Chad Costello scored his 41st goal Friday night. Photo Courtesy: SceneByKimberly
Chad Costello scored his 41st goal Friday night. Photo Courtesy: SceneByKimberly

It is hard to believe last night was the last regular season home game for the Allen Americans. Where has the time gone? This season has followed the same pattern as the back to back championship years with a good start, a slump after the first of the year and then coming on strong as the regular season winds down. The Americans have quietly established the best record in the ECHL over the last ten games (8-0-1-1) and are the only team in the league without a regulation loss in the last ten games.

Last night Allen showed why they are the best team in the Central Division with a 5-1 win over second seed Rapid City. Yes, the Rush didn’t have much to play for and they rested their best goalie (Danny Battachio) and best forward against Allen (Kale Kerbashian). But if you want to play that game Allen was without Ian Schultz, Gary Steffes, Tanner Eberle, Rylan Schwartz, and Aaron Dell who have all played for Allen this year and are now playing in the AHL.
The game was over early last night as the Rush had no answer for the Americans league leading offense. Allen scored five unanswered goal by Chad Costello (41), Greger Hanson (28), Dyson Stevenson (9), Patrik Valcak (3), & Chris Crane (12) before Rapid City spoiled the Riley Gill shutout with just under four minutes left in the game.

The Americans leave this morning at around 10:00 for the 360 mile trek to Wichita where they take on the Thunder tonight in the last game of the season. To have so many days off earlier this week and then play three games in three days with travel just before the playoffs which are starting a day early (April 14) is not ideal but that is the luck of the draw. You can only hope with Wichita being out of the playoffs and Allen the top seed and the fact both teams are owned by the same ownership group the word has gone out to play hard, play to win the game, but lay off the rough stuff.

STEVE MARTINSON’S POST GAME COMMENTS:

We had a lot of speed in the first period which created a lot of chances. We scored four goals but missed on several others. A lot of puck possession, puck movement, and driving to the net. We slowed down in the second period and fell into some of our old habits.

Riley Gill played great in goal on his first game back after being injured. He deserved a shutout and when you have less than four minutes to play in shutout game the defensmen have to drop back and play for the shutout. We got caught at center ice and it ended up costing the shutout.

I am not sure what to expect in Wichita tomorrow night. We want to get the two points but we also need to save some energy where we can. Riley Gill will be in goal.

Joel Rumpel is not going anywhere. The action we took today (release from ATO) was necessary because of the immigration rules. We are just waiting for his immigration paperwork to be approved.

With all of the injuries and call ups we have no extra players so everyone will be going to Wichita.

I thought Asuchak’s line created a lot of scoring chances even though they did not capitalize on them.

OTHER COMMENTS:

Had a chance to catch up with Riley Gill after the game and he said it was great to get back in goal after being out with an injury. He said after the first few saves in the first period he felt back in the groove. He is ready for another start in Wichita on Saturday.

Tulsa beat Wichita last night in a shootout so the battle for the 3rd and 4th seeds will be determined tonight when Tulsa visits Quad City. Allen will play the loser of that game.

The playoff game schedule will most likely be different if Allen’s first round opponent is Tulsa or Quad City. Just from a travel stand point the team and the fans would prefer Tulsa as the first round opponent. With Tulsa being only 230 miles from Allen a lot more fans will make the away games than if the opponent is Quad City which is 790 miles from Allen. With Tulsa it is possible the series could be 2-2-1-1-1 if the teams prefer that type of schedule and get approval from the league. With Quad City the series would definitely be 2-3-2. Either way you can look for most of the home games to be midweek.

Allen still has a slight chance to get the best record in the ECHL and can finish no worse than third.

Here are the standings with games remaining:
Toledo (105 pts) 2 games remaining
Allen (104 pts) 1 game remaining
Florida (103 pts) 1 game remaining
Chad Costello had a goal and two assists last night which gives him 122 points (41 goals 81 assists) for the season. It is the most points scored in the ECHL since 1995-1996 which was back in an era when scoring 140 points was common.  Two statistics that may say Costello’s season is the best in the history of the league. Chad will end the season with more assists than any other player in the league has points. The other record Chad has a chance to tie and/or break tonight is the biggest points lead by a scoring champion. The current record is 43 points set by Trevor Jobe in 1992-1993. Chad currently has a 42 point lead over second place and that player has played their last game. So with one point tonight Chad will tie the all time record and with two points break the all time record. My money is on Chad and if he accomplishes that feat he will have had, in my opinion, the best season in the history of the ECHL.

The awards keep rolling in for Chad Costello with the announcement yesterday that he is the recipient of the ECHL Sportsman Award after being named to the All-ECHL first team on Thursday. And Chad is not done with award season as on Monday he will be given the Leading Scorer Award and on Friday the big award for league MVP will be announced and he is the odds on favorite to win his second ECHL MVP award. Have to give props to my friend Joe Rozycki, better known as “The Sin Bin” for this tweet about Chad winning the ECHL Sportsman Award:

ALLEN VS WICHITA GAME PREVIEW:

As coach Martinson mentioned it is hard to know how the game will turn out tonight in Wichita. Wichita has nothing to play for but often times in this situation teams that are relaxed and playing only for pride play great. Allen wants the two points to finish as high as possible in the overall ECHL standings. Let’s just hope that the game is a hard fought clean game with no injuries and of course Chad Costello gets at least two points.

The game tonight will be number seventeen between these teams this season. Allen leads the series 8-2-3-3. The Americans are 5-1-0-2 in Wichita.

It has been mentioned before that Allen and Wichita have been evenly matched statistically all year. All but two of the sixteen previous games have been decided by one or two goals and seven have gone to overtime. The only exceptions being a 4-0 win by Wichita on March 18th and a 8-2 win by Allen on January 16th.

If the game tonight goes to overtime Wichita has the advantage as they have won six of the seven games that were not decided in regulation time.

Here is an up to date statistical comparison for the sixteen games played between the Americans and Thunder this season which shows just how close these teams have played.

Goals: Allen (61) – Wichita (57)
Shots on Goal: Allen (497) – Wichita (496)
Penalty Minutes: Allen (385) – Wichita (388)

Special teams are almost always the key to victory and Allen has the edge in this department. If you look at the head to head matchups in the sixteen games played this season Allen has gone 20-92 (21.7%) on the power play and Wichita has gone 14-83 (16.9%) on the power play.  More broadly at home Wichita is ranked #8 (20.0%) on the power play and #13 (83.0%) on the penalty kill. On the road Allen is #2 (22.1%) on the power play and #3 (86.8%) on the penalty kill.

Riley Gill will be in goal for Allen after breaking the Americans all time single season record for wins with his 32nd win last night. He had previously broken the record for minutes played and saves.

Leading scorer for Allen in the sixteen games against Wichita is Chad Costello who has 22 points (9 goals 13 assists). Leading the way for Wichita is Danick Gauthier who also has 22 points (10 goals 12 assists) against Allen.

The referee scheduled for the game is Andrew Wilk (#24).

DID YOU KNOW: With the win last night Allen now has 104 points which is 21 more points than they scored in the regular season last year on the way to their back to back championship.

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