The Allen Americans beat a shorthanded Newfoundland Growlers team 3-2 last night and in the process snapped a four game losing streak. Hats off to the Growlers management who had to scramble to cobble together enough players to play the game after a COVID breakout landed six of their players on the Commissioner’s Exempt List. Local players, former players, college players, SPHL players were all in the mix as the start time of the game was delayed until 7:30 for enough players to arrive in Allen to meet the 13 skater minimum to play. According to the official box score the 13 skaters that took the ice for the Growlers were comprised of seven defensemen and just six forwards. The Growler’s recap press release had it five defensemen and eight forwards.
– Newfoundland was missing its top three scorers (two on Commissioner’s list) including the reigning ECHL Players of the Week (Orrin Centazzo) and its top goalie (Keith Petruzzelli) who has a GAA of 2.29 and .924 save percentage. Here is the press release from Newfoundland that describes all the roster changes that were made yesterday. https://www.nlgrowlers.com/en/2021-22-news/growlers-make-roster-changes-ahead-of-weekend-series
– Newfoundland’s woes should not take anything away from Allen’s win. After all, the Americans are playing without injured players Gavin Gould (out for the season), Chad Butcher (out at least two weeks), Eric Roy (day to day) and top goalie Antoine Bibeau is in Charlotte (AHL). Every ECHL team plays with a weak lineup at some point in the season whether it is from COVID, injuries, loans, recalls or a combination of them all.
– The Americans were able to do to Newfoundland what teams have been doing to the Americans during the recent losing streak:
- Allen gave up the first goal but fought back to win the game.
- Allen was trailing 1-0 after the first period, prior to last night Allen was 1-5 at home when trailing after the first period,
- Rather than giving up a shorthanded goal, Allen scored a shorthanded goal. It was only the second shorty allowed by Newfoundland all season.
- Allen outshot the Growlers 35-24, something it has done in only 25% (9 of 35) of its games. The 11 shot margin was the second largest of the season. Allen’s record when outshooting its opponent is now 8-1-0-0.
- Allen scored the winning goal in the third period on a breakaway.
– Special teams was the difference maker in the game led by Jack Combs. Allen fell behind 2-0 midway through the second period with Newfoundland on the power play with a chance to put the game away. A great individual effort by Jack. where he stripped the puck from a defensemen and beat the other defensemen to score a shorthanded goal. Combs followed up with a power play goal less than five minutes later to tie the score 2-2. Allen scored the only goal of the third period as Branden Troock scored on a breakaway, taking a great pass from Phil Beaulieu.
– Combs scored his 11th and 12th goals of the season, Troock’s goal was his 13th. Here are the video highlights: https://youtu.be/z09G_4unA1E
– Here is the game recap from the Allen Americans which includes player quotes: https://allenamericans.com/media/americans-rally-from-two-down-to-beat-the-growlers/
– Here is the game recap from Newfoundland: https://www.nlgrowlers.com/en/2021-22recaps/recap-shorthanded-growlers-fall-3-2-to-americans
GAME TWO PREVIEW
– Newfoundland has players arriving today so should have more skaters for the game tonight. With the Toronto as an affiliate and the number of players they have under contract, I would expect the Marlies to send players to Allen to help out the Growlers. That is, if they have any extra players.
– More of the same would be the best formula for the Americans success tonight. The one change would be to get off to a better start. Newfoundland had a 7-0 shot advantage and a 1-0 lead eight minutes into the game before Allen got a shot on goal. From that point, the last 48 minutes of the game, the Americans had a 35-12 shot advantage.
– The penalty kill unit gave up a power play goal for the first time in eight games but balanced it out with a shorthanded goal. Allen was 1-4 on its power play. Winning the special teams battle will be a key to victory tonight.
– The referee scheduled tonight is the same as last night, Sam Heidemann (#22). Last night he called four penalties on Newfoundland for 10 minutes and five on Allen for 10 minutes.
COACH’S CORNER WITH STEVE MARTINSON
“I thought we out played them more than the score would indicate. We had a lot of great chances that we didn’t get the puck in the net.”
“Their goalie was good.”
“I haven’t decided which goalie will start tonight.”
“Eric Roy will not play this weekend.”
“I won’t know if Zach Hall will be in the lineup tonight after leaving the game last night.”
“We need to have a better start tonight. They outshot us 7-0 early in the first period when we took two penalties.”
“They are shorthanded but still have a good power play group. We need to tweak some things on the penalty kill.”
– The attendance last night was a sparse 2395 which was the lowest attendance for a Friday night all season. The low attendance was even more unusual after the Wednesday night big crowd of 3834. Maybe some fans went to the Dallas games or stayed home to watch the Stars retire Sergei’s Zubov’s jersey (#56). The Stars had a sellout crowd at the AAC which is over 19,000. The Texas Stars also had a sellout crowd last night, beating the Laval Rockets at home before a crowd of 6778. Allen’s average attendance after 16 of 36 home games is now 3011, which is ranked #18 in the ECHL.
– With the win last night Allen made it back to .500 (15-15-4-1) and moved into fifth place in the Mountain Division. The two teams just above Allen in the standings (Rapid City & Idaho) both won last night. The Americans will need to win a few games to get back in a playoff spot.
– Newfoundland is now 2-3-0-0 in it seven game swing through the Mountain Division, The Growlers split two games in Kansas City, lost 5-1 in Tulsa and won 3-0 in Wichita. The Growlers .667 points percentage is still the second best in the ECHL but Reading (.656) and Jacksonville (.653) are hot on Newfoundland’s heels.
– The Norfolk Admirals have been selected to host the 2023 ECHL All-Star game which will take place on MLK day (January 16). Here are the details: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2022/1/norfolk-selected-as-host-of-2023-warrior-echl-all-star-classic
– Here is the ECHL Today with a preview of the 11 ECHL games on tap tonight: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2022/1/echl-today-jan-29
– Antoine Bibeau got the start in goal for Charlotte last night and came out the winner as the Checkers went on the road and beat Utica 4-3 in overtime. Utica is the top team in the AHL with a .773 points percentage. Charlotte plays in Syracuse tonight. Nolan Kneen had another assist in the win last night. Nolan has points in five of the seven games he has played for Charlotte. In seven games he has five points (1G, 4A) and is a +3. Kneen has certainly played good enough to warrant an AHL contract.
DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL Stats post today breaks down the ECHL hat tricks this season. Allen has had four of them, one each by Gavin Gould in a 5-4 win over Rapid City, Luke Henman in a 5-4 win over Wichita, Branden Troock in a 5-3 win over Wichita and Chad Costello in a 6-3 win over Tulsa.
There have been 53 hat tricks in the ECHL this season including four goals three times and one five goal game. Every team except two (Fort Wayne and Wichita) has at least one hat trick. Here is a breakdown of the number of hat tricks by team:5 – Maine5 – Wheeling4 – Allen4 – Newfoundland3 – 4 teams2 – 4 teams1 – 11 teams0 – 2 teams