Final Regular Season Records:
Fort Wayne: 40-23-7-2 (89 pts — Midwest Division Champions)
Allen: 41-24-3-4 (89 pts)
Fort Wayne: 8-3 (defeated Cincinnati in Rd 1, Utah in Rd 2)
Allen: 8-5 (defeated Idaho in Rd 1, Missouri in Rd 2)
Game Schedule (Home team in BOLD CAPS and all times local):
Game 1 — Fri., May 13 — Allen at FORT WAYNE 8 pm
Game 2 — Sun., May 15 — Allen at FORT WAYNE 6 pm
Game 3 — Thu., May 19 — Fort Wayne at ALLEN 7:05 pm
Game 4 — Sat., May 21 — Fort Wayne at ALLEN 7:05 pm
*Game 5 — Sun., May 22 — Fort Wayne at ALLEN 4:05 pm
*Game 6 — Tue., May 24 — Allen at FORT WAYNE 7:30 pm
*Game 7 — Thu., May 26 — Allen at FORT WAYNE 7:30 pm
* => If Necessary
Playoff Leading Scorers: The Fort Wayne Komets are led offensively by Shawn Szydlowski, who has 15 points (8G, 7A) in 11 playoff games. Alex Belzile and Troy Bourke each have point-per-game efforts (11 pts in 11 games for each) in these playoffs.
On the other side, the Allen offensive attack is led by Chad Costello, who has 15 points in 13 games (2G, 13A). Greger Hanson is tied with Szydlowski and Reading’s Brandon Alderson for the league-lead in goals with 8.
Season Series Recap: Friday’s matchup will be the first ever meeting — playoffs or regular season — between the two clubs.
Series Storylines: The obvious storyline in this series is that current Fort Wayne forward and Captain Jamie Schaafsma will be facing his former team, where he won three straight championships.
“They are going to be the best opponent we have faced for sure,” Schaafsma told the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette. “They have the speed of a Cincinnati and more size. They can play a similar game to us. They can play a control game or an up tempo fast game or a heavy game. that is what we are like”
Schaafsma continued his breakdown: “They’ll be under control. They have a lot of speed up front and a lot of guys who know how to win. They have big defensemen. Their goalie is really big and you have to beat him side to side. He has proven himself over and over in this league.”
All of that said, it will be interesting to see what kind of reception the former Americans captain gets when he comes back to Allen for game 3. Also, Steve Martinson is the king of the matchup…if Schaafsma starts to get hot against his former team, expect to see either Arseneau and Stevenson or both moved to Schaafsma’s line to act as a deterrant.
On the other side, Komets head coach Gary Graham has the unenviable task of slowing down Chad Costello. Good luck. For them to be successful, the Komets must take away Costello’s time and space, plus have active sticks in the passing lanes. Here is a staggering stat for you, Costello has averaged a point-per-game in five of the six playoff series he has played in as a member of the Allen Americans.
Like their first two series, the Komets enter the Conference Finals as the deeper offensive team. In addition to the players named above, the K’s got key contributions from Garrett Thompson, Trevor Cheek and Mike Embach enroute to their series sweep over the Utah Grizzlies.
On the other side, the Americans feature two offensive defenseman who can pile up the assists and score a timely goal when needed. David Makowski and Eric Roy have combined for 4 goals and 16 assists (20pts) and a +4 in this year’s playoffs.
For Allen to win this series with ease, they need to have Gary Steffes show up. Through two rounds, the Americans’ co-captain has just three assists, compared to the 7 points (6G, 1A) at this point in last year’s title run. To his credit, Steffes recorded 11 of his 18 points were scored in the Conference Finals or later last year. Perhaps we are just starting to enter prime-time for Steffes.
Fatigue will not be a factor for the Komets in this series, having been off since last Saturday. Allen will come into game 1 with the adrenaline, however, after knocking off the Mavericks in a hard-fought six game series. The layoff v. keep playing battle favored Allen in the Missouri series (Missouri was the “fresher” team after their dusting of the Mallards,) so it will be interesting to see if it favors them again.
This series will feature two of the better special teams units left in the playoffs. Through two rounds of the Kelly Cup playoffs, the Komets and Americans were 1-2 for best road power plays (Komets with a 30.8% success rate, Americans with a 26.9% success rate.) Allen has the best overall power play in the playoffs, connecting 13 times on 55 power play chances, good for a 23.6% success rate.
On the penalty kill, the advantage goes to the Komets. They have the second best penalty kill, only allowing 6 power-play goals on 58 chances (89.6% kill rate.) Allen, meanwhile, has the seventh best penalty kill, allowing 9 goals on 55 chances (83.6% kill rate.)
The storylines also extend to the net, where it will be Pat Nagle going against Riley Gill in between the pipes. Both have put together great efforts in the playoffs for their respective teams, and should be in the conversation for playoff MVP. Both goalies are in the top-5 for goals against average (Nagle 2.06, Gill 1.96), are in the top-6 in save percentage (Nagle .917, Gill .935) and the duo have combined for three shutouts so far in the playoffs. These are two battle-tested netminders who can take over a series at any time.
All-in-all, this should be a very evenly played series between two great teams.