The Allen Americans beat Quad City last night 3-2 to gain a split in the weekend series with the Mallards. It was the fifth and final game of the regular season between these two teams with Allen winning the series three games to two. The similarities between the game Friday night and last night were many. Check this out.
– Both games ended with a final score of 3-2
– Quad City scored the first goal both nights
– There was only one goal scored in the first period both nights
– Allen scored two goals in the second period to come back from a 1-0 deficit to take a 2-1 lead both nights
– Only two goals were scored in the second period both nights
– Gary Steffes scored the first goal for Allen and Chad Costello the second both nights
– Allen did not allow a power play goal both nights

With all of the similarities there were some big differences. Chad Costello’s game tying goal in the second period was actually a rare own goal. Mallard defenseman Jannik Christensen took the puck after a dump into the zone but was being pressured by Chad. In an attempt to pass the puck around the boards behind the net, Christensen instead put the puck in his own net. The other big difference from Friday was in the third period, rather than Quad City getting a goal to tie the score Allen scored an insurance goal to make the score 3-1 with less than six minutes remaining in the game. Greger Hanson scored his twentieth goal of the season on a tough angle. Quad City pulled their goalie with 2:23 remaining and were able to get a goal to close the gap to 3-2 but were unable to get the equalizer.

Allen headed for Rapid City after the game where they will take on the Rush next Tuesday, Friday & Saturday. A week in one place on the road is unusual. Three important games in Allen’s quest to have the best overall record in the ECHL, a few days of practice, and some time for fun, bonding, and sightseeing. That Mount Rushmore group picture is almost a guarantee.

STEVE MARTINSON’S POST GAME COMMENTS

–  This was a very good rebound game for us after a disappointing loss Friday night. I always say on games like this your best players have to be your best players and that was the case on offense with goals from Steffes, Costello and Hanson.

– We played much better team defense tonight and that was the difference in the game. Anytime you can hold a team like Quad City to five shots in the first period and seven in the second you will have a chance to win the game with our offense.

– It really helped that we only had to kill three penalties in the game. That has to be a season low for our team.

– My son’s team has a big game tomorrow as they are in the Rocky Mountain District finals. I will still be on the bus on the way to Rapid City but will watch the game on my phone. (Update: Logan’s team won in overtime).

OTHER COMMENTS

– With the win over Quad City last night Allen increased their Central Division lead back to 18 points and their overall ECHL points lead to three points over Fort Wayne.

– Several players continued streaks last night. Chad Costello has the current longest streak in the ECHL for goals in road games. Chad has a goal in six straight road games dating back to February 15. Greger Hanson has the ECHL’s current longest road points streak. Greger has a point in every road game since February 5th which is a nine game streak. Finally, Aaron Gens has the second longest current streak for assists on the road having an assist in the last six road games.

– Chad Costello had two more points (goal & assist) last night which gives him 96 total points and a 32 point lead in the ECHL scoring race. They might as well put Chad’s name on the ECHL MVP trophy right now. Everyday some new Chad stat impresses me. Here are a few more I noticed today when looking at his season long stats.
– Chad has played in 56 games this year and failed to get a point in only six games
– Chad has more than one point in 30 of the 56 games
– Chad’s 30 multiple point games include two points 16 times, three points 13 times and four points once.
– Chad has scored more than one point in the last five games, seven of the last eight games and eleven of the last thirteen games.
– Chad has nine goals in his last ten games.
– Chad has played in 23 games since he lost Jack Combs as a line mate. Lots of fans wondered if that would have a negative impact on Chad’s point production given the chemistry between Combs and Costello. Not a problem has Chad has 45 points (14 goals 31 assists) in the 23 games since Combs left the Americans for a points per game average of 1.96.

– South Carolina won again last night to extend their consecutive win streak to 15 games which is the second longest win streak in ECHL history. Their quest for the all time record (17 games) continues today as they play in Greenville. It will be the third game in three days for South Carolina.

– As a followup to my indulgence from yesterday on Minnesota High School Hockey the Lakeville North Panthers finished a perfect season (31-0-0) as they beat the Cinderella team, Duluth East last night by a score of 4-1 to win the state championship. It was the first time a 1st division (big schools) state champion has gone undefeated since 1993 when my hometown (Bloomington Jefferson) accomplished the feat.

– Darryl Bootland had an interesting night as his Colorado Eagles defeated the Bakersfield Condors 3-1 last night despite getting out shot 34-16. Bootland had 27 penalty minutes including a two minute instigating minor, a five minute fighting major and a ten minute game misconduct for physical abuse of officials.

– Spencer Asuchak (Providence), Rylan Schwartz (Worcester) and Aaron Dell (Worcester) did not play for their team Friday or Saturday. Not sure if the are dinged up or were healthy scratches. Worcester plays Providence today (3:05 EDT) so it will be interesting to see if any of them are in the line up.

– Ian Schultz has been playing regularly for the Iowa Wild and had an assist last night as Iowa lost to San Antonio 4-1. Ian has played in eight games and has two assists and two fights.

