ALLEN, Texas – It has been a long time coming, since March 7, 2020, to be exact, for game day at the Allen Event Center (AEC) but it has finally arrived. It has been a long and difficult journey and the game experience will be very different but when the players take the ice the hockey will be the same and that is exciting. There are several subplots in this two-game series (Friday & Saturday) against the Rapid City Rush.
– Playing the Rush always brings out the intensity that started way back in Allen’s first season in 2009-10. Rapid City beat Allen in the finals of the Central Hockey League championship and a rivalry was born. When Daniel Tetrault, who won his only professional championship as a player in 2013-14 with Allen, became head coach in Rapid City (2017-18), it added another dimension to the rivalry. Tetrault’s teams play a similar style to Steve Martinson’s teams as evidenced by the fact in 2018-19 Allen was #1 in the ECHL in penalty minutes (1691) and Rapid City was #2 (1541).
– Rapid City arrives in Allen with much turmoil on their roster. In the last four days, they have added 11 players to the Commissioner’s Exempt List (Covid related) with one coming off the list (Garrett Klotz). Prior to their road trip to Allen, the Rush added seven new players to their roster including Corey Durocher who they claimed off waivers after Allen released him. Corey will be a player to watch tonight as invariably when this happens the player does well against his old team.
– Last weekend Rapid City opened their season at home and split two games with Utah winning 6-4 on Friday and losing 3-1 on Saturday. Allen opened on the road in Tulsa and lost 4-3.
– Since joining the ECHL, Allen has a record of 32-11-1-0 against Rapid City. Allen’s first game at home last season was also against Rapid City, a 3-2 overtime win. Jordan Topping tied the game late in the third period and then scored the game-winner in overtime.
– Forward Josh Lammon and defenseman Cole Fraser will be in the lineup tonight after sitting out against Tulsa. They replace Dyson Stevenson who is injured and rookie Nolan Kneen. Zach Sawchenko will get his first start in goal. Last season Zach had an 8-2-2-1 record in Allen with a GAA of 2.35 and a .930 save percentage.
– Coach Martinson, as promised, has made some line changes for this game. I would expect the only line that will stay intact is the Lebarge-Lavoie-McGrew line that accounted for six of Allen’s eight points (2G, 4A) in the opening game loss in Tulsa.
– Special teams, scoring first and a good start are always keys to any game and it will be true tonight. Allen scored first in their opening game loss to Tulsa but was outshot in the first period 18-8. They will need a better start tonight. Last weekend Rapid City fell behind 2-0 against Utah in game one and came back to win the game. The Rush scored first in game two and lost the game. So combined, Allen and Rapid City are 0-3 when scoring first this season. I will go out on a limb and predict the team that scores first tonight will win the game.
– Special teams stats are sparse given Allen has played just one game and Rapid City only two. The Americans were 0-2 on the power play and 0-1 on the penalty kill. Rapid City was 1-6 on the power play and 2-9 on the penalty kill. The Rush gave up two power play goals to Utah last weekend but they also scored two shorthanded goals so Allen will have to be aware when they go on the power play tonight.
– If there is one thing that distinguishes a Daniel Tetrault coached team it is how hard they work. They always seem to over-perform.
– If you are attending the game tonight the Allen Americans and the AEC are doing everything in their power to create a safe environment from limiting the number of attendees (no more than 2150) to make sure you can be socially distanced, mandating masks, cashless payments, digital ticketing, and enhanced sanitation to name a few. If you haven’t read the COVID-19 Road Map issued by the team you should check it out before attending a game. Here is the link: https://allenamericans.com/covid-19-roadmap/
– Yesterday the Utah Grizzlies postponed their two games with Tulsa this weekend, per league safety protocols. Here is some information on what has happened in the ECHL thus far related to COVID-19.
