The Allen Americans had no interest in making Game 7 of the ECHL final a nail biter. Before the game was halfway through, Allen had stretched their lead to 4-0, including a pair of goals from Chad Costello. In the end, the Americans, the ECHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks, walked away with their first Kelly Cup championship thanks to a 6-1 Game 7 victory over the South Carolina Stingrays.
Coming into the final series, the Americans were the favorites, considering all season they had dominated the Western Conference, finishing atop their half of the league with a 48-14-6 record. A big part of Allen’s regular season domination was their offense, which was the highest scoring in the entire league by nearly one dozen goals.
However, South Carolina made waves this season with a remarkable winning streak that stretched 23 games and put their name all over the league record books.
The biggest difference in the series was a pair of overtime games which came back-to-back in Games 4 and 5, both of which Allen won 3-2. Up until that point, the teams had traded victories and South Carolina had a 2-1 series lead, but the overtime wins by the Americans put the Stingrays on the ropes heading into Game 6. South Carolina came up with a huge effort in Game 6, winning 4-1 and forcing a seventh and final game in which the winner would be crowned Kelly Cup champions.
Unfortunately for South Carolina, an affiliate of the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins, they may have used just about everything they had in them in Game 6. The 6-1 defeat was a lopsided affair, one in which the Stingrays were out 24-17 heading into the third period.
Allen winger Gregor Hanson was named the post-season MVP after scoring 12 goals and 29 points in 29 playoff games. However, he didn’t lead the playoffs in scoring, as two Stingrays, Wayne Simpson (13 goals, 38 points) and Andrew Rowe (15 goals, 34 points), finished ahead of him but came out on the losing end of the series.
Coincidentally, Allen capturing the Kelly Cup means both major North American minor professional leagues had teams capture their championships at different ends of their existence. For Allen, the Kelly Cup comes in their first season in the ECHL, while the AHL’s Calder Cup went to the Manchester Monarchs, who were playing their final season in the AHL before the roster moves to Ontario, Calif.