The Allen Americans got over a big hurdle last night in their quest to finish first in the Western Conference. The Americans beat the Wichita Thunder 3-1 before a Wednesday night crowd of 1771 at the Allen Event Center. Allen had to battle the odds as they gave up the first goal of the game and trailed 1-0 after the first period. Prior to the loss last night Wichita had a record of 10-1-0-0 when leading after the first period on the road.

– After the Americans gave up the early goal they were solid the rest of the game and when there were defensive breakdowns Jake Paterson was up to the task. Paterson stopped 30 of 31 shots for a save percentage of .968. He improved his record to 17-6-2-0 with a GAA (2.39) and save percentage (.924) both ranked #3 in the ECHL.

– Allen had 40 shots on goal which was the highest shot total since mid April. In the six games prior to last night the Americans had shot totals ranging from 14-28 so it was an impressive performance against Wichita.

 

– Neither team was able to capitalize on their power play opportunities. Allen was 0-3 and Wichita was 0-2.

 

– The game was tied 1-1 at the second intermission but Allen had a big third period scoring twice within 86 seconds early in the period. Steve Owre scored at 3:51, Tyler Sheehy was awarded a penalty shot at 3:51 which he missed but less than a minute later at 4:31 Les Lancaster tallied to make the final score 3-1.

– The goal scorers for Allen were Brett Neumann (8), Steve Owre (4) and Les Lancaster (26). Corey Mackin assisted on two of the goals and was the only player with multiple points.

– Here is the game recap from the Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/news/general/big-third-period-leads-to-americans-victory/

 

– Here is the game recap from the Wichita Thunder:  https://www.wichitathunder.com/en/news/thunder-falls-3-1-in-allen

 

– Here are the video highlights from the Allen Americans YouTube channel with all of the goals and the missed penalty shot:

 

 

 

– The win last night was great but it will be for naught if Allen doesn’t win the games against Rapid City this weekend. Wichita is likely to win its final game in Kansas City so it will take two wins by the Americans against the Rush to claim the top spot in the Western Conference.

 

COACH’S CORNER

“Other than the one goal we allowed and a bad change that gave them a chance we played very solid defensively.”

“Getting 40 shots on goal hasn’t happened in a while and it is good to see the offense generating opportunities.”

“We now have to take care of business against Rapid City but we continue to control our own destiny.”

“I won’t know until Friday if we will get back any of the players out with injuries.”

I asked Martinson about Zane Franklin not being on the All-Rookie Team because it seems to me voters typically choose the players with the most points. Franklin is #10 in rookie scoring but brings so much more to the table:

“Zane leads our team in hits and his physical play makes him a big asset in addition to his scoring. He hits hard and every team would like a player with his skill and grit.”

 

OTHER COMMENTS

– Les Lancaster scored his 26th goal of the season last night which is #7 overall in the ECHL and he is just two goals from #2. In the history of the ECHL only six pure defensemen have scored more than 26 goals in a season and they all happened in the 1980’s and 1990’s during the high scoring time in the league. Les should get serious consideration for ECHL MVP but I doubt it will happen. Because most of the voters for the year end awards don’t see all of the players they tend to look at the stats. Last season every award winner in every category was this highest scorer. I assume the same will happen again this season despite the fact Les is having a historic season for a defenseman.

 

– There has been some confusion on playoff dates and I have had a lot of questions. The first round of the playoffs will see Allen play at home on Tuesday (June 8) and Wednesday (June 9). They will play the rest of the series on the road. This is the schedule whether Allen finishes first, second or third in the Western Conference.

 

– Sam Ruopp and Terrance Amarosa are quickly becoming a shutdown pair of defensemen as they have gotten up to speed and used to playing together. For most of the season Les Lancaster and Ben Carroll have been playing against the top line of Allen’s opponent. With Ruopp and Amarosa able to share that load it allows Martinson to be more flexible in getting better matchups to capitalize on Lancaster’s offensive skill.

 

– Allen finished its season series against Wichita with a record of 7-3-1-0 and won the last four times the teams played. All four wins were in Allen. There is a decent chance the Americans will cross paths with the Thunder in the playoffs.

 

– Allen has 43 wins with two games remaining. Only twice since 2007-08 has a Steve Martinson coached team had more than 43 wins. The two seasons Martinson had more than 43 wins were both in Allen in 2014-15 (48 wins) and 2016-17 (49 wins). Allen won the Kelly Cup in 2016 but had only 41 regular season wins.

 

DID YOU KNOW: Allen has a great trio of goalies going into the playoffs with a team save percentage of .913. Only Florida (.914) and Wichita (.926) have better team save percentages. Here are the goalies with the best save percentage this season. All give their team a chance to go deep in the playoffs.

 

Last season with 26 ECHL teams playing, six goalies finished with a save percentage above .920. This season with just 14 teams playing, four goalies exceed .920. The top four are double Evans and double Jakes.
.932 – Evan Buitenhuis, Wichita
.925 – Evan Weninger, Wichita
.924 – Jake Hildebrand, Florida
.924 – Jake Paterson, Allen