RAPID CITY, SD — The time so many in the world of hockey have been waiting for is finally here.
Hockey is back in the world and the Rapid City Rush look to drop the puck this Friday in what could be a “season for the ages” for the Boys from the Black Hills.
Don’t forget to check out our latest episode of “Between the Pipes” as well, but let’s dive into our preview of the upcoming season:
Initial Schedule (Home games in BOLD and All Times Mountain):
Friday, December 11th, 2020: vs UTAH GRIZZLIES at 7:05 pm
Saturday, December 12th, 2020: vs UTAH GRIZZLIES at 7:05 pm
Friday, December 18th, 2020: @ Allen Americans at 6:05 pm
Saturday, December 19th, 2020: @ Allen Americans at 6:05 pm
Thursday, December 31st, 2020: @ Utah Grizzlies at 5:00 pm
Friday, January 1st, 2021: @ Utah Grizzlies at 7:10 pm
Saturday, January 2nd, 2021: @ Utah Grizzlies at 7:10 pm
Wednesday, January 6th, 2021: vs ALLEN AMERICANS at 7:05 pm
Friday, January 8th, 2021: vs ALLEN AMERICANS at 7:05 pm
Saturday, January 9th, 2021: vs ALLEN AMERICANS at 7:05 pm
Head Coach: Daniel Tetrault, Third Season (84-99-21)
Captain: Currently Unknown
Last Season: The Rush concluded the shortened ECHL season with at record of 29-25-6 (64pts) and finished 5th in the Mountain Division, 15th overall in the league.
2019-20 Season Summary:
In a season of “what if’s” the Rapid City Rush were fighting for the final playoff spot in the Mountain Division. When the dust settled the Rush were a mere 2pts behind the 4th place Tulsa Oilers but also had three games in hand. Could they have overtake Tulsa to earn a spot in the 2020 Kelly Cup Playoffs? It’s entirely possible but as the Tootsie Pop commercial says, “The world may never know”.
This would have been their first trip to the playoffs since their inaugural 2015-16 season in the ECHL.
Hot or Not?
Head coach Daniel Tetrault and assistant coach Jeremy Gates did a tremendous job in the offseason to bolster the roster heading into whatever type of look the season happened to take in late 2020. Topping the returning slate of skaters are Peter Quenneville, Brennan Saulnier, and Tyler Coulter all who combined for 70 goals (141pts) last season for Rapid City.
Couple that with the talented Adam Carlson taking up his netminder duties for the Rush after a stint with the Icemen and you have a recipe for success.
- Adam Carlson (G): 41 GP with a 19-15-4 record and 3.07 GAA and 0.898 SV% (2019-20 with the Jacksonville Icemen)
- Peter Quenneville (F): 51 GP with 24 goals and 34 assists for 58 pts
- Brennan Saulnier (F): 51 GP with 22 goals and 22 assists for 44 pts
- Tyler Coulter (F): 47 GP with 24 goals and 15 assists for 39 pts
- Avery Peterson (F): 51 GP with 16 goals and 13 assists for 29 pts (2019-20 with the Atlanta Gladiators)
- Alex Rodriguez (F): 58GP with 16 goals and 13 assists for 29 pts (2019-20 with the Norfolk Admirals)
What to Watch For?
Home Ice Advantage — How big of a difference will your team’s home crowd have in their overall success this season? We’re about to find out. Every arena in the ECHL, minus the Rapid City Rush, are operating at a limited capacity for this season. For some teams this hit will be be a major one as they’re used to filling their seats just about every night. However, Rapid City hasn’t had a recorded sellout in sometime. So operating with a mere 2500-3500 fans in the stands, but having the potential/opportunity to expand to full capacity, could help generate the necessary atmosphere to give the Boys from the Black Hills a “home rink” advantage. Just something to keep an eye on.
Balanced Roster — Having a balanced roster filled with youth and newly acquired players should help the Rush keep solid lines on the ice for the majority of regulation in each and every game. Watch for newcomers such as Alex Rodriguez and Avery Peterson, both of whom have only been in the league since the 2018-19 season, along with veteran players such as Garrett Klotz, Mason Baptista, Shawn Boutin, and Joey Sides to make a huge difference in varying lines put together by coach Tetrault and assistant coach Gates.
Mike Crook covers the Rapid City Rush for The Sin Bin. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @SinBinRush.