Allen Americans forward, Nino Musitelli. Photo credit: Chip Crail/CHLPhotos.com/@CHLPhotosBlog
The Denver Cutthroats made their first trip to Allen to face the Americans for the first time in their beginning season and they were not intimidated by the number one team in the Central Hockey League. Surging into a 3rd place tie with Bloomington, Denver improved their road record to 3-4-1 as they defeated Allen, 2-1.
In the first, the pace was physical but deliberate as one would expect between two teams that have never met before. Learning each other’s buttons and tendencies was the focus as the shots were few and far between. At one point, they combined for 5 shots half way through the first period.
At the 8:44 mark of the first, Denver’s tenacity paid off as A.J. Gale fired a slap shot from the top of the left faceoff circle right through the welcoming leg pads of American’s starting net minder, Steve Silverthorn.
The physicality picked up as Ryley Grantham and Mike Towns dropped the gloves. Towns had the jump on Grantham and immediately tied up the big defenseman. Unable to get free, Ryley took his licks and headed off to the room as the first period came to an end. The shots remained at a premium, with Denver firing off 9 to Allen’s 4.
The 2nd period was as methodical as surgery as the pace slowed greatly. The teams traded minor penalties and icings throughout. At 10:25, Brad Smyth put a juice rebound just above the outstretched pad of Silverthorn to put the Cutthroats up 2-0. Troy Schwab added to his assist total as he helped on both goals.
The period ended in a manner I have never seen. After a delay to replace a pane of glass and a Denver penalty to Ben Wilson for hooking, American’s head coach, Steve Martinson inserted Aaron Dell in goal. Dell, who leads the league in GAA and save percentage skated off with the team with a ball cap on as he left his mask on the bench.
To start the 3rd, Silverthorn returned to the crease as the Americans enjoyed a power play for 1:15. Allen started to buzz Kieran Millan in the Denver net and 20 seconds after the power play expired, Jarret Lukin found a loose, rolling puck and fired it glove high past Millian to cut the Denver lead in half. Nino Musitelli almost tied up the game with a breakaway that he deposited directly into Millian’s waiting glove.
On the opposite end, Gale almost put the game out of reach but fanned on the puck and let a half-open net opportunity escape him. As the third moved along, so did the momentum as the puck spent most of the time in the Denver end and half way through the 3rd, Allen even tied up the shots at 23.
The chippiness returned as precious minutes ticked away as Allen began to crash the net, and usually Millian was at the bottom of the pile. Allen pulled Silverthorn for the last minute and a half, but ultimately, it wasn’t enough as Denver continued their hot streak and handed Allen their 3rd loss in 4 games.
3: Trevor Ludwig
2: AJ Gale
1: Jarret Lukin
Bear in mind, Allen allows their fans to pick the 3 Stars via social media. The 3 Stars should have been:
3: Jarret Lukin-Allen
2: AJ Gale-Denver
1: Troy Schwab-Denver