The Allen Americans bounced back from their opening night loss in Tulsa with a 5-3 win in Wichita last night before a crowd of 5875 at INTRUST Bank Arena. Allen played shorthanded with just 15 skaters instead of the allotted 17, as Spencer Asuchak (lower leg injury) and Jackson Leppard (immigration issue) were behind the bench in street clothes.
– With just eight forwards in the lineup, Jared Bethune, who can play both forward and defense, moved from the blue-line to forward. With Allen short forwards, defensemen Kris Myllari and Colton Saucerman stepped up big time. Here is a recap:
- Myllari scored the first goal of the game
- Saucerman scored the second Allen goal on the power play with one second remaining in the first period.
- Saucerman scored the game winning goal
- Combined, Myllari and Saucerman had five points (3G, 2A)
– Allen got the good start they were looking for when Myllari scored at the 4:09 mark of the first period and the Americans never trailed the rest of the game. Allen led 2-1 after the first period and 4-1 after the second period. A couple of power play goals by Wichita in the third period gave them hope, but the Thunder never got closer than a two-goal deficit.
– Goal scorers for Allen were Kris Myllari (1), Colton Saucerman (1&2), Zach Pochiro (2) and Colton Hargrove (1). Liam Finlay, Hank Crone and Justin Young each had two assists.
– Here is the game recap from the Wichita Thunder: https://www.wichitathunder.com/en/news/thunder-drops-home-opener-saturday-night-vs-allen
– Here are the video highlights with all of the goals, some great saves and a couple of scrums:
CHAD COSTELLO COACH’S CORNER
– One of the things you learn very quickly when talking to coach Costello, which I have done frequently since he took over as coach and general manager, is he doesn’t like the focus on himself, it is all about the team. Last night was a big deal, earning his first win as a professional head coach, but I was sure if I didn’t ask, Costello would not even bring it up, he would talk about the win and the team effort. With that in mind my first question was, I know it is never about you, but I hope you got the game puck or some other remembrance of your first win as a pro coach? As you would expect, Costello’s answer was short, sweet and understated as all he wanted to talk about was the team effort. For the record his response, “Thank you Barry, the boys got the puck and presented it to me.”
– There was no shortage of words when talking about the team. Here are his comments:
- “Our will to win and buy into the team first was why we won the game tonight.”
- “Everyone contributed and we had great goaltending.”
- “Our leadership is awesome this season and they all lead by example.”
- “Our team speed both on offense and defense was more evident tonight than in Tulsa.”
- “I told the guys the team that sticks together and improves the fastest will have the upper hand, so we will concentrate on the process of improving.”
- “We played shorthanded (because of penalties) too often tonight. I like that we play hard, but we also need to play smart.”
- “We showed a lot of character tonight, I am just really proud of the boys.”
- “We need to get healthy. I will give the guys Sunday and Monday off so we can heal up and practice at game speed.”
- “When we have our full lineup, we will be hard to beat.”
– After just two days of the 2022-23 season, every team in the Mountain Division has lost a game with the exception of Idaho, who is 2-0.
– With three points last night, Colton Saucerman is alone at the top of the ECHL points standings for defensemen. Colton has four points (2G, 2A) in two games. Suacerman and rookie Liam Finlay are tied for the team lead in points (4).
– My friend Matt Harding from Field Pass Hockey, who I have worked with the past decade, just posted his predictions for ECHL division champions, playoff teams and Kelly Cup champion. Have to say there are more than a few surprises in his predictions:
- You can’t call Matt a homer as he lives in Wichita and is a long time Thunder fan but predicts Wichita will miss the playoffs.
- He also gives coach Costello no respect as a first-year coach, predicting Allen will miss the playoffs.
- His Mountain Division champ is Rapid City, with Utah, Idaho and Kansas City making the playoffs.
- Matt’s most surprising pick is Fort Wayne to win the Kelly Cup. Wonder if Matt is rethinking his choice after the Komets got beat 7-5 by Indy on Friday and 7-2 by Cincinnati on Saturday.
In all seriousness, Matt has done a great job covering the ECHL (CHL before that) and knows more about the league than any writer I know. We will see how things turnout in April. As for my predictions, Allen will make the playoffs and Newfoundland will win the Kelly Cup. Here is Matt’s story with all of his predictions and rationale. https://fieldpasshockey.com/picking-the-2023-kelly-cup-playoff-field-and-champion/
– I will do my annual story on Thanksgiving in predicting what teams will make the playoffs and it happens to be statistically very accurate. It goes like this, historically about 80% of the teams in playoff positions on Thanksgiving Day will make the playoffs. That means with the exception of just three or four teams, the playoff teams will be decided in just over as month. Good reason for your favorite team to get off to a great start.
DID YOU KNOW: Some very early ECHL observations:– Home teams went 6-8 last night.– South Carolina is 2-0, outscoring its opponent 13-3.– Fort Wayne is 0-2, giving up 14 goals in 2 games.– Average attendance is 5529, up 1594 per game from 2021-22.– Alex Wideman (Indy) is points leader with 7 points (2G, 5A) in two games.– Colton Saucerman (Allen) leads all defensemen with four points (2G, 2A) in two games.