The Allen Americans faced a game seven in a hostile enemy arena for the chance to take home their third straight championship. Undaunted, the Americans defeated the South Carolina Stingrays 6-1 in game seven to win the ECHL’s top title.
The Stingrays magical season comes to an end in defeat. South Carolina, who started their season poorly, experienced a twenty game win streak, an all time shutout record from goaltender Jeff Jakaitis, and plenty of drama with their playoff victories.
This was Allen’s first season in the ECHL; their previous two titles came in the Central Hockey League, which was absorbed by the ECHL. They were unfazed by the higher level of Double A hockey, and now an affiliate of the San Jose Sharks.
Allen was the first CHL team to win a playoff series over an ECHL team when they beat Ontario, and they did it again with South Carolina, who were the home team this series. The Americans were the highest scoring team in the regular season and had the second most points in the league standings.
“I’ve always said I’ve had the same team for 19 years now,” head coach Steve Martinson said to the Dallas News. “Just different names on the front and back. But it’s been the same team.”
Allen jumped out to a 4-0 lead right away and from there, it was just managing the rest of the game. Chad Costello scored two goals to lead the Americans while they also picked up tallies from Chris Crane, two from Vincent Arseneau, and Gary Steffes.
The only goal scorer for the Stingrays was Andrew Rowe.
Tournament MVP was named Gregor Hanson, who recorded 29 points in his 25 playoff games, 12 of them being goals. He was the first player who was not a goalie to win the award since 2011 according to Pro Hockey Talk.
One of the stories of the playoffs was the run from Costello, who had been one of the dominant players in the ECHL all season. The 28 year old was first in the league with 128 points, blowing past the second place finisher who had 80 points.
The key to the series was both game four and game five. Both contests went to overtime with Allen coming out on top, and those were difference makers in the series. South Carolina had led two games to one at that point, but momentum headed in the way of the Americans and they never looked back.
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