There are very few decisions in sports that are met with 100% approval but that is the case for Allen fans when they heard last night that Coach and General Manager Steve Martinson had signed a new four year contract with Jack Gulati and the Allen Americans. If you haven’t had a chance to read the official press release here is the link: https://allenamericans.com/americans-announce-new-contract-for-steve-martinson

I have read 100’s of comments since the announcement last night and most in one way or another thank Steve Martinson for staying in Allen and Jack Gulati for making it happen. From one word comments like outstanding, yay and whooohooo to heart felt expressions for what Steve has meant to the organization such as Terry Smith who said, “Thank you Jack for making this happen. I have been following minor league hockey in this area since 1971 and Steve Martinson is the best.” Super fan Sandy Manning may have captured everything in the most concise way, “Thank you Jack! I couldn’t be happier! Love our coach!”

I have said before that Steve Martinson is the face, heart and soul of the franchise and when he announced just three weeks ago that he had been given permission to talk to other teams and planned to test the market before making any decision on what was best for him and his family it was cause for concern among Allen fans.

The surprise to many of Martinson’s signing was the timing of this announcement. When coach Martinson announced to the fans on March 17 he would test the market he said, “I will probably wait until the regular season is over and then talk to some other teams and make a decision”.  My reporting is what happened to expedite the process is when the word got out Martinson was a free agent, multiple teams approached him with offers. I have seen reports that teams don’t negotiate for the next season until after the current season is completed but that was not the case. Coach Martinson decided he wanted the distraction of contract negotiations out of the way before the playoffs started. With information in hand he met with Jack Gulati this week and they quickly came to terms on a new contract.  It is a tribute to the professionalism and experience of both men this all took place in three weeks time. Jack Gulati gave Martinson permission to test the market, Martinson did his due diligence and they then came to agreement on a new contract.

I don’t think you can underestimate the impact Allen fans had with Jack Gulati on retaining Steve Martinson. Jack heard loud and clear the importance fans put on having Martinson as the coach and general manager. All you have to do is look at the press release and see Jack’s quote where he directly addresses the fans, “You asked for a long-term deal for coach Martinson and I am happy to grant your wish. Now I need your help to put more butts in the seats.” As the team moves forward I forsee fans stepping up to do even more to help the Allen Americans be successful.

Finally, before I do what coach Martinson said in the press release, “Now it’s time to focus on the upcoming playoffs” I wanted to say from a personal point of view how gratifying it is to know Steve will be in Allen for another four years. The last few weeks have been difficult and there were times it looked like this wouldn’t happen but it did and everyone is thankful. Many people contribute to the success of the blog but the access and insight provided by Steve Martinson is the singular reason I can provide the information to you on a daily basis. For all the thanks I receive it should really go to  Martinson because he cares about the fans so much and is eager to share as much as possible. I am not sure what the future will hold as far as championships but you can be assured with Steve Martinson at the helm he will put the team in position to win each and every year and it will be a wild, high scoring, entertaining brand of hockey for all to enjoy.

 

ALLEN VS TULSA GAME PREVIEW

– Allen is in Tulsa tonight to take on the Oilers and with a win will clinch the Mountain Division regular season title and home ice advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs.- Allen has had great success against Tulsa with an overall record of 10-3 including winning five of the last six games. Despite the great

– Allen has had great success against Tulsa with an overall record of 10-3 including winning five of the last six games. Despite the great record it hasn’t been easy for the Americans when they play the Oilers. The last three times they have met, all in Allen, were one goal victories for the Americans including a 5-4 shootout win on March 24 and a 3-2 win last Friday when Tulsa out shot Allen 42-18.

– Tulsa is not in the playoffs, has lost nine of their last ten games and doesn’t have much to play for. Allen has won 13 of their last 14 games, is 9-0-1-0 in their last 10 games and has the division title on the line. This is the kind of game the Americans need to get out to an early lead and not give the Oilers hope.

