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ALLEN, TX – It is game day for the Allen Americans as the Rapid City Rush are in town to try and get their first win for coach Daniel Tetrault against the team he helped lead to a championship back in 2013-14. It was the only championship for Daniel in his 15-year pro career so you know Allen holds a special place for him.

– The game tonight will be the fifth of eight games Allen will play Rapid City this season. The Americans have had their way with the Rush in the first four meetings, winning all four and outscoring Rapid City 24-11. But before anyone thinks the task will be easy tonight because of Allen’s success in the past and the fact Rapid City is mired in last place in the division, remember these teams haven’t played each other since the first of December and if you look at their records over the past 10 games Rapid City is 5-3-2-0 and Allen is 2-8-0-0.

– The Rush have the current ECHL Goalie of the Week and Player of the Week. Goalies Adam Vay won three games last week, had a GAA of 2.29 and a save percentage of .951. Forward Peter Sivak scored five goals, added six assists and was a +6 last week to win Player of the Week honors.

– Meanwhile, Allen will try to break a four-game losing streak tonight and will do so without Olivier Archambault who has been loaned to the Syracuse Crunch (AHL).  Olivier has been Allen’s best player though he has played in only 19 games because of time spent in the AHL. In those 19 games, Archambault has 31 points (13 goals 18 assists) and leads the ECHL in average points per game (1.63).

– Since joining the ECHL Allen’s record against Rapid City is 19-6-1-0. At the Allen Event Center the record is 9-3-1-0.

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

RAPID CITY ALLEN
Team Record 13-24-2-0 (28 points) 20-16-4-1 (45 points)
Division Ranking 7th – Mountain 4th – Mountain
Conference Ranking 13th – Western 9th – Western
Last Game 6-3 Loss to Utah 4-1 Loss to Fort Wayne
Goals For/Against 114/159 139/134
Power Play 16.8% (24/143) 19.9% (37/86)
Penalty Kill  81.4% (34/183) 80.6% (37/191)
Leading Scorer Sivak (14-23-37) Pierro-Zabotel (12-35-47)
PIMs Leader Sdao (85 minutes)  Moore (127 minutes)

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (23.61) – Rapid City 3rd (19.10)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 8th (3.39) – Rapid City 23rd (2.92)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 17th (3.27) – Rapid City 26th (4.08)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 16th (31.95) – Rapid City 26th (28.36)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 24th (37.24) – Rapid City 19th (33.72)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 5th (19.9%) – Rapid City 16th (16.8%)
Home Power Play %: Allen 3rd (21.1%) – Rapid City 26th (12.0%)
Road Power Play %: Allen 11th (18.7%) – Rapid City 3rd (23.3%)
Penalty Kill Percentage; Allen 22nd (80.6%) – Rapid City 18th (81.4%)
Home Penalty Kill %: Allen 2nd (87.4%) – Rapid City 15th (82.5%)
Road Penalty Kill %: Allen 27th (74.0%) – Rapid City 26th (78.8%)

– More than normal, I think the overall special teams stats are out the window for this game because both of these teams vary so dramatically when playing at home and on the road. Allen has struggled on the penalty kill on the road ranked dead last in the ECHL at 74.0% but at home, they are ranked #2 at 87.4%. Rapid City has the #26 ranked penalty kill on the road at 78.8%.

On the power play, Allen is 19.9% at home while Rapid City is #26 at home (12.0%) but #3 (23.3%) on the road. Special teams will, as always, play a critical role in the game tonight.

– The chance of fisticuffs will be high tonight. Both of these teams are in the top five in the ECHL in fights and have lots of players willing to drop the gloves. Rapid City has had 35 fighting majors and 15 players have been involved in at least one fight. Anthony Collins leads the Rush with six fights. Allen has 33 fighting majors with 15 different players involved in at least one fight this season. Mike Gunn and Josh Thrower lead Allen with five fighting majors each.

– A good start will be key for both teams, but especially for Allen who is not as dominant as they were earlier in the season but still are 15-4-1-0 when scoring the first goal of the game. When they trail after the first period the Americans and Rush have not shown the ability to come back. They have a combined record of 4-21-3-0. I would say a good start is critical.

