The Sin Bin’s Kelly Cup Playoff Coverage is presented by Kalwei Law Firm
It is game day for the Allen Americans as they take on the South Carolina Stingrays in game 5 of the Kelly Cup Finals. Faceoff from the North Charleston Coliseum is set for 7:05pm ET/6:05pm CT. It is the second of three straight games played at the North Charleston Coliseum.
At this point there aren’t many secrets left between these two teams. The chess game between the two coaches will continue as they each make adjustments to help give their team an edge. With the series tied 2-2 the formula for success for Allen is apparent. Keep the top Stingrays line in check, don’t get behind early in the game, and continue to win the special teams battle.
Here are some stats that prove the point:
– In the two games Allen has won (games 2 & 4) the Stingrays top line had a total of two points. In the two games Allen has lost (games 1 & 3) the top line had a total of twelve points.
– Allen is 9-1 in the playoffs when they score the first goal and are undefeated when leading after the first period.
– The Stingrays have not scored a power play goal in the finals and are now 0-15.
Here are the statistical leaders for both teams in the finals (4 games):
Points: Dyson Stevenson – 5 (2 goals 3 assists)
Goals: Gary Steffes – 3
Assists: Steffes, Greger Hanson, Aaron Gens – 3
Plus/Minus: Chris Crane +2
Points: Andrew Rowe – 6 (3 goals 3 assists)
Goals: Rowe, Wayne Simpson – 3
Assists: Rowe, Michal Cajkovsky – 3
Plus/Minus: Simpson +4
It is difficult to draw any conclusions based on just four games but it does seem to reinforce how much South Carolina relies on Rowe & Simpson for offense. Coach Carbery has stated in interviews their team is not built with a lot of prolific scorers so they rely heavily on the top line. For Allen, it might surprise fans that Dyson Stevenson is the leading scorer in the finals and what is even more surprising is Chad Costello has just one assist in the four games thus far.
You often hear coach Steve Martinson say when it comes to critical games like tonight your best players have to be your best players. One of the strengths of this Allen team is its depth and the ability to get points from all three lines. However, the team really needs the best players to step up. Over the last two games, three of the best players on the team (Costello, Steffes and Asuchak) have combined for zero points, had just eleven shots and are a -8 collectively. Look for that to change in the game tonight.
With two high scoring offenses it can be tough on goalies but they have both been difference makers in their team’s wins. Who has the better game tonight will dictate the outcome. Here are their stats in the finals:
Riley Gill: GAA 2.48 – Save Percentage .908
Jeff Jakaitis: GAA 2.41 – Save Percentage .912
The sequencing of the referees for the first four games has resulted in an interesting outcome. Surely it is just a coincidence that South Carolina has won when the pair of Stephen Reneau and Pierre Lambert have been the referees and Allen has been the winner when Fredric Leblanc and Ryan Murphy have been the referees. If you have any belief the referees decide the outcome then it is good news for Stingrays fans as Reneau and Lambert are scheduled tonight.
In the grasping at statistical straws category (hey, it worked on Sunday) during the playoffs South Carolina is 1-2 in game fives while Allen is 2-1. The Stingrays lost game five in the Division finals and Conference finals by the identical score of 5-4.
The game tonight will be the 23rd playoff game for Allen following a 72 game regular season. There are three players that have played in every game so tonight will be their 95th game of the season. Hats off to the “Ironmen” Chad Costello, Aaron Gens and Jamie Schaafsma. This will also be the 95th game of the season for Gary Steffes who played nine games in the AHL. It is far and away the most games these players have played as professionals. Prior to this year the most games these guys have played in a season has been Schaafsma (87), Steffes (76), Costello (72) and Gens (48).
This is the last thing on any of the players minds but they will be in training camp in just over 100 days after the end of the playoffs.
One of the many recruiting tools coach Martinson uses when recruiting players is the extra money they will earn because the Americans always make a deep playoff run. Rather than just focusing on weekly salary he asks players to look at the total compensation they can earn for the season. This year players will get an extra nine or ten weeks of pay plus the playoff bonus. This will amount to an extra five to ten thousand dollars or more depending on the player.
The PHPA (Professional Hockey Players Association) will hold its annual meeting next week in Orlando. Player representatives from all ECHL and AHL teams will gather to review the past year and provide input and direction to the PHPA for next season and beyond. One of the more unique agenda items is when ECHL Commissioner, Brian McKenna, provides the player representatives their “State of the League Address” and then meets with the ECHL players in a closed door interactive meeting where the players have the opportunity to put forth issues, questions, feedback and ideas. Would love to be a fly on the wall for that session.
DID YOU KNOW: The finals aren’t complete but the Allen Americans are assured of playing more playoff games than anytime in their history including the two championship seasons. Here are the playoff games played in each season:
2015 – 22 (could go as high as 25)
2014 – 17
2013 – 19
2012 – 6
2011 – 13
2010 – 20