The Sin Bin’s Playoff Coverage is sponsored by Kalwei Law Firm

It is game day for the Allen Americans as they play the first of three games in Rapid City tonight with the series tied 1-1. Remember, the start time for all three games is different if you plan on watching or listening. Tonight puck drop is 7:35 p.m. Allen time. Saturday it is 9:05 p.m. and Sunday it is 6:05 p.m.  There will be some new line combinations tonight given the fact Garrett Clarke and Kyle Follmer are not on the trip and Rylan Schwartz will be in the line up for the first time since returning from Worcester. With Rapid City having last change at home it is important the Americans have three lines that can all score and Allen’s depth could be the difference in the game.

Playoff stats can certainly be deceiving as the sample size is small but it is interesting Allen is performing in the playoffs just like the regular season in that they are #1 in average goals scored, #1 in average shots per game, and lead in minor penalties per game. However, when it comes to special teams the stats are all over the place. Overall, Allen has the top power play in the playoffs at 26.3% but they are 32.3% (10-31) at home and 0.0% (0-7) on the road. During the regular season Allen had the #3 ranked penalty kill in the ECHL at 86.3%. In the playoffs the penalty kill is #13 (81.6%) of the sixteen teams that made the playoffs. The home penalty kill is #14 (78.3%) and the away penalty kill is #8 (86.7%). As is always the case special teams will be a key to victory in the three games in Rapid City.

For those interested the on ice officials scheduled for the game tonight are referee Pierre Lambert (#20) and linesmen Erik Contino (#33) and Tyler Landman (#80). FYI Lambert is an experienced referee who works about 40 games in the AHL and 40 in the ECHL each year. He was one of the referees selected to work the Kelly Cup Finals last year.

When the ECHL announced on Saturday they had fined Coach Martinson and two Allen players (Clarke & Arseneau) an undisclosed amount of money for actions during the loss to Rapid City on Friday it got me wondering how the process works, especially as it applies to a coach who is not covered under a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) like the players. If you recall, Martinson’s fine was for “failure to control his team in the late stages of a game when the outcome had been determined.” When asked about the fine at his post game press conference Martinson indicated the first he became aware of the issue was when he was called and told he was being fined. It got me wondering what is the process that is followed by the league office in administering these type of situations. I started by contacting the ECHL office and asking under what circumstances do they automatically do a review. The answer to that question is very straightforward in that any penalty that carries a game misconduct is automatically reviewed by the league. If a team would like anything else reviewed they have until 12 noon local time on the following day to submit their request, as well as a video of the play in question.

Didn’t get this from the league office but have read before that if a team asks for a review of a play there is a cost (around $200) if the league determines discipline is unwarranted. The ECHL would be inundated with requests for review if there was no risk in asking for a review.

Since there was not a game misconduct given to anyone in the game on Friday an automatic review may not have happened. Not sure if Rapid City requested a review or the supervisor from the ECHL who was at the game initiated the review and how it happened is not germane as it is the process that is suspect in my opinion. As I understand the process here is how it works as it relates to a coach.
– a review is initiated without any notification to the coach an issue is being reviewed
– the issue is not discussed with the coach to get his side of the story before a decision is made
– the coach receives a phone call notifying them they are being fined
– there is no appeal process if the coach disagrees with the decision
– if a coach refuses to pay the fine the league can prevent them from coaching in their next game

Finally, you would hope there is consistency when looking at situations such as what happened at the end of the game on Friday. I am sure Allen fans remember a game in Wichita earlier this season (March 1) that was very similar to the one on Friday. The game was decided when Allen took a 6-4 lead with 19 seconds left in the game.  At the end of the game a brawl ensued and it wasn’t because Allen put their tough guys on the ice. It was the only fight of the year for Justin Baker and Nolan Descoteaux and one of two for Greger Hanson. There was no fine given to the Wichita coach for not controlling his team after the outcome of the game had been determined.

It seems to me it is the visiting team that sets the tone for potential trouble at the end of a game that has already been decided. Since the home team gets last change they react to what the visiting team coach has done.

All of these situations come down to judgement and you have to respect the league’s judgement but the process could use some work in my opinion.

OTHER NOTES: 

ECHL playoff hockey is always exciting and last night was no exception with two more great games. It looked like Florida was history as they were trailing in their series 3-0 to South Carolina and the Stingrays did what they have done so often this year, scoring with a minute left in the game to tie the score 1-1 and send it to overtime. It took until the 5:38 mark of the third overtime but Florida came out on top. With a 3-1 series lead South Carolina has a chance to end the series at home on Friday.

In the other game last night Utah beat Ontario 4-2. Ontario leads the series 2-1 with the home team winning all games thus far. The game had an Allen flavor but it wasn’t Matt Register or Judd Blackwater from Ontario. It was back up Utah goalie Eric Levine who played five games for Allen last year. Eric came into the game in relief of goalie Igor Bobkov in the second period with Utah trailing 2-1 and stopped all thirteen shots he faced as Utah scored three unanswered goals to win the game 4-2. Levine got the win in relief and was named the #1 star of the game. Eric has only played in two playoff games for a total of 67 minutes and they were both in relief but he has been outstanding when called on. Levine leads all ECHL playoff goaltenders with a GAA of 0.90. The next two games of this series are in Utah on Friday and Saturday.

In addition to the Allen vs Rapid City game tonight Toledo is at Fort Wayne. Toledo leads the series 2-1.

Scott Howes, who had a phenomenal start to the 2012-2013 season for the Allen Americans when he scored 21 goals in 22 games before being signed in Springfield (AHL) has already signed to play in Europe for next season. Scott will be playing in Dresden, Germany for a team called Dresdner  Eislowen. They play in the DEL2 which is the second level of professional hockey in Germany.

DID YOU KNOW: May 7th has been good to the Allen Americans. One year ago today Allen beat Denver 3-1 to take a 2-1 series lead on their way to the Presidents’ Cup championship. Two years ago today Allen beat Wichita 5-1 to take a 3-2 series lead on their way the the Presidents’ Cup championship.

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