Each week, Rush Broadcaster Mark Binetti will check in with a series of thoughts about the team, the world of hockey, and sports in general. In this edition, he congratulates young professionals on career firsts, dives into the culture of the locker room, and gives credit where it is highly due to the front office.
- I’m very happy to bring this blog back for the first time since my second season with the team! I hope this is a fun, yet informative dive into the state of the Rush on and off the ice, hockey, sports, and life in general. Throughout the year, I'll check in with the observations in the hopes of delivering an "insider" look into the team.
- This has been the best start for a Rush team since I first joined the organization, and its great to see the club start off with the success it’s seen so far. Through 16 games, the Rush are 9-5-2-0 with 20 points, good enough for the second best start ever in team history in that timespan. Coach Tetrault and Coach Gates have done a phenomenal job in addressing the lack of offense from last season, and the goaltending has been stellar as well. It’s a combination of all of the above, plus unselfish play, and a leadership core that has taken the reins to make this team better every day.
- The culture of this locker room is different from any other I’ve seen in my seven seasons with the team. Throughout my pregame interviews with Assistant Coach Jeremy Gates, he’s constantly stated that the players “come to the rink with a smile on [their faces], and [they] love the game of hockey.” That’s a testament to the environment that Coach Tetrault and Coach Gates have created in this team. Coach Tetrault has always preached strong work ethic, accountability, and doing the right thing. It’s great to see that there is 100% buy in, and the players love their jobs here in Rapid City.
- Despite the early success of this team, Saturday’s finish to the road trip was an unfortunate sight with a 10-1 loss. Much has been said about the loss over the last few days, both encouraging and aggravating. I said it in the postgame show, and I’ll say it again here: whether you win a game 5-0, or lose a game 10-1, it only counts as ONE in the standings. The sun came up the next day, and the team is ready to rock for Tulsa this week.
- Keeghan Howdeshell had a career night against Wichita to begin the road trip with 3 assists, earning one on every goal the Rush scored against the Thunder. Coming three games into his return from a lengthy upper body injury, it’s great to see Howdeshell playing with such poise. When he commits to working hard, moving his feet, and keeping the game simple, he is a lights-out forward with great potential. Now that he has his legs back under him, look for him to be an impact player this week against Tulsa.
- Over the last four games, we watched three career-firsts for three Rush players. Myles McGurty’s first professional goal against the Idaho Steelheads on November 9th served as the game-winner, securing a sweep against Idaho in a 1-0 win. In that same game, Ivan Prosvetov stopped all 30 shots he saw for his first professional shutout. Two games later in Tulsa, Gage Torrel scored the first goal of his professional career to help the Rush in a 5-4 winning effort. If there’s one thing I love most about what I do, it’s seeing the amount of work these men put into their craft, and the sheer look of exhilaration as they earn their first milestone. Congratulations to all three, and here’s to many more this season.
- Regarding Prosvetov, he had one of the most emphatic celebrations I’ve ever seen from a goaltender. Following his first professional shutout, Prosvetov grabbed the net at the cross bar and slammed it down on the ice. According to him, he just “shut the door”, so his slamming of the net was symbolic of just that. He told Coach Gates that he did that after every shutout he had during his OHL days, and wanted to carry that tradition to the pros. If that wasn’t enough, Tyler Parks preceded his celebration with a dance following a shootout win over Idaho the night before. I never knew Parks could bust a move like that. Goalies are hilarious, no?
- This week against Tulsa is critical for this Rush team. Coach Tetrault has stated from day one that if you win at home and go .500 on the road, your team is practically playoff bound. Currently, the Rush are hovering around .500 away from home, but are undefeated in Rapid City this year through five games. No other team in Rapid City Rush history has started off better than 5-0-0-0 at home, making Wednesday’s series-opening game against the Oilers that much more impactful.
- Against Tulsa, the team is 4-1-0-0 through five games, has 9 of their ECHL-leading 19 power play goals against the Oilers, and has scored 4 or more goals in a game in four of the five matchups. Don’t let this fool you, the Oilers will come out hot when the series starts Wednesday night. They shoot from everywhere, finish every check, and play with an edge. Most of the team you’re going to see on Wednesday helped lead them to a 7-game finish in the Western Conference Finals in the playoffs last year.
- With “Rush’s Wizarding World” around the corner, I want to take time to congratulate our front office staff on a job well done regarding our promotional nights. In particular, I’d like to recognize our Director of Creative and Fulfillment, Amanda Gunter. She has worked tirelessly all summer long to ensure the quality of in-game entertainment is at a level never seen before in Rapid City for this season. Through five games, we’ve seen a production, from pregame to postgame, that has been engaging with great music, funny and informative video clips alike, great crowd interaction, and an overall major increase in class that has been lacking in the last few years. I can only imagine what she has up her sleeve for “Rush’s Wizarding World” on Saturday night. I encourage all of you to come out and see for yourselves how much her talent is shining on home ice.