ALLEN, Texas – What a difference 24 hours can make. Allen rebounded from their tepid opening effort in game one of their Central Hockey League series against the Denver Cutthroats and provided a much stronger showing Friday night with a 4-2 victory to even the series 1-1.
The first period was a very slow paced opening frame littered with nearly half of the games 25 penalties, allowing neither team to really get any offense going which was reflected in the period’s shots of 6-3 in favor of Denver.
Allen finally started to show some spark in the second period, moving the puck very well and dominating the shot total 15-7 but only finding the back of the net once before the intermission.
For the second time in two nights it was amateur night in Allen as the second amateur player on the Americans roster lit the lamp to give the Americans the 1-0 lead. It was Justin Kirsch’s first goal in his first professional game, mirroring the effort of Bryce Aneloski from the night before, at the 9:30 mark of the second period with assists going to Brian McMillin and Corbin Baldwin.
Justin Kirsch was signed by the Allen Americans for the playoffs just recently to fulfill the Central Hockey League’s requirement that each team round out their professional roster with a pair of amateurs. The 20 year old winger hails from Chilliwack, BC and played for the Moose Jaw Warriors the past two seasons where over the course of 112 games he’s earned 93 points (40G, 53A).
Denver did their best to get under the skin of Allen and take them off their game but it just may have had the opposite effect as a scrum late in the period seemed to spark a change for Allen who came out on fire in the third period and let Denver know it immediately.
Just 43 seconds into the final twenty minutes of play, Todd Robinson fired one past Kieran Millan when the Americans broke into the Denver zone in a two-on-one, off a pretty pass from Darryl Bootland. The secondary assist on the Robinson marker went to Justin Kirsch.
A little past three minutes later, the Americans extended their lead to 3-0 on a goal by Brian McMillin, assisted by Kale Kerbashian and Tyler Ludwig at 3:46 where the score would remain 3-0 for Allen until the midway point of the third period.
Denver showed signs of life when Jamie MacQueen got one past Aaron Dell to cut the Americans lead to 3-1 at 10:01, assisted by Troy Schwab and AJ Gale. The score remained unchanged until the final minute of play when Denver pulled Millan in favor of the extra attacker and scored a dramatic last minute goal off a lazy clearing pass by an Allen defenseman.
At 19:06, Brad Smyth snuck one through the five hole of Dell to cut the Americans lead to one with just 54 seconds remaining in regulation and Barry Goers earning the assist.
A late slashing call on Allen at 19:23 gave the Cutthroats a two man advantage after they pulled the goaltender, but their hopes of a last second comeback were dashed when Trevor Ludwig fired the puck the length of the ice to cement the Allen victory just 12 seconds later. Todd Robinson earned the assist on the Ludwig empty net goal.
The clubs now head to Denver for games three and four, this Sunday and Monday night with the series even at 1-1. Game three is Sunday with the scheduled start for 4:05 MST.
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