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. They recently rattled off a six game win streak and despite losing seven in a row since it ended, the team had propelled itself 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:
DEC 21st- Rapid City Rush 3 @ Wichita Thunder 6 -LOSS
DEC 22nd- Rapid City Rush1 @ Wichita Thunder 5 -LOSS
DEC 23rd- Rapid City Rush 4 @ Wichita Thunder 7 -LOSS
DEC 28th- Rapid City Rush 7 vs Tulsa Oilers -WIN
DEC 30th- Rapid City Rush 4 vs Tulsa Oilers 3 -WIN (OVERTIME)
DEC 31st- Rapid City Rush 1 vs Tulsa Oilers 5 -LOSS
Calgarian Matt Marcinew continues to lead the scoring charge for the Rush. His 31 points is also good enough for sixth place in the league-wide ECHL scoring race, eight points back of Zach O’Brien of the Newfoundland Growlers for first overall. Alex Aleardi is five points back of Marcinew for second on the squad.
Flames prospects Ilya Nikolaev and Rory Kerins are also in the team top five.
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 24 starts, which is the most by any ECHL goalie so far this year. He’s also leading the league in wins with 14, and faced the most shots in the league so far with 753 and leading the league in minutes at 1326. Chechy has been a rock so far and we can expect him to carry on over backup Adam Carlson, who has chipped in ten starts of his own along the way.
OVERTIME GOOOAAAAALLL!!!!— Rapid City Rush (@RapidCityRush) December 31, 2022
- Seen above, Flames prospect Rory Kerins notched the OT winner against Tulsa. Kerins had a December 8th callup to the AHL club but was reassigned to Rapid City on the 16th along with Ilya Nikolaev.
- 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.
The Rush will return from a short New Years break on January 5th, where they’ll wrap up the back half a season-high six game homestand. The extended stay at the home confines of The Monument has seen them take four points in the first three games, and they’ll play the next three against the Utah Grizzlies. The Grizz are eight points back of RCR but have three games in hand, so these’ll be important points in the standings. It’s then back on the road for three for a pair against the Tulsa Oilers and one against the Flames old affiliate, the Kansas City Mavericks. Only a single point separates KC from the Rush, as they trail Rapid City.
Check back with M&G to see if they can hang onto their good position in the Mountain Division standings!