The eight day wait for Allen Americans hockey is over as game day has arrived and you don’t have to wait very long today with a 2:05 pm puck drop. Allen will be taking on the Rapid City Rush with a chance to move from the last place team in the Mountain Division, which was the case yesterday, to the fifth place team with a win today. The Americans will take the ice today as healthy as they have been all season and with a different look than the last time they played at home on November 14. Newly acquired forwards Gavin Gould, Zach Hall and Tyler Poulsen will be making their home debut and Jack Combs, who has been out of the lineup since November 5 will return. It is basically adding a top scoring line with speed and quickness since the last home game.
– From what I saw in practice this week, which is always subject to change, the line of Costello-Asuchak-Gould will stay intact with a second line of Combs-Hall-Troock. Allen will have three lines capable of scoring and with last change at home, Martinson can get the matchups he wants to maximize offense but also defensive.
– This will be the fourth game of the season against Rapid City. The teams played a three game series in Rapid City a couple of weeks ago with Allen winning two of three games despite playing shorthanded because of injuries and COVID. Coach Martinson was also sidelined with COVID for that series. It wasn’t pretty but the Americans scratched out four of six points against the Rush.
– In the three head to head games in Rapid City the Americans were outshot 124-80 and outscored 15-12. Allen was able to win two of the three games because of special teams. The Americans power play had a goal in all three games and was 4-16 (25%) for the series. Rapid City was just 1-12 (8.3%).
– If you look at season long stats Allen scores 3.2 goals per game averaging 26.1 shots. Rapid City scores 3.1 goals per game on 30.9 shots. Allen allows 35.9 shots and 4.4 goals per game. Rapid City allows 32.4 shots and 3.4 goals per game.
– Rapid City has the edge on the power play (22.1% vs 19.0%) and the penalty kill (84.9% vs 78.7%). The Americans power play has scored 11 goals this season but has given up a league leading eight shorthanded goals including one to Rapid City in the recent series. Being only +3 on the power play (11 goals scored minus 8 shorthanded goals allowed) is a stat that has to improve for Allen to get the season turned around.
– Scoring first may be a jinx in the game this afternoon. In the three games these teams have played this season the team that scored first lost the game. Despite the first three games, the odds heavily favor the team scoring first so the easy prediction is today the team that scores first will win.
– The roster moves Steve Martinson is making today includes Jack Combs being activated from injured reserve, JD Dudek going on injured reserve, Eric Roy and Branden Troock activated from Commissioner’s Exempt list and Josh Burnside and Ben Owen being placed on regular reserve. After playing shorthanded for so long, Martinson will have three healthy scratches for the game today.
– Frank Marotte will get the start in goal. Frank played in Allen’s last game (Idaho) after coming off COVID protocol and stop 25 of 27 shots (.926 save percentage) to get the win. If Marotte gets the win today it will be the first time all season Allen has won two games in a row.
– The team has worked a lot on team defense this week and with the depth the team now has the Americans are in better shape than they have been in all season. It would be nice to have the contracted players back but with injuries and call ups in Charlotte, that is not in the cards right now. You can see everything coming together and I expect a big effort from the team this afternoon.
– You may have seen this AHL fight last night between Vincent Arseneau (Abbotsford) and Montana Onyebuchi (San Jose) but if take a look at this toe to toe slugfest. Arseneau won two Kelly Cups with Allen and in those two playoff seasons was a combination skill and toughness. He was fifth on the team in goals (15) and points (26) and first in penalty minutes (104). You rarely find players at the ECHL level with the ability to score clutch goals, fight with anyone and finish checks with more force than any player in Allen history. He was a pleasure to watch when he was in Allen and it is no surprise he has stuck in the AHL for the last five seasons. Here is a link to his fight last night: youtu.be/yWTRQ4pTzkM
– The AHL postponed eight games this weekend because of a COVID breakout. Charlotte had its game last night in Wilkes-Barre postponed but the schedule now shows the Checkers game today at Bridgeport will be played (3:00 pm EST).
– Here is the ECHL today with a preview of the six games in the ECHL today: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2021/12/echl-today-dec-5