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2021 Kelly Cup Playoffs

Western Conference Finals Preview: #1 Allen Americans vs. #3 Fort Wayne Komets

Western Conference Finals Preview: #1 Allen Americans vs. #3 Fort Wayne Komets

ALLEN, Texas – The Allen Americans continued their hot streak from the regular season into the playoffs, winning nine straight games entering the Western Conference Final. On the other side, the Komets’ are the epitome of what Katy Perry sang about – hot and cold – alternating wins and losses over their final five regular season games and the first five games of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

The two teams have met once in the playoffs, during Allen’s second Kelly Cup run in 2016. That year, the Americans shot the Komets into the sun, winning the Western Conference Finals 4-1.

Final Regular Season Records:

Allen Americans: 45-23-3-1, 94 points (1st in Western Conference)
Fort Wayne Komets: 29-17-3-2, 63 points (3rd in Western Conference — 51 games played in regular season)

How They Got Here:

Allen swept Utah in Conference Semifinals, 3-0
Fort Wayne defeated Wichita in Conference Semifinals, 3-2

Series Schedule: (Home Team in BOLD CAPS and all times local):

Game 1 – Friday, June 18 – Fort Wayne at ALLEN – 7:05 pm CT

Game 2 – Saturday, June 19 – Fort Wayne at ALLEN – 7:05 pm CT

Game 3 – Monday, June 21 – Allen at FORT WAYNE – 7:30 pm ET

*Game 4 – Tuesday, June 22 – Allen at FORT WAYNE – 7:30 pm ET

*Game 5 – Wednesday, June 23 – Allen at FORT WAYNE – 7:30 pm ET

Season Series Recap:

The Western Conference Final will be the first meeting between the clubs since 2018.

Tale of the Tape:

How Allen Wins:

All season long, Allen has been a deep team in every position, but the key to their success thus far has been their depth in net. The ability for Steve Martinson to roll two healthy, veteran netminders in a playoff series is quite rare at this level. Through three games, the Americans have combined for a goals against average of 1.74, good for tops in the league entering game one tonight, and will need both Jake Paterson and C.J. Motte to be strong in net this series.

Another key for the Americans is to clear out the big-bodied Komets from the Allen crease. In the Wichita series, the Komets abused Thunder netminder Evan Buitenhuis, running him at least five times with no calls from the officials. If the Americans can keep the Komets clear of the crease – or at least make them think twice about coming close to it – then Allen should be fine.

Finally, the rookies will need to continue their success in the series. Brett Neumann led all rookies in the first round with three goals in three games, scoring two game-winning goals and the game-tying goal in game three of the Utah series to force overtime. Sam Ruopp leads all rookies in plus/minus (+3). Zane Franklin didn’t have a point in the first round but plays a vital role with his physical play. Ben Carroll has been an unsung hero on defense and Collin Shirley had two key assists in the first round.

How Fort Wayne Wins:

For all the offensive firepower the Komets were purported to have, they didn’t exactly light the world on fire in the first round against Wichita. A.J. Jenks and Anthony Nellis led the Komets on the score sheet, but Brandon Hawkins, Shawn Szydlowski, Anthony Petruzzelli, and Zach Pochiro combined for just five points (1G, 4A). In fact, Pochiro & Szydlowski were each healthy scratches in game five of the Wichita series. For the Komets to score the upset, they need to have the offensive horses going.

Allen puts pucks on net from a lot of places, especially when they activate their defense. Komets netminder Dylan Ferguson will be tested early and often. If he is beat, he cannot let one goal become two or three, like he did at times in the Wichita series. Allen has the capability offensively to put games out of reach very quickly and the Komets will need him to play better than he did in the Wichita series. There is very little chance Justin Kapelmaster sees anytime in this series.

Who Ya Got?

Download the Field Pass Hockey app from the iTunes or Google Play stores or follow @FieldPassHockey on Twitter for the latest news on the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL throughout the 2021 season!

    Matthew Harding is the Managing Editor for Field Pass Hockey, covers the ECHL and the Wichita Thunder. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @FPHThunder.

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