Led by a Hank Crone hat trick, the comeback kids struck again last night defeating the Rapid City Rush 3-2 before a crowd of 3825 at the CUTX Event Center. Allen has a 5-1 record over the last six games and gave up the first goal in all six. Even the lone loss had a big comeback as the Americans trailed 4-0 before scoring three goals in 90 seconds. An empty net goal ended the comeback.
– Slow starts have been the hallmark lately, but strong second periods have also become a hallmark. The Americans have scored 51 goals this season in the first period. They have scored 70 second period goals, the third most in the league.
– Last night Rapid City had no answer for Hank Crone. Rapid City took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission and without some stellar goaltending by Chase Perry the score could have been much worse. The Rush outshot the Americans 17-10 in the opening frame. It didn’t take long to do what Allen has done so often lately strike back after trailing in a game. Just 36 seconds into the second period Crone tied the score 1-1 and later in the period (15:27) he scored again to give Allen a 2-1 lead going into the third period.
– Taking leads into the third period is usually the golden ticket for ECHL teams as over 90% of the time a lead after the second period ends up in victory. Rapid City put a lot of pressure on the Americans. At one point in the period from 6:59 to 17:02 the Rush outshot Allen 10-1 and finally tied the score 2-2. Less than two minutes later (8:42) it was Hank Crone to the rescue again with his game winning hat trick goal to make the final score 3-2.
– Rapid City pulled the goalie with 64 seconds remaining in the game. Allen had a great opportunity for an empty net goal, with a 3-on-1, but some unselfish passes ended up with a missed opportunity. Allen took a penalty with 5.6 seconds remaining. Rapid City won the draw and Mikael Robidoux made a great defensive play blocking a Rush shot as time expired.
– There were two referees for the game last night and for the most part let the teams play. An unusually low total of 10 penalty minutes combined in the game. All were stick penalties including three for slashing and one each for high sticking and hooking. Allen was 1-2 on the power play and Rapid City was 0-3. If you are a betting person, bet the over if there will be more or less than 10 penalty minutes in the game this afternoon.
– Here are the game recaps from both teams:
– Crone’s hat trick produced his 32, 33, and 34 goals of the season. Colton Hargrove assisted on all three goals. Crone now has a four-goal lead in the ECHL goal scoring race over his linemate Hargrove and teammate Combs. The trio remain the only 30 goal scorers in the league thus far. Here are the video highlights which only show the Allen goals: https://www.echl.com/en/video/2023/3/rapid-city-rush-vs-allen-americans—mar-4-2023-dbxbij6A
CHAD COSTELLO COACH’S COMMENTS
“We are playing good hockey as we are fighting to meet our goals. It was a good win tonight. In the third period we gave up too many shots but mostly kept them to the outside.”
“Rapid City keeps its game very simple. They dump the puck, and they work, and they work, and they work and are hard to play against.”
“I told the guys before the game we are now in a 20-game sprint to the end of the regular season. We are off to a good start.”
“I like when we hit. When Fournier, Robidoux, Hebert, Brown and our defensemen hit it seems to liven up our skill players. Hitting will always be a key to our game.”
“I was actually not too mad after the poor start in the first period. Earlier in the year we would play bad and give up three goals and the game was over. Now we are learning how to manage the game when we are playing our “B” or “C” game until we find our “A” game. The team has done a good job of grasping the bend don’t break mentality.”
SUNDAY REMATCH PREVIEW
– Rapid City is playing without some key players this weekend. Here are the game notes the Rush issued yesterday before the game last night, but it will give you an update on where the team stands. https://www.rapidcityrush.com/en/news/2023/3/game-notes-3-4-at-allen
– Despite the five comeback wins in the last six games after giving up the first goal, Allen needs to get a better start today. The Americans haven’t scored the first goal in a game since the second game of the Fort Wayne series on February 10. That is eight straight games giving up the first goal. Time for a change today.
– Special teams are always a key and will likely be even more so this afternoon. In the last five games the Allen power play is 8-22 (36.4%). All Allen needs is more of the same against Rapid City today.
– It will be back to a one referee system for the game today. Michael Zyla (#34), who was one of the referees last night, is scheduled today.
– Crone’s hat trick was the fifth for Allen this season. Liam Finlay and Colton Hargrove have each had two hat tricks. FYI, last season Allen had six hat tricks by five different players: Gavin Gould, Luke Henman, Chad Costello, Josh Winquist and Branden Troock (2).
– Allen’s special teams continue to shine. The Americans power play percentage is up to 23.9% ranked #2 in the league. The penalty kill is up to 81.6% which is ranked #11. The combined PP and PK percentage has climbed to 105.5%. Anything above 105% is considered excellent special teams play.
– I had a lot of questions about what happened to Jared Bethune. There has been nothing official from the team, but my reporting is he will be playing in the SPHL. Because the overseas deadline has passed, and Allen has his ECHL rights that is the only other place he could sign at this point in the season. I am sure Jared was not happy with his playing time in Allen recently as a fourth line forward and also being a healthy scratch sometimes. He has ties to the SPHL and friends that play in that league, so going where he will get more ice time and can have a big impact could be a great choice for him. I know everyone in Allen wishes him the best of luck wherever he lands.
– It was a great win for Allen last night which it needed to keep pace in the division. Kansas City had a big win against Idaho to take over second place. Utah and Wichita were idle. Here are the current standings by points with games remaining in parenthesis:
- 87 points – Idaho (18)
- 58 points – Kansas City (18)
- 57 points – Wichita (17)
- 55 points – Allen (19)
- 51 points – Utah (19)
- 49 points – Rapid City (19)
- 46 points – Tulsa (19)
– There are 10 games on tap this afternoon with all seven Mountain Division teams in action. In addition to Rapid City at Allen, Idaho is at Kansas City, Utah is at Wichita and Tulsa is at Kalamazoo. Not any big movement for Allen based on the results this afternoon. The Americans will move into third place with a win and a Wichita loss. If Allen loses to the Rush, they will retain their fourth-place position. FYI, Allen has the earliest Sunday start of any team in the league at 2:05 pm local time. The latest start time is in Toledo at 5:15 pm local time. My opinion is it would be better for the team if the Sunday start time would be moved back to 4:05 pm like it was in the past. Traveling back to Allen after an away Saturday night game for an early Sunday game is not in the best interest of the players. Here are the previews of all 10 games on the schedule today: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2023/3/echl-today-march-5
DID YOU KNOW: Here is the ECHL Stats post for today. It is pretty amazing what the Allen “Four Sure Gang” is accomplishing this season.
Last season Will Graber (Fort Wayne) was the ECHL points leader with 83 points. With less than 20 games remaining this season, seven players are projected to end the season with 83+ points, three with 90+ points and one with over 100 points. The last time an ECHL player scored over 100 points was in 2016-17 when Chad Costello scored 122 points for the Allen Americans.
- 104: Hank Crone, Allen
- 98: Jack Combs, Allen
- 96: Zach O’Brien, Newfoundland
- 87: Alex Ierullo, Greenville
- 86: Colton Hargrove, Allen
- 83: Michal Stinil, Wichita
- 83: Liam Finlay, Allen