Sunday, May 22, 2016

Allen Wins 6-5 in OT, The Comeback of Comebacks, Coaches Comments, Fort Wayne Stories & More



It was one for the ages as the Allen Americans defeated the Fort Wayne Komets 6-5 in overtime last night before 5602 zealous fans at the Allen Event Center (AEC). Allen erased a 5-2 Fort Wayne lead with three unanswered goals in the third period to send the game to overtime.  There have been plenty of playoff comebacks by the Americans over the years. After all, the overtime win last night was the eighth straight in the playoffs for Allen dating back to the CHL championship in 2014. Other than the comeback in game seven of the 2013 championship when Allen scored two goals in the third period after trailing Wichita 2-0, tied the game with just over two minutes remaining and won the game and championship in overtime, the comeback last night was the most dramatic in franchise history. The win gives the Americans a 3-1 lead in the series.

- It was an unlikely trio that figured in the overtime game winner. Three of the hardest working players on the team are Dyson Stevenson, J. P. LaFontaine and Danny Federico, but combined they scored just 14 goals all season. It was especially gratifying to see them be the heroes with the game winning goal. Stevenson could have shot the puck but made a great pass to LaFontaine who was able to get the puck past the defenseman who was dropping down to block the shot. It was a fitting end to a historical comeback.

- Allen got the victory despite not playing their best hockey. Turnovers in the neutral zone led to many quality Fort Wayne opportunities and odd man rushes. When the Komets took a 5-2 lead midway through the second period coach Martinson made a goalie change, inserting Jake Hildebrand for Riley Gill. It was as much about a momentum change as anything as the goals Gill allowed were defensive breakdowns more than anything.

- Right after he entered the game, Hildebrand was called on to make some big saves as the Komets had back to back five on three power plays. If Fort Wayne had scored at that point it would have given them a 6-2 lead and probably no comeback would have happened. Allen's penalty kill was good all game as the Komets were 1-6 on the power play.

- Fort Wayne certainly made the comeback easier for Allen by taking some untimely, undisciplined penalties at the end of the second period and early in the third period that resulted in two power play goals for the Americans.

- Allen was able to score in a lot of ways as there were pretty goals, ugly goals, set play goals, power play goals and blasts from outside. Goals scorers from Allen were Makowski (3&4), King (4), Hanson (10), and LaFontaine (1).

- Allen rarely loses a game when they score first and win the special teams battle. They accomplished both again last night. The Americans were 3-6 on the power play and raised their playoff leading power play percentage to 25.3%. How good is the Allen power play? The top four players in power play points in the playoffs are all from Allen. Costello (15 points), Makowski (11 points), Hanson (8 points and Pierro-Zabotel (7 points).



POST GAME COMMENTS

-  Assistant coach Jason Deitsch met with the season ticket holders after the game. Coach Martinson told me it was a great win so he thought it would be a good time to have Jason talk to the season ticket holders. Here are some of Jason's comments:

- The first period wasn't bad but the second period was difficult. Being down 5-2 going into the third period was tough. The one thing about our team is we have scored three goals in a period many times and that is the only thing we talked about.

- It helped knowing we had a power play going into the third period. We knew scoring on that power play and cutting the deficit to two goals would be huge. Everyone believed and we sucked it up, made plays and made it happen.

- Switching out the goalies on the power play was to give the power play guys a bit of a rest. Not many coaches do that but Martinson uses that move often. Getting an extra 15-20 seconds of rest can mean a lot for the power play unit.

- Going down 3-1 in a series is tough but to lose after being up 5-2 and having all of that momentum is deflating for any team. Fort Wayne has skilled forwards, beat us on Thursday and could have won tonight. I don't see them changing how they attack us. We need to learn from this game and limit the turnovers that lead to odd man rushes.

- I had the chance to talk to coach Martinson after the game and while he was pleased with the outcome of the game he was not happy with all of the neutral ice turnovers that led to odd man rushes. You can look for even more emphasis in getting the puck in deep when there isn't a play at the blue line. Getting the puck down low and challenging the defense is the best chance for success. When I asked Martinson what he said to the team after the game he said, "I told them they have the heart of a champion." You can never underestimate the heart of a champion.


