(RAPID CITY, S.D.) - The Rapid City Rush, proud affiliate of the NHL's Calgary Flames, will face the Idaho Steelheads this evening at The Monument at 7:05 p.m.
The Rush are searching for their first win at home this season, and a chance to retake sole control of third place in the Mountain Division after Tulsa's win last night. Brett Gravelle is now only three points shy of 100 career ECHL points.
THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY
The Rush have not won a game this year and have only garnered one standings point at The Monument this season. If the Rush are unsuccessful in tonight’s game, they will tie the franchise record for most consecutive home losses (7 – 208-19). The Rush won 20 games at home last season, marking the most successful home-half of single-season in ECHL play. Rapid City is currently 6-3-0 on the road.
BULLY FOR BRETT
Brett Gravelle is riding a three-game point streak entering the game. Gravelle’s assists on Alex Aleardi’s game-tying goal on Wednesday brought him to three points shy of 100 ECHL career points. Gravelle was on a four-game goal-less streak until last weekend where he scored three-points in two games.
Idaho has six different players on AHL or NHL contract with a whopping seven former NHL draft picks. For the Rush, they hold three former NHL draft picks (Bleackley, K. Helgesen, and Nelson) and five players on AHL contracts.
THE PATTERN HOLDS
Despite a game-tying goal in the middle of the third period in Wednesday’s loss, the Rush remain 0-6 on the season when trailing at the end of the second period. Rapid City has scored first in 11 of 15 games this season, and all six wins have come when they’ve scored first. The Rush are plus-five in first period goal differential, but are in the negative in the second and third period.
MISTAKES AND CHANCES
Head Coach Scott Burt maintains that his group played a solid brand of hockey in Wednesday’s 5-3 loss. “We had five mistakes, they scored on all of them, and we didn’t capitalize on our chances. We out-chanced them,” said Burt. The Rush have historically played Idaho tight, but came up 4-9-1 vs. the Steelheads last year.
WHO’S IN THE MIDDLE
The Rush have lined up three centers for most of their contests this season, but are starting to see other forwards draw into the middle as well. Rookie Mark Duarte and rookie Maurizio Colella have both spend some time in the center lane this season. The added value of players like Duarte and Colella is they can slot in for the traditional middle-men if necessary. Both Jimmy Soper and Logan Nelson missed shifts in Wednesday’s loss, but the Rush maintained a high level of play through their rookies.
THE “NAG” LINE
The “NAG” line (Nelson-Aleardi-Gravelle), produced a goal for the third straight game and over the last three contests have been Rapid City’s most productive line. The group contributed at least a point in all three goals in last Saturday’s win vs. Idaho and cashed in for another two goals in Sunday’s victory. Nelson and Aleardi make up two of the three veterans for the Rush this season and Gravelle has slipped into the duo of veterans nicely.
Maurizio Colella scored his fourth goal of the season in Wednesday’s 5-3 loss. Colella has contributed in a goal in each of the last two weekends and came up with a two-assist night on Sunday vs. Wichita. Colella did not play in the ECHL last year as he was a professional in Italy with HC Meran/O.
I’LL BE HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Well… kinda…. The Rush will enjoy five of their next six games at home before shipping out to Idaho and Allen on a six-game, twelve-day road trip that ends on Christmas Eve. The schedule is home-heavy after the turn of the calendar as the Rush play 22 of their 36 home games after the new year.
Rapid City ranks 25th of 28 ECHL teams in shots on goal against this at 493 shots given up to opponents. Since their recent offensive surge, the Rush are narrowing the shot differential and have logged over 30+ shots on goal in three of their last four games. However, the Rush still rank last in the league, averaging only 26.8 shots per game.
In five Friday games this season, the Rush are inly 1-4-0 and are 0-4 in their last four Friday tries. Of their six wins this season, four Rush wins have come on a weekend day (Saturday or Sunday) as the team is just 2-7-0 during the week. However Rapid City has a winning record when wearing red this season (4-3-0) and the team will don it’s reds for tonight’s game.