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GAME NOTES: March 8 - Rush at Utah Grizzlies

Friday, March 8th
GAME NOTES: March 8 - Rush at Utah Grizzlies

(WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah) - The Rapid City Rush, proud affiliate of the NHL's Calgary Flames, meet the Utah Grizzlies, AA affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche, tonight at 7:10 p.m. from Maverik Center.

The Rush have not defeated the Grizzlies this season, but had a lead in each of the three previous meetings between the squads this year. Utah is two points in back of Allen for the final Mountain Division playoff spot, and the Rush are 11 points behind the Americans looking to track down that coveted final spot. 

 

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GOING ON A BEAR HUNT

After a tough three-game series against Savannah, the Rush have entered the final 17 games of their season, and start the stretch of exclusive Mountain Division play tonight against Utah. The Rush are 11 points out of the ECHL playoff picture and 9 points behind the Utah Grizzlies who are currently in 5th place in the division. The Rush lost all three vs. Utah at the end of January, but had a lead at some point in each of those three games. Rapid City is 3-16-0 since the All-Star Break, but has won 12 games on the road this season – just one win off of equaling last season’s road win total. 

 

A BRETT OF FRESH AIR

During the week, the Rush acquired forward Brett Davis from the Florida Everblades in exchange for forward Jimmy Soper. Davis had 13 points in 33 games for the Everblades this season, but comes in as a highly-touted, WHL product. His play with the Kootenay Ice earned him a 6th round selection in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft (Dallas), and set him up for 29-point season last year at the University of Manitoba. As a rookie, Davis joins a strong young corps that includes Blake Bennett and two rookie, AHL prospect goaltenders. 

 

MUZYKA TO YOUR EARS

The Rush also signed their second 2024 collegiate prospect in defenseman Peter Muzyka this week. Muzyka, a Toronto native, finished his collegiate career as a day-in, day-out blueliner for Long Island University (NCAA division-I). He had two assists and 70 penalty minutes in 35 games for the Sharks this season and is expected to make his professional debut this evening. 

 

BETWEEN THE PIPES

Rapid City’s goaltending tandem got a boost with Connor Murphy being re-assigned to the Rush on Monday morning. Murphy earned his first AHL win during his most recent trip to the AHL’s Calgary Wranglers and also backstopped the Wranglers to an overtime loss against Manitoba. That means Murphy has earned standings points in two of his first three AHL career starts.

 

GETTING THE PUCK TO GO

Since the All-Star Break, the Rush have scored three or more goals in just five appearances in 19 games. The Rush are 3-2-0 in games scoring three or more since the All-Star Game, but dropped one of those games to Utah (January 24, 6-3). The last win for Rapid City came on Sunday, February 25, in a 5-3 win over Greenville. Rapid City has not lost a game when scoring five goals this season. 

 

THE NINE

The Rush will play the most critical stretch of games over the course of their next 11, nine games that come against Utah and Allen, the teams duking it out for the final playoff spot in the Mountain Division. The Rush will see Utah six times in their next eight and Allen for a three-game set on March 27, 29, and 30. Allen still has to tangle with the North Division-leading Adirondack Thunder while Utah plays exclusively Idaho and Kansas City after their trip to Rapid City on March 22-24. 

 

HELPING HAND

Logan Nelson, the team leader in assists, is riding a four-game assist streak heading toward this series against Utah. Nelson has 35 assists this season and is one points away from his 50th point, which would give him three straight 50 points seasons. 

 

B-B-B-BENNY

Blake Bennett is riding a four-game point streak entering the weekend series vs. Utah. Bennett has been the team leader in goals since November and has paced the team with 24. Bennett is three goals shy of Brett Gravelle’s single-season rookie goals record with the Rush. In 2021, Gravelle logged 29 goals (27 with Rapid City and 2 with Iowa) during his ECHL rookie campaign. 

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF SPECIAL TEAMS

The Grizzlies have failed to score a powerplay goal against the Rush this season, going 0-for-6 in the opening series in January. The Rush managed one powerplay goal to go 1-for-6 on the powerplay against the Grizzlies during the first series. Utah has the worst penalty kill in the league this season at only 72.9 percent. 

 

FIVE-GAME ROAD STREAKS

The March road trip is the third-longest road trip of the season for the Rush. The team has twice taken six-game road trip this season and fared moderately. In a six-game trip in December between Idaho and Allen, the Rush went 2-3-1, while Rapid City went 2-4-0 in their most recent long stretch vs. Utah and Maine. 

 

WE LOVE OUR COMMUNITIES

The Rush are proud to have supported multiple community initiatives prior to the road trip. The team visited three area schools this week in the celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday. The Rush also participated in a floor hockey game with local residents at the Avantara Arrowhead Nursing Home. 

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