It was the last home game of the season and it could not have gone better for Allen Americans fans. They watched the Americans beat their bitter rivals, the Wichita Thunder by a score of 7-1. It was the largest margin of victory (six goals) by Allen all season. It improved Allen’s record against the Thunder this season to 8-2-0-2. A third of Allen’s wins this season have come against Wichita and they have now won six straight against the Thunder. Since joining the ECHL in 2014, Allen’s record against Wichita is 47-12-4-5.
– Gary Steffes was the #1 star of the game with a hat trick. I think I have this correct that Steffes now has more hat tricks in the 24 games he has played since his #12 was retired than in the 456 pro games before his number was retired. He came out of retirement last season for six games and had a hat trick and he came out of retirement again this season and in his 18th game scored another hat trick last night. In his pro career, prior to retiring the first time, Gary had just one hat trick. In 2014-15 when Steffes had 44 goals and set the Americans single season record for goals he had two goals in a game 11 times but never had a hat trick.
– Allen hit all of the keys to the game last night. They got off to a great start by scoring the first goal at the 2:47 mark of the first period. After a season low seven shots on goal after two periods on Friday night the Americans had 15 shots on goal in the first period last night. The Americans had a 2-1 lead after the first period, 4-1 lead after the second period and added three more goals in the third period to make the final score 7-1.
– Another key to the game was staying out of the penalty box and winning the special teams battle. Mission accomplished as the Americans had only eight penalty minutes after taking 64 penalty minutes Friday night. Allen was 1-3 on the power play while holding Wichita, who has the best power play percentage in the ECHL, scoreless on their three power play opportunities.
– Dante Salituro had two goals against Wichita and has now scored six goals in the last four games. Dante has 13 points (8G, 5A) in his last eight games. He has taken over the team lead in points with 60, two more than Zach Pochiro.
– The goal scorers for Allen were Braylon Shmyr (20), Dante Salituro (21,22), Gary Steffes (4,5,6) and Malcolm Gould (1). It was Gould’s first professional goal. Here are the Sporfie highlights on all of the goals.
Salituro – 1st goal
Steffes – 1st goal
Steffes – 2nd goal
Salituro – 2nd goal
Steffes – 3rd goal
– When I stopped by Steve Martinson’s office after the game he was obviously pleased with the team’s performance but as always put everything in perspective. Here are a few of his comments:
“If you have to be done this early at home you might as well be done in the right fashion. It would have been really tough to go out on a game like we played last night (Friday).”
“I liked a lot of stuff we did tonight. I thought we had good speed, moved the puck better and we had more pucks at the net.”
“It was definitely a better first period than last night and the good start was important.”
“Salituro and Shmyr keep moving and they have been rewarded. Shmyr is moving the puck better right now than he has all season.”
” Jake Doty broke his finger in his fight on Friday so he is on injured reserve. I am expecting to get additional player/players from Iowa.”
“Just like last week we will have the day off tomorrow, have a team gym day on Monday and then get back on the ice for practice on Tuesday.”
– It has been quite the professional debut with the Americans for defenseman Nick Boka who just finished his collegiate career at the University of Michigan. Boka is a 2015 six round draft choice of the Minnesota Wild. Last night Nick had two assists and led Allen in plus/minus at +5. That is the second best plus/minus in a single game all season in the ECHL. Boka was +1 in his first game on Friday for a two game total of +6. He is already the team leader in plus/minus.
Boka didn’t miss a game his last two seasons in college and was an alternate captain the past season. He is a defense first defenseman. His college major was Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience.
– There was another new defenseman in the lineup for Allen last night, Duggie Lagrone. He is from Plano and when coach Martinson needed an extra player he reached out to Lagrone. He just finished his collegiate career at Division III SUNY-Geneseo. Lagrone signed an ATO (amateur tryout) with Utah and played one game before being released.
– With the win last night Allen eliminated Wichita from the playoffs. The Mountain Division playoff teams are now set with seeding still to be determined. Kansas City beat Fort Wayne 5-2 last night to end their seven game losing streak and secure a spot in the playoffs as the #4 seed. If the top three teams win their remaining games Tulsa would be the #1 seed (94 points), Idaho #2 (91 points) and Utah #3 (87 points). It is not possible, however, for all of them to win out because they play each other. Here are the remaining games for the top three.
Tulsa – Utah (H), Kansas City (A), Kalamazoo (H), Kalamazoo (H), Wichita (H)
Idaho – Utah (H), Utah (A), Utah (A)
Utah – Tulsa (A), Idaho (A), Idaho (H), Idaho (H)
If Tulsa can beat Utah at home today they will have the best path to the #1 seed and home ice advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs.
– Tulsa beat Utah last night 2-1 in a shootout and it broke a long drought for Tulsa. They had gone 840 days since their last shootout win. The Oilers were 0-9 in shootouts last season and 0-2 this season before the win last night. You have to go back to the 2016-17 to find their last shootout victory.
– With the win last night Allen now has a four point lead (56-52) over Greenville in the battle to avoid the worst record in the ECHL. The Swamp Rabbits have four games remaining while Allen has just two. Greenville plays Orlando at home this afternoon.
– There are now nine teams that have qualified for the playoffs with seven more yet to be determined. The North Division has one team qualified (Newfoundland), the South Division two (Florida & Orlando) and the Central Division two (Cincinnati & Toledo).
– Allen has scored more than six goals four times this season and three of them have been against Wichita. Here are the four times the Americans scored more than six goals which were all victories.
7-3 Wichita (January 11)
8-3 Wichita (January 13)
7-5 Utah (February 22)
7-1 Wichita (March 30)
– Prior to last night you have to go back to 2017 to find a game that Allen won by six or more goals. You guessed it, the Americans beat Wichita 7-0 on April 5, 2017. It was Riley Gill’s seventh shutout of the season which was tops in the ECHL that season.
– The Americans auctioned off the team’s red jerseys live right after the game last night The jerseys went from a low of $300 to a high of $900 dollars. I am sure it is no surprise that the Gary Steffes #14 jersey was the jersey that went for $900. The average price was $500.
DID YOU KNOW: With his three goals last night Gary Steffes joins a crowd of Who’s Who at the top of the Allen Americans all-time goal scorers. Chad Costello and Greger Hanson are tied at the top with 98 goals followed by Bruce Graham and Gary Steffes with 97 goals. Gary has two more games next weekend in Wichita to improve on his total.