ALLEN, Texas – If you look at the ECHL standings, the Allen Americans are 1-1 in the Mountain Division. Every team in the division is 1-1 with the exception of Utah and Idaho, who played three games against each other with Idaho winning twice. Nothing says parity better than an opening weekend when nearly every team in the Mountain Division has won and lost a game.
Comparing Other 1-1 Records to Allen’s
The Americans’ 1-1 record sounds mundane if you didn’t follow the team and know the vast differences between its loss on Saturday (7-0) and win on Sunday (6-3). The 7-0 loss on Saturday was the worst shutout loss in team history, which is saying a lot when you consider Allen has played 955 regular-season games since 2009.
Veteran leadership made the difference as the Allen Americans bounced back from a 7-0 loss to Wichita on Saturday with a 6-3 win on Sunday afternoon to gain a split of the two-game series. The top line of Combs-Asuchak-Costello was held without a point in the game Saturday night. They answered the bell on Sunday with a goal apiece and four assists. Another veteran, defenseman Eric Roy added a three-point game with a goal and two assists.
– The contrasts between Saturday and Sunday could not have been more stark. Here are a few examples comparing Saturday and Sunday:
Score: 7-0 loss vs 6-3 win
Power play: 0% (0-6) vs 50% (2-4)
Penalty kill: 40% (3-5) vs 100% (0-3)
Shots allowed: 39 vs 34
Shots for: 30 vs 36
Shooting percentage: 0% (0-30) vs 16.7% (6-36)
– Everything Allen didn’t accomplish on Saturday, they did on Sunday. The Americans scored first, outshot the Thunder, scored on two of four power-play opportunities and the penalty kill was a perfect 0-3 and Ryan Lohin added a shorthanded goal. The only disappointment was the small crowd (1799) that saw the game on Sunday.
– In talking to coach Martinson it is clear he never saw what happened on opening night coming and is hard-pressed to explain it. Some players didn’t get much practice time in training camp, there was not a preseason game, expected goalies were with AHL teams and some players hadn’t played a game since the 2019-20 season. Martinson did make some adjustments to the power play for the game on Sunday and that made a difference. The penalty kill was improved on Sunday because the penalty killers made better decisions, Martinson explained it as going back to Hockey 101 on the penalty kill.
– The players had Monday off and were back at practice today. Practices early in the season are vitally important to work on a host of system issues. With two games in the books, there is now video to review and target areas for improvement. The one specific area Martinson mentioned he will work on was the role of the third player going through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone.
– Martinson also talked about three defensemen that are not available right now: Phil Beaulieu, Nolan Kneen, and Will Lochead. All had their last season cut short because of injuries. Beaulieu had nine points in the nine games before he went down with a knee injury at the end of April. Nolan Kneen had a season-ending injury in mid-March and Lochead was injured when he was on loan to the AHL. Lochead’s return is still quite a ways off, but Beaulieu and Kneen will return soon.
– The bottom line is the Americans are loaded with talent and will improve as they play a few games and get some missing pieces in the lineup. This should be a fun team to watch this season.
– Allen has always had defensemen at or near the top of the list in points in the ECHL. Les Lancaster, Matt Register, Alex Breton, David Makowski, Aaron Gens, and Tyler Ludwig to name a few. Martinson has said this publicly a couple of times and mentioned to me again he thinks Roy has a chance to add his name to this list this season. With three points (1G, 2A) in two games, Eric is currently third in scoring by defensemen.
– Next up for the Americans are two games against the Utah Grizzlies at home on Saturday and Sunday. Utah is in last place in the Mountain Division, having lost two games to Idaho on opening weekend, but don’t let that fool you. Utah is loaded with contract players from Colorado, including the ECHL rookie of the year from last season, Matthew Boucher.
– Everyone will be keeping an eye on the AHL transactions list this week to see if either of the goalies (Antoine Bibeau & Frank Marotte) Allen is expecting to be assigned “soon” will happen before Saturday.
– Here is an example of great starts bearing fruit: forward Eduards Tralmaks had a hat-trick in Maine’s opening game on Friday, was recalled by Providence (AHL), the Mariners’ affiliate, on Saturday, and was in the Providence Bruins’ lineup on Sunday.
– Allen released defensemen Zach Wilkie yesterday, who will head back to his SPHL team, the Peoria Riverman. Wilkie was signed for the games against Wichita because the Americans were short defensemen.
– Former Allen forward Scott Conway is off to a great start playing for the Belfast Giants in the EIHL. In seven games, Scott has 13 points (5G, 8A).
Did You Know?
There were 17 games in the ECHL thus far (opening weekend) when a team was trailing after the second period and the team trailing didn’t win a single one going 0-17. It is very hard to comeback when trailing after the second period. Last season, Allen had a second period lead in 34 games, and its record in those games was 30-2-2-0, which is a points percentage of .912. Best not be trailing after the second period, it is a losing proposition.
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