Allen, Tex. – Friday was a big night at the Allen Event Center, culminating in a 5-2 win by the Americans to lead the ECHL Kelly Cup Semifinals 1-0. The excitement started before the opening puck drop. Allen Americans owner Jack Gulati, announced via a video message during the pregame ceremonies that head coach and general manager Steve Martinson has been signed to a new contract. Here is the press release issued by the Allen Americans:
Hall of Fame sportswriter Rick Gosselin posted this story about Martinson getting a new contract and recaps Martinson’s career:
From talking to Martinson after Friday’s game and in years past, he is not someone that tends to enjoy the focus being on himself. Still, it didn’t take long for the team to celebrate Martinson’s new contract. The Americans came out buzzing in the first period and by the 11:46 mark had a 3-0 lead. When the dust settled on the first period Allen had amassed 18 shots on goal and held a 4-2 lead. It was a good sign when you consider Allen’s record this season when leading after the first period now stands at 25-2-2-1.
Allen stretched its lead to 5-2 in the second period and there was no scoring in the third period as the Americans played solid defense down the stretch. Allen now leads the Kelly Cup playoffs in both average goals scored per game (4.00) and average goals allowed per game (2.00).
Goals scorers for Allen were Josh Lammon (2) Scott Conway (2), Corey Mackin (1&2), Spencer Asuchak (3).
Martinson was obviously pleased with the team’s performance, especially in the first period. He noted the Americans had many great scoring chances in the final two periods that they were unable to capitalize on. The power play still needs to improve. Martinson will stay with the formula that has been working as Allen won its 10th straight game last night. A rested Jake Paterson will get the start in goal Saturday with C.J. Motte taking the night off. Frank Marotte will be the backup. There are no injuries to report other than the normal bumps and bruises so everyone except Dyson Stevenson will be available.
Special teams are a case of good news, bad news. The good news is Allen had a power-play goal Saturday which doubled its number of power-play goals in the playoffs. The Americans were 1-6 and are now 2-18 (11.1%) so far in the playoffs. The power-play goal Saturday was scored 5-on-3. This is an area that will need to improve as the playoffs move on. Allen has the talent to be a 20% plus power-play unit as they proved in the regular season, they just need better execution.
Offsetting Allen’s low ranked power-play percentage (7-of-8) is its top-ranked penalty kill unit which is now at 91.7% (1-12).
Fort Wayne had by far the best special teams in the ECHL during the regular season ranked #1 in both power play and penalty kill. One way to measure special teams is to add the power play and penalty kill percentages together. Anything above 105% is considered excellent, below 100% means needs improvement. Fort Wayne’s combined percentage was off the charts at 112.7%. Allen’s combined percentage in the regular season was a respectable 102.2%. The playoffs have been a different story as Fort Wayne’s power play is ranked last (9.5%) and the penalty kill is #5 (86.2%) for a combined total of just 95.7%. Allen is ranked #1 on the penalty kill (91.7%) and #7 on the power play (11.1%) for a combined total of 102.8%.
There were ten power-play opportunities on Saturday (six for Allen and four for Fort Wayne) and with these teams you would expect there will be plenty more tonight. Whichever team makes the adjustments to get better execution on the power play will have a big advantage.
Here are the keys to the game for the Komets that Justin Cohn (@SportsiCohn) posted on Twitter. You could change the heading to “Keys for the Americans tonight” and be spot on with the exception of energy on defense as the Allen blue line showed plenty of energy last night.
“Keys for the Komets tonight: 1) Play more physical, with more energy, on defense. 2. Get puck deep on offense, emphasize forecheck. 3. Get the power play going. 4. Stay out of the penalty box.”
Both playoff games on Friday had identical 5-2 scores with Greenville beating South Carolina at home to even up the Eastern Conference finals 1-1. Game three is in Greenville Saturday before the teams return to South Carolina’s practice facility for game four and if necessary game five.
Speaking of overtimes, the fastest overtime goal all-time in a Kelly Cup playoff game is 11 seconds and that has happened twice. In 2009, Mark Derlago (Bakersfield) scored 11 seconds into overtime as the Condors beat Las Vegas 4-3. It was Derlago’s third goal of the game. It also happened in 2011 when Josh Aspenlind of the Victoria Salmon Kings scored 11 seconds into overtime to beat the Utah Grizzlies 3-2.
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