Friday, January 2, 2015

Allen vs Rapid Preview, Mullins Fired in Evansville, Will It Impact Kerbashian, Lukin & McKenzie

The Allen Americans take on the Rapid City Rush tonight for the fifth of the twelve games they play this season. The Americans are hoping to improve on the 3-1 record they have attained thus far against the Rush. Steve Martinson is fond of saying your best players have to be your best players if you are going to win. When it comes to scoring that was the case when Allen defeated Rapid City on Wednesday as Jack Combs had three of the five goals. The top line of Combs, Costello, and Schultz have scored eight of the fourteen goals (60%) scored against the Rush this season. So it goes without saying a key tonight is continued production from the top line.

Special teams are almost always a key to victory and if you look at the four games played thus far what stands out is Allen has taken way too many penalties against Rapid City. In the four head to head match ups this season between Allen and Rapid City the number of power play opportunities are dramatically different. Allen is 2-15 (13.3%) on the power play while Rapid City is 4-28 (14.2%). To have almost double the power play opportunities over your opponent is a huge advantage. It will be imperative that Allen stay out of the penalty box tonight and avoid the numerous stick penalties they have been taking.

Here is another way to look at what will be a big danger sign if the Americans continue to take numerous minor penalties. Since Christmas both Rapid City and Allen have played four games. In those four games Allen has allowed power play goals in all of them with a combined five goals allowed in twenty three opportunities for a penalty kill percentage of 78.2%. Rapid City in their last four games have scored six power play goals in seventeen power play opportunities for a power play percentage of 35.3%. Advantage Rapid City.

Allen can win this game in one of two ways. The easy way is to play disciplined hockey by being aggressive but not cheating and stay out of the penalty box. The hard way is to make mistakes and allow numerous odd man rushes, take a bunch of stick penalties, and rely on a superior offensive attack to over come all of the mistakes. If the Americans try to rely on the second approach it could turn into defeat.


- Rapid City has 33 major penalties this year which is far more than Allen with only 21. Minor penalties are another story as Allen has 200 minor penalties to Rapid City's 140. Allen takes more minor penalties than any team in the league.

- Allen outscores their opponents in all three periods but they score the most and allow the most goals in the second period. Here is the period by period breakdown. Goals for is GF, Goals allowed is GA
1st period: GF 32 - GA 20
2nd period: GF 50 - GA 27
3rd period: GF 39 - GA 25

- Have had many inquires on how Brian McMillin is doing and wanting to pass along best wishes to him. Had a chance to catch up with Brian and he is doing better every day. He is a week out from surgery to repair his broken kneecap. It was rough for few days after surgery but he has had a followup with the doctor and every thing looks good so now it is just taking the time to heal. I am sure it won't be long before you see Brian around the AEC attending some Allen games.

- Dwight Mullins was fired by the Evansville IceMen yesterday just 29 games into his first year coaching the team. Mullins coached the Allen Americans from 2009-2012, made the playoffs all three years and took Allen to the CHL finals in their inaugural season before losing to the Rapid City Rush. He won a CHL championship as a player when he was captain of the 1996-1997 Fort Worth Fire playing for coach Bill McDonald who was an associate coach in Allen when Mullins was the head coach. While Mullins firing was a surprise to many it had been rumored in Evansville for a couple of weeks. After getting off to a reasonable start at the beginning of the season Evansville fell on hard time recently as they won just one game in the month of December going 1-11 with seven of the losses coming at home.

- The new Evansville coach is Al Sims (age 61) who played in 475 NHL games and was Bobby Orr's defense partner for a few years. He has a long coaching resume including as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks and one year as the head coach of the San Jose Sharks. He was the head coach for the Fort Wayne Komets for many years including 2007-2012 when he won four championships in five years. Despite their poor record in December, Evansville is only four points out of a playoff spot and Sims said in an interview he is not coming in to make wholesale changes to the team.  He feels they can win with the players they currently have. That is good news for three former Allen Americans on the Evansville roster, Jarret Lukin, Kale Kerbashian and Jim McKenzie. Kerbashian is the second leading scorer on the team (9 goals 11 assists) and Lukin is an alternate captain. Lukin has been out with injuries most of December as according to a fan message board he broke his thumb in early December, came back for a few games and then took a shot to the foot and has been out ever since. Jim McKenzie was traded to Evansville from Bakersfield around Thanksgiving and has been with the IceMen for this prolonged slump and has only one goal in fifteen games. Hope for the players sake the new coach can get things turned around quickly.

- You can't say Richard Matvichuk isn't doing everything possible to get the Missouri Mavericks on track. With a couple of changes this week he has now had 40 different players on the Mavericks roster. The Allen Americans have had 26.

DID YOU KNOW: Last year the ECHL scoring leader was Brandon Marino with 88 points. Jack Combs is on pace to score 128 points and Chad Costello is on pace to score 121 points this season.

1 comment:

  1. I have often wondered why Martinson has not been promoted up to coach in the AHL of even NHL. With so much success it seems like the chance would come at some point.