Where We Left Off: Texas Heat – Zach Cohen’s fifth goal of the season gave the Rapid City Rush a fighting chance in the second period, but the Allen Americans held on for a 3-1 win on Friday night. The Rush finished their two-game road trip with a split. In an emotionally charged night reminiscing on their first ECHL championship, the Americans scored first with two strikes in quick succession. With 3:21 to go in the first period, the Rush turned the puck over on a pass from behind their goal line that made it around the horn to Vincent Arseneau, whose high-slot wrist shot beat Rush net-minder Marek Langhamer to put the Americans on the board at 1-0 (Jacob Poe recorded the assist). Exactly 2:14 later, Dyson Stevenson deflected a shot from Arseneau on the far wall of the Rush zone and by Langhamer to double the Americans lead to 2-0 with 1:07 to play in the period (Arseneau recorded his second point of the night with an assist, Ian Schultz is credited with the secondary assist). The Rush fired back quickly in the second period and halved their deficit. Zach Cohen scored his fifth goal of the season 1:34 into the period, powering through an Allen defender and back-handing the puck by Allen goaltender Riley Gill to put the Rush on the board at a 2-1 deficit. With 11:30 to go in the game, Ian Schultz recorded his second point of the night by extending the Allen advantage to two at 3-1, slipping the puck past Langhamer on a two-on-one breakaway (Tristan King and Eric Roy received the assists). That would remain the final goal of the contest, giving the Americans the 3-1 win.
Well That Was Short – Just as quickly as they departed for their road trip last week, the Rush are back at home and will play in three games beginning tonight against the Thunder. This is the first of only three matchups against Wichita this season, with each one taking place at Premier Home Mortgage Ice in Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Following tonight, the Boys from the Black Hills will take on their playoff rivals, the Quad City Mallards, in a pair of games this weekend and won’t see the Thunder until April.
Big Red Machine – With his goal in Texas on Friday night, Zach Cohen has continued his success in a Rush uniform, and has been one of the main contributors in all facets of the game. Dating back to when he scored his first goal of the season on November 13th in Utah, Cohen is in a three-way tie as the second-leading scorer on the roster with 5 goals and 2 assists for 7 points in 10 games, and is third on the team with a +5 rating. Cohen is on pace to shatter all of his personal highs in his ECHL career, and will most likely do so in a fraction of the time. While we’re talking about contributions…
Scoring Committee – The Rush have continued to buy into the mantra of scoring by committee, and health in the lineup has contributed to the success in this facet of the game. In the same time frame covered above (last 10 games), the Rush have seen 12 different players ignite the goal lamp, and 18 different players record a point. Leading the way in that category is rookie Destry Straight, who has seen his stat totals sky-rocket with 8 of his 9 points on the season coming in that same passage of time (4 goals and 4 assists with a +6 rating to boot). In the last 10 games, the Rush are 6-2-2, with 5 of those 6 wins coming in the last 7 games.
Always Give 100% - This season, the Rush penalty-kill has been at the center of much of their success, especially in the recent games as we have previously pointed out multiple times this year. Through 19 games, the Rush have registered a 100% penalty-kill efficiency in 13, going 8-3-2 in those contests, and 4-2-1 in home contests within that parameter. They now rank 3rd in the ECHL with an 87.5% killing rate.
CRUNCHING NUMBERS: vs the Thunder – With this being the first matchup of the season between the former CHL and ECHL Central Division rivals, let’s reflect on last season’s meetings into this year’s series:
- 5 – the active point streak for the Rush against the Thunder heading into this first showdown. Last season, the Rush went 5-2-2 against Wichita in 9 games, and went 3-0-2 in the last five.
- 6 – the number of one-goal games between the two clubs last season. The last five games mentioned in the above statistic were all one-goal games, and dating back to the final season of the CHL, the Thunder and Rush have played in 9 one-goal games out of 16 matchups.