Last night the largest crowd of the season at the Allen Event Center (2550) watched the Allen Americans beat the Rapid City Rush 5-2 in a game that was not as close as the final score. The Americans had a 5-0 lead with three minutes remaining in the game only to see C.J. Motte’s shutout disappear with two late goals by the Rush.

 

– Allen won its fifth straight game and set themselves up for Western Conference top spot which they can earn by winning the rematch with Rapid City tonight.

 

– Allen generated plenty of offense last night. After a 40 shot game in the win against Wichita on Wednesday the Americans followed it up with a 38 shot performance against Rapid City last night. Allen outshot the Rush in every period and scored the first goal of the game. It was the sixth straight game and 10 out of the last 11 games against Rapid City the Americans score the first goal. Allen tied its season record for most goals in a period when they tallied four goals in less than eight minutes in the second period to take a 5-0 lead and put the game away.

 

– Four players had multiple point nights led by Scott Conway with two goals. Terrance Amarosa and Corey Mackin each had a goal and an assist. Tyler Sheehy had two assists and is looking like the Sheehy of old though he is still getting up to speed having not skated or played in a while. Tyler has 12 assists in the 15 games he has played in Allen this season which is .80 assists per game. Based on a full season Tyler would have 57 assists. His average assists per game is higher than any of the leagues top ten players in assists.

 

– Goal scorers for Allen were Scott Conway (12,13), Terrance Amarosa (1), Corey Mackin (29) and Josh Lammon (12). 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-offense-too-much-for-rapid-city/

 

Here is a very complete game recap from the Rapid City point of view: https://www.rapidcityrush.com/en/news/2021/6/allen-opens-weekend-with-a-win-over-rush

 

– The game tonight will determine Allen’s seeding for the playoffs. If Allen wins they clinch the top spot in the Western Conference. The Americans will finish first overall (Brabham Cup) if Florida loses on the road to Orlando. My calculation, if this happens, has Allen with a final points percentage of .6527 barely beating out Florida who would finish at .6522.

 

– To secure the top spot in the Western Conference the Americans must get at least as many points as Wichita earns in its final game in Kansas City tonight. The best option is to win tonight and not worry what Wichita does.

 

– The formula for another win tonight is keep doing what has worked. Last night Allen scored first, outshot the Rush in every period, had the lead after the first and second period, won the special teams battle and played well defensively until the last three minutes of the game. A few defensive mistakes to clean up and Allen should be able to secure a win and first place.

 

COACH’S CORNER

“I was pleased with how the team played last night though I wasn’t happy with the mistakes we made on the two late goals. Any team in this league is capable of scoring quickly if you let up and we let C.J. Motte down at the end of the games.”

“Our power play has been getting a lot of good looks. The power play goal we scored was a high skilled play with a perfect cross ice seam pass and and great shot by Conway.”

“We continue to win the majority of puck possession time and our improved play recently is attributable to fewer defensive mistakes and better choices in our offensive zone.”

“With a win tonight we will be first in the conference and have a chance at first overall. It is a big game for us and we need to be ready.”

“I will have some decision to make on who will be on the playoff roster which is due to the league office Monday afternoon.”

 

OTHER COMMENTS

– With a goal tonight Corey Mackin would join an exclusive Allen club of 30 goal scorers. It has only happened nine times by seven players in franchise history:

44 goals – Gary Steffes (2014-15)
41 goals – Chad Costello (2014-15)
35 goals – Greger Hanson (2016-17)
34 goals – Bruce Graham (2010-11)
34 goals – Nino Musitelli (2010-11)
34 goals – Zach Pochiro (2018-19)
33 goals – Chad Costello (2016-17)
33 goals – Colton Yellow Horn (2010-11)
31 goals – Bruce Graham (2009-10)

 

– The playoff roster is due Monday afternoon (2:00 pm CDT) and there will be some tough decisions for Martinson. The playoff roster limit is 24. The number players that can dress for each game will increase by one from 17 skaters to 18 skaters plus two goalies. This is going back to the number of skaters that were allowed at the beginning of the season. Some of the considerations Martinson will deal with is do you put two or all three goalies on the roster. My guess is three even with fewer rounds and best of five series but the trade off is gamble on two goalies and add an extra skater. The other big decision is determining when the injured players will be available. How long can you afford to wait for an injured player to get back in the lineup. The playoffs will be over in less than a month so how long can Martinson afford to wait if players are not ready to go next week.

 

– The ECHL award season has arrived with the All-Rookie Team and All-ECHL first and second teams being announced this week. Congrats to Les Lancaster who was selected to the first team and Matt Register who was selected to the second team.

 

– Next week the major awards will be announced. It should be noted that these awards were voted on a while back so recent performance is not considered.

 

– Monday: Rookie of the Year – This award usually goes to the highest scoring rookie so look for Matthew Boucher from Utah to win.

 

– Tuesday: Coach of the Year – This award usually goes to a coach that has improved his team a lot from the prior season. Wichita had a points percentage of .452 last season and is at .643 today under coach Bruce Ramsay. Greenville has improved from .492 last season to .632 this season under first year coach Andrew Lord and was the hottest team in the league around voting time. I am pretty sure Steve Martinson has never been Coach of the Year though he has won 10 championships. Everyone expects him to be good each year. Unless there is and East-West bias Ramsay should be the winner.

 

– Wednesday: Defenseman of the Year – This should probably be the most lopsided vote of all with Les Lancaster having twice as many goals (26) as his nearest competitor. You have to go back 20 years to find a defenseman with with as many goals. Lancaster has a 10 point lead (62-52) over his teammate Matt Register for most points be a defenseman.

 

– Thursday: Goalie of the Year – This vote could be close. The top two goalies in save percentage are both from Wichita (Evan Buitenhuis – .931 and Evan Wenininger – .925). The top two goalies in GAA are Buitenhuis (2.29) and Roman Durny of Tulsa (.2.31). The top two goalies in wins are Jake Hildebrand of Florida (23) and Clint Windsor of Orlando (23). The goalie with the most shutouts is Ryan Bednard of Greenville (3). Pick your poison on this one.

 

– Friday: MVP – The voters almost always pick the leading scorer as the MVP. This one is a little tricky because the leading scorer right now is Orlando’s Aaron Luchuk with 74 points. I am pretty sure when votes were being cast the leading scorer was Anthony Beauregard from Wichita who has been stuck on 71 points since being injured on May 21. Luchak has scored 10 points while Beauregard has been out of the lineup. Based on my theory that voters, who don’t see many of the players, tend to go by the stats and the stats at the time of the vote had Beauregard in first place, he gets the MVP award. Call it a homer call but when a defenseman finishes top five overall in points and top seven in goals and has the best season by a defensemen in 20 years he should be the MVP of the league. Throw in the fact Les  Lancaster never missed a game all season, the only player on his team to do so, and you have a season for the ages.

 

 

DID YOU KNOW: Goal differential (goals for minus goals against) has historically been a great proxy for strength of a team. Six of last seven Kelly Cup champions finished the regular season in the top three in goal differential. Here is the goal differential for the eight ECHL teams headed to the Kelly Cup playoffs. Based on history the Kelly Cup champions will come from the top three or four on this list. It has been a strange season with teams playing different numbers of games and the same teams multiple times so it will be interesting to see if past precedent holds up. With the playoffs being best of five rather than best of seven series you could see more upsets than normal.

 

+40: Fort Wayne
+39: Florida
+36: Allen
+31: Wichita
+8: Indy
+6: Greenville
+1: South Carolina
-18: Utah