 

– Here is a match up between Allen and Tulsa:

ALLEN TULSA
Team Record 47-17-4-2 (100 points) 27-35-6-2 (62 points)
Division Ranking 1st – Mountain 5th – Central
Conference Ranking 2nd – Western 11th – Western
League Ranking 2nd 21st
Last Game 7-0 Win (Wichita) 2-1 Win (Wichita)
Goals For 286 190
Goals Against 198 232
Power Play 24.3% (70/288) 10.3% (28/271)
Penalty Kill 84.7% (50/327) 77.6% (63/281)
Most PIMs Mathers (274) Paquette (178)
Leading Scorers Costello (32-86-118) Watling (13-23-36)
Hanson (35-39-74) Murphy (18-14-32)

 

–  Here is how Allen and Tulsa rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (20.16) – Tulsa 6th (17.57)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 2nd (4.09) – Tulsa 24th (2.71)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 2nd (2.83) – Tulsa 15th (3.31)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 21st (31.40) – Tulsa 3rd (34.61)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 22nd (34.71) – Tulsa 7th (30.21)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 3rd (24.3%) – Tulsa 27th (10.3%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 4th (84.7%) – Tulsa 25th (77.6%)

– The stats above that jump out at you are on special teams where Tulsa is the worst in the league on the power play and one of the worst on the penalty kill.  If Allen is to win tonight they must take advantage of their big advantage on special teams.

– The goals scored stat is significant with the Americans averaging 1.38 goals more per game than the Oilers. Allen’s goal differential is +88 (286 goals for, 198 goals against) while Tulsa’s goal differential is -42 (190 for, 232 against).

– Tulsa is ranked much higher than Allen in shots per game (#3 vs #21) and shots allowed (#7 vs #22). Allen overcomes their low shots per game by having the best shooting percentage in the league (12.9%) while Tulsa has one of the worst (7.7%). Allen overcomes their high shots allowed per game by having outstanding goaltending with a GAA of 2.77 and save percentage of .919 compared to Tulsa with a GAA of 3.25 and save percentage of .891.

– The lineup tonight will have one addition and that is David Makowski who has just finished a six game suspension and will be looking forward to getting back in the lineup. With the importance of the game you can expect Riley Gill will be in goal. Unless Bryan Moore and Harrison Ruopp are 100% they will continue to rest. The team played short a player on Wednesday so Makowski can be added without another player sitting out.

– Officials scheduled for the game are referee Lucas Martin (#29) and linesmen Chip Excell (#42) and John Tallieu (#52).

 

OTHER COMMENTS

– Congrats to Chad Costello, Riley Gill and David Makowski on their selection to the All-ECHL first team. It is quite an honor to be selected by a vote of coaches, broadcasters, media relations directors and media from around the league. Congrats also to the other three players selected to the first team who are all from Colorado; Matt Register, Matt Garbowsky and Casey Pierro-Zabotel. It is ironic that five of the six All-ECHL first team selectees were members of the 2016 Allen Americans Kelly Cup championship team. I have seen many comments on social media talking about the selections and questioning how they could all come from just two teams in the same division. It is important to remember every team in the league has the same votes and you can’t vote for players on your own team. These six players were selected because voters all across the ECHL thought they were the best at their position. Here is the press release from the ECHL with all of the details. https://www.echl.com/2016-17-all-echl-first-team

– The #4 seed in the Mountain Division could be decided tonight. Missouri was eliminated from playoff contention on Wednesday with an overtime loss to Utah. The race is now down to Utah and Alaska with Utah holding the upper hand. They have a three point lead with two games remaining. One point gained tonight by Utah where they play Missouri at home or one point lost by Alaska when the take on Idaho at home and the #4 seed will belong to Utah. By the end of play tonight Allen could clinch the #1 seed and Utah #4 and the first round matchup between the Americans and Grizzlies will be set.

– With all of the talk about more butts in the seats here is a look at how attendance ended up in Allen this season as shown on the ECHL website. The attendance was down 5.1% from last season which equates to 231 less fans per game than last season. Average attendance was 4340 for the 36 home dates this season compared to 4571 last season. Total attendance was 156,234 this season compared to 164,559 last season. Average attendance for the last five years is as follows:

2016-17:   4340
2015-16:   4571
2014-15:   4096
2013-14:   4216
2012-13:   4147

 

DID YOU KNOW: It is undeniable the offensive strength of the Allen roster that is about to start the playoffs. I thought it would be interesting to see how many 20+ goals scorers the Americans would have if the players had been in Allen all season. These are the 20+ goal scorers if you take their current average goals per game with Allen times 72 games. WOW!

46 goals – Wade MacLeod
45 goals – Greger Hanson
40 goals – Bryan Moore
39 goals – Alex Krushelnyski
33 goals – Chad Costello
30 goals – Tyler Barnes
29 goals – Spencer Asuchak
27 goals – David Makowski
23 goals – Zach Hall
23 goals – Eric Roy
21 goals – Gary Steffes

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