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Allen vs Rapid City Series Preview, Goalies Used by ECHL Teams and More

Friday, April 22nd
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It is game day and the second season for the Allen Americans has finally arrived. For the 11th time in the 13 year history of the Allen franchise and the 23rd time in Steve Martinson’s 26 year coaching career, the pursuit of a championship begins. The Americans started the season losing 10 of the first 14 games but finished the last six weeks of the season with a record of 14-6-2-0 to claim the #3 seed in the Mountain Division. History says it will be an uphill battle for the Americans to win a third Kelly Cup based on their finish in the regular season. The goal right now is to win the first round, best of seven series against the Rapid City Rush.

– The team had a smooth 15 hour overnight trip to Rapid City on Big Blue yesterday. The team had a light practice after they arrived and will have  an optional pregame skate this morning. Here is the roster that made the trip to Rapid City:

Goalies

  • #31 – Luke Peressini
  • #40 – Frank Marotte

Defensemen

  • #3 – Darian Skeoch
  • #4 – Kris Myllari
  • #8 – Jake Kearley
  • #20 – Ben Carroll
  • #23 – Nick Albano
  • #24 – Nolan Kneen
  • #25 – Phil Beaulieu

Forwards

  • #9 – Josh Winquist
  • #10 – Jackson Leppard
  • #11 – Branden Troock
  • #13 – Chad Costello
  • #16 – Corey Durocher
  • #17 – Chad Butcher
  • #19 – Jared Bethune
  • #21 – Jack Combs
  • #26 – Spencer Asuchak
  • #28 – Justin Young
  • #29 – Colby McAuley

– The three players on the playoff roster that did not make the trip to Rapid City are J.D. Dudek, Ryan Lohin and Eric Roy. It is hoped all three will be available when the series returns to Allen, if not by Tuesdays, by the games next Friday and Saturday.

– Comparing regular season stats is of limited use because both of these teams are very different from the teams they were back in October. If you recall, the first game Allen played in Rapid City this season (November 17) as part of a three game series, the Americans played with the minimum allowed 13 skaters because of a COVID breakout and injuries. Steve Martinson wasn’t on the trip because he had COVID. Here is what I wrote about that game at the time:

In a script Hollywood would reject as unrealistic, the Allen Americans, against all odds, beat the Rapid City Rush in a shootout last night by a score of 6-5. Here are the characters in this unlikely script. The story opens with the team heading on the road, nursing a four game losing streak. Just before the team is scheduled to fly to South Dakota the coach and four players test positive for COVID. The coach, while dealing with COVID, scrambles to find players so the team has enough to play the game. He trades for two players from a US based team but the team is on a road trip on Canada. The two new players have plenty of time to meet the team in South Dakota but get delayed in a line of 500+ at the Montreal airport getting COVID tests to get back into the US and don’t arrive in time to play.

– The team plays the game with an injured player as the bench coach. The roster is 13 skaters and just seven forwards rather than the typical 16 skaters and 10 forwards. Of the 13 skaters one is playing their first game with the team and another (a defenseman) is playing his first game in 248 days. For extra drama let’s have the defenseman score a goal and have an assist. For good measure the goalie will be playing his second game for the team after a long career in the AHL.

– The story line continues as this shorthanded team gives up yet another shorthanded goal, the league leading seventh they have allowed in 10 games. The team gives up the first goal of the game but battles back time and time again. They come back after trailing 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, 4-3 and 5-3 to tie the score and send the game to overtime. Just what a shorthanded team needs is to play an extra seven minutes after working their tails off for 60 minutes. The team gets outplayed in overtime and out shot 9-3 but the AHL goalie stands on his head stopping one quality scoring chance after another. The game goes to a shootout.

– The story ends with the only shootout goal being scored by a future Hall all of Fame player who has returned to the team after four years in Europe and coming back from a serious injury. And the AHL goalie stops all three shootout attempts.

– There you have it, a script to good to be true but one that played out in Rapid City last night.  A great win for the Americans who turned lemons into lemonade. Who played the roles in this script. Jack Combs was great as the injured player who became the bench coach. Nolan Kneen starred as the defenseman coming back from a serious injury to tally a goal and an assist in his first game since last March 14. Antoine Bibeau played the AHL goalie that helped steal the game. Allen was out shot 45-23 for the game, 19-5 in the second period and 9-3 in overtime. When the game was on the line in overtime and in the shootout, Bibeau was outstanding. And the perfect ending had to be played by Chad Costello who has been the team hero ever since he arrived in Allen in 2014-15.

– Every player on the team deserves acknowledgement starting with the goal scorers; D-Jay Jerome (4), Jared Bethune (2), Nolan Kneen (1), Spencer Asuchak (3) and Jackson Leppard (2). D-Jay Jerome had two assist to go with his goal and is now tied with Spencer Asuchak for the team lead in points with 10. Gavin Gould, playing his first game with the American, had two assists.

