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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Under the Sundogs: Americans drop fourth in last five games
Americans head coach Steve Martinson didn't need to be asked a question before he was ready to talk about Monday afternoon's 3-2 loss to the Arizona Sundogs at the AEC.
"The biggest issue we've had in the last four or five games, and you saw it again today, has been our secondary offense," he said. "If we don't get the save we need or the defense we need, then we certainly aren't going to have enough offense to win."
That's not a position the team plans on staying in.
"One way or another, it's going to change," Martinson said. "We've got to score more goals; in fact, I'm going to go sign someone right after this meeting."
Martinson's frustration stemmed from Monday's result, which was the Americans' (25-7-4) fourth loss in the last five games following a season-best seven-game win streak.
Allen, which split a pair on the road with Arizona over the weekend (a 4-3 overtime loss Friday and 2-1 victory Saturday), fell into a 2-0 hole in the first eight minutes. The seeds of the deficit were sewn from the puck drop as Arizona (18-18-4) was establishing a plethora of opportunities and the Americans had trouble clearing the puck out. The result was a pair of putback goals as Kevin Petovello, who assisted on the Sundogs' other two goals, scored with 15:34 remaining in the first period and Ron Meyers did the same with 12:25 to go.
Arizona held a 7-2 shots on goal edge at that point and eventually got it up to 12-3.
Allen goalie Aaron Dell came in to replace Steve Silverthorn with 39.2 seconds left in the first and the Americans on a 4-3 man advantage.
Dell would only stay in the game for 13.6 seconds though as Brett Skinner and Anthony Maiani worked to get the puck to Tyler Ludwig at the point, where he scored his fourth goal of the season to pull Allen within 2-1.
The Americans, however, were unsuccessful on their other seven power plays.
"We aren't getting in the right position when we have possession of the puck on our power play," Martinson said. "Again, that goes back to who can score for us; it's like we have our Power Play A and then a Power Play C and D line, but no B."
The familiar faces continued to spark the Allen offense in the second as the team's two leading scorers (Maiani and Darryl Bootland) combined for a goal that also included an assist from Kale Kerbashian, who has six points in just four games with the team. Maiani, playing in his 100th professional game, lit the lamp for the 13th time on the season to knot the game at 2-2 with 15:19 left in the second.
That score remained until late in the third thanks to stellar play from the goaltenders.
Arizona's David Brown made a diving glove save on a shot from Bootland, who has a team-high 41 points, during a 2-on-1 breakaway late in the second while Silverthorn (13-3-2) stopped 25 straight shots after allowing the two early goals.
He wouldn't reach 26 though as Meyer cut through two defenders and tickled the twine for a second time on the afternoon to give the Sundogs a 3-2 lead with 2:22 left.
That goal, the last of the game, was reflective of the flow in the final period as Arizona got off 11 of the first 15 shots on goal.
Despite the defeat, the Americans (54 points) still hold a five-point advantage over the Wichita Thunder for the top spot in the CHL with four games in hand.
"But we don't want to get caught up just because we are in first place and stand pat," Martinson said. "We're going to try some things, but we also need to get fresh so we can get back to looking like we were a couple weeks ago."
This would be the obvious time to do so as Monday was the start of an eight-game homestand for Allen. The Americans host the Rapid City Rush at 7:05 p.m. Friday and Bloomington Blaze at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.