Where We Left Off: Swept in the Desert – Last week, the Rush squared off in a three game set against the Arizona Sundogs. The Rush were playing against the hottest team they’ve faced all year, as the Sundogs came into the set on a 9 game point streak (7-0-2 in that span). Wednesday started off oddly, with game one of the set starting at 10 AM for the Sundogs 1st Annual “Kids Day”. The Sundogs got on the board first, but late in the opening frame Sean Erickson would tie the game at 1-1 going into the second. From there, the Sundogs took over and scored three goals in the second, and four unanswered in the game, allowing the Sundogs to take the first game of the set by a 5-1 score, ending the Rush five game win streak over their desert rivals. Game two saw things go back to normal, with a 7:05 PM Friday start, but the Rush would find themselves down once again to the Sundogs. Three power play goals for the Sundogs gave them a commanding 3-0 lead through the second period, but Justin Faryna and Kyle Stroh would keep the Rush in the game late with third period goals. The Rush would be unable to even things up, allowing the Sundogs to take game two with a 4-2 score. In their “Pink at the Rink” event, the Sundogs looked to hand the Rush their first series sweep of the 2013/2014 season on Saturday night. The Sundogs took the early lead for the third time this series on a short-handed goal by Alex Tuckerman, en route to a 3-0 lead for the Sundogs after one period. The Rush would score in the second period for the only time in the series, with Sean Erickson scoring a five-on-three power play goal to put the Rush on the board, carrying a 3-1 deficit into the final twenty minutes. Another power play goal, and a goal by Kyle Stroh late in the period make the game interesting once again in the final minutes, but the Sundogs would win again by a 4-2 score, handing the Rush their first sweep of the year.
Hotter than Hot – This past series, the Rush ran into their hottest opponent this season in the Sundogs. Coming into the series, the Sundogs had won two straight, but recorded points in nine straight games. Prior to this matchup, the hottest teams the Rush faced were the Wichita Thunder (5 game winning streak) two weeks ago, and the Missouri Mavericks in the battle of the last undefeated teams in the CHL.
Three in the Front Seat – The Rush are now in the middle of a three-way tie for first in the CHL with the Missouri Mavericks and the defending CHL Champion Allen Americans. The Rush have now caught up to Missouri in games played, but the Rush still have a game in hand over the Allen Americans. The Rush have 26 games left in the season to play.
I May Be Young, But… – Rush rookie forward Kyle Stroh scored twice in the Sundogs series last week, a stretch that has seen him score four goals in his last five games. This is the second time the rookie has accomplished this feat this season.
I Think We’ve Been Here Before – Every time the Rush and the Cutthroats square off, the statistical leaders of the league showdown. For the Rush, there are five players in the top-five of their statistical categories coming into tonight’s matchup. Konrad Reeder is 5th in overall scoring, T-3rd in goals, T-8th in assists, and 2nd in +/-. Jesse Schultz is 4th in overall scoring, 3rd in assists, and 1st in +/-. Winston Day Chief comes in T-5th in goals and T-4th in +/- with Ryan Palmer. Sean Erickson is T-3rd amongst defensemen in assists and points.
NUMBER CRUNCH: vs the Cutthroats – This series is always interesting for a number of reasons (get it?). So let’s look at some numbers from the previous 8 matchups played between these rivals to date:
· 6 – the number of consecutive wins the Rush held over the Cutthroats in the series. A loss to the Cutthroats on a Monday night game last month ended the Rush’s winning streak over their archrivals. It marks the second best winning streak in a head to head series, as the Rush won 7 in a row over the Arizona Sundogs two seasons ago.
· 180 – the number of penalty minutes assessed to Denver in the 8 games played to date. Both of these teams HATE each other, with many fights and other skirmishes breaking out over the course of the series. Don’t be surprised to see more in this latest edition of the rivalry.
· +7 – the Rush goal differential over the Cutthroats in the second and third periods in their 8 games. The Rush have scored 9 goals each in the second and third period, statistically their best scoring periods this season. Against the Cutthroats, the Rush have a +9 overall goal differential.