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It was a battle between rust vs rest (Allen) and rest vs momentum (Rapid City) and momentum won out last night as a tired Rapid City Rush team beat the well rested Allen Americans 4-2 before a crowd of 4605 at the Allen Event Center.
It wasn’t that the Americans were outplayed as puck possession and shots on goals were heavily in favor of Allen. The Americans out shot Rapid City 38-22 for the game and 29-11 in the last two periods. However, a few defensive breakdowns gave Rapid City easy scoring chances which they capitalized on.
The Rush got the all important first goal of the game when their hero in game seven on Wednesday against Quad City, Cody Ferriero, scored a power play goal midway through the first period. Gary Steffes got he equalizer at the 17:57 mark of the first period burying a great pass from behind the net by Chris Crane.
With a 1-1 tie after the first period it looked good for the Americans as they typically dominate the second period. As it turned out they did dominate play in the second period with long periods of puck possession and out shooting Rapid City 14-3. Rapid City goalie, Danny Battochio, was outstanding all night but was particularly good in the second period. Despite being out shot 14-3 the Rush scored the only goal of the second period to take a 2-1 lead into the locker room.
When Rush captain Winston Day Chief scored on another great passing play to make the score 3-1 at the 15:08 mark of the third period it looked like the game was over. However, a Rapid City penalty immediately after the Day Chief score led to an Allen power play goal when Spencer Asuchak deflected a Tyler Ludwig shot from the point to cut the Rush lead to 3-2. The Americans pulled goalie Joel Rumpel for an extra attacker and on a play that was indicative of the entire night Allen had just one player at the blue line (Konrad Abeltshauser) who took a shot and broke his stick. With two Rapid City players in control of the puck and only a stick-less Abeltshauser back to defend it was an easy empty net goal for Rush forward Dylan Clarke to make the final score 4-2.
You can’t say the loss last night was a surprise as it was a carbon copy of a year ago when Quad City came to Allen with no rest having won game seven in Rapid City. Allen gave up the first goal of that game, controlled puck possession and out shot Quad City but lost the game by an identical 4-2 score. The Americans have never done well in first games of playoffs. In their back-to-back championships and the two series this year Allen is now 2-6 in first games.
The good news is Allen has never lost a second game in the playoffs since Steve Martinson has been the coach. They are a perfect 7-0. If they can learn from last night and cut down on the defensive mistakes while continuing to keep the pressure on the Rush you have to like their odds of keeping the undefeated second game record in tact.
STEVE MARTINSON’S POST GAME COMMENTS:
– Tonight is obviously not what we wanted. It has been a trait of ours this entire season to out play a team and out play a team and then give up easy scoring chances. We kept trying to make plays but kept shooting pucks into their skates or sticks over and over. Once we got pucks down low and started working them it worked out better. Sometimes you can’t score on the rush and make beautiful passing plays. You need to get the puck in deep and not keep trying to force it. You have to take what the other team gives you.
– On their first goal on the power play all four of our penalty killers were not strong and we gave them a great scoring chance which they converted. It wasn’t that Rapid City made a great play, it was us not playing hard enough.
– On the Rush second goal we ended up with two defensemen on the same guy and we don’t finish a check so their player holds the puck and then we have a third forward go in and he tries to hit the guy. At that point we just need to defend as we had a breakdown. The guy that had the puck was the least likely to score but everyone went at him and left the guys in front of the net all alone. I think Rapid City had just three shots in the second period but with 90 seconds left in the period we just hand them a great opportunity.
– The same thing with third goal for Rapid City. It is a three on three and one of our guys doesn’t back check and the puck lands right on their leading scorers stick.
– We gave them three great scoring chances on their three goals which were much better then the scoring chances they gave us.
– I give the Rush credit as they played hard and their goalie had an outstanding game. We need to get more traffic in front of the net when we are even strength and on the power play. The power play goal we got was a shot from the point with Asuchak in front of the goalie. We need more of that.
– It is frustrating when a team comes in here after we have a break and wins the game in the third period. But it is not a best of one and we need to stay positive and learn from our mistakes. We had the puck a lot more than they did.
– Tomorrow night we need to keep the pace up, be physical, and get more guys screening in front of the net so the goalie can’t see the puck.
– With Worcester losing tonight I will have a conversation with them in the morning and see if Dell or Schwartz will be coming to Allen. The soonest anyone would be here is for the games in Rapid City next week.
– The empty net goal at the end of the game was also a breakdown as we ended up with only one guy at the point. We had one defenseman in front of the net and the other with a broken stick.
– Gary Steffes has a goal in five of the six playoff games played thus far by Allen.
– Spencer Asuchak leads Allen in playoff scoring with nine points (4 goals 5 assists) in six games. Spencer has at least one point in five of six playoff games.
– Daniel Tetrault and Kale Kerbashian did not play in the game last night. Kerbashian, who is out with an injury, did not even make the trip to Allen.
– The attendance in Allen last night (4605) was the largest of the three second round opening nights. Allen is now averaging 4037 for the playoffs compared to a league wide average of 3358.
DID YOU KNOW: Momentum is more important than rest in the playoffs if you go by the results last night. There were four teams that won game seven series on Wednesday night. One in the NHL (Tampa Bay) and three in the ECHL (Rapid City, South Carolina and Toledo). All four won last night on short rest against teams that were more rested.
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