It was one of the most exciting finishes ever at the CUTX Event Center as the Allen Americans beat the Tulsa Oilers 5-4 in overtime last night. Broadcaster Tommy Daniels always says never leave a hockey game early. For the 20% (my estimate) of the fans that left after Tulsa took a 4-2 third period lead until Allen’s amazing comeback it had to be a shock when they saw the final score. It was definitely a wow finish. Allen pulled goalie Chase Perry with 2:32 remaining in the game and the magic happened. With an extra attacker, defenseman Zach Massicotte scored twice within 43 seconds. His first goal was with 56 seconds remaining in the game, the second with just 13 seconds remaining. Allen wasn’t done with the amazing comeback. Just 76 seconds into overtime two of the most dangerous players on the team, Jack Combs and Liam Finlay, had a two-on-one break. Combs made a perfectly placed backhand saucer pass by the lone defender to Finlay who put the puck high into the net. A celebration that would make a playoff series win celebration proud ensued.
– Tulsa scored first early in the opening period (3:15) and Allen was playing catch-up the rest of the game. The Americans only lead in the game was the overtime game winner by Liam Finlay. Over the first two periods Allen would tie the score; Tulsa would take the lead and Allen would tie it again. The score after the second period was 3-3. All three Tulsa goals were scored on the power play, all by the same player. Tag Bertuzzi, playing in his first game for Tulsa since being acquired in a trade, had a hat trick of power play goals. Bertuzzi scored on his first, second and fourth shot as a member of the Tulsa Oilers. If the name sounds familiar it is, his dad is Todd Bartuzzi played in 1159 NHL games (mostly with Detroit and Vancouver) and totaled 770 points.
– There were four goals in the first period. Allen tied the score 1-1 on a Jack Combs power play goal and tied the score 2-2 on an even strength goal from Jared Bethune on a great assist by Grant Hebert. The only goal in the second period was Bertuzzi’s third power play goal. Tulsa took a 3-2 lead into the second intermission.
– Everyone knew the next goal was going to be a big one. Allen killed a penalty early in the third period which was huge since Tulsa was 3-4 on the power play at the time. The Americans also had a power play midway through the period, put on a lot of pressure but did not score. The clock was under seven minutes when Tulsa converted on a 2-on-1 break to make the score 4-2.
– It was definitely looking like an uphill climb as the clocked wound down. Allen was getting great opportunities but couldn’t get the puck in the net. After a timeout the Massicotte magic happened as described above. When the Americans were able to tie the score and head to overtime, they had a big statistical advantage. After the Finlay game winner, the Americans have now won four of five extra time games while Tulsa has lost eight of ten extra time games.
– Goal scorers for Allen were Jack Combs (21), Jared Bethune (4), Zach Massicotte (4 & 5) and Liam Finlay (15). Here are the video highlights with the five Allen goals. Pay special attention to the pass Grant Hebert made on Bethune’s goal and Jack Combs’ pass on Finlay’s game winner. They are both things of beauty. https://www.echl.com/en/video/2023/1/tulsa-oilers-vs-allen-americans—jan-27-2023-CzykRppy
– Here are the game recaps:
Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/media/overtime-thriller-2/
– It is hard to describe the joy and excitement that I saw among the fans, the team and the coaches after the Finlay overtime goal. Given the emotion everyone was feeling after the game started with a moment of silence for Chad Costello’s dad, Tad Costello who was killed in a tragic accident. I am sure many of you, like myself, said the team has to win this game for Chad. Just when it looked like it wasn’t going to happen the Americans willed themselves to victory. I don’t know the latest two goal comeback in team history to tie the game and win in overtime, but I will go out on a limb and say this is the record. If someone told you a defenseman scored two goals, 40 seconds apart in the last minute of the game to tie the score 4-4 and win it in overtime, those 1000+ fans that left early would probably not believe you.
– It was a great win all around. When I stopped by to talk to Aaron Gens and Gary Steffes who flew in to help out, they were celebrating the victory but already planning for the rematch today. It was fascinating listening to them give each other credit for what they did and said on the bench. You can’t find two more positive guys and it was on full display. Gary told me he was honored to be asked to help out. He will be helping out all weekend. Here are a few quotes from coach Gens:
“We love the resilience of this team. Teams that go through adversity like we did at the beginning of the season and then turn it around are special. The guys are playing for each other, and our team is coming together.”
“I liked the addition of Robidoux in the lineup, He brings a presence and when he plays the way he does other guys up their game.”
“When you get players like Combs and Finlay on a 2-on-1 in overtime you better watch out. Combs made a perfect pass and Finlay put it right where he wanted to.”
“After Tulsa took the 4-2 lead coach Steffes was the encourager on the bench. He kept saying to the guys the as the clock wound down to keep going, its coming, its coming, keep pushing, its coming and sure enough he was right.”
– Chase Perry will get the start in goal tonight, Dalton Skelly will replace Dalton Gally and there are some line changes. Here is the complete lineup.
- Kaplemaster (backup)
– I always say if a team scores first, outshoots the opponent and wins the special teams battle they will win the game. Allen was one for three but still found a way to win last night. A month ago, that would have never happened. Allen outshot Tulsa 40-31 but gave up the first goal and lost the special teams battle. Tulsa was 3-5 on the power play, the Americans were 1-5. It was the most power play goals Allen has allowed all season.
– Colton Hargrove had an assist last night to extend his point streak to 13 games (19 points). If he gets a point tonight, he will match the longest point streak in the ECHL this season. Liam Finlay has started a point streak of his own. He has scored in five straight games since returning from injury. He has eight points in the last five games (4G, 4A).
– Allen has won four of its last five games, Liam Finlay had the game winning goal in three of the four. Allen will go for a fourth straight win tonight which would be a season record.
– After the game tonight Tulsa will head back home. Allen will not travel to Tulsa until midday on Sunday.
DID YOU KNOW: Which is the strongest ECHL division? Based on this look at point percentages it would be the South Division.North – range from .738 (NFL) to .218 (NOR)1 team (Newfoundland) above .7002 teams above .600 (Reading, Maine)South – range from .705 (FLA) to .388 ( SAV)1 team above .700 (Florida)4 teams above .600 (South Carolina, Jacksonville , Greenville, Atlanta)Central – range from .688 (IND) to .311 (IA)0 teams above .7002 teams above .600 (Indy, Cincinnati)Mountain – range from .808 (IDH) to .432 (TUL)1 team above .800 (Idaho)0 teams above .600