Friday, November 6, 2015

Allen vs Rapid City Game Preview And Other Musings

- There is always something a little extra going on when the Allen Americans play the Rapid Rush and at least for the fans that continues despite the change of leagues from the CHL to the ECHL and the fact that they are now in different divisions. These two teams have had some epic battles dating back to Allen's first season when they met in the championship final. The Americans won game one and were within 39 seconds of taking game two on the road when the Rush pulled their goalie, tied the game with an extra attacker and won the game in overtime. Allen fell behind in the series 3-2 with game six in Rapid City. Allen took a 3-0 lead but the Rush came back scoring two goals in the last five minutes of the game to tie the score and then won the game and the championship with 32 seconds left in the second overtime.

- When Allen played Rapid City last year in the division finals some fans still had that 2010 final loss on their minds.  Nothing as dramatic as 2010 but the Americans prevailed winning in six games on their way to the the Kelly Cup championship.

- Another interesting part of the Allen vs Rapid City dynamic is the fact that so many players who have played in Allen end up in Rapid City. Just in the last year the list includes Daniel Tetrault, Dallas Ehrhardt, Steve Kaunisto, Raphael Girard, Kale Kerbashian, Nolan Descoteaux and Garrett Clarke. Kerbashian, Descoteaux, and Clarke are on the Rush roster this season but Kerbashian is on the 21 day injured reserve so he won't be playing in the games this weekend.

- Allen will only play Rapid City four times this season and just once at home (December 4). After the games tonight (Friday) and tomorrow, they will return to Rapid City on March 6th as part of a long (2250 miles) two game road trip with back to back games in Colorado and then Rapid City.

- Last season between the regular season and playoffs, Allen had a record of 12-6 against Rapid City going 8-2 at home and 4-4 in Rapid City.

- Here is how Allen and Rapid City match up so far this season:

                                     ALLEN                                RAPID CITY

Team Record               5-3-0-0 (10 points)               4-3-0-0 (6 points)
Division Ranking        2nd - Central                        4th -West
Conference Ranking   2nd - Western                       10th - Western
League Ranking         4th                                         17th
Last Game                  3-1 L (@Tulsa)                     5-1 W (Alaska)
Goals For                   22                                           18
Goals Against            19                                           22
Power Play                10.8% (4/37)                          13.0% (3/23)
Penalty Kill               93.1% (2/29)                          77.8% (4/18)

-  Here is how Allen and Rapid City rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 16th (13.88) - Rapid City 22nd (13.00)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 14th (2.75) - Rapid City 16th (2.57)
Goals Allowed per Game: Allen 6th (2.38) - Rapid City 20th (3.14)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 22nd (10.8%) - Rapid City 21st (13.0%)
Penalty Kill Percentage; Allen 1st (93.1%) - Rapid City 20th (77.8%)

- It seems like it is the case in every game recently, the team that gets off to the best start wins the game. The Americans and the Rush are a combined 7-0 on the season when scoring the first goal.

- If you are looking for an advantage on special teams it would be on the penalty kill. While both of these teams have struggled on the power play (ranked 21st & 22nd in the ECHL) Allen has the best penalty kill in the league while the Rush penalty kill is ranked 20th. Winning the special teams battle usually translates into winning the game. While the Rush power play is at 13.0% overall they are #1 at home (2-5, 40.0%) and #22 on the road (1-18, 5.6%).

- Not having Kale Kerbashian in the line up will certainly hurt Rapid City, especially against Allen, as Kale has played extremely well whenever he has played the Americans. If you remember, Kale scored on his first shot, on his first shift, in his first game, when he returned to the Allen Event Center as a member of the Rapid City Rush.

- It will be interesting to see what kind of mischief Garrett Clarke gets into this weekend with his former teammates. Clarke has said his role in Rapid City is more of a play maker than a fighter and thus far it seems to be working. In two games since joining the Rush he has two points and no penalty minutes. If you combine Garrett's stats for the season he has just as many points as he does penalty minutes. In five games he has four points (1 goal 3 assists) and just two minor penalties for four minutes.

- The Americans will be missing Gary Steffes (loaned to San Jose Barracuda) who is tied with Greger Hanson for the team lead in goals with three. Fortunately goal scoring thus far for Allen has been evenly distributed with 14 different players having at least one goal.

- Allen has a history of playing well on the road. This year their road record is 3-2. Rapid City is 2-1 at home.

- Officials scheduled for the game tonight are referee Zak Blazic (#9) and linesmen Dylan Pepper (#77) and Cade Bloomenradar (#91).

- Rapid City is averaging just 3440 in attendance in their first three home games. The attendance has declined in Rapid City every year since the Rush averaged 4923 in 2010-11. Last season the average was 3856.

-  Some other games to keep an eye on tonight include Wichita at Quad City and Tulsa at Colorado which have Central Division implications. In addiction, Adirondack will attempt to tie the all time record (8-0) for wins to start the season when they visit the Cincinnati Cyclones and two of the best teams from last season (both had over 100 points) play tonight when Toledo travels to Fort Wayne to take on the Komets.

- The Central Division has a winning record when playing games outside their division. The four teams in the Central Division have only played teams in the Midwest and West Divisions thus far. They are 4-3 versus the Midwest Division and 7-1 against the West Division.

DID YOU KNOW: Canadian players make up 51.7% of all ECHL players but just 42.9% of the Allen Americans players. The Allen roster has 52.4% from the US and 4.8% (Greger Hanson) from Sweden.

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