Friday, December 1, 2017

Allen vs Rapid City Game Preview, Roster Update, Mountain Division Matchups & Allen's Plus/Minus Leaders

It is game day for the Allen Americans as they take on the Rapid City Rush tonight in the first of two games (they also play Saturday night) at the Allen Event Center (AEC). It is the third meeting this season between these teams having played the first two in Rapid City on opening weekend. Allen won those games 8-3 and 5-3.

- It is easy to look at the standings and see Rapid City in last place in the Mountain Division and draw the conclusion they are not a very good team. After the two games in Rapid City on opening weekend they weren't a very good team and coach Daniel Tetrault was quoted as saying "we will get this turned around" and that is exactly what has happened. Here are the facts.

Rapid City has an overall record of 7-10 but they started the season 0-5. Since then their record is 7-5.

Rapid City gave up 26 goals in their first five games for an average of 5.2 per game. In their last 12 games they have given up 33 goals for an average of 2.75.

In the last 10 games Rapid City has earned 12 points in the standings with a record of 6-4. That is more points than Utah (9) and Tulsa (8), the same number of points earned by Allen (12), one fewer than earned by Colorado (13) and just two points fewer than earned by Idaho (14).

The facts show Rapid City has been playing good hockey since that horrible 0-5 start. History would say the Rush got so far behind at the start of the season they will not make the playoffs but this Daniel Tetrault coached team should not be underestimated.

- As for Allen, they go into the game tonight without the two stars of the opening weekend wins against Rapid City. Olivier Archambault had seven points (2 goals 5 assists) and was a +7. He was so impressive in those first two games of the season, Archambault was loaned to the San Jose Barracuda (AHL) and has never returned to Allen. The other star that opening weekend was Zach Pochiro who had six points (3 goals 3 assists) and was also +7. Zach has not played since November 5 because of a hand injury and coach Martinson shared with me yesterday his injury will require surgery so Pochiro will be out an extended period of time.

In addition to Archambault and Pochiro the Americans will also be missing Vincent Areseneau (suspension), Dalton Thrower (injury), Zach Hall (injury) and Riley Gill (injury) this weekend. Peter MacArthur is day to day so he may play one or both nights but will be a game time decision.

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

                                     ALLEN                                RAPID CITY

Team Record               10-6-2-1 (23 points)             7-10-0-0 (14 points)
Division Ranking         4th - Mountain                      7th - Mountain
Conference Ranking   6th - Western                       13th - Western
League Ranking         11th                                       24th
Last Game                  5-1 Loss (@Idaho)                2-1 Win (Tulsa)
Goals For                    63                                         48
Goals Against             58                                          59
Power Play                 17.2% (16/93)                       12.1% (8/66)
Penalty Kill                 82.6% (16/92)                        90.8% (8/87)
Most PIMs                  Arseneau (56 minutes)          Sdao (38 minutes)
Leading Scorer          Pierro-Zabotel (4-16-20)        Salituro (8-8-16)

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (25.53) - Rapid City 9th (17.71)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 11th (3.32) - Rapid City 22nd (2.82)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 10th (3.05) - Rapid City 20th (3.47)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 13th (32.58) - Rapid City 24th (29.24)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 23rd (35.53) - Rapid City 6th (29.82)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 12th (17.2%) - Rapid City 24th (12.1%)
Penalty Kill Percentage; Allen 18th (82.6%) - Rapid City 2nd (90.8%)

- Allen has fared well against Rapid City since joining the ECHL. The Americans record against the Rush is 17-6-1-0. If you look just at the games played at the AEC the record is 7-3-1-0.  

