(RAPID CITY, SD) – The Rapid City Rush, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes, announced today that forward Ryan Walters has returned to the Black Hills to don a Rush sweater for next season.
Walters exploded on the scene for the Rush after he was acquired in a trade that also brought in rookie stand-out Josh MacDonald, while shipping Cody Ferriero to the Utah Grizzlies. The 5’11”, 190-pound forward registered a 5-point night in his Rush debut on March 4th against Fort Wayne and never looked back, recording a point-per-game average with 17 points (5G, 12 Ast) in 17 games with the Rush, along with a +6 rating. Before his trade to Rapid City, Walters played the first 53 games of his second professional season with the Utah Grizzlies, and racked up 19 goals and 22 assists for 41 points, which was good enough for the third-best scoring total on the Grizzlies roster at that time. Additionally, he joined Utah’s AHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls, for one contest last year.
“We’re extremely excited to have Ryan back in our lineup for the upcoming season,” said Rush Head Coach Mark DeSantis. “Once Ryan came in and played a few games for our team, we knew he was someone that we wanted back to build around. He exemplifies everything that we want a Rush player to be with his work ethic, his leadership, and his willingness to do whatever it takes to win. We’re counting on Ryan to be one of our team’s leaders this year.”
“I’m super excited to be coming back to Rapid City. It was a no-brainer decision for me to re-sign,” Walter explained of his return to the Black Hills. With respect to his success with the club last season, Walters added: “A ton of credit has to go to Coach DeSantis. Coming to Rapid City, I didn’t really know what to expect, and he made it such a comfortable situation for me. With what he’s been putting together this offseason, I can see next year being a great season. We expect to make the playoffs, and ultimately contend for the ECHL title next year, and that’s a journey I’m very excited to be a part of with the Rush.”
Walters, 24, now enters his third season of professional hockey. His career has taken him through the American Hockey League, where he has suited up in 32 total games with the San Diego Gulls, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and the Iowa Wild, and in the ECHL for 116 contests with the Alaska Aces, the Utah Grizzlies, and the Rush. In his tenure in the “Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League”, the native of Rosemount, Minnesota is just shy of a point-per-game pace with 101 points to his credit (44 G, 57 Ast) in 116 games. Prior to playing professionally, Walters attended the University of Nebraska-Omaha with current Rush teammate Michael Young, and finished his junior season as a finalist for college hockey’s highest individual honor, the Hobey Baker Award, becoming just the third player from his institution to contend for the accolade. Following his graduation from UNO, he was invited to represent the Minnesota Wild in the 2014 NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan.
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