ALLEN, TX – The Allen Americans and Rapid City Rush resume their three-game series tonight with a puck drop at 8:05 pm CST. Allen won the first game of the series 5-4 in overtime on Wednesday in a game where the Americans did not play their best put found a way to win. To be successful tonight Allen needs to reduce the number of turnovers, especially in their defensive zone, and do a better job of winning battles for the puck.
– You never know how games will turn out but this game is set up to potentially be a great one by the Americans. They are rested having a day off between games, Riley Gill will most likely be in goal after coming in after the second period on Wednesday. Riley has played only 83 minutes of hockey since the end of December. It was good for him to play in relief on Wednesday and he was outstanding stopping all 11 shots he faced in the third period and overtime. If Gill is fully recovered from his recent injury and illness and gets the start tonight it will be a big boost to the team.
– Kale Kerbashian may also get a start tonight. Coach Steve Martinson said after the game on Wednesday the team needs to get more production from the second and third lines. Kerbashian could help provide that production. Kale always seems to play well against his former teams at least that was the case when he played against Allen. Kerbashian spent parts of two seasons with Rapid City and averaged a point a game.
– Jon Martin has one game under his belt since being assigned by San Jose. Martin was a healthy scratch a lot with the Barracuda and had just one practice with Allen before playing on Wednesday. It is typical to take a few games to get acclimated and get going but look for Martin to contribute sooner rather than later.
– Harrison Ruopp has been loaned to San Jose and will not be in the lineup tonight. This is the second time Ruopp has been loaned to the Barracuda. He played three games for San Jose earlier in the season.
– Allen came from behind on Wednesday to win the game but that is a rare occurrence. For both of these teams a good start is essential and playing from behind is a recipe for defeat. I mentioned this yesterday but it is worth repeating. Allen’s record when scoring first is 22-2-1-1 and Rapid City’s is 11-4-5-0. When tied after the first period Allen is 11-0-0-0. When leading after the first period Allen is 17-2-1-1 and Rapid City is 11-1-3-0. When trailing after the first period Allen is 2-14-1-1 and Rapid City is 1-11-3-0. The stats speak for themselves and say loud and clear if you don’t get off to a good start and get behind you are going to lose.
– Special teams are always a key and the Americans won that battle on Wednesday going 2-4 on the power play and allowing the Rush no goals on two power play opportunities. The Allen power play has converted at 23.4% over the last 10 games but has been inconsistent scoring multiple power play goals in one game and then going 0-7 in the next. Coach Martinson would like to see more shots from the point with players in front of the net and then try to make plays off the rebounds.
– Officials scheduled for the game are referee Oliver Gouin (#9) and linesmen Cade Bloomenrader (#91) and Logan Bellgraph (#0). Gouin was the referee on Wednesday.
– Colorado is in Wichita to play the Thunder tonight and Saturday and the Eagles have won seven games in a row. Allen will have to win to keep pace with Colorado. The Americans and Eagles are tied for the division lead with 64 points.
– Aaron Dell posted these videos on his Facebook page and it was fun to watch especially if you are old enough to have played with this equipment. It is not a new video but if you haven’t viewed it before it will bring a smile to your face.
– Seeing the official attendance announced in Rapid City on Wednesday at 1741 was disheartening when you think back to the CHL days and the fan base the Rush enjoyed. The team has struggled on the ice not making the playoffs last season and most likely again this season. Attendance is down 14.3% from last season and the average is just 3185. This is a team that averaged close to 5000 per game just a few years ago and remember the population of Rapid City is around 70,000. Rapid City has been a great rivalry for the Allen Americans dating back to 2009-10 when the Rush beat Allen in the Presidents’ Cup finals. You can only hope things get turned around for the Rush and the financial health of the organization improves.
DID YOU KNOW: Allen has gotten off to slow starts a lot this year and the team has a history of slow starts and strong finishes. Here are the goals for and against by period this season. Pretty much makes the case. Not sure if the team isn’t ready to play that causes the poor starts but the third-period goal differential shows just how good this team can be.
1st Period – Allen has scored 53 goals but allowed 55 goals for a goal differential of -2
2nd Period – Allen has scored 54 goals and allowed 50 goals for a goal differential of +4
3rd Period – Allen has scored 75 goals and allowed 40 goals for a goal differential of +35