Coach Steve Martinson mentioned in his pregame interview with broadcaster Tommy Daniels that he was putting Chad Costello, Gary Steffes and Chris Crane together on the top line and how important it was for them to score if Allen was to win the game. They came through with flying colors as the trio scored all four Allen goals as the Americans defeated the Wichita Thunder 4-3 last night before a crowd of 3071 at Intrust Bank Arena.
It was a back and forth affair with Wichita getting the first goal of the game before goals by Chris Crane (5) and Chad Costello (12) put the Americans ahead 2-1 early in the second period. Every time Allen would take the lead, Wichita would respond to tie the game. Gary Steffes accounted for the final two Allen goals netting his ninth and tenth goals of the season. Gary got the game winner with just 1:03 left in the game.
Two of the four goals (Steffes & Costello) were scored on the power play as Allen went 2-4 while holding Wichita scoreless on the power play (0-3). The Americans improved their record against Wichita this season to 4-0 and special teams have been the difference. Allen has scored on the power play in all four games going 7-22 (31.8%) and has yet to give up a power play goal to the Thunder (0-14).
Both teams will be in Missouri today. Allen left right after the game and will spend a rare off day in Missouri before taking on the Mavericks tomorrow (Friday) night. Wichita plays Missouri tonight and it is a day trip for them (200 miles) so they will leave midday for Independence.
Here are some post game quotes from both coaches:
"The top line produced like they needed to and came through with all four goals".....Steve Martinson
"Dyson Stevenson has been our unsung hero. He made a great play on the Costello goal. He plays on the power play and has been our best penalty killer. I have asked him not to fight because we can't afford anymore injuries. We can't risk him fighting guys like Leroux as he did tonight, but it is hard for Dyson to say no. We can't afford to lose him with a broken hand.".....Martinson
"Riley Gill played strong in goal. The puck had eyes on their second goal and their third goal was a strange bounce.".....Martinson
"To lose that with a minute-three left was a heartbreaker....It seems like we are always making a mistake at the wrong time.".....Wichita coach Kevin McClelland
"Every face-off starts out, in the penalty kill, in your own zone and we can't win them. It doesn't matter who you put out there, we lose it, they set up and they get opportunities. Win some draws. Battle. Compete.".....McClelland
"If we score a power play goal tonight the game is tied. But the power play stinks, the power play stinks. It absolutely stinks. Every night we're going oh-for, oh-for, oh for, and it is killing us in the standings.".....McClelland
- Jarod Palmer played his first game for Allen after being signed yesterday. It had to be a strange feeling playing in a professional game for the first time since December 26, 2012. Jarod wasn't a factor in the game but look for him to contribute as he gets a couple of games under his belt. He has been assigned #19. If you want all of the details about Palmer check out the story posted yesterday in the blog.
- Jarod Palmer is a great example of how fleeting life can be as a professional hockey player when injuries are involved. After a great collegiate career, Jarod had a dream come true when he was signed to a NHL contract by his hometown team, the Minnesota Wild in April of 2010. Just over a year later on December 29, 2011 he scored his his first NHL goal. In that same game he suffered a concussion which effectively ended his season with the Wild. Just one year later on December 26, 2012 he played his last game for the Houston Aeros, forced to retire because of injuries. And now on December 30, 2015 he makes his debut with the Allen Americans. You just hope he stays healthy and enjoys his time playing in the ECHL.
- Add Tristan King to the long list of players not available because of injury and call-ups. Tristan has an upper body injury that will keep him out of the line up for a while. The term "next man up" is certainly applicable right now.
- It has been a tough season already for the Wichita Thunder as they have the worst record in the ECHL and their 18 points are four fewer than the next lowest team (Norfolk 22 points). They have lost 12 of their last 13 games. Despite the dismal record, Wichita has been playing teams close including last night when they out shot Allen 39-32 and were tied until the last minute of the game. Four of their last six games went to overtime or shootout but they lost all four. The season is already lost for the Thunder but don't be surprised if their record improves in the new year.
- A couple of former Allen Americans had goals last night. Kyle Follmer scored his first goal of the season for Quad City in a losing cause. Darryl Bootland had a goal for Colorado as they lost to Idaho 6-3. Bootland was wearing #44 for the first time rather than his familiar #27 so not sure what that is all about but it worked for him last night.
- It was great to get four points in the first two games of this four game road trip but to be honest these wins were expected. The next two games will show if Allen has their confidence back as they take on the first place team in the Central Division (Missouri) on Friday and the first place team in the Midwest Division (Quad City) on Saturday. Getting points in these games will say a lot as Missouri has a home record of 11-0-0-0 and Quad City is 11-4-1-0 at home.
- Chad Costello has opened up a ten point lead in the ECHL scoring race. Chad now has 42 points with Colorado's Trent Daavettila in second with 32 points.
DID YOU KNOW: It has become a tradition for Allen Americans fans to spend New Years Eve at the Allen Event Center watching hockey. Tonight will be the first time in franchise history the Americans have not had a New Years Eve home game. There have been some memorable games as the Americans have gone 6-0 on New Years Eve at the AEC but the most memorable was in 2010 when Allen beat Tulsa 10-1. A player has scored six points in a game only twice in franchise history and they both happened in that game. Dave Bonk (3 goals 3 assists) and Judd Blackwater (1 goal 5 assists) are the record holders. By the way, the lone Tulsa goal was scored by Chad Costello whose teammates that night included Gary Steffes and Jack Combs.