The Allen Americans closed out 2021 last night with a 4-1 victory over the Idaho Steelheads before a New Year’s Eve crowd of 3309 at CUTX Event Center. It was one of the Americans best played games of the season and made a statement on two fronts. Allen played well in front of the home crowd and beat one of the better teams in the league. Prior to last night the Americans had just two home wins (October 24 & December 12) with both coming against last place Wichita. Idaho arrived in Allen having won six of its last seven games.
– Despite giving up the first goal of the game early in the opening period (3:15) the Americans fought back getting the equalizer at the 11:41 mark. Both goals came on the power play and were the only goals scored until the third period. Allen’s power play goal was scored by Branden Troock, his fourth goal in two games. Over the first two periods Allen out shot Idaho 26-16.
– Allen broke the game open in the third period with back to back breakaway goals in just over two minutes by Spencer Asuchak (7:52) and Gavin Gould (10:18). Eric Roy finished the scoring with an empty net goal to make the final 4-1.
– Antoine Bibeau was rock solid in goal for Allen stopping 31 of 32 shots and improving his record to 4-0. His GAA has dropped to 2.43 and his save percentage has improved to .929.
– Goal scorers for Allen were Branden Troock (7), Spencer Asuchak (7), Gavin Gould (6) and Eric Roy (3). Chad Costello and Eric Roy each had two assists. Costello leads the forwards in points (24) and Roy leads the defensemen in points (12).
– Here are the video highlights of all of the goals. Take the time to look at the first three Allen goals a few times as they have something in common. Troock, Asuchak and Gould all converted going one on one against the Idaho goalie because of some outstanding passes. Eric Roy feathered a perfect area pass to Troock on his power play goal, Roy also made the long pass that put Asuchak on a breakaway. Chad Costello made one of his patented passes to put Gould on a breakaway. It was nice to see Allen make the Steelheads pay when they made defensive mistakes. youtu.be/UdsSI8QwrMU
– Here is the game recap from the Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/media/americans-big-third-period-leads-to-4-1-win/
– Here is the game recap from the Idaho Steelheads: https://www.idahosteelheads.com/en/articles/steelheads-fall-4-1-to-americans-to-close-2021
– It was a good sign to see the Americans out shoot Idaho (35-32) and outscore them the 4-1 when you consider the Steelheads lead the ECHL in average goals allowed (2.08) and are #2 in shots allowed (25.81). Prior to last night Idaho hadn’t allowed more than two goals in its last seven games. In those seven games the Steelheads allowed just six goals, an average of 0.88 goals per game and they had three shutouts.
– Just how good has Allen been recently? The Americans have won five of their last six games and six of the last eight. Allen has won as many games since December 9 (5) as they did from October 23 to December 8.
– If Allen can repeat its performance from last night with solid defense, great goaltending and out shooting Idaho, they will have a great chance to win again tonight. It would be great if the Americans can score first and be a tad better than 1-6 on the power play.
– The referee scheduled tonight is the same as last night, Casey Terreri (#14). He called nine minor penalties last night, six on Idaho and three on Allen. Penalties included three for tripping, two each for holding and interference and one for high sticking and hooking.
“A great effort by the guys last night. There were parts of the game like the last five minutes of the second period that we dominated.”
“The defensive effort was there from everyone which makes us tough to beat.”
“We only had one power play goal on six attempts but we had good entries and a lot of puck possession. We didn’t always make the best decisions on when to shoot the puck and passed up some one timers we should have taken.”
“There were some great passes to set up the goals. Eric Roy’s area pass on the power play goal was really good.”
“Hayden Lavigne will get the start in goal tonight. I won’t decide on other changes, if any, until later today.”
“One of our defensemen will be headed to Charlotte after the weekend. I expect we will lose additional players to AHL loans.
– With the win last night Allen now has sole possession of fourth place in the Mountain Division by points percentage. The Americans have games in hand on all the teams ahead of them in the standings including seven games with Utah. Allen has played 22 games compared to Utah’s 29.
– The Idaho Steelheads signed Jeremy Yablonski yesterday, a 41 year old enforcer who hasn’t played professional hockey since February, 2015 with the Ontario Reign. My first thought was why would Idaho sign this guy. My second thought was, if Steve Martinson had signed him he would have immediately gotten a nasty gram from the league office warning of a suspension and fines if one of his players started a brawl. I am sure you remember the return of WEAPON X, aka Alex Penner in 2020 that drew the attention of the ECHL. Steve Martinson conjectured the signing of Yablonski could have been to counteract Darian Skeoch but of course Darian is on injured reserve. Yablonski was not in the lineup last night and with Skeoch out he may not play in this series. If he does play it will likely be an advantage to Allen.
As a side note I had a chance to meet Jablonski a couple of years ago in Steve Martinson’s office. My impression was what a huge, scary human being to run into on the ice. He is six feet and around 245 pounds, a Gloden Gloves champion in his younger days and MMA fighter. My other impression is what a nice, engaging guy, like so many enforcers off the ice. One thing I am sure is a good bet, he won’t find any takers on the Allen roster to drop the gloves if he plays this weekend.
– Newfoundland finally lost a road game after starting the season going 9-0 on the road. They lost to Adirondack last night 4-3 in overtime so the Growlers have a 10 game road point streak. After a terrific start the Growlers are 5-3-2-0 over the last 10 games. They still have the best points percentage in the ECHL (.727) but the Toledo Walleye are now a close second at .720.
DID YOU KNOW: Last night Chad Costello tied Jarret Lukin for third place on the Allen Americans all time games played list at 238 games. Chad is just 10 games away from passing Tyler Ludwig for second all time (247). When that happens Chad and Spencer Asuchak will be #1 and #2 all time in the following categories. Here is where they stand today:
Game Played – Asuchak #1 (435), Costello #3 (238)
Goals – Asuchak #1 (130), Costello #2 (107)
Assists – Costello #1 (267), Asuchak #2 (199)
Points – Costello #1 (374), Asuchak #2 (329)
What a pleasure for Allen fans to get to watch these two great players who happen to be two great guys off the ice. Between the two of them at least one new all-time Allen record is set every game the Americans play.