It was a storybook ending to an arduous regular season at the Allen Event Center (AEC) last night. Before the largest crowd of the season (2604) the Allen Americans shutout the Rapid City Rush 4-0. It was Allen’s sixth straight win and vaulted them to the top of Western Conference standings. It took 72 games to get to the top as the Americans came from third place in the last two weeks. The win to clinch the #1 seed from the Western Conference was even sweeter because Allen’s best players were the best players.

 

– The #1 star was the Americans best goalie, Jake Paterson, who stopped all 30 Rapid City shots to earn his third shutout of the season. Jake improved his GAA to 2.31 and his save percentage to .927 which are both ranked #2 in the ECHL.

 

– The #2 star was Corey Mackin who had a goal and assist. His goal was the 30th of the season as Corey became the eighth Allen player in franchise history to reach the 30 goal plateau. Corey finished the season ranked #2 in the ECHL in goals just one behind the leader. Corey led the ECHL in shorthanded goals (5) and his game winning goal last night was his sixth of the season which leads the Americans and is #3 in the league.

 

– The #3 star of the game last night was Les Lancaster who had two assists to add to his historic point totals. Les finished the season with 64 points which ranked him ahead of every forward in the ECHL except four. Lancaster had 12 more points than any other defensemen, twice as many goals as any other defensemen and led all defensemen in power play goals (10), power play points (26), shots (189) and shooting percentage (13.8%).

– Goal scorers for Allen were Corey Mackin (30), Chad Butcher (7), Kris Myllari (3) and Kelly Bent (1). 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/how-the-west-was-won/

 

– Here is a more complete game recap from the Rapid City Rush: https://www.rapidcityrush.com/en/news/2021/6/paterson-stones-rush-with-33-save-shutout

 

– The Americans now must prepare for their first round playoff opponent, the Utah Grizzlies. I am sure many in the hockey world never thought the ECHL would complete a full season and still be playing playoff hockey into July. It is disappointing the top two seeds in the Western Conference (Allen and Wichita) will have only two home games in the first round because of arena availability. Wichita has it worse than Allen as the Thunder will be playing their two first round home games in a practice facility.

 

– A reminder the playoff roster is due tomorrow afternoon (2:00 pm CDT) and there will be some tough decisions for Martinson. The playoff roster is limited is 24 players. The current Allen roster has 28 players so four will be left off the playoff roster. Forward Jesse Mychan and defenseman Nolan Kneen are out for the season so that gets the number to 26. Five players have been out with injuries; defensemen Darian Skeoch, Phil Beaulieu and forwards Dyson Stevenson, Sam Laberge and Colby McAuley. Martinson would like to have all of these players on the playoff roster but he needs to determine when they will be able to play and make a judgement on the cost/benefit if some of them won’t be available until the second round or the finals. If all five injured players are on the playoff roster it means two healthy players will have to be left off. Stay tuned!

 

COACH’S CORNER

– I had the opportunity to spend some time with coach Martinson and the coaching staff after the game last night and while they were reflecting on the shutout win and celebrating finishing first in the Western Conference they were already planning for the playoffs. From talk of the playoff roster to the type of practices they will conduct to the type of video review of Utah games will take place were all subjects of conversation within the first half hour after Allen secured the top spot in the conference. The Americans will be well prepared and rested by the time Tuesday rolls around for game one of the playoffs.

 

– I have asked Martinson a couple of times about not having home ice advantage for the first round after earning it by being the #1 seed. He told me he was just glad the league has gotten through this season and has the opportunity to have a playoff which many leagues in North America were deprived of. He was also understanding that it was a tough year for arenas around the league with many concerts and other functions postpone or canceled. It is unrealistic to expect the arenas to hold open dates for hockey playoffs when the dates are unknown until just before the playoffs. Some teams are playing games at practice facilities.

 

OTHER COMMENTS

– Had a question asking if the ECHL will be using two referees in the playoffs and the answer is yes. It is a difficult transition for both the referees and the players. For the players they will have to be more cautious of what goes on behind the play because a referee will now be watching. The transition is even tougher for the referees whose role is much different from a one referee to two referee system. According to one referee I talked to the biggest problem for the referees is to avoid looking at the play when it is not your responsibility. You don’t want both referees looking at the play. It is hard to break that habit after working alone all season.

 

– Right after the game the Allen Americans had an in person auction of the grey jerseys the team wore during the season and last night. Most of the jerseys (18) sold for between $300 and $550. Here are those that sold for $600+:

$2000 – Zane Franklin
$1050 – Jake Paterson
$850 – Les Lancaster
$750 – Kelly Bent
$650 – Spencer Asuchak
$600 – Frank Marotte
$600 – Josh Lammon

 

– The two best crowds of the Allen season were last night (2604) and Friday night (2550). The Americans finished the season averaging 1859 over the 36 home games which ranked them #9 of the   14 teams playing. Allen reached 2000+ in attendance in 12 of 36 home games. The ECHL average attendance was 2275 per game ranging from a low of 987 (Wheeling) to a high of 3493 (Florida).

 

– Allen missed out on the best points percentage in the ECHL when Florida won its final game of the season last night. Florida won the Brabham Cup as the regular season champion with a points percentage of .667. Allen finished second with a .653 points percentage. FYI, in the Americans four championship seasons they finished the regular season first (2012-13 CHL), third (2013-14 CHL), second (2014-15 ECHL) and sixth (2015-16 ECHL).

 

– Being the best team during the regular season has not been a good indicator of playoff success. Many call it the curse of the Brabham Cup. Just five times since the ECHL began (33 seasons ago) has the winner of the Brabham Cup gone on to win the Kelly/Riley Cup. Here are the five times a team has won the regular season championship and playoff championship in the same season. Maybe Allen was fortunate not to surpass Florida last night.
2013-14 – Alaska
2010-11 – Alaska
2007-08 – Cincinnati
2005-06 – Alaska
1996-97 – South Carolina
DID YOU KNOW: Here are the ECHL teams playing the best going into the Kelly Cup playoffs based on their records over their final 10 regular season games. Final points percentage is in parenthesis:
8-2-0-0: South Carolina* (.579)
7-2-1-0: Allen* (.653)
7-2-1-0: Greenville (.632)
6-3-1-0: Indy (.594)
5-1-3-1: Florida (.667)
5-5-0-0: Utah (.563)
4-5-0-1: Fort Wayne (.618)
4-6-0-0: Wichita (.634)
*Allen and South Carolina are currently on league best six game win streaks.