STORIES FROM THE FORT WAYNE PAPERS:

"K's squander huge lead, lose in OT".....http://www.journalgazette.net/blog/ice-chips/K-s-squander-huge-lead--lose-in-OT-13179517

"After loss, K's still have faith".....http://www.journalgazette.net/blog/ice-chips/After-loss--K-s-still-have-faith-13181261

"Allen didn't like Komets' celebrations".....http://www.journalgazette.net/blog/ice-chips/Allen-didn-t-like-Komets--celebrations-13181439 

"Goalie decision looms large for Americans" - this story is about who is in goal today. Not sure it is a tough decision for coach Martinson as his philosophy is, if you win you play. Would be surprised if Jake Hildebrand isn't in goal today.  http://www.journalgazette.net/blog/ice-chips/Allen-didn-t-like-Komets--celebrations-13181439

"Komets feel Texas heat".....http://www.journalgazette.net/sports/professional/komets/Komets-feel-Texas-heat-13180307

Komets fall apart in third period, lose in overtime".....http://www.news-sentinel.com/sports/komets/Komets-fall-apart-in-third--lose-in-overtime



GAME PREVIEW


- It will be a quick turnaround for all involved with a 4:05 CDT puck drop for game five between Allen and Fort Wayne. The formula for success for both teams is well established at this point. Allen wants to avoid all of the neutral ice turnovers and get the puck in deep and make the Komet defensemen turn for the puck. Fort Wayne wants to avoid penalties and play a five on five game where they feel they have an advantage. It sounds like a simple strategy that would be easy to execute but that has not proven to be the case for both teams.

- There will certainly be roster changes for both teams especially given the quick turnaround. I would expect to see Jake Hildebrand in goal for Allen. Aaron Gens played in his first game in almost three months last night. Playing again today might be a tough ask so you might see Aaron rested today. Spencer Asuchak is day to day but the way he plays the game, with a lot of hitting, I would expect he will not be in the lineup.

- There are a lot of trends happening after the first four games of this series. The team that has scored first has won all four games, Allen has not out shot Fort Wayne in any of their three wins, the visiting team is 3-1 in the series, and the only game the Komets have won is when they took fewer penalties than the Americans.

- Allen has certainly made the most of their power play opportunities in this series. After last night the Americans are 6-20 (30%) on the power play while holding Fort Wayne to 2-16 (12.5%). The only game Allen lost (game three) they did not have a power play goal. It is a pretty straight forward proposition if the Americans wins the special teams battle they should win the game today.

-  The referees scheduled today are Stephen Reneau (#17) and Peter MacDougall (#26). The linesmen will be Charlie O'Connor (#43) and Brent Hooks (#61).


OTHER COMMENTS

- As is the case with most seven game series, the players, coaches, fans, writers and bloggers from both sides feel the referees are horrible and favor the other team. It is the reason I rarely write about the officiating in this blog. Yes, the officials make mistakes, sometimes in your favor and sometime not. Most penalties are based on judgement and we are all experts in our own opinion. The best teams are those that understand you play the game as called and you have to be good enough to overcome those calls you disagree with. As a player, focusing on things you have no control of, like penalty calls, is not helpful. Let the coaches deal with that.

- South Carolina took control of the Eastern Conference final by beating Wheeling last night by a score of 3-1. The Stingrays won two of three in Wheeling and head home for the final two games with a 3-2 series lead. Would be surprised if South Carolina didn't make it to the Kelly Cup final for the second straight year. Game six takes place tomorrow (Monday) with game seven, if necessary on Tuesday.

- Chad Costello had four assists in the game last night and now leads the ECHL in playoff scoring with  22 points (4 goals 22 assists). Teams do everything they can to stop him but with little success. Scoring a point a game is a high standard in hockey. Chad has averaged over an assist per game in the playoffs.

- The Americans have won three games in this series and each win was won by a different goalie. (Gill, Rumpel, Hildebrand). A real oddity in playoff hockey.


CELEBRATION PHOTOS

Highest celly jump goes to Eric Roy - photo by Dianne Webster

The thrill of victory - photo by scenebykimberly.com

Lee Hastings interviews the hero & #1 star J.P. LaFontaine - photo by Lauren Lyssy



DID YOU KNOW: In the history of the NHL in seven game series, in the semifinals of the playoffs, when a team has a 3-1 lead and started the playoffs on the road, the record for winning the series is 24-0.


This will be my last blog post for the rest of the playoffs as I will be heading out tomorrow for my annual two week fishing trip to Minnesota and Canada (Ontario). As usual, Ted Hosterman and Mary Betz will fill in while I am gone. They do a terrific job with the blog and I am thankful for their help. They won't be posting every day but game previews, game recaps along with some special interviews will keep them busy.

4 comments:

  1. Great comeback Red! With 3 goalies all about equal, I wonder if Joel gets the start since he is rested and did not play last night. This is an early game after a late game.

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  2. The Americans are on the verge of headed to the Kelly Cup finals and you're going fishing? Come on man!
    Just kidding Barry (kinda) have fun on your trip

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Jay, missed you tonight at the game. Yeah, the fishing trip is bad timing since the Americans moved to the ECHL. I look at it this way. They won last year when I was on the fishing trip so I am doing the same thing this year. Enjoy the finals!

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