- More than normal I think the stats above are pretty much out the window for this game for a couple of reasons. First, Rapid City is a different team now than at the beginning of the season. Second, the special teams stats are lot different if you look at home and away percentages. Allen has struggled on the penalty kill on the road ranked dead last in the ECHL at 72.2% but at home they are ranked #2 at 91.8%. Rapid City has the #2 ranked penalty kill in the league (90.8%) but on the road their percentage is 82.6%. On the power play Allen is 18.8% at home while Rapid City is 14.3% on the road. Special teams will, as always, play a critical role in the game tonight. Despite winning both games in Rapid City on opening weekend and outscoring the Rush 13-6 the Americans did not have a power play goal and went 0-9. Winning the special teams battle will be a key to victory tonight and the chance of fisticuffs is very high. Both of these teams are in the top five in the ECHL in fights and have lots of players willing to drop the gloves. Allen has had 10 different players involved in at least one fight this season while Rapid City has 11 players fight at least once.

- A good start will be key for both teams but especially for Allen who is 8-0 when scoring first. Rapid City is 5-5 when scoring first. When they trail after the first period the Americans and Rush have not won a game. They have a combined record of 0-10-2-0. I would say a good start is critical.

- It is difficult to tell where Allen's goal scoring will come from tonight. Goals could come from any of the three lines and most of the defensemen. This stat will show you just how balanced goal scoring has been this season. Allen's top two goals scorers, Pochiro (7 goals) and Arseneau (6 goals) will not play. Jonathan Lessard is third in goals scored (5), five players have four goals, four have three goals and four have two goals. Unlike last season when Allen had two players in the top eight in goals scored in the ECHL (Costello & Hanson) the Americans will have a lineup tonight with no player in the top 85 in goals scored in the ECHL.

- Goalies Stephon Williams and Jeremy Brodeur have both played well when given the opportunity so you can expect each will get a game this weekend.

- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Alex Normandin (#26) and linesmen Aaron Schacht (#31) and Cameron Dykstra (#0).


- There will be a Hockey 101 session in the season ticket holders lounge tonight conducted from 6:05 to 6:30. Game host Kayla McLain will join players Zach Hall and Zach Pochiro for the session. Steve Martinson will not be participating as indicated earlier but will address season ticket holders after the game.

- Other action in the Mountain Division tonight has Utah at Colorado and Idaho hosting Tulsa. Colorado and Idaho will be big favorites playing at home against lower ranked teams. Allen will have to win against Rapid City to keep pace in the standings.

- Have had several questions about a transaction that showed up yesterday. For those of you that track ECHL transaction you undoubtedly saw that goalie Antoine Bibeau was assigned to Allen from San Jose (AHL) by San Jose (NHL). Also yesterday, this was put out by the San Jose Barracuda Director of Media Relations in his weekly blog. "Head coach Roy Sommer revealed goaltender Troy Grosenick was going to have minor surgery following last Sunday's game that will hold the goaltender out for the next couple of weeks. With Martin Jones being dinged up as well with the Sharks, San Jose (NHL) recalled Antoine Bibeau following Sundays win over San Diego (AHL), but Bibeau has since been reassigned to the AHL and should start for the Barracuda this coming Sunday."

Not sure why Bibeau showed up on ECHL transactions but it is obvious with the injuries in San Jose and the comments from the Barracuda he will not be coming to Allen.

- Here is a link to Nick Nollenberger's Weekly Broadcast Blog referenced above. Nick covers all things San Jose Barracuda:

DID YOU KNOW: Olivier Archambault played only two games for Allen before being call up by the Barracuda and Zach Pochiro played in only 11 games before being sidelined by injury. However, based on their outstanding play in the first two games of the season in Rapid City when they were both +7 they lead the Americans in that stat. Here are the top eight players in plus/minus.

+7 - Olivier Archambault
+7 - Zach Pochiro
+6 - Casey Pierro-Zabotel
+5 - Dalton Thrower
+5 - Joel Chouinard
+3 - Eric Roy
+3 - Zach Hall
+3 - David Makowski

If you are interested in the ECHL leader in plus/minus it is forward Caleb Herbert from Greenville who is +17.

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