It was a big start to a big series in Utah as the Allen Americans beat the Grizzlies last night by a score of 4-1 before a crowd 3311 at the Maverik Center. Allen got the good start they were looking for when Colton Hargrove scored the first goal of the game, a power play goal, at 9:26 of the first period. The lead didn’t last long as Utah tied the score 1-1 just 28 seconds later. It would be the only goal Utah would score. Goalie Chase Perry and the Allen defense would turn away the next 30 shots the Grizzlies would throw at them. The first period would end with the score tied 1-1.
– Allen took charge with two goals in the second period, both even strength goals. Liam Finlay and Grant Hebert were the goal scorers. Allen took a 3-1 lead into the second intermission. There was no scoring in the third period until Colby McAuley put the game away with an empty net goal to make the final score 4-1.
– Goal scorers for Allen were Colton Hargrove (18), Liam Finlay (19), Grant Hebert (3) and Colby McAuley (1). Jack Combs had two assists. Hargrove extended his point streak to 16 games (23 points – 14G, 9A). Liam Finlay extended his point streak to eight games (14 points – 8G, 6A). Finlay also extended his game winning goal streak. He has scored the game winning goal in Allen’s last four wins and five of the last six. The league doesn’t track game winning goals stats, but I did check Allen’s games since joining the ECHL and four straight has never happened before.
– Hank Crone spent the day traveling from Ontario, CA to Salt Lake City to meet up with the team. Crone had an assist in the game to extend his point streak to 11 games (16 points – 6G, 10A).
– Here are the game recaps from both teams:
Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/media/game-recap-americans-beat-utah-4-1/
– I touched base with coach Gens this morning and here is what he had to say.
“We came out of the game without any injuries. We will have an optional skate today at noon.”
“I loved our game last night from top to bottom. We had strong goaltending, we defended pretty well, and our forwards played the right way.”
“When we are cycling the puck and using our high rolls in the offensive zone, we are a scary team.”
“We didn’t have a perfect game, but I loved the effort from the guys.”
– Allen scored the first goal of the game to improve its record when scoring first to 14-5-1-0 (.735). When Allen gives up the first goal of the game its record is 5-16-0-0 (.238).
– Allen won the special teams battle holding Utah scoreless in four power play attempts. A big improvement from the three-game series these teams played in November when Utah scored a power play goal in all three games. The Americans were 1-6 on the power play last night. In the four games against Utah this season Allen is 2-14.
– Two stats that say a lot about how the team has been playing. Last night Allen out hit Utah 18-10 and blocked 21 shots compared to Utah’s 14.
– Allen has done a better job of staying out of the penalty box recently. The last three games Allen has had more power play opportunities than its opponents. That was a rare occurrence early in the season.
– Allen has traded away or waived a lot of its toughness. Everyone would agree the Mountain Division doesn’t have the toughness it had in the past. Allen has 18 fighting majors this season, ranked #7 in the league but #1 in the division. Three of the top four in fights, Pochiro (4), Blachman (3) and Leppard (2) are no longer with the team. Only Mikael Robidoux (3) and Colton Hargrove (2) have more than one fight. Hargrove is way too valuable to be fighting no matter who he takes off with him and the possibility of hurting his hands is way too high.
– Little doubt the toughest division in the ECHL is now the South Division. Five of the top six teams in fighting majors, all with 20+ fights, are in the South Division including league leader Orlando who has 27 fights. It is a long way from just five years ago when Rapid City averaged more than a fight per game over an entire season (81 fights in 72 games).
– The Mountain Division standings are so close one win or loss can move a team two positions. After the win last night Allen and Utah have identical records of 19-21-1-0 (.476). If either team wins both games this weekend its points percentage will improve to .500. If either team loses both games, its points percentage will drop to .453. It means after the weekend the Americans could be anywhere from fourth to seventh in the standings.
DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL stats post today is about goal scorers 23 years old or younger. Allen has a couple of high scoring rookies in Hank Crone (20 goals) and Liam Finlay (19 goals) but both are over 23. Crone is 24 and Finlay is 25. Allen has two forwards that are 23, Mikael Robidoux and Aidan Brown.
They are young and talented. Most goals among players 23 or younger this season:22 – Brayden Watts, Wichita20 – Michal Stinil, Wichita20 – *Jeremy McKenna, Kansas City18 – *Chad Yetman, Indy17 – *Orrin Centazzo, Newfoundland*Have spent time in AHL this seasonMcKenna – has played one game and is currently with Coachella ValleyYetman – played 2 games in Cleveland and 3 in BellevilleCentazzo – played 5 games in Toronto