ALLEN, TX – Wanted to start out today by adding my congratulations to Chad Costello and his family, who are a big part of his success, on his selection as the ECHL MVP for 2015-16. It is amazing that this young man from the hockey hotbed of Johnston, Iowa (ha-ha) is not only the most prolific scorer in the ECHL the last two seasons, he is arguably the most prolific scorer in the history of the ECHL. There is no doubt about his dominance the last two seasons as Chad had a total of 228 points (65 goals 163 assists). The most points any other player in the league had the last two years was 149.

– It is hard to compare all time stats because scoring was so much different in the 1990’s when many ECHL teams would score over 300 goals per season. The top five all time goal scoring seasons in the ECHL range from 377 to 345 and they all took place in the 1990’s. Compare that to this season when an outstanding Missouri team led the league in scoring with 240 goals.

In the 1990’s, 240 goals would have put them at the bottom of the league. The same is true if you look at the all time individual scoring records. The top five in points range from 161 to 139 and all took place in the 1990’s. The top five in goals range from 85 to 68 and also took place in the 1990’s. The top five in assists range from 93 to 84 and they too are all from the 1990’s with the exception of Chad Costello who had 84 assists this year to crack the top five all time.

– One stat that possibly factors in the different style of play over time is how you compare to your competition. In the history of the ECHL the scoring champion has won the scoring title by more than 20 points just five times. Chad Costello owns two of those five. Last season Chad won the scoring title by 45 points which is the largest margin in ECHL history. This season he won the title by 23 points which is the fifth largest margin in history.

– It has been a real pleasure watching Chad the last two seasons in Allen. He is a magician with the puck, he would rather get an assist than score a goal, he never misses a game, he is a leader on and off the ice, he is a true gentleman to everyone he meets and is a great family man. That is what you want in an MVP. Congrats again to Chad, Ashley and family.

GAME PREVIEW:

– “Must win” is a phrase that is used way too often but the game tonight against Idaho is certainly a candidate. Since Steve Martinson arrived in Allen, the Americans have been down 1-0 in playoff series many times so that is familiar territory for this team. However, they have never trailed 2-0 in a series.

– The formula for success tonight is pretty straight forward. As coach Martinson said in his post game press conference after game one, the team was not outplayed or out skated so they need to play smarter and avoid mistakes to be successful. Two specifics to look for tonight are more instances of chipping in the puck when there isn’t a play to be made at the blue line and a different approach on the power play.

– Allen out shot Idaho in game one 37-24 but Steelheads goalie Philippe Desrosiers was able to see most of the shots. The old adage of pucks to the net with bodies in front should be more apparent in game two.

– Allen has the best special teams in the playoffs and that needs to show up in game two. Idaho won the special teams battle in game one holding Allen scoreless in four power play attempts. The Steelheads were 1-2 on the power play.

– Getting the first goal and the lead will also be critical tonight. Both Allen and Idaho play great with the lead. During the regular season Allen was 21-3-1-0 when leading after the first period and Idaho was 22-2-2-1. When leading after the second period Allen was 30-2-0-1 while Idaho was 29-1-4-1.

Riley Gill will get the start in goal tonight and some have wondered about the fact Gill has played in just one game since March 16. Riley is a veteran who has always played his best at the most critical times. He is in great shape and has taken a lot of shots in practice. Look for Riley to have a good night in goal.

– There will be a new officiating crew for the game tonight. Referees will be Nic Leduc (#14) and Tudor Floru (#18). Linesmen will be Mitch Macpherson (#48) and Erik Contino (#92). If you are betting the over/under on number of penalties called in the game based on the 10 penalties in game one, take the over.

OTHER COMMENTS:

– The home teams are 0-7 and the higher seeded teams are just 1-6 with South Carolina the only higher seeded team to win and they did it on the road. Welcome to AA playoff hockey.

– The San Jose Barracuda (AHL) need just one point in their final two games to secure a playoff spot. They play a home and home series against the Stockton Heat tonight and Sunday afternoon. Stockton is out of playoff contention.

DID YOU KNOW: Chad Costello has played in 237 ECHL regular season games and has averaged 1.55 points per game. That is the highest average points per game for any player in the last 20 years (minimum 100 games).