RAPID CITY, SD — The Rapid City Rush have revamped their entire organization from the top down heading into their 10th Anniversary season. Will the new look and new feel to this organization allow them to punch their ticket to the postseason?
Head Coach: Last year’s assistant coach is the new Bench Boss. Daniel Tetrault assumes the mantle of head coach after having successful stints in that role while Mark DeSantis was out on suspension last season.
Captain: To be determined
A Roller Coaster Ride
Last Season: 26-38-8-0 in the regular season earning them the 7th spot in the Mountain Division. The Rush have not qualified for the playoffs since the 2014-15 season when they lost the series 4-2 to the eventual ECHL Champion Allen Americans in the 2nd round.
The Rush had a few sparks of greatness last season but found themselves deep in a hole they couldn’t quite find their way out of. Too many 1-goal games found the puck bouncing in the direction of their opposition. The team was never able to truly find an identity to allow them to turn the corner and win those close match-ups the way they had in years past.
Extra time always didn’t go Rapid City’s way as the Rush had troubles winning contests that went behind the 60-minute regulation mark. Only the Wheeling Nailers could match Rapid City’s eight losses in overtime. The one bright spot to that, though, is that the Rush never lost a shootout if they could make it beyond the overtime period.
Rebuild, Not Reload
When something isn’t working sometimes you have to start from scratch.
During the offseason, Rapid City has made more than their fair share of moves, both on the ice and in the office. The team’s GM and original head coach Joe Ferras left the organization along with their head coach and the team’s original captain Mark DeSantis.
Taking the reigns is new president Joe MacDonald along with last year’s assistant coach Daniel Tetrault being elevated to the position of head coach. Nello Ferrara has been brought in as the team’s new assistant coach.
Not to be outdone the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center has entered a ten-year agreement with the Rush to keep minor league hockey in the Black Hills. This should help calm the rumor mill from churning out notions that the team was closing up shop and looking for greener pastures.
Things Are Getting Wild
Changes also came with the team’s affiliation as they left their ties with the AHL’s Tuscon Roadrunners and NHL’s Arizona Coyotes, assuming something more geographically fitting. Rapid City’s new affiliations with the AHL and NHL, respectively, are the Iowa Wild and the Minnesota Wild. Their respective geographic location along with the mutual partnership all three teams look to build should allow for a better selection of talent to hit the ice in the Black Hills.
- Michael Young returns for another season after playing in 62 games last season while registering 13 goals and 20 assists along with being voted to the ECHL All-Star Team.
- Marcus Ortiz played 13 games with the Rush last season and registered his first professional goal and assist while wearing a Rush sweater
- Nick Miglio returns after playing in 49 games before an injury cut his season short. For his efforts, he did register 7 goals and 10 assists.
- Hometown favorite Riley Weselowski returns for another season in the Black Hills, his eighth overall, after registering 2 goals and 17 assists during the 72 games he played.
- Ryan Tesink comes to the Black Hills from Wichita where he registered 7 goals and 15 assists in 68 games with the Thunder last season.
- Kyle Dutra joins the Rush from Norfolk where he played the final 12 games of last season and tallied 2 goals and 2 assists with the Admirals.
- Brandon Blair is another acquisition for Norfolk who scored 2 goals and 4 assists in his 39 games with the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers before playing the final seven games with the Admirals. Blair brings a sense of toughness to the team as he racked up 134 PIM while skating with the Ice Flyers so he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty.
At this point, the Rush will be happy to be in the playoff hunt at all during the regular season. And they’ve put themselves in prime contention to make some noise in the Mountain Division this season. Look for the Rush to finish no less than #3 and in contention for a playoff spot the entire season.