The hallmark of the Allen Americans 2021-22 season has been a team that is inconsistent and sometimes suffers from what coach Martinson calls “defensive indifference.” It happened again yesterday in one of the most important games of the season. Fighting for a playoff position and playing against Wichita, a team that had lost 11 of its last 12 games, the Americans were outworked and outplayed. I know some will say Allen was a tired team after playing four games in five days with travel while missing key players and that is true. However, the same was true for Wichita and its goalie was playing the third game in three days because of an injury to the Thunder top goalie. The result was a 5-3 loss against the team with the worst record in the Mountain Division.
– Here is a sample of what went wrong in Allen’s 5-3 loss to Wichita yesterday:
- Allen gave up the first goal of the game and trailed 2-0 after the first period
- Allen managed just three shots in the second period
- Allen was outscored 3-0 in the second period
- Allen trailed 5-0 at the second intermission
- Allen hasn’t won a road game all season when trailing after the second period (0-13-4-0)
- Allen was 0-4 on the power play
– It is a stretch to find a positive in this loss, but when you trail 5-0 after the second period the only realistic goal is to win the third period. Allen managed to do that by outshooting Wichita 9-7 and outscoring them 3-0 in the third period. The goal scorers for Allen were Branden Troock (24), Ryan Lohin (9) and Chad Butcher (10). Here are the video highlights: https://youtu.be/rEYZoWFf3_k
– Game Recaps
- Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/media/americans-fall-to-thunder-in-road-finale/
- Wichita Thunder: https://www.wichitathunder.com/en/news/balanced-scoring-leads-thunder-past-americans
COACH’S CORNER WITH STEVE MARTINSON
“Wichita had the momentum in the third period on Saturday and that carried over to Sunday.”
“We gave up way too many odd man rushes because players stay on the offensive side of the play hoping we will get the puck back. We talk about it all of the time.”
“I have battled all year to get our veteran players to play the right way and we are not there yet. That is why at home, when we have last change, I have to play two rookie and a second year player against the other team’s best line.”
“Bad positioning and hoping to get the puck back is not the way smart players play. Smart players know turnovers in certain areas create scoring opportunities for the other team. Winning has to be more important than scoring for our team to be successful.”
“We are now at the point with our defensive indifference that I can’t play all of our offensive players in games. We need more balance with players that play defense.”
“Having guys sick is not an excuse for giving up odd man rushes.”
“With the way we have been playing defense we need our goalie the be the best player on the ice every game.”
“Most of the players will be off today and we will have a light practice tomorrow.”
“I won’t know until I get to the rink what the roster will look like for the series with Iowa. I expect McAuley and Winquist to be back but the rest are day to day.”
“We are still in control of our own destiny and don’t have to rely on other teams losing. We need to take care of our games this week.”
– The Americans finished the week 2-1-1-0 and missed an opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the other two teams (Tulsa & Idaho) vying for the playoffs. It will all come down to the final week of the season and likely will come down to the last game of the season on Saturday. Allen is still in control of its own destiny. If the Americans sweep Iowa the worst they can finish is fourth place. Here are the current standings by points with the remaining schedule:
- 76 points: Tulsa – play in Rapid City on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday
- 75 points: Allen – play Iowa at home on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday
- 75 points: Idaho – play in Utah on Friday and Saturday
– The standings are so close Allen could finish as high as second and as low as fifth. To finish second Allen needs to sweep Iowa and Tulsa needs to win two of the three games in Rapid City in regulation. If that happens Allen and Rapid City would tie for second with 81 points, but Allen would win on the first tiebreaker which is regulation wins (32-30).
– If Allen does make the playoffs, which team would they match up best against in the first round? The answer is clearly Idaho and that is the least likely to happen. Allen has a losing record against all but Idaho. Here is Allen’s record against the possibilities:
- 6-1-1-0: Idaho
- 4-6-2-0: Tulsa
- 2-3-0-0: Rapid City
- 0-3-2-0: Utah
– Playing well going into the playoffs is so important. Here are the four teams with seven wins in the last 10 games:
- 7-2-1-0: Reading
- 7-3-0-0: Newfoundland
- 7-3-0-0: Toledo
- 7-3-0-0: South Carolina (will not make the playoffs)
– The best team playing poorly right now is Rapid City. The Rush record over the last 10 games is 3-4-2-1.
– Had a question (thanks Gilley) about how frequently the ECHL tiebreakers are used to determine playoff teams? Thanks to Joe Babik, ECHL Director of Communications, for the answer and connection to Allen. Tiebreakers are not used very often. The last time a tiebreaker was used to determine a playoff spot was in 2012, when Reading made it into the playoffs over a Chicago team that was coached by Steve Martinson.
On the final day of the regular season, Reading beat Trenton and Chicago lost to Cincinnati in overtime. They both ended the season with 80 points, but Reading made the playoffs by virtue of having more wins, which was the first tiebreaker at the time.
I asked Steve Martinson about that game and of course he remembered every detail. It was very disappointing because Chicago was leading 2-1 late in the game. Cincinnati score on a power play to tie the score and on another power play goal to win the game in overtime. The game winning goal for Cincinnati was scored by Mathieu Aubin who would later play for Martinson and the Allen Americans (2017-18).
DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL Stats post today is about differences in home vs road points percentage. Allen’s home points percentage is .591 and the road points percentage is .500.
The Kelly Cup playoffs are just 10 days away. Here are the regular season home vs road points percentage differences for three of the playoff teams:Florida – ranked #1 on the road (.722), but #19 at home (.559)Fort Wayne – ranked #1 at home (.714), but #13 on the road (.471)Toledo – most consistent, #1 at home (.714), #2 on the road (.691)