ALLEN, TX – With a favorable schedule, the last four weeks of the season was going to be the time to rack up some wins and solidify Allen’s hold on the fourth seed in the Western Conference. The schedule seemed to be in the Americans favor with 11 of 14 games at home. Everything started as planned as Allen won the first three games beating Wichita twice and league leading Missouri once, but since then the wheels have started to come off.
Four straight losses (Missouri, Alaska, Tulsa, Tulsa) has enabled the field to close the gap for the fourth seed. The Americans still have a five point lead over Cincinnati but have played two more games than the Cyclones. Allen has just seven games remaining in the regular season and things won’t get an easier as the next four games for the Americans are against Missouri.
After losing in a shootout to Tulsa on Saturday, the Americans looked to bounce back against the Oilers Sunday afternoon in Allen. It wasn’t to be as Tulsa built a 3-0 lead one minute into the second period and cruised to victory. Allen got themselves back in the game with two power play goals to close the gap to 3-2 at the second intermission. Allen killed off a couple of ill-advised penalties in the third period and had the chance to tie the score when they were on the power play late in the game. Instead they relinquished a shorthanded goal to make the score 4-2. Less than a minute later Allen got a goal to make the score 4-3 but could not get the equalizer with goalie Joel Rumpel on the bench for the final 77 seconds of the game.
Goal scorers for Allen were Casey Pierro-Zabotel (14), Vincent Arseneau (11) and Gary Steffes (19). Chad Costello had an assist on the Pierro-Zabotel goal to extend his streak to 12 games for having at least one assist.
The Americans do not play again until they take on Missouri on Saturday and Sunday at the Allen Event Center.
STEVE MARTINSON’S POST GAME COMMENTS:
– After getting two power play goals earlier in the game I thought the power play at the end of the game is what we needed to tie the score but instead we gave up a shorthanded goal.
– You can’t use playing three games in three days as an excuse for poor play. Tulsa had to do the same thing and they traveled to Allen today.
– Yes, we have key players out of the lineup but Tulsa was missing guys as well. All teams are playing with guys out at this time of year. I thought our young guys played well (LaFontaine & Miglio) but we need more from our established guys.
– I have another goalie come in this week. He is a college kid.
– Kyle Neuber made a nice little pass on the Steffes goal. I am looking for him to go out and be a power guy, be physical, finish checks and chip in with some plays.
– How players are playing now is how I expect they will be in the playoffs. So the way some guys are playing I am not counting on them to help us in the playoffs.
PHOTOS OF THE GAME:
Check out Kimberly Sauer’s photo gallery at The Sin Bin, but here are a couple of her shots:
Here is a photo from Lauren Lyssy:
Seven games into the favorable 14 game end of season schedule, the Allen Americans are 3-2-0-2. The remaining seven games are against just two opponents. The next four games are against Missouri with home games on March 26 & 27 followed by away games on April 1 & 2. Missouri has little to play for other than records and pride as they are 14 points better than any other team in the league. The Mavericks are 5-2 against Allen this season. Allen on the other hand should be highly motivated to show they can play with Missouri and also secure the fourth seed in the conference.
After the four games with Missouri, the Americans close out the regular season with three games at home against Evansville on April 6, 8 & 9. It is most likely Evansville will arrive in Allen without any chance of making the playoffs. They are currently 11th in the conference, eight points out of the last playoff spot. They would have to jump three teams to make the playoffs. Add in the IceMen play seven of their final nine games on the road and the three games in Allen will be the last three games for the franchise as the team is moving to Owensboro, Kentucky in 2017-18 after going dark next season. If Allen needs points to clinch the fourth seed in the conference the three games against Evansville should give them that opportunity.
It is tough seeing players like Chris Crane and Aaron Gens moving around the AEC on crutches and Justin Courtnall on the 21 day IR. The one good piece of news for Allen is Spencer Asuchak has completed his six game suspension and is chomping at the bit to get back in the lineup.
Coach Martinson mentioned in his post game press conference he was bringing in a college goalie this week. Can’t imagine there will be three goalies on the roster for any length of time.
Allen has the best special teams in the ECHL but didn’t fare so well in the back to back losses to Tulsa this weekend. The Americans gave up three power play goals to Tulsa in ten opportunities and also surrendered a shorthanded goal. Allen slipped from the #1 ranked penalty kill unit to #3 at 86.5%.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: I get this question at most every game so thought I would share my own views.
Q: Is there anything new on getting local ownership for the team?
A: I have heard from the famous “reliable sources” that there is local interest in buying the Allen Americans and there may be more than one group that has expressed interest. However, there is a big difference between interest and purchase.
The first step is putting together a business plan and budget to see if pursuing the purchase is viable economically and determining the fair value of the franchise. Only after these steps are completed could a group approach the current owners to discuss a sale. There are a lot of moving parts but if you believe the rumors it is certainly a possibility the team could change hands but how probable it is has yet to be determined. It takes a willing buyer and a willing seller to make a deal and not sure that is in place yet.
DID YOU KNOW: Chad Costello has at least one assist in every game since February 26. That is a streak of 12 games. No other player has had a streak longer than 10 games in the last seven years. The only person to have a streak longer then Chad’s current 12 game streak is Chad. Last season he had a 16 game assist scoring streak.