It wasn’t easy but the Allen Americans kicked off their three game series against the Utah Grizzlies with a 3-2 shootout victory last night before a crowd of 1488 at the Allen Event Center. The stars were Colby McAuley who scored both of Allen’s regulation goals, Samuel Laberge who scored the only shootout goal in the fourth round of the shootout and goalie Frank Marotte who stopped all four Utah shootout attempts.

 

– It wasn’t a good start for the Americans as they gave up the first goal of the game just 61 seconds after puck drop. Allen’s record prior to last night when they give up the first goal was 4-8-1-0. The Americans came back from the 1-0 early deficit as Colby McAuley scored his first of game on the power play at the 12:18 mark of the first period.

 

– Allen was forced to come from behind a second time when goalie Frank Marotte misplayed the puck behind the net and Utah’s leading scorer, rookie Matthew Boucher, put the puck into an open net just 11 seconds into the second period. Once again Colby McAuley brought Allen back, this time at the 11:48 mark of the period. After a scoreless third period the game headed to overtime.

 

– Allen started the overtime on the penalty kill (25 seconds) on a penalty carried over from regulation time but Utah was called for a penalty four second into the overtime and the Americans ended up with the advantage. Both teams had chances in overtime but could not convert.

 

– If you believe past is prologue getting to a shootout was good for Allen. Prior to last night the  Americans had only been involved in two shootouts, both against Utah, and they won both games. Allen chose to go first in the shootout and sent out Connor Bleackley in the first round, Corey Mackin in the second round and Colby McAuley in the third round who all missed. Marotte also stopped Utah’s first three shooters. Samuel Laberge finally broke the ice in the top of round four on a great deke going forehand to backhand. Marotte made a super save in the bottom of the fourth round and the victory was Allen’s.

 

– Here are the video highlights from the Allen Americans YouTube channel.

 

 

 

– Here is the game recap from the Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/news/general/americans-open-three-game-series-with-utah-with-a-3-2-shootout-win/

 

– Here is the game recap from the Utah Grizzlies:  https://www.utahgrizzlies.com/en/grizzlies-news/pare-boucher-score-goals-in-utah-s-shootout-loss

 

– Colby McAuley has only played seven games since signing with Allen and has already moved into the top ten in goals. Since returning from an injury after being out for almost two months, Colby has eight points (4G, 4A) in three games. He is now averaging 1.43 points per game.

 

– Steve Owre, playing his first pro game and first game of any kind in a year had an immediate impact getting the primary assist on both Allen goals. Maybe difficult for him to go all three games this weekend but his speed and skill stood out last night.

 

– Coach Martinson had not reviewed the game video when I talked to him this morning but he was pleased with the overall team defense despite the breakdowns on the two Utah goals. He noted the team gave up fewer opportunities than in recent games. Martinson is still looking for some of the players that have a history of scoring to pick up their game to help generate more offense.

 

– Hayden Hawkey will get his first start in goal for the Americans tonight. Hayden played in relief of Justin Kaplemaster after he was injured in the recent Rapid City series. Martinson was not sure which skaters will be in or out until he reviews the video and checks in with players that are dinged up to see if they can go. With three games in three days it pays to rest some players. Chad Butcher is expected to see his first action for the Americans tonight.

 

– The keys to the game tonight include getting off to a better start. The two goals allowed last night were 61 seconds into the first period and 11 seconds into the second period.

 

– Special teams were the difference in the game last night as the Americans scored a power play goal for the second straight game. The penalty kill was perfect (0-4) last night which included some 5-on-3 time. Allen hasn’t allowed a power play goal in its last four games (0-17). If you win the special teams battle you likely win the game.

 

– The other key tonight will be generating more offense even strength. As coach Martinson mentioned he is looking for some of the players that have a history of scoring in the past to generate more offense. In five of Allen’s last nine games the Americans have scored either one or two goals. For the season Allen is ranked #2 in average goals scored per game (3.37) so they need more scoring.

 

OTHER COMMENTS

– There is a full slate of seven games in the ECHL tonight. One game of interest to Allen fans is Wichita at Rapid City. If Allen wins and Wichita loses in regulation the Americans will move past Wichita into second place in the Western Conference standings. Here is a preview of all seven games tonight. https://www.echl.com/en/news/2021/4/echl-today-april-2

 

– Allen’s record against Utah this season now stands at 7-2-0-0. Four of the seven wins came in games that went extra time The Americans have been involved in seven extra time games this season with four being against Utah. Allen has the best shootout record in the league at 3-0 with all three wins coming against Utah. Utah has the worst shootout record in the league at 1-6. In Allen’s three shootout wins they have not allowed a single goal (0-9). Jake Paterson, Justin Kapelmaster and Frank Marotte have each had a shootout win.

 

DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL season is now over 50% completed and still only three penalty shots have been successful. Two of the three successful penalty shots were by Allen Americans, Spencer Asuchak and Les Lancaster.