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 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. The team has gone 4-1-1 since the calendar turned to 2023 and grabbed nine of a possible 12 points, propelling up into third place in the ECHL’s Mountain Division. They’re in fourth place by win percentage, which would qualify them for a Kelly Cup Playoffs spot should that be where they wind up at season’s end. As it sits, they’ll have to hold fort because everyone below them in the standings currently sits with games in hand.
GAME BY GAME:
JAN 5th- Rapid City Rush 5 vs Utah Grizzlies 2 -WIN
JAN 6th- Rapid City Rush 4 vs Utah Grizzlies 6 -LOSS
JAN 7th- Rapid City Rush 3 vs Utah Grizzlies 2 -WIN (OT)
JAN 13th- Rapid City Rush 3 @ Tulsa Oilers 1 -WIN
JAN 14th- Rapid City Rush 3 @ Tulsa Oilers 4 -LOSS (OT)
JAN 16th- Rapid City Rush 4 @ Kansas City Mavericks 3 -WIN (OT)
After being called up to the AHL Wranglers on January 7th, Rush leading scorer Matt Marcinew and Flames prospect Rory Kerins have been sent back to the ECHL as of January 18th. Both players missed four Rush games in the process. Before his call-up, Marcinew sat sixth-place in the ECHL scoring race and was eight points back of the league lead. He’s since been dropped from that race due to his absence, but still leads the Rush with 15 goals and 22 assists in his 33 games with the ECHL club.
Kerins was also in the top five in team scoring, and has 27 points through 26 games. Seen below, the duo combined for a scoring play in the January 5th win against the Grizz.
ANOTHER ONE!!!!!— Rapid City Rush (@RapidCityRush) January 6, 2023
In the blue paint, Flames goalie 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 28 starts, which is the second most by any ECHL goalie so far this year. He’s also second in the league in wins with 16, and faced the most shots in the league so far with 886 and second in the league in minutes at 1577. Chechy was previously leading the league in all those categories and has been a rock so far. We can expect him to carry on over backup Adam Carlson, who has chipped in twelve starts of his own along the way.
- Team captain Kenton Helgesen has been placed on Injured Reserve as of December 28th. The d-man was leading the team in plus-minus and had nine helpers on the campaign so far. The gritty defender also lead the Rush in penalty minutes with a total of 49.
- Another loss on the blue line is defenseman Simon Lavigne, who was called up to AHL Wranglers as of December 19th. He and Kenton Helgesen were second and third in d-man scoring for the team behind Ryan Zuhlsdorf and it’ll be tough to replace those back-end points. Zuhlsdorf still sits in the defensive scoring lead on the squad with three goals and seventeen helpers through 37 GP.
As January winds down, the Rush will play host to the Mountain Division-leading Idaho Steelheads for a pair of games at The Monument. It’s then back out on the road for another threepeat against the Utah Grizzlies, whom the Rush took 4 of 6 points from in their most recent three game set. That’ll wrap up the first month of the year, and February will kick off with two games against the Wichita Thunder to close out a five-game roadie. RCR trail the Thunder by six points for second place in the division, and neither team has games in hand as of this point. It’ll be a huge chance for Rapid City to gain ground and bump their way up the standings.
Check back with M&G to see if The Rush can stay rolling!