(RAPID CITY, SD) – The Rapid City Rush announced a plethora of transactions today on the ECHL’s trade deadline.
First, the Rush have sent Captain Riley Weselowski to the Florida Everblades in exchange for rookie forwards Liam Bilton and Jack Riley (through Reading), as well as future considerations.
Second, Shaquille Merasty has been traded to the Orlando Solar Bears in exchange for forward Taylor Crunk (through Fort Wayne) and rookie defenseman Myles McGurty.
Third, defenseman Josh Elmes has been traded to the Fort Wayne Komets in exchange for rookie forward Alex Rauter (through Manchester).
Finally, Pierre-Luc Mercier has been traded to the Manchester Monarchs in exchange for rookie forward Dexter Dancs and future considerations.
Riley comes to the Rush from the Reading Royals through the Florida Everblades in a three-team trade. The 5’11”, 185-pound forward played in 47 games with the Royals, registering 6 goals, 14 assists, and 20 points. His first taste of pro hockey came with Reading last season following his college career, where he averaged a point-per-game with 5 points in 5 games (2g-3ast). Before turning professionally, the West Point, New York native played five seasons of NCAA hockey at Mercyhurst University with Rush goaltender Adam Carlson and defenseman Zach Todd, where he served as Captain in his final two seasons, compiling a total of 102 points (41g-61ast) in 157 games. Last season as a senior, he was named to the AHA’s 2nd All-Conference Team, the AHA’s Best Defensive Forward, and won the AHA Regular Season Championship. Additionally, he comes from a prestigious hockey family: his grandfather, John P. “Jack” Riley, who coached Team USA to their first-ever gold medal in the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, and was the long-time coach with Army in the NCAA in West Point. His father, Brian, has been the Army Head Coach since 2004, taking over for his uncle Rob, who held the post from 1985-2004 before becoming an amateur scout in the NHL with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Buffalo Sabres, the latter of which he currently scouts for.
Bilton heads to the Rush having played 6 games with the Orland Solar Bears and Florida Everblades. The 6’4”, 220-pound forward played a pair of games in Orlando before finishing up these last 4 with Florida. Prior to playing professionally, the Winnipeg, Manitoba native played Canadian college hockey in USports with the University of Manitoba, skating with Rush defenseman Blake Heinrich, and compiling a total of 45 points (25g-20ast) in 99 games.
Crunk comes to the Rush from the Fort Wayne Komets through the Orlando Solar Bears in a three-team trade. The 6’1”, 220-pound forward has 3 points (2g-1ast) and 126 PIM in 40 games with the Komets this season. Crunk, a native of San Jacinto, California, has played his entire professional career in Fort Wayne, earning 4 goals, 14 assists, and 18 points along with 318 PIM in 118 games. Prior to turning professionally, he played in the WHL with the Victoria Royals and Vancouver Giants, appearing in a total of 287 games with 53 points (27g-26ast) and 332 PIM.
McGurty heads to the Black Hills after recently skating with the Orlando Solar Bears. The 6’1”, 201-pound forward began the season in Erste Liga in Europe with Fehervari Titanok, earning 2 assists in 5 games before heading to the “Sunshine State”, where he clocked 14 games and earned 3 assists. Prior to playing professionally, the Weehawken, New Jersey native jumped around the college and junior ranks, playing with Dalhousie University in USports (101gp, 8g-33ast-41pts), the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the USHL (9gp, 1ast), and the Moncton Wildcats, Acadie-Bathurst Titan, and Chicoutimi Sangueneens in the QMJHL (95gp, 3g-15ast-18pts).
Rauter heads to the Rush after playing in 50 total games in the ECHL this season. The 6’1”, 185-pound forward began the season with the Wheeling Nailers, logging 44 games with totals of 10 goals, 24 assists, and 34 points before heading to Manchester, where he added an additional 6 games and a goal and assist. A native of Chatham, New Jersey, Rauter got his first taste of professional hockey with the Atlanta Gladiators last season, playing to a point-per-game average with 2 goals, 1 assist, and 3 points in 3 games, adding another goal in 4 playoff games. Prior to turning pro, he played NCAA hockey with Cornell University, where he was the Captain last season, amassing career college totals of 20 goals, 23 assists, and 43 points in 93 games. He also made stops in the NAHL with the Wenatchee Wild and USHL with the Youngstown Phantoms and Omaha Lancers.
Lastly, Dancs heads to Rapid City from Manchester most recently, with 28 total ECHL games. The 6’2”, 205-pound forward began with the Idaho Steelheads, appearing in a pair of games before heading to the Monarchs, where he logged 26 games with 4 assists. Before turning professional, the North Vancouver, British Columbia native skated four seasons in the NCAA with the University of Michigan, scoring 23 goals, 44 assists, and 67 points in 141 games, winning the 2016 Big Ten Championship, and appearing in the 2018 Frozen Four.
Weselowski, the longest-tenured player in Rush history, compiled 20 points (8g-12ast) in all 60 games played this season, his second as the Captain, and became the first player in Rush history to amass 500 games played. Holding multiple franchise records, he appeared in 517 games, with 39 goals, 156 assists, and 195 points. He is the Rush’s all-time leading scoring defenseman, is second all-time in franchise history in assists, and is the second-ever recipient of the Blaine Jarvis “Heart and Soul Award”, named in memory of his former teammate and best friend.
Elmes played in all but one game this season, registering the first 5 goals of his ECHL career with 19 total points in 59 games. Elmes served as an Alternate Captain, and played over 100 games with the Rush organization over the last two seasons, earning totals of 5 goals, 27 assists, and 32 points in 117 games, while becoming the third-ever recipient of the Blaine Jarvis “Heart and Soul Award”.
Merasty appeared in 51 games this season for the Rush, earning 24 points (10g-14ast) in 51 games. In total with the Rush, after his acquisition in a trade with Wichita last season, he played in 59 games, and earned 12 goals, 19 assists, and 31 points.
Mercier leaves as the leading scorer with 37 points in 56 games, along with a -32 rating this season.
The Rush continue their six consecutive matchups against the Utah Grizzlies, with the first three coming this week in Rapid City. Puck drop for game two on Friday, March 8th is slated for 7:05 p.m. MST at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.