(RAPID CITY, S.D.) - The Rapid City Rush, proud affiliate of the NHL's Calgary Flames, are set to face the Idaho Steelheads in game eight of a 14-game season series tonight.
The Rush currently sit in the fourth and final playoff spot of the ECHL Mountain Division.
ROUND ‘EM UP
The season-series between the Rush and the Steelheads is now halfway over, with the Steelheads taking six of the seven games over R.C. Last night, the Rush hit their benchmarks for success, scoring first in the game, scoring on the powerplay, and outshooting their opponents. However, a stingy Brian Thomas stonewalled 32 pucks en route to his third victory of the Rush. Rapid City has still won eight of their last 10 games at home.
Alex Aleardi has not slowed his pace since returning from the All-Star break. Aleardi has points in four of his last five games and become the first Rush forward this season to reach 25 assists. Aleardi is four goals shy of his 100th ECHL career goal and eclipsed 200 career ECHL points last weekend.
For the first time this season, the Rush and the Steelheads dropped the gloves. The two teams each saw two players go toe-to-toe, Tyson Helgesen scrapped with Nick Canade who jumped in to continue a scuffle started by Demetrious Koumontzis, and Zack Hoffman squared off with Romain Rodzinski. The end of the fray saw all four combatants received 10-minute misconducts penalties and be sent to showers early.
GET THE WAGON READY
The Rush will embark on the longest road trip of the season over the course of the next two weeks. Rapid City tangles first with Utah for three and then heads east to Maine for three with the Mariners. It is both the longest road swing of the year by both distance and time. The 13-day, two-city, six-game road trip ends with the Rush returning home for their second consecutive five-game homestand against the Kansas City Mavericks and Idaho once again.
Last night marked the first time the Rush outshot the Steelheads this season. Rapid City put 34 pucks on net in the loss, but held Idaho to only 29. The Rush have kept the Steelheads under 30 shots only one other time this year, but also fell in that game. The Rush came when they put 37 shots onto Jared Moe in a 7-4 win in Idaho on December 16.
TOWN AIN’T BIG ENOUGH FOR THE BOTH OF US
The Rush and Steelheads square off seven more times including tonight, giving Idaho a chance to clinch a share of the season series this evening. However, the Rush are just seven games back of the Steelheads for second place in the Mountain Division. Idaho has lost major pieces like Mark Rassell and Keaton Mastrodonato to the AHL and Idaho is only 3-6-1 in their last 10. The Rush, with a win, could put some heat on the Steelheads, who face Tulsa and Allen in their next six games.
BIG GUNS GET GOALS
Both Will Riedell and Jarrod Gourley scored for the Rush in last night’s game, marking the first time this season that the Rush have seen their offense come exclusively from the blue line. Riedell’s goal is his first of the season after having three assists with the Rush this year and three more assists with the AHL’s Calgary Wranglers. Jarrod Gourley’s goal marks his fifth of the season and Gourley is nearly a point-per-game defenseman in 13 games for the Rush this season.
BLUE-TIFUL CANADIAN TUXEDOS
The Rush will wear specialty “Canadian Tuxedo” uniforms tonight to appear as if they are in all denim. The jerseys, socks, and even pant shells all have the faux-denim look. These jerseys will be auctioned off after the game with a portion of the proceeds going to the Western Legacy Foundation that supports the next generation of cowboys and cowgirls and assists in keeping the western way of life alive and thriving.
POWERPLAY ROLLS ON
The Rush have now scored a powerplay goal in each of their last four games, albeit the PP group went 1-for-8 last night. Rapid City’s powerplay has improved three full percentage points since early December.