RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Rapid City Rush kick off their 11th season of minor league hockey, their fourth in the ECHL, with a road series against the Utah Grizzlies on October 12th. This will be head coach Daniel Tetrault‘s second season as the bench boss and he’s looking to improve on the stretch of sub-par seasons this team has suffered.
Nuts and Bolts:
2017-18 Record: 25-41-6 (56 pts)
Division/Conference Finish: 7th (Mountain), 25th (Overall)
Playoff Finish: Did Not Qualify
Goals For Per Game: 2.82 (Tied-23rd)
Goals Against Per Game: 3.72 (24th)
Power Play: 16% (Tied-17th)
Penalty Kill: 83.2% (Tied-16th)
The Rush dropped their next-level affiliations with the NHL/AHL this season. How much of an impact will that have on the team and the level of talent seeking ice-time in the Black Hills? The last time the Rush were truly successful hearkens back to their playing time in the Central Hockey League when they didn’t have an affiliate. Time will tell if that has the same result.
That being said there are a couple key areas that the Rush really need consistent play: a hard hitting D-Man and offensive players that will continuously pepper the net with shots.
In years past, the Rush have had enforcers that weren’t afraid to drill the opposition into the boards and drop the gloves (see Colt King and Garrett Gruenke). Will a new breed of defender step up to fill this much-needed role for Rapid City?
On the flip side, the Rush were at their offensive best last season when they could pepper the opposing netminder with a barrage of shots. This didn’t happen with any consistency, however. Can Tetrault put together a couple solid lines capable of bringing that kind of offensive pressure for 72-games this year?
Adam Carlson (Goalie):
Adam Carlson saw ice time with numerous teams last season before finding his way to the Black Hills. Starting with the AHL’s Hershey Bears then moving to the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays, the Indy Fuel, the Kansas City Mavericks, then finally finishing up the season with the Bears he amassed a combined record of 8-5-4, combined save percentage of 0.906 and a combined 2.57 GAA. He also registered a shutout over his playing stint last season.
Adam Marsh (Forward)
Adam Marsh comes back to Rapid City after playing in the final five games of the regular season with the Rush last year. Over those five games, he registered his first point with an assist against the Mallards during the final home game.
Garrett Klotz (Left Wing)
The first player signed for the 2018-19 season was Garrett Klotz, who finished the year with the Rush after starting the season off with the Quad City Mallards, Evansville IceMen, and Kansas City Mavericks. Klotz earned a pair of assists and 56 PIM during his time in the Black Hills last season. This is his 11th season as a professional where he has amassed playing time over numerous leagues in 469 games.
Gone but Not Forgotten:
Pavel Jenys jumped ship and will be sporting an Allen Americans sweater this season. Jenys put up decent numbers while splitting time with the Rush and AHL’s Iowa Wild last season, totaling 36 pts (18 goals, 18 assists) in 57 games with both clubs. He’ll be back on Rush ice when the Americans come to the Black Hills for a weekend series at the end of October.
Dante Salituro will also be suiting up with division rival Allen Americans this season. Salituro put up great numbers as he split time with the Rush and AHL’s Iowa Wild last season, totaling 51 pts (25 goals, 26 assists) in 67 games with both clubs. Like Jenys, he’ll be back on Rush ice when the Americans come to the Black Hills for a weekend series at the end of October.
Peter Sivak was a huge name not to come back to the Rush this season as he put up impressive numbers with the team through 58 games: 26 goals and 34 assists along with a +4 rating. Sivak will spend his time with the Tulsa Oilers, so you can bet Rush fans have that January series marked on their calendars.
But you cannot count out an entire team. The season just won’t be the same without facing off against the Colorado Eagles. Too many storied games in this heated rivalry to dive into but they were a team you loved to hate and the games were always intense. We wish them the best of luck during their first season in the AHL.
Sin Bin Swami Sez:
The Rush have taken the offseason by storm and seem to have signed a solid group of players.
After not qualifying for the postseason for the past three years the fan base is growing restless. On paper, this squad doesn’t appear it will disappoint.
Look for the Rush to get off to a semi-slow start, but nowhere near as bad as in year’s past.
They’ll find their grove by mid-November to keep themselves in the division and post-season hunt well into March/April. By the end of the regular season look for them to most likely be fighting for one of the final playoff spots.
What Say You?