This year's Championship Series for the Central Hockey League Presidents Cup Championship is a battle of new comers to the league in recent years will fight it out for their first ever league championship. The Rapid City Rush came into the league last year after the team finished 6th and 17 points back for the final playoff spot.
This year with the experience and addition of players like Scott Wray, Rich Hansen and Derek Leblanc have taken the Rush from 6th place in the North Last year to the top seed and winning the Northern Conference Championship.
Goaltending has been very strong for the most part as Danny Battochio has a strong 2.51 GAA & an impressive .920 SV% during the playoffs. He's been raising his game since the regular season with a 2.60 GAA during the regular season during his first season with the Rush.
After taking care of business of the Missouri Mavericks in the Conference Semifinals, it took a tough 7 game series where the Rush defense and goaltending was put to the test with players like Travis Clayton and Shawn Limpright who were able to light up Battochio at times, but he was able to keep his composure and drive to help the Rush defeat the Mudbugs in 7 games.
For the Championship Series, both teams have among the best defense as the Americans had the 2nd best defense of the playoff teams as they gave up just 183 goals during the regular season.
Rapid City's defense will have to get even better to deal with the Americans top forwards like Bowers and Graham. This will put players like Fritshaw and Flamminio under the spot light to help the offense to pressure the top Americans forwards, while at the same time, having to bring up the number of hits.
Allen is in their expansion season as the Americans finished 2nd in the regular season where no one had a shot of stopping Odessa who had the best regular season in 6 years by winning 48 games and getting 101 points. However a strong defense has been taking a hit in the playoffs who have given up the 2nd most goals in the playoffs only ahead of Odessa with 44 goals.
However the offense has been strong with the Americans top line of Bowers, Musitelli and Graham who were in the All Star Game & had AHL Call ups at different times during the season. They have combined for 23 goals in the playoffs which has been a big reason for the success.
Two others that are playing very well in the playoffs are Jarret Lukin and Colton Yellow who each have 5 goals in the playoffs and are not afraid to deliver some hits and play along the boards.
A couple of defensemen that could be important set-up men include Jordie Benn and Ryan Fairbarn who are among the best passers and with their speed, can be dangerous if given the chance to be on the counter-attack with the Americans offense.
Goalie Chris Whitley hasn't had the best showing, but he's been big when needed as winning the opening and clinching games in Odessa to win the Southern Conference Title.
Like Most Championship Series, this one is expected to go long and some high scoring games as the are the top & 3rd Ranked Team Offenses in the playoffs with 41 & 48 goals scored in the post-season.
In the 3 Regular Season Games against Each other. Rapid City won the series by taking 2 of 3. Including the only game in Texas back in Jan. with a 6-1 Rush Win. The 2 Games in South Dakota back in Mid-March saw the Americans win 5-4 in OT, then the next night, the Rush won 5-4 in regulation on March 12 & 13.
The Championship Series format is a 2-3-2 with Rapid City hosting the opening 2 games. Then Allen would host Games 3-5 in the middle of the series. Then Games 6 and 7 would be back up north in South Dakota.
Here's a look at how both teams got the Ray Miron Presidents Cup Championship Series.
Regular Season Series:
1/15: Rapid City Rush 6 Allen Americans 1 (1-0, 3-1, 2-0)
3/12: Allen Americans 5 Rapid City Rush 4 (OT) (2-2, 1-1, 1-1, 1-0)
3/13: Allen Americans 4 Rapid City Rush 5 (1-1, 0-0, 3-4)
CHL Ray Miron Presidents Cup Championship
#1N Rapid City Rush VS. #2S Allen Americans
Rapid City Rush Road to the Presidents Cup
Regular Season Record: 43-14-7 93 PTS, 253 GF 197 GA, Finished 1st in the North
CONF. Semifinals VS. Missouri: Game 1 5-1 W, Game 2 2-1 W, Game 3 4-1 W, Game 4 7-6 OTW
CONF. Finals VS. Bossier-Shreveport: Game 1 5-4 OTW, Game 2 3-4 L, Game 3 3-2 OTW, Game 4 1-6 L, Game 5 4-1 W, Game 6 0-2 L, Game 7 7-3 W
Rapid City Rush Scoring Leaders
Les Reaney 11 GP 16 PTS (6G 10A, +12)
Scott Wray 11 GP 16 PTS (5G 11A, +11)
Jon Pelle 10 GP 13 PTS (3G 10A, +8)
Rapid City Goaltending
Danny Battochio 10 GP 8-2 2.51 GAA .920 SV%
Miguel Beaudry 2 GP 0-1 4.24 GAA .833 SV%
Rapid City Rush Full Stats: www.pointstreak.com/stats/pro/teamplayerstats.html?teamid=240631&seasonid=5163
Allen Americans Road to the Presidents Cup Championship
Regular Season Record: 42-17-5 89 PTS, 210 GF 183 GA, Finished 2nd in the South
CONF. Semifinals VS. Laredo: Game 1 3-4 L, Game 2 1-2 W, Game 3 4-1 W, Game 4 3-4 L, Game 5 1-5 L, Game 6 3-2 W, Game 7 4-1 W
CONF. Finals VS. Odessa: Game 1 4-3 W, Game 2 2-3 OTL, Game 3 5-2 W, Game 4 6-4 W, Game 5 3-6 L, Game 6 3-4 OTL, Game 7 4-2 W
Allen Americans Scoring Leaders
Justin Bowers 14 GP 23 PTS (8G 15A, +1)
Nino Musitelli 14 GP 19 PTS (9G 10A, +10)
Bruce Graham 14 GP 16 PTS (6G 10A, +8)
Allen Americans Goaltending
Chirs Whitley 14 GP 8-6 2.92 GAA .908 SV%
Allen Americans Full Playoff Stats: www.pointstreak.com/stats/pro/teamplayerstats.html?teamid=240630&seasonid=5163
All Rapid City Rush Home Games are @ Rushmore Plaza Civic Center
All Allen Americans Home Games are @ Allen Event Center
4/23, Game 1: @ Rapid City 8:05 PM
4/24, Game 2: @ Rapid City 8:05 PM
4/28, Game 3: @ Allen 7:30 PM
4/30, Game 4: @ Allen 7:30 PM
5/1, Game 5: @ Allen 7:30 PM*
5/4, Game 6: @ Rapid City 7:35 PM*
5/7, Game 7: @ Rapid City 8:05 PM*
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