ALLEN, Texas – As I was leaving the Allen Event Center (AEC) last night after getting the coaches take on the game I came across one of my favorite ushers and he said to me with a wry smile, “Barry, both the fans and the team decided to stay home tonight.” He wasn’t far from the truth as the few fans that showed up (2753 officially but many fewer in the AEC) watched the Allen Americans get outplayed, outworked, outskated, outshot and outscored in an embarrassing 6-1 loss to the Utah Grizzlies.
The Americans actually got off to a good start and at one point in the first period had a 10-2 shot advantage. Gabe Gagne scored the first goal of the game, his league leading 23rd of the season at the 15:24 mark. From that point, Utah scored six unanswered goals and outshot the Americans 41-16.
As I talked to the Allen coaches (Steve Martinson, Jason Deitsch, Chris Meriney) after the game the same theme came up over and over in different ways. Utah just outskated and outworked Allen, especially after the first period. They described it and showed it on video. The Americans had no answer for Utah’s top line which had 12 points and five goals. What made this line so effective is they backchecked and played well defensively as evidenced by their plus/minus of +14.
If you want to read the details here is the game recap from the Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/grizzlies-score-six-straight-beat-americans-6-1
Here is the recap from the Utah Grizzlies: https://www.utahgrizzlies.com/en/grizzlies-news/grizz-win-6-1-on-ty-lewis-hat-trick
It is a bleak picture if you look at the results of the three games Allen has played against Utah this season. All three were in Allen with losses of 10-4 and 6-1. The one game the Americans won the score was 5-4 in overtime. The cumulative numbers show a huge advantage for Utah. They have outscored Allen 20-10 and outshot the Americans 116-74. If Allen expects to win tonight they must play better in their defensive zone. That starts with fewer turnovers in neutral ice but more importantly working harder when the team is on defense. Utah has had hattricks in two of the three games they have played against Allen this season. Josh Dickinson in the 10-4 Utah win in October and Ty Lewis last night.
Coach Martinson doesn’t have many options in making roster changes for the rematch tonight. The only player that could be cleared to play is Josh Brittain who was at the game last night but hasn’t skated while recovering from the flu.
My guess is Andrew Shortridge will get the start in goal tonight. Jake Paterson started last night and Dereck Baribeau started on Saturday. Shortridge last played a week ago in Wichita.
Gabe Gagne is a free agent in the AHL so any team can sign him to a PTO (tryout contract). Gabe leads the ECHL in goals (23) and has seven goals in his last five games. There is little doubt some AHL team will be calling for his services soon.
Allen’s Matt Register has been in Iowa all season. In the last month, Matt has been a healthy scratch nine times and has played in just four games. With the Wild getting some players healthy you may see Register back in Allen sooner than later.
Ben Owen was released yesterday and that may be the first of several roster changes in the near future. With more players possibly assigned to Allen by the Wild and injured players getting healthy, it will force Martinson to release or trade some players. Should be interesting times the next few weeks.
Since December 22 Allen has lost eight of 11 games. Their record is 4-3-3-1 in those 11 games.
DID YOU KNOW: Allen’s 6-1 loss last night made the all-time list for worst losses. Here are the worst defeats (losses by five or more goals) in Allen Americans history in chronological order. It is noteworthy 10 of the 15 worst defeats in history happened at home.
6-1: Utah – 1/13/20 (home)
10-4: Utah – 10/18/19 (home)
9-3: Kansas City – 3/8/19 (home)
6-0: Kansas City – 3/6/19 (home)
5-0: Utah – 11/23/18 (away)
6-1: Kansas City – 3/24/18 (home)
5-0: Idaho – 1/6/2018 (away)
6-1: Tulsa – 11/21/15 (home)
8-1: Colorado – 11/14/15 (home)
6-1: Fort Worth – 2/23/13 (away)
5-0: Laredo – 2/25/12 (away)
11-6: Colorado – 1/1/11 (home)
5-0: Tulsa – 12/18/10 (home)
6-1: Laredo – 3/4/10 (away)
6-1: Rapid City – 1/15/10 (home)