ALLEN, Texas – It is game day for Allen as they take on the Rapid City Rush in game two of a three-game series. The Americans are hoping to repeat what happened in their three-game series last weekend when they lost game one and won games two and three. Tonight, Allen will be trying to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time this season.
The head to head stats certainly favor the Americans. In the three games this season against Rapid City, the Americans have the advantage in goals 10-7. Allen has the advantage in shots 114-89 — average shots per game of 38 versus 30. The Americans are 2-11 (18.2%) on the power play versus the Rush 1-10 (10%).
In the 3-2 loss on Wednesday Allen scored both of their goals on special teams with a shorthanded and power-play goal. Even strength, the Rush outscored the Americans 3-0. When I asked coach Steve Martinson about that he had finished reviewing the game video and said one of the things he noticed was the types of shots the team was taking and when they were taking them: shooting when you should have passed and passing when you should have shot. That was going to be the focus at practice yesterday in the hopes of getting more quality shots through to the net.
Allen gave up the first goal on Wednesday and lost the game, which isn’t surprising when you consider the team that scores the first goal wins close to 80 percent of the time. Allen has scored first in six of their nine games and has a record of 5-1-0-0 when scoring first. They lost two of the three games when they gave up the first goal.
Allen’s road penalty kill is 90.9 percent (1-11) compared to Rapid City’s home penalty kill of 75 percent (3-12). The Americans also have the edge on the power play when comparing home versus road stats. Allen on the road is 17.6 percent (3-17), Rapid City at home is 14.3 percent (1-7). Allen had the better special teams on Wednesday despite losing the game. If they can repeat that performance tonight it will go a long way in securing a victory.
C.J. Motte, who missed some time with strep throat and hasn’t started a game since December 19 will be in goal. Motte’s last start was against Rapid City and he was the winner as Allen defeated the Rush 3-2. He stopped 25 of 27 shots in that game for a save percentage of .926.
Tyler Sheehy will try and extend his league longest streak for games with a point (8) and an assist (6). How far does Tyler have to go to match the Americans’ record for consecutive games with a point or consecutive games with an assist? It is no surprise that Chad Costello holds both records. In the 2015-16 season, Chad set both records. He had a total of 29 assists in 19 straight games from February 25 to the end of the season on April 9. Over the same 19 games, he had a total of 32 points.
There are no extra players on the trip and despite some players being banged up coach Martinson expects everyone to play.
Scouting the Opponent
One thing you always hear about Rapid City is they work hard and never give up.
Why is that?
A big reason is their coach, Daniel Tetrault who was that type of player throughout his 15-year professional career. Just as important is the type of roster typically in Rapid City. The Rush roster is not filled with superstars with a ton of AHL experience. The total AHL experience on the team is 284 games and one player (Garrett Klotz) has 55 percent (157 games) of the AHL experience. If you compare that to Allen where 14 of 18 players who are not rookies have played in the AHL and four of their seven rookies are NHL/AHL contracted players assigned to Allen. In my opinion, any independent comparison of the rosters would conclude Allen is the more talented team. Rapid City is full of players without the five-star resumes who have succeeded because they work hard every shift and never give up.
The referee scheduled for the game (Casey Terreri) is the same referee as Wednesday. It is always foolish to predict a low penalty minute game when Allen plays Rapid City but Terreri let the teams play on Wednesday calling just four minor penalties.
– There is a full slate of games in the ECHL tonight. With 13 teams currently playing only Jacksonville is idle. Here is the ECHL Today with a preview of all six games: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2021/1/echl-today-jan-8
– I was listening to the owner of one of the AHL teams that opted out this season talk about all of the additional expenses the team would incur that they wouldn’t have in a normal season. One of the many on the list was the cost for COVID testing to comply with the league testing protocol. It made me realize how much additional expense the ECHL teams have with the requirement to test twice a week. I don’t know all of the details but would estimate testing alone would cost the Americans and all of the teams playing north of $20,000 this season.
Did You Know?
ECHL rosters as of this morning have between 23-27 players including players on the active roster, reserve, and injured reserve. The number of AHL experience on each roster ranges from 177 to 1316. The numbers can be skewed if a team signs a couple of veterans with a lot of AHL experience but here are the number of total games of AHL experience for each team;
1510 – South Carolina
1316 – Florida
950 – Orlando
936 – Jacksonville
793 – Indy
702 – Kansas City
663 – Utah
543 – Allen
536 – Wheeling
518 – Greenville
304 – Wichita
284 – Rapid City
177 – Tulsa
For all things Allen Americans, follow Barry Janssen on Twitter @AllenAmericans1. For the latest stats and trends in the ECHL, follow @ECHLStats. And for the latest news on your favorite AHL & ECHL team, “Like” The Sin Bin on Facebook!