DID YOU KNOW: At this time of year all hockey players have friends or family playing for championships just like coach Martinson’s son with a big game today. Heard Brian McMillin’s brother-in-law, (Wendy’s brother) Jeff Bergh who plays for the University of Wisconsin-River Falls won their conference tournament championship last night for the first time since 1996. Also saw on social media Aaron Gens congratulate his University of Alaska-Fairbanks alma mater on winning the Governor’s Cup with a big win in Anchorage last night. Decided to check it out and it turns out the Governor’s Cup is a trophy competed for between two arch rivals, the University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks. The teams play four times a year and the winner of the series wins the “Alaska Airlines Governors Cup” which the Nanooks did last night. Each team won two games so after the Nanooks win last night there was a special shootout to decided the winner of the Governor’s Cup. It was the sixth straight year Fairbanks has won the Governor’s Cup. You may ask how big a rivalry there is between these two teams. Will have to get the scoop from Aaron but found this article (westerncollegehockey.blogspot.com) which was written a few years ago (obviously by someone from Alaska) that captures the essence of the Alaska rivalry. Even if you don’t agree it is a great read.

One of the things that makes college hockey so special is the intense rivalries between teams. It’s something professional sports just can’t match. That’s why nothing can compare to the passion, intensity, and electric atmosphere when two arch rivals meet in college hockey.

There are a number of outstanding rivalries in college hockey, and one question that seems to get tossed around every year is which rivalry is the best. Well I’m here to make my case for the one I think deserves that prestigious title.

So which is it? Minnesota and Wisconsin? Close, but ultimately, to the outsider it’s just two behemoth land-grant colleges that are too close to being identical to make really good drama. Michigan and Michigan State? Here’s a helpful tip. If you ever hear a fan from either school bragging about his team’s dominance over the other in hockey, you can almost guarantee that his team lost the most recent football match-up between the two. Denver and Colorado College? A little too rich and preppy for my tastes. Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan? A little too nerdy. Minnesota and North Dakota? Sorry Minnesota, you only get one rival.

How about out East? Boston University and Boston College? Sorry, but Boston is a pro sports city. Having lived out east briefly, college sports just aren’t as big a deal. Harvard and Cornell? Harvard isn’t even the biggest college hockey draw in the Boston area. St. Lawrence and Clarkson? They do have sort of a Duke-UNC thing going on being so close together, but with all apologies to the Clarkson Fan Blog I say “Who”?

Nope. To find college hockey’s best rivalry, you have to go way out west. There’s no better rivalry in college hockey than the annual tilts between the University of Alaska-Anchorage and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

The trophy they play for, the Alaska Airlines Governor’s Cup, isn’t much either. By rule, any trophy loses major points for corporate sponsorship, though Alaska Airline’s sponsorship makes a bit of sense since there are no outgoing roads in the state capital of Juneau for the governor to use. It isn’t that aesthetically pleasing of a trophy either. There’s a small cup placed atop two tiers of wood and gold plating. It looks like more like something you get for winning your bowling league than a hockey trophy.

But this rivalry isn’t about national titles or bowling trophies. It’s about two schools and two cities that are 360 miles apart in location, and a world apart in terms of culture.

You see, there’s really two Alaskas. There’s Anchorage, and then there’s the rest of the state. In a state with roughly 627,000 people, just over 40% of them live in Anchorage. The rest live in small towns spread around the state, with only two cities going over 30,000, and the rest under 10,000 in population. Fairbanks is the biggest of the little guys, and most able to take on the Goliath to the south.

The differences between the two cities are pretty stark. The average high/low January temperature in Anchorage is a balmy 22/9 degrees. Cold for some, but actually warmer than many colder climates in the lower 48 states. The temperature in Fairbanks is what most people consider more “traditionally Alaskan”. The average high temperature in January is a bitter cold -2 degrees, while the average low is -19 degrees.

Anchorage has a lovely Center for the Performing Arts for operas and Broadway musicals. Fairbanks does not. Anchorage has the huge Dimond Center Shopping Mall with a restaurant, and offices, and a bowling alley, and a hotel. Fairbanks does not. Almost of all of Anchorage has regular trash pick-up. Many Fairbanks residents have to take their garbage to “transfer stations” to be collected. Anchorage is one of the top metropolitan areas in terms of educational attainment. Some residents of Fairbanks still rely on subsistence hunting.

That’s not to say that one city is better than the other. Anchorage residents view life in Fairbanks as cold, dull, and unsophisticated. Fairbanks residents view Anchorage as too cosmopolitan, and not really Alaskan. Each side sees the positive in their own way of life, and see the negative in the other. And for two weekends a year, that argument gets played out on a hockey rink.

It may not have the magnitude or importance or big market appeal of Minnesota-Wisconsin, or Michigan-Michigan State, or Boston U-Boston College, but at it’s heart, Anchorage vs. Fairbanks has a conflict that no other rivalry can match.

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