TROTWOOD — When the Dayton Gems look back on their 2011-12 season, the number of lost opportunities should haunt them. Friday will be one of those nights. Nick Layton’s shootout winner was the difference as the Allen Americans completed a late comeback to defeat the Gems 2-1 at Hara Arena.
Tim Hartung gave Dayton an early edge in the shootout but goals from Colton Yellow Horn, Layton and a third from Mark Nebus sent the Americans home with two points that seemed destined for the Gems after a solid 60-minute performance.
“We deserved a better fate,” Gems coach Brian Gratz said.
Dayton (16-24-10) was minutes from a second Larry Sterling shutout win in a week and defending with desperation. Seconds after Charlie Townsend courageously blocked a point shot, Jarret Lukin capitalized on a rare breakdown and banged home a cross-ice pass from Layton with just 4:04 left for a 1-1 tie.
David Nimmo scored for Dayton, which is 2-10 in games that have gone to overtime or a shootout.
“That’s 10 points right there,” Gratz said, pondering what might have been. “You can’t win them all but you can’t go 2-10.
“You can look at our record all you want,” Gratz added, “but in February, we’ve played good team hockey.”
Allen iced just 14 skaters but had plenty of jump early and forced Sterling to make 16 saves, many with a high degree of difficulty, in a scoreless first period.
“We knew they had a short bench and we wanted to get the puck deep to wear them down,” said Damian Surma. “We played well. We just didn’t get the result.”
That solid goaltending in the early going gave the Gems a chance to grab the lead in the second period, which they did at 8:23 on a Nimmo breakaway, his fifth goal in 17 games with Dayton.
• After being outshot 16-11 in the first period, the Gems topped the Americans 27-17 in the next two periods and overtime to finish with 38 shots. ... There were just five minor penalties in the game, one of which was a too-many-men-on-the-ice infraction on Dayton.