It is both a blessing and a curse when your ECHL hockey club is playing as well as the Allen Americans. The four-time defending post season champion Allen Americans (two in the CHL, and the last two seasons in the ECHL) are riding the crest of outstanding play over the last three months and are approaching the Kelly Cup Playoffs with a groundswell of momentum.
However, the scoring exploits of Greger Hanson and Spencer Asuchak caught the attention of the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers and Providence Bruins, respectively, who quickly plucked them from Allen’s roster early last week. Suddenly, the prospects of a third straight Kelly Cup title seemed in jeopardy.
All GM-Coach Steve Martinson – a veritable roster makeover maestro if ever there was one – did was reach out and add left winger Alex Krushelnyski from the AHL’s Binghampton Senators.
The son of former Boston, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Toronto and Detroit center Mike Krushelnyski picked up the slack in the absence of the two promoted goal snipers. Krushelnyski netted five goals and provided some unforgettable highlights in his first handful of games to help the team continue its successful ways, winning four and losing an overtime verdict.
Krushelnyski thrilled a near sellout crowd in excess of 5,000 fans on Saturday, March 25 at the Allen Even Center with a pair of scintillating goals to help defeat Tulsa, 5-4.
His first, which extended Allen’s lead to 3-1 midway through the second period, occurred when the lefthanded shooting forward corralled a turnover, skated from neutral ice along the left wing boards into the Tulsa zone and then quickly cut in on goalie P.J. Musico. Krushelnyski faked a forehand, pulled the puck to his backhand and – with a defenseman closing quickly – somehow managed to effortlessly lift a backhander with his right arm over the sprawling Musico and into the net.
His second goal at 7:27 of the third period, which gave the Americans a
4-2 lead and stood as the game-winner, was the result of a quick burst in on goal on the left wing and a beautifully-placed wrist shot that beat Musico and landed in the upper righthand corner of the net.
Despite playing shorthanded (including a five-on-three Tulsa power play) for five minutes late in the third period, the Americans defense and goalie Riley Gill hung on for a 4-3 triumph.
Martinson’s squad has posted a 13-1-2 mark in its last 16 games, and has gone 18-2-3 since mid-January. Chad Costello’s league-leading 110 points – 23 more than his nearest pursuer – have him closing in on a third straight ECHL scoring crown, and his 79 assists also lead the circuit.
Allen resumes play Wednesday at home against Missouri, and is within three points of first place Colorado with a game in hand as the ECHL Mountain Division race heads into the final two weeks of the regular season schedule. The Americans, who rank third in the Western Conference, have four of its final six games at home as they face Tulsa, Wichita and Missouri twice each.