ECHL: Rapid City Rush are Preparing for a Must-Win Series Against Allen Americans

Photo Credit: @rapidcityrush on Instagram

The Rapid City Rush will welcome the Allen Americans to town this week for a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday series. The Rush enter this weekend having played 63 games with nine games remaining in the regular season. Through the 63 games, the Rush are 30-32-1-0 with 61 points and a 0.484 win percentage. The Rush sit sixth in the Mountain Division, while the Allen Americans sit fifth, one point ahead of the Rush. The Americans have played 62 games, with ten remaining in the regular season. Through the 62 games, the Americans are 30-30-1-1 with 62 points and a win percentage of 0.500.

Player Streaks

The Rush do not have many players on streaks coming into this weekend. Alex Aleardi is on a two-game goal streak with three goals. Jon Martin is on a two-game assist streak and has two assists in that time.

The Americans are coming in this weekend with a few players on streaks. Hank Crone is on a three-game goal streak with three goals in that time. Colton Saucerman is on a two-game assist streak with two assists in that time, while Jack Combs and Colton Hargrove are on three-game assist streaks, with both having four assists in that time. Hargrove also has six points in his last three games, with two goals and four assists.

Player Milestones

The Rush have a few players that could be hitting milestones this weekend. If Colton Leiter plays tonight, he will hit 100 ECHL games and 100 games with the Rush. Leiter has played in 99 ECHL games getting 14 goals and 24 assists for 38 points. He has 24 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -19. Leiter played all 11 playoff games with the Rush last season, where he has two goals and three assists for five points. He also had four penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -2. This season, Leiter has played in 45 games and has four goals and 13 assists for 17 points. He has eight penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -13. Last season, Leiter played forward for most of the season, but due to the Rush being short defensemen, he has spent most of this season as a defenseman.

Jimmy Soper will likely set a career-high for points in a single season. Soper has 42 points this season, and his current career high for points in a single season is 43. Soper has been in the ECHL for four seasons, playing for the Newfoundland Growlers, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, Tulsa Oilers, and Rapid City Rush. He spent a little time with the Norfolk Admirals but did not play a single game with them. During his four ECHL seasons, he has also spent quite a bit of time in the SPHL with the Macon Mayhem.

Alex Aleardi could also set a career-high for points in a single season. He currently sits at 57 points this season, and the most he has had in a single ECHL season is 59. Aleardi has played four seasons in the ECHL, splitting his time between the Evansville Icemen(now Jacksonville Icemen), Florida Everblades, and Rapid City Rush. During the middle of his ECHL time, he spent six seasons overseas playing in Sweden, France, and Austria. Also, Aleardi still sits at 98 ECHL penalty minutes.

Players to Watch Out For

Allen has a few players who currently sit top in the league for different stats. Liam Finlay is in his rookie season and has 31 goals and 37 assists for 68 points in 51 games. Finlay is second in the league with his 31 goals and fourth with his 37 assists. Finlay is first in the league for powerplay assists with 20 and second in the league for powerplay points with 26. He is second among rookies with seven game-winning goals as well. This season, Finlay has 31 goals on 137 shots for a 22.6% shooting accuracy, which is tied for second among rookies.

Hank Crone is also in his rookie season and has 42 goals and 47 assists for 89 points in 59 games. Crone is tied for second in the league for powerplay goals with 14 and is also second in the league for powerplay points with 33. Crone’s 42 goals lead the league in goals making him also first among rookies for goals. He is second among rookies for assists with 47 and second among rookies in powerplay goals with 14. Crone leads rookies in powerplay points with 33 and is third among rookies for powerplay assists with 19.

Colton Hargrove has spent four seasons in the AHL, but this is his first season in the ECHL. This season, Hargrove has played in 54 games and has 35 goals and 39 assists for 74 points. He leads the league in powerplay goals with 15 and is second in the league for goals with 35.

Jack Combs is currently in his ninth ECHL season. Combs has played in 60 games and has 31 goals and 52 assists for 83 points this season. With 52 assists, he is second in the league for assists.

These players have all had amazing seasons. That being said, these are guys that the Rush will want to make sure they are defending and blocking shots from so that the puck does not end up in the back of the net.

Last Time in Allen

The last time the Rush and Americans met was on March 4th and 5th of this year. The Rush ended up dropping both games and coming home with zero points. They lost the first game 3-2 and the second game 7-5. During the two games, the Rush went 0/8 on the powerplay while the Americans went 3/6 on the powerplay.

Rush Roster Updates

The Rush will see Logan Nelson back on the ice after he missed the second and third period due to injury. Matt Marcinew is expected to return after missing the Fort Wayne games due to a lower-body injury. Ilya Nikolaev, upper-body injury, and Rory Kerins have flown back to Rapid City from Calgary, where they were rehabbing. Both players will most likely play this weekend and could play as early as tonight.

Pre-Game Stats

The Rush come into this weekend having gotten just two of six possible points against the Fort Wayne Komets. This season, the Rush are 3-2-0-0 against the Americans and are 19-11-0-0 at home. In their last ten games, the Rush are 6-4-0-0 but are currently on a two-game losing streak. Scoring first will be huge for the Rush this weekend, as they are 23-11-1-0 when scoring first. Some excellent news is that the powerplay has improved, as it is now 24th in the league at 15.8%. Their home powerplay is 21st in the league at 17.5%. The penalty kill is still last in the league at 75.2%, and the home penalty kill is 27th at 75.5%. The penalty kill this weekend is what could win or lose game for the Rush, as Allen’s powerplay is extremely good. The Rush are 11th in the league with an average of 3.40 goals for per game, and they are 25th in the league with an average of 3.79 goals against per game. The Rush are fifth in the league with an average of 35.02 shots for per game, and they are 20th in the league with an average of 33.38 shots against per game.

Allen comes into this weekend, having just been swept by the Idaho Steelheads last week. The good news for the Rush is that Allen is 11-21-1-0 on the road and are 4-5-0-1 in their previous ten. They are currently on a three-game losing streak but are 19-8-1-0 when scoring first. The Americans are tied for eighth place with the South Carolina Stingrays for an average of 3.56 goals per game and for 22nd with the Utah Grizzlies for an average of 3.77 goals against per game. They are 20th in the league with an average of 30.94 shots for per game and are 26th in the league with 35.55 shots against per game. Allen’s powerplay is third in the league at 23.7%, and their road powerplay is fourth in the league at 23.6%. Their penalty kill is 12th in the league at 81.5%, and their road penalty kill is 11th in the league at 81.2%.

Both teams come into this weekend knowing there is a playoff spot on the line. This will most likely show in the games and could make the games a lot of fun to watch. This weekend, the team that wants the playoff spot more will most likely win the game and the weekend.

Felicity Harding

Hello! I'm Felicity and I mainly cover the Rapid City Rush in the ECHL here at Inside the Rink. You can find me on Instagram and X/Twitter at @fharding05

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