ECHL Playoff Recap: Allen Americans vs. Idaho Steelheads Game 5 | 04/28/2024

In the Kelly Cup Playoffs, the Idaho Steelheads met with Allen Americans for game five of the opening round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Idaho heads into this game with the ability to end the Americans’ season as they lead the series 3-1, with Allen having a phenomenal comeback, winning game three 5-1, taking Idaho’s sweep away, and taking us to game five. Idaho came with the if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mentality, starting the same lines that played the night before. While Allen made significant changes in their lineup, hoping to make a game six take place. Idaho eliminated Allen last year in the playoffs, and this game very well could be a repeat. 

The Steelheads have outscored Allen 17-11 in this playoff series. But in the first five minutes, we saw the Americans outshoot Idaho two to one. Then, at 12:56, Wade Murphy has a breakaway and makes it 1-0 Idaho. About a minute later, Allen catches a rebound, and James Hardie ties the game 1-1. Lynden McCallum starts some pushing and holding after the whistle that doesn’t amount to anything, and we head back to Idaho’s D-zone. In the second half of the first period, Allen is outshooting Idaho again, with the results being blocked or wide. Idaho gets called for hooking when Patrick Kudla catches Grant Hebert in front of Goalie Bryan Thomson, putting Allen on the game’s first power play. The Americans turn it over in the power play, and Mark Sinclair makes his seventh save of the period, keeping the score tied at one. Allen turned it over a second time during the same PP and would give Sinclair save number eight, while during this period, Thompson saw ten saves with 11 shots on goal. The period ended along with the power play, and we headed to the second period with the hopes that Allen could keep outshooting and make some changes that improve the quality and that Idaho would keep causing turnovers and start being able to get past Sinclair’s hands. 

The second period got underway, Allen came out swinging, and Idaho answered pass for pass. Mark Rassell took it and gave the Steelheads the 2-1 lead at 2:27. Allen got the puck back and immediately took it down the lane, and Bryan Thomson turned it away. Idaho answers back, and Mark Sinclair makes a great glove save, and both teams face off in the Americans’ D-zone. In this faceoff, we see a helmet lost and an offside call. 9:04, we see our most significant action when Idaho gets control of the puck, and Francesco Arcuri sinks it in, making it a 3-1. Allen continues to outshoot Idaho but cannot make anything of the shots. We would close the period with Idaho 20 minutes away from advancing to the next round. 

The last twenty minutes decide who stays in Allen and returns to Idaho. We would start the period with the front lines getting handsy in front of Idaho’s net. Neither team would catch a penalty here, but this would set the tone for the rest of the game. Each team pushes harder and further with the chances they are willing to take, resulting in Allen’s Colin Jacobs getting called for elbowing Francesco Acuri. Idaho gets their first PP. In that play, Idaho gets a little sloppy and ends up with an offsides call. Idaho gets control of their game and gets into Allen’s D-zone, and they’re just unable to get anything past Sinclair. Each team was 0-1 on the PP. Allen made it a one-goal game at 5:52, and Kris Myllari got it past Thomson, making it 3-2. Allen almost gets a hooking call, with both players stopping,  but the referee doesn’t see it. You could hear the collective sighs when it happened, and then the immediate cheers continued as play continued, and both players took off toward the Idaho D-zone. Idaho would get control of the puck in a turnover at 9:57, and Wade Murphy sent it through the five-hole immediately after Allen called for interference. After a review, it’s called a good goal, making it 4-2. Keaton Mastrodonato at 13:13 would receive a beautiful pass and make it a 5-2 game. Allen would answer back with a deflected puck goal 27 seconds later by Kameron Kielly, putting Allen back within two, a 5-3 score. In the last four minutes, things start getting physical, and both teams push each other, and big hits cause some bodies to hit the ice. Allen fights hard, matching Idaho on their breakaway, causing the shot to go wide. Allen pulls Sinclair into the net as the last two minutes wind down, giving Allen the extra forward on the ice. Idaho scoops it back into Allen’s zone,  Murray blasts it, and Thomson pads it. Still fighting hard, Allen gets denied by Thompson again, and Idaho, with 33 seconds left, faces off with Allen, pushing as the seconds wind down, effectively eliminating the Allen Americans from the Kelly Cup Playoffs. 

Idaho moves on for the 13th time in 19 seasons and the fourth time in the last five. They will meet with the Kansas City Maverick, who swept their series against the Tulsa Oilers. The Mavericks are also this season’s winner of the Brabham Cup, leading the league in points at 114, with a record of 54-12-4 and a playoff record of 4-0. The Mavericks are in the postseason for the second consecutive season and the third time in the last five postseasons. Idaho is coming into this series as the underdog, and KC is a force to be reckoned with. They face off in game one of the Mountain Division Finals in KC Friday, May 3rd. 

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Stephanie DeLaFleur

Beat Writer covering the ECHL Savannah Ghost Pirates, NHL Vegas Golden Knights and AHL Henderson Silver Knights. Follow me on X @StephiDelafleur

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