Just when you think the Allen offense couldn’t get worse after scoring just one goal on Friday and Saturday the roof caved in on Sunday afternoon in Utah. The Americans were shutout for the first time this season and lost to the Grizzlies 4-0. Allen finished the four games series against Utah with a record of 1-2-1-0 and earned three of a possible eight points.
– The team seemed to run out of gas as the weekend progressed and could not generate any offense. The game yesterday was over early. Utah scored first again, something they did in nine of the last 11 times they played Allen. The first goal came at the 3:11 mark of the first period and by the end of the period Utah had an insurmountable 3-0 lead.
– The special teams continued to struggle. The Allen power play was 0-4 on Sunday and 0-13 in the series. The penalty kill unit gave up two power play goals Sunday (2-6). In the three games this weekend when Allen scored a total of two goals the Grizzlies scored four power play goals. The penalty kill unit was 4-16 for a penalty kill percentage of just 75%.
– The frustration boiled over late in the third period with nine penalties for 48 penalty minutes. Dyson Stevenson showed why he is the leader he is when he made sure Utah’s Hayden Hodgson payed for dragging Josh Lammon out of a scrum and punching Lammon when he was on his knees with his gloves on. You would think there would be a suspension on that play though no penalty was called. Part of the fighting rule (46.2) talks about attempting to inflict punishment on an opponent who is in a defenseless position or who is an unwilling opponent. The rule is much longer and the referee is given “wide latitude” which penalties to impose.
– Here is the game recap issued by the Allen Americans: https://allenamericans.com/news/general/americans-shutout-by-utah-4-0/
– Here are the game highlights which includes Dyson Stevenson sticking up for his teammate:
– The best thing to do after this weekend is get back home, regroup, refresh and get ready for Rapid City next Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If there is a silver lining in the results against Utah where the Americans picked up just three points, it is the fact Allen is still in the thick of things for second place in the Western Conference. Allen has a points percentage of .621 with six games remaining. After the three game road trip to Rapid City the Americans return home for a game against Wichita (June 2) and two games against Rapid City (June 4&5). Fort Wayne has a points percentage of .622 with six games remaining all on the road. The Komets play Indy three times next week and finish the season with three games in Utah.
– One thing you can count on is coach Martinson will keep grinding until the final buzzer in the final game of the regular season. There is no doubt he will make changes to the roster and those will happen this week.
“The loss yesterday was a combination of factors. The team was tired after playing five games this week and traveling to Utah.”
“We lost Zane Franklin for two games and Sam Laberge got hurt so we ended up playing with just 10 forwards and seven defensemen.”
“We were missing the net front presence we are used to in the game yesterday.”
“The guys need some time off so we will not have a full team practice until Thursday.”
“I will be making some roster moves this week.”
– As Martinson said, after the team arrives home this morning they will have a few days off and reassemble for practice on Thursday. A few guys will skate but most will take time to heal up and refresh. I am also going to take some time off. I am heading to the Flint Hills of Kansas for a week of stream fishing for largemouth bass. For you bass fishermen it is target fishing at its best. There won’t be a blog for a week after today though I may have a few social media posts during the week.
– Allen played Utah 18 times in the regular season and could see them again in the playoffs. The Americans record against the Grizzlies was 10-6-1-1. Allen won eight of the first 10 games but lost six of the last eight.
– It was a given this weekend would be big for the aspirations of all of the teams in the Western Conference. Here is how it looks after the dust settled on Sunday.
– Wichita went to Fort Wayne and won two of three games and all but locked itself into first place for the playoffs. Wichita and Florida will battle it out for the Brabham Cup (regular season champion). Florida has a slight lead (.669 vs .667). The Everblades have seven games remaining with five of them on the road. Wichita has five games remaining with three on the road. The schedule favors Wichita because four of its remaining games are against teams not making the playoffs.
– Allen lost three of four to Utah and kissed its hope of a first place finish goodbye. Rapid City lost on Saturday and Sunday at home to Indy and will not be able to catch Utah for a playoff spot. These aren’t mathematical certainties, but realistically, the only thing to be decided for the playoffs is who finishes second and third between Allen and Fort Wayne. The first round of the playoffs, which will be a best of five, will pit #1 Wichita vs #4 Utah. Fort Wayne vs Allen will play in the other Western Conference series with who gets home ice advantage still to be decided. Rapid City, Tulsa and Kansas City will not make the playoffs.
– Wichita was very good before they got four players from the Toronto Marlies two days ago. The Toronto group scored two of the three Wichita goals on Sunday. With these additions Wichita is going to be tough to beat down the stretch and in the playoffs. The Thunder have a great offense, a great defense and the #1 and #2 ranked goalies in the ECHL in save percentage. Evan Buitenhuis is #1 at .932 and Evan Weninger is #2 at .926. All that skill and Wichita also brings physicality and toughness to the table that bodes well in the playoffs.
DID YOU KNOW: Allen clinched a playoff spot this weekend. For Steve Martinson it is the 22nd time in 25 years of coaching to make the playoffs. He missed the playoffs in 2011-12 (Chicago Express) and 2018-19 (Allen Americans) and there were no playoff in 2019-20. A stat that is unmatched is Martinson has taken 22 teams to the playoffs and won the championship 10 times for a 45% success rate. The moral of the story is to never underestimate a Martinson coached team in the playoffs.