(RAPID CITY, SD) – On Christmas Eve, 1999, Joe Ferras’ playing career came to an unfortunate end due to an eye injury sustained in his final game as a pro hockey player. While it ended one of the most important chapters of his life, it also led to the beginning of another important period of his life: the start of his coaching career. For eleven seasons, Coach Ferras has been a dominant figure in the Central Hockey League as a bench boss. He has won conference titles, a Ray Miron President’s Cup Championship, a Coach of the Year award, and has accelerated himself to the top five in games coached and in games won as a coach all-time. Tonight, in his club’s final head-to-head matchup against the Missouri Mavericks this season, he adds another milestone to his already astonishing career: his 700th regular season game as a head coach in the CHL.
“I have been very fortunate to be in hockey my entire adult life and having the opportunity to do something you absolutely love to do on a daily basis,” said Head Coach and GM of the Rush, Joe Ferras. “It is a privilege and an honor, and certainly something you never take for granted. Having the opportunity to work with a first class organization and to coach great, high quality young men in Rapid City the last six years, has made it a joy to come to the rink every day.”
After his playing career ended, Ferras began where most coaches do as an assistant, starting with the New Mexico Scorpions in the 2000-01 season in the old WPHL. His long career as a head coach would begin the very next year after the WPHL-CHL merger with the Amarillo Rattlers. The only detail about his first stop as a head coach that would change was his organization’s name. His team’s success, however, would remain. From his second year onward with the now Amarillo Gorillas, Ferras would never fall below 31 wins in four seasons with the club. He would qualify for the playoffs every year, and would lead his team to the second round of the postseason on multiple occasions. It was during these seasons he would get to coach a young Scott Wray, who felt the impact of Ferras’ coaching throughout his career.
“When Joe picked me up from Fort-Worth, my career was almost at an end,” said Wray on his beginnings with Coach Ferras. “Because of Joe, my career was lengthened greatly. It’s a unique situation to have played for Coach for as long as I have. Now I am slowly moving into my next chapter of my hockey career, and being able to experience that with someone I have spent most of my career with has made the experience that much better.”
Following his successful five years in Amarillo, Ferras would jump to the American Hockey League to become an assistant with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, affiliated with the New York Islanders. While he enjoyed the AHL level, he was drawn back to the CHL that next season to coach one of the newest expansion teams in the league: the Rapid City Rush.
“When my wife and I came into Rapid City to meet with the ownership group, we instantly knew that this would be a great situation to work for quality people, and to have the opportunity to be able to start an organization from the ground up,” said Ferras of his beginnings with the Rush organization. “The people of Rapid City have been so gracious in accepting my wife and I, as well as all of our players, and making us feel part of the community.”
In Rapid City, Coach Ferras would add to his already sterling reputation as a CHL head coach. Ferras was instrumental in bringing the first ever professional hockey team to the state of South Dakota. He helped make the Rush the first class organization in all of minor league hockey it is to this day, bringing in high-character hockey players, and quality personnel in the front office.
“I played against Rapid City a few times with the Rocky Mountain Rage, and after the organization folded, I knew exactly what I would get into in joining the Rush organization,” said Wray on coming to the Black Hills. “Trying to gel with a new coach is difficult sometimes. Being able to work with Joe again helped ease the transition. Seeing the impact he had on making Rapid City a hockey town was unbelievable, and made it an easy choice to play for him again. Winning the championship in our first year back together was perfect, and an achievement I will never forget.”
His greatest success came in his second year in the Black Hills. Following a 22 win inaugural season, Ferras almost doubled his win total in that second season, winning a franchise-record 43 games and recording a franchise-record 93 points in the standings, helping the Rush clinch their first playoff berth in team history, all while securing the team’s first Northern Conference Regular Season Title. The Rush would ride that success all the way to the Ray Miron President’s Cup Finals, meeting the newest members of the CHL, the Allen Americans. In the final showdown of a wild six-game affair, Scott Wray would score the most important goal in Rush history: the championship-Winning%20Goal in double-overtime, helping the Rush win their first ever Central Hockey League Championship.
“We’re very proud of what we have achieved as an organization off the ice,” said Ferras of the organization’s accomplishments in Rapid City. “It has been our primary focus since day one that the Rapid City Rush become the community’s team. On the ice, our goal has always been to put on a quality product for our loyal fans, and winning the CHL Championship was the pinnacle of achieving that goal.”
Ever since, the Rush have been one of the most dominant teams in the CHL. In the last five years, the Rush rank second in games won with 192 victories claimed, just seven behind the Missouri Mavericks. The team has clinched the playoffs for their fifth consecutive season behind Ferras, who now acts as the General Manager of the Rush organization on top of his coaching duties. As the bench boss in the Black Hills, Ferras has won 214 games, and 25 in the postseason. He still has nine games left in this regular season before he and the Rush gear up for their run at a second Ray Miron President’s Cup Title.
“Again, my family and I have been truly blessed to have come to the Black Hills, and to coach more than half of my career with the Rapid City Rush organization,” added Ferras. “Rapid City is my home, and I look forward to coaching here for many more seasons to come.”
Other Rush News:
Playoff tickets are now available for the 2013-14 postseason as the Rush gear up for their Rush for the Ray Miron President’s Cup!! Call the Rush office at 716-7825 for details.
Don’t forget to join Mark Binetti, “Voice of the Rush”, and Head Coach/GM Joe Ferras for “The Rush Hour with Coach Ferras”, presented by Miller Lite. The show returns to the air next on Wednesday March 19th for the FINAL TIME THIS REGULAR SEASON, and will be held at 6 PM at Boston’s Restaurant and Sports Bar. The show is broadcast on 100.3 The FOX, the official radio home of your Rapid City Rush.
Stay informed on Rush happenings through the official Rapid City Rush team website, www.RapidCityRush.com, and the Rapid City Rush mobile app, available on iTunes and Google Play.