It is way past the time of the season when you can say “that was a moral victory” or “the final score was worse than how the game was played.” However, you can make those arguments in Allen’s 5-2 loss to Utah last night before 4707 diehard fans at the Allen Event Center (AEC). With the win Utah clinched a playoff spot and moved to within two points of second place Tulsa.
– Allen did not play well defensively but that is no surprise as they are the worst defensive team since joining the ECHL, in franchise history and in Steve Martinson’s 23 years as a coach. Even back in the 1990’s when teams routinely scored over 300 goals per season the most goals a Martinson team ever allowed was 242. That was 1998-99 with the San Diego Gulls when they allowed 242 goals but scored 342 goals. This season Allen has allowed 252 goals and scored 191. Just two seasons ago (2016-17) Allen scored 294 goals and allowed 203 goals.
– The difference in the game last night was Utah converted on Allen’s defensive mistakes but the American’s couldn’t do the same. Allen out shot Utah 39-30 but missed on breakaways, a penalty shot and had three or four pucks clang off the post. Utah was clearly the better team but Allen had plenty of chances.
– Here is the game recap issued by the Utah Grizzlies: http://www.utahgrizzlies.com/team/utahgrizzliescomteamnews/?article_id=3656
– The goal scorers for Allen were Dante Salituro (17) and David Makowski (11). Here are the video highlights with the Allen goals, Allen misses and the Allen defensive breakdowns. The worst was Utah’s fourth goal which was a rare 4-on-1 that turned in to a 3-on-0. When coach Martinson says he feels sorry for the goalie that is a perfect example.
STEVE MARTINSON’S POST GAME COMMENTS
ALLEN VS UTAH REMATCH PREVIEW
– If Allen expects to win tonight they can’t get into a wide open high scoring game with Utah. Since Riley Bourbonnais and Alex Breton were loaned to the AHL on March 1st the Americans have scored more than three goals one time in nine games. They beat Wichita 6-5 in a shootout but in the other eight games they had a total of 15 goals for an average goals per game of 1.88.
– Prior to last night Utah had played six games straight against Rapid City and lost five of the six. How was Rapid City successful against the Grizzlies? In the five wins the Rush held Utah to 0,0,2,1 and 3 goals. Allen’s recipe for success tonight is making it a low scoring game.
– Each team had a power play goal last night but Utah had twice as many chances. Allen was 1-3 and Utah was 1-6. The Americans have given up at least one power play goal to the Grizzlies in the last six games they have played. The Americans haven’t scored more power play goals than their opponent in over a month. If Allen can win the special teams battle tonight it will be a big step in winning the game.
– A melee broke out last night in front of the Utah bench with just over two minutes remaining in the game that resulted in three players being ejected. Allen’s Josh Atkinson was given a match penalty for throwing equipment (his helmet) and Curt Gogol was given a game misconduct for abuse of officials. Utah captain, Teigan Zahn, was given a game misconduct for spearing. None of these penalties come with an automatic suspension but the ever present Rule 28 gives the Commissioner discretion to suspend in these cases. Here are a couple of Sporfie videos of the happenings and at least one Utah player (#15 Ryan Walters) gets involved with Atkinson from the bench but was not penalized. My guess is there will be no suspensions as most of what you see is pushing and shoving.
– You get the feeling there is some unfinished business from the game last night and despite Utah needing a win to keep pace with the top of the division, the Americans will be a very difficult team to play against tonight.
-There will be a different officiating crew for the game tonight which is probably a good thing. The referee will be Mike Zalcman (#24). The linesman will be Michael Miggins (#47) and Andy Bethmann (#95).
– The Mountain Division standings have been pretty consistent since Thanksgiving. The top three teams (Idaho, Tulsa, Utah) are battling at the top. The bottom three teams (Allen, Wichita, Rapid City) are toiling at the bottom and Kansas City is caught in the middle. Here are the current Mountain Division standings with games remaining in parentheses:
81 points – Idaho (7 games remaining)
78 points – Tulsa (9 games)
76 points – Utah (8 games)
69 points – Kansas City (8 games)
62 points – Rapid City (6 games)
58 points – Wichita (9 games)
50 points – Allen (5 games)
– There are 12 ECHL games scheduled tonight and all seven Mountain Division teams will be in actions:
Utah at Allen – big game for Utah if they want to get the second seed in the playoffs.
Tulsa at Wichita – huge game for both teams. Tulsa is battling for the #1 seed, Wichita has to win if they have any hope of making the playoffs.
Kansas City at Atlanta – Kansas City has to stop the bleeding having lost four straight. Their hope of moving up is fading fast and they have to keep an eye on the teams behind them.
Idaho at Rapid City – huge game for both teams. Idaho is battling for the #1 seed, Rapid City has to win if they have any hope of making the playoffs.
– Seems like everything went wrong this season and some players that were in Allen earlier in the year are thriving elsewhere. Looking at last night’s box scores certainly highlights that fact. Ben Duffy had a hat trick to lead Norfolk to a 5-3 win. Duffy leads Norfolk is scoring with 57 points (22G, 35A). Greg Chase scored both goals for Maine including the game winner in overtime as the Mariners beat Worcester 2-1. Chase has played 35 games for Maine and has 36 points (20G, 16A). Despite playing only 35 games he is second on the team in goals. Chase was traded for Riley Bourbonnais in December in trade that has worked well for both team. The other former Allen player that scored last night was J.C. Campagna who had a goal in a losing cause as Fort Wayne lost to Cincinnati 3-2. It was Campagna’s 34th goal of the season which ties him for the league lead with Zach Pochiro.
– David Makowski scored his 11th goal of the season last night. This is his fourth season with 10 or more goals. No other defenseman in the ECHL has scored 10 or more goals the last four seasons.
DID YOU KNOW: With this season almost over here is a stat that can give everyone optimism. In 2013-14 Toledo finished the season with 49 points which was #20 of 22 teams. The following season (2014-15) the Walleye finished #1 of 28 teams with 107 points. The 58 point increase from one season to the next is the biggest in ECHL history. The top 10 in ECHL turnarounds range from +43 to +58. Allen could crack this top 10 list next season.