Archives > Sports > Schools
Looking out for No. 1: Playoff berth secure, Americans want top spot in CHL
BY Kevin Hageland, firstname.lastname@example.org
Usually, clinching a playoff berth is cause for celebration.
The Allen Americans didn’t exactly view it that way after officially making it into the postseason with Saturday’s 3-2 victory over the Missouri Mavericks.
“Really, [making the playoffs] was pretty minor,” said Steve Martinson, Americans head coach. “What we want is to get that first overall seed and to do so without having to kill ourselves out there.”
Friday’s 4-0 win over Wichita was the first of three games between the clubs in the regular season’s final month.
“That was essentially a four-point swing there,” Martinson said.
Plenty of credit for that swing can go to Americans netminder Aaron Dell.
Dell (18-6-6, 2.18 goals against average) stopped all 28 shots he saw in the victory. Since coming in to relieve Steve Silverthorn during a 6-1 loss to Fort Worth on Feb. 23, Dell has started the ensuing four games and won each of them.
Dell was rewarded by being named the Oakley CHL Goalie of the week.
“There was a stretch where pretty much the whole team was just playing OK and that included the goaltenders, so we were rotating guys every other game,” Martinson said. “But as of late we have been going with the hot goalie more than usual and Aaron has been the No. 1 guy in the league.”
Dell helped offensively as well, scoring his first professional point via assist on a goal by Anthony Maiani, who leads the team with 54 points and would close the 4-0 win with another goal in the third period. First-period goals were scored by Jarret Lukin and Brian McMillin with the latter featuring an assist by Jason Deitsch, the 500th point of his career.
Deitsch picked up assists on each Allen goal Saturday night as the Americans defeated the Mavericks, 3-2.
Jamie Schaafsma, who has a team-high 23 goals, got the scoring started in a four-goal second period that included Trevor Hendrikx lighting the lamp and found the teams knotted at 2-2 entering the third.
The scoring slowed significantly in the final frame, but that worked out for Allen as Lukin put a puck past Missouri’s Mike Clemente for the lone goal and a 3-2 lead with 10:49 remaining. Deitsch and Maiani assisted on the game-winning score, allowing Maiani to extend his point streak to seven games. There were individual accolades for Lukin too as he was tabbed the Oakley CHL Player of the Week. The Fort McMurray, Alberta native (16 goals, 14 assists) finished his weekend with two game-winning goals, an assist and +2.
But more importantly for Lukin, who has been with Americans since their inception in 2009-10, he kept the team above the CHL fray.
But there is more work to be done to ensure that remains the case.
“We need to get our power play going better than it is now,” Martinson said. “And of course you always want to improve defensively, but we have been doing a good job getting on the puck hard and taking space away from our opponents.”
Allen is on the road Friday and Saturday versus the Rapid City Rush before returning to the AEC to host the Arizona Sundogs at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday.
Injuries, returns and departures
The Americans have had to do some shuffling prior to their last 10 games.
It started Friday with the release of forward Alex Penner, who had been suspended for the remainder of the regular season and entirety of the 2013 Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup Playoffs by the CHL due to his role in the Feb. 23 fracas between the Americans and Brahmas.
That same evening, forward Darryl Bootland (19 goals, 26 assists) returned off injured reserve. However, Bootland’s IR spot was quickly taken by defenseman Mike Berube (nine assists, 80 penalty minutes), who sprained his knee and is likely out two to three weeks.
“Injuries are always tough,” Martinson said, “especially when you encounter them at a critical time of the season.”
In no way do they represent the view of Starlocalnews.com
Only your Member ID will be posted with the comments.
Become a Registered User