ALLEN, Texas – Last night was a disappointing ending, to a disappointing game, to a disappointing series, to a great season for the Allen Americans. The Fort Wayne Komets defeated Allen 3-2 in overtime to advance to the Kelly Cup finals for the first time, where they will take on the South Carolina Stingrays.
In my opinion, the Americans could never recover from the disastrous loss at home in game two where it looked like they would take a 2-0 series lead. Allen had a 4-1 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the game and managed to turn it into a 5-4 overtime loss. A ten-game win streak turned into a three-game losing streak and the Americans were ousted by the Komets 3-1.
Credit and congratulations goes to Fort Wayne but the three losses in this series after an opening game win were uncharacteristic for the Americans. Major breakdowns in team defense led to all three losses and the Americans couldn’t hold on to a lead, something that was a strength all season.
Regular Season & Playoff Stats
Allen scored first in all four games of the series. During the regular season, the Americans’ record when scoring first was 33-8-2-0. In this series, their record was 1-3.
Allen’s record during the regular season when leading after the first period was 24-2-2-1. In two of the three losses in this series, Allen had the lead after the first period.
Allen’s record during the regular season when leading after the second period was 30-2-2-0. In two of the three losses in this series, Allen had a lead after the second period.
Last night, Allen took a 2-0 lead on a power-play goal (Scott Conway) and shorthanded goal (Corey Mackin) and it looked like things were back to normal. Special teams were clicking, the team was playing well defensively and C.J. Motte was great in goal. The Americans had a 2-1 lead until Fort Wayne tied the score with less than five minutes remaining in the game. On the goal that tied the game, the Komets player (Matthew Boudens) was standing all alone in front of Motte for at least four seconds before he got the puck and put it home. The overtime game-winner was similar to game two. Allen had full possession of the puck in its offensive zone and turned it over for a wide-open shot. Fort Wayne won two overtime games with wide-open shots after two bad turnovers. It took a combined total of only four minutes of overtime for the Komets to secure two comeback wins.
In the span of this series, Allen went from a team that was one of the best at closing out games to one that couldn’t hold a lead. You never know what would have happened and it is a whole lot of woulda, shoulda. coulda, but if Allen had not imploded in the third period of game two and held on to win that game, I think they would have swept the series. Instead, the Americans gave Fort Wayne all the confidence and momentum it needed to win three straight and take the series 3-1.
It has been a tough season with all of the pandemic issues but Allen played all 72 regular-season games and once again made a deep playoff run, winning four playoff games. Allen led all teams with 45 wins in the regular season. When it is all said and done the Americans will have won more games this season (49) than any other team in the league. The Americans have provided much-needed entertainment when it was needed most.
There will be many players not returning next season but thankfully, Steve Martinson will be back to put together another top-notch team. Martinson overcame many challenges this season and despite the loss to Fort Wayne, I believe the 2020-21 season will go down as the best of his nine seasons in Allen.
Many of the issues from this season, like loss of affiliation, will carry over. The change in recruiting to Europe, which has increased due to COVID, means more top players from the ECHL will make the jump. The AHL will be back to normal and looking to sign more players who were in the ECHL this season. It all means off-season recruiting for ECHL teams will be tougher than normal. It is in this environment that Martinson excels.
I will have Martinson’s thoughts on the series loss to Fort Wayne and the season along with some odds and ends tomorrow.
Look for the Allen Americans to disperse quickly now that the season is over. The players that are signed in Europe don’t have much time before they will report for training camps which will start in July. You can add Les Lancaster to the list of players that have been announced as moving to Europe for the 2021-22 season. Lancaster has signed to play in the top league in Finland (Liiga) which is rated by some as the fourth-best pro league in the world after the NHL, KHL (Russia) and SHL (Sweden). It is a great opportunity for Les to get paid for his historic season in Allen by playing in one of the best pro leagues in the world. The team Lancaster signed with is Ilves which means Lynx in Finnish. The team is located in Tampere, Finland which is the second-largest urban area in Finland. It is a gorgeous city wedged between two lakes about 100 miles north of Helsinki. The team was founded in 1931 and has won 16 championships. It is one of the most successful teams in the league but its last championship was in 1985.
The official list of players heading overseas is now up to four. Mackin and Chad Butcher will play for the same team in the second-highest pro league in Sweden. Jake Paterson will play in Norway’s top league. There are others heading to Europe as well but not officially announced yet.
Did You Know?
After missing out on a chance to win the Kelly Cup, I thought today would be a good one to look back at some of the great playoff goals scorers from the past. I knew Greger Hanson was clutch in the playoffs but didn’t realize he averaged more goals per game than any other player over the last 20 years.
Most Playoff Goals Per Game in ECHL since 2000 (min 55 GP):
0.51 – Greger Hanson
0.49 – Kyle Bonis
0.48 – Milan Gajic
0.44 – Wes Goldie
0.43 – Gary Steffes
0.43 – Mike Scott
0.42 – Andrew Rowe
0.42 – Kevin Baker
0.42 – Lance Galbraith
0.39 – Trent Daavettila
0.39 – Alex Belzile
— ECHL Stats (@EchlStats) June 23, 2021
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