It was an identical score as Friday night but it couldn’t have been a more different game as the Allen Americans beat the Rapid City Rush 4-2 last night before a crowd of 4213 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. As an aside it is shocking to me to see so many unmasked people in an indoor space. The arena was somewhere around 80% to 85% full and there is no requirement to wear a mask in South Dakota. It is little wonder how in a nation that leads the world in coronavirus cases per capita (unless you count a few small countries like Montenegro, Luxembourg, Czechia) South Dakota and their neighbor to the north (North Dakota) lead the United States in coronavirus cases per capita. Put another way, if South Dakota were a country they would have more coronavirus cases per million population (approx.116,000) than any country on earth. This may also explain why the Rush lead the ECHL in players placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List with 16.
– Sorry for the aside but being 73 years old and having lost a cousin, a neighbor and a high school friend to coronavirus along with numerous friends that have survived but are struggling with the after effects I don’t understand the choices some people make. I know fans that believe they were infected with coronavirus at hockey games so if you choose to attend take all of the suggested precautions. For me the best choice is to stay away until I get vaccinated. The good news is I got my first shot on Wednesday and will get my second on February 3 so it won’t be long and I will be back at the AEC for a hockey game rather than being the only one from the media covering practice. Okay, I am off the soapbox and back to the hockey game last night.
– After giving up a 2-0 lead and coming from behind to win on Friday the Americans were determined to get off to a better start last night. Mission accomplished as Allen dominated the first period, out shooting Rapid City 17-9 and taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. Everything went downhill in the second period and when the dust settled the Americans had given up two goals and went into the second intermission tied 2-2.
– After a total of 14 penalties and 40 penalty minutes in the first two games combined there were 20 penalties and 71 penalty minutes in the second period last night including two game misconduct penalties. Rush players Garrett Klotz and Brennan Saulnier got the game misconducts. Wouldn’t be surprised to see some additional discipline from the league office.
– The third period went back to playing hockey and Allen took the lead 3-2 midway through on a Les Lancaster goal and put the game away on a shorthanded empty net goal from Samuel Laberge with 100 seconds left in the game.
– Allen scored a shorthanded goal in all three games in Rapid City. It was a successful road trip with the Americans earning four of six points. Allen headed home early this morning on a 6:00 am flight. Their last five games have been on the road and they finished the five games with a record of 4-1. The Americans now prepare for three home games against Wichita next Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
– The goal scorers last night were Joe Garreffa (6), Corey Mackin (6), Les Lancaster (2) and Samuel Laberge (2). Garreffa also assisted on Lancaster’s goal and is now tied for the league lead in points with 13 (6G, 7A).
– There are no highlight packages posted by the Americans, Rush or the ECHL but there should be later today. If you want to read more details on the goals and the hectic second period here is the game recap issued by the Rapid City Rush: https://www.rapidcityrush.com/en/news/2021/1/rush-comeback-falls-short-in-series-finale
– After not getting a point on Friday, Tyler Sheehy had an assist last night and is tied for the league lead in assists with nine. Sheehy has at least one point in nine of 11 games. Joe Garreffa leads all ECHL rookies in points (13), assists (7) and is tied with teammate Jake McGrew in goals (6).
– With their win last night Allen improved their record to 8-3-0-0 and is in a three way tie for the points lead (16) with Florida and Indy. Allen’s .727 winning/points percentage trails Indy (.889) and South Carolina (.778).
– Look for Allen to announce the signing of a third goalie in the next day or two. A top collegiate goalie signed by coach Martinson indicates to me he is expecting to see AHL contracted goalie Zach Sawchenko being recalled when the San Jose Barracuda start their training camp. The AHL is tentatively scheduled to start play in early February but have not released a schedule or date for the start of training camps.
– The series next weekend should be a great one. Wichita has gotten off to a good start with a record of 5-2-1-0. Two of their three losses came at the hands of the Americans. Anytime these teams play three games in three days (less than 48 hours) you know there will be fireworks. Dyson Stevenson, former Wichita captain, should be back in the the lineup to add even more drama to the weekend.
– Spencer Asuchak and Phil Beaulieu are also expected to return against Wichita. Have to assume there will be other roster changes this week as well.
DID YOU KNOW: Allen has scored shorthanded goals in three straight games, their first of the season. Here are the shorthanded goals scored by the Americans since joining the ECHL with league rank in parenthesis:
3 – 2020-21, 11 games (#2)
9 – 2019-20, 62 games (#7)
8 – 2018-19 (#16)
7 – 2017-18 (#20)
9 – 2016-17 (#11)
9 – 2015-16 (#5)
13 – 2014-15 (#2)
In 2013-14 when they were still playing in the CHL the Americans had 11 shorthanded goals in 66 games. Rookie Spencer Asuchak had five of the 11 which is still Allen’s single season record for shorthanded goals.