The Allen Americans 4-3 victory over the Wichita Thunder last night before a crowd of 5410 at the Intrust Bank Arena was worth so much more than the two points the Americans gained in the standings. The game snapped a four game losing streak which was the longest of the season, it was a win against a Wichita team that had beaten Allen twice at home this week, it was a win that clinched a playoff spot for Allen and it was a confidence builder for the Americans.

Coach Martinson said after the 4-0 loss to Wichita on Wednesday the leaders of the team needed to lead the team out of this slump and the best players needed to be the best players. All you have to do is look at the goal scorers to know that happened last night. Hanson (22), Asuchak (7), Costello (34), and the game winner by captain Jamie Schaafsma (16) led the way along with assists by Steffes, Hanson, Asuchak, Gens, Baker, and Young. Martinson also mentioned team defense needed to improve and that was also the case in the win last night. The three goals allowed by Allen was the first time in eight games going back to January 17 that Wichita had scored less than four goals against the Americans. Finally, Martinson said the team needed better goaltending to get out of the slump and Riley Gill delivered, stopping 30 of 33 shots including holding the Thunder scoreless in the first period when they bombarded him with 18 shots on goal.
Wichita scored the first goal of the game on a power play early in the second period and the teams went back and forth until Allen scored twice within four minutes late in the third period to take the lead for the first time. Wichita pulled the goalie but Allen was able to hold them off to take the victory.Yes, it was just one win and the team still has that eight game home losing streak hanging around their necks. But a win on the road against a Wichita team battling to make the playoffs and full of confidence after beating the Americans twice in Allen is a good start. All this team needs is to play the right way and play with confidence and they will be just fine.

Sunday will be a big game for the Americans to show the fans and themselves that they are back on a winning track. Allen will take on the Tulsa Oilers who are hottest team in the Central Division (8-2 in the last ten games). A win would not only end the Americans eight game home losing streak but it would clinch the Central Division championship and keep Allen in the race for the best record in the ECHL.

STEVE MARTINSON’S POST GAME COMMENTS:

–  It was a good comeback after a bit of a slow start getting out shot 18-10 in the first period.

– The guys were working hard and drew a lot of penalties as we had eight power play opportunities but we could not score on the power play.

– We played better defensively but we gave up way to many easy scoring chances. This is not the time of year to be giving up breakaways and odd man rushes. It is an area we will need to improve going forward.

– Riley Gill was good in goal and made some quality saves when our defense broke down.

OTHER COMMENTS:

– Allen joins Toledo, Fort Wayne, Florida and Idaho as teams that have clinched playoff spots.

– The four game losing streak prevented Allen from becoming the first ECHL team to clinch a playoff spot but they will definitely become the first team to clinch their division. If I have it figured correctly if Tulsa loses to Wichita tonight Allen clinches the division. If the Oilers win tonight they will head to Allen and the game on Sunday afternoon could be the clincher.

– Chad Costello did not have an assist for the second consecutive game. It is only the third time all season Chad has gone two games without an assist. He will have to wait one more game to record his 300th professional assist. While Chad did not have an assist he scored the game tying goal which was his 34th of the season. His 34 goals ties him for second in team history for a single season with Bruce Graham and Nino Musitelli who both had 34 goals in 2010-2011. Of course the all time goal scoring leader is Gary Steffes who is at 42 goals and counting.

– Congrats to Greger Hanson who hit the fifty point milestone with a goal and assist last night. Greger has only played in 46 ECHL games because of his numerous call ups to the AHL. He has 50 points (22 goals 28 assists) in those 46 games including seven game winning goals and four shorthanded goals.

– Jack Combs has not reported to the Missouri Maverick after they claimed him on waivers. The Mavericks have placed him on team suspension. As you know Combs has said he does not want to play in Missouri and has asked the Mavericks to rescind their waiver claim. Missouri has denied his request which they have every right to do so things are currently at a stalemate. If neither one changes their mind Jack will be done playing for the year. Missouri has 11 games (three weeks) left in their season.

– Matthew Wuest is a name most hockey fans have never heard of but you may have heard of his web site, CapGeek, which revolutionized the way fans accessed NHL salary information. Wuest started the site in 2009 which compiled player and team salary information. CapGeek provided information that was easy to follow and understand to the common fan. In addition to NHL salary information the site also provided signing bonuses and AHL salaries for those players on two way contracts. In January, he announced an immediate cessation of operations due to health issues. Wuest, who was only in his mid 30’s, passed away from colon cancer on Thursday. RIP Matthew Wuest.

DID YOU KNOW: The South Carolina Stingrays won their 20th consecutive game last night beating Indy 4-0. To put what they have accomplished in perspective they have broken the all time ECHL record which was eighteen and only one other team in professional hockey in North America has won more consecutive games. That was the Norfolk Admirals (AHL) who won 28 consecutive games in 2012. As impressive as the win streak has been the play of South Carolina goalie, Jeff Jakaitis, who recorded his fourth straight shutout last night if just as impressive. His shutout streak is at 319 minutes and 32 seconds. It is the second longest shutout streak in North American professional hockey history. Brian Boucher set the all time mark of 332 minutes and one second during the 2003-2004 season with the Phoenix Coyotes. Jakaitis needs 12 minutes and 30 seconds when the Stingrays play Cincinnati at home tonight to establish a new record.

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