(WICHITA, Kan.) - The Rapid City Rush, proud affiliate of the NHL's Calgary Flames, will face the Wichita Thunder this afternoon at INTRUST Bank Arena at 3:05 p.m. MT
The Rush were swept by Idaho last weekend at home, marking 10 consecutive home losses dating back to Friday, April 14 of last season.
Rapid City currently sits at 6-3-0 away from home, and after six transactions during the week, will look to improve to a .700 win-percentage away from home this season.
RAPID CITY LOOKS TO RE-CAPTURE ROAD MAGIC IN ONE-GAME ROAD SWING
The struggles of the Rapid City Rush have been well-documented at The Monument this season, but the road-side of the schedule has been kind to this Rush group. Rapid City has the third-most road wins and the third-best road winning percentage in the Mountain Division, including taking four points home during the last road swing to Wichita. Rapid City only won 13 games on the road last year, and a win this afternoon would put the Rush well ahead of last year’s road pace.
PENALTY KILL STRUGGLES AGAINST OFFENSIVE JUGGERNAUT
After peaking at over 81 percent on the penalty kill, Rapid City has given up at least a powerplay goal in three of their last four games. The Rush are ranked 25th of 28 ECHL teams on the PK at 75.9 percent. While Idaho’s powerplay wass the top-ranked in the league, Wichita’s powerplay is ranked at the top now, averaging better than 25 percent on the man-advantage. Peter Bates also leads the ECHL with 30 points.
THE TRAIN DON’T RUN THROUGH WICHITA
The Rush will not play a regular season game in Wichita the rest of the season. The Thunder will head back to The Monument for a Thursday, Friday, Saturday slate this coming week and will return to the Black Hills later in the season. The two teams will see each other 10 teams during the season series, the second-most games vs. a single opponent this year for the Rush (Idaho, 11).
RUBBER ON THE ROAD
Logging individual games of seven and eight goals scored this season away from home, the Rush have scored the 7th-most road goals of any team in the league this season. Rapid City has also scored first in seven of their nine road games this season. The Rush are tied for the league lead in game-opening goals at 12 (Idaho).
BRETT GRAVELLE STILL SEEKING HISTORY
Gravelle sits at 98 career points (45g, 53a) in his ECHL career and is looking to become the second Rush player to eclipse the 100-point threshold this season (Jimmy Soper).
ALEARDI NEARING MILESTONE TOO
89 goals, 93 assists and 182 career points stand as premiere marks for Alex Aleardi. The veterans has seemingly played three careers in one from his AHL years to France and now in the ECHL. Aleardi has tallied 392 professional points across the AHL, ECHL, and League Magnus.
TYSON HELGESEN NEARS 100 ECHL GAMES
After losing a couple appearances to an AHL call-up (Tucson), Tyson Helgesen is schedule to suit up in his 97th ECHL game tonight. Helgesen would eclipse 100 games on Saturday, Dec. 9 against Wichita at The Monument barring any unforeseen setback.
A BUSY WEEK FOR RUSH ROSTER
From Sunday to Saturday, Rapid City filed six separate transactions with the ECHL. Carter Robertson, who was the second-longest-tenured defenseman on the team, was traded to Cincinnati to complete the deal for James Hardie. Ty Enns was acquired from Kansas City and Brandon Yeamans was added from free agency a day later while Conner Bleackley was waived. Those moves come on the back of recalls for both forward Mark Duarte and defenseman Jarrod Gourley. In the turnover, the Rush have lost nine goals between Gourley and Duarte, but gain the services of a top-five NCAA division-III scorer in Enns and 87 games of ECHL experience with Yeamans.
DOING GOOD FOR THE HOLIDAYS
The Rush participated in five separate community events across Rapid City this week, encompassing 13 different players. Some players aided the Salvation Army during their Red Kettle Campaign by collecting donations at retail locations. The Rush also visited the community ice rink and played bumper cars in Deadwood on Wednesday, and helped pass out coats, shoes, and warm clothing items at the annual Shoe and Mitten Parade at Goodwill. On Wednesday, the Rush front office staff hosted a class field trip for high school business students from Stevens High School.
ROCKING AROUND THE WEST
While the Rush will finish a stretch of six-of-seven games being at home, this afternoon marks a stretch where seven of the next 10 games come on the road for the Rush, including a six-game road stretch from Dec. 13 to Dec. 23. The six-game string will be the longest road trip by games for Rapid City this season, but will yield to a home-heavy second half of the season after the new year.
The Rush went 7-8 over a 15-game December last season, but it came with a difficult seven-game losing skid between Wichita and Idaho (six of those losses coming on the road). Rapid City has a chance to gain ground on last year’s team with a better-than-.500 record in a December that includes 13 games this season.
The Rush are averaging 31.8 shots per game in their last six contests. Prior to those six games, the Rush had outshot their opponents only once and it came in a 3-0 loss to Kansas City (shots 28-20). The Rush are 2-2-0 this season when outshooting their opponents.