Thursday, January 29, 2015

Allen vs Rapid City Game Preview, Big AHL Announcement Today, Some ECHL Changes Already Approved


It is game day in Allen as the Americans take on the Rapid City Rush in one of only two games in the ECHL tonight (Brampton is at Tulsa in the other). It is a rare Thursday night home game for Allen with only two scheduled all season. The other one is also against the Rush on April 9.

After a less than stellar road trip last weekend the Americans are looking to get back to their winning ways in the friendly confines of the Allen Event Center (AEC) where they have won ten games in a row and seventeen out of eighteen.

Rapid City arrives in Allen in fifth place in the Central Division standings twenty five points behind league leading Allen. The Rush have won three of their last four road games and are 5-4-0-1 in their last ten games. It will be the first time Daniel Tetrault, Dallas Ehrhardt and Kale Kerbashian will be back to the AEC as teammates and it will be Kerbashian's first game for the Rush since being traded by Evansville this past week.

This will be the sixth time these two teams have met this season with Allen holding the 4-1 edge in the five previous games. They have split two games played in Rapid City and the Americans have won all three games at the AEC. If you look at cumulative stats these teams have played much closer than the record might indicate. Cumulative goals are 18-11 in favor of Allen but Rapid City has had some mediocre goaltending in some of the games. In the five previous games Rapid City has out shot Allen 160-139, have scored more power play goals (Rapid 6-31, Allen 3-18) and taken fewer penalties (Allen 126 minutes, Rapid 76 minutes). If the Rush can get a good performance from their goalie and win on special teams they will have a good chance.

- A statistical comparison of Allen and Rapid City shows an advantage for Allen. Here are a few examples:

Points: Allen (62) - Rapid City (37)
Goals For: Allen (164) - Rapid City (113)
Goals Allowed: Allen (102) - Rapid City (122)
Goal Differential: Allen (+62) - Rapid City (-9)
Team Plus/Minus: Allen (+206) - Rapid City (-93)

Allen is ranked #1 in league standings. Rapid City is ranked #22.
Allen is #1 in average goals scored per game (4.21). Rapid City is #22 (2.76).
Allen is ranked #2 in average goals allowed (2.62). Rapid City is #12 (2.98).

- Special teams will most likely be a key to the game especially with Allen leading the league in minor penalties (265). Allen has a better overall power play and penalty kill than Rapid City but if you look at home and road stats it tells a different story. At home Allen is ranked #15 (17.6%) on the power play and #5 (87.7%) on the penalty kill. On the road Rapid City is #22 (13.3%) on the power play and #4 (88.5%) on the penalty kill.

- Scoring the first goal of the game is always important as Allen wins 85.4% of the time when they score first and Rapid City wins 70.6%. Allen actually scores the most goals in the second period while Rapid has scored the most goals in the third period. Here are the goals scored by period for both teams:
Allen:  43 - 69 - 50
Rapid: 35 - 33 - 41


- The on ice officials scheduled for the game are referee Zak Blazic (#9) with linesmen Brian Bull and Mike Anderson.

- Another food and beverage promotion for both games against Rapid City with $2 hot dogs, $2 beer and $2 sodas. And what I am told is the best deal of the night, 24 oz. Miller Lite and Coors Lite Tall Boys for just $5.

- With a full roster of twenty players, two will have to sit out tonight on reserve. One will be Patrik Valcak who will not play in either game against Rapid City. The other question to be answered is whether Garrett Clarke will be back in the line up after completing his suspension last weekend.

- The roster changes for Missouri continue as yesterday they waived Sebastian Geoffrion, suspended Kris Hogg (probably headed to Europe) and traded for Dylan Hood from Ontario. That puts the Mavericks at around 45 different players on the roster this year. As a comparison Allen is at 30. Bringing in and releasing players is an expensive proposition in most cases so hats off to Missouri who has the resources to continue to try and improve their hockey team.

- If you are on Facebook there is a new group called ECHL Diehards that was just established to discuss all things about ECHL hockey. There are several of these groups and they all vary as to how much serious hockey discussion takes place. If you are looking for more places to read about or discuss your favorite ECHL team you might want to check out ECHL Diehards on Facebook.

- By now you have probably heard the official announcement about the AHL creation of a Pacific Division will take place today in San Jose at 2:30 pm (CST). Here are the details from the AHL.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League will be making a major announcement related to the 2015-16 season on Thursday, January 29, at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif.

David Andrews, President and Chief Executive Officer – American Hockey League
Bill Daly, Deputy Commissioner – National Hockey League
Michael Schulman, Chief Executive Officer – Anaheim Ducks
Bob Murray, Executive Vice President and General Manager – Anaheim Ducks
Brad Treliving, General Manager – Calgary Flames
Kevin Lowe, Vice Chair, Oilers Entertainment Group – Edmonton Oilers
Luc Robitaille, President, Business Operations – Los Angeles Kings
John Tortora, Chief Operating Officer – San Jose Sharks
Doug Wilson, General Manager – San Jose Sharks

Thursday, January 29, 2015 – 12:30 p.m. PT

Rinkside Room – SAP Center
The press conference will be streamed live on as well as on the websites of the participating teams.

- The AHL changes that will be announced today will obviously have a big impact on the ECHL. As a reminder here are the moves anticipated.

The Los Angeles Kings move their AHL Manchester Monarchs to Ontario, California. Ontario moves to Manchester as an ECHL team.

The Edmonton Oilers move their AHL affiliate from Oklahoma City to Bakersfield, California. It is possible Oklahoma City moves to the ECHL but it would not be the Bakersfield team.

The San Jose Sharks take their AHL team in Worcester and move them to San Jose where they will play in the same arena (SAP Center) as the San Jose Sharks until another suitable place is found. Worcester will become an ECHL city.

The Norfolk Admirals have just reached an agreement to be sold to the Anaheim Ducks and will be moved to San Diego. The ECHL team in Bakersfield that is owned by Edmonton would move to Norfolk and still be owned by Edmonton.

The Calgary Flames move their affiliate (Adirondack Flames) out of Glens Falls, NY to Stockton, CA. The Flames buy the Stockton ECHL franchise and move it to Glens Falls.

The Vancouver Canucks are not part of the AHL migration west as they will maintain their AHL affiliate in Utica, NY. where they have a long term lease.

One of the big impacts of all of these changes will be on the Alaska Aces who are definitely staying in the ECHL. According to reporting by the Alaska Dispatch News the Aces schedule will change dramatically as 38 of their 72 games this year are against the three ECHL teams (Bakersfield, Stockton, & Ontario) that are moving to make way for AHL teams. According to one of the managing members of the Alaska Aces, at the ECHL Board of Governors meeting last week they voted that each ECHL team remaining in the West (Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Colorado) will travel to the East at least one time each year for three to five games. Also, he said, each East team would travel West at least every third season for a road swing. So, at least once every three years you can look for Allen to travel West and yes that will include trips to Alaska.

Obviously these are just some of the changes that will take place over the coming year with many other moving parts to a giant jig saw puzzle. It should be exciting to watch.
DID YOU KNOW: The driving distance from Allen to Anchorage is just over 4000 miles. Luckily that will be a flying trip. In seven days between February 5-11 Allen will play two games in Brampton, Ontario which is 1344 miles from Allen and two games in Ontario, California which is 1419 miles from Allen. Travel arrangements for those trips are still being finalized.

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