An indication of a good team is one that can win on nights it doesn’t play its best. That was the case last night as an opening night playoff crowd of 1677 watched as the Allen Americans beat the Utah Grizzlies 3-1 in a game that wasn’t decided until Colby McAuley scored an empty net goal with 24 seconds remaining.

 

– The most important play of the game came early when Matt Register made a perfect stretch pass from inside the circle to the opposite blue line that hit Spencer Asuchak in stride and sent him in alone. Asuchak made no mistake in giving Allen a 1-0 lead at the 2:15 mark of the first period. The first period was all down hill from that point as the Americans managed just two shots in the final 17 plus minutes. Allen was lucky to get out of the period tied 1-1 as Utah out shot them 15-5 and the Grizzlies had numerous grade A scoring chances that goalie Jake Paterson saved.

 

– Allen played better the final two periods but still had too many turnovers trying to enter the offensive zone, rather than getting the puck behind the defense. There was no scoring in the second period. Brett Neumann scored the game winner at the 6:12 mark of the third period.

 

– Goals scorers for Allen were Spencer Asuchak (22), Brett Neumann (9) and Colby McAuley (9). The goal numbers are regular season and playoff goals combined. 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/paterson-leads-the-americans-over-utah-in-game-1/

 

– Here is the game recap from the Utah Grizzlies: https://www.utahgrizzlies.com/en/grizzlies-news/allen-defeats-utah-3-1-in-game-1

 

– Allen will have to play better tonight if it wants to head to Utah with a 2-0 lead. The Americans were outshot 30-23 last night, were 0-5 on the power play and had too many turnovers. These are areas that need improvement tonight.

 

– Today is the five year anniversary of Allen’s last Kelly Cup. Allen won its last championship on June 9, 2016 beating Wheeling 4-2. What distinguished that team was an awesome power play. In that 4-2 win the Americans scored three power play goals (3-4) and an empty net goal. Allen’s power play percentage for the entire 2016 Kelly Cup playoffs was 27.2% (28-103). Allen’s current power play has plenty of skill at all positions, they just need to execute more consistently.

 

– To get you fired up for the game tonight, relive Allen’s 2016 Kelly Cup championship which was five years ago today. Lots of familiar faces on the ice and in the stands. Oh how time flies!

 

 

 

COACH’S CORNER

“We will have to play better tonight. We had a slow start last night with too many turnovers. If their defense is standing up at the blue line we have to get pucks behind them.”

“The analytics software we use had puck possession in the game even and Utah with the shot edge 25-23.”

“When we made mistakes Jake Paterson was there to make big saves but that is what Jake has done for us all season.”

“The game winning goal was a hockey 101 play with Shirley driving to the outside and using his long reach to shoot the puck toward net. Lammon went right to the net, took the defenseman with him and was able to deflect the puck. Neumann didn’t hang out on the perimeter, he went to the front of the net like he does and put in the rebound.”

“Our power play has to get better. I plan on tweaking a couple of things to help us get going.”

“C.J.Motte will get the start in goal tonight.”

“We came out of the game last night with no new injuries so the lineup will remain the same tonight.”

 

OTHER COMMENTS

– Wichita and South Carolina had to play games in practice rinks which limited attendance. The attendance for the first playoff game of all four series averaged just 1325.

2258 – Indy
1677 – Allen
817 – Wichita
550 – South Carolina

 

– Three of the four top seeds, that should have home ice advantage, will not because of arena availability. The #1 seed in the West (Allen) will play three games in Utah after two games at home. The #2 seed in the West (Wichita) will play three games in Fort Wayne after two games at home. The #2 seed in the East (Greenville) will play three games in Indy in a series that started with a single game in Indy, then switches to Greenville for three games and then back to Indy for game five if necessary. Only Florida, the #1 seed in the East will get three home games.

 

– Three of the four playoff series will play game two tonight. In addition to Utah at Allen, Florida is at South Carolina and Fort Wayne is at Wichita. Game two of the fourth series will be tomorrow night with Indy at Greenville.

 

 

DID YOU KNOW: Welcome to the ECHL playoffs. After the first game of all four series the winners were a #1 seed (Allen), a #2 seed (Greenville), a #3 seed (Fort Wayne) and a #4 seed (South Carolina). A shutout, an overtime game, no more than 3 goals by any team and no more than a 2 goal margin of victory in any game. Buckle up buttercup!
Great defense and great goalie play prevailed. The four games resulted in just one power play goal (South Carolina). The combined power play results were 1-32 (3.1%).
0-9: Greenville & Indy
0-8: Utah & Allen
0-5: Fort Wayne & Wichita
1-10: Florida & South Carolina