the team.
COVID & Allen
Four players will be cleared to play by the next game (Wednesday) after following COVID protocol and four others shortly after. COVID has gone through most of the team now and while unfortunate the Americans will end up avoiding COVID issues as the team goes forward into the spring.
As the players return from COVID, Steve Martinson will be dealing with too many players. There are currently 29 players on the roster. I assume the players signed for the weekend (Conway & Fornaris) have been released and Colby McAuley, who is on IR doesn’t count. That brings the total to 26. The six players on the Commissioner’s Exempt List don’t count until they come off the list. So by the numbers, when Allen gets everyone back from COVID, Martinson will have to trim the roster by two or three players. The bottom line is the roster will remain in flux as there will be call-ups, loans, injuries, trades, releases, assignments, and signings. Allen has already used 39 players and they have only played 36 percent of the season. In the last three seasons, Allen used 41, 45, and 41 players. The Americans will easily surpass those numbers this season.
– Allen will have a lot of time to get healthy and practice all of the systems Martinson uses after the home game against Utah on Wednesday. The Americans’ next game after Wednesday (March 3) isn’t until a trip to Utah for three games starting on March 12.
– When Allen returns home in two weeks after its three-game series in Utah, the Americans will have just 15 road games remaining and 27 home games remaining. Allen will spend from March 22 to May 6 at home with the exception of a single three-game road to Rapid City. This will be a great opportunity for the Americans to gain ground on the teams ahead of them in the standings.
Did You Know?
The number of players playing at least one game for the Americans for each season since they joined the ECHL:
39 2020-21 (thru 26 games)
41 2019-20 (62 games in shortened season)