The Allen Americans headed to Rapid City last night (6:00 pm) on a 17+ hour bus trip that will see them arrive around noon today. The team will practice this afternoon in preparation for playing the Rush on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The game tomorrow is the annual “School Day Game” in Rapid City so the Americans can expect up 5000 screaming kids in attendance. The game will also double as the “Marvel Super Hero Game.” With an early start time (10:35 am MST, 11:35 Allen time) best to do the game preview today.
– Allen has played Rapid City five times this season with all five games at the Allen Event Center (AEC). The Americans won all five games with two going to overtime. This is Allen’s only regular season trip to Rapid City this season. After these three games against the Rush the teams will meet for a ninth time this season at the AEC on March 19.
– In their five head to head matchups Allen has outscored Rapid City 20-11 but shots have been equal (177-176). Head to head Allen’s power play is 3-22 (13.6%) while Rapid City’s is 2-26 (7.7%).
– Allen hasn’t played Rapid City since before Christmas and the power play has been much improved recently. In their last 10 games the Americans power play percentage is 32.5% (13-40) and that includes a 0-5 against Kansas City last Saturday. The Allen penalty kill is 6-35 (82.9%) over the last 10 games and also has four shorthanded goals to their credit. However, the Americans have allowed a power play goal in their last three games.
– If you compare overall special team records looking at Rapid City at home and Allen on the road the power play percentage is close with the Americans at 20.0% and Rapid City at 19.3%. The Rush hold the penalty kill advantage 86.6% vs 79.5%.
– You never know what type of games will develop between Allen and Rapid City. They have had their share of conflict over the years. In the five head to head matchups this season these teams have combined for as few as 18 PIMS and as many as 58 PIMS. Rapid City is ranked #4 in the league in average penalty minutes per game (16.31) while Allen is ranked #16 averaging 12.08 penalty minutes per game.
– Allen scores on average over a goal per game higher than Rapid City. The Americans are ranked #1 (4.18) compared to the Rush who are ranked #15 (3.10). What makes Allen so dangerous is they have one of the best shooting percentages in the league at 12.6% compared to 10.5% for Rapid City.
– With three tough games expected against Rapid City, who lead the Mountain Division in penalty minutes, coach Martinson took extra players on the trip. Newly acquired defenseman Cody Corbett was not expected to arrive in DFW last night until after the bus departed so he will have to fly to Rapid City to meet up with the team. You have to expect Andrew Shortridge will get the start in goal as he has not had a start for Allen since January 20. He recently returned to Allen from a recall to the San Jose Barracuda.
– After practice yesterday I sat down with coach Martinson to talk about the roster and get an idea of what changes may take place in the near future. He is in regular contact with the Wild organization and expects to get players assigned soon but the definition of soon is a bit fuzzy. There is little doubt, barring injuries, Allen will be assigned several players, it is just a matter of when. As is always the case, Martinson is looking to improve the team via trades, Cody Corbett being the latest example. When I asked Martinson about the loss in Kansas City on Saturday when the Americans allowed six goals to the last place team in the division that has had trouble scoring goals his response was as always honest and straightforward, “I am beginning to think I can’t change the parts of our game that need changing. It is looking more like personnel changes will be needed.”
– Congrats to Matt Register who was released from his tryout contract (PTO) and signed to a standard player’s contract (SPC) by the Iowa Wild yesterday. It is quite an accomplishment for the 30 year old, three time ECHL Defenseman of the Year who had played in just 11 AHL games in his nine year pro career prior to this season. FYI, Register will have to play in five games with Allen to be eligible for the playoffs so it remains to be seen if and when that happens.
– Allen’s offensive firepower is unparalleled. The Americans have five players in the top 20 in the ECHL in goals and three in the top seven in assists. Tyler Sheehy is #1 in points, #2 in goals and #2 in assists. If you look at defensemen, Allen has four of the top 20 in points including Alex Breton at #1, two of the top 10 in goals including #1 Stepan Falkovsky and four of the top 18 in assists including #1 Breton. If this team can tighten up on team defense they will be hard to beat come playoff time.
– Allen is #1 in the ECHL in goals scored with 209. They have 14 more goals than #2 (Newfoundland), 31 more than #3 and #4. Goals allowed is a different story with Allen ranked #17 with 164 goals allowed. Allen has allowed 52 more goals than #1 South Carolina. The Americans will never be #1 in goals allowed because they are an offensive minded team. In their two ECHL championship seasons Allen allowed an average of 2.82 and 2.83 goals per game during the regular season. So far this season Allen is giving up an average of 3.28 goals per game. Allen will not be able to outscore playoff teams giving up an average of 3.28 goals per game in the playoffs.
– Congrats to former Allen player Chase Lang who was named the ECHL Player of the Week for last week. Chase had four goals and three assists in three games to win the award. Here is the press release: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2020/2/jacksonville-lang-named-inglasco-echl-player-of-the-week
– Look for a late afternoon/early evening blog tomorrow that I will write after the game is over.
DID YOU KNOW: Allen fans who have been around since the first season will always remember losing the CHL championship to the Rapid City Rush in year one. The upstart Americans came from behind 3-2 in the series to beat Laredo in game seven in the conference semifinals and then went on the road to defeat Odessa in game seven in the Conference finals. Allen took a 2-1 series lead against Rapid City before losing the championship series in six games. It is the only championship for Rapid City while Allen has gone on to win four championships. Since joining the ECHL Allen has dominated Rapid City. Check out these records against the Rush:
5-0-0-0 head to head this season
4-2-0-0 head to head in 2018-19
23-5-1-0 last five years record
12-4-1-0 last five years record in Allen
11-1-0-0 last five years record in Rapid City