IT’S CHRISTMAS EVE RUSH NATION! This is one of my favorite times of the year! While I might not have a Christmas carol for all of you, I do have another set of observations ready to dive into. Today, I’ll discuss the Christmas holiday, some observations from last week, and a brief look ahead to the last games of 2019:
- Last week, we published a story I wrote on Rush defenseman Brandon Fehd, and his constant battle against Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in his daily life. I want to thank him for graciously giving us his time, and his unselfishness in allowing us to do this story on him. It must not have been easy to open up in a capacity like that, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to write about one of the most high-character individuals that has ever come through the Rush locker room. If you haven’t yet, you can read that story here: https://www.rapidcityrush.com/en/news/2019/my-battle-on-and-off-the-ice-the-story-of-brandon-fehd
- While we were on the road in Allen, Rush net-minder Tyler Parks earned the first AHL call-up of his professional career. As an organization, from the owners, to the front office, to hockey operations, we couldn’t be prouder of Tyler. His relentless hard work has earned him this opportunity at the next level. Wearing #35 and currently playing with former Rush goaltender Ivan Prosvetov, we hope that he gets a start with the Roadrunners while he’s up there in the AHL. Folks, this is what hockey at this level is all about. If we don’t promote development to the AHL level, we’re doing our players a major disservice.
- Regarding Parks, the most important part of his development to the AHL has to be his attitude. Tyler never complained. He never gave up. He came to the rink every day just wanting an opportunity to play hockey. His positive mindset and approach to the goaltending position is one of the key reasons for his success over the last two seasons in a Rush uniform. It’s a lesson to every young player to come to the rink ready to work, and to be positive about whatever is thrown at you in both life and the sport.
- On this last trip, we were joined by President Todd Mackin and VP of Sales Jared Reid as we took on the Allen Americans. It’s always great to have front office staff join us on these road trips to support our team, and to also see how other teams in the league operate.
- One of these days, I’m going to successfully convince Jared to call a full game with me on the air. A former linesman with years of experience at virtually every level of hockey, Jared actually went to Central Michigan University for broadcast journalism originally, before changing his track late in his college career to sports management. His knowledge of the game is superb, and he’s very well-spoken and professional. I’m confident if he ever takes me up on my offer, that we’ll absolutely crush it in the booth.
- It’s very easy to get frustrated and down when the team has lost six games in a row. What’s asinine is to see people comment “Well, so much for this season,” and “This was good while it lasted”. People, there are still 43 games left. We’re 15-11-3-0, and tied for third three ways in the toughest and deepest division in the entire ECHL. All it takes is one win to start a new streak, and who knows how long that could go? It’s a marathon, not a sprint. There’s still plenty of time to turn this around, and I know Coach Tetrault and Coach Gates will do just that.
- To put the above thought even further into perspective, last season, the Tulsa Oilers lost 11 games in a row from December 1st to December 27th, managing only 2 standings points in an 0-9-2-0 stretch. Despite that horrendous skid, they followed that up by winning 10 of the next 11 games, won 42 games in the season, registered the fourth-best point total with 90 points after 72 games, won both the Mountain Division regular season and playoff championships, and finished one win away in Game 7 against Toledo for a trip to the Kelly Cup Finals. I’m just saying…
- Wichita is another team that the Rush “owe” as they come into the New Year, and what a time to pay the team back with a pair of wins to end the skid heading into 2020. Home-ice has been very beneficial in this series. The Rush are 4-2-0-0 against Wichita in Rapid City since Coach Tetrault took over in 2017, however, the Rush are winless in Wichita in the same timeframe, going 0-10-0-1 in the “Air Capital”. It’s just one of those things you can’t really explain.
- As are the keys with every game, the Rush need to stay disciplined, and play a full 60 minutes if they hope to beat the Thunder and end the skid this weekend. Both games against the Thunder this season, the Rush have trailed after one, taken back the lead in the second, and either carried that lead or tied the game in the final period. In those same games, late penalties have doomed the Rush, and Wichita’s power play has stuck the dagger in for the game-winning blow. In the most recent matchup on November 13th, the Rush lost with 13.1 seconds left on a power play goal. A full effort and staying out of the box are always crucial to win games, but in particular against this team where failing to execute that has doomed the Rush twice already.
- I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to come home for Christmas every year during the season. This year is more special, as not only will I see my parents and my younger brother, Michael, I’ll also get to spend time with my grandmother that flew down from New Jersey to celebrate the holiday in Charlotte with my family. My grandmother has turned into an avid Rush fan over the last seven seasons, and religiously listens to every game broadcast on her iPad. Already two days into my trip home, we’ve had many discussions of this team.
From my family in Charlotte, and my family in the Rapid City Rush office, I’d like to wish all of you reading this a healthy, safe, and Merry Christmas. Enjoy this time with your loved ones, and create new memories this holiday season with eachother. May God bless you all, and I’ll see you when we take on Wichita on December 27th and 28th.