– With all of the caveats here is a comparison between Allen and Rapid City based on regular season stats:

  • Goals Scored (average per game)
  • 3.35 – Rapid City
  • 3.33 – Allen
  • Goals Allowed (average per game)
  • 3.22 – Rapid City
  • 3.39 – Allen
  • Goal Differential (goals scored minus goals allowed)
  • +9 – Rapid City
  • -4 – Allen
  • Shots For (average per game)
  • 32.56 – Rapid City
  • 28.22 – Allen
  • Shots Against (average per game)
  • 33.49 – Rapid City
  • 35.31 – Allen
  • Shooting Percentage (goals as a percent of total shots)
  • 11.7% – Allen
  • 10.3% – Rapid City
  • Power Play Percentage
  • 19.6% – Rapid City
  • 18.5% – Allen
  • Penalty Kill Percentage
  • 85.1% – Rapid City
  • 80.4% – Allen
  • Power Play Goals Scored
  • 53 – Rapid City
  • 50 – Allen
  • Plus/Minus
  • -14 – Rapid City
  • -25 – Allen
  • Goals Against Average (GAA)
  • 3.11 – Rapid City
  • 3.33 – Allen
  • Save Percentage
  • .906 – Rapid City
  • .904 – Allen
  • Record Last 10 Games
  • 6-3-1-0 – Allen
  • 4-4-2-0 – Rapid City

– Of the 13 stats on this list Rapid City leads in 11 of them. However, the two exceptions are critical. Allen has a better record over the last 10 games and the Americans have a better shooting percentage. Allen does a better job capitalizing on opportunities, they just need to create more of them in this series.

– Allen’s record since the beginning of March is 14-6-2-0 which is a points percentage of .682. Rapid City’s record since the beginning of March is 9-5-2-2 which is a points percentage of .611.

– Allen’s special teams has also been much improved since the beginning of March. The power play is at 20.3% and the penalty kill was at 87.5% before the last game of the season when it allowed three power play goals to Iowa.

– The keys to the game tonight and the series are no different than what Steve Martinson has been saying over the last month.

  • Be ready to play and get off to a good start. Don’t play from behind.
  • Reduce turnovers, especially in the neutral zone which will create more opportunities for Allen and reduce shots for Rapid City.
  • Stay on the defensive side of the puck and play with the same energy on defense as offense.
  • Stay away from undisciplined penalties that give Rapid City power play opportunities.

– I have heard Steve Martinson says this many times over the years when the playoffs begin. We don’t need players to do anymore than do their best. Players trying to do too much just create problems and are not smart players. We just need players to play up to their ability.– Nolan Kneen will not be in the lineup tonight as he will be serving the one game suspension he was given in the last regular season game against Iowa.– Luke Peressini will get the start in goal. Luke’s save percentage in the 27 games he has played in Allen is .919. His overall save percentage is .915 (he played one game for Worcester). The league high in save percentage is .919.OTHER COMMENTS– How important is the game tonight? Historically, a team that wins game one at home in a best of seven series will win the series 75% of the time.– All 16 playoff teams will be in action tonight. Two series have already started. Reading, the #1 seed in the North Division has a 1-0 lead over #4 seed Maine. In the South Division the #3 seed Jacksonville has taken a 1-0 lead against #2 seed Atlanta. Here is the ECHL Today with a preview of all eight games on the schedule today. https://www.echl.com/en/news/2022/4/echl-today-april-22– How strange is it to not have Idaho in the playoff? Saw this posted by my friend C.C. Hawkley who used to cover Idaho when we worked together at “The Sin Bin” back in the day. “Feels weird without the Idaho Steelheads in the playoffs. That is because it is the first time since the franchise started in 1997-98 (WCHL) that Idaho has missed the post season. Super impressive.” I agree with Hawkley, it was quite a run for the Steelheads. It has been a difficult couple of years for Idaho fans with the Steelheads not playing last season and missing the playoffs for the first time ever this season.– Toledo won the Brabham Cup as the regular season champion and now must try to overcome the curse that goes with being the best team in the regular season. Toledo knows the curse well as the Walleye won the Brabham Cup in 2014-15 and 2016-17. Toledo lost in the Conference Finals in 2015 and 2017. The last Brabham Cup winner that went on to win the Kelly Cup was Alaska in 2014.

DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL Stats post today is about goalies used by each ECHL teams. Allen used six different goalies during the regular season.

ECHL teams played a record 138 goalies this season ranging from 4-11 per team. Some of the most successful teams in the league had to use a lot of different goalies because of loans, call-ups, injuries and illness. Here are the ECHL teams that used the most goalies (played at least one game, doesn’t include EBUGs):11 – Fort Wayne*11 – Orlando10 – Newfoundland*9 – Reading*8 – Rapid City*8 – Cincinnati*8 – Wheeling**In playoffs

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