ALLEN, TX – The Allen Americans will try and extend their five game win streak tonight (8:05 pm CDT) as they take on the Rapid City Rush at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. It will be the eighth and final meeting of the season between these teams and the first time the Americans have been in Rapid City since the opening weekend when they beat the Rush 8-3 and 5-3.
– Allen has won five games in a row and is battling for a playoff spot. Rapid City has lost six in a row, will finish last in the division and is playing for pride and jobs for next season. Of their previous seven games this season Allen has won six, outscored the Rush 35-20 and out shot Rapid City 264-238. Since joining the ECHL Allen’s overall record against the Rush is 21-7-1-0 and in Rapid City, it is 10-3-0-0.
– To make matters worse for Rapid City they had their top goalie (Adam Vay) and forward Pavel Jenys called up by their AHL affiliate (Iowa Wild) on Monday. ECHL All-Star Dante Salituro and top defenseman Matt Caito have been with the Wild for a couple of weeks. Allen will be missing Olivier Archambault, Alex Schoenborn, Colby McAuley and Stephon Williams who are all on AHL assignments.
– Here is how Allen and Rapid City match up so far this season:
|Team Record||30-24-4-2 (66 points)||20-36-3-2 (45 points)|
|Division Ranking||4th – Mountain||7th – Mountain|
|Conference Ranking||7th – Western||13th – Western|
|Last Game||7-4 Win (Utah)||6-1 Win (Colorado)|
|Power Play||16.5% (43/260)||15.7% (34/216)|
|Penalty Kill||81.0% (51/268)||82.6% (46/265)|
|Most PIMs||Moore (189 minutes)||Klotz (109 minutes)|
|Leading Scorer||Pierro-Zabotel (17-41-58)||Sivak (20-28-48)|
– Here is how Allen and Rapid City rank in the ECHL in key statistical categories:
|Penalty Minutes Per Game||1st (21.25)||8th (17.11)|
|Goals Scored Per Game||10th (3.30)||26th (2.72)|
|Goals Allowed Per Game||15th (3.17)||25th (3.74)|
|Shots For Per Game||20th (31.30)||27th (28.61)|
|Shots Against Per Game||23rd (36.32)||21st (34.21)|
|Power Play Percentage||18th (17.0%)||21st (15.7%)|
|Home Power Play %||11th (18.7%)||24th (13.9%)|
|Road Power Play %||20th (14.6%)||9th (17.8%)|
|Penalty Kill Percentage %||21st (81.0%)||15th (82.6%)|
|Home Penalty Kill %||12th (84.5%)||14th (83.3%)|
|Road Penalty Kill %||25th (77.7%)||16th (81.8%)|
– The special teams stats above show both teams are struggling but if you look at recent performance it is a different picture. During their five game win streak Allen is only 10.5% (2-19) on the power play but 91.3% (2-23) on the penalty kill. During Rapid City’s six game losing streak they are 11.8% (2-17) on the power play but just 70% (6-20) on the penalty kill. Allen needs to capitalize on special teams if they expect to win.
– Both of these teams have plenty of players willing to drop the gloves and Rapid City just signed former Allen tough guy Garrett Klotz after he was released by Kansas City. Klotz had two fights in Colorado on Sunday as the Rush lost 6-1 to the Eagles. There were 10 fighting majors in that game. The last time Allen played Rapid City (March 3rd) there were three fights in the game. Allen will probably be playing tonight with only nine forwards. They have been playing hard-nosed hockey without a lot of fights the last few games. That may be the formula for success tonight.
– A good start in the game tonight will be key for both teams. In six of the seven games, they have played this season the team that scored first won. On the road, Allen is 9-3 when leading after one period and 3-9 when trailing after the first period. At home Rapid City is 8-4 when leading after one period, 1-6-1-0 when trailing after one period and 0-11 when trailing after two periods.
– Allen’s goal distribution during their five game win streak is five goals in the first period, nine in the second period and five in the third period.
– If you are looking for players to watch in the game tonight number one would be Zach Pochiro who has feasted against the Rush. Zach has averaged over two points a game in the five games he has played against Rapid City with three goals and eight assists to go along with a plus/minus of +12. Bryan Moore has five goals in seven games against Rapid City and Casey Pierro-Zabotel has 10 points (2 goals 8 assists). For Rapid City keep an eye on leading scorer Peter Sivak (#91) and Daniel Leavens (#23) who always seems to do well against his old teammates.
– Officials scheduled for the game are referee Andrea Barone (#15) and linesmen Cade Bloomenrader (#91) and Chase Wilkinson (#59).
– Jake Paterson was one of the runners up for ECHL Goalie of the Week last week. Jake was 3-0-0 with a GAA of 2.35 and a .926 save percentage. Alex Guptill was a runner up for Player of the Week. Alex had six points in three games (2 goals 4 assists).
– In case you didn’t see the news release issued by the ECHL yesterday it was full of news. St. John’s, Newfoundland was approved as a new franchise and will start to play in 2018-19. Not that Allen will have to play in St. John’s but it is 3000 miles from Allen. Quad City will cease operations after this season and the area could be without hockey for the first time in 23 years. Allen recently traded future considerations to Quad City for Tristan King and that could have been a player at the end of the season. With the Mallards folding the Americans will save whatever that future consideration was as part of the King trade. Finally, the ECHL announced new division realignments. Kansas City is back in the Mountain Division after one year in the Central Division to replace Colorado who is moving to the AHL. Here is the news release with the details: https://www.echl.com/board-governors-approves-changes-2018-19-season
– Here is an article about the history of hockey in St. John’s, the ownership group, the affiliation with the Toronto Maple Leafs and other background info: http://www.thetelegram.com/sports/hockey/its-a-done-deal-st-johns-to-join-echl-beginning-next-season-193190
– Darryl “Booter” Bootland was released by the Orlando Solar Bears yesterday and if he doesn’t get claimed off of waivers it could be the end of the line for the 36 year old veteran with over 900 pro games under his belt including 32 NHL games. Bootland was part of two championship teams in Allen and won the Kelly Cup in Colorado last season. He has always been a fan favorite wherever he has played and went out of his way to interact with his young fans. If this is the end of his playing career he will be missed.
– Marcus Basara, who Allen traded to Wheeling for forward J.C. Campagna was released on Monday.
– With four teams (Wichita, Allen, Tulsa, Utah) fighting four two playoff spots in the Mountain Division, it is a good time to remember the first tie breaker if teams are tied is regular season wins excluding shootout wins. Here are the shootout records for the four teams with their adjusted wins in parentheses:
1-2 – Wichita (31 wins)
3-2 – Allen (27 wins)
0-8 – Tulsa (27 wins)
2-6 – Utah (23 wins)
Allen has 12 games remaining, Utah 11, Wichita 10 and Tulsa 10.
DID YOU KNOW: Last season Allen had seven forwards that played at least 50 games for the Americans. So far this season there is only one (Casey Pierro-Zabotel) and the most that will reach that number is three. Point being the Allen Americans had a more consistent lineup up front last season.