12/17 – 13 on, 0 off
2009-10 – Allen started on the road the first season because the Allen Event Center was not completed. The Americans played their first seven games in franchise history on the road. They returned to Allen after those first seven games 5-1-0-1. The home opener was memorable even though the Americans laid an egg, losing to Corpus Christi by a score of 4-1. Two of the goal scorers for Corpus were Chad Costello and future NHLer Ryan Garbutt. That game is mostly remembered for a melee that broke out after the game was over that ended up with 72 penalty minutes being called. A crowd of 5808 witnessed the first home game in team history.
2010-11 – Allen opened at home against Texas, scored three goals (Alexandre Quesnel, Dustin Donaghy, Judd Blackwater) in the first four minutes of the game, and coasted to a 5-2 win. Similar to the year before there was 66 minutes worth of penalties called at the 18:29 mark of the third period including four fighting majors and four game misconducts. Allen got the last laugh as Erik Adams scored an unassisted, shorthanded, empty net goal with under a minute remaining to seal the victory for the Americans.
2011-12 – Allen’s home opener was against Tulsa and the Americans got beat 4-1. Jim McKenzie scored the Americans only goal with just over a minute left in the game. Most notable in that game was a Gordie Howe hat trick by Tulsa’s Gary Steffes who had a goal, an assist, and a fight with Allen’s Scott Langdon.
2012-13 – Allen’s home opener was against Arizona and they shut out the Sundogs 4-0. Scott Howes had two goals in the game. The other goal scorers were Adam Pineault and Darryl Bootland. Steve Silverthorn was in goal and the backup was a rookie by the name of Aaron Dell. Dell would play sparingly the first few weeks of the season but eventually, take over the starting role and lead the Americans to their first championship.
2013-14 -The home opener was an exciting game but the Americans lost to Wichita 4-3 in a shootout. Ironically the two teams had played the season opener the night before in Wichita and Allen had won by an identical score of 4-3 in a shootout. The home opener was a Sunday afternoon game and Allen took a 2-0 lead into the third period only to allow the Thunder to score three unanswered goals to take a 3-2 lead. Tyler Ludwig got the equalizer with less than three minutes remaining n the game. The game would go to a shootout and Allen would manage just one goal (Kale Kerbashian) in seven rounds before Wichita got the game-winner.
2014-15 – The worst home opener ever for Allen as they got beat by Tulsa 9-6. Greger Hanson was the lone bright spot for Allen with a whopping 11 shots on goal, four points, and a hat trick. Aaron Dell was in goal for the Americans and gave up seven of the nine goals. It was Dell’s only regulation loss in the 12 games he played for Allen that season. By the end of January, he was in the AHL on his way to the NHL.
2015-16 – Another home opener loss as the Quad City Mallards came to the Allen Event Center and beat the Americans 2-1. Allen’s lone goal was scored by Garrett Clarke with assists going to Justin Courtnall and goalie Joel Rumpel. You didn’t see those three in the boxscore very often let alone on the same play.
2016-17 – It was a home opener win as Allen beat Missouri 6-3. Kale Kerbashian had two goals. The other goal scorers were Chad Costello, Greger Hanson, Chris Crane, and Eric Roy. Riley Gill had a big night in the win as he was peppered with 47 shots including 19 shots in both the second and third periods.
2017-18 – After two big wins on the road in Rapid City the Americans opened at home against Orlando and beat the Solar Bears 6-2. Zach Pochiro had two goals, David Makowski and Casey Pierro-Zabotel each had three points (1G 2A). This game will always be remembered as the game that ended goalie Riley Gill’s career. With just over six minutes remaining in the game, Riley was injured.
2018-19 – The Allen Americans lost their home opener 4-1 to the Wichita Thunder. The game was a penalty-filled affair with 33 penalties and a total of 112 penalty minutes. When the dust settled there were two roughing calls, 10 fighting majors, and two game misconduct penalties. The #1 star of the game was Wichita captain Dyson Stevenson who scored the first goal of the game, the game-winning goal, and had a fight.
2019-20 – Allen opened the season at home against Rapid City and came away with a 3-2 overtime victory. Jordan Topping tied the score 2-2 with 91 seconds left in the game and then got the game-winning goal at 2:58 of overtime.