Regular Season Game 1-October 16, 2015
Where We Left Off: Preseason Finale – Chris Ciotti scored twice for the Rapid City Rush, and James Melindy added a power play goal, but the Rush fell short of their late comeback against the Colorado Eagles and fell by a 5-3 count to their archrivals on Saturday night at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in their final preseason game. Two contests in a row, the Eagles flew out to a 1-0 first period league. At 5:01 of the opening frame, Eagles captain Trent Daavettila slammed home a rebound past Rush net-minder Danny Battochio off of an Adrian Veideman shot. With just over two minutes to play in the same frame, Colorado’s Nathan Moon went on a two-on-one break and sent a wrist shot by Battochio to double the Eagles advantage to 2-0 heading into the period break. The Rush struck in the middle frame to cut their deficit in half thanks to the efforts of rookie forward Chris Ciotti. His first of two came off of a deflection in front of the net of Colorado’s rookie goaltender Kris Lazaruk on a shot from Rush defenseman Michael Young with 5:34 gone by in the second to bring the score to 2-1. Jesse Mychan, however, re-established Colorado’s multi-goal lead on a feed from Trent Daavettila on the second Rush backstopper, Nic Riopel. The ignition of the goal lamp brought the score to 3-1 heading into the third. The game ended in a frenzy in the last three minutes of play, starting off with the Eagle’s fourth goal of the night. Jesse Mychan added another tally as he threaded a shot past the blocker of Riopel to bring the Eagles lead to 4-1 with 2:55 left in the contest. Despite the three-goal hole, the Boys from the Black Hills battled back and put on a show. On the final Rush power play of the game, new Rush defenseman James Melindy unloaded a bomb on a Kale Kerbashian pass by Eagles goalie Tyler Bunz to bring the Rush to a 4-2 deficit with 1:51 left in the game. One minute and six seconds later, Ciotti doubled his goal total and brought the Rush within striking distance at 4-3, threading the puck by Bunz on a sharp angle from the near wall of the Rush attacking zone. Despite offensive zone possession within the remaining 30 seconds, Eagles defenseman Collin Bowman cleared the puck amidst a flurry in front of his net and sent it the full length of the ice into the empty net, sealing a 5-3 win.
Here’s What We Know – The Idaho Steelheads come into this season, their 13th in the ECHL and their 19th overall, after finishing last year tied for the fourth-best record in the league. The Pacific Division Champions were eliminated in the first round of the 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs by the Utah Grizzlies, another new division rival of the Rush, in 6 games. Making his coaching debut with the Steelheads is Neil Graham, who takes over after the conclusion of Brad Ralph’s three-year stint as the bench boss. The club has an active streak of 12 consecutive playoff appearances, the longest such streak in the ECHL. Head-to-head, the Rush will face the Steelheads 12 times this season: 6 both in CenturyLink Arena in Boise and at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
Preseason Recap – The Rush kicked off a new hockey season by taking on their archrivals, the Colorado Eagles, in a pair of exhibition matchups. The Eagles got the best of the Rush both nights, winning in Colorado by a 3-0 score, and the next night in Rapid City by a 5-3 count. The Rush and the Eagles will play in 12 head-to-head matchups this regular season, with the Crystal Cup on the line going to the team with the most points in the head-to-head series.
Did You “C” That? – After failing to find the back of the next in their first preseason game against the Eagles, rookie Chris Ciotti made sure that wasn’t the case in front of the home crowd and ignited the goal lamp twice against the Eagles in the final Rush preseason contest. The 2 preseason goals are the most in the preseason for a Rush forward in the last three seasons. Kale Kerbashian added 2 points of his own by virtues of assists, while James Melindy (G), and Winston Day Chief, rookie Brian O’Rourke, Michael Young, and Scott Brannon (Ast each) added a point of their own.
CRUNCHING NUMBERS: The Season Opener – We don’t have any head-to-head stats against the Steelheads just yet, but we do have some crazy opening night numbers to share:
• 7 – the number of opening night contests in which the Rush have successfully earned a point in the standings. If you’ve thought hard enough about this stat, you’ll realize that means that the Rush are 7/7 in earning points in opening night tilts. The all-time Rush record on opening night is 5-0-2, which includes an active 3-game winning streak.
• 3.85 – the average number of goals the Rush score on opening night. The Rush have never scored below 2 goals in their first game of the regular season, and have scored as many as 6.
• 25.6 – the cumulative power play of the Rush in the season opener. The Rush have successfully scored a power play goal in all of their season openers, going 11/43 in the process. On the flip side of the special teams battle, the PK is 82.9% all-time in the first regular season game (29/35).