(RAPID CITY, S.D.) - The Rapid City Rush, proud affiliate of the NHL's Calgary Flames, are set to square off in a Western Conference series vs. the Iowa Heartlanders this weekend. The Rush are 2-0-0 vs. Iowa this season and will look to win the season series with just one more victory.
Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. tonight at The Monument.
WESTERN CONFERENCE SHOWDOWN ENDS CALENDAR YEAR
As if looking into a mirror, the Rush and Heartlanders square off having seen better days this season. The Rush having won three-straight just two weeks ago, managed only two wins on their six-game road trip and are tied for fourth in the Mountain Division, while Iowa was second in the Central Division earlier in December. Rapid City defeated Iowa twice in the opening two games of the season in Coralville – but have gone 9-14-2 in Mountain Division play since.
Maurizio Colella is now riding a four-game point streak, just one game shy of Logan Nelson’s season-long five-game point streak. Colella has scored a goal in the last three games. Colella scored 22 points in 19 games last season with HC Meran/O in Italy and is now just a single point shy of tying his production from last season. It is already Colella’s best ECHL year.
THE SCHOOL OF “HARD”IE KNOCKS
If teams have learned anything, it’s don’t let James Hardie loose on the powerplay. Hardie leads the Rush in powerplay goals with three this season. Hardie has now notched five goals over the course of the last seven games, including a hat trick in the 10-5 thrashing of Allen on December 20. Hardie logged over 80 points in the OHL with the Mississauga Steelheads last year.
HONEY. I’M HOME
The Rush will now head into the rest of the season playing more home games that road games. The Rush have 25 remaining home games this season compared to only 20 on the road. While Rapid City started the season with eight-consecutive home losses, the Rush won three-in-a-row over Wichita at home during their last stint in the Black Hills. Rapid City won 20 home games last season, but managed only 13 road wins. This season’s team has won three at home, but taken eight on the road already.
RUSH NAB FORWARD McCARTY FROM READING
On Thursday afternoon, the Rush completed a trade to acquire forward Mason McCarty from the Reading Royals. McCarty played 41 games in Kalamazoo last season, but ended up on the season-ending roster for the Iowa Heartlanders, despite never suiting up for Iowa. McCarty led all scorers in 2017-18 with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels (outpacing teammate Brandon Hagel).
THE POWERPLAY GROWS TEETH
After going a stretch earlier in the season where they were 0-for-20, the Rush have cashed in for six powerplay goals over their last four games, scoring at least one in the last four. The Rush are 8-5-0 this season when scoring a powerplay goal and a perfect 2-0-0 when scoring shorthanded this season.
MARTIN MAKING IT HAPPEN
Charles Martin continues to surge in his rookie season, pacing all Rush defensemen in assists with 15. Martin is fourth on the team in the category and also leads all Rush players in plus-minus rating with a sterling +11.
TAKING IT OUTSIDE (THE DIVISION)
The Rush will play six of their next nine games outside the Mountain Division, with all of the out-of-division contests coming at home. All of those games right now are currently comprised of teams outside the playoff picture in the Central Division (Iowa and Fort Wayne). The Rush are 2-0-0 out of divisional play this season with 15 non-divisional games left to play in the season.
Alex Aleardi is now just five points shy of his 200th ECHL point and will celebrate his 500th traditional-regular-season game on January 5 in Tulsa. Aleardi leads the team in assists and points. The co-captain will also hit 200 ECHL games tonight and is nine games shy of his 300th regular-season pro game in North America.
The Rush have an even goal differential in the first and second period this year, but are minus-15 in third period goals. The Rush have had six leads from the halfway point of the game onward disappear into losses (gaining only two standings points on those six). However, Rapid City leads the league in game-opening goals (16).
The Rapid City Rush are only 2-7-0 on Fridays this season. The Rush defeated Iowa in their first Friday game on the season on October 20, and then prevailed over Wichita on December 8. Both of those wins came in overtime, leaving the Rush without a regulation win during a Friday game this season.