The Toledo Walleye defeated the Allen Americans 4-2 yesterday and became the first ECHL team to qualify for the Kelly Cup playoffs. It was a disappointing loss for the Americans who finished the three game series against Toledo with a record of 1-1-1-0. It would be hard to find a more exciting series and to come home getting three of a possible six points against the best team in the ECHL (.702 points percentage) is a good outcome though it could have been better. Here are some thoughts on the weekend:
- How great is it to see the Americans play before crowds of 7441, 7772 and 7110 in a rink that has a capacity for hockey of 7389 without standing room.
- Allen scored first in two of the three games
- Allen led after the first period in all three games.
- Allen showed they can hang with the best team in the league despite being out shot in all three games, a total of 122-74.
- Allen allowed one power play goal in three games to the best home power play unit in the league.
- Despite losing two of three games on the weekend, by earning three points the Americans were able to retain the fourth and final playoff spot in the Mountain Division.
– The game yesterday did not start well for the Americans. After scoring the first goal on Friday and Saturday the Americans gave up the first goal on Sunday. It was not a good sign since Toledo is almost unbeatable when scoring first, the Walleye have the best record in the ECHL with a record of 32-5-1-0.
– Allen bounced back after giving up the first goal and took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Nolan Kneen scored the Americans first goal (16:39) followed by a Josh Winquist power play goal (18:28). The odds flipped when Allen took the lead into the first period. Prior to this weekend the Americans record when leading after the first period was 11-2-1-1. Against Toledo the Americans lost twice (once in overtime) when leading after the first period.
– Allen’s offense sputtered after the first period, while Toledo’s picked up. The Walleye managed just one goal in the second period, but they out shot Allen 14-5. It was anyone’s game with the score tied 2-2 going into the third period.
– Brandon Hawkins, who killed Allen all weekend with seven points (4G, 3A), scored the game winner at the 9:09 mark of the third period. Hawkins came out of the penalty box and caught Allen sleeping. The puck split the two Allen players at the point but Hawkins missed it as the puck slid behind the Allen net to Marotte’s right. Hawkins had enough time to skate past the goal line, pick up the puck, skate behind the net and put in a wrap around goal past Frank Marotte before any defenders arrived. You can hear on the replay that Marotte was slapping his stick on the ice to warn the penalty was about to expire but neither player on the points (one forward and one defenseman) reacted, so Hawkins had a lot of time to get the puck and score. It also looked like Marotte had plenty of time to leave his crease and play the puck before Hawkins arrived. It was an unfortunate way to lose the game. Allen had plenty of time to get the equalizer (11 minutes) but managed just four shots the remainder of the game. Toledo scored an empty net goal 15 seconds after Allen pulled Marotte for an extra attacker to make final score 4-2.
– Goal scorers for Allen were Nolan Kneen (4) and Josh Winquist (12). here are the video highlights: https://youtu.be/tWsv8Ou5K5w
– Here is the game recap issued by the Toledo Walleye with in depth details on all of the goals: https://www.toledowalleye.com/en/news/walleye-clinch-playoff-berth-with-4-2-victory-over-americans
COACH’S CORNER WITH STEVE MARTINSON
“We had a good start to the series but our defensive indifference caught up with us as the weekend went on.”
“We showed a big improvement in our offensive zone time yesterday. On Saturday it was seven minutes. Yesterday it was just over 12 minutes.”
“Yesterday we struggled to capitalize on our increased offensive zone time, we had good opportunities but couldn’t score after the first period.”
“On the game winning goal in the third period there were three or four mistakes on that play. We had a bad entry into our offensive zone, we didn’t anticipate Hawkins coming out of the penalty box, we didn’t get back quick enough and the goalie should have played the puck. On all break downs that end up in goals you just have to ask, did you make the right play and did you give 100% effort. If you can answer yes to those questions, that is all you can ask.”
“Toledo back pressured better than us all weekend.”
“We were able to get three points this weekend and are still in a playoff position. We control our own destiny, play seven of our final 11 games at home and have three games in hand over Tulsa and Idaho.”
– Allen must now get ready for a busy stretch run starting with four games in five days this week.
- Wednesday at home against Kansas City
- Friday on the road in Kansas City
- Saturday on the road in Tulsa
- Sunday at home against Tulsa
All of the games are critical but the Tulsa games will be extra critical since Allen and Tulsa are so close in the standings. Allen barely leads Tulsa in points percentage (.52459 vs .52344).
– Allen’s penalty kill has been much improved over the last six weeks. The power play goal Allen gave up yesterday was just the third in the last in the last 11 games. Some of the improvement is driven by the fact Allen has been staying out of the penalty box.
DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL Stats post today is about special teams. As a comparison, Allen’s power play percentage is 18.9% and the penalty kill percentage is 80.2% for a total of 99.1%.
Not an official stat but a combined power play and penalty kill percentage of 105% is considered outstanding special teams play. Here are the four ECHL teams that meet the 105% standard, with power play (PP) and penalty kill (PK) percentages in parenthesis:110.3%: Newfoundland (PP 26.7%, PK 83.6%)106.5%: Maine (PP 25.5%, PK 81.0%)106.5%: Rapid City (PP 20.7%, PK 85.8%)106.0%: Iowa (PP 23.8%, PK 82.2%)