Calgary’s new ECHL affiliate in Rapid City, South Dakota has kicked off its first year under the Flames family umbrella!
The deal with the Rapid City Rush was announced on August 25th this summer and the team will be the minor league affiliate to not just the Flames, but also the newly relocated Calgary Wranglers of the American Hockey League.
The Rush had not qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs since they were fresh off merging into the ECHL from the Central Hockey League in 2015. However, they had a second place finish in the Mountain Division last year where they made it to the second round of the playoffs before bowing out to the Utah Grizzlies in six games.
The Rush have had a slow start to the season despite their good finish last year. When we last checked in, the team had since fought their way back to a .500 record. They recently rattled off a six game win streak and despite losing four in a row since it ended, the team has propelled itself up into third place in the ECHL’s Mountain Division. The Rush now sit just two points back of second place, but they’d need a miracle to advance any further than that since division-leading Idaho only has three regulation losses on the year.
GAME BY GAME:
The win streak was very likely spurred by a gutsy effort in a comeback win against the Americans on December 2nd. The Rush trailed 3-0 and 5-3 before rallying for a 6-5 regulation victory off an Ilya Nikolaev marker as seen below:
PULLED AHEAD AND TOOK THE LEAD IN THE LAST 40 SECONDS!!!!— Rapid City Rush (@RapidCityRush) December 3, 2022
DEC 2nd- Rapid City Rush 6 @ Allen Americans 5 -WIN
DEC 3rd- Rapid City Rush 8 @ Allen Americans 2 -WIN
DEC 4th- Rapid City Rush 3 @ Allen Americans 2 -WIN
DEC 8th- Rapid City Rush 4 vs Wichita Thunder 3 -WIN
DEC 9th- Rapid City Rush 2 vs Wichita Thunder 1 -WIN
DEC 10th- Rapid City Rush 2 vs Wichita Thunder 4 -LOSS
DEC 14- Rapid City Rush 1 @ Idaho Steelheads 4 -LOSS
DEC 16th- Rapid City Rush 2 @ Idaho Steelheads 2 -LOSS
DEC 17th- Rapid City Rush 1 @ Idaho Steelheads 5 -LOSS
OOPS, HE DID IT AGAIN!!!!— Rapid City Rush (@RapidCityRush) December 4, 2022
Calgary native Matt Marcinew continues to lead the charge in the scoring department for the Rush. Now up to 29 points on the season, his total is good enough for 3rd overall in the ECHL, and a tie for second in league-wide in goals. Alex Aleardi is second in the team race and is tied with Marcinew in assists.
In the blue paint, Flames prospect Daniil Chechelev continues to carry the workload, including a career high 38 saves on November 12th in a shootout win against first place Idaho. He’s up to 18 starts, which is the most by any ECHL goalie so far this year. He’s also leading the league in wins, and faced the most shots in the league so far with 610 and leading the league in minutes at 1074. Chechy has been a rock so far and we can expect him to carry on over backup Adam Carlson, who has chipped in sporadically along the way.
Defenseman Simon Lavigne has been called up to the Calgary Wranglers as of December 19th, and forward Rory Kerins was ahead of him with a December 8th callup to the AHL club but was reassigned on the 16th along with Ilya Nikolaev.
Rapid City will wrap up a three game series visiting second place Wichita before the ECHL’s holiday break. It’s a huge opportunity to leap-frog the Thunder and grab that second place spot in the Mountain Division, since there are currently only two points separating both teams. The calendar year will round out as Tulsa comes to town for a three game series at The Monument, where the Rush will host Scooby-Doo Theme Night on New Year’s Eve with specialty jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game. That’ll be the first half of a six game homestand at The Monument as the Utah Grizzlies will be visiting once 2023 has started. The Grizz are chasing down RCR and are four points back.
Check back with Matchsticks & Gasoline to see how the standings shake out!