The Allen Americans closed out the week with a Sunday afternoon 5-3 win over the Idaho Steelheads before a crowd of  2352 at the CUTX Event Center. The Americans swept their three game series against Idaho and finished the week 4-0. When I asked coach Martinson about the week he didn’t spend a lot of time reveling in the victories, his response was laser focused ahead, “We need to build on this.”

 

– Allen’s win yesterday followed the pattern of the first two wins over the Steelheads. The Americans gave up the first goal of the game though it was late in the first period (17:01) before Idaho scored. Allen beat the odds as they trailed 1-0 after the first period and prior to yesterday the Americans were 0-4-0-0 when trailing after the first period. Allen also trailed after the second period 3-2. Prior to Saturday, Idaho was was 15-1-0-0 when leading after the second period.

 

– What happened in the Idaho series was Allen dominated in the third period which led to all three wins. Yesterday the Americans out shot Idaho 15-5 in the third period and outscored them 3-0. In the three wins over the Steelheads the Americans outscored them in the third period 8-0. Allen has now won seven of the last eight games and in those seven wins Allen has outscored its opponents 13-2 in the third period.

 

– Goals scorers for Allen yesterday were Jackson Leppard (6), Chad Costello (10), Chad Butcher (2), Kris Myllari (3) and Gavin Gould (7). The odd stat of the day is Kris Myllari had the game winning goal, he has scored three goals this season and all three were game winners. Kris leads all ECHL defensemen in game winning goals.

 

– Here are the video highlights:  youtu.be/L7pEOU0v4f8

 

 

 

– Here is the Allen Americans game recap: https://allenamericans.com/media/americans-sweep-idaho-2/

 

– Here is the game recap from the Idaho Steelheads: https://www.idahosteelheads.com/en/articles/steelheads-fall-in-weekend-finale-5-3

 

– When you win four games in a week there are plenty of great performances. Branden Troock had seven points (5G, 2A), Prior to the week Chad Butcher had played in just two games since leaving Sweden at the end of October. He arrived back in Allen just in time to play this week and he contributed in all four games with eight points (2G, 6A). Jack Combs had six points, Eric Roy and Chad Costello had five points.

 

– Antoine Bibeau won three of the four games this weekend to improve his record to 5-0 with the Americans. Bibeau has spent very little time in Allen this season but has accounted for 42% of the Americans 12 wins. Antoine is an NHL contracted players (Seattle Kraken) so his stay in Allen is always tenuous.

 

– Steve Martinson’s comment that Allen’s recent success is something to build on means to me the Americans are still not where they need to be. What I consistently hear from Martinson is the team needs to compete harder when they don’t have the puck and they need to win more puck battles to get the puck back.

 

– The Americans have come a long way, winning seven of the last eight games since December 9. On December 8th, Allen’s record was 5-8-3-0 which was a points percentage of .406, one of the worst in the league. Today the Americans record is 12-9-3-0 with a points percentage of .563, which places Allen in third place in the Mountain Division. That is a lot of progress in a short period of time but the Americans must continue to improve and keep the gas on the pedal to catch the best teams in the league.

 

– Special teams is one area that needs to improve. Allen has given up a power play goal in 11 of the last 12 games. In those same 11 games the Allen power play was held scoreless six times. Allen’s power play is ranked #15 (18.5%) and the penalty kill is ranked #21 (78.1%). Both of these stats need to improve going forward if Allen is going to continue to win. The Americans have stopped the bleeding on allowing shorthanded goals and that needs to continue. Allen still leads the league with 10 shorthanded goals allowed. Only one other team (Florida – 7 allowed)) has allowed more than five shorthanded goals.

 

– The other area that needs to improve going forward is getting off to a better start. Allen has given up the first goal of the game in seven of it last eight games. Even though the Americans have ended up winning most of those games that is not the formula for success. It is great Allen has been able to come from behind a lot recently but that will lead to failure over the long run.

 

– It is largely out of the team’s control but injuries, loans and call ups will play a factor in continuing Allen’s recent success. The team is relatively healthy and they haven’t lost players. That changes today when defensemen Nolan Kneen heads to Charlotte. Per coach Martinson no other changes are imminent but that could change at a moment’s notice.

 

– The Americans leave today and will bus to Kansas City (475 miles) for a lone game against the Mavericks tomorrow night and then will bus back to Allen after the game. It is an expensive trip to go that far for just one game. Yet another way the schedule can be improved next season.

 

– Per coach Martinson the travel team to Kansas City will be the same as the lineup yesterday with the exception of Ben Owen replacing Nolan Kneen.

 

OTHER COMMENTS

– How well has Allen played over the last 10 games? Only three teams have won eight or more games in the last 10 and two are in the Mountain Division:

Jacksonville: 9-1-0-0
Allen: 8-2-0-0
Utah: 8-2-0-0

 

– At the other end of the spectrum are four teams with two or fewer wins in the last 10 games:

Wichita: 0-7-3-0
South Carolina: 1-8-1-0
Norfolk: 2-8-0-0
Greenville: 2-5-2-1

 

– Goalie Zach Sawchenko, who played in Allen in 2019-20 (13 games) and 2020-21 (7 games) when the Americans were affiliated with the San Jose, made his NHL debut yesterday with the Sharks. Zach came into the game in relief after San Jose fell behind Pittsburgh 6-1. Zach played 38:32 of the game and stopped 20 0f 21 shots which computes to a 1.56 GAA and .952 save percentage. The Sharks closed the gap to 6-5 before Pittsburgh score two late goals (one empty net) to make the final 8-5.

 

– Gavin Gould is tied for #5 in points (22) and #2 in assists (15) among all ECHL rookies this season. If the ECHL had an award for trade of the year, Gould’s acquisition in a trade with Greenville in the middle of November would be a leading candidate. Since joining the Americans, Gavin has 19 points (6G, 13A) in 15 games and is averaging 1.27 points per game.

 

DID YOU KNOW: From my ECHL stats post today:

Seven former ECHL players have made their NHL debut in the last six days and a total of 19 have made their debuts so far this season. The 2021-22 season could be record setting for the number of ECHL players making it to the NHL since 60% of the ECHL season is still remaining. Here are the number of ECHL players making their NHL debut each season since 2014-15:
19: 2021-22 (thru 40% of the season)
20: 2020-21
16: 2019-20
20: 2018-19
18: 2017-18
24: 2016-17
30: 2015-16
28: 2014-15