“On the ‘Mark’” returns once again, outlining the thoughts in the head of Mark Binetti, the “Voice of the Rush”. In today’s installment, Mark talks about a crazy month of February, an upcoming crazy month of March, guest analysts, and fan support:
1) Hope all is well in your lives Rush fans! The month of February is drawing to a close and boy has it been a crazy month. Friday marks the last game of the month, which is crazy to think about, considering that I feel like the month JUST started. It’s crazy to see how time flies, especially when you’re having as much fun as I am working with this team.
2) On Friday night, the team wore replicas of the 1980 USA Men’s Olympic Hockey Team, famous for their “Miracle on Ice” win against the Soviet Union, the biggest upset in sports history. Aside from the New York Rangers jerseys, the Miracle on Ice uniform is arguably my favorite hockey uniform ever, and boy did the team look sharp in them on Friday night. It was great to make connections from that Miracle team and the Rush squad with regards to player numbers: Scott Wray-Jack O’Callahan’s #17, Konrad Reeder-Mike Eruzione’s #21, Jesse Schultz-Mark Johnson’s #10, and Bobby Preece-Rob McClanahan’s #24 just to name a few.
3) The series against Arizona this past weekend was probably one of the most entertaining series of hockey I have watched all season. The goaltending was out-of-this-world, the defense was stifling, the play was clean, and the atmosphere was akin to that of a playoff game. I can guarantee that won’t be the last time a series of hockey feels like that before the playoffs start that’s for sure.
4) Tim Boron led the Rush to a solid showing on both nights, including a shootout victory on Friday evening. I don’t know what it is about Tim, but when it’s time for a shootout he is just a monster. He’s only allowed 3 goals this year against 24 shooters, which I am almost certain is tops in the league, if not then pretty darn close to it. He is so electric when the pressure is on, and delivers like a true champ every night. Because of his efforts last week he was named Goaltender of the Week for the second time this season, which marks the fourth CHL award he has taken home this year.
5) On Saturday, Matt Larke sent Rushmore Plaza Civic Center on fire with his game-Winning%20Goal with 1:18 left in OT. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see Matt finally get rewarded for his hard work on the ice. He is such a hard-working player, arguably one of the fastest skaters in the league, and consistently puts in a solid effort for every minute he plays in a game. It’s a shame his hard work outside of goals and assists doesn’t make the scoresheet, but I can guarantee you when he does make it on there, the impact of his contribution is felt around the entire locker room.
6) February was a pretty crazy month hockey-wise. The Rush went 4-6-1 in the month, but like I said earlier, there’s still one more game left against Denver on Friday. The Rush went on a franchise-high losing streak of six games, rebounded to the current three-game winning streak that they’re on, all in the span of two and a half weeks. It amazes me to see how quickly a team can turn things around, especially with the resiliency of our club.
7) Speaking of the losing streak, I think it speaks to the elite level of coaching from Coach Ferras that it took him until the sixth season of his time in Rapid City to have a losing streak of five games for the SECOND time in that span. When looking back at the numbers, the Rush have lost three games in a row at times and then immediately flip a switch and rip off four wins in a row or so. The last time the team lost five games in a row? The inaugural season. Looks like things are turning around now for the Rush, as they head into a crazy month of March.
8) In March, the Rush are playing 15 games in 30 days, a ratio of one game for every two days. Including February 28th’s game against the Cutthroats, the Rush will play 11 games in 18 days in 5 different cities. That is BRUTAL travel, especially on hockey players, but like this team always does, they will find a way to persevere and give 110% a night battling for two points a game.
9) Speaking of playing for two points, each game is crucial down this stretch (as if they weren’t the previous 50 times this season). In the CHL standings, SIX points separate 2nd (Rush) and 7th (Tulsa) in the standings, and the current difference between being the 8th seed in the bracket (currently Arizona) and playing golf at home (Wichita) is five points. Brace yourselves for some late season fireworks folks, this playoff race will be heated like any other you have seen.
10) Which brings us back to Denver this weekend…the Rush have a one point lead over the Denver Cutthroats in the standings (again, the Rush are 2nd, the Cutthroats are 3rd). These final three games in the season series are the most important ones by far. Aside from the fact that rivalry bragging rights are on the line, both the Rush and the Cutthroats have played the exact same amount of games, 50, meaning that this series is essentially a twelve-point swing when you think about it.
11) As the season has progressed, I have had a vast number of Rush fans compliment me on how much I have been improving this season in the booth. I cannot tell you how much it means to me that they have come forward and shared their opinions with me in a very professional manner. Every night, I work as hard as I can to bring all the action to you in a clear manner, and to entertain you all as well. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all of you fans, and want you to know that I am having the time of my life calling Rush games. I am truly grateful that I have the best fans in the CHL listening in every night, the best color analysts this team has to offer, the best support lines in my front office, the best leadership in Coach Ferras and the owners, and the best team in the league to call games for. It saddens me that the season is almost over, but I can’t wait to bring you all the action of the playoffs as the Rush gear up for a run towards their second league championship in team history. Also, if you fans ever want to say hi in the broadcast booth before game time and when I go on the air (6:35 PM FYI), I would be more than happy to chat for a bit. It’s always great to talk to fans before the game starts.
12) Speaking of the best analysts…on Monday against St. Charles, Trevor Bowers, the Rush Director of Ticket Operations, came back into the booth for the first time since he helped Daniel Nieves call Game 6 of the CHL President’s Cup Finals against the Allen Americans. I personally thought Trevor did a phenomenal job in the booth, and I would love to have him in again before the playoffs kick up. His insight on how he has seen this team grow, and how this fan base has grown as well was a great touch to my broadcast that night, and I thank him so much for spending the evening with me in the booth.
13) On Saturday night’s broadcast in the conclusion of the season series against the Arizona Sundogs, I had injured Rush defenseman Tristin Llewellyn in with me for the broadcast. His debut as a color analyst was most impressive that evening. He took control of his part in the broadcast with relative ease, and performed with flying colors as the game’s intensity and pace picked up. As I always say when I have injured players in the booth with me: I would love to see them back on the ice soon, but selfishly I’d love to have them back in the booth as well. Tristin is a high character player and a great man, and I hope he comes back on the ice soon.
14) On Sunday, the team had their annual rookie party. I am so thankful to the players to have been a part of it and truly appreciate how outgoing they have been towards me since day one of the season. I have truly been blessed to have bonded with such high quality gentlemen this season. Fun times were had by all, and it is a night I will never forget.
15) Tonight from 5-9 PM is the Rush’s 4th Annual “Tip-A-Player” Event at Buffalo Wild Wings, where each Rush player pairs up with a Special Olympian and helps serve food at BWW. I cannot wait to see the looks on the Special Olympians faces when they get paired with their favorite Rush player for the evening, as I can guarantee you it will be a very heartwarming night. It’s always great to see the players supporting local athletes in the community.
16) Be sure to catch all the action from this weekend against Denver on 100.3 The FOX. Gametime on Friday night is the usual 7:05 PM spot, but Saturday and Sunday in Denver are much different. Saturday’s game is at 6 PM MST, and Sunday is at 4 PM. Be sure to remember and listen as Tim Acheson rejoins me in the booth and we bring you all the action!