– If you are looking for players to watch in the game tonight, Bryan Moore has four goals in four games against Rapid City and Casey Pierro-Zabotel has 10 points (2 goals 8 assists). For Rapid City, keep an eye on Peter Sivak (#91) who has five goals in his last four games and two hat tricks this month alone. Rapid City’s rookie ECHL All-Star Dante Salituro (#15) had a hat trick on Saturday to break out of a long goal-scoring drought so he is another player to keep an eye on.

– Officials scheduled for the game are referee Chris Pontes (#12) and linesmen Brian Bull (#95) and Aaron Schacht (#31).

OTHER COMMENTS

– Who would have thought the next Allen Americans player to dress for an NHL game would be Allen’s often used EBUG (emergency backup goalie) Thomas Hodges? The Plano West graduate has helped out the Americans many times over the past couple of years at practice and when they needed an EBUG because of injuries. Thomas actually played 50 seconds in the 2016 New Year’s Eve game. With Allen leading 8-4 against Utah, starting goalie Jamie Murray came up with a stiff back with 50 seconds remaining in the game. An EBUG can only play if there is an injury to the other goalie. Thomas didn’t get a save but made his pro debut which was a big thrill.

If you were watching the Dallas Stars play the Florida Panthers last night you saw Panthers’ goalie James Reimer get injured early in the first period. Because Reimer could not return the NHL emergency goalie plan went into effect. It is a pretty elaborate plan which entails the home team having an emergency back up goalie on hand who can play for either team. Last night, that was Hodges who was the backup goalie for the Florida Panthers. He didn’t sit on the bench but was dressed and ready to go in the tunnel. Just think, when the Americans hang a banner in the AEC of players that made it from the Allen Americans to the NHL it will include the names Jordie Benn, Aaron Dell and now Thomas Hodges. What a great experience for the young goaltender.

Here is the complete story written by Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News complete with a picture of Thomas in his Florida Panthers gear. https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-stars/stars/2018/01/23/stars-notebook-nhls-emergency-goalie-plan-put-effect-after-injury-panthersjames-reimer

–  If you have been reading about the tragic death of 32-year-old Andrew Carroll, you cannot help but be touched by all of the tributes to him from all over the hockey world. It is clear he was a special person who would do anything to help others on his team and in the community. Connor Reilly described Andrew as a special mentor, friend, and leader who was always willing to help others. Aaron Gens worked with Andrew at some hockey camps in Minnesota and described him as a Christian athlete that was a great hockey player and an even better person.

After practice yesterday I was talking to Steve Martinson about Carroll since he had recruited him in the past. Our conversation turned to CTE and the number of players that have suffered from depression after their playing careers were over. I know coach Martinson has lost teammates/friends who suffered from depression and committed suicide. I have no idea what the circumstances were surrounding Carroll but the conversation with coach Martinson inspired me to do some research on CTE when I got home. I came across this article published just last Thursday that suggests CTE is caused by repeated head injuries, not by concussions. So much more needs to be learned about CTE but this study suggests the focus on preventing concussions needs to be replaced by an effort to reduce the number of head impacts. https://www.bu.edu/today/2018/cte-caused-by-head-injuries/

– Researchers are getting closer to being able to diagnose CTE in living persons. Since CTE causes Alzheimer’s like symptoms including memory loss, aggression, rage and at times suicidal behavior this would be a big breakthrough. Here is a recent article talking about this research. https://www.cnn.com/2017/09/26/health/researchers-identify-cte-biomarker-that-may-lead-to-diagnosis-while-alive/index.html

DID YOU KNOW: Andrew Carroll played his college hockey at the University of Minnesota-Dultuh (UMD) where he was the only player in the 74 year history of the UMD hockey program to hold some type of team captaincy parts of four different seasons. He was also a three-time WCHA All-Academic team honoree. He was a well traveled player having spent time in Charlotte, Greenville, Bakersfield and Idaho in the ECHL and Connecticut, Hershey, Abbotsford, Peoria, and Hartford in the AHL. Of the many tributes to Andrew Carroll this one written by Brian McCormack from the Idaho Steelheads captures the essence of the player and the man.  https://www.idahosteelheads.com/blog/steelheads-news/remembering-andrew-carroll/

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