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GAME PREVIEW: RUSH @ ALASKA 12/18

Friday, December 18th
GAME PREVIEW: RUSH @ ALASKA 12/18

Where We Left Off: 8th Annual Teddy Bear Toss – Zach Cohen triggered a shower of teddy bears with his first period goal, but the Quad City Mallards scored twice in the final frame to stun the Rapid City Rush by a 2-1 score on Saturday, the 8th Annual Teddy Bear Toss held by the Rush. Tension was in the air on Teddy Bear Toss night, with everyone wondering who would score the goal that would trigger a shower of teddy bears and when. Rush fans found that out at the 4:26 mark of the first period as Zach Cohen took a drop pass from Chris Ciotti and carried the puck towards the net. Cohen busted through the low slot, and while falling, tapped a bouncing puck in mid-air by Mallards goaltender Steve Michalek to give the Rush a 1-0 lead (Ciotti recorded the lone assist). Tension was also evident between both of the heated clubs, who managed to skate through a scoreless, yet penalty-filled second period which saw 60 of the game’s 76 penalty minutes assessed to both sides. It would prove to be the only goal of the contest for 42:52 of game action until the Mallards evened the score in the midst of four-on-four hockey in the third. With 12:42 left in the game, Matt Carey fired a shot through traffic that beat Rush net-minder Danny Battochio, squaring the game up at 1-1 (Alex Gudbranson and Jake Baker recorded the assists). Following up that goal was Sam Warning, who once again through traffic beat Battochio stick-side to give the Mallards their first and only lead of the game with 9:08 remaining in the contest (Matt Neal earned an assist, while Carey earned his second point of the night with his first helper on the goal). Despite the best efforts of the Rush after killing a late penalty in the game, the Mallards and their rookie goaltender hung tough and kept their lead in what was eventually a Mallards 2-1 win.

Zach Cohen Wins! – After multiple guesses by Rush staff, players, and the radio crew as to who would score the super-famous “Teddy Bear” goal, Zach Cohen became the lucky gentleman to trigger the shower of stuffed animals 4:26 into the game against the Mallards on Saturday night. Over one-thousand teddy bears were collected and donated to the Youth and Family Services of Rapid City, making the 8th Annual Rush Teddy Bear Toss a great success once again. Cohen became the sixth forward to score on the Teddy Bear Toss for the Rush, still leaving former defenseman Gio Flamminio as the lone blue-liner to signal the toss of teddy bears.

Player Of the Week – To the surprise of no one, but the excitement of the Black Hills, Rush forward Mikhail Stefanovich was named Sherwood/ECHL Player of the Week for his 7-point, +3 performance last week in three games, including contests in which he recorded back-to-back hat-tricks for the first time in Rush history, and the 10th time in the last 19 years of ECHL hockey. Stefanovich becomes the second Rush skater to win the award in franchise history, and joins Rush net-minder Marek Langhamer as the second player to receive a weekly recognition in his respective position this season.

Three’s a Crowd – For the first time this season, the Rush will play in a “three-in-three”, or a series in which they’ll play three games in three consecutive days. It is the first of six in this year’s schedule, three of which belong to their opponent this weekend: the Alaska Aces. Last season in “three-in-three’s”, the Rush went 9-3-0, sweeping two of them, including a hellacious trip that took them through three different cities: Tulsa one night (4-0 W featuring two goaltenders), Missouri the next night (3-0 W-signifying Danny Battochio’s single-season record-tying third shutout of the year), and Wichita the final night (5-4 W/SO that took 11 rounds to determine a victor).

CRUNCHING NUMBERS: vs the Aces – With the last matchup between both division rivals coming at the end of October, let’s familiarize ourselves with numbers from over a month ago:

  • 11 – the number of combined goals scored in both games between the Aces and Rush. The Rush edge out the Aces in goal-differential by just 1, but both teams won big in their respective wins (Aces 4-1 on 10/30, the Rush 5-1 on Halloween).
  • 50 – the Rush power play percentage in the two-game set against the Aces. One consistency in the series was the Rush man-advantage, which went an even 1/2 in both games. On the flip side, the Aces failed to score a power play goal against the Rush, going 0/6 in the set, and 0/5 in the Halloween finale.

Upcoming Home Games

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Savannah Ghost Pirates @ Rapid City Rush
Wednesday, February 28th
Savannah Ghost Pirates @ Rapid City Rush
Puck Drops:
7:05 PM MST
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WEATHER PERMITTING NIGHT
Friday, March 1st
WEATHER PERMITTING NIGHT
Puck Drops:
7:05 PM MST
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JURASSIC WORLD NIGHT
Saturday, March 2nd
JURASSIC WORLD NIGHT
Puck Drops:
7:05 PM MST
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RC Rapid City Rush
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