ALLEN, TX – The Allen Americans finished off their six-game road trip in Missouri last night with their second 1-0 shutout in as many nights. Two wins do not make a turn around but the victory last night surely gives Allen fans hope. The Americans not only allowed fewer goals than their average (1.00 vs 3.14) and fewer shots (24.00 vs 33.33) but they won the special teams battle scoring the only goal of the game on the power play. Allen was 1-3 on the power play while holding the Mavericks scoreless on their three power play opportunities.
The one thing that did remain the same last night was the stellar goaltending by Riley Gill with a 24-save shutout. Gill has been the catalyst on this six-game road trip. He played in every minute of every game, had a .933 save percentage, was the #1 star twice, #3 star once and was the difference maker in three overtime wins. Largely because of Gill’s veteran leadership the Americans return home on a two-game win streak and a 4-2 record on the longest road trip of the season.
– It was great to see the power play be the difference in the game last night. To say the power play has been disappointing would be a gross understatement. Prior to last night the power play unit had scored six goals all season and allowed six shorthanded goals. What was great about the power play goal last night is it was reminiscent in the way Allen won so many games last season. It was a set play starting with a faceoff win by Spencer Asuchak. In 10 seconds, the puck went from Asuchak to Willows to Chouinard to Gens to Willows to Gens to Willows to Costello to Chouinard for the goal. If you get a chance to see the replay it was a thing of beauty with all five players involved and moving in unison. The final two passes were textbook as Matt Willows passed from the left point to Chad Costello down low, who made an amazing pass that went through the slot and Asuchak’s legs right on the stick of Chouinard who made no mistake, scoring his first goal of the season.
I asked Costello about the goal after the game and in his typical understated way said, “It was a set play coach Martinson called to hit Chouinard back door. The defensemen went to Asuchak so (Joel) Chouinard was open.”
– The team headed back to Allen immediately after the game. The 475-mile trip would have put them back home early this morning. They will have one day to recharge before they take on the Tulsa Oilers tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday.
STEVE MARTINSON’S POST GAME COMMENTS
– We were good defensively again tonight. We have been playing a more physical game recently and I think that is really helping us.
– Riley Gill was great in goal again tonight. He has been on the top of his game and that gives the team confidence. When we do have defensive breakdown he is making the big saves.
– When things aren’t going well you need the veteran players to step up and lead by example and that is what we are getting right now.
– I think we are turning the corner. It is time to take advantage of our home games now.
– The Americans record is 10-11 with the chance to get back to .500 with a win at home on Friday. Allen has had a couple of chances to get to the .500 mark recently and didn’t make it. Maybe this chance will be different.
– It will be a big weekend for Allen fans in addition to seeing two home games. Activities include Fan Club and Ice Angels calendar releases, the annual teddy bear toss, San Jose Sharks specialty jersey auction and post-game autographs.
– Fort Wayne Komets captain and player/coach Jamie Schaafsma retweeted the following message the other day and it applies to all walks of life but certainly rings true for hockey locker rooms. It is an excellent message for everyone but especially young people/players.
“Successful people build each other up. They motivate, inspire and push each other. Unsuccessful people hate, blame and complain.”
– The Americans have been playing with an EBUG (emergency backup goalie) ever since Jamie Murray was recalled by San Jose after Barracuda goalie, Troy Groesnick, was injured. It was originally thought Groesnick’s injury would keep him out of the line up long term but that is not the case. According to the Gackle Report, Groesnick will be traveling with the Barracuda to Texas this weekend for their two-game series with San Antonio but coach Roy Sommer isn’t planning to put him into the lineup until the team returns home next week. So it looks like Jamie Murray may be returning to Allen after this weekend.
DID YOU KNOW: The back to back shutouts by Riley Gill the last two games is not the first time he has accomplished that feat as a professional. During the Kelly Cup playoffs in 2013 while playing for Reading, Riley had shutouts in the first two games of the opening round, beating Greenville 1-0 and 4-0. Gill went on to have four shutouts in the playoffs including one in the championship clinching game against Stockton. Reading won the Kelly Cup and Gill was voted the MVP.