(RAPID CITY, SD) – The Rapid City Rush, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames, announced today the re-signing of rookie forward Blake Bennett for the 2023-24 ECHL season.
“I’m extremely excited to get back to work with this group,” said Bennett. “I believe that if we all come in ready to work, we’re going to have a really successful and fun season.”
Bennett is the eighth returner to the Rush from last season, joining forwards Weiland Parrish, Keanu Yamamoto, Brett Gravelle, Jimmy Soper, and Alex Aleardi, and defensemen Tyson Helgesen and Carter Robertson. Overall, the Rush have 11 players announced, joining newcomers Zack Hoffman, Maurizio Colella, and T.J. Fergus.
Bennett joined the Rush at the end of the 2022-23 ECHL season, following the conclusion of his NCAA college career at American International College. The 5’9”, 183-pound forward made his professional debut with the Rush on March 9th against Wichita, registering his first career point with an assist on a Logan Nelson goal in a 6-4 defeat. He followed this up with his first career goal, the game-winner nonetheless, in a 3-1 win over Tulsa on March 18th. Bennett finished his brief stay in the Black Hills with a goal and four assists in 15 contests to end the 2022-23 ECHL season.
“The end of the season is always a great way to evaluate young talent out of college and build for the future. Blake joined us after his college days at AIC, in which he put up some big numbers,” Rush Head Coach/GM Scott Burt explained of Bennett’s signing. “Blake has the knack for scoring goals, which is hard to come by especially as a first-year professional. I know just talking with him he’s excited to start and get going. A good summer of training will have him ready for the grind of a first professional season. We are excited to see what he can do this year!”
Originally from Grand Island, New York, Bennett, 24, turned professional last year following a standout conclusion to his NCAA college career. As a senior last year, he posted career bests in virtually every category, scoring 22 goals and 35 points in 38 games, earning AHA First All-Star Team honors. In the year prior as a junior, Bennett notched 20 goals and 34 points in 37 games, leading the Yellow Jackets to the AHA Regular Season and Tournament Championships, an All-Tournament Team selection, Tournament MVP honors, and a berth into the 2022 NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament. Despite a loss to the #1 national seed Michigan Wolverines, Bennett shined with two of his team’s three goals in the team’s 5-3 opening round defeat. He finished his NCAA career with 44 goals, 28 assists, and 72 points in 80 games.