The Sin Bin’s Kelly Cup Playoff Coverage is presented by Kalwei Law Firm

The 3-3-1 format for this year’s Kelly Cup Finals in a weird way made game 2 very close to a must win for the Allen Americans. A win squares up the series with the South Carolina Stingrays, while a loss ensures the Americans leave Texas with a deficit in the series as it heads to Charleston for three games beginning Sunday night.

Game two got underway with South Carolina getting the better of the chances early on, but soon after the first 70-second timeout, the Americans stepped up their physical game. Allen would score the icebreaker at the 6:05 mark, when Dyson Stevenson poked a rebound past Jeff Jakaitis to give Allen a 1-0 lead.

In the minutes after the goal, the Stingrays would step up their forecheck and puck possession game which equated to some decent chances, but Riley Gill was denied every Stingrays opportunity in the opening stanza.

South Carolina carried the play for the opening minutes of the second period, using their speed and forecheck to force Allen into turnovers and a penalty. Then, at 11:17 of the period, Chris Crane fed Gary Steffes, who pounded a one-time shot past Jakaitis to double the Allen lead. Minutes later, Steffes would strike again for his second of the period just as a power play expired, to give the Americans a 3-0 lead headed into the second intermission.

In a curious move prior to the start of the third period, Stingrays Head Coach Spencer Carbery pulled Jakaitis in favor of backup netminder Clay Witt. The move seemed to inspire the team, as defenseman Scott Ford tallied his first goal of the playoffs just 1:48 in to narrow the lead to 3-1. Allen would regain their 3-goal lead minutes later, as Spencer Asuchak used a beautiful toe drag move to put his shot top shelf past Witt.

The Stingrays continued to battle though.

While on a 4-on-4 situation, Kevin Young lost an edge which sprung Stingrays forward Sean Dolan in on a breakaway, goaltender Riley Gill tries to jump on a loose puck, but Dolan put into the wide open net to narrow the Allen lead to 4-2. The Stingrays would make one final stand in the game’s dying minutes, but the Americans’ physicality took away the speed game for South Carolina.

Frustration boiled over in the game’s final minute-and-a-half, when Stingrays forward Tim Spencer cold-cocked Americans forward Patrik Valcak, who was bloodied on the play. Spencer was given a 2 minute roughing minor and 10 minute misconduct. In an interview immediately after the game, Americans Head Coach Steve Martinson said he would look at the incident again before deciding whether to submit it to the league for further discipline.

Allen won the game 5-2 and now sets up a pivotal game 3 Wednesday night at the Allen Event Center.

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